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
In this book, the author deals with an issue that has lamentably marked humankind's religious history. Relying on a wide range of interviews he conducted throughtout Pakistan, Antonio R. Gualtieri relates the tragic experience of members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. Their right to define themselves as Muslims has been denied by the Govt. of Pakistan acting in collusion with orthodox Islamic teachers. Ahmadis have been beaten and murdered. They have been jailed, hounded from jobs and schools, their mosques sealed or vandalized, for professing to be Muslims and following Islamic practices. This book records their testimony of Harassment and persecution resulting from their loyalty to their understanding of God and HIS revelation.
One of the most outstanding, monthly English magazine, Review of Religions has been in publication since 1902. The objective of this publication is to educate, enlighten and inform its readers on religious, social, economic and political issues with particular emphasis on Islam. The contributors to this magazine are from various walks of life discussing on comparative religious issues, contemporary social and political issues, latest scientific discoveries and much more. A must read.
Published from London UK, this monthly magazine is available for annual subscription only. Can be subscribed as a gift for friends and relatives. (read it online
Plight of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan
Crimes against Humanity
It is not possible in this publication to record all the outrages and excesses of the government and the mulla, that were committed against the peaceful Ahmadi citizens of Pakistan, therefore, only a few sample incidents are described in essential detail to bring home the nature and severity of the treatment meted out to the Ahmadiyya Community and its members. Admittedly, a pen-picture can hardly do full justice to the emotions and mental agony and suffering of the victims who suffer constantly while under attack by the clerics and the State; only an effort can be made. These narratives are based on either first hand reports or on victims' own statements which have been verified from independent sources.
Murder in the Name of Allah
Mr. Nazir Ahmad, an Ahmadi medical practitioner from Dhoneki District Gujranwala, was murdered on 28 October 1997 by anti-Ahmadiyya extremists.
Mr. Nazir was a well known Ahmadi in the area and was popular among the local people because of his sympathetic disposition, medical work and charity services. Late on the evening of 28 October when he was busy attending to a patient, a group of armed and masked religious terrorists along with one without mask made a forced entry into the room and took hold of their victim. They demanded all the cash in the house; this was handed over to them. The four intruders then bolted the house from outside and took Mr. Nazir away. The family thought that the abduction was a terrorist act for ransom. The police was informed who made inquiries and undertook the search. Nothing could be traced for the next day, however the police maintained the required vigil for search. It was learnt that a few weeks earlier a mulla had agitated the people of a nearby village against Ahmadis. Then someone informed the police about the identity of a murderer, and they arrested Zaman Shah, a brother of Inayat Shah, the local Imam of Dhoneki mosque. Inayat Shah belonged earlier to Tahirul Qadri's Islamic group. During the interrogation he informed the police of his anti-Ahmadiyya stance and stated that he, along with some others, picked up the doctor from his residence and murdered him the same night and left his dead body in the stream of Palkhu nulla. The police discovered the dead body at the location indicated by the murderer. The corpse was found riddled by many bullets, hacked to pieces, stuffed in a sack and dumped in the water course. It had been partly nibbled by fish. The murder gang comprised Zaman Shah, Irshad Ahmad, Abid Hussain, Mohammad Boota, Nadeem Abbas and Asif Sindhi. Asif Sindhi absconded while the other five were arrested. The murder weapons were also recovered. Zaman Shah admitted to the press to have committed the murder.
Mr. Nazir Ahmad's death was mourned by the local population in general. People genuinely admired him for many of his qualities.
Subsequently, anti-Ahmadiyya activists formed an association and started open and unabashed campaign not only to defend the assassins but also to portray them as religious heroes who had performed an act of great merit by murdering an Ahmadi. The Daily Sadaqat of 5 November 97 published the news giving the following headlines:
We salute him who dispatched the apostate to hell — Khatme Nabuwwa Movement
It is in the great tradition of Ghazi Ilm Din to dispatch to hell someone who is an enemy of Islam and the constitution of Islam.
Syed Zaman Shah’s (the murderer) act fills us Muslims with pride. Khatme Nabuwwat Movement Pattoki
The Government took no notice of this inflammatory reporting. A few months later a court declared that the accused were Not Guilty, and set them free.
Human Rights Agencies report another Gruesome Murder of an Ahmadi
Amnesty International and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported the incident at Shabqadar (NWFP) Pakistan as follows.
Pakistan: Another Ahmadi Muslim Deliberately Killed By Islamists
A violent mob attacked two members of the Ahmadiyya Community in Shab Qadar, prompting Amnesty International to renew calls on the government of Pakistan to condemn such attacks and take immediate measures to prevent them. On April 19, Dr. Rashid Ahmad and his son-in law, Riaz Ahmad Khan, were attacked as they were about to attend a court hearing in Shab Qadar in the North West Frontier Province; Riaz Khan was stoned to death and his dead body stripped and dragged through the town on a rope. Dr. Rashid Ahmad was taken to a hospital in Peshawar with serious injuries. A third Ahmadi Muslim, Advocate Bashir Ahmad, escaped unhurt.
The three men — senior members of Ahmadiyya Community from Peshawar — had come from the provincial capital to help another Ahmadi Muslim, Daulat Khan, who had been harassed following his conversion to the sect several months ago; local Muslim clergy reportedly called for the death of the convert.
