All Countries Pakistan

2021 RLLR 85

Citation: 2021 RLLR 85
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: February 18, 2021
Panel: L. Letheren
Counsel for the Claimant(s): John Savaglio
Country: Pakistan
RPD Number: TB9-34953
Associated RPD Number(s): TB9-35006 / TB9-35018 / TB9-35025
ATIP Number: A-2022-01778
ATIP Pages: N/A


[1]    MEMBER: So these are the reasons for the claims made by XXXX XXXX, file number TB9-34953, who’s the principal claimant, the associate claimant, XXXX XXXX, TB9-35006, and the minor claimants XXXX XXXX, TB9-35018, and XXXX XXXX XXXX TB9-35025.

[2]    XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX are citizens of Pakistan. The minor claimant, XXXX XXXX, is also a citizen of the United States of America. They’re all claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]    XXXX (ph), sorry, XXXX XXXX is the minor claimants’ father and he’s the designated representative for these minor claimants. These claims are being held together in accordance with the Refugee Protection Division rule number 55.

[4]    Your personal and national identities were established on a balance of probabilities by your testimony and the certified true copies of the passports that were included in the file. They demonstrate that XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX are citizens of Pakistan. XXXX XXXX is a citizen of Pakistan as well as United States.

[5]    Your allegations are fully set out in your basis of claim forms which are Exhibits 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4. You allege that you’re Shia Muslims. For the past 14 years the principal claimant, you’ve run a successful business and your financial situation allow you to make large donations to the imambargahs in your home area in Gujranwala. And that you’ve helped and managed and administer the Shia religious Majalis in your imambargah.

[6]    You’ve also made many charitable donations to insist in improving the welfare of the poor in your community. You testified that your donations to the poor were given irrespective of the religion of the people. You were well-respected by many people in your business community, and because of your connections within the business community, you were able to assist many Shia leaders to get permission for religious ceremonies in Gujranwala.

[7]    You testified that your activities drew negative attention from the radical Sunni in your community who accused you of spreading Shia Kafir among the vulnerable Sunni. You allege you were attacked and injured by men who identified themselves as soldiers of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or LeJ when you were working in your office in Gujranwala.

[8]    You and your family then moved to Rawalpindi for protection, and when your family were travelling in your car coming home from the market, shots were fired at you. You made police reports about both of these incidents but protections were not forthcoming, and as far as you learned, the police never did investigate these incidents.

[9]    The threats from the LeJ members continued until you left Pakistan, and you’ve learned from your father that the LeJ have come to see him looking for you, and to give you warning not to return to Pakistan. And this happened after you had moved to Canada.

[10]  You believe that you cannot safely return to Pakistan with your profile as a prominent financially-stable Shia Muslim who’s active in your Shia community.

[11]  I find that XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX and XXXX XXXX are convention refugees as you have established a serious possibility of persecution should you return to Pakistan. For the principal claimant, XXXX XXXX, this is based on the grounds of section 96 of your religion as a Shia Muslim. The associate and the minor claimant, XXXX XXXX XXXX are members of a particular social group as they are family members of a prominent Shia who was targeted because of his religion.

[12]  The minor claimant, XXXX XXXX, is not a convention refugee or a person in need of protection, as she has not established that there’s a serious possibility of persecution on a convention ground or that on a balance of probabilities she would be personally be subjected to a danger of torture, or face cruel and unusual treatment or punishment or risk to her life if she returned to the United States.

[13]  Therefore the following reasons apply to my assessment of the remaining claimants. I found you, the principal claimant who provided testimony, to be a very credible witness. I did not find any inconsistencies between your testimony and the documents.

[14]  Your evidence demonstrates for the past 14 years you have run your own business XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX The business has been successful and your financial situation has allowed you to make large donations to your imambargahs in your home area in Gujranwala.

[15]  Because of your prominence in your community you’ve helped to manage and administer the Majalis in your imambargah. You’ve made many charitable donations to assist in improving the welfare of your community. You testified that your donations to the poor were given irrespective of their religion. You were well-respected by many people in your community both Sunni and Shia members.

[16]  Your evidence is that your aim at doing the work in your imambargah and in your community was to reduce the misconceptions about Shia, and to present a peaceful image for both Shia and Sunni to live together. You promoted the peaceful relationships between the two groups in your community by organizing a number of religious ceremonies and, and inviting lecturers into your community to explain more about the commonalities between these groups as opposed to their differences.

[17]  As a result of this community involvement you were targeted by the LeJ. Members of the LeJ attacked you in your Gujranwala office. You were beaten and you were accused of spreading the Shia Kafir to the vulnerable Sunni. After you moved to Gujranwala — from Gujranwala to Rawalpindi and ended your religious and community activities, you continued to be threatened. Shots were fired at you and your family as you travelled through the city.

[18]  The LeJ made further threats to you and your family, and you had supporting documents submitted at Exhibits 4 and 5 to corroborate your allegations. You disclosed supporting letter from your imambargah in Pakistan and that document corroborated your allegations about your donations and your involvement, along with the threats you received.

[19]  You submitted police reports (indiscernible) reports, hospital records, and also you submitted many documents supporting your business activities. You had affidavits from several people who you had helped by making donations, and affidavits from your family members confirming your experiences, and that your father had been threatened since you left Pakistan.

[20]  These documents demonstrate your continued practice of the Shia faith in Canada. They also demonstrate the persecution you experienced. 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 Lashkar-e-Jhangvi due to your profile as a well-established Shia businessman with significant prominence in your home community in Pakistan.

