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It is now more than fifteen years since the Ordinance was promulgated. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has suffered a great deal after Dictator Ziaul Haq promulgated Ordinance XX in 1984. The suffering continues unabated. It is a touching story and this Souvenir tells only a part of it. (read it online)
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Home Critical Analysis/Archives Report on the Situation of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan
Report on the Situation of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan

CENSORSHIP OF AHMADI PUBLICATIONS
“… charges of blasphemy were brought against five journalists of the Ahmadiyya community … If convicted, the five men would be sentenced to death. The death penalty is the mandatory punishment for blasphemy.”
Amnesty International
PAKISTAN: Five Ahmadi journalists charged with blasphemy

Government authorities in Pakistan have moved against the publications of Ahmadi Muslims. The following section presents a brief overview of the problem.

GOVERNMENT POLICY

The suppression of Ahmadi publications is part of a longstanding government policy. The Government set up a committee to review all publications of Ahmadis in 1986. (see Daily Jang, Karachi, September 18, 1986). The committee was 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.

NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES

The Daily Al-Fazl, Rabwah has frequently been banned. The monthlies Khalid, Ansarullah, Misbah, Tash-Hizul Azhan, and Review of Religions, have also been banned at various times. Typically the reason given for the banning order is that the material is likely to offend Muslims.

BOOKS

In addition to newspapers and magazines a number of books published by Ahmadis have been banned, including translations of the Qu'ran.

DAILY AL-FAZL

The authorities have been particularly harsh towards the Daily Al-Fazl, its Editor, and publisher of the Daily. The press was shut down for several years starting in December 1984 (see Human Rights in Pakistan, Report of Dr. Karen Parker, Human Rights Advocates, 1987) under the order of the District Magistrate. The newspaper has several times been required to post large amounts of money as surety. Many editions have been severely censored and seized outright. Typically the explanation given for suppressing the newspaper is that its material is "likely to create or excite feelings of enmity, ill-will and hatred."

The Editor of the Daily Al-Fazl has been cited as accused in more than a dozen cases for the unspecified contents of the paper. There have been as many as 45 cases against the printer and publisher of Al-Fazl. There have been 43 cases registered under 298-C against various journals and periodicals.

Show Cause Notice

Below is a show cause notice issued by the Government of the Punjab.

Government of the Punjab
Home Department

To:
Mr. Masood Ahmed
Publisher of Urdu daily "Al-Fazal", Rabwah
Office Al-Fazal Darul Rehman Gharbi
Rabwah

Memo No. 2-2/H-SPL-III/84
Dated, Lahore, the 8th December, 1984

Subject: Show Cause Notice

      Whereas, the Urdu Daily 'Al-Fazal', Rabwah, which is published by you in its following issues has material which is likely to create or excite feelings of enmity, ill-will and hatred between different classes of the citizens of Pakistan within the meaning of Clause (j) of Section 24(1) of the West Pakistan Press and Publications Ordinance, 1963:

      Dates of Issues

      13.8.84, 21-23.8.84, 25.8.84, 26.8.84, 28.8.84, 30.8.84,
      1.9.84, 5.9.84, 9.9.84, 10.9.84, 12.9.84, 13.9.84,
      15.9.84, 17.9.84, 18.9.84, 19.9.84, 20.9.84, 22.9.84,
      23.9.84, 24.9.84, 25.9.84, 26.9.84, 27.9.84, 29.9.84,
      30.9.84, 1.10.84, 3.10.84.

      Now, therefore, you are hereby required to appear before the Home Secretary, Punjab on 12.12.84 in his Office during working hours to show cause why you should not be required to deposit with the District Magistrate, Jhang, a sum of Rs. 30,000/- as security under Section 27 of the West Pakistan Press and Publications Ordinance, 1963.

By Order of the Governor of the Punjab

Signed by:
Abdur Rehman Khan
Under Secretary Spl.III
for Home Secretary, Punjab

A Show Cause Notice was issued in respect of 33 issues of Al-Fazal. The letter issued by the Home Department describes the entire contents as objectionable. It should be noted that the law requires that specific portions should be pointed out in such cases.

