All Countries Pakistan

2021 RLLR 79

Citation: 2021 RLLR 79
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: June 4, 2021
Panel: Laurie Letheren
Counsel for the Claimant(s): John Savaglio
Country: Pakistan
RPD Number: TC0-01196
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01778
ATIP Pages: N/A


[1]       MEMBER: I’ve had an opportunity to review your testimony today as well as all of the documents you provided, and I am now ready to provide my decision and my reasons.  I have found that you are a Convention refugee on the basis of your religion, as a Shia Muslim who is persecuted because of your religion in Pakistan. And here are, the following are my reasons.

[2]       So, this is the claim made by XXXX XXXX, file number TC0-01196. You’ve established both your personal identity and your citizenship as a citizen of Pakistan through your documents and in particular, the certified true copy of your passport. The allegations that you made were set out fully in your Basis of Claim form at Exhibit 2. As well as the amendments you made to that form at Exhibit 4.

[3]       You allege that you are a Shia Muslim. You had some success, financial success as an XXXX when you worked in the U.A.E. where you worked for many years. And even though you were unable to openly practice your Shia faith in the U.A.E., you remained dedicated to your Shia faith and your community. And you made large donations to your Imam Bargah for its expansion back in Pakistan. You gathered donations from other members of the Shia community in the U.A.E. and with those, you were able to again make further large donations in 2018.

[4]       This resulted in some suspicion by the Government of the U.A.E. And you were questioned by the U.A.E. Intelligence about your Shia activities and you were ordered to leave the U.A.E. in July of 2019. And that you and your family did leave in, XXXX of 2019.

[5]       So, I find that although you lived in the U.A.E. for many years, your residency there was temporary. And you didn’t have a status in the U.A.E. that was substantially similar to that of its nationals. So, I therefore find that the circumstances of your claim do not engage any exclusions under Article 1-E of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[6]       So, according to your allegations and the testimony you gave today, you moved to Pakistan in XXXX of 2019.  You became very engaged in your Shia community.  And you were appointed as the XXXX XXXX of the Imam Bargah. You became very popular with the religious leaders and with members of your community. And you became very well known throughout your community.

[7]       This attracted the attention of the Sunni extremists and in particular, members of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who threatened you to the point where you feared for your life. And you left Pakistan in XXXX of 2019. You feel you can’t return to Pakistan with your profile as a prominent Shia who is very active in your community. And that because of this prominence and the interconnectedness of members of the LeJ and other Sunni extremist groups, you wouldn’t be safe anywhere in Pakistan. You would not be provided adequate state protection.

[8]       I found that you were a very credible witness. I didn’t find any inconsistencies between your testimony and what you have in your Basis of Claim form and the documents you filed. It did demonstrate that you worked in the U.A.E. as an XXXX for many years. And that you were able to provide XXXX XXXX to your Imam Bargah in the form of very substantial donations on your own. And then very substantial donations over a period of time through the donations you collected through other members of the Shia community in the U.A.E.

[9]       You sent that money to Imam Bargah in Sialkot (ph) which is a city in the Punjab Province. And you helped to maintain the Imam Bargah to expand it and to XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX Of Imam Bargah. A great deal was done by your donations to assist this Imam Bargah.

[10]     After you returned to Sialkot, you were assigned the role of the XXXX XXXX XXXX of your Imam Bargah which involved XXXX XXXX and in these events you explained that it was a bit unique the type of Majaliss and organizing that you did. ln that you had both Sunni and Shia speakers who came together that you explained to speak about the common believes of the Sunni and Shia. And to attempt to moderate the differences between these two (2) Muslim sects in Pakistan.

[11]     You wanted to work towards the education of the people. And to try to debunk some of the misconceptions that the Sunnis have about Shia. You testified how important it was to you to do this because in the 80s and 90s, you didn’t have so many difficulties being a Shia and being a minority in Pakistan. You explained that through all this work that you did, you became very well known. And a prominent member of your Shia community. You were out in your community often, talking to the members. And you became a face that was recognizable.

[12]     So, as a result of all of this involvement, you were targeted by the anti-Shia extremist group the Lashkar-e­ Jhangvi or the LeJ. On one (1) evening after the Majaliss on September 10th, 2019 your car was stopped by armed men. You were beaten and assaulted by these men who told you that they had received from reports from their supporters, from the people who support and who believe in them, about your work. And the work that you were doing in the area. And they were accusing you of influencing impressionable Sunni. And trying to convert the Sunni to be Shia. And they called you a Kafir, and that you were spreading the Shia Kafir.

[13]     So, after this happened and you were hospitalized, your family and the leaders of the Imam Bargah suggested that you should be leaving Sialkot. And so, you and your family moved to an area of Rawalpindi. But the same day, you said around 4 o’ clock on September 11th, you received a call from a group identifying themselves again as the LeJ. They called you a Kafir and said you were on their hit list and they would shoot you the next time they saw you in Pakistan.

[14]     You reported this call to the police. And the police said you should take your own precautions, provide your own safety because they couldn’t do anything to assist you as they didn’t have enough information about the men who attacked you. In order to try to have some safety, you turned off your phones. And you tried to keep yourself hidden while you were in Rawalpindi.

[15]     On the same day, September 11th, 2019 your parents told you that some armed men attended at their home. They did some damage to their home. They explained they were trying to find you to make an example of you. And that they would, to tell you, warn you, that they would find you. And if they did, they would kill you. Your brother reported this incident to the police. And they told him to tell you, you should just leave Pakistan as it appeared that the LeJ were intent on finding you and that they would kill you.

