Azad Kashmir authorities relent in face of religious extremists
Kotli, Azad Kashmir; September 2010: In Azad Kashmir the political classes tend to yield to the sectarian demands of the mullas, not realizing that these policies could threaten the state, the society and indeed the politicians themselves.
At Kotli, certain agitators took out a procession on September 8, 2010 ostensibly against electrical power outages. However, when they arrived near the Ahmadiyya mosque they started raising slogans against Ahmadis. It was clear that the move was preplanned. Only a day earlier at the Khatme Nabuwwat Conference in Rabwah, the sponsors had passed a resolution concerning the Ahmadis of Kotli.
The crowd shouted abuse and hateful words against Ahmadis and threw stones at the mosque. They also forcefully removed the mosque’s gate. Police officials arrived, observed the situation and told the two parties to come to the police station. Ahmadis were there on time, but the agitators failed to turn up. The mosque gate was found lying in the police station. Ahmadis asked for its return, however the police officials did not oblige, and advised the Ahmadis to remain calm and cooperative. The police sent for the two parties the next day. The next day the SHO was away from the office. When his superior, the ASP was asked to return the gate, he expressed his inability and advised that the gate not be replaced yet. When told that the Ahmadiyya mosque would be unsafe without the gate, he had no answer.
Ten days later, the gate was still not returned to Ahmadis by the police. The clerics issued a call to take out a procession in the city on September 27. Their demands had been raised to the demolition of the niche and minarets of the mosque and erasure of the Kalima from there. They put up anti-Ahmadiyya banners and posters in the town. The Deputy Commissioner and a magistrate came to visit the mosque. They were urged by the Ahmadis to ensure peace. Ahmadis, however, took steps to defend their place of worship.
On 27th September, the opponents held their conference and named it, of course, ‘Khatme Nabuwwat Conference’ – their usual guise for mischief. They made hateful and provocative speeches and made offensive pre-meditated demands to the authorities. They raised slogans, and named some Ahmadi leaders as targets. The police took no action against them, but went ahead with registration of a police case under PPC 506/2 against Mr Ameer Qaisar Daud, Ahmadi, for criminal intimidation.
The mullas gave the administration and the police one hour after the conference to act against Ahmadis. The administration requested the clerics to give them three days, which they granted. The mullas threatened that, ‘otherwise’ they will take action on their own. If the authorities decide to be so timid in imposing law and order, it is understandable why the mulla treats them with such contempt.
In the meantime, the police inspector incharge of the post at Tatta Pani sent for the president of the local Ahmadiyya community and told him to remove the Kalima from the Ahmadiyya mosque, as demanded by the mulla. He conveyed, that he had received these orders from ‘above’. The president told him that he would not undertake this sacrilege, nor would allow the mulla to do it.
The situation remained tense, while the politicians, the administration and police officials decided where to draw the line, or allow the writ of the mulla to prevail.
According to press reports, many Muslim leaders in those days urged the West in the UN to clamp down on attacks on Islam by the extreme right. One of them, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the battle was between moderates and extremists in all religions. “We must, and I repeat, we must urgently reclaim the centre and the moral high ground that has been usurped from us.” However, it is a pity that most Muslim leaders are quick to forget what they said at the UN, as soon as they return home.
It is on record that in 2004 when Pakistan, in the Musharraf era, was a member of Human Rights Council at the UN, it sponsored a resolution entitled: “Promotion of Religious and Cultural Understanding, Harmony and Co-operation”. However, while this Resolution was at a preparatory stage at home, the police in Sindh charged 15 Ahmadis under the Ahmadi-specific law for writing Bismillah (In the name of God) and Assalamo Alaikum (Islamic greetings) etc on wedding invitation cards. The police proceeded to arrest the bridegroom and his father. It was in the same days that Mr. Muhammad Iqbal, an Ahmadi accused was given life imprisonment in a fabricated case of blasphemy, at the demand of a state attorney.
Disturbance in Kotli, AJK
Kotli, Azad Kashmir; October, 2010: It is reported in the preceding report that miscreants destroyed the gate of the Ahmadiyya mosque in September. Ironically, a police case under PPC 506 was registered against an Ahmadi, Mr. Ameer Qaiser Dawood. Although his bail before arrest was obtained, he was sent behind bars on September 30, 2010. He was released the next day. He felt threatened, but the police and the administration hesitated to act against the agitators. His two daughters are doing a computer course in the I.T. Centre. When they were returning home on September 28, 2010, two unknown persons in a car intercepted them in an open market and threatened them with murder. Again on October 2, 2010, when they were returning home, two motor-cyclists called them ‘Mirzai Kafir (infidels)’, abused them on the main road and sped away.
