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REPORTS IN THE PAKISTANI PRESS
The following is a glimpse of the Ahmadi issue as reported in the Pakistani press. A note on terminology: Qadiani and Mirzai are derogatory words for Ahmadi Muslims and Qadianiat and Mirzaiyyat are derogatory words for the Ahmadi faith.
DAILY PAKISTAN TIMES, November 17, 1983
General Zia was quoted as saying
VIEWPOINT, Lahore, May 3, 1984
… the measure should normally be subjected to rational discussion - preferably in a representative assembly - …
…the demands now being made by certain ulema for depriving all Ahmedi citizens of key government positions or for organizing a social boycott against them are inappropriate and unjustified…
VIEWPOINT, Lahore, May 3, 1984
…the anti-Qadiani sentiment has been exploited more than once by communal elements who lay low only while Quaid-i-Azam was alive…
…are we to believe that an entire community is constituted of fifth columnists?
DAILY MASHRIQ, Evening Special, May 5, 1984
General Zia was quoted as saying that
VIEWPOINT, Lahore, May 10, 1984
…may deserve sulphur and brimstone for their heresy in the hereafter but that is for God to judge in Heaven….
…the man in the street would leave them alone if the pontiffs of the faith would only let him…
DAILY WIFAQ, May 20, 1984
Ghulam Dastgir, Federal Minister for Labour, was quoted as saying
THE MUSLIM, Islamabad, May 24, 1984
…We were taught that anyone saying the kalima enters the fold of Islam…We were taught a hadeeth … "Whoever said our prayers and faced towards our Qibla and ate our Zabiha is a Muslim and for him is the guarantee of Allah and his Prophet" …
…If they claim to be Muslims which they do, who can term them otherwise?…
THE MUSLIM, Islamabad, May 24, 1984
…the action against the Qadianis is also clearly part of what has become a recurrent and sickeningly familiar pattern…bow before the strong and persecute the weak….
JANG, Rawalpindi, June 6, 1984
Jang reported that a shopkeeper in Manshera had been sentenced to six months for using the Muslim greeting "asalaam alaikum".
VIEWPOINT, Lahore, June 7, 1984
…just as anti-Semitism paved the way for Nazism before world war II…in Pakistan Qadiani-baiting is paving the way for mullahcracy…
PAKISTAN TIMES, December 8, 1984
The Pakistan Times quoted a speech made by General Zia inciting violence against Ahmadis:
DAWN, Karachi, March 3, 1985
Six former judges of the Supreme and High Courts have demanded that freedom to practise the religion of one's choice be guaranteed to all in Pakistan. The current restrictions on forms of prayers and the right to recite the Kalema Tayyiba by members of the Ahmadia community or any other community is a gross transgression of the rights guaranteed to the citizens of the State, they said.
THE MUSLIM, September 23, 1985
Karachi, 22nd September: a well known local figure, Dr Mohammad Ali was shot at while asleep in his house on Friday last in Goth Mohammad Ali, 12 miles from Rohri. The unknown assailants fired through the window, as a result of which the victim was seriously wounded.
This was stated to be the seventeenth assault in Sind on members of minority sect, of which eight resulted in death.
DAILY NAWAI WAQT, Karachi, November 28, 1985
The Prime Minister, Mohammad Khan Junejo was quoted as saying that
DAWN, Karachi, February 17, 1986
Political leaders and human rights bodies have expressed concern over the death sentences awarded to two Ahmadis in Sahiwal on Saturday. The death sentence was announced by the Deputy Commissioner on behalf of a Special Military Court. In a statement issued here, the Secretary-General of the Political Prisoner's Release and Relief Committee, Mr. Liaqut Husain Warraich, Mr. Zafar Malik, Secretary, Council for National Liberties, Mr. Azam Saeed, … Mr. Mohammad Hanif Goraya, leaders of the PPP, Syed Farooq Gilani and Rana Mohammad Farooq demanded that the Ahmadis be tried afresh by a civil court.
They said that the sentences showed that Martial Law was still in force and was contemptuous of the Civil Government….
..The announcement of a Military Court verdict after the withdrawal of martial law was even more repugnant to all known forms of justice and fair play.
MASHRAQ, February 28, 1986
Mr. Malik Khuda Bukksh Tiwana, provincial Minister for Auqaaf, was reported as saying that
and the Ulema were urged
DAWN, July 4, 1986
The paper reported that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Northwest Frontier Province had formed a committee to look into the appointment of Ahmadis to high posts in the province.
THE DAILY JANG, Karachi, September 18, 1986
The paper reported that the Government of Pakistan had set up a committee to review all publications of Ahmadis. The committee was to be composed of Maulana Abdul Kadir Azad, Khatib Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, the Secretary of Information of the Government of Punjab, and the Joint Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Habib-ur-Rahman, Director of the Ministry of Religious Affairs was to be the secretary of the committee.
THE DAILY JANG, September 19, 1986
reported that Mr. Shah Husain Afridi, Assistant Commissioner, had sentenced two Ahmadis to 5 years rigorous imprisonment and 50,000 Rupees fine (even though Ordinance XX carries a maximum 3 years).
THE DAILY JANG, Lahore, December 6, 1986
reported that the government of Pakistan had refused permission to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to hold its annual religious convention.
DAILY MASHRIQ, January 1, 1987
The Minister for Excise and Taxation, Akhtar Rasool, was quoted as saying
DAILY JANG, Lahore, January 6, 1987
The Minister for Auqaaf, Malik Khuda Bukhsh Tiwana, was quoted as saying that
DAWN, February 3, 1987
D.G. Khan, February 2nd: Local City police have arrested Maulana Khan Mohammad, Ameer Jamaat-i-Ahmadiya, D.G. Khan, under Section 298/C on Sunday night on the report of one Sufi Allah Wasaya.
Sufi Allah Wasaya in his written complaint to police had mentioned that the Ahmadiyya community in D.G. Khan has inscribed Kalemah Tayyabah inside their place of worship.