[16]     So, you left for Canada in the next few days. Your family has reported that neighbours have told them that from time to time these same extremists have come around your neighbourhood in Sialkot asking for you. And that as recently as April 4th 2021 some people came around asking about you. Said they still planned to kill you if you returned to Pakistan.

[17]     So, all of your supporting documents which are at Exhibits 5 and 6 corroborate your allegations. You disclosed letters from your Imam Bargah which corroborated the work that you did. The donations you made. And the persecution you experienced. You also submitted police reports, FIRs, and hospital reports which corroborated your testimony. You have many affidavits from several individuals who confirmed your involvement with the Shia community in Pakistan. As well as the threat and harms that you experienced by the LeJ. The affidavits from your brother confirm that members of the LeJ continue to ask about you and continue to threaten you. So, your documents do demonstrate as well that you continue to practice your Shia faith in Canada. Given the COVID restrictions, it’s not how you would ordinarily practice, but you are a member of the Shia community.

[18]     So, I find on a balance of probabilities that these documents corroborate your testimony and support your allegations. That you were targeted in Pakistan by the LeJ due to your profile as an established Shia, prominent in your community. You’ve established a very credible evidentiary basis for your subjective fears of returning to Pakistan.

[19]     And based on your credibility and your allegations, that you became a target of the anti-Shia extremist group, the LeJ, and that this continues. And also, your evidence is corroborated and supported by the documentary evidence that we have in our National Documentation Packages. They demonstrate that you have a well-founded fear of this persecution. That there is a serious possibility that you would be persecuted by the LeJ if you were to return to Pakistan.

[20]     The evidence in the NDP demonstrates there have been increased killings of Shia by militant groups. Targeted killings of Shia professionals and officials and those who are prominent members of the community. It also establishes the risk that you would face, especially at exhibits throughout the National Documentation Package. Such as at Item 1.8 that reports that militant groups are responsible for most of the attacks against Shia. And that groups such as the LeJ have continued to be growing and they are a growing threat. There are reports about targeting killings of professionals, Shia professionals and officials. And those who have a profile such as yours, to be prominent. Persons such as engineers who are perceived to be a financial influence. And could be influential throughout the Shia community.

[21]     Item 12.5 indicates that Shia have traditionally represented a higher proportion of the casualties of the sectarian violence throughout Pakistan. And in particular, by anti-Shia militant groups. Even though the Shia community is a very large community in Pakistan and not all Shias from Pakistan have a well-founded fear of persecution, the NDP does support your claim that due to your prominence and being someone who is now targeted, you would continue to likely be more, there’s a very high reason to anticipate that you would be targeted if you returned to Pakistan. So, I find that this objective evidence demonstrates on a balance of probabilities that you’ve established a well-founded fear of persecution should you return to Pakistan.

[22]     You’ve rebutted your presumption of state protection. You indicated that even though you registered the incident that happened with the first information report, you were told that the police would not be naming the LeJ even though they had clearly identified themselves to you. When you made further complaints about the threats at your parents’ home and the phone calls that you received, you were just told by the police to take your own precautions. That they couldn’t help you. And that perhaps in the end they suggested you should leave the country as it appeared that this group was motivated to kill you. And that they couldn’t provide you with the safety you needed.

[23]     This is also supported in the objective documentary evidence we have in the National Documentation Package. Which demonstrates that the government has been criticized for failing to protect the Shia community from their attackers. And for allowing militant organizations to operate with impunity. They failed to investigate or punish those that are responsible for violent attacks against Shias in Pakistan.

[24]     As well, Item 7.12 states that if someone has been asking for some protection from extremist organizations, the police are not effective. They cannot provide security. And courts are not effective. And often, as you indicated, these groups seem to be able to get their members released from courts due to what is often called lack of evidence. So, I find that both your testimony and the evidence, that there’s a preponderance of evidence to demonstrate that you have clear and convincingly demonstrated that the state is unable and unwilling to provide you with adequate state protection.

[25]     At the beginning, l suggested that you may have an internal flight alternative within the city of Lahore. But I accept your testimony about the influence and the interconnectedness of these extremist groups. As well as their connections within the police and other government organizations. They have a presence throughout and are connected throughout Pakistan.

[26]     Item 1.8 of the National Documentation Package indicates that armed militant groups such as the LeJ have wide geographic reach. Item 3.18 confirms what you were testifying about, the need to register any rental agreement you have with the police. As well as any kind of various interactions you would have with government officials. Just in doing your daily business.

[27]     And Items 7.9 and 7.10 discuss how the police and government in Pakistan work together with these extremist organizations. They continue, the LeJ continue to make threats even though you moved from your original location in Sialkot. And they also have demonstrated that they are continuing, have a continuing interest in finding you. And have indicated that if they were to find you, they would kill you.

[28]     They’ve therefore demonstrated their motivation to continue to locate you. Regardless of where you would be in Pakistan. You’ve indicated that even if you were to move to Lahore, you may only be protected for a short time. Because due to the importance of practicing your faith, being part of Imam Bargah and being a part of your community, you would eventually be located.

[29]     There’s a serious possibility that those within Lahore who support a group such as the LeJ would be able to inform them where you are. l find that it is unreasonable to expect you to restrict your religious practice or restrict any of your freedom because you fear this group.

[30]     So that, l therefore find that on a balance of probabilities, your life would be at risk throughout Pakistan. You have no internal flight alternative that is viable for you, including Lahore. You also would have no state protection.

[31]     So, therefore based on all of my analysis, all of your testimony, the evidence that we have, I conclude that you are a Convention refugee. And I accept your claim.