Mr. Dawood’s family is living in fear. The local police was requested to provide protection but they took no action.
Seven Ahmadis arrested
Goi, Azad Kashmir; February 27, 2010: A group of religious bigots led a procession on 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal on the occasion of the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) birthday. They availed this blessed occasion to use abusive language against the Ahmadiyya community and pelt an Ahmadiyya mosque in muhalla Narr with stones. They indulged in violence too.
After this incident these hostile elements proceeded to the main Ahmadiyya mosque ‘Baitul Aman’ in Goi. They raised hostile slogans and made provocative speeches. The following day, a procession was led out in the district headquarters of Kotli. The administration registered a case under PPC 295-A, 341/324, 147/148, 149/337A, 296 with FIR No. 79 against seven Ahmadis and arrested them as demanded by the raucous crowd.
The plea for bail of the accused was postponed for some days due to the pressure of the religious extremists.
These Ahmadis remained in prison for some days for no reason other than their faith.
Oppression in Rabwah
Rabwah; July 27, 2010: Two Ahmadis own houses in eastern part of Rabwah, which the authorities have unlawfully designated as ‘Muslim Colony’. Ahmadi owners of property continue to face harassment from the mullas and officials in that area. Mr. Asad Shafiq and Munir Ahmad undertook repairs to their houses, and a mulla intervened. He reported to the police and demanded arrest. The police, without due inquiry detained them and charged them in separate cases. Both were later released on bail; but the prosecution goes on.
The police partiality in District Faisalabad
Chak 21 Gokhowal, District Faisalabad; Sepetmber 10, 2010: The police in Faisalabad have a long history of partiality and inaction, where Ahmadi are concerned. As a result, a number of Ahmadis have been murdered in this city and district over the years. Such excesses are undertaken by the extremist elements as a result of soft handling by the police of criminal activities of religious bigots.
On Eid, an Ahmadi youth on security duty interrupted a non-Ahmadi youth who was walking through the parking area of an Ahmadiyya mosque during the prayer. This led to a quarrel. The opposition fired in the air, and the Ahmadi responded in kind. An ASI who was present on the spot intervened and told the parties to calm down.
Later, a score of non-Ahmadi mullas and extremists revived the dispute and were harsh with the ASI. The SHO arrived at the scene and accompanied the mullas to their mosque. This resulted in registration of a police case against six known and two unknown Ahmadis – obviously a fabrication.
On return to the village, the mullas announced that a Khatme Nabuwwat Conference will be held in the evening. It is routine to exploit the sacred creed of Khatme Nabuwwat for personal vendettas. Five hundred men attended the conference. The mullas told the participants that they had got a criminal case registered with the police, and they should remain united and be ready.
Later, senior police officials visited the village and met the non-Ahmadis. Thereafter, they met Ahmadis too, and told them to send Mr. Nadeem Ahmad and Furqan Ahmad to the police station the next day, as they were mentioned in the FIR.
At the police station, the two parties agreed on a truce. The SHO assumed that some of the PPC sections would be withdrawn from the police case. Later the case was closed.
Discrimination against Ahmadi flood-victims
August 2010: A report on this subject published in the daily Dawn of August 21, 2010 is reproduced below:
LAHORE, Aug 20: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Friday expressed concern at the murder of two Ahmadis in the last three days and reports of denial of shelter to members of the Ahmadiyya community displaced by massive floods in south Punjab.
In a press statement, HRCP called upon the government to take urgent measures to ensure there is no discrimination on the basis of belief and that assistance and protection are not denied to a community that faces specific threats.
“The unrelenting targeted killing of members of the Ahmadiyya community by extremists is a poor reflection on the state’s obligation to protect the lives of all subjects. This week, the murder of an Ahmadi in Sanghar and another, a doctor, in Karachi only highlights the impunity the perpetrators of such heinous crimes enjoy. Only bringing the culprits to justice and promoting tolerance in society will bring an end to these senseless killings and give Ahmadis confidence that they can lead peaceful lives as equal citizens of Pakistan.
“HRCP is shocked by reports that government officials and local clerics have refused to provide shelter to around 500 flood-affected Ahmadi families from Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh and Rajanpur districts.
“The commission has noted with concern reports of lack of provision of relief goods to flood-affected Ahmadi families, expulsion of displaced Ahmadis from a government school in Dera Ghazi Khan and rented lodgings elsewhere in southern Punjab after clerics’ pressure as well as issuance of edicts by clerics that affected Ahmadis must not be provided help.
