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Multan; August 6, 2009: Rana Ata-ul-Karim fell to assassins’ bullets at his home on August 6, 2009 at about 10 a.m. He was 36. He left behind his widow, a son aged 9 and two daughters 4 and 3 years old.
Rana Karim was a well-known Ahmadi in the neighborhood. He had a master’s degree in agriculture and was in the business of production and distribution of poultry feeds and medicines. In the preceding few days unknown persons were seen moving around his residence in a mysterious way. He became careful and took some precautions. On the day of the incident when he went out, three armed men entered his house, shut his family in one room, and waited for his return. His wife pleaded the intruders to take away whatever they wanted, but they took nothing except life. As soon as Rana Karim entered his home, they fired at him. He was hit thrice. One bullet hit his neck and damaged his windpipe, the other hit close to his ear while the third hit low and damaged his kidney. He died on the spot.
Multan is headquarters of an anti-Ahmadi organization. Extremist elements are well-known to the police. An Ahmadi couple was killed there only four months ago. This is the seventh incident of murder of Ahmadis in Pakistan for faith since January this year. The Ahmadiyya press-release on this incident stated:
The Ahmadiyya spokesman requested higher authorities to take notice and take immediate action.
This story is a personal account of an innocent man who suffered torture at the hands of state agents. The inflicted torture was the cutting edge of a joint effort by corrupt clerics, inefficient police, mindless administration, sadistic agencies and heartless politicians. It is a tale of suffering of Mr. Rashid Iqbal, an Ahmadi resident of Kunri, District Mirpur Khas, Sindh. There is some background to this incident, which deserves a brief mention at the beginning.
Kunri has been a hotbed of anti-Ahmadiyya agitation for some time. Ahmadis kept the administration and the police informed of the situation. However, the political leadership in Pakistan handles the mulla with great tenderness, regardless of consequences. The district authorities therefore echo that sentiment and approach, and ordinarily support the clergy or neglect and disregard their criminal activities. This attitude prevails at Kunri.
Here the mullas have a dispute with local Ahmadis over a plot and construction of a mosque over it. Ahmadis had approached the authorities for justice; this was not acceptable to the mullas. They conspired to implicate Ahmadis in a fabricated case of blasphemy. In September last year, they accused Rana Khalil Ahmad of writing an objectionable letter to a mulla, and accused Mr. Rashid Iqbal of writing something blasphemous on a road track. The police blithely booked the two under the dreaded blasphemy law PPC 295-C, PPC 295-A and the anti-terrorism law ATA-9. The cases received no serious investigation by any senior police officer as required by the rules. The two men who were bread-winners of their families were arrested and were exposed to awful consequences of these false incriminations.
This story is of Mr. Rahsid Iqbal who is 34 years old, married and has two children, 5 and 3 years old. He also supports his father who is over 85.
In order to cut it short, we mention below only essential details as narrated by Mr. Iqbal - in his words translated in English.
This is how the state wastes its time, resources and energy on worthless tasks assigned by the mulla. It is no surprise that it ends up with problems like those in Swat, Waziristan and Gojra.
Lahore; July 1, 2009: According to a huge advertisement, covering more than one third of a page of some national vernacular dailies, the Government of the Punjab conveyed to the public that a special meeting was held under the chairmanship of Mr. Shahbaz Sharif, the Khadim Punjab, on July 1, 2009, in which illustrious Ulama Karam (the respected ulama) of various denominations participated, and issued a Joint Declaration.
The declaration mentioned that suicide attacks are un-Islamic and are in the forbidden (haram) category. They declared that those who shed the blood of innocent Muslims should be held accountable (as if the Islam of these mullas permits shedding blood of innocent Non-Muslims. Ed).