Two more letters bearing on the situation of Al-Fazal are reproduced below:

To:
Syed Abdul Hayee
Keeper of Zia ul Islam Press
Rabwah
Memo No. 2-2/H-SPL-III/84
Dated: Lahore, the 10th December, 1984

Subject: Action Against Zia ul Islam Press, Rabwah

      Whereas, the Government of the Punjab is satisfied that the Zia ul Islam Press, Rabwah, which is kept you, printed the following issues of Urdu Daily Al-Fazal, Rabwah, the entire contents thereof are likely to create or excite feelings of enmity, ill-will and hatred between different classes of the citizens of Pakistan within the meaning of Clause (j) of Section 24(1) of the West Pakistan Press and Publications Ordinance, 1963:

Dates of Issues

      13.8.84, 21.8.84, 22.8.84, 23.8.84, 25.8.84, 26.8.84,
      28.8.84, 30.8.84, 1.9.84, 2.9.84, 3.9.84, 4.9.84, 5.9.84,
      9.9.84, 10.9.84, 12.9.84, 13.9.84, 15.9.84, 16.9.84
      17.9.84, 18/19.9.84, 20.9.84, 22.9.84, 23.9.84, 24.9.84,
      25.9.84, 27.9.84, 29.9.84, 30.9.84, 1.10.84, 2.10.84, and
      3.10.84.

      Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Subsection (1) of Section 24 of the West Pakistan Press and Publications Ordinance, 1963, the Governor of the Punjab is pleased to direct that the above mentioned Press shall not be used for the printing or publishing of any book or paper for a period of three months with immediate effect.

By Order of the Governor of the Punjab

Signed by:
Abdur Rehman Khan
Under Secretary Spl.III
for Secretary to Government of the Punjab
Home Department

To:
      Syed Abdul Hayee
      Printer of Urdu daily Al-Fazal, Rabwah
      and Keeper of Zia ul Islam Press
      Rabwah
      Memo No. 2-2/H-SPL-III/84
      Dated: Lahore, the 4th December, 1984

Subject: Demand of Security

      Whereas, a notice under Section 23 of the West Pakistan Press and Publications Ordinance, 1963, bearing this Department's memo of even number dated 29.8.1984, was issued to you requiring you to show cause why you should not be required to deposit with the District Magistrate, Jhang, a sum of Rs. 30,000/- as security for printing objectionable material in various issues of the newspaper mentioned in the said notice;

     And, whereas, the written reply filed by you in response to the above mentioned show cause notice was considered along with oral contentions made in your personal hearing before the Home Secretary Punjab on 24.9.1984 but not found satisfactory;

      Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 23 of the West Pakistan Press and Publications Ordinance, 1963, the Governor of the Punjab is pleased to require you to deposit with the District Magistrate, Jhang, a sum of Rs. 30,000/-(Rupees thirty thousand only) in cash or equivalent thereof in securities of the Government of Pakistan, as you may choose, as security within ten days of this notice.

By Order of the Governor of the Punjab

Signed by:
                                          Abdur Rehman Khan
                                    Under Secretary Spl.III
                  for Secretary to Government of the Punjab
                                            Home Department

The order was challenged by a writ petition in Lahore High Court in Writ Petition No. 5651 of 1984 but the petition was not heard till 1988, when the Ordinance itself was repealed and the impugned orders stood vacated and lost their efficacy.

The newspaper was once again placed under two months ban in 1990 by the District Magistrate of Jhang under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance.