“HRCP reiterates the urgent need for distribution of relief goods and extension of other support to the affected people without any discrimination on the basis of faith or gender. The fact that Ahmadis are a vulnerable community on account of their religious beliefs must lead to specific assistance and protection measures for them, including protection of lives and property.
“The extensive scale of displacement and destruction by massive floods has understandably stretched the resources of the government to their very limits. However, it is hoped that whatever little is available from any source will be distributed among those in need without discrimination on the basis of religious belief. It would be a greater tragedy than the devastation caused by the floods if people cannot find enough humanity and compassion in their hearts to rise above personal biases to help fellow human beings that are in desperate need of help.”
The Express Tribune, a subsidiary of the International Herald Tribune, published its version of the same story on August 18, 2010, entitled, “The politics of relief: Aliens in their own land.”
The Asian Human Rights Commission also took note of the incident and in its statement released on August 21, 2010, called “on the government of Pakistan to end this inhumane and barbaric treatment.”
Rabwah; December 2009: Secretary of District Housing Committee Chiniot, a government body, advertised in the press and in public that empty plots in Rabwah on the riverside would be sold by auction, but only to those who believe in ‘complete and unconditional end of prophethood’ and who is not a follower of anybody who claimed to be a prophet in any sense of the word or is an Ahmadi/ Qadiani/Mirzai/Lahori.’ This happened first in year 2005 and now again in 2009/2010.
There is a background to this vulgar exercise of auction. Many years ago, the government, in league with religious thugs, forcibly occupied Ahmadiyya owned residential land on the eastern part of Rabwah, and established a ‘Muslim Colony’ on the usurped land. Ahmadis petitioned the Lahore High Court and the honorable court ordered on 4 March 1976:
Status quo shall be maintained meanwhile, that is to say, the petitioners who claim to be in possession, shall not be dispossessed.
The matter is still pending before the Court and the stay order is still in the field. Therefore any auction of the plots is a clear violation of the order of the Court and amounts to contempt of the Court. So, the Ahmadiyya Office served a legal notice to the Secretary of the Housing Committee to stop the auction in 2005. No one paid heed to it.
It is relevant to mention that despite the Court orders, numerous mullas and their acolytes are in illegal occupation of Ahmadiyya land for years and have established there a mosque, a big seminary, and a so-called Muslim Colony – with government support.
This time again, the Secretary notified that “After the final auction of plots in this scheme, no one will be allowed to transfer his plot ever to an Ahmadi/Qadiani/Mirzai/Lahori; violators will lose their plots, the construction material and their deposits to the government.” This unworthy announcement was issued by Deputy Director/Secretary District Housing Committee, Chiniot, and he quoted Order No. 3(1)76-H-M-11 of the Housing Urban Development of the Government of Punjab as authority.
It is interesting and relevant to read the following in the press:
Pakistan facing threat of terrorism and extremism (The Chief Minister Punjab told the outgoing Australian High Commission)
The Frontier Post; May 27, 2009
Pakistan is a society of endless contradictions, says Jemima
The daily Dawn; June 8, 2009
The forbidding auction took place in the Punjab. The auction notice, publicized in the press, is placed here.
Enormity of poor and corrupt governance – in the Punjab
Rabwah; May 31, 2010: This has happened before, and it has happened again, but is still no less unacceptable – the auction of land by the government in Rabwah. Earlier in January this year and in 2005, the authorities auctioned land in Rabwah to those buyers only who certified that they believed in the Khatme Nabuwwat, and undertook that they would never resell it ever to Ahmadis. This time the circumstances are different and more dishonourable for the authorities.
According to press reports, the government decided to sell a few acres of land in the vicinity of Rabwah this month through a public auction. May 11, 2010 was given as the auction date. Mullas in Chiniot and the resident mullas of ‘Chenab Nagar’ were quick to notice an opportunity for mischief in the given scheme of auction. They noticed that Ahmadis would be able to compete and bid for the plots, like any body else at the occasion. This was unacceptable to them. They decided to protest in public, regardless of the weakness of their objections. They had the print media on their side.
The second-rate clerics of this area, who otherwise do not get a mention in the national press, planned a campaign of uninterrupted propaganda and a stream of threats through the print and electronic media, and implemented it. The press provided space; for example:
Plan to eject Muslims from Chenab Nagar, the auction of provincial land should be stopped – (mulla) Allah Yar
The daily Aman, May 1, 2010
The state land in Chenab Nagar should be recovered from Qadianis. Ulama
If the government fails in undoing the possession of state land, we shall make a strong protest on May 10. Threaten the Ulama
The daily Ausaf; May 5, 2010
This propaganda was a master stroke in disinformation, pressure and prejudice. It worked, and the sympathetic authorities who are quick to shudder in the pants were quick to help on the grounds of perceived threat to law and order.
