Passport Issues with Pakistani Ahmadis

(With reference to Home Office query in December 2020)


The UK Home Office has asked the AMC to clarify the position on Pakistan passports, as some inputs are “causing some confusion due to contradicting information that causes some to question the veracity of passports with ‘Ahmadi’ printed on them,” The requirement is valid, as this issue has a longish history in which primarily four major factors have caused and added to some confusion. These are following, briefly:

  1. Entry of religion column in the passport. Since the Independence it has passed through four stages: 1, No entry, 2. Entry, 3. No entry, and again now, 4.Entry.
  2. Ahmadis’ religious status according to Pakistan laws has been changed over time. Before 1974, as per the Constitution they were Muslims; thereafter in 1974 they were declared Not-Muslims through a constitutional amendment. This gross interference with their religious identity violated their Freedom of Religion and is not acceptable to them. The state and the society, generally and progressively, developed intense antipathy to this marginalized community. This injustice and the resulting persecution is perhaps the major and pervasive factor in this issue.
  • Pakistan passport itself has undergone a change. It was manual hand-written for decades; then in 2005 it was made Machine Readable (MRP). This had its own effect on this issue.
  1. Passports have a validity for five to ten years. Over this period, government policies would change, but these changes would generally not be implemented in passports issued earlier, thus giving rise to anomalies.
  2. The governance in Pakistan, frankly, cannot be rated as among the best in the world. As such, passport offices, all over the country, could approach Ahmadi passport applicants in different ways from normal to very abnormal.

In view of the above a certain amount of confusion and some contradictions on this issue should be expected. In fact, it would be surprising if no contradictions had come up. We explain below.


Past History

            There was no religion column in Pakistan passport till 1974 when Amendment Nr. II was made to the Constitution regarding Ahmadis’ religious status. The Amendment led to progressive tightening the screw on Ahmadis. This led to the government decision, in late 1970’s, to add religion column in its passports. All applicants were required to enter their religion on the application form. Ahmadis believed that their religion was Islam, but the rules required that all those claiming to be Muslim should sign the following affidavit:

Declaration required of a Muslim for a Passport

I hereby solemnly declare that:

  1. I am Muslim and believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the last of the prophets.
  2. I do not recognize any person who claims to be a prophet in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever after Muhammad (peace be upon him) or recognize such a claimant as prophet or a religious reformer as a Muslim.
  • I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani to be an imposter nabi and also consider his followers whether belonging to the Lahori or Quadiani group to be non-Muslims.


(From an Application Form for obtaining a passport, issued by the Government of Pakistan, Ministry of Interior, Directorate General Immigration and Passports)   

Ahmadis felt very upset and hurt over this. Also, they believed that ‘Ahmadi’ was not a religion; it was only a denomination, a Jamaat. But now they had only two options: 1. Sign the declaration, or 2. Not have a passport. Some of them, at that time, withdrew their application. With the passage of time, however, Ahmadi had to submit to ground realities, and rather than signing the imposed Affidavit, they yielded to the given religion of ‘Ahmadi’ to qualify initially for citizen rights including a national identity card, a passport etc. This is the experience of Ahmadis in many fields; they had to eventually compromise to some extent their religious norms to cope up with day-to-day life in their country. However, they did not compromise on core beliefs.

            This situation, however, caused anomalies, exceptions, and of course ‘confusion’. For example, in 1984 one Captain SA Khalid PN, a well-known Ahmadi applied for a passport. In the application form he declared that he was an Ahmadi. However when he received his passport, he was mentioned in there as Muslim (see Annex I). At this he was delighted, and feeling that he had truthfully told the authorities in the form that he was an Ahmadi, now if they still enter him as Muslim, it was their ‘error’, not his. So he used the passport as it was. A deeper inquiry would have rated the entry as ‘confusing’ but this was attributable to the Passport Office.

            Additionally, it was learnt in the past that in some embassies abroad, some ‘Muslims’ refused to sign the absurd Affidavit concerning religion, and demanded that a passport be still issued to them. The authorities there, feeling on a sticky wicket in a foreign country, issued the passport. The daily Dawn of 01 June 2016 published an op-ed (Annex II) that described a somewhat similar case inside the country.

            Enter the Machine Readable Passport (MRP) in 2005. Initially as per international standard, there was no religion column in it. Having spent a lot of money on this project, the Passport Office issued tens of thousands of MRPs and the government initially resisted the mulla’s pressure to include religion column in it. However, the authorities eventually yielded to clerics and started mentioning the holder’s religion on page 3. Passports are issued for 5 — 10 years, so it is most likely that many such passports issued in 2005/2006 had no religion column till these expired in 2015/16. This should explain the ‘confusion’ in some statements.

