American Doctor Shot Dead By Gunmen For Helping Heart Patients In Pakistan

An Ohio based cardiologist on a visit to Pakistan was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in front of his own family members, in the town of Chenab Nagar in the Punjab province, reports the USA Today. Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar was fatally shot at least 10 times by two gunmen riding a motorcycle. According to police officials, Dr. Mehdi was on his way to a cemetery along with his wife and his youngest son for visiting his relatives’ graves when he was approached by the gunmen and subsequently shot from a close range. His family members were not injured in the attack. The doctor was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

According to a police officer investigating the crime, the killers’ motive is not yet known – although it is being assumed that the doctor was targeted because he belonged to a minority sect of Islam known as the Ahmadis and had also volunteered to help patients in a hospital which itself was threatened by extremists for being un-Islamic. Dr. Mehdi had come to Pakistan just two days ago on a mission to treat patients at a nearby heart institute.

In the US, Dr. Mehdi practiced at Lancaster and lived at Pickerington and had only recently volunteered to help patients at the Tahrir Heart Institute in Pakistan. According to Jason Elsea, a member of the Ahmadiyaa Muslim Community in Columbus, Ohio, Qamar was one of the many doctors who had volunteered to help people in Pakistan. A statement released on behalf of the community also added that Qamar’s three sons were aged 2, 6, and 16. This was not the first time that Dr. Mehdi had visited Pakistan to treat patients there.

According to Dr. Abdus Malik, a friend of Dr. Mehdi, it is likely that the doctor was targeted simply because he belonged to a different faith. “Just because the difference in our faith, they want to kill us.” He added that Dr. Mehdi was originally from Pakistan before becoming an American citizen a decade ago. He also spent considerable time in Canada and holds a Canadian citizenship as well. He had arrived in the US as a medical student and trained here. His eldest son was not with him at the time of the shooting and remains in Ohio. The younger child aged 6 was in Pakistan but had decided not to accompany his father to the cemetery.

According to The Dawn, the Ahmadis are a minority sect in Pakistan who follow Ghulam Ahmad, a self-proclaimed prophet. They consider themselves Muslims but are not recognized as followers of Islam by the majority Muslims in Pakistan as well as the Pakistani law. The Ahmadis for the same reason have been historically targeted by Islamic extremists. Ahmadi organizations in Pakistan have condemned the killing of the doctor and added that the attack was part of a campaign against the Ahmadis as well as the heart institute. Islamic extremists are against people seeking treatment at the hospital. Earlier, leaflets were spread in the neighborhood warning people not to visit the heart institute for treatment as it is against Islam.

[Image via Ahmadiyya Times]