The DCO Chiniot wrote a letter to the Commissioner in Faisalabad on May 10, 2010 that in view of intelligence reports, the proposed auction of state land may culminate in a complicated law and order situation. He unabashedly wrote the argument that “the Qadianis being rich will buy the land, and Muslim occupants who are at present in occupation of the land will be ousted. This will result in the strengthening of Qadianis in Chenab Nagar (Rabwah)”. The DCO deliberately failed to mention that the Muslim occupants were in illegal occupation. He also seems to have given himself the role of weakening the Qadianis in Rabwah. He also readily forgot that his worthy predecessors in the Civil Service used to adroitly handle complicated law and order situations and find ways to deliver justice and fair administration. The DCO concluded his letter by suggesting: “In the attendant circumstances you are requested to take up the issue with the decision making authority besides considering issuance of injunction for the maintenance of status quo in the meanwhile.”
And sure enough, the planned auction was cancelled. It seems that the decision had already been taken, as the daily Waqt, Lahore published the story on May 10, 2010 with the headline: Auction of 20 Kanals of land in Chenab Nagar is cancelled. The story conveyed a message of thanks by the ‘Muslims’ to the government and named the ulama of the Khatme Nabuwwat Committee in a long list, who welcomed the government move. An overjoyed mulla, Abdul Latif Khalid Cheema wrote a column in the daily Aman of May 13, 2010, and gave it the befitting title: The latest success of ulama of Khatme Nabuwwat in Chenab Nagar – Yes, keep pushing. However, there was more to come – another gesture of surrender of the Punjab Government to the extremist mulla.
The Government of the Punjab, through its Housing and Town Planning Department Jhang issued a fresh notice of General Auction (Neelam Aam), although it was not ‘general’, that 66 Kanals of state land, to be divided into 125 residential and commercial plots, is offered for sale through auction on May 26, 2010, otherwise on June 1, 2010, at Town Hall Municipal Company (sic) Chenab Nagar. The Special Note added at the bottom of the Notice mentioned that 1) Ahmadis are not eligible to take part in the auction, 2) Every participant in the auction will have to sign a certificate of unqualified belief in the End of Prophethood, and 3) that the buyer is not an Ahmadi/Mirzai/Lahori, 4) the successful bidder is not allowed to transfer the plot to an Ahmadi etc as otherwise the plot, the security deposit and any building material on the plot will be confiscated (Ba haq sarkar zabat kar li jaigi).
The police at Badin – serving the mulla!
Badin (Sindh); February 2, 2010: An incident occurred here that indicates the depth to which the police has stooped to please the mulla. Senior police officials would do well to recover their prestige and professionalism.
The manager of a cigarette company was a Hindu who was a resident of Badin. His driver is an Ahmadi, Mr. Mobashir Ahmad Gondal. Occasionally when the manager visits home, his driver used to go to the Ahmadiyya center ‘Baituz Zikr’ to spend the night. On the night of 2 February, Mr. Gondal brought his vehicle to the center, where some people assembled around the vehicle. Gondal gave them publicity posters as gifts. Someone, who was watching, reported to the mullas that someone was distributing Ahmadiyya posters and literature. The mulla phoned the police and the police were prompt in reaching the Ahmadiyya center.
These constables undertook no investigation, hurried to get hold of Mr. Gondal, and drove him to the police station along with his vehicle. Mr. Gondal told them that these were only publicity posters of cigarettes, nothing else. The police searched his vehicle and found nothing. In the meantime mullas also arrived at the police station.
Ahmadi elders came to know of the incident, and they contacted higher police officials on phone. They were told that Mr. Gondal would be released within an hour. However they kept him at the police station overnight. The next day, company officials also came to recover their man. The police conveyed them their helplessness in the face of the mulla. It was a disgraceful admission.
The mulla insisted that the company should give it in writing that Mr. Gondal would not visit Badin again. They wrote that down, and thereafter their man and vehicle were released. If the mulla holds the local police in contempt, the latter should blame only themselves.
Erasure of Kalima by the police
Chak Mangla, Sargodha; July 17, 2010: The Kalima (Islamic creed) was written on the outside wall of the Ahmadiyya mosque in Chak Mangla. The police arrived there in the dark hours of 17 July and erased it. Earlier, the police forced an Ahmadi to remove from the mosque interior a plate on which the Kalima was written.