Daulat Khan was arrested on April 5, when members of the Ahmadiyya Community approached the police they were told that he had been arrested for his own safety. Later police registered a case against him under sections 107 (abetment) and 151 (disturbing public tranquility by joining an unlawful assembly) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The three men attacked had gone to Shab Qadar in order to file a bail application on Daulat Khan's behalf; when they entered the court premises, a violent mob attacked the three men with sticks and stones. To Amnesty International knowledge, no one has been criminally charged for the killing and Daulat Khan is still in custody.
During the past year, at least seven Ahmadi Muslims have been attacked and killed with impunity by religious extremists. Though most of these deliberate and arbitrary killings have taken place in broad daylight and before many eyewitnesses, in none of the cases reported to Amnesty International have those responsible for the killings been arrested and charged.
Amnesty International believes that the failure to criminally prosecute those responsible for attacks on members of religious minorities appears to indicate the acquiescence of the authorities with the perpetrators.
We once again urge the government of Pakistan to unequivocally and publicly condemn such attacks and to take all possible measures to protect the lives and security of members of Pakistan's religious minorities who appear to be at risk, said Amnesty International.
(Amnesty International April 8,1995)
At page 82 of its Annual Report (1995), the HRCP reported the same incident as follows:
Chapter: Freedom of conscience and religion
There were also several instances of fanatical groups of organizations harassing members of the Ahmadi community. In one gruesome case in Shabqadar in April two Ahmadi lawyers were publicly lynched outside the courtroom for having come to plead a bail application for a convert to Ahmadiyyat. One of them was stoned and clubbed until he died when his eyes were gouged. The other was left for dead, but survived the ordeal. A third had sensed the atmosphere early and escaped while he could.
The police stood and watched. It later pleaded that it could not have intervened in a situation like that. No one was held or charged even afterwards. Instead the Ahmadi convert whose bail application was to be moved (he was under detention for disturbing the peace under section 107 because of his conversion), was further charged with posing as a Muslim and preaching Ahmadiyyat (298-C) and insulting the religious sentiments of Muslims (295-A).
Murderous Assault on Ahmadi Ladies followed by Injuries by the State
Two Ahmadi ladies, Mrs. Bushra Taseer and Mrs. Sameea Bokhari of Karachi went to a tailor's shop at Tariq Road Market on March 26, 1996. Mrs. Bushra Taseer entered the tailor's shop but Mrs. Sameea Bokhari went further to buy some articles. After a short time, the tailor rushed out of his shop, took a knife from a nearby butcher's shop, and attacked Mrs. Bushra Taseer inflicting serious injuries on her head and shoulder. She fell unconscious. The tailor considering her to be dead left her and hastened to Mrs. Sameea Bokhari and attacked her too, with the same knife. She was also wounded seriously. Both the women were rushed to the hospital where they underwent major surgical operations for five and three hours respectively. Mrs. Bushra Taseer's condition was serious, as she became paralyzed due to head injuries.
The tailor, who was taken into police custody, blamed the ladies in his statement that they told him that Ahmadis were better Muslims and that they gave him a piece of cloth for stitching with the inscription of Quranic verses on it. It was an entirely false and baseless allegation. Under the mounting pressure from the fundamentalist Sunni Tahrik, the police obligingly registered a case against Mrs. Bushra Taseer under Sections PPC 295 A & 295 C (the Blasphemy Law) for possession of a cloth with Quranic inscription on it. She was placed under arrest, after registration of the case against her, on 31 March 1996, six days after the incident of assault on her. The police was posted at the Agha Khan University Hospital Karachi, where she was under treatment. A bail application was filed on her behalf in the court of Additional Session Judge Karachi East, who granted her bail on 17 April 1996 for a sum of RS.50,000/-. The disputed cloth was produced in the court. It proved the prosecution story against Mr. Bushra Taseer baseless, as the print on the cloth was a design and not a script in any sense, nor even readable in any manner.
A few months later, Mrs. Taseer decided to leave the country, as she found the environments here too violent and unjust to feel at ease.
Denial of Freedom of Faith
Since the creation of Pakistan, anti-Ahmadiyya forces had always managed to think of and implement new ways and innovations to persecute Ahmadis. It seemed now that they had run short of ideas; but no, they struck again with a vengeance and established a new low in their vicious campaign. It was a well co-ordinated attack at Swat where the executive, the police, the clerics, the press and even the newly installed Khidmat Committee took part to share the discredit. The high command was exercised from Islamabad.
On 18 June 1998, the Daily Ausaf of Islamabad reported in heavy print that: Qadianis have established in Swat a preaching headquarters; All actions are being taken in secret; Their library contains 1100 books; The authorities are negligent; The emotional flood of Swati people will be difficult to control. The Daily Azadi, on the same day, printed the same report and added, Swati people are lovers of Islam; their emotional flood will not only damage the targeted sect but also national assets and properties. It was amazing that these petty members of the yellow press simultaneously described the Ahmadiyya preaching drive as secret. Falsehood is reputed to have a short memory, but not so short.
