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Rabwah; September 5, 2002: When separate electorate, based on the religious belief of voters, was introduced, the Ahmadiyya Community took the principled stand that to force Ahmadis to enroll themselves as non-Muslim voters under the system of separate electorate was a denial of their fundamental human rights. For this reason, the Ahmadiyya Community did not take part in any of the elections held under separate electorate. Last year the present government took the correct decision to replace separate electorate with joint electorate as incorporated in the 1973 Constitution. Ahmadis welcomed this decision and got themselves enrolled as voters despite difficulties of shortage of time and obstacles put up by elements motivated by religious prejudice.
Then in July 2002, the government, without any valid reason revised its decision to have only one common voters' list. This revision resulted in the ridiculous situation whereby there is now a common list of voters which contains all the Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Parsi and Buddhist voters and a second list termed as non-Muslim list comprising Ahmadis only. It is flagrantly discriminatory and against all principles of justice and democracy. Ahmadis find it against their conscience to participate in an election based on separate electoral roll for Muslims and non-Muslims, and maintaining their earlier principled stand, have no option but to abstain from exercising their rights of vote on the basis of the lists prepared in violation of principle of join electorate. The President was informed accordingly on September 5, 2002. Extremist religious elements were delighted to see that they continue to enjoy favor and clout with the government in the affairs of the state.
Liberal elements and human rights concerns in Pakistan did not fail to take note of this obvious trickery. The prestigious daily, DAWN questioned the legal position of the government's decision in an editorial comment on September 12, 2002. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan criticized the continuation of the requirement of the Sworn Statement regarding Religion by the candidates, and expressed its concern regarding Ahmadis' electoral situation. Mr. I A Rehman, a leading intellectual wrote an article in the DAWN of September 17, 2002 and gave it the heading: Joint electorate? Not quite. This column is available in Articles & Columns section.
Khangarh, district Muzaffargarh; August 31, 2002: The police registered a criminal case against Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad Saggon, Ahmadi at police station Khangarh on August 31, under section PPC 298C of the notorious anti-Ahmadiyya law, on accusation of preaching his views. Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad was arrested and put behind bars.
Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad applied for release on bail for duration of the trial. Mr. Shafiq Bokhari, the magistrate did not attend to the plea for a whole week, and decided to reject it on September 11, 2002. An application is now being made to the higher court.
Peshawar; September 2, 2002: Mr. Waris Khan, an Ahmadi was arrested by the police on September 2, at the accusation of a mulla, Anwarul Haq, for preaching. A case was registered against him under PPC 295A (a Blasphemy clause) and PPC 298C (a clause of the anti-Ahmadiyya law).
The accused Ahmadi applied for bail on September 3, however the judge refused the bail on September 9. The same plea has now been made in the higher Sessions Court.
If convicted, the poor fellow could end up in prison for ten years. These fresh cases under religious laws appear to be the result of encouraging signals to mullas and authorities from Islamabad after the change in government's policy regarding participation of Ahmadis in forthcoming elections in the so-called Joint Electorate system.
Islamabad: The bureaucracy in Islamabad occasionally competes with mullahs in taking extremist initiatives. It is not a thing of the past; it is happening these very days in Islamabad, while the government spokesmen do not tire of asserting liberal credentials of the regime. The Ministry of Religious Affairs now requires Pakistani pilgrims to Mecca to fill in a revised proforma whereby he/she is made to sign a sworn statement to the following effect:
It is a rare government in 21st Century that indulges in abusive diatribes in religious matters, and chooses to impose the same on its citizens.
Syedwala, District Sheikhupura: It would be recalled that a mob of extremists led by mullas destroyed the local Ahmadiyya mosque here on the August 26/27 night, 2001. These miscreants belonged to the Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat organization and now-defunct Jaish Muhammad and Lashkar Taiba factions. In this Land of the Pure, the victims remain deprived of the only place of worship they had.
More than a year later, the authorities have not only not restored the mosque, they have not permitted Ahmadis to undertake reconstruction and restoration. The local Ahmadis sent an application to the President of Pakistan with a copy to the provincial governor, the Inspector General Police, the brigadier incharge of the Army Monitoring Cell, the Superintendent Police, the District Nazim etc.
The Presidents office has not responded, nor even acknowledged the receipt of the victims' application.
Haveli Lakha, district Okara: In November 1999 an unruly mob attacked and destroyed the under-construction house of Dr Nawaz, an Ahmadi elder of Haveli Lakha. The miscreants led by mullahs razed the construction to the ground and took away all the building material from the site. They also attacked, ransacked and looted his main house and put some furniture on fire. Dr Nawaz and his family saved their lives by jumping from the roof of their house on to a neighbor's roof. The police and administration officials were present at the scene of the loot. Subsequently, rather than taking action against the attackers, the police arrested the doctor and his two sons and charged them along with one, Mr. Abdul Qadir, Ahmadi under the provisions of the anti-Ahmadiyya law PPC 298C.
At the time of indiction, the police spared Mr. Abdul Qadir and let him off the hook for being innocent. However, they did not undertake the formality of having his clearance endorsed by the magistrate. Now three years later, the police struck again and arrested the poor fellow. When Mr. Qadir presented them the evidence of the action taken by their predecessors, the police prepared a suitable report and sent it a civil judge for endorsement. The judge refused to accept the same and told the police to charge the man, and the court would release him only if it found him Not Guilty. Mr. Qadir thus ended up in jail.
Such is the level of injustice that Ahmadis have to face at the hands of the police, the administration, the judiciary. Unbelievable!
Hasan Abdal, Cadet College; September 2002: Mr. Abdul Rahman, a student from Rabwah decided to do his F. Sc. from the prestigious and expensive Cadet College at Hassan Abdal. His mother, took out most of her lifelong savings and got her son admitted in that college on August 27. The college administration assigned him to Haider Wing whose housemaster is known by the name of Nur-ul-Islam.
A few days thereafter, some boys came to know that Rahman was an Ahmadi from Rabwah. They started treating him with discrimination and frost. Two of them, religious activists, one from Lahore and the other from D.G. Khan were particularly hostile. Rahman reported the situation to Mr. Nur-ul-Islam, the housemaster. He proved worse, as he justified and upheld the behavior of the miscreants. In fact, he blamed Rahman for not being prompt in revealing his religious affiliations.
The hate campaign picked up by the day with the active support of the housemaster. Rahman was upset. It affected his health. He reported the situation to his mother, who arranged for a delegation of two elders to call on the principal to complain. The principal received them politely, but it seems that he was resigned to do little to effectively change the situation. The boy's maltreatment worsened by the day. One evening he attended a soiree where poetry was recited in praise of the Holy Prophet. A boy took strong offense to his presence. He was left with no choice but to quit and go back to Rabwah. It is such a shame that a bright student like him had to leave because of the prevailing atmosphere of religious bigotry, discrimination and intolerance.
Hasan Abdal is only a hundred miles from the Afghanistan border. It is unfortunate that the faculty of a prestigious institution like Cadet College has not learnt the lesson that an intolerant, prejudiced and obscurantist religious attitude in life is finally counter-productive and unsupportable.
Karachi: Mr. Kunwar Idris of Karachi wrote a letter to the editor of The Friday Times, which he published in its issue of September 13-19, 2002. The letter has a style of its own, is interesting and worth reading. His letter is available in Articles & Columns section.