The Joint Declaration is long and reflects mostly the government policy. The participant mullahs however found the government a willing partner in incorporating deplorable exceptions in the Declaration (like the ‘innocent Muslims’, mentioned above). Also, in the concluding sentence at the end it mentions: “The Ulama Karam jointly held that suicide attacks and all acts of terrorism inside Pakistan are anti-Islam, Pakistan and humanity.” (Emphasis added). Obviously, the Ulama Karam are not sure that acts of terrorism outside Pakistan are un-Islamic. However, the most significant and deplorable part of the Declaration is its Clause 2 which met official approval in this meeting that was ostensibly held to promote peace in Pakistan. It states:
The meticulous detail and wording of this clause has provided the ulama with ample license to demand and promote bloodshed and violence — and the government of the Punjab has conceded that. They paid from public funds not only to hold the meeting but also spent a huge amount on its advertisement in press. If the government had held the meeting initially to promote peace, the mulla succeeded in co-opting it for greater violence and blood in future.
The meeting demanded action against murderers of Maulana Sarfraz Naeemi, and inter alia against those who indoctrinated the killer. From a reading of the Clause 2 of the Declaration mentioned above, it is obvious that participants of this meeting were of the category who undertake such indoctrination.
The excellent names (Asma-e-grami) of the participating ‘respected ulama’ (Ulama Karam) as advertised were the following:
The Internet shows that this official meeting and its Declaration attracted a great deal of unfavorable comment from international human rights activists - individuals and organizations. A section of this huge ad in the press is reproduced here.
Lathianwala, Chak 194, District Faisalabad: The police registered a fabricated case against 32 Ahmadis under the dreaded blasphemy law PPC 295-C, anti Ahmadiyya law PPC 298-C, anti-terrorism clause PPC 295-A and other laws PPC 506 and 109, on July 25, 2009 with FIR 486/09 in Police Station Khararianwala. If declared guilty, the accused could be hanged.
While the details are awaited, a copy of the FIR has become available. In this the accusing party blames Ahmadis inter alia of posing as Muslims, using Islamic epithets, praising God, thanking Him, displaying the Kalima (Islamic creed), writing Mashallah (by the will and grace of God) on their residences etc. This has hurt the feelings of Muslims, according to the report; these writings defile the beliefs of Ahle Sunnat (Brelvis) and they feel threatened, etc.
Obviously, the FIR and the agitation is fabricated and artificially created and nourished in bad faith. The police have most wrongfully registered the case. This exposes all the named 32 Ahmadis to arrest and prosecution. The case and the treatment of the Ahmadi school children of Layyah is an indicator of what the state and society can do to its citizens who face spurious charge of blasphemy.
Accusing 32 Ahmadis in this case and registration of a criminal case against them whose penalty is nothing but death is a clear indication of gross deterioration of human rights and loss of freedom of faith of marginalized sections of society in the Punjab. Burning and loot of scores of Christian homes in District Qasur and Gojra this month also shows criminal disregard by the authorities towards protection of its citizens.
Lahore: Mr. Muhammad Iqbal, Ahmadi is serving a sentence of ‘imprisonment for life’ in Faisalabad prison on a false charge of blasphemy. He was sentenced by a sessions court, and is now in his sixth year of incarceration. He had appealed to the Lahore High Court against the sentence, pleading that he is innocent. Now his turn has come after a very long wait, and a judge is to hear the appeal.
The opposing party counseled by Adv. Rab Nawaz, a rabidly anti-Ahmadiyya lawyer from Chiniot, entered a counter-appeal against Mr. Iqbal, and asked for an enhancement in the sentence (death).
The judge has given the next date of hearing in the second week of August. The accused and his stricken family hope that he will be a free man before the court adjourns for summer holidays.
It is an opportunity for the state to cut its losses in the field of human rights and religious freedom. It should actively help the court in undoing the injustice inflicted upon the innocent victim who is the bread-winner of his family.
Kot Muhammad Yar, District Chiniot: Ahmadis were using a room in this village for prayers and Friday congregations. As and when their women joined in the worship, they would hang a curtain for partition. As the space was getting short for the worshippers, Ahmadis decided to build another room in the prayer center.
As the walls of the new room reached waist high, the police arrived. They told Ahmadis to stop the construction and report to the police station in the evening.
