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Lahore: The police of the Islamia Park neighborhood at Lahore undertook upon itself an outrageous task in that it destroyed the Kalima (Islamic creed: There is none worthy of worship except Allah; Muhammad is His messenger.) written on the outside of the local Ahmadiyya mosque.
In the last week of August, some individuals reported to the police against the Kalima (Islamic creed) at the mosque. The law does not specifically mention that Ahmadiyya places of worship may not have the Kalima. The police sent for the Ahmadi residents and told them unlawfully to remove the Kalima. They refused. Thereafter, the police, in the darkness of the night, at about 1 a.m. arrived at the mosque in mufti carrying chisels and hammers, and broke the marble to destroy the Kalima. Having accomplished the crime successfully, they delivered the broken pieces to the Ahmadis. It was like a murderer delivering the remains to the family, after the felony.
It is learnt that the local Nazim, Mumtaz Sarwar is leading the anti-Ahmadi sentiment. Mian Shahbaz Sharif occupies the Takht-i-Lahore (Throne of Lahore) these days.
Multan: Situation became worrisome in Multan for Ahmadis this month. Early this month, an extremist group decided to agitate against Ahmadis to deprive them of their local center in Shah Rukne Alam neighborhood. They started off by pasting objectionable stickers at the prayer centre. On investigation, Ahmadis found out that a neighbor was responsible for this mischief. So an Ahmadi contacted him to make a mild protest, but it resulted in an argument. The neighbor was harsh and threatening. Later, he assembled a gang at the time of evening prayers and acted hostile against the Ahmadi worshipers. The hooligans threw stones and bricks at the centre, tried to break open the gate and damaged the community vehicle. Ahmadis reported the situation to the police who arrived half hour too late. On its arrival, the miscreants dispersed only to reassemble elsewhere. Ahmadis arranged for the in-living families to move out from the centre to some safer spot.
Thereafter, a large number of these agitators went to the police station, raised slogans and called bad names to Ahmadis. They demanded that a Blasphemy case be registered against Ahmadis for tearing off the stickers. They put up a formal complaint to that end. The crowd behaved angry and hostile. The police got scared as only three constables were available to them on duty. Later, a larger detachment became available.
Ahmadis learnt that a ‘Pir’ (spiritual guide) had come and settled in that area. He had raised some following, acquired some properties and got some influence and clout. He moved about escorted by armed guards. He was the one who had targeted the Ahmadiyya centre.
The agitators at the police station demanded that:
The police asked three representatives from the two parties each to report to the police station on 11th August.
Ahmadis assessed that the police were acting weak and were shy to impose the writ of the state. This made life difficult for Ahmadis. The Pir’s men mounted armed interceptors to check Ahmadi worshipers approaching their centre. They roamed around in patrol vehicles, and pinpointed Ahmadis’ homes. They would come to the Center and bang at the gate. Under these circumstances Ahmadi leadership told the worshippers to stop coming to the Centre for the time being. Friday congregational prayers were also not held. A few guards and care-takers were posted on duty in the Centre to guard against a forced take-over.
The meeting at the police station was attended by the administration officials (Nazim and Deputy Nazim) as well. Ahmadis were told through muffled threats that they were on the hit-list of the banned groups. The police were mild to the aggressors, and did not accept the responsibility to protect the lives of the worshippers. They, however, did post policemen at the Centre.
In the meantime, Ahmadis have been made to stop praying at their centre – at least for the time being. It is loss of freedom of worship. It is a serious violation of the fundamental human right: the right to build, maintain and use places of worship.
The worldwide Ahmadiyya community has a website thepersecution.org that it maintains to record, report and comment on the worldwide events of persecution of Ahmadis in various countries. It is linked to the main Ahmadiyya website alislam.org. It is visited by those who are concerned with the human rights situation of Ahmadis in various countries and regions. These include NGOs, government officials, human rights activists, column writers, even Ahmadi- bashers. This site is no longer available in Pakistan. When it was checked last month the net showed: The page you are looking for is currently unavailable.
No official explanation is available. It is rumored that the Government of Pakistan undertook a drive against blasphemous sites, and availing of this excuse blocked thepersecution.org. Everyone knows that blasphemy is a different phenomenon from reporting persecution. In fact it would make sense to complain of persecution when subjected to Blasphemy and slander. Pakistani officials are known to act illogically under such circumstances. It is common knowledge that promulgation of anti-terrorism laws, in the past, resulted also in state terrorizing numerous innocents. Also, in the fair name of accountability, many political opponents were nabbed, while many corrupt individuals who co-operated were rewarded. It is rather sad.
As for entries regarding Pakistan on this site, most of the news are those that are already reported in the national press. The website displays no material that the government notifies ‘classified’. The coverage, in fact, helps those officials who would like to be updated and have the duty to put right various wrongs. This site is of direct relevance, interest and usefulness to human rights departments and authorities in the government.
It makes no sense to block this website in Pakistan, while it remains available to the rest of the world. Pakistan, formally and officially is committed to freedom of faith and religion. It should retract earliest from the ill-advised action against thepersecution.org.