DAWN, February 19, 1987
February 18: A division bench of the Lahore High Court has directed the Advocate-General, Punjab, to seek instructions on a writ petition filed by six Ahmadis, two of whom were sentenced to death, and four to life imprisonment, by a Special Military Court.
The Court also directed the Advocate General that the petitioners should not be executed till the decision of the writ.
Petitioners, Mohammad Ilyas, Mr Naeemuddin, Abdul Qadir, Mohammad Nasir, Muhammad Haziq Rafique and Mohammad Din, in their petition, challenged the validity of the order of the Special Military Court.
Brief facts of the case are that a case was registered against the petitioners on 26th October, 1984, under Section 302 PPC for opening fire on a mob that was removing Kalima Tayyaba and other Quranic inscriptions from the Ahmadia Mosque. The First Information Report said that the deceased, Qari Bashir Ahmad, and complainant, Abdul Latif, discussed that Ahmadis were violated the Ahmadi Ordinance inasmuch their Centre in Sahiwal was still being called a mosque and they were calling Azan. On 26th October they went with a group to Ahmadi Mosque where they heard Azan being called from inside the Centre. Petitioners submitted that on the day of occurence about half-an-hour before the morning prayers a mob comprising about 25/30 persons including Qari Bashir Ahmad and Azhar Rafiq, deceased, raided Baitul Hamd (Ahmadia place of worship). The mob, first of all, wiped off Kalima Tayyaba inscribed on the outer main gate of Baitul Hamd with blue paint. They then entered the premises and started wiping off the other Quranic verses written above the doors inside the Baitul Hamd. On this desecration of the Quranic verses and the Kalima and defiling of the place of worship, Naeemuddin, who was present inside, was highly provoked and by using his 12-bore licensed gun fired in the air to scare away the trespassers. The raiding party did not desist, and instead advanced towards Naeemuddin in a hostile and violent manner creating grave apprehension in his mind that children and women living in the quarters of Baitul Hamd may also be harmed by the group. Naeemuddin, therefore, fired a second shot from his gum in the exercise of his right of self-defence. Qari Bashir Ahmad, deceased, was hit by this gun-shot while he was inside the premises of Baitul Hamd. The said Qari Bashir Ahmad staggered across the premises leaving behind a trail of blood and fell a few paces outside the main gate. The mob seemed to be infuriated and instead of withdrawing adamantly went ahead which obliged Naeemuddin to fire from his gun again thereby hitting Azhar Rafiq who fell within the compound of Baitul Hamd.
TRIAL BY SMC: The petitioners were tried in a Special Military Court which on June 16, 1985, found all the petitioners guilty of all the charges and awarded death sentence to Naeemuddin and Ilyas, while seven years' imprisonment to remaining four petitioners.
The matter was referred to Martial Law Administrator, Punjab, who declined to confirm the sentences with the direction that the court re-assemble for the purpose of revising its findings and sentence in light of the observations made by him in his order. The order of the Martial Law Administrator pointed out the deficiencies and inadequacies in the prosecution evidence and observed that findings and sentence of all the convicted persons required to be reconsidered on all the charges.
It was also observed that in view of the circumstances, emerging from the evidence, petitioner No.2, Naeemuddin, was not guilty of offence under Section 302 PPC but only under Section 304 PPC and he was required to be dealt with under that section. Further the Martial Law Administrator observed that the conviction of all the petitioners under Section 148 PPC was not sustainable.
In pursuance of the direction of the MLA, Punjab, the court re-assembled on 21st October, 1985, and instead of reducing the sentence as observed by the MLA, maintained the death sentence of two petitioners and enhanced the sentence of four petitioners from seven years to life imprisonment.
The petitioners submitted that they had reason to believe that after the Martial Law Administrator, Zone "A" had declined to confirm the original findings and sentence and had asked the court to revise its finding, pressure was brought to bear upon all concerned from quarters actively opposed to the Ahmadia sect. When the Martial Law Administrator, Zone "A" did not approve of the so-called revised findings and sentence the case was kept back and ultimately sent to the President, who had met delegations of the religious groups opposing the Ahmadis and asking for their death purely on religious grounds.
The petitioner, therefore, submitted that if the record of the entire case and the proceedings after the court trial are brought before this learned court, the mala fides of the respondent Government and its functionaries dealing with this case shall become apparent. They prayed the court to declare the sentence and conviction unlawful.
Mr Abid Hasan Minto, Mr A. Waheed Salim and Mr Mukhtar Butt appeared for the petitioners.
DAILY NAWAI WAQT, 11 September 1988
reported that 3,113 Ahmadis had been charged under Martial Law Ordinance XX up to September 1988.
DAILY JASARAT, Karachi, January 9, 1989
An adviser to the Federal Ministry of Religious Affairs, Maulana Siraj Ahmad Dinpuri, was quoted as saying:
DAILY JANG, Lahore, January 18, 1989
The Minister for Religious and Minority Affairs was quoted as saying
THE DAILY HILAL-E-PAKISTAN, Hyderabad, Sindh, April 17, 1989
carried an editorial on an incident in Nawabshah:
VIEWPOINT, Lahore, 24th April 1989
Viewpoint carried an editorial condemning the incident at Nankana Sahib:
LAHORE, June 10, 1989
The Lahore in an editorial on the Punjab Government's response to anti-Ahmadi violence commented:
THE DAILY JANG, Lahore, December 29, 1990
Lahore(Special Correspondent), The Federal Government has issued orders to all government departments including Defense to send the list of particulars of all Qadianis (Ahmadis) serving in key posts in their departments. It is believed that such officials are being removed from sensitive positions.
THE FRONTIER POST, November 23, 1992
The Minister of Religious and Minority Affairs was quoted as saying that the inclusion of a new column for religious affiliation on national identity cards was intended to separate Ahmadis from other Muslims in Pakistan.