When the Ahmadis arrived at the police station they found the mullas already seated there. There, the SHO asked Ahmadis the purpose of their construction. The Ahmadi delegation told him frankly that if Muslims had a right to build a mosque, Christians their church and Sikhs their Gurdawara, Ahmadis also had a right to build a place of worship for themselves. The SHO did not agree, and told them to seek governmental approval for it. He knew that it was not needed, and if they ask for it Ahmadis will not get it.
Later the SHO told Ahmadis that the mulla will not let them build a room for worship. He volunteered to have the construction material removed under his own supervision. He told Ahmadis to stop praying altogether in the room as before. That was the end of even the minimal possibility of worship that existed before.
The vernacular press joined the monkey chorus, as usual.
Pir Mohal, District Toba Tek Singh: We reported last month in some detail as to how an attack, arson and violence took place at an Ahmadiyya graveyard in Pir Mahal. It was mentioned that the authorities had allocated this plot of land to Ahmadis in 1988 to bury their dead. Ahmadis are already buried there.
Some will find it difficult to believe, but the fact is that the Tehsil Municipal Administration Kamaliya cancelled its notification for the Ahmadiyya graveyard on June 9, 2009, citing the threat to law and order as a reason. (The monthly, Jehdi-Haq for July 2009)
Governance had rarely reached that low in Pakistan.
Layyah: We are happy to report that the four Ahmadi children and one adult who have been imprisoned for nearly six months, following their arrest in District Layyah, have been granted bail.
Justice Pervez Inayat of the High Court Bench at Multan granted the bail on condition of fiscal guarantee of Rs. 200,000/- being paid per person.
During the hearing the Superintendent of Police (Investigation) Mr. Pervez Tareen made it clear that there was no evidence connecting any of the accused with the alleged crime. The same finding was offered earlier to the Sessions Judge who still rejected their plea for bail. It was highly improper on the part of the state attorney to oppose the bail in the sessions court, after that finding.
The children have suffered greatly during these months. It was all avoidable. The involved clerics, the politicians, the police, the administration, the lower judiciary, all played their part in hurting the innocent children. They used religion to promote their unworthy personal interests.
The state has not dropped the charges. The accused will still face a trial. If declared ‘guilty’, they could be hanged. It is not at all difficult here to rent witnesses (as many as required) in support of a fictitious religious cause.
Ordinarily, once the bail is granted by a judge, efforts are made by the near and dear ones of the accused to have him released the same day. Despite all efforts by the supporters of these five Ahmadi accused, their release was delayed far beyond normal. Although the High Court accepted the bail on July 7, the ‘decision papers’ had some error, so a correct copy became available on July 10. It was presented the very next day to Mr. Niazi the Additional Sessions Judge Layyah who, for reasons best known to him, did not sign them despite repeated reminders. The designated official thus left for D G Khan without the release orders for the five. The Addl. Sessions Judge signed the papers late in the afternoon. The District Judge thereafter was requested to nominate a special messenger (the accused’s parents offered to pay for his travel expenses etc.) but he refused the plea. The next day was a holiday. So the release was further delayed, and the children could be freed on July 13, six days after the decision by the High Court.
As the accused children are at risk, they were not taken to their village. The parents took them elsewhere so as to be with them without exposure to possible attack.
An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal of May 21, 2009 deserves serious consideration: “The Taliban cannot defeat Pakistan militarily. The Taliban will win because what they want is already being implemented in Pakistan”. If the present state is not de-facto a ‘theocracy’, what else is? Mr. Jinnah, the founding father had asserted that Pakistan will not be a theocratic state.
The daily Ausaf, Lahore of July 29, 2009 printed a story whose translation is rendered below. Ausaf’s reporter has quoted mulla Allah Yar Arshad in his report; however, as both this mulla and this newspaper are not known for high morals, the level of authenticity of the published report remains at best uncertain. The press report:
Perhaps the PM is unaware that this mulla is registered in the VIth Schedule and is a ‘history sheeter’ in police record for his criminal conduct over a long period.