            The above shows that at some stage in Pakistan there were three types of passports — old manuals which contained the religion column, MRPs without the religion column and MRPs with religion column (not mentioning the earlier manual type with no religion column). One who gets confused cannot be blamed for that. The daily Dawn of 05 Jan 2005, published an op-ed on this issue (Annex III).


Present procedure

First we should mention briefly the functions of NADRA and the Directorate of Passports, and their interaction. NADRA is primarily responsible for the issue of national identity cards (CNIC). It has all the data of all citizens. From 2005 onward the Passport Offices obtain their date (including Religion) from NADRA electronically and enter it in the MRPs.

Basic procedure for obtaining a passport is the same for all Pakistanis, regardless of their religion. The applicant has to produce his identity card (CNIC) issued by NADRA. The Data Entry Operator at the Passport Office enters electronically all information from his CNIC on to his form. He takes out a print copy. The applicant, if non-Muslim (even Ahmadis), signs it as a token of veracity of information, while a Muslim signs in addition at the medieval Affidavit which is the same as quoted earlier. The passport when ready is handed over to the applicant; its opening page and the religion column page look as shown in a copy at Annex IV.

            It is relevant to mention here that Ahmadis in Pakistan face difficulties in numerous government offices including many passport offices. Some Passport Officers unjustifiably harass Ahmadi applicants. They are asked to prove that they are Ahmadis. They are at times told to produce their birth certificates, community subscription receipts or produce an endorsement of a community official. Many Ahmadis born before 1974 have birth certificates wherein their religion is mentioned as Islam. This invites undeserved criticism from the passport clerks. This an way Ahmadi may face numerous difficulties at the passport office with regard to Religion entry.


To sum up

            Firstly, the confusion created by references given in Home Office mail, particularly the CPIT/CPIN entries and the USCIRF 2013 report and explanations given by IHRC and AMC — we find these confusing but correct. It seems that these statements were made with specific assumptions and presumptions not clearly mentioned in the statement.

Here we quote only one statement as sample — “The USCIRF 2013 Report noted that individuals who refused to sign the declaration when applying for a passport still received one”. This Report:

  1. Does not clearly state that the individuals were Ahmadis or Non-Ahmadi Muslims.
  2. These cases came up in Pakistan or in foreign embassies?
  3. Reportedly there were ‘Muslims’ abroad who received passports but were there any Ahmadis too?
  4. This Report came out in 2013; but what was happening in 2019, 2020?

So, essentially the Report is correct, but it is confusing, as by itself it does not provide conclusive information. The same is true for other quoted statements.

We hope our explanations given above explain every apparent contradiction/confusion. However, as for specific questions written at the end, we shall give precise answers to them for further clarity.

            Very briefly, all this apparent confusion has been caused by a senseless and irrational decision that 1. Religion column should be there in Pakistan passport, 2. Ahmadis, regardless of their faith in Islam, shall be treated as Non-Muslims. These basic aberrations are the main causes of this problem, and could give rise to further complications and confusion in future as well.

            In a way, the authorities have been responding to the problems as they came up in the past. They provided a solution or a way-out to Ahmadis to obtain a passport, whether they liked the procedure or not. At present the governing rules and procedures are given in the following websites:


Questions answered

  1. Confirm the exact position on passports.

Answer. It is as given above. Ahmadis are issued passport. If they give their religion as ‘Ahmadi’, they are issued their passport with religion mentioned as ‘Ahmadiyya’.


  1. Confirm if NADRA issues passport with Ahmadi printed as the religion.

Answer: Not NADRA, but Directorate of Immigration and Passports issues passports. The religion ‘Ahmadiyya’ is mentioned for the applicant on the third page.


  1. Religion NOT recorded on passports?

Answer: We are not in a position to confirm or deny the above; only the Directorate of Passports can do that. As for exceptional circumstances, the possibilities have been mentioned above.



Effort has been made to remove confusion created by brief statements quoted by various sources. In our opinion those sources can be given the benefit of doubt for making those statements with certain assumptions.

            This brief, in some essential detail, should help to remove the confusion and clarify the position.


January 9, 2021



  1. Copy of a passport, with ‘erroneous’ religion entry
  2. Op-ed in the daily Dawn of 1 June 2016 — The day I declared my best friend kafir just so I could get a passport
  • Op-ed in the daily Dawn of 05 Jan 2005 — Religion column in passport unlikely
  1. Copy of an Ahmadi’s passport with religion entry