Case registered against Ahmadis on community watch
Rabwah: In order to compensate, even if partially, for the inability of the state to provide security to the citizens of Rabwah, the community has established a system of neighborhood watch by the citizens on self-help basis. However, the system has its own problems and difficulties. One Khalid Mahmud of Khichiyan was accused of stealing a mobile phone. The guards delivered him to the police. At his complaint, a case was registered at Police Station Chenab Nagar against three Ahmadi watchmen and a police constable on February 08, 2007 under clauses 337 F/342, 337 L 11/34 and 155 H. The volunteer workers now face a difficult situation.
Mass prosecution of residents of Rabwah
Rabwah: Scores of Ahmadis have been booked for years under Ahmadi-specific and other religious laws and are undergoing prosecution in various courts in the country. For example, in Chiniot alone, 45 Ahmadi cases for Rabwah were due for hearing on February 14, 2007. As the magistrate was on leave, the hearing was postponed to another date.
All the above cases were based on religious grounds. The state was the prosecuting party. If it really believes in enlightened moderation and upholds freedom of religion and belief, it should have simply withdrawn the cases; full stop.
However, there is good news. The judge at Chiniot mustered the courage and took the initiative to dismiss all the fabricated cases against Ahmadis in the month of April. May God bless him for that. These cases had been going on for years.
The Plight of Rabwah reported in national press
Rabwah (officially Chenab Nagar) continues to suffer from serious deterioration and disruption in civic facilities. It is often reported in the national press; however, the authorities act deaf to all the protestations, as if all is well. Below we quote only two reports from the vernacular press:
Citizens yell due to frequent tripping and unscheduled load-shedding of electricity in Chenab Nagar
Life is seriously disturbed on account of outages. Children and the aged suffer greatly.
Chenab Nagar (correspondent): For many preceding days, both the electric feeders, old and new, were suddenly turned off, submerging the whole town in darkness. Life is seriously disturbed on account of these outages. Children and the aged suffer greatly due to heat and humidity. The water supply system is also affected because of electric interruptions. Social activists Rashid Ahmad Bhatti, Ghulam Mustafa Khan, President Human Rights Committee and Masroor Ahmad Munawwar have urged senior officials of WAPDA to take notice.
The daily Jang, Lahore; August 13, 2007
Water Crisis becomes acute in Chenab Nagar
No water even in mosques. Residents obliged to buy water cans at high cost.
Chenab Nagar: (Representative of the Express) Non-availability of water for the last five days has made life hell for the residents. They are going from door to door in search of water. There is no water even in places of worship for ablution. Water is being sold in cans at exorbitant price. The Water-Works staff state that the main water supply line is so old and corroded that it gives way frequently creating the water supply problem. The residents of Chenab Nagar are suffering for the inefficiency of the Tehsil Municipal Administration, Chiniot. Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Khan, the president of the Human Rights Committee Chenab Nagar has written to the Secretary Local Government Punjab, DCO Jhang and the District Nazim Jhang and demanded immediate notice of the prevailing grave situation.
The daily Express, Faisalabad; August 25, 2007
It is noteworthy that despite the situation partly reported above in the press, the mullah has objected to the findings of the UK Parliamentary Human Rights Group mission’s Report and the recent verdict of the British Appeals Tribunal, and insists that all is well at Rabwah.
A heartless local government
The daily Nation of July 4, 2007 published the following report regarding civic facilities at Rabwah:
Call to restore civic facilities in Chenab Nagar
OUR STAFF REPORTER
CHENAB NAGAR- As many as five hundred telephones have gone mute and gas and water supply suspended due to digging of roads by the TMA.
The Water Works Department of TMA Chiniot excavated the roads to lay water pipes without consulting the telephone and Sui gas departments.
The careless digging ruptured telephone cables, water and gas pipelines.
As a result, 500 telephones are lying dead and countless people are facing water shortage and about 1,500 people are without gas supply.
The residents of the area flayed the TMA (Tehsil Municipal Administration) for not consulting the two departments before laying the pipelines.
People have asked the higher authorities to immediately fix the problem and restore services.
Rabwah (Chenab Nagar) suffers greater neglect by the authorities with time
Ahmadiyya monthly news reports often carry a story on the poor state of civic conditions in Rabwah. One would expect that this would inform and motivate the authorities concerned in taking positive action. But such hopes appear to be futile, and the town is deteriorating by the day. Below are seven reports from the national press.
I. Chenab Nagar: Armed felon in veil (burqa posh) held by security guard
Chenab Nagar (correspondent): A private security guard pursued two suspicious looking persons in veil. One turned out to be a man who was clad in Burqa and was in female garb. Citizens present at the scene tried to detain the duo, but one of the two escaped. The citizens handed over the man to the police. The personal search of the accused disclosed that he was carrying a revolver. His name is Shahid Shehzad and he is a resident of Zafar Colony, B Block (Sargodha). The accused had come to the town in the garb of a woman to commit some heinous crime. The police are investigating.
The daily Jang; September 19, 2007
The news of this incidents spread fast in the town, and caused great concern among womenfolk. Everyone is now conscious of the threat posed by such criminals who can blow up the peace of the town by any means. The citizens have taken steps to forestall such an attempt.
II. Chenab Nagar: The roof of Government Girl High School caves in; two students incur grievous injuries.
The roof fell during schools hours in the class room of class IX. A few days earlier, the ceiling fan had dropped along with a piece of the ceiling, over a teacher’s head.
Chenab Nagar: (Correspondent) It was a chaotic scene in the class room of the Government Girls High School when its roof caved in. Two students were injured seriously. It was during school hours that a part of the roof fell over the students, as a result one student had a minor injury while the other had a grievous injury. A few days earlier, a ceiling fan fell over Ms. Tasleem, a teacher in the same school. Senior officials paid no attention to repeated reminders from the school administration. As a result, the roof and the fan fell down and their teacher and students received serious injuries. Parents have stated that if the repairs and maintenance of the school structure remains neglected, no one will send his children to the school for education.
The daily Jang, Lahore; September 29, 2007
A fairly detailed report on the precarious state of government educational institutes’ buildings in Rabwah, based on press reports, was included in the News Report for the month of May 2007 . Earlier in March 2007 also, the collapse of a roof of the same school had occurred and got a mention in the press (the daily Aljaridah, Lahore; March 29, 2007). It is highly regrettable, amounting to criminal neglect on the part of concerned authorities, not to pay attention to life-threatening situation of the citizens and the students that are entrusted by parents to their care.
III. Chenab Nagar: People wake up and proceed in search of water with buckets in hand.
20-years old pipes have become rusted. Hepatitis rages. Smaller pipes are choked with trash.
Many homes are now without water. Their residents have not seen water since long. After their wake-up they reach for the bucket and assemble at the filtration plant where a crowd is found the entire day, who curse the town administration. The main waterline bursts every other day, and the repairs take 36 hours. The other big problem is that of sewage. The town council says that they have no funds for sewage, while the city government is quiet on the subject and the government of the Punjab has spared no funds (for the purpose). In the past, the residents of Mohallah Darul Uloom Gharbi got the gas supply through cost payment. Water pipes were provided to the Baldia on self-help basis. Some sewage drains, major and minor, were also constructed the same way. The streets of Mohallah Darul Uloom Gharbi and the main Degree College Road are more like (historic) ruins due to lack of sewerage system, to the extent that even walking on these is problematic. On a rainy day, the streets are like lakes. Powerless citizens demand of the District Nazim to take notice (of their plight).
The daily Jang, September 7, 2007
IV. Electric outage extends to 19 hours in Chenab Nagar. Life comes to standstill.
Water Works T.M.A. Chiniot fails to provide regular supply of water to the people. Federal Minister is asked to intervene.
Chenab Nagar (correspondent)
When the local elders and journalists made an effort to know the reason for the outage, the officials of the FESCO Sub Division Chiniot, on condition of anonymity, stated that the three-way switch that supplied electricity to the town has burnt out and no replacement is available with the Sub Division.
The daily Ausaf, September 11, 2007
V. Chenab Nagar: Citizens face difficulties due to no street lights
All (electric) lines at Railway Rd, Aqsa Rd and Yadgar Rd are damaged. Great difficulty at the time of Sehri (before dawn, during Ramadan).
