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Unworthy Role of the National Urdu and Sindhi Press
Urdu and, to a less extent, the Sindhi print media of Pakistan, the so-called fourth estate, has generally played a very negative role in the Ahmadiyya issue since independence. It is distressing to note that the newspaper community, which is expected to be enlightened and intellectual, has consistently violated its own professional ethics while reporting upon this question. In fact, the leading Urdu press always exploited this problem with sales in view rather than professional ethics or national interest. Some newspapers worked for the mulla and the politician and received payments for fanning the fires of anti-Ahmadiyya hatred. The judicial high-level Punjab Disturbances Inquiry on anti-Ahmadiyya riots of 1953 mentioned the following on page 386 of its Report:
The virulent anti-Ahmadiyya propaganda by the Urdu Press has been persistent and unrelenting during the entire 52 years of the existence of Pakistan. It has contributed, more than its share, in further spoiling and perpetuating the communal hate climate. Its campaign has been so extensive that only a book could do some justice to its description. For shortage of space, only a few typical cases are mentioned below to illustrate the nature and level of this propaganda war.
Reporting the Murder of an Ahmadi
The newspaper claimed that the above sentiments were expressed by the leaders of the Movement in a letter to the paper. The paper considered it print-worthy, and the government took no notice of this inflammatory reporting. The same newspaper thought it fit and news-worthy to voice the murderer's own opinion as the following headlines:
Another Murder Reported
These newspapers not only stuck the charge of blasphemy on the victim, they educated their readers on how to get away with murder of an Ahmadi by crying Blasphemy. The Daily Pakistan appeared to provide news of the Hereafter as well, by reporting that the victim had been dispatched to nowhere but Hell.
Declaration of War against Ahmadis and its Publicity
In the follow-up details, it was mentioned that A.G. Bhatti, Chairman of the Ahle-Hadith Students Federation, Okara City further stressed:
In fact, this Bhatti was not known even to all the Ahle-Hadith of Okara. What he said shows only the low level of his intellect and education, but it is noteworthy that the editor of Nawa-i-Waqt (a newspaper published from Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad simultaneously), Mr. Majid Nizami, brother of the late renowned Mr. Hameed Nizami, and who till recently was the President of All Pakistan Newspaper Society, should consider it fit to print this rabid provocation in his prestigious newspaper. The government did not act against Bhatti, the agent-provocateur, or against the newspaper. Apparently the Laws PPC 295-A (Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and PPC 298 (Uttering words etc; with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings) are not applied, as a matter of policy, to a felon, when Ahmadis are his victim.
Support to Unsupportable Demands
Such spiteful headlines influence and corrupt the minds of the youth and the ignorant public. Its cumulative effect could be disastrous. However, the Urdu Press only plays to the gallery.
Publicity of an Evil Fatwa
The Yellow Press turns Brilliant Yellow
These were the headlines. The details given were also a bunch of lies. It was entirely a fabricated story; Ahmadis had noting to do with the incident.
Ahmadiyya Headquarters carried out an immediate investigation. It was learnt that there was a dispute in the village about the sale proceeds of sacrificial hides. The mulla was facing some difficulties in this regard. A Shia youth approached the mulla to make an announcement regarding a planned procession. The Mulla's refusal resulted in a brawl. A case was registered, and some arrests were made by the police. Ahmadis were not involved in any manner at any stage.
The news reported by the Sahafat amounted to press terrorism. It was presented in a highly provocative manner. Ahmadiyya rebuttal in press release was sent to the press and authorities, but few bothered to respond, as the occasion demanded.
It is not possible to report here even a small fraction of all the crimes committed by the Pakistani Urdu Press. We reproduce below only some of the anti-Ahmadiyya headlines which appeared within only a few days of December 1997. These will give an idea of the enormity of this propaganda war:
In short, the apparently educated and scholarly of the Urdu daily press of Pakistan worked hard throughout the second half of the twentieth century to win a place in the history of persecution of Ahmadis. They have succeeded.