The Pakistan Times, Lahore, in an editorial of June 25, 1990 said:

…But surely gagging a newspaper on that plea requires some explanation of how public order was threatened in the first place…

CASES AGAINST THE AHMADI PRESS
AUGUST 1992 - JULY 1993

From:
Vol.IV No.IV October 1993
Quaterly
HRCP NEWSLETTER

Cases against the Ahmadi press

  1. Cases were registered against the editors, publishers and printers of the Ahmadiyya daily newspaper `Al-Fazl', and monthly magazines for Ahmadi youth and children, and monthlies `Khalid' and `Tash-heez-ul-Azhan', for printing material which allegedly violates the anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance.
  2. Two cases were registered against Ahmadiyya periodicals, the daily `Al-Fazl' and the monthly `Khalid' under Section 298-C. Both cases were registered on the instructions of the District Magistrate Jhang. Rabwah Police Station recieved 10 copies of the daily `Al-Fazl' and the October 1992 issue of the monthly `Khalid' sent by the District Magistrate, who instructed them to take legal action, and register a case against the paper and the magazine. the police registered cases under 298-C and the editors, publishers and printers of `Al-Fazl' and `Khalid' were obliged to seek bail in the Sessions Court, Chiniot.
  3. A case was registered on Feb. 23, 1993 at Rabwah police station under Section 298-C against the editor, publisher and printer of `Misbah', a monthly magazine for the religious training of the female wing of the Ahmadiyya community. An application to seek bail before arrest was moved in the Sessions Court and granted on March 7, 1993.
  4. Two cases were registered under PPC 298-C against two Ahmadi magazines, the monthlies `Ansarullah' and `Misbah'. Both the cases were registered under the instructions of the Deputy Magistrate Jhang. The editor, publishers and printers of the magazines were implicated. They moved bail applications to avoid arrest.
  5. On March 18, 1993, another case was registered under Section 298-C against the editor, publisher and printer of the daily `Al-Fazl', the official organ of the Ahmadiyya community on Pakistan.
  6. Two cases were registered against the editors and publishers of the daily `Al-Fazl' and monthly `Ansarullah' (December 1992 issue) on April 17, 1993 under Section 298-C.
  7. A case was registered against the editor, publisher and printer of the daily `Al-Fazl' at Rabwah police station under Section 298-C on June 10, 1993, under the instructions of the Home Secretary Punjab. Bail applications were moved in order to prevent their arrest.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL ON BLASPHEMY CASES AGAINST JOURNALISTS

From

Amnesty International
April 1994

PAKISTAN
Five Ahmadi journalists charged with blasphemy

AI INDEX: ASA 33/03/94
Distr: CO/SC

In January and February 1994, charges of blasphemy were brought against five journalists of the Ahmadiyya community; they were arrested on 7 February 1994 and held in Chiniot, Punjab province, till 7 March 1994. On 7 March they were released on bail … If convicted, the five men would be sentenced to death. The death penalty is the mandatory punishment for blasphemy.

Amnesty International believes that these men were prisoners of conscience …

Over the years, various complaints have been brought against publications of the Ahmadiyya community under sections 295 to 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), all of which relate to religious offenses … So far, 34 complaints have been registered against the daily "Al Fazl", 19 against the monthly "Ansarullah", 8 against the women's monthly "Misbah", 11 against the youth monthly "Khalid", 5 against the children's monthly "Tashizul Azhan" and 5 against the fortnightly publication "Tehrike Jadid"

… complaints were registered on 15 January 1994 under section 298-C, PPC by the Deputy Commissioner of Jhang, Punjab province, against five journalists, viz. Noor Muhammad Saifi, aged 77, editor of the daily "Al Fazl", its publisher Agha Saifullah and its printer Qazi Munir Ahmed and the editors of the monthly "Ansarullah", Mirza Mohammad Din Naz and Mohammad Ibrahim …

On 21 January 1994, two more complaints under section 298-C and on 15 February four more such charges were filed against editor, publisher and printer of "Al Fazl". In all cases, the Deputy Commissioner of Jhang, Punjab province was the complainant.

On 7 February the judge in the sessions court in Chiniot not only rejected the application for bail of the five men but added charges of blasphemy under section 295-C, punishable with death … Judging by other similar cases known to Amnesty International the completion of the preliminary police inquiry, the submission of the police report and the trial may take years, during which time the five journalists must live with the possibility of being sentenced to death.

Amnesty International calls on the Government of Pakistan to:

drop the charges against the five Ahmadi journalists arrested on 7 February 1994 as they violate their right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion …

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Last modified: 4 November 1994
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