The daily Jang, September 14, 2007
VI. Broken Roads in Chenab Nagar convert to ponds after rain fall
Pedestrian men and women, face great difficulty. A number are admitted in hospital after falling in ditches.
The daily Ausaf, September 3, 2007
VII. Chenab Nagar: Beggars invade (the town). They have made settlements here and there.
With the advent of Ramadan, beggars from the area have converged (to Rabwah)
Beggars adapt fake affectations to arouse public sympathies. Authorities urged to take notice.
The daily Jang, September 13, 2007
Rabwah: No water to drink
Rabwah: June this year was a month of severe heat in most of the Punjab. According to one report, at places it was the hottest summer of the past 70 years. Rabwah was no exception. However, its suffering increased manifold when the town’s water supply system broke down, and the residents of Rabwah were deprived of drinking water for days and weeks.
The lethargy and lack of sensitivity of the local government to the plight of the residents was manifest and persistent. It amounted to criminal neglect. A number of households had to shift internally (if they could), while many others fled to other towns where their close relatives provided them water and shelter.
Open complaint of a resident of Rabwah
The Daily Express, Faisalabad, in its issue of June 28, 2007 published the following ‘letter to the editor’:
Failure of the Street Lights system in Chenab Nagar
On account of inattention of concerned authorities, the system of street lighting has collapsed in Chenab Nagar. The road-side dim lights have extinguished one after another, and darkness prevails all over (the town). Most of the night-time accidents are attributable to the absence of street lights. Repeated pleas to the officials have been fruitless. There is not a single bulb on the College Road which is the longest and the busiest road of the town. It is the same (situation) on Rajeki Road, Yadgar Rd, Railway Road and the Link Road. All the squares in the town are without light — even the Aqsa Square that is the central square of the town where six roads converge. I appeal to higher authorities to do something on priority basis.
Abdul Hafeez Jat, Chenab Nagar
Drinking water not available to Rabwah citizens in April
Rabwah: Residents of the Ahmadiyya town of Rabwah depend upon the municipal water supply system. They use this water for all needs including drinking. For weeks, the supply of this water remained disrupted or problematic. This caused great hardship to the residents. Even the national vernacular press took notice and reported the crisis under telling headlines. Some of these press reports are translated below:
Water works section of Chenab Nagar – a source of agony for the residents
Entire staff comprises pampered, inefficient, untrained and favored personnel. Senior officials pay no attention to interruptions in water supply and pubic complaints.
The daily Aman, Faisalabad; April 6, 2007
Chenab Nagar: Water crisis becomes critical after four days
No water available in the town including its hospitals and places of worship. We shall come out in streets if the situation does not improve. — Affected Residents
The daily Express, Faisalabad; April 9, 2007
Chenab Nagar turns into Karbala. Residents deprived of drops of drinking water.
Tehsil municipal authorities fail to take notice.
50 years old pipelines on the western bank of River Chenab have become scrap. Water borne diseases abound. Citizens protest.
Citizens roam from door to door in search of water in intense heat. Tehsil Municipal Administration is asleep. — Complains the common man
The daily Aljaridah, Lahore; April 16, 2007
While the residents are out in the street with containers on their heads, looking for water, the Tehsil Administration Chiniot, responsible for this, is not even conscious of the ugly situation. As such they are deliberately reluctant to change the old rusted pipelines.
The daily Aman, Faisalabad; April 18, 2007
The suffering and thirsty men and women, as also media men make repeated visits to meet the official incharge of the Water Works Section (at Rabwah) to urge action and ameliorations, but as usual he is not available at the office. So they are constrained to travel to Chiniot six miles away to complain against the non-availability of water and the absence from office of the Incharge, however the younger brother is not held accountable.
The daily Aman, Faisalabad; April 18, 2007
A readable article
Khalid Hasan, the US-based correspondent of the Daily Times has written on the situation of Rabwah, the Ahmadiyya center in Pakistan, referring to the Report rendered by the Mission sent to Pakistan by the British Parliamentary Human Rights Group. His column is linked here.
Rabwah: Roof of a girls school collapsed due to no maintenance and repairs
Following news item is translated from the daily Al Jaridah, Lahore of March 29, 2007:
Chenab Nagar: The roof of Government Girls School fell down. Students’ protest against the Education Department
The Department of Buildings declared the school building hazardous three years ago. The Education Department paid no attention. Students’ lives at risk.
Chenab Nagar (Correspondent): The roof of school library of Government Nusrat Girls High School Chenab Nagar fell down with a thud due to its being decrepit. Teachers and students had a narrow escape, who protested strongly against officials of the Education Department. It should be mentioned that at the time no student was present in the library. Approximately three years ago the provincial Department of Buildings had declared the school building unsafe on account of its poor state. However, the Education Department paid no attention to its demolition and reconstruction. If this carelessness and lethargy persists, the lives of women teachers and students will remain at risk.
It should be mentioned that the school was owned by the Ahmadiyya Community since 1948. The government took it over forcibly in 1972. However, the authorities decided in 1996 to return such schools to their previous owners. Despite the fact that the Ahmadiyya Community has met all the relevant conditions and paid a huge sum to that end, the government has failed to revert the school. Is it not criminal to hold on to the school, not undertake essential repairs and put the lives of the students and teachers at risk? It would be recalled that while the provincial Education Department has no time to attend to essential maintenance of its school buildings, it is very prompt and insistent to issue formal government letters such as its SC(A-II)1-27/01 dated June 27, 2003 (classified as Top Priority, Registered and titled: Letter received from Maulvi Faqir Mohammad) to Ahmadi-owned private schools at Faisalabad, whereby these schools are told “to expose themselves as Qadianis by writing in large plain hand writing on the school boards displayed for advertisement for their recognition being non-Muslims, so that parents can remain aware about religious thought of the administrations.” The full story is available in the Annual Report 2003 (Chapter 5)
It is also worth adding that according to a press statement of the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, Islamabad put Rs 600 million at the disposal of provinces for distribution to madrassas.
Rabwah is targeted by gangs of robbers
Rabwah: The attitude and inefficiency of the Rabwah police has encouraged robbers to converge on this town and indulge in repeated acts thievery, robbery and looting. The daily Aman, Faisalabad made the following report in its issue of February 28, 2007.
Chenab Nagar: Thieves and robbers make life impossible for people
Social, political and religious bodies appeal the Inspector General Police, Punjab to take notice.
For many days dacoits, thieves and robbers have destroyed the peace of citizens of Chenab Nagar, day and night.
Chenab Nagar (correspondent): For the last many days, dacoits, thieves and robbers have severely disturbed the peace of citizens of Chenab Nagar both in daytime as well as at night. National newspapers, including Aman and Public have persistently reported these numerous incidents. Some of the recent incidents are mentioned below. Recently, at about eight-thirty, Tahir Ahmad of Darul Ulum Sharqi, Chenab Nagar drew Rs. 20,000 cash from the ATM of the local Allied Bank and took a rickshaw to go home. When near the Government T I College, two unknown armed persons stopped the driver and jumped on board as passengers. A little ahead, at the Kot Wasawa road they told Tahir Ahmad to hand over his cash to them. He resisted, so they stabbed him, took his money and went away. (In another incident) five unknown armed individuals tied up the night guard, and bolted away with cash and goods worth Rs. 12000 from Mushtaq Kariana Store. Likewise (robbers) broke open the lock of Waheed Kariana and General Store in Factory Area and took away Rs. 7000 cash, a colour TV worth Rs. 8500/- and other items like sugar, tea, perfume etc worth Rs. 1500/-. Also, at village Madad Ali, in PS Barana, unknown thieves broke the wall of a farm owned by Tahir Cheema and took away a buffalo and a cow worth Rs. 50,000/- each and left their newly born calves behind. They also stole an ox worth Rs. 5500/- belonging to Sardar Harl resident of village Dara Pathar within the jurisdiction of Police Station Chenab Nagar. Political, social and religious bodies from the area have appealed to Chaudhary Ahmad Nasim the Inspector General Police, Punjab to take immediate notice (of the situation).