The next move was also preplanned. The following day, on 19 June, an extremist by the name Syed Badr Zaman Sabar made a written complaint to the Superintendent Police, Mingora, who under the directions of Muhammad Yousaf, the Deputy Commissioner of Swat, organized a wholesome raid team. According to the Daily Ausaf of 20 June, the team comprised Magistrate Altaf Hussain, Khurshid Alt Khan DSP, Haq Nawaz CIA inspector, Zehrab Gul police inspector and for novelty, some members of the Khidmat Committee. Khidmat Committees had been recently installed as part of the National Agenda of Mr Nawaz Sharif the Prime Minister and their job is to serve the people. The raiding team raided the residence of Mr. Naimatulla, the local President of the Ahmadiyya Community and the living quarters of Mr. Karamatulla, the Ahmadiyya Missionary. As Mr. Naimatulla was not at home, the police arrested his son instead, Adil Suhail, who was a secondary school student. The youth, whose peace was disturbed at home by the raiding party, was charged under section PPC 107/151 for disturbing the peace. Mr. Karamatulla was also arrested and removed to an unknown location. A criminal case was registered against both Messers Naimatulla and Karamatulla, but initially the charges against them were kept confidential. Perhaps the police wanted to arrest the president before declaring the charge. Mr. Naimatulla came to know about the police search, so he avoided returning home and presenting himself.
The raiding party, according to the FIR and the press reports, confiscated scores of books written by the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, a book of Hadith, a pack of Ahmadiyya daily newspapers, letters, four audio cassettes, one video cassette, some books on history and a commentary on the Holy Quran, a few books written by non-Ahmadi authors, one on Sufism, the Bible and three photographs of Hadrat Ahmad (Founder of Ahmadiyya Community) . This inventory is commonly to be found in almost all Ahmadiyya Centers and in most Ahmadiyya homes where residents are well initiated in religion. A licensed pistol along with three bullets was also found; this belonged to Mr Naimatulla who was a well-placed respectable citizen and kept it for self-defense. One could ask; what is objectionable about having at home religious books, daily newspapers, and a licensed small arm? There was nothing illegal-the intruders found nothing objectionable-still they charged the innocent Ahmadis under PPC Sections 298C, 298B and 295A. The administration had no shame about framing charges for which they had no basis, no evidence- nothing. In any fair court, the authorities would lose the case on the first day and would be asked to pay damages. However, they feel safe in Pakistan where they know that only the defendant suffers even if he is not in the least guilty. The proxy complainant, in his application, rabidly demanded the victims to be charged under the Blasphemy Law, PPC 295-C and face a death punishment.
It was subsequently arranged that Mr. Karamatulla was shifted to Saidu Sharif to deny him easier access to his friends and well-wishers who could arrange some legal aid for him. Mr. Naimatulla stayed away from the police while the extremists and the yellow press howled for his blood. The expert coordinators followed up the operation to their satisfaction. The hired press printed news eulogizing the commendable action of the district authorities. Even the DSP Khurshid Ali Khan's statement was reported in the Daily Aaj of 20 June. A Reporting Team reported that the eradication of the Qadiani Center had pleased the people of Swat to no end. A Swat Action Committee was formed which comprised a few clerics who demanded that Qadianis and Pervezis be banned in Swat. The clerics demanded that properties of Qadianis be seized by the State. The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Malakand received a delegation of the ulema and assured them appropriate action.
Expulsion from Home and Hearth
District Magistrates in Pakistan have the authority to expel residents from their districts for two months without trial. In this, they have found a convenient way to take punitive action against Ahmadis without having to go through the formality of letting them defend themselves in a court of law. Often, mullas approach these administrative officers and urge them to use their special powers to deprive Ahmadis of their home and hearth. The victims not only suffer dislocation, they also lose business and sometimes their jobs. A prolonged absence from their family causes numerous problems for the affected household. Many such cases have occurred; one of these is described below.
Mr. Nazir Ahmad, a teacher by profession, had a job in Loralai, Baluchistan. When he was a young lad, his father, Mr. Allah Yar, was subjected to an assault in 1973 at Zobe by an armed mulla who attacked him while he was in police protection during the days of anti-Ahmadiyya unrest. He received a bullet injury in the arm, but luckily survived as he was rushed to the nearby hospital where he availed an emergency operation. Many years later, when Nazir grew up, he settled down in Loralai. One evening in 1995, Nazir Ahmad invited a few Ahmadi and non-Ahmadi friends to dinner. After the meal, they talked about Ahmadiyyat as well. Nazir tried to clear the prevalent misunderstandings and notions about his faith. The next day a mulla came to know of the dinner and the conversation. How dare they talk about Mirzaiat — was his arrogant reaction. He lost no time in informing other mullas of the town, who hurriedly called a meeting. There they formed an Action Committee to formulate and implement their wicked designs. These rabid mullas took to the pulpit and delivered fiery sermons in all the mosques. They contacted the police and met the Deputy Commissioner whom they urged to act against the Ahmadi.
They were told that not even. one of the participants had objected to the proceedings of the evening, so what was the fuss about. Mullas, however, refused to be pacified, and insisted that if the charge cannot be upheld, the DC should act unilaterally and expel the Ahmadi from the district. The Action Committee met the politicians and the press and pressed their demands. They threatened violence and bloodshed if action was delayed. In fact, they issued an ultimatum that by a certain date all the Ahmadis, including their women and children, should quit, or face consequences.
