Dr Khattak, a zoology professor at Superior Science College on the outskirts of Peshawar, was going home when he was gunned down near the Wazir Bagh area by two armed men on a motorbike on Monday.
Police said that they have arrested a 'close relative' of the deceased, identified as Mubashir. On Monday, police had registered a case against Mubasir and a fellow academic of Khattak, Saad Farooq, for allegedly being involved in the murder.
The two suspects were directly named in the first information report (FIR) by the family of the slain professor. They reportedly had a heated argument with the slain professor over a religious issue a day before his murder.
The assailant, Professor Farooq, however still remains at large. He and his accomplice, opened fire on the car of Professor Naeem Khattak as he was driving to work. The arrested man, Mubashar, was still being questioned, according to local police.
Police said Khattak was killed by a fellow professor and another man a day after they had a verbal brawl over religious issues. Ahmad said the victim and the attacker worked at different colleges.
Saleem Uddin, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Ahmadi community, said Khattak had completed his doctorate in Zoology and was facing problems because of his faith. In a statement, he said Khattak had received threats and he demanded protection for people belonging to their community.
“The government has failed in providing protection to Ahmadis,” he said. Without directly naming the military, he urged state institutions to ensure the protection of Ahmadis.
According to the spokesperson, “Over the past few months, there has been an increase in faith-based attacks on Ahmadis. In Peshawar, an organized hate campaign has been launched against Ahmadis which has resulted in the killing of Ahmadis. The Government has failed to protect the lives of the citizens,” he added.
On Aug 13, a 61-year-old Ahmadi man facing threats due to his faith was gunned down in Peshawar’s Dabgari Gardens locality.
Meraj Ahmed, who owned a medical store in the area, had approached the Federal Investigation Agency with a complaint that he and his brother were facing an ‘online hate campaign’ because of their Ahmadi faith.
In July, an ex-Ahmadi man was shot dead inside a courtroom in Peshawar over allegations of blasphemy. The murderer was greeted by certain lawyers, politicians and police officials as a ‘hero’ for killing an alleged blasphemer.
Attacks on the country’s minorities, including Christians and Hindus, have increased since 2018, when the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan came into power, although Khan has repeatedly promised to safeguard their basic rights.
Pakistan’s Parliament declared Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974, and they have repeatedly been targeted by Islamic extremists, drawing condemnation from domestic and international human rights groups.
Homes and places of worship of Ahmadis have been attacked by Sunni militants who consider them heretics. Peshawar is the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province bordering Afghanistan and it has a strong presence of majority Sunni Muslims and extremists.