THE HERALD, Karachi, November, 1992
Prior to 1974 (when the Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims), or even before 1984 (when an ordinance making their practice of Islam punishable was introduced), Ahmadis were generally accepted as equal members of society - looked upon with curiosity, but not hatred. Today, they are the most prosecuted members of society to whom even the courts have failed to provide redress.
THE HERALD ANNUAL, Karachi, January 1993
If the Hindus and Christians - the two largest minority groups - have been feeling insecure, the Ahmedis have long become accustomed to living on the edge…
Discrimination against minorities was given official sanction in September 1974 when, through the 2nd amendment to the Constitution, Ahmedis were declared non-Muslims. But this move did not come unexpectedly. In fact, events had been leading upto just such a move since the early fifties, when religious groups including Jamat-e-Islami directed a major onslaught against the Ahmedis in 1953…
Military dictators wooed the clergy in an attempt to gain some measure of support from the masses. Subsequently, even democratically elected leaders tried to hang on to the tentacles of the clergy when they began to lose popularity. Z. A. Bhutto, for instance, tried in vain to strengthen his footing with mullahs by declaring the Ahmedis a minority. But even worst was in store for the minorities in the years ahead.
It was the amendment declaring Ahmedis a minority that actually set a precedent for state interference in matters of religious belief. Subsequently, from 1980 to 1986, five amendments were made in the Penal code, stipulating punishment for blasphemy or for insulting the sentiments of Muslims. The addition to Section 298-A of the PPC through an ordinance passed in 1980 by General Ziaul Haq made the use of derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) or any of his companions a criminal offence. This was seen as the strengthening of the laws against the Ahmedis. Section 295-B was added in 1982, and it awards life imprisonment for defiling the Holy Quran.
Two more discriminatory sections were added in 1984: Section 298-B regarding the misuse of epithets and titles reserved for certain holy personages, and Section 298-C for punishing any person of the Ahmedi community for calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith. These laws prohibit Ahmedis from calling their places of worship 'masjids' and from reciting the 'azaan'. Section 295-C, added in 1986, awarded death penalty or life imprisonment for the use of derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Interestingly, before these laws were actually promulgated, the number of incidents or allegations of blasphemy against a member of the minority communities were negligible. Since the mid-80's, however, such allegations have been made with alarming frequency. The worst fears of the minorities were confirmed when this law began to be regularly used to settle old scores, political disputes or as a ploy to undermine a rival in matters such as employment.
Minorities see the ID card issue as yet another move to isolate them from mainstream social life and to persecute them.
THE NEWS INTERNATIONAL, January 7, 1993
The editorial applauded the decision of the Supreme Court to grant bail to Ahmadis charged with using Islamic terminology on a wedding card. The author said that:
THE NEWS, February 3, 1993
Syed Riazul Hasan Gilani, counsel for the Federation, before the Supreme Court of Pakistan said:
NEWSLINE, November/December 1993
And so it is with the blasphemy law…the law is now increasingly becoming a weapon of persecution in the hands of people with vested interests.
…A climate is thus created which precludes any attempt to get at the truth, in which rationality is decried as irreligious…
…many cases filed under the blasphemy law have been found to be fabricated…
…more than international opinion it is our own consciences that should stir us to guard against injustice in the name of faith. Our treatment of our minorities in particular should make us hang our heads in shame…
NEWSLINE, November/December 1993
…As the fires of religious bigotry and intolerance ravage our society, Pakistan has become increasingly notorious in the international community, particularly because of the growing excesses against its minorities…
All these features of organized witch-hunting under the the pretext of the blasphemy law were visible in the case of Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan. Something much more menacing has been witnessed in the latest wave of Ahmadi-bashing in Lahore.
Early in October, a group of young men arrived at the house of an Engineering University student, Rafique Gondal, called him out, and began beating him as soon as he appeared. When his father Saeed Gondal, came out to inquire what was happening, he too was manhandled. Both the boy and his father had their bones broken. The assailants then took their victims to the local police station and demanded their arrest under the blasphemy charge. The police station was kept under siege by the mob for quite some time, and the staff threatened that if they did not comply with the mob's demand, the two Ahmadis would be lynched. The police somehow persuaded the assailants to disperse after registering a case…the latter's complaint against the assailants was also recorded, but no arrest was made. Afraid of further attacks if they went to a public hospital, the victims went to a private clinic for urgent medical aid.
A series of violent incidents followed. A lady connected with the management of clinic where the two Ahmadis had been treated, went to drop off her daughter to Allama Iqbal College, where the girl is studying. She was dragged out of the car by a group of young men and roughed up and her car was damaged. Her declaration that she was not an Ahmadi ended her ordeal, but not before a warning had been administered:
Then an Ahmadi teacher at the same college was manhandled while he was on a round of the attached hospital, and classes at the college had to be suspended for several days because the students went on a strike to press their demand that all Ahmadi teachers and students be expelled from the college. (Allama Iqbal college has a bad record vis-a-vis treatment of Ahmadi students. Some time ago Ahmadi students were forced out of the hostel and nothing could be done to protect them. Ultimately they shifted to private quarters.)
Finally, the chief editor of the "Frontier Post" and a female reporter who wrote a story on the anti-Ahmadi campaign recieved threats for taking note of the Ahmadis' persecution.
The version of the group of young men accused of attacking the Gondals, and who had been named in the FIR lodged by the latter, was given in a writ petition before the Lahore High Court praying for protection against police harrasment on the basis of that FIR.
The petitioner, who described himself as a "devout practising Muslim…" named the following respondents: the SHO, PS Sarwar Road, Lahore Cantt; Colonel Ikramullah, Press Secretary to the Prime Minister; Justice (Retd) A.S. Salaam, minister for law; Mian Saeed Gondal and Rafique Ahmad Gondal…
The petitioner prayed for an order to the SHO "to do his duty in accordance with law, and to unearth the unholy conspiracy being hatched by respondents No.s 2,3, 4, and 5 and other anti-Christ elements to install an anti-Islamic government inimical to the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him)." Also prayed for was a direction "to respondents 2 and 3 to desist from action as lackeys and stooges of International Zionist organizations like the Qadianis, Bahais, Agha Khanees, Zikris, etc. who are trying to undo the anti-blasphemy law like Section 295-C and 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, to say nothing about Ordinance XX of 1984 and Article 260(3)(b) of the Constitution."