Citizens of Rabwah face mounting problems at Council Office
Rabwah: The various acute problems that confront the citizens of Rabwah are reported in the monthly reports off and on. However not all of them, as the following ‘letter to the editor’ of a resident Mr. Abdul Ghaffar, published in the daily Express, Faisalabad, October 26, 2007 shows:
It has become a headache to have a birth registered with the Union Council
Through your esteemed daily, I would like to draw the attention of authorities to a big problem. It has become problematic for the residents of Chenab Nagar to get a birth registered. The applicant, after obtaining permission from the Executive District Officer Health, Jhang has to get an endorsement from the local Patwari, councilor and Tehsildar. Then having got his application approved by EDOH, he is required to approach the Union Nazim and Union Secretary. All this procedure takes 10 to 15 days, and it costs a fair amount in the form of gratifications (nazrana) to obtain this petty (but essential) certification. It is a basic right of every citizen to get a birth registered and the local union council is authorized to do so. But this has been made so complicated that the applicant gets shunted from office to office. I urge the authorities to attend to the problem.
Abdul Ghaffar, Chenab Nagar
Note I: The problem narrated concerns those births whose registration is overdue.
Note II: Jhang, the district headquarters is approximately 95 kilometers from Rabwah, and by various public transports, a visit to an office there consumes one whole working day.
Note III: The daily Jang of 31 October 2007 has published a lengthy report on the deplorable situation of civic facilities at Rabwah and has highlighted the official neglect to it.
Neglect suffered by Rabwah and its residents continues
The daily Khabrain, Lahore published the following story on one aspect of the state of civic facilities in Rabwah in its issue of November 24, 2007:
Chenab Nagar’s streets and residential areas turn into heaps of garbage.
The council sweepers routinely dump sewage waste on roads and streets. An epidemic could result.
Chenab Nagar: (Khabrain’s correspondent) Garbage is piled up on main roads, crossings and the streets of Chenab Nagar, while officials of the town council sit idle. The residents told this correspondent the other day that the sweepers rarely turn up to do their duty, however if and when they come, they take out the waste from drains and leave it outside residents’ homes. The foul odour could spread disease. Children, old people and women often tumble over this garbage. The residents have appealed to authorities to solve these civic problems and attend to town hygiene. The rubbish should not be dumped over the plants, so as to save them from drying up (they said). (translation)
Rabwah as a safe haven!
Introduction: On account of the prevailing institutionalized persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan, many victims tend to flee from their homeland and seek shelter elsewhere in the world. In some countries the authorities raise a simplistic but formal question: Why don’t these Ahmadis shift to Rabwah rather than come that far to other countries? A special Mission, in fact came over to Pakistan to see the situation on the ground.
Ahmadiyya ‘assessment’ of the situation at Rabwah, with particular reference to the Mission’s task and its specific questions, was presented on October 9, 2006. It is reproduced below for its import and archival value.
The plight of Rabwah – from press reports
Rabwah, renamed wickedly Chenab Nagar during the regime of Sharif brothers, is the Ahmadiyya headquarters town in Pakistan. As such, it is exposed to the anti-Ahmadiyya prejudice and persecution in many ways. Ahmadi-bashing organizations and groups have targeted the town and stationed their mischief managers here. But, in this entry, it is intended to refer only to the civic side of the town’s situation. The government has provided the infra-structure to ensure that the town is neglected and is deprived of its usual rights. This has been done through deliberate corruption of the local government system. Voting rules have been designed and enforced to prevent Ahmadis from not only getting elected as councilors but even to exercise their right to vote. As a result the local council has no representation of 95% of its population that comprises Ahmadis. Thus the city (step)fathers care little for the city and spend money on themselves or on the 5% whom they represent. The town therefore is in utter state of neglect. It is manifest from even press reports, which fall on deaf ears, and the local government takes no action to improve the deplorable civic facilities. Here we reproduce just a few of the headline news that were reported in the national and regional press during only ten weeks of June and July:
- Chenab Nagar: Citizens deprived of drops of drinking water.
Women and children have to fetch water in buckets from far away locations. This wastes their entire day. The daily Pakistan, Lahore; July 23, 2006
- Damaged roads cause tremendous hardship to citizens of Chenab Nagar. Traffic is adversely affected due to pits all over. Dust pollution hurts the population. Repairs demanded. The daily Express, Faisalabad; July 23, 2006
- Life is paralyzed in Chenab Nagar due to the crises caused by outages. Scores unconscious. Electricity goes off for an hour after every two hours. The elderly and the sick are worst affected. The daily Express, Faisalabad, July 24, 2006
- Chenab Nagar: Dozens of telephones inoperative for two months.
Business adversely affected. No improvement despite
repeated protests. Officials are urged to take notice. The daily Express, Faisalabad; June 19, 2006
- Neglect by local council. Garbage piles up in streets of Chenab Nagar.
In some neighbourhoods, one has to hold one’s breath to avoid the bad smell. The local council has 53 sweepers on its pay roll but it seems that they merely register their attendance. We tried to contact the Town Chief Officer but he was not available on account of being indisposed. The daily Express, Faisalabad
- Chenab Nagar: Artificial non-availability of driving licenses and ‘renewal of arms licenses’ register. Applicants have suffered repeated visits to the post office for four months.
Official lethargy costs people undeserved late fees. The daily Aman, Faisalabad, June 5, 2006
Unfortunately there is no remedy to this state of affairs. The system is designed by the authorities and the mullah just for such results. On July 19, 2006 a local Ahmadi Mr. Muhammad Yaqub, Engineer, met the District Nazim and the District Coordination Officer in his personal capacity with a pubic welfare request. Both the officials received him, but reminded him matter-of-factly and rather unkindly, “You people have no vote”. Mr. Yaqub told them that one injustice does not justify other injustices, and his request was based on his citizenship rights and not his status as a voter. “Seventy per cent of Pakistanis do not bother to vote under the present system, any way,” he quipped.
Mass prosecution of Rabwah citizens
Rabwah: Rabwah remains at the cross wires of Ahmadi-bashers. At present 236 Ahmadi residents of Rabwah are facing prosecution at courts in 85 cases have faced charges on religious grounds. Mullah Allah Yar Arshad was himself the complainant or pusher in 37 such cases. All these are in addition to the case in which the entire Ahmadi population of Rabwah was accused of violating the anti-Ahmadiyya law. This situation must be a rare one in the whole world, whereby such a large number of citizens are prosecuted for years on religious grounds by the state that otherwise claims commitment to a religion that preaches toleration, generosity and compassion. The accused are all exposed to years of imprisonment under the bad laws.
Rabwah – in a press report
Rabwah, (Chenab Nagar) gets some news coverage for its neglect by the officialdom and local government. This neglect is too extensive and obvious to escape notice of the press. The weekly News Week, Faisalabad in its issue of 8-14 August reported at some length, under a four-column headline, the deterioration in civic conditions in this town. Its translation is produced below:
Chenab Nagar has turned into a heap of garbage – due to the neglect of the TMA Chiniot officials
Sewage outflows in streets and roads. Citizens all over are exposed to and suffer from various diseases
Sweepers are not made available for the task; drinking water supply is blocked; flies and mosquitoes abound
Chiniot: (Bureau Chief) Chenab Nagar and its surrounding neighborhoods have turned into garbage depots due to the neglect of the sanitary staff and the inefficiency and lack of attention to duty by the relevant officials of TMA (Tehsil Municipal Administration) Chiniot. The sweepers do not attend to the sewage and to the overflowing drains of dirty water that spills over the streets and roads. So the residents and pedestrians find it difficult to walk over these. This depot of filth and drains clogged with garbage have become breeding grounds of flies and mosquitoes. To make matters worse, frequent outages that extend over 10 to 12 hours per day make the innocent children, the youth, the elderly, all, their favorite target. Affected citizens have repeatedly reported these unspeakable conditions in writing, but no one is bothered. It is very relevant that the local Chief Officer is only a façade; the authority is being wielded by Mr. Amjad Ali who is a brother of the TMO Chiniot. The staff does little except act as his flatterers and sycophants. Sixty percent of the sweepers are assigned to the Water Works Section. Their non-availability is the main reason to make the town a depot of filth. Also, the Water Works Section is staffed by ill-trained operators and supervisors who were inducted through sifarish (undeserved and corrupt recommendations). They are not honest even about the drinking water. How can the water reach the end of the supply line if you do not release adequate supply? The deprived citizens are dead tired of making repeated visits to the relevant office, but no one is prepared to help. It is now their demand that the Incharge and his untrained staff should be transferred forthwith. These people were inducted at the time of introduction of the Devolution system. They have developed thick necks by feeding on people’s blood. The civil, social and religious notables of the town have demanded of General Musharraf, the President to provide justice to the affected people on priority basis, as per his orders.