Major newspapers vied with each other in this unworthy competition. Press releases by mullas, loaded with acrimony against the Ahmadiyya Community are readily printed in full. Address by a cleric to an audience whose number may not be in two figures is reported often on front or back page under a two-column headline. Ahmadis are called enemies of Islam as well as Pakistan, while they are neither. To excite the hatred of common man, Ahmadis are often linked in these statements with Jews and Hindus. The Daily Jang brings out annually a supplement in colour on 7 September to celebrate the anniversary of declaring Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority. Its articles are always hateful and salutary to those who participated to achieve victory in this self-imposed and one-sided constitutional battle. They call it a day of great joy and happiness. The government takes no notice of this evil propaganda; in fact, it encourages it. On the other hand, Ahmadiyya news and views are either not published or unabashedly suppressed. In July 1986, when a baby quadruped died in Karachi zoo, the Daily Jang reported the event in a two-column news on its front page, but for the horrid murder of Baboo Abdul Ghaffar, a prominent Ahmadi of Hyderabad, the Jang could spare space of the size of a postage stamp only. In short, Urdu press has acted a veritable representative of a corrupt and decadent society; in fact it has, unfortunately, helped in speeding up the downhill trend, unmindful it is that the fall of this society will bring about the fall of its Press as well. The history will not but judge the Urdu Press of Pakistan harshly.
Anti Ahmadiyya Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Organization formed a Youth Force consisting mostly of mischief-mongers of the town, under the patronage of the Imam of Data. They first contacted elders of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat in order to force them to denounce Ahmadiyyat. When they did not succeed in their evil design they forged a letter addressed to the Imam of Data mosque telling him to desist from opposing the Jamaat otherwise face commando action. As planned, this false letter was taken to the police station. The local administration moved swiftly. The police raided Ahmadi houses and arrested Messers Kalimud Din, Mubarak Ahmad and Rana Mubashir Ahmad.
The local administration demanded that if the President of the Jamaat Data would present himself for arrest, the situation would be brought under control. A dead line, 8 April 1994 was fixed for the arrest, failing which they would destroy Ahmadi houses. The President of the Jamaat who was away at Peshawar offered his arrest on 6 April. On 8 April, the opposition arranged a meeting in which they decided upon a complete boycott of Ahmadis. A high police official was present in this meeting along with his police guard. Some unbridled militants rushed to the Ahmadiyya cemetery and damaged the graves. One of them, fired some shots in the air to harass Ahmadis. They damaged the roof of an Ahmadi's house and broke the dish antenna installed on it.
The Assistant Commissioner also visited the town. Extremists felt encouraged, and went to a nearby private school where an Ahmadi lady taught. The Principal was told to sack the lady or face arson. The Ahmadi teacher was sacked immediately, thus depriving of her meager income.
On 15 December 1996, a prominent Ahmadi, Subedar Aziz Ahmad died in Data. A few non-Ahmadi friends visited secretly to offer condolences. The opponents came to know of the visit and were greatly enraged. Names of the non-Ahmadis who offered condolences were announced over loud-speakers, and they were abused profusely. Their kind gesture of sympathy to the bereaved family was condemned by the mullas. A non-Ahmadi cook who prepared food for the guests on this sorrowful occasion was insulted by the opponents and was made to repent. The man was so terrified that he could not turn up even to collect his cooking utensils.
On 22 December 1996, Subedar Abdul Rahim, an Ahmadi, fell ill with a heart condition. The town dispenser refused to attend to him. Transporters were too afraid of the extremists to take the patient to Mansehra. An Ahmadi doctor visited from Mansehra and took him to CMH Hospital, Abbotabad.
In the market venders would not sell any thing to Ahmadis. Ahmadi women, when they went out to the town, were pelted with rotten tomatoes, eggs and rubbish. Harassment of Ahmadis and use of filthy and disgraceful language against them and their respected leaders is a daily routine of mullas and their disciples at Data. (Reported in 1996)