…the mind which spouted false accusations and tried to raise an alarm about an imaginary conspiracy to install a government inimical to the Holy Prophet remains uncured. And it is from there that the threat of Pakistan being pushed into the mire of intolerance emanates..
…the law lacks appropriate sanction. General Zia-ul-Haq … was neither a legitimate law-maker nor an Islamic legislator…
An uncorroborated allegation by a complainant is enough to send the target to prison and bail is usually denied…
But is religious intolerance a matter of law or its enforcement alone? Certainly not. Hitherto local communities have tended to leave the victims of persecution alone to fend for themselves. Monsters are never tamed by such appeasement. On the contrary, every time the fanatics succeed in netting their quarry, they are emboldened to look for new prey….
NEWSLINE, November/December 1993
The Ahmadis constitute the largest group of persons accused of blasphemy offenses. Over a hundred of them have been charged under Section 295-C alone till July 31, 1993. Many of the cases have been initiated by leaders of anti-Ahmadi organizations and indicate some kind of systematic activity by complainants…In many cases the prosecution story is so thin that bail has been granted by superior courts…
NEWSLINE, November/December 1993
The general assumption is that fanaticism is the motivating force behind such cases, but in effect it seems to be the presence of of the blasphemy law that fans fanaticism and not the other way round. The mullah now has an instrument to punish those who disagree with him or annoy him…
…The Ahmadis are being most plainly ostracized as a community. According to last year's record, more than 2,000 Ahmadis have been charged under Sections 295 A, B, and C and under sections 298(B) and 298(C). The last two sections relate specifically to Ahmadis…
"This law is against the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution," says Sabihuddin Babar, "for the constitution says everyone has the right to observe their religion." Hundreds of Ahmadis have been imprisoned or charged just for using the word "bismillah" on wedding cards or letters. There is an ongoing case against six Ahmadis - writers and editors of the magazine "Mahnama Ansarullah Rabwah" - who lauded Quranic verses in their magazine…
DAWN, December 3, 1993
It was reported that the government had abandoned plans to scrap Amendment Eight to the Constitution and had decided to retain "Islamic" clauses in the Constitution - statement of the President of Pakistan.
DAWN, (Section 2) Lahore, February 8, 1994
A grandson of the late Sir Zafrullah Khan…Ahmad Nasrullah (28), was killed in the annexe of his residence…the City Police have formed the initial opinion that "it is a cold blooded murder committed with ulterior motives; and the religious motive cannot be ruled out."
…After discussing different possibilities with the family, they arrived at the initial conclusion that the `cold blooded murder' might be another event in the fanatic anti-Ahmadi campaign that had been unleashed by a religious group for about nine months during which 10 similar inhuman incidents had taken place.
THE PAKISTAN TIMES, Lahore, March 1, 1994
Under orders of the the Magistrate 1st Class, Mr. Ubaidullah Sial, the Rabwah police have registered a case against prominent leaders of Qadiani Jamat-i-Ahmedia, including Mirza Tahir Ahmed, under Sections 298-B, 298-C and 337, PPC and are conducting raids for their arrest.
The Ilaqa Magistrate ordered the registration of the case on the application of Advocate Malik Rab Nawaz who had alleged that Mirza Tahir Ahmed, Mirza Mansoor Ahmed, Major Shahid Saadi, Qasim Shah, Dr. Nazir Ahmed, Raja Munir Ahmed, Akbar and Nasir had translated a Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with mailicious intentions and to suit their own nefarious designs…
…Malik Rab Nawaz…alleged that such proclamation was made at the behest of Jamaat-i-Ahmedia chief Mirza Tahir Ahmed whose address was telecast from London via satellite. He also alleged that though being a Pakistani citizen the said Mirza Tahir was violating Pakistan Penal Code sections. He added that according to the Penal Code if any Pakistani national violated the PPC outside Pakistan, such a violation would be deemed to have been made inside Pakistan.
…and other leading Ulema have greatly lauded the registration of a case against leading qadiani leaders…and demanded the arrest and exemplary punishment…to ensure that in future no one dared to violate the sanctity of Islam, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and Pakistan's Constitution.
…Qadianis have since long been allegedly resorting to the violation of Anti-Qadianis Ordinance through their journals in flagrant regard to the Government restrictions and were under a planned conspiracy out to disrupt the peace and order of the country.
Daily Jang January 16, 1995
Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat announced that if the permission granted to Qadianis for their congregation is not withdrawn, all the roads to Rabwah would be blocked. According to the constitution Ahmadis have been prohibited to hold any gathering. The force of our faith should not be tested. (Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat) . The Majlis has called a meeting to make final decision.
Daily Pakistan January 17, 1995
To grant permission to Qadianis for the congregation is against the constitution, Ulema protested. The authorities are favouring Qadianis. If Qadianis gather in the town, we would also hold a Khatme Nabuwwat Conference there. A meeting of all the ulemas will be called in order to start a country wide movement.
Daily Jang January 17, 1995
Various religious and political organisations have condemned the decision of the government to permit Ahmadis to hold thier congregation. The ulema have taken oath to offer their lives for this sake. If the permission granted to Qadianis to hold their gathering is not withdrawn, the muslims would march towards Rabwah.
Daily Pakistan January 17, 1995
The Qadianis have been granted permission to hold their congregation under the pressure of Douglas Hurd. The government is openly violating the anti-Qadiani Ordinance. We will not permit to make the country a secular state. If the Foreign Governments do not desist from interfering, they would have to close their embassies.