[21]  You established your credible evidentiary basis for subjective fears in returning to Pakistan. Based on your credibility of your allegations and because of your profile, I find that you, your wife and children became targets of the LeJ. The evidence demonstrates that you continue to be targeted even after you left Pakistan.

[22]  It established that you will continue to be an active Shia member if you were to return to Pakistan, and the feature if you would continue to demonstrate the importance to you of making donations and to assist those who are less fortunate. You expressed how important these activities are to you, as they integral to your beliefs.

[23]  Your testimony and the documentary evidence that we have demonstrates that well-founded fear of persecution and there’s a serious possibility that you and your family will be subjected to death threats and violence at the hands of Islamic extremists if you returned to Pakistan.

[24]  The evidence establishes that there’s been an increase in killings of Shias by militant groups, and targeted killings of Shia Muslim professionals and officials and prominent businesspeople in Pakistan. The risks you would face are corroborated by the package of country condition documents that are submitted at Exhibit 3; the national documentation package for Pakistan.

[25]  Item 7.12 of that national documentation package describes the LeJ as a band Sunni militant group, a Sunni terrorist outfit being one of the most violent extremist organizations in Pakistan. It’s been responsible for the killing of hundreds of Shias since its formation in 1996, and the group has been behind some of the most violent attacks of Shia Muslims in the recent years.

[26]  Item 1.8 of the national documentation package reports that the militant groups responsible for some of the most — are responsible for most of the attacks against Shias, are including the LeJ, and that sectarian violence against Shia continues to be a growing threat in Pakistan. There are reports of targeted killings of Shia professionals and officials, including doctors, politicians, prominent businesspeople, which is a profile that I find the principal claimant fits within.

[27]  Item 12.5 indicates that Shia have traditionally represented the highest proportion of casualties in sectarian violence throughout Pakistan, noting that Shia faced threats from many militant groups including the LeJ. The Shia community is very large in Pakistan, and so not all Shias from Pakistan have a well-founded fear of, of persecution.

[28]  However, the national documentation package supports your claim that due to the principal claimant’s prominence as a successful professional who’s made significant donations and being very active in the Shia community, you have a profile that would be likely attractive to the extremists like the LeJ.

[29]  Your evidence demonstrates on a balance of probabilities that you’ve established a well-founded fear of persecution should you return to Pakistan.

[30]  I find that you’ve also rebutted the presumption of state protection in your case. I accept that you contacted the police, that protection was not forthcoming. You filed reports to the police, your brother checked, checked back with the police and you’ve learned that nothing has ever been given as far as information with respect to the steps of the investigation into the incidents you reported.

[31]  The objective documentary evidence in the national documentation package shows that the government has been criticized for failing to protect Shia Muslims from attacks and for allowing militant groups to operate with impunity, failing to investigate and punish those responsible for the violent attacks against Shias in Pakistan. It describes the authorities as often being indifferent, incompetent, and even complicit in the violence against Shias.

[32]  Item 7.12 states that if someone is threatened by the LeJ, asking for protection from police is not effective because the Shia community is too large and the police cannot provide security to everyone. The courts are also ineffective because many of the witnesses don’t come forward to testify out of fear, and therefore they release suspects due to lack of evidence.

[33]  In light of all this evidence I find there’s a preponderance of objective documentary evidence that there’s a clear and convincing evidence before me that the state is unable and unwilling to provide you with adequate protection.

[34]  I considered whether it was safe for you to live in another area of Pakistan, and I suggested Lahore could be a viable alternative. I accept your evidence about the importance for you to be able to practice your faith and continue to contribute to your community.

[35]  You testified that through these actions, through your business transactions, through your need to register or your rental documents and other documents with the police you would be identified, and that those working in government administration, many of whom could be sympathizers to the LeJ would identify you and you would be discovered.

[36]  Item 1.8 of the national documentation package indicates that armed militant groups such as the LeJ have a wide geographic reach in Pakistan. Item 7.2 reports that the LeJ is responsible for violence throughout Pakistan, and that likely there’s no internal flight alternative available to those at risk of being targeted, or who have already been targeted by such groups.

[37]  The LeJ continued their threats even after you left Gujranwala, and since coming to Canada. This demonstrates that they have a continued interest in finding you and that they would find you and harm you if, if you returned to Pakistan.

[38]  Even if you were able to relocate for a short period of time in Lahore, your active faith and your, and your donations, your activities in your community would again make you a prominent figure in this community and this would create a serious possibility that you would eventually be found and persecuted in the future.

[39]  It would be unreasonable for the Board to expect you to restrict your religious practices and your freedom to assist your communities just because of your fear of this group. The LeJ has been persistent in its search for you, demonstrated a continued motivation, and I find that they have the capacity to find you, given their reach and influence in Pakistan.

[40]  The associate claimant and the minor claimant are also Shia. The associate claimant and the children may not have the same heightened profile as the principal claimant, but they are also at risk. In the past you were, you were with the principal claimant in a vehicle when you were under attack. The LeJ soldiers have indicated that they would harm all of you as a family.

[41]  You’ve credibly demonstrated on the evidence that there’s a serious possibility that you also would face risk if you returned to Pakistan and throughout Pakistan, including Lahore.

[42]  The Board therefore finds that on a balance of probabilities the claimants’ lives would be at risk throughout Pakistan. The Board’s determined that the claimants have no viable internal flight alternative in Pakistan, including Lahore.

[43]  Based on this analysis I conclude that XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX are convention refugees and I accept your claims.

[44]  The minor claimant, XXXX XXXX, is neither a convention refugee nor a person in need of protection. Her claim is therefore rejected by the Board.