The state of roads in Rabwah
There was a letter to the editor of the daily Express by one, Mr. Kamal Din; it was published in the issue of August 26, 2006. Its translation is produced below:
Chenab Nagar roads need repairs
I would like to draw the attention of senior officials to an important issue through your esteemed daily. Broken and dilapidated roads have become the destiny of citizens of Chenab Nagar. Accidents have become a daily routine in the town due to the crumbling roads. The unspeakable condition of these roads is an obvious proof of the failure of concerned institutions. Since the implementation of the new district government, citizens of Chenab Nagar have been treated as step-children. I appeal to the senior officials to urgently attend to our problem.
Kamal Din, Chenab Nagar
Outbreak of epidemic at Rabwah
Citizens of Rabwah have serious complaints about the neglect of their town by city officials and higher authorities, and they have repeatedly brought these to the notice of all those who matter in the land. Even in Ahmadiyya monthly reports, a mention has been made often of these conditions that deserve urgent attention. In the report for the month of May 2005, having described the story of ‘Deplorable situation of civic services at Rabwah’ it was opined that “The situation can lead to any urban catastrophe like outbreak of disease or threat to peace etc.” (A copy of these reports is regularly provided to the authorities in Islamabad). Regrettably, the government took no notice of the alert, and the citizens of Rabwah had to bear the consequences. The daily Aman, Faisalabad of January 20, 2006 reported the happening in 3-column headlines:
“Chenab Nagar: Hepatitis rampant. Hundreds are afflicted by the terrible disease.
Boys, girls, men and women are admitted in local hospitals and clinics. Parents and relatives are greatly upset by the sudden onslaught.
Tehsil Municipal Administration is responsible for this situation. The water being provided to the population since long is extremely polluted. Doctors at the press conference.
Chenab Nagar (staff reporter). Chenab Nagar is in the grip of hepatitis. As a result, hundreds of children and adults are under treatment in local hospitals and clinics. Parents and relations are greatly upset by this sudden outbreak, and are losing their peace of mind due to the worrisome situation. In addition, afflicted children and youth are unable to attend schools and colleges. This has affected badly their education. The other day, a press conference, attended notably by Dr Munir A Khan, the well-known Engineer Mian Muhammad Yaqub, Chaudhry Tahir Mahmud Advocate, Chaudhry Abdul Aziz Advocate, Abdul Mujib Khan Advocate, Malik Asif Munir Advocate and the renowned social worker Chaudhry Mubashir Ahmad Cheema, and others, all expressed grave concern over the outbreak of this calamity, and held the Tehsil Municipal Administration responsible for this. “It is highly regrettable”, they said.”
The disease affected thousands and lasted months till the end of August. It cost the population hundreds of thousand man-hours and millions in financial terms.
Rabwah – a target of neglect and callousness
The daily Aman of Faisalabad in its issue of 8 November 2006 reported once again the plight of civic situation at Rabwah. It is a condemning report and is expressive of the neglect and callousness to which the citizens of Rabwah are exposed. English translation of the news is given below:
TMA’s (Tehsil Municipal Administration) incompetence. Garbage heaps all over in Chenab Nagar
Mosquitoes and flies feeding upon sewerage water and garbage make life unbearable for residents.
The Waterworks Section is manned by inexperienced and untrained minions.
Chenab Nagar (Correspondent): As a result of the inefficiency and disregard to public health by the TMA Chiniot, Chenab Nagar is abounding in garbage heaps and pools of dirty water, which breed millions of poisonous mosquitoes and flies. These spread disease all the time by entering homes and restaurants in large numbers. Sewerage drains are overflowing and their filth causes great inconvenience to pedestrians and clients in bazaars and streets. The so-called public servants of the TMA are not willing to attend to the cleaning and clearance of these filth depots and sewerage lines. This was stated in a press release by Mr. Zahir Mahmood Mirza, the president of the Traders Association of Chenab Nagar. He disclosed that the staff of the Waterworks is inexperienced and was recruited through nepotism and favoritism. They are rewarded unjustifiably and heavily for collection of water tax. Clean drinking water is not available on account of incompetent and inexperienced water operators and their so-called supervisors. If and when water is released in pipes it is a mixture of mud and muck. As a result, many people including the children, youth, elderly and women suffer from stomach ailments, like diarrhea, dysentery, malana, typhoid, fever and different kinds of skin diseases. The TMA Chiniot has treated these citizens, who pay their tax 100 percent, like a stepmother from the very first day.
Rabwah (the government has imposed upon it the new name of Chenab Nagar) is located in the central Punjab. It is easily accessible by road and rail. It is only 90 kilometers from its district headquarters, Jhang, and only 10 kilometers away from the sub-division headquarters of Chiniot. The government has located here a police station and appointed here a magistrate and a Deputy Superintendent of Police. The mullah has been helped by the authorities to build numerous mosques around Rabwah and some even in the town centre. A large seminary (madrassah) is located on the land usurped by the government and passed on to the mullah. As such, anti-Ahmadiyya laws are very much in force at Rabwah, and the government machinery is there to impose all the discriminatory and other religious laws on residents of this town. There is no escape for them. In fact, a sort of mass prosecution goes on all the year around. For example on February 8, 2005, twenty six anti-Ahmadi criminal cases were due for hearing in the court of Mr Ahsan, the magistrate at nearby Chiniot. As the magistrate was on leave, 17 March 2005 was given as the fresh date of hearing. To quote another specific date – on May 05, 2005, 54 criminal cases based on religion involving citizens of Rabwah were due to be heard by the Civil Judge. They were given a new date for hearing. At the end of the year 187 individuals are still under prosecution in court. The accused are exposed to years of imprisonment if declared guilty by the judge/magistrate. Many of the accused had spent weeks and months behind bars before their bail applications were accepted by the courts. Rabwah is not a safe haven by any account.
Attack on Ahmadiyya press and press corps at Rabwah
Press, as a matter of policy of the present regime, is a sort of holy cow, but if it is located at Rabwah it is an exception. Here the press enjoys little freedom; this was manifestly conveyed again on August 5, 2005.
Briefly, in a surprise raid, a large contingent of police led by a senior official sealed two presses, carried out a search at press locations and the daily Alfazl office, seized printed and unprinted material and took the keeper of the Zia ul Islam Press in custody. Thereafter the police demanded that all the editors, printers, publishers and managers of all Ahmadiyya periodicals present themselves before the police. So, they had to run for cover and seek bails before arrest. In the meantime the police charged 17 of these office-holders in criminal cases under anti-Ahmadiyya laws and 16 MPO i.e. maintenance of public order, in FIR 352/05 at Police Station, Chenab Nagar.
This crackdown was a bolt from the blue, and caused a great deal of fear and generated intense sense of insecurity among the entire population of Rabwah. Nobody knew what caused it, who ordered it and what was to follow. A detailed report of this grave incident is available in press sub-section.
Anti-Ahmadiyya conferences and rallies
One of the most glaring and unabashed discrimination against Ahmadis is the fact that while all other religious denominations are allowed the freedom to hold their congregations and assemblies, Ahmadis have been singled out and are denied permission to hold their traditional and almost ritual conferences at Rabwah. Furthermore, opponents of Ahmadiyyat are routinely permitted now to regularly hold anti-Ahmadiyya open-air conferences at Rabwah where almost the entire population is Ahmadi. The mullah therefore transports the participants from other towns; most of these are students of madrassahs. These conferences are held apparently in the ‘pious’ cause of End of Prophethood, but in fact the mullah uses these occasions to vent his anti-Ahmadiyya passions and indulge in fiery rhetoric in support of Jihad, violence and intolerance. It is as if the Italian government would allow anti-Catholic rallies just at the boundary of St Peter’s Basilica inVatican. He also feels free to bash up external and internal policies of the government and rants against the West. Hereunder, we report briefly upon three of such conferences held this year in Rabwah.