Daily Pakistan January 17, 1995
The permission to Qadianis to hold their congregation should immediately be withdrawn, demanded Senator Samiul Haq. The religious sentiments of Muslims have been injured. The Government would be responsible if the situation is aggravated.
Daily Pakistan January 17, 1995
The Daily Pakistan carried the following statement of Maulana Mahmud Abdul Waras Chinioti:
Daily Pakistan January 17, 1995
The Daily Pakistan carried the following statement Atuallah Bindylavi, Central Amir Tahrike Defence Sahaba Pakistan:
Daily Nawai Waqt January 18, 1995
The Nawai Waqt carried the following statement from the Government of the Province of Punjab:
POLITICS & BUSINESS March 27, 1995
PAKISTANI CITIZENS APPLYING FOR A new passport, or renewing an old one, know that they will be faced with a rather bizarre section in the application form, the signing of which entitles them to have the word 'Muslim' inserted in the religion column. It was first introduced after the 1974 furore when Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims, and was given to applicants as a separate, rather shoddily typed piece of paper. One assumed then that once things had settled down this bit 2of insanity would simply disappear. A vain hope, for now it is a properly printed integral part of the passport application form.
Many of the Muslims of Pakistan have quite recent, first-hand memories of the hazards of living as a minority religious group in an intolerant social environment. And for those too young to remember, or born after the Partition, that dreaded legacy of subordination under the Hindus in India remains a part of our lore. In addition, news from across the border of continuing atrocities against India's Muslim minority is seldom in short supply. Yet we as a people seem totally incapable of reacting effectively to the escalating mistreatment and violence aimed at religious minorities and minority sects in our own country.
The world-wide derision against Pakistan in the case of Salamat Masih, the Christian child accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death until the High Court reversed the decision, is still quite fresh. Waves of increasingly more vicious and violent attacks against Shias are a daily occurrence. Even so, none of our political leaders seem willing or able to address the issue of equal and fair treatment of minorities as citizens of Pakistan. The shocking reality is that the so-called religious, fundamentalist parties, which inspire such dread and fear, have never managed more than 8% of the popular vote (5% seats in a 217-member elected assembly). They are, in fact, both few and divided and cannot be seen to threaten the power base in the same way as, for instance, in Algeria. Why then is their influence so inordinately out of propo2rtion to their representation?
There is, of course, the element of 'fear' shared by political leaders and ordinary people alike. To an extent it is understandable since close to everyone, with the possible exception of the Hanafi Sunnis, is on one hit list or another. Last year, the suggestion of then Law Minister Iqbal Haider that the blasphemy law should be amended landed him with a 25,000 price on his head! Of course, that was the last we heard of such a possibility despite Benazir Bhutto's earlier attack on the Nawaz Sharif government for extending the Shariah laws.
Getting back to the Ahmadis, if we think about it, 1974, and the action of the Bhutto government to make political capital and appease the mullah element, was probably the start of the religious intolerance which has now engulfed the country. The roots of bigotry and intolerance had, without doubt, always existed, as they always do. As early as 1953, there had been anti-Ahmadi riots in the Punjab and the federal government had moved to supress them. Until 1974, in some way or another, Pakistan had continued to respect the words of the Quaid-e-Azam: "You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the business of State."
In 1974, a section was added to Article 260 of the Constitution which reads: "A person who does not believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), last of the Prophets, or claims to be a Prophet, in any sense of the word, or of any description whatsoever after Mohammad (PBUH), or recognises such a claimant as Prophet or a religious reformer, is not a Muslim for the purposes of the Constitution or law."
It did not mention Ahmadis by name, but at any event the floodgates of religious intolerance had been opened by the elected government itself. Now that the Bengalis were no longer available to hate, other avenues had to be found.
In spite of this turn of events there was no mass exodus, and the 3 to 4 million Ahmadis of Pakistan continued to find a way to save their skins. A 100% literate community, they made their mark in the fields of health, education and social service, with the possibility of joining government or the armed forces closed to them. That their being declared a minority religion also made their patriotism suspect is another outcome of this bigotry. Forgotten are the services of General Akhtar Malik in the 1965 war and the role of General Abdul Ali Malik in stopping the Indian advances in Chawinda. No pride is taken in the achievements of Dr Abdus Salam, the Pakistani nuclear physicist who won the Nobel prize who happens to belong to the Ahmadi community.
The situation was complicated further in 1984 when General Zia ul Haq's military junta introduced the dreaded Ordinance XX to "amend the law" and "prohibit Ahmadis from indulging in anti-Islamic activities". In effect, Ordinance XX has made Article 20 of the Constitution, which gives the citizens of Pakistan the "freedom to profess religion and manage religious institutions", completely redundant.
In 1993 the Ahmadis made an attempt to regain their constitutional rights as guaranteed under Article 20 by going to the Supreme Court but did not succeed. The majority of the Supreme Court judges upheld that the Ahmadis may not refer to their places of worship as 'Masjid', to the call to prayers as 'Azan' or describe themselves as Muslims and may in no manner "outrage the religious feelings of Muslims".
Commenting on this, Lord Avebury, chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group and a staunch supporter of Pakistan in the Kashmir case, said in a letter to the Pakistan High Commission in London: "I dare say that in India the BJP may one day suggest that restrictions be placed on Moslems because of the threat to public order posed by the exercise of their religion."
In the meantime, the toll of human misery continues to rise. Where will it all end? Given their way, the fundamentalist elements would happily declare Shias and any other sects which do not meet with their approval as non-Muslims as well so that Pakistan, presently 97% Muslim, could end up with a sizeable minority population!
NETNEWS (News International) April 10, 1995
PESHAWAR: An angry mob stoned a person to death and injured another for helping a Muslim give up Islam in Shabqadar, 45 kilometres from here on Sunday. Their third companion, however, managed to escape.