The agitation at the Punjab Medical College Faisalabad provided an impetus to the Ahmadi-bashing mullas to open up the ’education front’ against Ahmadi youth. They asserted that it is important and exigent to identify Ahmadi students in schools, colleges and universities, and demanded necessary action to that end. Maulvi Faqir Muhammad of Faisalabad unabashedly asked the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister to do that. According to the daily Aman, Faisalabad of August 9, 2008, the mulla demanded: “The ‘entry forms’ for college admission must include the same sworn statement regarding the ‘end of Prophethood’ as prescribed for the passport and the National Identity Card, so that non-Muslim Qadianis, Mirzais and Ahmadis who by writing their faith as Islam violate PPC 198C (sic) may be punished with three years’ imprisonment and fine.”
It is a matter of great concern that the authorities have perhaps already undertaken this ugly exercise. In an article by Raja Asrar Ahmad Abbasi, titled “There is need for correct data regarding Ahmadis” in the daily Ausaf, Lahore of August 7, 2008, he entioned: “One is encouraged by a recent report that data regarding Mirzai male and female students of schools and colleges is being collected. But it is surprising that this is being done through local police through letters and replies…”
Strange are the ways of this state.
Kotli, Azad Kashmir: August 3, 2008: We reported earlier that two months ago, in June, authorities and mullas mounted joint raids against Ahmadi communities of District Kotli, and violated grossly their basic human rights. The mullas, led by Pir Atiqur Rahman wanted to build further on that, so they announced holding a big open air meeting (a Jalsa) in Kotli on 3 August. By this time, some officials had become wiser, so they withheld permission for the Jalsa. The Pir was angry and he took to routine threats and propaganda. As expected, the authorities readily wilted and the Jalsa was held as planned. A report on the Jalsa, compiled mainly from the print media, is produced below.
The pre-conference publicity report was published in many vernacular dailies. The daily Ausaf, Lahore printed its report from Kotli on August 3, 2008:
The mulla is now quite competent in the field of modern techniques of propaganda. At this occasion, special articles were provided to Urdu newspapers for publishing. The conference was reported under big headlines by a number of vernacular dailies. Following excerpts are given from the daily Ausaf of August 4, 2008:
What was not reproduced in the press was the foul and abusive language used by these so-called divines against the Ahmadiyya community and its holy founder. They used provocative language and distributed sectarian pamphlets. They made the audience vow a social boycott of Ahmadis. They passed the following resolutions, inter alia:
The organizers expected an attendance of 100,000 persons, but on account of the rain not more than 2500 turned up. “The blessed rain arrived as a token of Divine support,” commented a devotee columnist. It was surprising that when the conference ended, the rain stopped. While the conference was in progress the canopy over the stage collapsed and some people were hurt.
The authorities were considerate in the sense that they provided security to the Ahmadiyya mosque and business locations on the day of the conference.
P.S. “Govt talks tough as inaction against hate-mongers is assailed in NA,” reported the Dawn on August 21. It is time that the government acts tough also, and restricts people like Pir Atiqur Rahman, Sardar Qayyum and Nawaz Khan, the Senior Minister from mongering hate.
Rabwah: These monthly reports often mention the plight of Rabwah and its residents and their neglect by the authorities. The daily Aman published a report in its issue of August 3, 2008 that concerned the railway station only. It is translated below:
Islamabad: Quaid-i-Azam was the foremost in sensing the danger of the state’s involvement in people’s faith and dogma, so he forthrightly undertook: “You may belong to any religion or cast or creed, that has nothing to do with the (business of the) state.” (Speech on 11 August 1947). The first major breech of this commandment was undertaken in 1974 when Mr. Bhutto as leader of the PPP, the ruling secular party, in collaboration with mullas, amended the constitution to impose not-Muslim status on Ahmadis of Pakistan. This was a grave violation of le contrat social in Pakistan.
Over the last 34 years the state made even greater inroads into the religious lives of its people, to the extent that it is now burdened with a heavy load of religious laws that are controversial, hurtful or difficult to implement. This has now been recognized even by the top religious council in the country, IIC, Islamic Ideological Council.
In a recent session, 17th, the IIC expressed its concern over the implementation of Shariah and formulation of religious laws in NWFP, according to a news item published in the daily Ausuf of August 3, 2008. “The Council asserted that the terms like denial of faith (Takfir), Jihad and Nahi an il Munkar (forbidding what is wrong) need to be re-examined in the light of fresh arguments. The council is of the view that the current definitions and interpretations are causing extremism in the society,” reported the daily.
Kunri; August 27, 2008: There is a sizeable Ahmadi community at Kunri in District Mirpur Khas (Sindh); as such it remains within the sights of mullas. They come up with novel ideas to harass Ahmadis. So it was, this time as well.