The Deputy Commissioner Mr. Tariq Rafique found it expedient and convenient to comply with the demand of the clerics and issued orders on I July 1995 to remove Mr. Nazir Ahmad from the revenue jurisdiction of District Loralai for a period of two months (Expulsion Order is reproduced at Annex VIII). As a result, Nazir could not attend to his job. Because of the tense situation, he could not return for about six months. He was not paid wages for eight long months, and his family faced great financial hardships. Calm prevailed subsequently for a while, but mullas restarted the agitation in 1997. They contacted Maulvi Amir Zaman, Provincial Minister who pushed the Deputy Commissioner to act. Thus once again, the DC, Mr. Imtiaz Tajwar, without letting the poor fellow defend himself, expelled Mr. Nazir from the district for 60 days (Order 1423/AB dated 13 October 1997). He was verbally told never to return. Nazir spent these days at the Quetta mosque- there was nowhere else to go. In January, he returned to Loralai. A few days later, he departed for the Punjab to spend Eid vacations. In his absence, mullas again took up howling after him. The politicians and the administration again cooperated with them, so the police raided his residence and told the residents to deliver him unto them. They were told that Nazir had already left for the Punjab. The magistrate then contacted Nazir on telephone and told him that he risked death at the hands of a mob if he returned to Loralai. He told him not to return. However, Nazir had to return to his job. When he returned in April 1998, the police seized him and drove him outside the district boundary. He was told that the DC had forbidden him to return. Thus, expulsion was physically imposed upon him by force. Thereafter, an order was issued expelling him again for 60 days. (Order No. 521/l/68-Act/AB/1997 issued on 5th day of June 1998). He was suspended from his job with recommendation from the DC that his next posting be made somewhere far away in the wilderness.
On expiry of this order, the agitation picked up again. The troika of mullas, politicians and administrators acting in perfect harmony, made it impossible for Ahmadis to live at Loralai. All the families had to leave in a hurry with whatever little they could carry. Four Ahmadis, who were head of their households, including Nazir, were summarily expelled from the district. These families left in circumstances of extreme danger and great fear, and shifted to Quetta. In their absence the opponents looted and took away whatever they could from their homes and businesses. Mr. Nazir had not been paid for seventeen months. How his family survived is a story of faith and perseverance.
Ordeal of a new Convert
Freedom of faith is denied in Pakistan to those who would like to join the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. They are subjected to all kinds of persecution including murder, physical assault, prosecution in courts, social boycott, deprivation of family, disinheritance, expulsion from town, loss of job etc. Mullas consistently demand that the Sharia punishment for apostasy (death) be made a part of the Law Book. While awaiting that ultimate measure they do all that is possible to make the choice ofAhmadiyyat extremely difficult for a possible convert. Statement of one convert, Mr Khurshid Ahmad Abbasi from Lodhran district is produced below as a sample.
In 1974, a great agitation was launched in Pakistan against Ahmadis. Miscreants held large conferences, took out processions and indulged in murder, arson and loot against Ahmadis. At the time, I was not an Ahmadi, but I did not like the rioting and agitation against a peaceful community. I took up a study in depth of the Ahmadiyya doctrine. I also visited Rabwah in 1982 to get to know them at first hand. I was impressed, so eventually, on 23 March 1989 I joined the Ahmadiyya Community. I was afraid of the opposition, so I decided to keep my conversion confidential.
In 1988, I got married. In 1989 my baby daughter died. Many Ahmadis came over for condolences; this disclosed my conversion. My relatives and village-folk got thereby very angry, and forbade me to offer her funeral prayers and to participate in her burial. Subsequently their hostility got so severe that even my wife departed and went away to live with her parents. They made it impossible for me to stay on in the village, so I quit and moved to Lodhran. My wife rejoined me there two months later. Unfortunately the next year our second baby also died. Ahmadi-bashers did not let me again arrange her burial; in fact, they beat me up.
In October 1996, my village-opponents fabricated a story and got a false criminal case registered against me under PPC 298-C, 341 and 506, for preaching and possessing illegal firearms. For fear of arrest, I quit Lodhran and took refuge in Hasalpur. I passed one and a half year in fear and anxiety. Eventually they got me. It was perhaps 11 April 1998 that at about 11 p.m. the police came over to my residence. They knocked at the door. When I opened the door, they seized me. There were seven constables led by an ASI, Malik Mohammad Aslam. They arrested me and took me to the police station, where they kept me in police lock-up for 12 days and then sent me to a jail. After 38 days, the court accepted my plea for bail. These events hurt my family and me severely. I am not a criminal type. For me to get involved with police, lock-ups and courts was a great torture. My job and my children's education also suffered. In fact, I am facing severe hardships and persecution for the last nine years. It is not possible to convey all the agonizing details; I can only make a brief mention of some aspects:
Anti-Ahmadiyya activists harassed my wife, and threatened me with murder. I therefore quit my village. During my absence, my son, Hasnain Abdullah, had his right thumb badly injured. Nobody helped with his removal to the hospital; his thumb could have been saved.
Since 1989,1 am living a life of fear. I am the only Ahmadi, in my village. My entire family is facing hardship. We could be assaulted and harmed without warning. Once the village elders assembled and made a plan to set me right and have me beaten up. They pointed out my house to fundamentalists from Lodhran. At another occasion, a band of men had a lengthy meeting with my non-Ahmadi brothers, planning how to make me recant. Such events subjected me and my family to great stress.
People who know me in Lodhran and Bahawalpur districts consider me a defector and bear ill will against me. I am unable to travel in daytime by public transport to and from the Market and on the Main Road, as I am afraid of harm from the miscreants.