Hateful anti-Ahmadiyya Conference at Rabwah on September 7, 2005
The Daily Times of Lahore reported the following on September 9, 2005 in a Staff Report from Islamabad:
“A relentless and sustained effort will continue at all levels to rid the country of terrorism, extremism and sectarianism and no one will be allowed to fan hatred from the “pulpits of mosques”, President General Pervez Musharraf told the National Security Council at a meeting at NSC Secretariat on Thursday.
“We are getting tough on elements promoting religious bigotry and hatred in society. There will be no compromise on the current clampdown against extremists and terrorists and they will be booted out of the country,” the president said. The president talked about both the short and long-term measures to curb extremist tendencies, adding that extremism formed the basis of terrorism.”
The president repeated these bold and shrewd policy remarks before the National Security Council on 8th September 2005. However, only a day earlier, on September 7, his administration permitted a conference to be held at Rabwah. The organizers of this annual conference never fail to indulge in the kind of activities that the president desires to curb. The wide gulf in the president’s policy and the implementation by the administration is amazing. A press report of the proceedings of this conference from the daily Jang, Lahore of September 9 is translated below to illustrate the amazing phenomenon:
The US ought to apologize to Muslims and quit Afghanistan and Iraq. Khatme Nabuwwat Conference.
Qadianis are supported by Jews and Christians. Muslims can fight against the power of Infidels through united action.
The government should take notice of Qadianis’ activities. Column of religion should be added to the national identity card. Speeches of distinguished Ulema in conference at Chiniot (next to Rabwah).
Chiniot. (Staff reporter). The world of Islam is in extremis. Zionist forces are active to exterminate it, so the Muslim Ummah will have to show exemplary unity, and Muslims should seek pardon en-masse so as to avoid the Divine punishment. The U.S. is bogged down in its attack on Afghanistan and Iraq, and has caused problems for its own people. If the U.S. wants to escape from this quicksand, it ought to seek pardon from Muslims, and should quit Afghanistan and Iraq after payment of damages. Hundreds of thousand Americans have converted to Islam after 9/11. Islam is spreading fast in the U.S. Qadianis are supported fully by Jews and Christians. If they are not stopped, the situation will get out of control. These opinions were voiced last night by the speakers at the final session of the 18th International Khatme Nabuwwat Conference at Jamia Usmania Khatme Nabuwwat, Muslim Colony, Chenab Nagar, held under auspices of the International Khatme Nabuwwat Movement. The speakers included Maulana Abdul Hafeez Makki, Maulana Dr. Ahmad Ali Siraj of Kuwait, Qari Shabbir A Usmani, Maulana Dr Saeed Ahmad Inayatullah of Makkah, Maulana Abdul Majeed of Medina, Hafiz Tahir Mahmud Ashrafi Advisor to the Chief Minister of Punjab, Qari M Zawar Bahadur, Maulana Shabbir A Hashmi, Tahir Abdur Razzaq, Badi-uz-Zaman Advocate, Zahid Mahmud Qasmi, Maulana Ilyas Chinioti, Maulana Rafiq Jami, Abdur Razzaq Sajid, Bashir A Shah, Aziz ur Rahman Hazarvi, Muhammad Hussain Chinioti, Abdul Khair Azad, Mufti Abdul Hameed, Riaz Ahmad Swati, Abdul Aleem Haqqani, Ashraf Mansuri, Ejaz A Shakri, Khalid M Azhar, Abu Bakr Faruqui, Asadullah Faruq, Gulzar A Azad, Tariq Mahmud Barq, Tahir Jahangiri, Faisal Bilal Gilani, Tahir Bilal Chishti, Muhammad Amjad, Salman Usmani, Mujibur Rahman Ludhianvi, Iftikharullah Shakir, Bashir A Qasmi, Muhammad Irfan and others. Fazilatul-Sheikh Maulana Abdul Hafeez Makki said in his address that Muslims can fight successfully the non-Islamic forces through perfect practical united action. Qari Shabbir Ahmad Usmani stated that the blasphemous Qadiani group shall be resisted till the end. Sahibzada Muhammad Qadri stated that all evil movements can be countered only through united action of religious forces. Hafiz Tahir Mahmud Ashrafi, the Advisor to the Chief Minister Punjab stated that the Qadiani lobby intends to achieve its evil ends through anarchy in the country. Maulana Dr Saeed Ahmad Inayatullah of Makka said that conspirators against Islam will die their own death. Maulana Dr Ahmad Ali Siraj of Kuwait said that the World of Islam was facing conspiracies. Maulana Aziz-ur-Rehman Hazarvi said that the rulers should not mix up Jihad with terrorism; these are two different entities. Maulana Qari Muhammad Zawar Bahadur said that the U.S. is paying the price of attack on Afghanistan and Iraq. Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Hashmi said, “The government should not have the misgiving that Madrassahs are like orphans; we shall spare no sacrifice to protect them”. Tahir Abdur Razzaq said, “The mischief of Qadianism is the biggest of this century”. Maulana Junaid Hashim, Maulana Ismael Ahmad, Hafiz Talha Faruq of South Africa, Maulana Imdadul Hasan from UK, Qari Muhammad Tayyab Qasmi of Hong Kong, Liaquat Ali Bhatti of Germany, Dr Muhammad Ahmad Noor of Dubai, Maulana Shaheed ul Islam MP from Bangladesh and leaders from other countries who could not get the visa, sent Fax messages that they will sacrifice all they have for the dogma of End of Prophethood and that they assured the leaders of Khatme Nabuwwat of their full co-operation. The Conference passed some resolutions that demanded of the authorities to take note of Qadianis’ activities, in order to safeguard the ideology of Pakistan and implement the Islamic provisions of the Constitution; column of religion be added in the computerized identity cards, or the color of the ID cards should be different for Muslims and Non-Muslims so as to ensure religious distinction in accordance with constitutional and legal provisions.” (emphasis provided)
This report was published as a three-column news on page 2 of the daily Jang, Lahore on September 9, 2005. Is it not interesting that Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, Advisor on Religious Affairs to the Chief Minister Punjab not only came all the way to attend this conference, he even addressed it – despite the President’s repeated policy statements against religious extremism. He must have come by permission or on orders of his boss.
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore of September 9, 2005 gave the following headlines to report the proceedings of this conference:
– Sharia punishment (death) should be imposed to check the activities of Qadianis. The government should ensure implementation of Anti-Qadiani Ordinance. Khatme Nabuwwat Conference.
– Qadianis should consent to being a Non-Muslim minority, otherwise a movement will be laOunchad to legislate the Sharia punishment (of death) for apostasy. Column of religion be added to the Identity Card.
– Qadianis’ periodicals continue to violate the Ordinance by promoting apostasy. Their permission to publish should be cancelled, and Qadiani finances should be confiscated.
– Maulana Makki, Ahmad Siraj, Tahir Ashrafi, Maulana Ataullah, Maulana Yahya, Sheikh Zubair, Ilyas Chinioti and other Ulema addressed the final session of the Conference held at Chenab Nagar.
It reported the following in the detailed text:
- Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, the Advisor to the Chief Minister “warned Qadianis to remain within the bounds of the Constitution. If the country’s constitution was correctly implemented, the situation in the country would be different, and there would have been no mischief.”
- Maulana Ilyas Chinioti said, “All printing presses belonging to Qadianis should be confiscated. If the government is sincere in curbing terrorism, it should round up all Qadianis of Chenab Nagar and carry out a search”. He demanded, “Criminal cases be registered against Qadianis for revolt against the Constitution and Jamaat Ahmadiyya should be banned, their funds confiscated and an inquiry held.”
- In a resolution a demand was made against Ahmadiyya TV Channel that “the government should ban its reception in Pakistan forthwith.”
As, such conferences openly violate the official policy of enlightened moderation, why permit their holding at a sensitive and targeted spot like Rabwah?