Ahmedi lawyer stoned to death
PESHAWAR: An angry mob stoned a person to death and seriously injured another on Sunday for allegedly converting a Muslim to the Ahmedi faith, in Shabqadar, 45 kilometres from here. The third companion of the victims.
Dawn Wire Service April 20, 1995
..header begins. DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS ------------------------------------------------------------------- D A W N W I R E S E R V I C E ------------------------------------------------------------------- Week Ending : April 20 1995 Issue : 01/15 ------------------------------------------------------------------- The DAWN Wire Service (DWS) is a free weekly news-service from Pakistan's largest English language newspaper, the daily DAWN. DWS offers news, analysis and features of particular interest to the Pakistani Community on the Internet. Extracts from DWS can be used provided that this entire header is included at the beginning of each extract. We encourage comments & suggestions. We can be reached at: e-mail email@example.com fax +92 (21) 568-3188 & 568-3801 mail Pakistan Herald Publications (Pvt.) Limited DAWN Group of Newspapers Haroon House, Karachi 74400, Pakistan TO START RECEIVING DWS FREE EVERY WEEK, JUST SEND US YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS! (c) Pakistan Herald Publications (Pvt.) Ltd., Pakistan - 1995 DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS ..header ends.
None willing to speak on Shabqadar incident
PESHAWAR, April 15: Last Sunday's Shabqadar incident of ghastly killing of an Ahmadi lawyer in the court premises is in the process of being consigned to the old record room of the police station.
This Conclusion was drawn from the indications here and in Shabqadar. No finger has been lifted at the policemen who apparently failed to perform their duty to provide protection to the lives and property of people, with no transfers ordered and no inquiry called.
All evidence goes to point that the police department and the provincial government are keen to hush up the gory drama, fearing a backlash; and the backlash coming from the Prime Minister's office, they fear, will be more detrimental to their 'good name'. That happening, the government shall not be able to justify the recently announced Rs 20 million additional grant to the provincial police force. Nor would it be in a position to convince the Centre of a matching additional grant announced by the provincial chief executive some weeks back.
The government did not even bother to issue a statement as if a fly had been killed and the lynching of a human being was a matter of routine. No statement, no government handout and not even a clarification through a police press release even. What may happen subsequently is anybody's guess for the official attitude should have encouraged those who know how to settle the score with 'Kafir' and then also get away with it.
Newsline April 1995
In the intensive care unit of Rabwah's Fazle Umar Hospital lies Rasheed Ahmad Khan, a battered, bludgeoned spectre of a man whose countless wounds and multiple fractures bear testimony to a horrific ordeal.
On Ap2ril 9, the 60-year-old Khan was beaten and stoned and left for dead by a mob of local maulvis in Shabqadar near Peshawar for preaching ‘Qadianiyyat’.The memory of that ordeal is as raw as his wounds. Recalls Rasheed Khan: "The pesh imam of the area's main mosque, Maulvi Fazle Rabbi, grabbed me first. He slapped me in the face and knocked me down. This was followed by a free-for-all with whatever instrument of torture they could find: sticks, rods, stones, bricks… obviously they saw it as a rare opportunity to earn sawab." His ordeal did not end there. "After some time I became semi-conscious, my body numb. I felt no pain, except when someone jumped on my chest. But at some subterranean level, I heard them saying 'the kafir is dead.' And then I heard someone inviting the others to kick my corpse to earn additional sawab. So they started beating me again." The police and the local administration were present in the court premises where the incident took place, but they did nothing to stop it.
The Shabqadar incident symbolises the ordeal of Ahmadis since 1974 when the sect was declared non-Muslim by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's government. But their problems began even earlier. Ahmadis have been the favourite target of the clergy since the birth of Pakistan. Once the new country came into being despite the clergy's staunch opposition to Partition, the latter had to find a new scapegoat, and that turned out to be the Ahmadis. But the Ahmadis fate was sealed when Z A Bhutto's ostensibly liberal government played the religious card in a desperate bid to retain power. In 1974 parliament unanimously adopted a resolution declaring Ahmadis non-Muslims.
However, it was in April 1984 that the axe really fell on the Ahmadis. Under Zia-ul-Haq, a martial law ordinance (XX) amended Section 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code. Under the revised law Ahmadis were banned from using titles, reciting verses or practising rites that were part of the Islamic faith. Posing as a Muslim was declared a crime punishable by three years imprisonment and a fine. "Bhutto declared us dogs and Zia forced us to act like dogs," said a senior official of the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya in Rabwah. "We are a football in Pakistan's political arena," says another Ahmadi. "Everybody kicks us to score religious points to gain political mileage."
Since 1984, 2,340 Ahmadis have been framed in 640 cases under Section 298-C. On an average one case is filed against an Ahmadi on every sixth day. The nature of the 'crimes' they are charged with ranges from wearing a ring inscribed with Quranic verses to saying 'Assalam-o-alaikum.'…
A typical case is that of Abdul Shakoor. Rana Muhammad Yunus submitted a written complaint to a Sargodha police station on March 10, 1990, that a 'Qadiani kafir,' Abdul Shakoor, was wearing a ring inscribed with a Quranic verse and posing as a Muslim, thereby wounding the feeling of 'genuine' Muslims. Investigating officer ASI Fazal Karim conducted an 'investigation,' arrested the accused and recovered the ring from him. Ejaz Hussain Baloch, first magistrate, Sargodha, heard the case and gave his verdict: "It is crystal clear that the prosecution has proved its case against the accused beyond doubt. The accused is a habitual offender as he has already been convicted for commission of disgrace of Kalima Tayyabah. I therefore hold Abdul Shakoor guilty under Section 298-C and convict him accordingly. He is sentenced to undergo RI (rigorous imprisonment) for three years and also to pay a fine of 5,000 rupees. In default of payment of the fine he shall undergo RI for nine months."