My own brothers have turned against me. They have usurped 25 kanals of my agricultural land on which I had spent Rs.8,000 for development. My father also does not let me have a share in the family property. All members of my little family are having a hard time. Even my children are not spared. Their uncles detract them from my religious upbringing and me. Children thus feel insecure and harassed. They lose peace of mind and concentration in studies.
I had a government job. Activists chased me there as well and disturbed my job environment. I had to quit. In view of the hate environment, I am unable to seek and keep a job within district Lodhran.
I am facing prosecution in a Lodhran civil court. Almost every fortnight I have to present myself there. It costs money and wastes time. In addition, I am exposed to the risk of religious terrorism. Ahmadis have been murdered in the past in premises of courts. In case charges are upheld which is not unlikely, I could end up in prison for seven years and be fined beyond my capacity.
Khurshid Ahmad Abbasi
S/o Mohammad Ashraf
Ahmadis have faced many difficulties in performing the prescribed worship and offering congregational prayers in their mosques. Ahmadi mosques were made a special target. Arrests were made en-masse at places. Prayer centers were threatened by violence and had to be closed down. Ahmadis were directed not to assemble for the Friday Prayers, so they often took to shifting their places of congregation. Hereunder, the story of an Ahmadi from Kotri is given in his own words.
It was on 3 April 1992, the last Friday of the month of Ramadan, that while in a state of fasting and waiting for the Juma prayers in the Ahmadiyya Mosque, Bhitai Colony, Kotri, I was arrested along with nineteen other Ahmadis at about 1230 hrs.
Fundamentalist mullas of the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat, Kotri were opposed to the construction of an Ahmadiyya mosque in Bhitai Colony Kotri. In conspiracy with the local police, they arranged a raid on its site alleging that armed Ahmadis were abusing there the Islamic religion.
The police on arrival found unarmed peaceful Ahmadis waiting for the Juma prayer that was to start at 1 p.m. Nevertheless, they took all of us under custody saying that we had to be protected from mullas who were furious about our place of worship. They took us to the police post, humiliated us, and even forced some of us to undress and beat us up with batons.
The next day we were informed that all of us were being charged under Sections 295-C and 298-C (insulting the Prophet and hurting the feelings of Muslims) an outrageously false charge. In the Police Report, Ijaz Ahmed was alleged to have made a speech, and another Ahmadi, Abdul Qadeer, and I were falsely charged of possession of revolvers without license. In addition, all of us were also charged with threatening to disturb the peace. We were made to remain in the lock-up even on the day of the Eid festival. That was indeed callous and inhuman. Mullas and the police had cast aside minimal human values and decency.
After more than 2 weeks, we were released on bail by the Addl Sessions Judge Kotri, except for Mr Ijaz Ahmad who was later released on bail by the High Court.
We were all prosecuted in court for more than a year and were finally found Not Guilty of the collective charge. Abdul Qadeer and I were also acquitted on 23 January 1995 of the false charge of possession of unlicensed revolvers, by the Judicial Magistrate, Kotri. However, the very serious charges under Section 295-C/298-C linger on even after six years in the court of Addl Sessions Judge Kotri, although five Judges have been transferred since then. The punishment under the clause PPC 295-C is nothing but death. Afraid of the wrath of fundamentalists, no judge had the courage to grant us justice and to acquit us of the fabricated charges.
I am a graduate engineer in electronics from Mehran University, but am unable to find a suitable job due to the pending case against me. Moreover, murder threats by fundamentalists have subjected me to persistent insecurity and fear. There remains also the distinct possibility that a judge may award me the death penalty or life imprisonment on this fabricated charge of blasphemy; it has already happened to other innocent Ahmadis, for instance the three from Sheikhupura, who were sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment on 2 December 1997.
Shahid Murid Ahmad Talpur
Jobs in Jeopardy
The perpetrators of persecution against Ahmadis are very mindful of their commitment to cripple the Ahmadiyya economy. For the last half a century one of their main demands consistently was: Qadianis be removed from key-posts. Infact they would like Ahmadis to be denied all posts, because in the opinion ofmullas almost all posts in the service of the State are key-posts for religious minorities. The government has obliged by easing or forcing Ahmadis out of most of the public positions. Those who were in service were discouraged due to discrimination and lack of advancement opportunities; so they left or were prematurely retired. Fresh enrolment was severely curtailed. Therefore, the public sector is now left with very few Ahmadis. The private sector did not lag behind either, as, with fewer controls and regulations, it could deprive Ahmadis, with greater ease, of jobs and promotions. In the following story, experiences of Mr. Farooq Ahmad, an employee in private sector, are narrated to illustrate the problem faced by the present generation of Ahmadis in making a living.
I, Farooq Ahmad S/O Bashir Ahmad, am a resident of SITE Area, Kotri, Sind. Those from the Ahle Sunnat Jamaat were deadly opposed to us, Ahmadis. Their mullas had widely spread hatred against us, and told their flock that murder of an Ahmadi is an act of great merit and it ensures the killer a place in paradise. On Friday, April 3, 1992 these clerics assembled a crowd of approximately 300 men and raided the Ahmadiyya Mosque at about 12.30 p.m. They attacked Ahmadi worshippers and made a violent scene. Then police inspector, Ejaz Pandiani, whom they had already taken in their confidence, arrived and took 22 Ahmadis including me in custody, refused us permission to offer our prayers and dragged us to the police station. I was falsely accused of possessing a fire arm. They made me undress, tied me with a pillar and beat me severely until my senses got numb and I became unconscious. For the next three days, blood came out with my stool, and I could sleep only upside down for the next fortnight due to the sores. We were all charged under the anti-Ahmadiyya PPC 298-C and the Blasphemy Law, PPC 295-C.