Second major Anti-Ahmadiyya hateful and provocative conference at Rabwah in three weeks: on September 29 and 30, 2005
As if the outrageous conference of September 7, reported above, was not sufficient, the extremist lobby of Ulema organized still a larger assemblage in the Ahmadiyya town of Rabwah on September 29 and 30. While the government has banned gatherings of even Ahmadi women and children in their own town, it routinely permits the mullahs to converge here, a number of times every year to hold conferences with a message that would please the most virulent and aggressive bigots among the Taliban. The authorities permit and facilitate holding these conferences, perhaps in the name of Khatme Nabuwwat (the dogma of End of Prophethood), but under this cover the organizers and speakers promote their national and international political program. The authorities know it, as their agencies report the proceedings to their headquarters regularly on every occasion.
It would perhaps be no exaggeration to suggest that these conferences are the most provocative, unabashedly retrogressive and slanderous open-air religious gatherings anywhere. Militancy, agitation, profanity, intimidation, intolerance and zealotry are the standard and normal content of all speeches. Below, we quote what was splashed in the press, and also that which was too profane to be printed, however we shall still withhold that is plain abuse and vulgar.
Press headlines and reports (extracts)
If the Sharia penalty for apostasy (death) had been implemented, it would have exterminated the mischief of Qadianism. Khatme Nabuwwat Conference
Qadianis echo the Jewish jargon; the government should desist from becoming their tool. Ulema
The Din, Lahore; September 30, 2005
Identity cards of Non-Muslims should be of a different color, and their voter lists should be separate. Khatme Nabuwwat Conference
The Express, Lahore; September 30, 2005
We do not accept amendment to the Blasphemy Act. Europe should not recognize Qadianis as Muslims. Fazlur Rahman
The UN should declare blasphemy a crime. The U.S. should not publicize the plight of Qadianis.
Qadianis should be fired from government jobs. Nawabzada Mansur
The murder of Ulema is a Qadiani conspiracy. Saeed Jalalpuri, Abdul Majeed Ludhianvi, Maulana Abdul Malik and others
Maulana Fazlur Rehman stated that all religions parties including the MMA will support the Almi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat to challenge Qadianis. He said “Those who sow discord among Muslims are enemies of Islam and Muslims; they are agents of the Qadianis and Jewish lobby… If Qadianis indulge further in mischief, they shall be dealt with under law and constitution.
Maulana Saeed Ahmad Jalalpuri said that one of the main reasons of action against Madrassahs is the effort of the Qadiani lobby.
Pir Saifullah Khalid demanded a ban on the NGOs that preach Christianity in Pakistan.
The Pakistan, Lahore; October 01, 2005
We shall push the Qadiani mischief to its logical end. Fazlur Rahman
It is a part of Qadiani agenda to link Jihad with terrorism. Address to the Khatme Nabuwwat Conference at Chiniot.
In his address to a press conference Fazlur Rahman said that to link Jihad with terrorism is in fact a part of Qadiani agenda.
Pir Saifullah Khalid stated the European countries are using NGOs to promote their anti-Islam agenda.
One of the banners at the conference had the statement: “Muslim, when you shake hand with a Qadiani, it hurts the feeling of the Holy Prophet in the Green Dome” (the holy tomb).
The Jinnah, Lahore; October 01, 2005
We shall not sit still till the extermination of Qadianism. Khatme Nabuwwat Conference
Anti Ahmadiyya law should be fully implemented. The government should apply the Blasphemy Law in its purity. Resolutions
Maulana Fazlur Rehman demanded that terrorism training camps should be closed down in Israel and other anti-Islam countries.
Nawabzada Mansur A Khan, vice President of the ARD (son of the late Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan) said that the government should unveil Qadiani conspiracies and throw out all the Qadianis from bureaucracy and law enforcing departments.
Qari Khalil Ahmad Bandhani demanded that religion column be added to the national identity cards.
Maulana Feroz Khan said that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani was not even a decent man from moral point of view.
Hameedudin Mashriqui said “the rulers have buried the two-nation theory, recognized Israel and abandoned Kashmir. It is obligatory to get rid of them”.
In a resolution it was demanded that all actions against the Ulema and fundamentalist Muslims should be stopped and (the government) should desist from harassing them.
The Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; October 01, 2005
Now a sampling of what was not reported in the press but was said or done in the conference:
- Mullah Aziz-ur-Rehman Jalandhri said: “These wretched (Zaleel) Qadianis are a plant, planted by the English; they are active in Pakistan for recognition of the state of Israel…. There is no difference between Qadianis, Christians and Jews; Qadianis are a product of the English who want to put an end to Jihad.”
- Maulvi Abdul Qayyum Haqqani said, “The Pakistani President had the First Lady introduced to the Israeli President. He (General Musharraf) kneels down before the U.S.”
- Maulvi Abdus Sattar Taunsvi said,“Qadianis do not believe in Khatme Nabuwwat: they must be put to death (wajab-ul-qatl)”.
- Maulvi Nurrullah of Khanewal said, “Qadianis are apostates and infidels. We demand of the government that Qadianis be made to have a different kind of mosque and have different prayers, as the prayers they offer are those formulated by our Holy Prophet.”
- Mullah Saeed Ahmad Jalalpuri said, “They (Ahmadis) convert people through love and civility. Their civility is a pose; from inside they are blasphemous.”
- Abdul Malik, an MNA from NWFP (MMA) said, “General Musharraf has declared Mullah Omar, Osama Bin Laden and other Maulvis terrorists, at the instigation of the U.S; although the greatest terrorist is U.S. itself.”
- Nawabzada Mansur Khan of Muzaffar Garh said, “Qadianis have their headquarters in Israel. They have become more active since President Musharraf took over. When he talks of Enlightened Moderation, he does so on behest of Qadianis.”
- Maulvi Mushtaq Ahmad of Lahore said, “Qadianis are worse than the most unclean; and the U.S. is the greatest terrorist in the world.”
- Maulvi Abdul Hameed Wattoo said, “Mirzais are preparing to celebrate the centenary of their religion. The Ulema will efface even their name from the face of the earth.”
- Mullah Ahmad Mian Hamaadi who is on the pay roll of the government and is the instigator of dozens of cases against Ahmadis under Ahmadi-specific laws, said, “According to our law, Qadianis are infidels (kafir) and infidels must be put to death (wajab ul qatl).
- Maulvi Muhammad Zawar of Sukker said, “Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani was an apostate and an infidel. His progeny are also apostates and swines.”
- Maulvi Fazlur Rehman, the Secretary General of MMA said, “Today, the U.S, the Jewish lobby and General Musharraf are bent upon putting an end to Jihad, while Jihad will continue till the Dooms Day. If we support the U.S, we are peace-loving, otherwise (we are) terrorists. Pervez Musharraf calls the Ulema terrorists only to please the Americans, although it was the Army (Faujis) who imparted the training for Jihad, provided weapons and taught how to operate under cover…Shaukat Aziz, the prime minister of Pakistan does not say his prayers, but preaches Islam to others. General Musharraf was dancing on the eve of Independence Day. What kind of Islam is this? Now to put pressure on the Ulema, the rulers are declaring their degrees as bogus. Hundreds of thousand of Mujahideen were gotten massacred in Afghanistan, and an attack on Iraq was supported; and Musharraf continues to side with the U.S.”
These are the glimpses of what was said in the five sessions of the conference. What went on behind the scenes is anybody’s guess. Maulvi Fazlur Rehman arrived at the scene in style, with full security and police protection. He led the Friday congregational service. The Nawa-i-Waqt reported that Khaksar leaders arrived with their contingent shouting slogans. Nawabzada Mansur Ali, the son of the deceased Nawabzada Nasrullah, an Ahrari leader, was given a rousing welcome. The police and administration had made elaborate security arrangements. The vernacular press displayed the conference reports under three-column headlines. Approximately 4000 persons attended; less than last year.
Ahmadi youth remained vigilante to defend Rabwah residents and their properties against any outrage by these sectarian extremists. Ahmadi women were advised to remain indoor during the two days to avoid any harassment.
Among the CDs on sale there was one that shows the maltreatment of Muslims in different countries, the destruction of the World Trade Centre, an interview of the Amir of Jundullah, a Jihadi outfit, and a few messages of Osama Bin Laden.