So sweeping is the law against Ahmadis that it often borders of farce. In March 1989, the district magistrate, Jhang banned the centenary celebrations of the community to be held in Rabwah. The order included a ban on the construction of decorative gates and the distribution of sweetmeats and food. Even more telling than this was the case registered on December 15, 1989 by the Rabwah police against "all the Mirzai residents of the city of Rabwah" on the complaint of Mohammad Ashiq. The FIR said that despite the constitutional amendment of 1974 and Ordinance XX of 1984 the Ahmadis had not given up Islamic practices (sha'air). The FIR read: "It has been noticed that they (the Ahmadis) are keeping Kalima - plaques in their offices, places of worship and graves. They say assalam-o-alaikum to Muslims. Moreover, they form groups and recite the Kalima in the streets of Rabwah at dawn as a substitute for the azaan, all of which is banned for them."
Since the '84 amendment, the erasing of the Kalima from Ahmadi places of worship has been one of the favourite pastimes of the imams of mosques, particularly in the vicinity of Rabwah. In Sialkot, a maulana complained to the police about one such 'violation.' The police decided to erase the Kalima from the Ahmadi prayer hall but the policeman assigned the job began to tremble from fear of defacing so holy an inscription. A Christian sweeper was then summoned to accomplish the unholy task, but he too was wary lest it backfire on him. So he went to his priest for advice. Subsequently he rubbed off the Kalima - but only the second part which says that Mohammad (PBUH) is the Prophet of God.
Ordinance XX also banned Ahmadis from calling their places of worship mosques, and they were asked to henceforth ensure that the architecture of their places of worship bore no resemblance to the Muslim mosques. Not all Ahmadis complied with these instructions, but they paid a price for their defiance. In the last decade six Ahmadi prayer halls have been burnt, 11 sealed by the authorities, four occupied by non-Ahmadis and the construction of 12 has been stayed by the courts…. There are 23 reported instances of Ahmadis having been refused burial in Muslim graveyards and at 13 sites Ahmadi corpses have been exhumed to 'purify' Muslim graveyards.
The list of cases of persecution against Ahmadis is endless. On April 12, 1989 the houses of Ahmadis in Nankana Sahib were looted and burnt by a violent mob under what a Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) report said was "centralised direction and planning… with Ahmadi houses marked well in advance" by the Tahaffuz Khatam-e-Nabuwat. The HRCP's mission which compiled the report on the incident found that "The police was openly anti-Ahmadi. Its local chief attended a function two days after the event which almost amounted to (a celebration) of the shameful events of April 12."
The country's judiciary meanwhile, has devised its own ways of earning sawab in the 'holy' point-scoring game. Five Ahmadi students who had earned places in the B-Pharmacy course at Punjab University on merit were refused admission in December 1981 on the sole ground that they were Ahmadis. They challenged the university's policy in the Lahore High Court and went through five long years of litigation. On May 17, 1987 the court observed that the appeal had become infructuous as the four-year course to which the applicants had sought admission had already concluded in 1986. On the insistence of the appellants' counsel, the court recorded the observation that the appeal had become infructuous because of the court's refusal to treat the case on a priority basis.
On January 15, 1994 the deputy commissioner, Jhang registered complaints under Section 298-C against five Ahmadi journalists, including Noor Mohammad Saifi, the 77-year-old editor of the Ahmadi daily, Al-Fazal. The complaints were of a general nature and related to pieces that had appeared in Several issues of Al-Fazal and the monthly magazine, Ansarullah. A week later two more complaints were filed against the journalists under Section 298-C, and subsequently four more were filed. In all the cases the deputy commissioner Jhang was the complainant. The cases did not specify which feature in the offending publications violated Section 298-C.
On February 7, the judge in the sessions court in Chiniot not only rejected the bail application of the five journalists but added charges of blasphemy against them under Section 295-C. They were arrested in court and sent to the judicial lock-up. They were granted bail a month later and were released, but the cases against them are still pending.
Four Ahmadis from Chak 15/DB in district Mianwali, however, were even less fortunate. Booked under section 295-C, they have been waiting for bail in Mianwali Jail for the past year. They were arrested on November 21, 1993 for posing as Muslims and committing blasphemy against the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The Ahmadis allege that their only offence is that the main accused in this case, Riaz Ahmad, had a dispute with the plaintiff, Muhammad Abdullah, over the numberdarship of the area. Riaz had been the numberdar of the area for several years but Abdullah had him removed from the post by the deputy commissioner, Mianwali. The verdict was repealed by the commissioner of Sargodha who remarked in his decision that there is no provision in the law preventing an Ahmadi from becoming a numberdar. The law does, however, have Section 295-C, which Abdullah decided to invoke to fulfil his desire of becoming a numberdar.
In October 1994, The District Commissioner, Rajanpur, Tariq Javed Afridi, ordered a crackdown on Ahmadis in his jurisdiction. An Ahmadi in Dajal and the District President of The Ahmadiyya Jamaat, Rajanpur, Mian Iqbal Ahmad were arrested immediately. The local weely Mittban lauded the young bureaucrat's great services for Islam in banner headlines, and quoted Tariq Javed as saying, "I have asked the City Magistrate, Mazahar Khan, not to grant bail to the enemies of Mohammad (PHUB)." says an Ahmadi with four cases pending against him under Section 298-C: "The law is a wild tool in anybody's hands."
Virtually every government servant must first attest that he is not an Ahmadi if he wants to climb up the official ladder. Even parliament ensures that no government dares to relax this unofficial policy. Lists of Ahmadi employees in different departments are frequently compiled and submitted to parliamentarians on requst. These lists then become hit-lists in the course of bureaucratic infighting. The same applies to the judiciary. Justice Sajjad Ali Shah went on record to deny he was an Ahmadi before assuming charge as the chief justice of Pakistan. The press information department then made frantic phone calls to newspapers across the country requesting that his denial be 'prominently displayed.' Punjab chief minister Manzoor Wattoo also had to publicly declare that he was a Muslim not an Ahmadi before assuming office. "It is strange that you have to deny being an Ahmadi to establish that you are a Muslim," says one young Ahmadi sarcastically.