We produce below the translation of a press report, sic, from the daily Ausaf, Lahore July 25, 2009:
Chaudhry Iqbal has instigated the Muslims to murder Ahmadis living in their neighborhood. If the government is serious about maintaining communal place, it should prosecute Iqbal for committing a crime under section PPC 115.
It is noteworthy that irresponsible vernacular dailies like the Ausaf provide publicity space to such extremist views. This also amounts to abetment of the crime.
Ahmad Nagar, District Chiniot: Mullas based in Rabwah and Chiniot whose sole duty is to target Ahmadis in Rabwah and its environs have targeted an Ahmadiyya mosque in nearby Ahmad Nagar to disturb the peace of the area. This mosque has a background history that also reflects very negatively on the human rights situation of Ahmadis in Pakistan.
Almost a quarter of a century ago an Ahmadi, Rana Vali Muhammad, built a one-room mosque in his own land in sector Nurpur of Ahmad Nagar. The mosque served as a place of worship for approximately two dozen Ahmadis of the neighborhood. As the facility was located near a public route, occasionally a non-Ahmadi would also come and offer his prayers there. To this, Ahmadis never objected; they do not object to anyone who uses an Ahmadiyya mosque for worship of one God.
In 2003, the mosque needed essential repairs and improvements. Ahmadis undertook that. At that occasion mulla Ghulam Mustafa who is an agitator based in Muslim Colony, four kilometers away, arrived and claimed the mosque on the grounds that as Muslim travelers and locals have also used the mosque, it now belonged to them. He sought police intervention, as was sure of state support in a religious issue, however unworthy.
The police official asked for the land deed. The Ahmadi owner showed it to him, and proved to him that the location and the building had always belonged to him and still belonged to him in official papers and in fact. At this, most unjustly, the police official ordered the mosque to be sealed ‘temporarily on account of law and order problem’. The mosque has remained locked for the last six years, and Ahmadis of the neighborhood have remained deprived of their place of worship. Now the mulla is agitating to have the mosque reopened for only Non-Ahmadis.
The mullas have hoisted banners with demands to that effect. They scheduled a conference in Ahmad Nagar on July 22, 2009 to agitate for that. The vernacular press as usual gave the helping hand (the daily Jang, Lahore of July 19, 2009). Mullas of the Khatme Nabuwwat organization, Allah Yar Arshad, Yamin Gauhar, Mugheerah, Ghulam Mustafa, Masood Sarwari etc are leading this agitation. Ahmadis reported the situation to the police.
Mulla Allah Yar Arshad is in the IVth Schedule and a ‘history sheeter’ in police record for his criminal conduct. He arrived in Ahmad Nagar on July 22 accompanied by half a dozen of his own type, and attempted to precipitate a brawl. The police arrived at the scene to maintain order. Ahmadis are maintaining their calm, even though extremist mullas are indulging in provocations. The authorities are shy to deliver the justice, ‘in the interest of law and order’.
A political mulla, Pir Atiq-ur-Rahman has apparently decided to use the ‘Qadiani card’ to promote his political career. He is fairly influential and claims close links with the top leadership of the territory.
The Pir’s campaign in the name of Khatme Nabuwwat is essentially political, sectarian, agitational and even violent. His tactics include intimidating the government through this religious issue. He agitates the common man in his hate speeches against Ahmadiyyat. He hopes to gain political mileage with crutches such as the ‘protection of the end of prophethood’ — an oft-tried tool by numerous political tricksters.
The authorities in Azad Kashmir initially responded obligingly to his pressure tactics, and indulged in wanton violations of Ahmadis’ human rights (see News Report June 2008). This brought a bad name to the government of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan. It seems the government decided to recant, and took some damage control measures.
