The News on Sunday
Ali Usman Qasmi’s prolificacy as a historian surprises me. His second book The Ahmadis and the Politics of Religious Exclusion in Pakistan has been published just a few weeks ago. Prior to this, his contributions to the existing body of literature on religion and politics have been lauded in and out of Pakistan.
His previous book Questioning the Authority of the Past: The Ahl ul Quran Movement in the Punjab was a pathbreaking study. Similarly his recent book in which he interrogates the complex intertwining of religion, politics and the post-colonial state in a bid to determine the status of Ahmadis in Pakistan is indeed a brave effort on his part. The mere fact that he has engaged with such a sensitive theme in the given situation is highly commendable. Equally creditable is his line of argument, academically formulated and marked with analytical profundity.
The rich source material on the Punjab disturbances in 1953 which was rotting in the Punjab Secretariat library has been put to its optimum use. Of extreme import are the statements of various Ulema before “the court of Inquiry constituted under Punjab Act II of 1954 to enquire into the Punjab disturbances of 1953”. Thus Qasmi’s pioneering work relies not only on the Munir-Kiyani Report and its proceedings, but also on a very recently declassified (unofficial) record of the parliamentary session(s) in 1974, whereby Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims. This is an archive-intensive scholarly venture on a subject which has remained quite peripheral to the discourse of our national history.