The discrimination against Ahmadis also extends to the armed forces. In the early '70s the Pakistan air force chief, Zafar Ahmad Chaudhry, was an Ahmadi. Fifteen years later, the air force dismissed radar operator corporal Basharat Ahmad Pak/451621 for apostasy: he had 'converted' from Islam to Ahmadiyyat. Several Ahmadi generals have been awarded the country's highest medals for bravery in the wars against India. But today no Ahmadi can be promoted beyond the rank of brigadier, nor assigned strategically important tasks. Little wonder then that most Ahmadi officers complete the mandatory service period and quit.
Against this backdrop it is hardly surprising that luminaries like Sir Zafrullah Khan, Pakistan's first foreign minister, and Nobel Laureate Dr Abdul Salam have been consigned to virtual oblivion by Pakistani officialdom.
Sir Zafrullah, a respected politician of the independence movement era, represented Pakistan as foreign minister, president of the UN General Assembly and president of the International Court of Justice in the Hague. His grandson Ahmad Nasrullah, meanwhile, was brutally tortured to death on February 6, 1993.
Mysterious murders by unidentified assailants is typical of the new wave of violence against Ahmadis. The assailants' targets are now not usually religious leaders as in the past, but professionals of high repute. Since the '80s, mob violence and arson have been replaced by well-organised attacks and the battlefield has shifted from the streets to hostels and campusses. From November 1993 to November 1994 there have been at least 10 reported cases of attacks on Ahmadi students and teachers of medical and engineering colleges in Lahore alone.
"The Ahmadis have already been pushed to the wall," says one Khatam-e-Nabuwat activist in Rabwah. "One final jolt with the help of the government could now root out the menace (of Ahmadiyyat) once and for ever." The activist is a lieutenant of Maulvi Ghulam Mustafa who, he says, is spearheading "a jehad against the infidels in the heart of their homeland." The maulvi's bunker, from where he conducts his jehad, is his mosque; with an 80-foot high minaret, it looks down on Rabwah from the eastern end of the bank of the River Chenab. This portion of Rabwah's 1000-acre land, which had been leased out to the Ahmadiyya Jamaat in 1947, was 'reacquired' by the government in 1974. From the high-rise minaret of his mosque, Maulvi Mustafa delivers, through a loudspeaker, a daily sermon replete with fiery exhortations and expletives against the Ahmadis. The maulana does not stop at verbal abuse. He also arranges an annual gathering of leaders of various sects of Islam in October at the entrance of Rabwah, in a bid to keep alive the ummah's resolve to continue with its anti-Ahmadi campaign.
… The emergence of Pakistan had left the Ahrars, who were great supporters of Congress and had opposed the idea of Pakistan, political orphans. They soon realised the potential of the Khatam-e-Nabuwat issue, and successfully brought the people out on to the roads in 1953. The anti-Ahmadi riots in Lahore ended in the country's first martial law.
Dawn Wire Service May 5, 1995
------------------------------------------------------------------- D A W N W I R E S E R V I C E ------------------------------------------------------------------- Week Ending : 4 May, 1995 Issue : 01/17 ------------------------------------------------------------------- The DAWN Wire Service (DWS) is a free weekly news-service from Pakistan's largest English language newspaper, the daily DAWN. DWS offers news, analysis and features of particular interest to the Pakistani Community on the Internet. Extracts from DWS can be used provided that this entire header is included at the beginning of each extract. We encourage comments & suggestions. We can be reached at: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org fax +92 (21) 568-3188 & 568-3801 mail Pakistan Herald Publications (Pvt.) Limited DAWN Group of Newspapers Haroon House, Karachi 74400, Pakistan (c) Pakistan Herald Publications (Pvt.) Ltd., Pakistan - 1995
UK govt urged to help Pakistan combat violence
From Our Correspondent
LONDON, April 29: An "early day motion" has been tabled before the House of Commons urging the British government "to assist the government of Pakistan in every way to combat crime and violence."
The motion has so far been signed by 40 members belonging to all the three main political parties. The move has been sponsored by Labour member of parliament, Max Madden.
The Labour MP feels the majority of his Pakistani constituents condemn without reservation religious hatred and religious intolerance wherever and however it occurs in Pakistan. They want those responsible for sectarian violence, including murder, arson and bomb attacks, to be brought to justice without delay.
The 'early day motion' urges members of British Parliament to use their influence on political parties in Pakistan to support any legislation brought before the National Assembly to repeal or reform the blasphemy laws introduced under martial law.
NatioNet (Daily Nation's headline news via Imran-Net) May 5, 1995
LAHORE- The Punjab Assembly Thursday unanimously adopted the resolution moved by the Opposition member Syed Tabish Alvari which asked the Punjab Government to urge the Centre not to introduce any amendments in the Blasphemy Law which may be against the spirit of Quran and Sunnah and contrary to the public sentiments. Punjab Assembly Speaker Hanif Ramay presided over the session in which both the Treasury and the Opposition members made speeches. Law Minister Ch Farooq in his speech said that in Article 2 of the 1973 Constitution, Islam has been declared the official religion of the state of Pakistan and that the Objectives Resolution has been termed as an implementable part of the Constitution, whereas Article 227 clearly says that no law repugnant to Quran and Sunnah could be enacted. Not only that, he said, as per the Constitution the laws already made were also to be modified in the light of Quran and Sunnah. He said the international pressure aside, no government can deny the Islamic injunctions. He said the governments come and go. "Our real path is Islam. No Muslim can support any law that is opposed to Quran and Sunnah, nor does the government has any such intentions." He said: "We hold the reverence for the last Prophet of God (PBUH) above every expediency. This resolution has the support of the entire House."
NETNEWS (News International's Free Headline News Exclusively via IMRAN-Net),
ISLAMABAD: The Milli Yekjehti Council is all set to observe countrywide strike today (Saturday) against the government's plans to change the blasphemy law.