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Sindh; January, 2002: The government usually claims that it is doing all it can to blunt the strike of religious extremists and that it is often hampered by country's judicial compulsions and procedures. Not so, where Ahmadis are concerned - in fact, just the reverse. In a recent case, a trial court released numerous Ahmadis who had been unjustly incarcerated for years, but the government has gone into appeal against the Court's decision. Unbelievable, but true.
This happened in the well-known Naukot case. Without stating again the details of this case, the essentials are mentioned below:
Now the State has gone into appeal against this decision. Mr. Masood A. Noorani, Additional Advocate General Sind (Hyderabad) has made a prayer to the Sind High Court on January 18, 2002 to reconsider the decision of the lower court. He wrote a 7 page application and cooked up 12 reasons why it should be so done. Believe it or not!
Lahore; February 8, 2002: The Daily Jang, Lahore of February 8, 2002 splashed the following banner headline on its front page:
This voluntary and apparently uncalled-for commitment to an unworthy cause, and its declaration in press douses hopes, if there were any, to any meaningful and bold initiative from the present government to take reformatory steps in this context.
Islamabad; February 19, 2002: Mr. Aziz Ahmad Khan, spokesman of the Foreign Office confirmed the government policy in this regard, according to the Daily Jang, Rawalpindi, February 19, 2002. Quoting its Special Reporter, the Jang reported that Mr. Aziz Ahmad Khan, in his news briefing, categorically stated that the laws concerning declaring Qadianis as Non-Muslims, and the Blasphemy will remain in force - it is not even under consideration to bring about any change in these two laws.
Although the two laws are highly controversial even on the basis of Islamic jurisprudence, and while these have done great harm to Pakistan, the government chooses to remain scared of the imaginary threat from discredited clerics and bigots who are now on the run.
The daily DAWN reported on February 14 from Washington that at the end of his lecture at Woodrow Wilson International Centre someone asked President Musharaf if Ahmadis would be allowed to become part of the mainstream through Joint Electorates, he replied that he had not thought of this so far, and that he had so many bullets to bite.
The president's reluctance to even show that he was aware of the problem does not bode well to raise much confidence in amelioration of Ahmadis' situation in Pakistan.
Chak 475 EB, District Vehari; February 20, 2002: Religious extremists attacked Mr. Muhammad Yousuf in the middle of the night on 19/20 February at his home. The murder attempt went abortive - thanks to the bold defence put up by Mr. Yousaf's son.
A group of fundamentalists led by a mulla, Hafiz Talib Hussain had been harassing Mr. Yousaf, an ex-president of the local Ahmadiyya Community, for the past few weeks. Hafiz Talib Hussain is an activist of the defunct Sipah Sahaba group. During January they had mounted a similar attempt.
This time three of these armed gangsters entered Mr. Yousaf's house by climbing over the outer wall. One of them, the Hafiz stayed out while others entered the sleeping room. One of them challenged Yousaf and shouted an insult. He added that this time he would finish the task. Yousaf, in a reckless manner, caught the attacker's gun by the barrel, pushed it aside and shouted for help. Mr. Yousaf's son, Asif, who was not far, rushed to help his father. He snatched the gun from the assailant. The assailant tried to escape but Asif caught him and bolted the door from inside. The others tried to rescue their colleague by trying to break open the door, but by this time other people had woken up, so they ran away.
The police were informed on telephone; they arrived at the site. The detained gangster was handed over to the police along with his weapon of attack. The felon told the police that he had been egged on by Hafiz Talib Hussain to undertake the assault. The police went for the other two attackers, but they absconded.
This was a narrow escape for the Ahmadi family.
Ahmadpur Sharqia, District Bahawalpur; February 2, 2002: Mr. Saeed Ahmad, Ahmadi faced an attack from three gangsters during the month of Ramadan, but he saved himself by running up to a soldier who was passing by. Ahmad reported the incident to the police, who did not follow it up seriously.
Now ten weeks later, on February 2, 2002, at about 1930 when he was cycling back home, he was approached and attacked by four unknown religious fanatics. They beat him up and threatened him with a dagger. They told him that they will not kill him but their real target is his elder brother who is president of the local Ahmadiyya community. "Tell him, his days are numbered; we will soon finish him off", they said. After this, they left.
The incident was conveyed to the Assistant Superintendent of Police, Ahmadpur Sharqia, in writing on February 14, 2002.
Sadiqabad, District Rahim Yar Khan; January, 2002: Mr. Sharif Ahmad Asghar, president of the local Ahmadiyya Community at Sadiqabad faced harassment from religious zealots and the authorities. On January 1, Islamic radicals took out a procession and shouted insults profusely against Ahmadis. The next day, they attacked his house and tried to break open his outer door. On January 4, the mulla delivered an anti-Ahmadiyya sermon in the mosque. Subsequently they conspired to have a criminal case registered against Ahmadis, with the police on January 6. They tried to implicate therein two Ahmadi women as well, the president of the local Ahmadi Women's Association, and the wife of the president. It took a lot of effort and running around to avoid registration of this fabricated case. During those days, Ahmadi youth had to stand guard duty at their president's house to resist any attack by the menacing bunch.
February 18, 2002: Mr Nafis Siddiqui, a respected column-writer took up the above title for his centre-page article in the daily Jang of February 18, 2002. He referred at some length to a procedural absurdity in election forms. He wrote:
The government paid no heed to this piece of sane advice. The Election Commission remained stuck to its obstinate absurdity and deprived hundreds of thousands of Ahmadi voters their right to vote. This wrong can still be put right; but will they do it?
Karachi: It is amazing that obscurantism of Zia regime managed to penetrate even the Pakistan Navy that one should expect to promote a healthy liberal culture among its ranks.
Many months ago, some sailors decided to switch over to Ahmadiyya version of Islam. Ordinarily, this should be of little concern to the Navy as it does not affect adversely their professional standing and performance. However, some over-zealous officers, who seem to have only a superficial understanding of religious matters, took it seriously, and arranged for three of such sailors to proceed all the way to Islamabad to meet Justice Fida Muhammad of the Federal Shariat Court. The worthy justice, for want of any other judicial business put before his court, had a few sittings with the sailors. He offered them some books written by Maulana Maudoodi, the founder of Jamaat Islami, to read. The Maulana is one of the great innovators and promoters of violence in matters of religion.
This incident happened last year. It is hoped that the Navy and the Judge are wiser now after the subsequent developments in this region during the last few months.