As I was detained by the police for 23 days, I was fired from my job at the Sapphire Mills. This was arranged by the mullas who told the factory management that I was an Ahmadi. Thus, I lost my source of income. For the next one and a half years, I faced prosecution in courts. I had to sell my house at throwaway price to support myself and pay the legal fees to defend myself. Unable to face the hardships at Kotri, I shifted to the Punjab and took up a job at Bashir Cotton Mills. Later I worked at Sitex, Bhai Pheru where they discovered my Ahmadiyya identity after a year. This exposed me to stiff opposition and consequently I lost my job again.
Thereafter I found a job at the Suraj Mills. I earned sufficient money to save as well. My colleague, Ghulam Mustafa, a non-Ahmadi, borrowed a considerable sum from me. However, when the time came to pay back, he refused. His friends told him that as I was an Ahmadi, it was perfectly legitimate for him to break the obligation of repayment. This gang conspired further and approached the factory owner against me. He obliged them by firing me from the job. Thus, I lost my savings as well as my job.
A few weeks ago, I got a well-paying job at Nishat Weaving Mills, Bhai Pheru. Unfortunately, two employees at the Mills knew me already, so they informed the manager, Maulvi Mushtaq, that I was an Ahmadi. Mushtaq told me that I had to quit. Thus, I am jobless again. In private businesses, they do not even have to state a reason to dismiss an employee. It is all too easy for them. At many locations the accusation of being an Ahmadi is sufficient reason to deprive one of the job.
Ahmadiyya Press in Chains
One of the sections that has suffered the most during the tempest of persecution is the Ahmadiyya press. The drafters of the notorious Ordinance XX included a special section in it to gag the Ahmadiyya press and to severely restrict Ahmadiyya publications. Consequently, Ahmadiyya daily paper, The Alfazl and five periodicals namely Khalid, Ansarullah, Misbah, Tashheezul Azhan and Tehrik Jadid have suffered great setbacks during the last 15 years. Their editors, printer and publisher remained under prosecution by the State throughout, and worked under great tension and stress that was almost perpetual. It was a heroic effort on their part, which deserves to be written in golden letters in Ahmadiyya history. Here only a brief mention is made.
According to the Ordinance XX, any words or matter whereby the writer poses as a Muslim, invites legal action and imprisonment for three years. As such the state and mullas have a free hand in accusing these papers and initiating police and legal action against them and their management. The editors thus face a great problem as to what they can write. The Ordinance specifies some religious terms and epithets, which are forbidden to Ahmadis; the editors meticulously avoid their use, however, that does not suffice to save them from the mischief of the law.
For example, once the Daily Alfazl used the word i.e. The Noble Quran. An extremist from Sialkot objected to that and complained to the authorities that as Alfazl is an unclean paper, by referring to the Noble Quran it has committed a grave excess and hurt his feelings. A criminal case was therefore registered against the editor and producers of Alfazl. They had to travel frequently all the way to Sialkot, 200 kilometers away, to face the trial.
In 1984, the authorities demanded a surety of Rs.30,000 from the daily Alfazl and another Rs. 30,000 from its press. Even before the notice was served, they forced the press to close down. The Alfazl, therefore, did not appear again until 1988.
The editor and management of the Alfazl had to exercise great care to keep their head above water and to ensure that the Daily was not proscribed or shut down. Mullas read the paper every day to raise objections against its contents and bring them to the notice of authorities that were ever ready to oblige. In numerous cases brought against Alfazl and other periodicals, the FIRs did not even specify the contents, which had allegedly violated the letter or spirit of the law. The cases were registered simply on the directives of Home Secretary of the Punjab Government. Every time a case was registered, the editor Mr. Nasim Saifi, the publisher Agha Saifullah, and the printer Qazi.Munir Ahmad had to go into hiding to avoid arrest by the police. They had to spend the nights outside their homes while sometimes they had to flee from Rabwah. Once, when the police was at their heels, they could avoid arrest only by availing a flight to another province. They worked under great tension as they could be arrested anytime after an FIR was registered against them. The local police inspector would send for them often, ostensibly on a fair excuse, but there was no certainty that the person called would be allowed to go back home or office. The magistrate occasionally demanded that the accused be presented hand-cuffed.