There was an oil spill on the road. Some mischief-monger wrote the Kalima (Islamic creed) on the road with that oil. The mulla came to know of this, or he arranged it - one is not sure. But he surely used it to incite his flock against Ahmadis blaming them of the wrong. Mullas organized an angry procession and led it to the Ahmadiyya center where the mob stoned the building and damaged it. The police opted, as usual, to stay well clear. Ahmadis contacted the local leaders who asked the DPO to restore calm; as a result the police arrived and the mob dispersed. Some of the miscreants, however, subsequently targeted Ahmadis’ houses. Fortunately Ahmadis escaped with no serious damage to their life and property. The police was posted later to guard the Ahmadiyya center.
The situation remains tense.
Bahawalpur: Anti-Ahmadiyya anonymous poster was put up in the Quaid-i-Azam Medical College, Bahawalpur. It was hate-promoting, slanderous, and abusive. It mentioned ‘boiling of blood’. It also listed Ahmadi male and female students at the college along with their class and roll numbers. It listed an Ahmadi doctor on the faculty as well.
A brief résumé
General Musharraf resigned on August 18, 2008. It is end of an era that lasted nine long years. Ahmadis’ human rights remained an active issue throughout his time. Ayaz Amir’s comment in the daily Dawn of August 19, 2005 summed up Musharraf’s performance quite aptly: “We should have got rid of this baggage (of Islamisation) long ago. We are still carrying it. Musharraf had a chance to turn a new page but he has largely blown it, his rhetoric more impressive than anything he may have done”.
The general took over on 12 October 1999. At the occasion he made a policy speech, and referred to the forgotten statement of the founding father of Pakistan regarding all Pakistanis being equal citizens of the state. He asserted that human rights of all would be protected. This raised hopes of the oppressed sections of the society, including Ahmadis. However, these hopes were short-lived, as Ahmadis discovered that what the general did would often be quite different than what he said. It became his behavior pattern. Only a month after his equal citizenship speech, his Chief Secretary in the Government of Punjab issued a circular on the subject of “Finality of Prophethood’ to all the Commissioner in the Province directing that “A perception appears to have been created in some small sections of the society that the government is perhaps unmindful of the status of ‘Ahmadis’ as a non-Muslim minority. Such a perception is obviously without any basis. …In all administrative decisions, due regard and respect should be accorded to the religious sentiments, beliefs and sensitivities of fellow Muslims.” Not content with that, the general proceeded to enlist Dr Ghazi, a known anti-Ahmadiyya activist, in his cabinet and appointed him on the National Security Council. This mulla was on record in supporting the award of death sentence to apostates. Within next few weeks the government banned the book titled ‘Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth’, a scholarly work authored by the Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya community. His government also refused Ahmadis permission to hold their traditional Annual Conference at Rabwah.
In his first year as Chief Executive, more Ahmadis were murdered for their faith than in any year of the preceding quarter century. One hundred and sixty-six Ahmadis were made to face criminal charges on religious grounds, as compared to 8o during 1999. In 2001, the authorities brought up the charges and a judge awarded 118 years’ imprisonment to each of the two Ahmadi accused who, on their own land, had simply demolished a dilapidated one-room mosque made of mud and replaced it with a new one made of bricks. So the tyranny against Ahmadis persisted in different forms. Nothing changed.
Subsequent to 9/11, the general made a forthright and bold verbal attack on fundamentalists and religious extremists in his TV address on January 12, 2002. One hoped that this policy change would bring some relief to the plight of Ahmadis. However, the general promised Chaudhry Shujaat, the president of PML (Q) that he would make no changes to the Islamic laws and clauses in the Constitution. Sure enough, when Musharraf announced Joint Electorate for National Assembly elections, he made an exception regarding Ahmadis. Through an Extraordinary Gazette notification he promulgated Order No. 15 that placed Ahmadis on a Separate List of non-Muslims. This deprived Ahmadis participation in country’s politics — unbelievable, but true. In fact, rules were devised to ensure that Ahmadis would not be able to even vote for their representatives in the town council of Rabwah where Ahmadis form more than 95% of the town’s population.
In the year 2003, President Musharraf came up with the slogan of Enlightened Moderation. It was a great idea, but the cutting edge of ‘follow-up’ was blunt. Khalid Hasan wrote in The Friday Times of January 13, 2006: “Enlightened Moderation is not more than a pair of words flung at us every day, but we see little evidence of it on the ground.” Khalid Hasan was right , because in the Ahmadiyya context it is on record that:
This list is too long to be jotted down here in full. Ahmadis’ yearly persecution reports became and remained extensive. Enlightened Moderation became a monotonous and dull phrase. Foreign intellectuals and political analysts, who initially were enamored of the perky general, came to know him better. Stephen Cohen wrote about him: “His bold but curiously indecisive leadership is characterized by dramatic statements, many policy initiatives, and little follow up.” (The Idea of Pakistan; p.273)
During the last few months when the general was becoming progressively irrelevant in the national politics, the mulla jumped in to fill the void in anti-Ahmadiyya context and perpetrated human rights violations in a big way. It seems that Ahmadis have still to wait for some time before the destiny places a true disciple of the Quaid-e-Azam at the helm of national affairs.