Islamic creed (Kalima) effaced from Ahmadiyya mosque by authorities
Dheroke, Toba Tek Singh; October 10, 2010: The local Ahmadiyya place of worship here was reconstructed. The Islamic creed Kalima was written on its outer wall; the same tiles with the Kalima on them were placed there again.
Munir, an opponent of the Ahmadiyya community, applied to the Assistant Commissioner that the Kalima should be effaced and a police case should be registered against the Ahmadi office bearers. The Patwari (local revenue official) and the Tehsildar (revenue officer of the Tehsil) wrote their reports in favour of the Ahmadis. The case was referred to DSP Gojra after the initial inquiry. The DSP called both the parties. The opponent party insisted that the Kalima be effaced. The Ahmadis conveyed to the DSP that Ahmadis would never remove the Kalima nor allow anyone else to do that; if the police and the administration wanted to do so, it’s up to them.
The police arrived in the village on October 16, 2010 at noon and brought along a laborer named Waris for this profane task. The police told him to remove the Kalima. He broke the tiles of the Kalima which fell on the ground. The police took away all the pieces with them. The DSP also told the Ahmadis not to construct minarets or a dome at the mosque. This order was unlawful.
Still another innovation in denial of freedom of religion
Sargodha: An overview of the persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan shows that mullas have achieved all their anti-Ahmadiyya objectives declared in the 1950s. Ordinance XX promulgated in 1984 provided an opportunity to religious bigots to widen the net and curtail the religious freedom of Ahmadis in many ways, yet despite this, their thirst to persecute Ahmadis has not yet been quenched. The mullas of district Sargodha (in the Punjab) made new demands and the spineless Punjab Police and the administration readily yielded – thanks to policy guidelines from Lahore.
The Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat, district Sargodha applied to the District Police Officer (DPO) that “Qadianis slaughter sacrificial animals on the festival of Eid, for which they have no right, as this practice is Islamic, and Qadianis being non-Muslims cannot pose as Muslims; as such they should be forbidden from this.”
The DPO promptly issued a directive to the area SHO (police inspector) “Qadianis should be firmly forbidden to undertake this (animal sacrifice). Keep the applicant informed. Render a compliance report within 2 days.”
Ahmadis in the district were careful not to give the police an excuse to move against them.
Only a few days earlier the President had declared, “We shall not allow the targeting of minorities in the name of faith or belief.” (The Lahore Post, November 5, 2010)
The mulla and the state jointly deny property rights to Ahmadi
Rabwah: Rabwah has always been a prime target of mullas. Its land was purchased by Ahmadis from the government in 1948. It was barren land at the time. After 1974, a sizable part of this land was confiscated by the Punjab government to implant mullas there. Twenty-two Ahmadi families were living on the confiscated land. The Lahore High Court accepted the ownership of Ahmadis on their plots and houses in 1976, however the provincial government dragged its feet in implementing the court order. Most of the Ahmadis sold their plots and houses while others were forced to flee from their homes. One such case is that of Mr. Bashir Ahmad. He is the owner of H. no. 15/23 Darul Nasr East. He was harassed into renting out his home in 2005.
During the last five years Mr. Bashir Ahmad has been targeted by the mullas of the so-called Muslim Colony, who enjoy support from the police. Mr. Bashir has been attacked, his tenants thrown out of his house, and the house finally occupied by miscreants.
When the police inspector was asked to help, he plainly excused himself for fear of the mullas and advised the complainant to approach higher officials.
Now the owner is living on rent.
Tension escalates in Pir Mahal
Pir Mahal, District Toba Tek Singh; May 2010: Pir Mahal has been mentioned many times in our reports but the authorities are apparently insensitive to the human rights of Ahmadis who are constantly under pressure. Their community graveyard was attacked, graves were desecrated, a periphery wall was demolished, equipment and property was burnt at the site etc. Subsequently they were prohibited from burying their dead in their own graveyard. Opponents of Ahmadiyyat enjoyed freedom of action. They announced a conference in the name of safeguarding the honour of the Prophet (PBUH). Previously, conferences were held to put pressure on authorities and harass local Ahmadis; these proved quite successful. Still another conference was programmed for May 23, 2010 to further raise the communal temperature in the area. Ahmadiyya central office took notice of this delicate situation and wrote a letter to the authorities requesting them to ban all such anti-Ahmadiyya, hate-provoking conferences as these ultimately result in crimes against Ahmadis.