The editorial staff was forced into a situation that they could not use even innocent routine words like Amen, Inshallah, Alhamdo Lillah etc. Verses of the Holy Quran and extracts from Hadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet) had to be excluded. Even terms like (the Late) for deceased persons and Sayyadi for respectful address were objected to by the State and the Mulla. The Home Secretary was requested to specify a list of words and phrases, which were disallowed to Ahmadiyya press, but he gave no such list and kept himself and mullas free to object to anything they liked. In January 1994, the Session Judge, Chiniot himself took the initiative to add a charge under PPC 295-C, the Blasphemy Law, against Messers Nasim Saifi, Agha Saifullah and Qazi Munir Ahmad for printing the word Huzoor (a respectful address word) for the Head of the Community. He was wrongly of the view that the word was specific only to the Holy Prophet, although it can be and is used for anybody. He was told accordingly, but he arrogantly pushed the charge and refused to accept bail. The three victims were therefore lodged in prison. Mr. Saifi, among them, was nearly 80 years old. They had to stay behind bars for four weeks. The prison was grimy, and the cell where these gentlemen were lodged had more than twice the number of authorized occupants. The sanitation was in poor state and life there was close to intolerable. On another occasion in 1994, Agha Saifullah and Chaudhry Ibrahim were shamelessly inluded among those charged under PPC 295-C for publishing Selected Verses of the Holy Quran, on the grounds that they were publishers of the Ziaul Islam Press, although it is common knowledge that a press does not have publishers - only publications have a publisher. Despite this obvious lacuna, the prosecution went on for four years and the accused had to travel frequently all the way to interior Sind, a return journey of 2000 kilometers, to defend themselves against an entirely fabricated charge. In fact, scores of criminal cases are going on against the Ahmadi pressmen. Qazi Munir Ahmad, the printer, alone is facing charges in 92 cases; it is perhaps a world record for any printer. Many of these cases are 10 to 14 years old; only a few have been concluded. Such gruesome prosecution generates vast amount of stress and strain; the victims could not have survived it except for Divine help and support.
An outline of the number of such cases and other relevant details is given at Annex III.
Life under Threats
It is a common practice with Ahmadi-bashers to moke serious threats to Ahmadi individuals and their families. They convey their evil intentions on telephone or by letter. Sometimes they carry out what they threaten, while at other times the threats is a hoax. In any case, the victim cannot be sure; he only suffers the uncertainty and fear of the situation. These threats give rise to termendous stress and strain and can be a cause of great agony to the entire family for lng periods if repeated.
As an example, translation of a threatening letter is given below. This letter was written in April 1998 to Mr. Mohammad Feroze Malik, an Ahmadi resident of Islamabad. He reported this letter and other threatening telephone calls to the police, but no avail. The family suffered a great deal as a result.
The translated letter
Long Live Khatme Nabuwwat
Apostates must be killed
Haq Char Yar
Shias are infidels
Ahmadis are infidels
Malik Feroz, the Apostate,
We have already sent you a warning through opur Pindi Branch that you and your family are on our hit list. The reality behind your silent neutrality in our mission is now clear to us; you have become an Ahmadi apostate; as such you are firmly on our hit list. In case you do not recant, we shall slaughter you and your children just like other hundreds of apostates who have been dispatched to hell. We are determined to eradicate all the enemies of Finality of Prophethood like you.
Maulvi Nazir Ahrari
Sipaah Khatame Nabuwwat
A Non-Ahmadis View
An article from the Daily Dawn of 11 January 1998 is reproduced below. The Dawn is a leading English newspaper of Pakistan. The writer, Mr. Aziz Siddiqui, is a non-Ahmadi intellectual. In this article, rare of its kind to be published in Pakistani press, he has commented, in his own way, on the Ahmadiyya situation in Pakistan.
A glance through this essay would show that if non-Ahmadis in the powerful establishment can be blackmailed so unmercifully after being falsely labeled as Ahmadi-sympathizers, how grim is the situation of actual members of this beleaguered Community in Pakistan these days.
|The Hunt for Witches|
If the orthodoxy’s bid to purge society of kufr (religious infidelity) has so far been sporadic it is not for want of ardor. It is more because it would in the end leave little of that society for it to enjoy the state of its ultimate purity. There is scarcely a soul around not guilty ofkufr in someone else’s eye.
There have even been laws, as we know, apart from caches of klashnikovs, to aid such confessional cleansing. One set of them, those against blasphemy and sacrilege, have lately been in relative disuse. The spurt of their earlier abuse, including in the wholesale sacking of nearly a century-old Christian abadis of Shantinagar early this year, had caused a touch of embarrassment all round.
But the others, the ones against the Ahmadis, continue to be among the most frequently invoked laws of the land, including not just legal but also extra-legal activity. The ravages that causes on the members of that community made a compendium by themselves. But a bizarre aspect of it is that it has begun sometimes to create problems for honest non-Ahmadis as well. So much so that it has brought notes of protest even from those who have been cheerleaders of the hot pursuit of Ahmadis.
A recent victim was the finance minister and PML secretary general, no less. He had seemed a strong, because the most credible, party candidate for the presidentship. (In fact, though, he was never probably seriously considered.)
There was never a more natural choice for the job than the person actually chosen considering the prime minister’s recent experience with the former president and his likely future problems with the judiciary. There were some however who did not quite approve of Mr. Sartaj Aziz. They let out a word that he was a crypto-Ahmadi. If he were a serious contender for presidency that nearly would have cooked his goose.
As it turned out, he was not. But that did not satisfy his detractors. Apparently they still had a score to settle. So a newspaper story came out saying in effect that all right he was not a Qadiani himself but his father was, so there. Even that was greatly upsetting for Mr. Aziz. He wrote a letter to the editor strongly denying the ‘allegation’ and pleading for appropriate correction. That was not enough. He approached the Amir of Jamaat-I-Islami requesting for a certificate that his father was a devout Muslim. The Amir kindly obliged.
A newspaper columnist asked, what if a person did not know a religious figure well enough to get him to testify for him? The simple answer is: well, he would stay damned, that’s what.
A current victim of the damning game is the minister for law and parliamentary affairs. The irrepressible Mr. Wahab-ul-Khairi has urged the Pakistan Bar Council to permanently bar Mr Khalid Anwar from practising as a lawyer since in doing all the outrageous things he recently did to the judiciary he had been following ‘the heinous agenda of the country’s Qadiani community in which he is said to have a strong faith’.