Obviously, such conferences at Rabwah are not about the religious doctrine of Khatme Nabuwwat; they are only a license to mullahs to pursue their political aims and objects; national as well as international. If the government is sincere about its drive against terrorism and extremism, it should put a stop to these conferences at Rabwah, the headquarters town of Ahmadis.
A conference at Rabwah during April
A two-day conference was also held on April 22 and 23, 2005 at Rabwah under the auspices of Tehrik Khatme Nabuwwat (End of Prophethood Movement) and the discredited Majlis Ahrar Islam. The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, of April 24, 2005 reported that colorful banners displaying the following slogans were displayed at the conference:
- Allah is the Super Power
- Our way – the Jihad way
- Listen Americans – we are death to you
The daily Express, Faisalabad of April 24, 2005 reported the proceedings in headlines “Rulers are puppets of Non-Muslims. We are fully entitled to defend Islam. The US will soon disintegrate, and Islam will prevail.”
Nawa-i-Waqt of April 25, made further report on the proceedings of this conference and quoted the speakers’ demand that ‘Character assassination of scientists who made (Paksitan) a nuclear power, should be stopped.’
These mullahs at the Khatme Nabuwwat organization still claim to be involved in only religious activities, and are granted all the facilities by the authorities to hold such conferences at Rabwah. The same newspaper further reported that “Maulana Khan Muhammad, Maulana Abdul Hafeez Maki, Syed Muhaiman Bokhari and the procession indulged in intense slogan-raising in front of the Aiwan Mahmud (Ahmadiyya office building) but there was no problem of law and order. Qadianis only watched the procession from inside and outside of their homes.”
However, when the government means business
The authorities can be quite effective in Pakistan when the top brass leaves no doubt in the minds of officials about what is required. For instance, the government wanted peace during Muharram – and sure enough, there was hardly an untoward incident during the ten-days. The authorities showed no concern for the sensitivities of the Ulama and handled them as they deserve to be handled – firmly. Thirty-six ulama and mullahs, for example, were barred entry into District Jhang, and 10 more were told to shut up (Zuban Bandi). As per press report in the Daily Awaz of February 7, 2005, the government notification named each one of these ulama and made the order operative with immediate effect. The long list included a number of the ‘Ulama Karam’ who, on other occasions, are provided all facilities during their anti-Ahmadiyya hate-missions to Rabwah. The list included Maulwis: Muhammad Ahmad Qadri, Abdul Majeed Nadeem, Masud Azhar, Zahidur Rashdi, Ali Sher Haidri, Khadim Hussain Dhillon, Muhammad Ahmad Lukhnawi, Ataullah Bandialwi, Akram Toofani, Allah Yar Arshad, Abdul Ghafur Jhangvi, Ilyas Chinioti, Muhammad Hussain Chinioti, Alam Tariq, Qari Abdul Basit, Sultan Mahmud Zia, Mumtaz Kaliar, Abdul Ghafur Taunsvi, Tajuddin Haidri etc. It is fair to ask that if these clerics are persona non-grata and too dangerous to be allowed in district Jhang and if they indulge in unbearable slander in Muharram so as to deserve extreme restrictions, how come they become Ulamae Karaam (respected scholars) soon after Muharram and are perfectly acceptable for undertaking the same type of activity at Rabwah against Ahmadis. If sectarian harmony is government’s committed policy, then such exceptions hurt the state’s credibility.
The daily Jang reported two days later in its issue of February 9, 2005 that the leave of all police and doctors in the district (Jhang) was disallowed and Section 144 was imposed throughout the district. The mullah got the message, and stayed put.
Deplorable situation of civic services in Rabwah
Rabwah has been disowned apparently by concerned officials, high and low. The civic services are the responsibility of the local council, the TMA and the district government. These are elected bodies; but Ahmadis have been deprived of voting rights through procedural mechanism and legal provisions. As such, the concerned municipal Nazims and representatives do not feel obliged to attend to the civic needs of Rabwah whose 95% of the population is Ahmadi who pay all their taxes regularly. This lack of prime-mover for the elected representatives has resulted in gross neglect of attention to the city’s services – bordering on criminal. The roads are in a very poor state; in fact they damage the vehicles that ply on them, so these tend to ply on the unpaved side tracks raising dirt clouds and hazarding pedestrians. The water situation is critical in certain localities where people have no water even to drink. In the fourth week of May when a citizens’ delegation called repeatedly on the council officials and asked for water, they were shamelessly told to:
- 1. ‘Wait for another two or three months when the water situation is likely to improve (that is when the summer months are over), or
- 2. ‘Have your water connections disconnected.’
No self-respecting city official with minimum sense of social and professional duty would make such outrageous suggestions. As water is a basic need, this response is worse than that of a monopoly electric supply company that on receiving complaint of electric breakdown asks the user to wait for a few months or apply to have his mains disconnected. Such a response from town officials of Rabwah betrays blatant absence of accountability and a total lack of interest by higher echelon of the government in the plight of citizens of Rabwah. The situation can lead to any urban catastrophe like outbreak of disease or threat to peace etc.
Even, otherwise hostile vernacular press has taken note of the situation at Rabwah, and reported it as follows in month of May alone:
Roads in Chenab Nagar are in bad shape. Accidents mount.
The daily Jinnah, Lahore; May 16, 2005
Thirsty citizens, carrying pitchers on head, were visiting nearby villages in intensely hot weather and under the scorching sun in search of drinking water. They warned that if these anti-people policies continue they will not hesitate to come out on streets in protest.
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; May 16, 2005
The Chenab Nagar town council increases water rates. Rates raised to Rs. 100 from Rs. 60 (per month). Citizens protest.
The daily Pakistan, Lahore; May 16, 2005
As per press release of Assistant Manager FESCO Sub-division Chenab Nagar electric supply will remain disconnected on 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 28, 30 and 31 instant from 9 am to 4 pm for changing wires and essential repairs.
The daily Aman, Faisalabad; May 16, 2005
Garbage dumps all over in streets. Chenab Nagar loaded with filth. Life has become unbearable for citizens. Drain water swamps roads, as the drainage system collapses. Council workers come only to collect pay. None accepts responsibility of sanitation.
The daily Express, Lahore; May 17, 2005
No electricity in Chenab Nagar for ten hours. Business closed down. No drinking water. People wander door to door. They demand enquiry in unscheduled electric interruptions.
The daily Jang, Lahore; May 23, 2005
Wild dogs abound in Chenab Nagar. Several people bitten
The daily Express, Faisalabad; May 24, 2005
No news yet of the youth abducted from Chenab Nagar.
Abducted Salman is the only brother of four sisters. His father is on a visit to Japan.
The daily Awaz, Lahore; 29 May 2005
Since when, why and how have the Ahmadi residents of this town been deprived of their citizens’ rights, one may ask?
The plight of Rabwah as reported in national press during September 2005
The Annual Report on ‘Persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan’ for Year 2004 contained a detailed report on the plight of Rabwah. Chapter 10 of that Report put the situation on record. Any self-respecting administration would have taken note of the report and taken remedial action. However, that was not to be. Nine months subsequently the civic situation in the town had grown worse. It was reported by the national press. A few headlines from the vernacular press are reproduced below for anyone, who, for any reason, is interested in the human rights of citizens of a town inhabited by a marginalized section of society:
Electric breakdown for 13 hours in Chenab Nagar. Residents protest
The daily Awaz, Lahore; September 28, 2005
All Pakistan Khatme Nabuwwat Conference will start in Chenab Nagar from tomorrow.
The Khabrain, Lahore; September 29, 2005
Residents of Chenab Nagar experience great difficulties in obtaining a (kitchen) gas supply connection.
The Pakistan, Lahore; September 30, 2005
Land grabbing mafia most active in Chenab Nagar. Mountain of garbage in Chenab Nagar
The Express, Lahore; September 21, 2005
Thieves reign in Chenab Nagar
Residents remain awake at night. Last night they broke into the house of Muhammad Yunus in the attached colony of Waraich Town and took away the dowry of his daughter.
They stole a silver set and Rs. 5000/- from the house of one Mazhar Hussain, and robbed Rana Bashir of mobile phone in his absence.