The Pir recently made another attempt at holding Khatme Nabuwwat conferences at various locations e.g. Kotli, Goi, Tatta Pani etc. The yellow vernacular press, as usual, offered plenty of space to the Pir and his acolytes. Newspapers like Nawa-i-Waqt, Ausaf, Khabrain etc spared two, even three-column space to publish disinformation as well information regarding these conferences, etc. Extracts:
Auspiciously, the authorities did not allow the holding of the conference. It must have taken some effort. However, the monster has grown in size, only because the Pir was seen often in company of the local prime minister last year.
Mirpur is an important city in Azad Kashmir. A few recent reports from there:
Pir Atiq ur Rahman presided over a joint meeting of Jamiat Ulama Jammu and Kashmir and Jamaat Ahle Sunnat. Its proceedings were reported in a three-column report by the daily Ausaf, Islamabad of July 1, 2009. Excerpts:
Faisalabad: Miss Baslah Ahmad, an Ahmadi student of Government College University, residing in the Para-Medical Girls Hostel, near Company Bagh, in Faisalabad has reported extensive prejudice and sectarian hostility against her in the hostel. It shows the corroding effect on society of the highly provocative leaflets and folders issued by various Khatme Nabuwwat organizations and distributed freely in educational institutions.
Briefly, Miss Ahmad has lived in that hostel for the last two years in company of non-Ahmadi girls, and the stay has been smooth and friendly all along — till two months ago. In April this year a pamphlet titled: Who is Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani? was delivered to the hostel, and Baslah’s room-mates confronted her with that provocative and incendiary material. Baslah tried to avoid the provocation but the agitated colleagues persisted. The incident spread the fire of hatred further in the next few days, and became an issue of which the administration took notice. Fortunately the administration did not join the agitation; it tried to calm the agitators. The girls, however, on their own, told Baslah not to join them at the dining table, and imposed a social boycott on her. The boycott, however, remained only partly effective, as some of the girls privately supported Baslah. Some elements that thrive upon discord and mischief proceeded to suggest that Baslah had committed ‘blasphemy’. They also referred to the last year’s events of the Punjab Medical College.
This incident is an example how sectarianism gets foothold in educational institutions and hostels. A lenient attitude of the administration towards agents-provocateurs encourages them to spread the mischief. Agitational sectarianism leads to religious extremism that leads conveniently to terrorism. This is how educated women are found among those who put on suicide belts.
Okara: Anti-Ahmadi elements launched an organized effort to promote sectarian hatred in Okara and other towns of this district. Hate literature was distributed in various bazaars. Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat organization hung hate banners in the Mandi Ahmad Abad, with writings such as:
Extremist leaders met the local shop-keepers in person and exhorted them to boycott Ahmadi businessmen.
Ahmadis feel concerned with the rise in hateful activities. They met the police SHO who appeared heedless, so they intend to meet the DPO.
Rabwah; July 2009: Recently Mr. Mahmud Ahmad Gondal, Ahmadi proprietor of Gondal Banquet Hall, sent a written complaint to the police SHO against Mulla Allah Yar Arshad.
According to the complaint, the mulla telephoned Mr. Gondal, spoke to him in foul and threatening language and told him to shut down his business or face action. As the Banquet Hall is close to the mulla’s residence, he threatened that any Ahmadi passing in that street in car or on motor cycle will be killed. The mulla warned him against reporting the incident to the police. According to the complaint, a few days later, the mulla’s acolytes attacked a guest’s car, stoned it and chased the guest to the Hall.
Mr. Gondal has requested the SHO to register a case against the mulla, and provide security to the complainant against the bully.
Lahore, July 3, 2009: The prestigious Daily Times of Lahore published a story of this title, on July 3, 2009. An extract:
Qasur, and Gojra, Punjab: It is learnt from press report that within a month religious extremists burnt scores of houses, owned by Christians in Kasur and Gojra, and looted some of them. The arson resulted in burning of seven Christians to death; including four women and a child.
The enormity, the evil, the hurt and the depravity of these incidents is beyond description.
The province of the Punjab is administered these days by Mian Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister, and the Inspector General of Police is Mr. Tariq Saleem Dogar.