Mr. Khairi’s charges against Mr. Anwar were devastating enough. But he apparently thought he could make it conclusive by adding this coup de grace about the latter’s faith. When Cinna in Shakespear’s play falls into the hands of the angry crowd someone hastens to point out that he is not Cinna the conspirator but Cinna the poet, upon which someone else cries out, tear him for his bad verse then. That was at least poetic justice. Here it is the other way round: Mr. Anwar is being sought to be impaled not for what he is but what probably he is not.
There have been other notable examples of giving a person an Ahmadi name and hanging him. From the judiciary there was the case of Mr. Saad Saud Jan. As the senior most judge on the bench he should have succeeded Mr. Nasim Hasan Shah as chief justice of the Supreme Court.
But again a canard was spread that he was an Ahmadi. The poor gentleman had to go to extraordinary lengths to deny the ‘charge’. He even went to a mosque and solemnly affirmed, hand on holy Book, that he was not that.
But apparently the mischief was done. It was one of the rare occasions in the country’s history that the senior most judge, and a couple of others after him, were bypassed and Mr. Sajjad Ali Shah was elevated to that office. And with what explosive consequences remained later to transpire.
Ms. Bhutto once admitted that the allegation had been a factor against Justice Jan, though she has also since claimed that he had nevertheless remained her choice but not Mr Leghari’s.
Mr. Manzur Wattoo’s was another case of recent memory. During his chief ministership of Punjab in coalition with PPP he had the voluminous PML(N) opposition continually baying at his heels. One fell instrument of their assault was that he was a Qadiani. He found it necessary to deny the charge every time it was made.
His father however was indeed an Ahmadi. When the latter died in his village the opposition outcry acquired a cutting edge. Wattoo pleaded that the dead man was after all his father and how could he not go to his funeral. But, he added, he had not joined funeral prayers.
The cruelties bigotry inflicts are matched only by the compromises politics makes.
There have even been stories in the press about Gen Jahangir Karamat having an Ahmadi or two in the family bush. That is said to have become his Achilles’ heel, made him less inclined towards taking sides in the civilian squabbles than chiefs of army staff have proned to be.
There is thus nothing more sure of effect and more convenient than putting an Ahmadi label on a person to damn him. Rational discourse is already at a discount. Vituperation and violence are the common currency. To those has been added the practice of a false calumny being falsely applied. A person may rob public treasury, betray national trust, or cause the country to run to seed, he may be a thief, a rapist or a weakling, that may not be altogether as socially suspect as being stigmatised as an Ahmadi.
And if one is so stigmatised it doesn’t much matter how honest, intelligent or great achiever, even of the rank of a Nobel laureate, one is; one is open to discrimination and harassment.
It is unfair to a person who is not an Ahmadi. It is no less so to another who is. Which is worse, being accused of being an Ahmadi or Ahmadiyyat being made into an accusation itself?
It brings about situations like a Nazir Ahmad, a medical practitioner ministering to the ailments of the humble folk of his village Dhoneki in Gujranwala, being kidnapped one evening from his clinic by a gang of fanatics unhappy at his popularity, and his body being later found in Palkhu nullah riddled with bullets and nibbled by fish.
It leads to Abdul Qadeer, Mohammad Shahbaz and Mohammad Ashfaq of Sharaqpur being accused of preaching their faith and their eventually being sentenced to life imprisonment and heavy fines under 295-C.
It causes Nusrat Jahan Bajwa’s being relieved of her post as district education officer within three months of her appointment because, in the words of the Majlis Tahaffuz-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, the appointment of an Ahmadi to such an important post had done irreparable damage to the faith and the nation.
And to prompt such actions as the community being locked out of its place of worship in Chakwal, a resident of Loralai being suddenly expelled from the district for life, and doctors, teachers and others devoted to their calling being basely exploited by their subordinates, colleagues or students because of their ‘guilt’ of being what they are.
Manzur Wattoo, Sartaj Aziz and Khalid Anwar may get their certificates from Qazi Hussain Ahmad, but what happens to the hundreds of thousands of others who, like the rest of us, were born to their faith?
If that remains a guilt of extraordinary severity, the bearing of false witness too will abide as a phenomenon to contend with. And it may get worse. So long as mediaeval Europe believed in witchcraft innocent women continued to be burnt at the stakes.
In Salem in Massachusettes in the 1690s it were a group of minor girls that convinced an array of high judiciary that several of the good men and women of the community were in fact driven by the evil spirit. They saw those people hanged by the public gibbet one by one.
It is a tested characteristic of our ideological establishmentarians that they do not just not heed warnings, they denounce all dissent;
And when the dragon’s teeth they have sown produce their dreadful harvest they not only do not recognize their hands in it, they again only damn the others.
In Toulouse in France once, an angry crowd had eight judges send Jean Calas to the gallows, his son into exile, his daughters to the convent and his wife to a life of penury.
The crowd was hostile to the family because they were Protestant. It became instantly convinced against all reason that their eldest son had not actually committed suicide but had been killed by them. Writing of it Voltaire put it to the hand of fanaticism. It was a time, he said, when the accused had no defence but his virtue, and when the judges could slay with impunity by a legal decree.
That does not sound as if it was nearly two-and-a-half centuries ago.