The Aman, Faisalabad; September 11, 2005
Overflowing sewage, broken roads, garbage are now stuck with residents of Chenab Nagar.
Bad sewerage system has turned streets into pools; filthy water enters homes.
Pedestrians upset with foul smell; unhygienic water is supplied through rested and broken pipe lines.
The Express, Lahore; September 19, 2005
Thieves, robbers and pick-pockets operate freely in Chenab Nagar. Residents greatly upset.
It is a rare day or night without theft.
Unknown thieves stole 12 tolas of gold ornaments from Amanullah’s house, 3 goats from Tariq Mahmud and a motor cycle of Azhar Mahmud.
Mohammad Ashraf was deprived of Rs. 30,000 by a pick pocket, while riding bus.
The Aman, Faisalabad; September 19, 2005
The building of Government Talim-ul-Islam College Chenab Nagar has turned into a ruin.
Officials have banned its use due to its precarious condition. Professors are obliged to teach the students in open air exposed to weather.
Chenab Nagar. Rickshaw, truck and two cars collide – five injured.
The Awaz, Lahore; September 20, 2005
Chenab Nagar: Unknown persons snatch motor cycle from Mansur Ahmad. He had just arrived home at 8.15 p.m. when robbers took away his motor cycle and purse at gun point.
The daily Aman, Faisalabad; September 25, 2005
Chenab Nagar: Drinking water not available. Water turbines not functioning. Residents’ plight unbearable. Drinking water interrupted for last one week. Residents urge officials to take note and take remedial action.
The Khabrain, Lahore, September 6, 2005
24th Khatme Nabuwwat Conference shall be held at Chenab Nagar on 29, 30 September.
The Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; September 7, 2005
Chenab Nagar: Residents are deprived of water even on 18th day. Face extreme hardship.
Residents of various neighborhoods including the Railway Road and Darul Rehmat Wasti have not a drop to drink.
The Khabrain, Lahore; September 15, 2005
Meeting in which no one met
Rabwah; December 6, 2005: Citizens of Rabwah were pleasantly surprised when they received a circular from the Nazims of their Union Councils 41 and 42, Sardarzada Kanwal Abbas Syed and Qureshi Ashfaq Hashmi respectively, inviting them to attend a meeting at the Council Office at 12.00 on Tuesday, December 6, 2005 to discuss the important issue of drinking water. The circular mentioned that the Tehsil Nazim was taking personal interest in this important and vital need of the citizens.
Accordingly, approximately fifty notables representing various neighborhoods of Rabwah arrived at the venue on time for the meeting. However, there was no one to welcome the invitees to the meeting. The two main hosts were conspicuous by their absence. The chief officer who acts as a sort of executive secretary at the Union Council was also not there. The visitors could do little except wait. They saw two mullahs enjoying the freedom of the chief officer’s office that was open while the officer was away. According to one senior citizen who had gone there to participate in the meeting, the toilets were found securely locked, not available for public use. The invitees waited for about 45 minutes, and having received no message or information about the fate of the scheduled meeting departed. They prepared a protest note, signed and left it there.
The non-event is no surprise. Ahmadi citizens of Rabwah have no right to vote. The only other motivating factor could be that of the moral value of public service; but it would be unrealistic to expect the public representatives at Chenab Nagar to have a keener sense of public service than those in the rest of the society.
Some other press reports with brief remarks
- The mullah is content with the results of anti-Ahmadiyya drive. According to him:
Majority of Qadianis have fled the country and gone to Germany and London. The rest have been straightened out (here) by law; they are no longer active. Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, Information Secretary of Almi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat
The Daily Aman, Faisalabad; April 16, 2005
- A local mullah, based at Rabwah however has his own plan:
We shall continue our drive till complete extermination of Qadianiyyat. Qari Shabbir Usmani
The Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; September 27, 2005
- A mullah in the nearby town of Chiniot, son of the vicious mullah Manzoor Chinioti ex MPA, has his own vision of peace and is an ardent activist for his objectives against his neighbours at Rabwah:
Qadianis should stop calling themselves Muslim. (Mullah) Muhammad Hussain Chinioti
The more the Qadianis are crushed, more there shall be peace in the country. Address in a conference.
The Pakistan, Lahore; September 3, 2005
- The mullah believes in training. The training is done at the seminary in Rabwah and also at a madrassah only 9 Kilometers away from Rabwah. It was reported in the press:
Annual Counter-Qadianiat and Counter-Christianity Course held at Chiniot. 300 participated.
- The government gives a helping hand in different ways, for example:
The Government of Punjab has ordered confiscation of 10 handbills and periodicals (published by Ahmadis), declaring them objectionable.
The daily Jinnah, Lahore; November 24, 2005
The government of the Punjab proscribes the book Tajdar Yemen and different issues of (Ahmadiyya) Daily Alfazl, Monthly Ansarullah and Tashheezul Azhan.
The daily Khabrain, Lahore; April 11, 2005
Eight primary and secondary schools owned and managed by Anjuman Ahmadiyya were nationalized by the government in 1972. No action has been taken by the government to give them back, despite the revised government policy of 1996. The authorities are requested to look into the matter as soon as possible.
Summary of a letter published in the Daily Dawn, Lahore; March 11, 2005
- The government first permits and facilitates the mullah to hold anti-Ahmadiyya conferences at Rabwah, then if some dutiful police officer’s patience runs out, he may register rarely a case against the extremist thugs, But arrests? – that is a hot potato. According to press reports:
Chiniot: The 27th annual Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat Conference will be held at Jamia Masjid Ahrar, Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) on April 21.
The Daily The News, Lahore; April 16, 2005
Conferences and processions organized at Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) to celebrate Eid Miladun Nabi Program is scheduled for April 17 and 22.
The Daily Aman, Faisalabad; April 17, 2005
Two Ulema booked for making provocative speeches and raising slogans on loudspeakers against Qadianis at Chenab Nagar.
No arrests made yet
The daily Jinnah, Express, 11 May 2005
Is there another town in any country, that can match Rabwah in blatant discrimination, loss of religious freedom and exposure to tailor-made bad religious laws?
Blasts of hatred and threats
Rabwah: Mullahs deliver sermons and make speeches at Rabwah, the Ahmadiyya headquarters in Pakistan, that are openly criminal and violation of law. In the month of May 2004, they held public meetings and took out processions here. Some samples are given below of their speeches on loud-speakers:
Maulvi Manzoor Chinioti
“There are two demands that I aim at getting met (by the government) within my lifetime.
1) Muslim Auqaf (charitable endowments) are held by the government, but Mirzais still control their own Auqaf. Apart from that, other non-Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Parsis etc – their Auqaf are not under the control of the government. Till when this duality of policy will go on? I am sending a Question to (be raised in) the (National) Assembly. I met Qazi Hussain Ahmad and brought the issue to his attention. He agreed with me. “Then pay attention to it,” I told him, “Their (Ahmadis’) Auqaf are worth tens of millions. If the government confiscates these, it will break their back.” Then I met Ejaz ul Haq (Federal Minister of Religious Affairs). I reminded him of his father (General Zia ul Haq) and his services to the Muslim peoples. Ejaz ul Haq also promised me that he would support us. The question I have sent to be raised in the (National) Assembly is: What is the total worth of Auqaf of Qadianis and Lahoris – How are these funds being spent – Will the government take them over – If yes, when – If not, why not?
“The second issue is that of (national) identity cards. If religion is not entered therein, how will you recognize a non-Muslim? A Mirzai certainly cannot be pinpointed otherwise. One can recognize a Christian, a Sikh and a Hindu by his name, but Mirzais have names identical to Muslims. Their identification is much more difficult. We have demanded this since long, but domineering America has forbidden this discrimination. However, in Saudi Arabia, color of the passport is related to religion. Muslims’ passports have one color, non-Muslims’ have another. The same practice should be implemented in Pakistan for identity cards.”
Qari Yamin Gauhar
“Anyone who claims to be a Prophet is a liar, the great fraud, and must be put to death. Syedna Siddique Akbar (Caliph Abu Bakr) along with 1400 dedicated Companions, of which 750 were Ashab al Qurah, offered sacrifice of their lives and put to death Musailma Kazzab and hundreds of thousand of his followers (a lie), and thus put an end to that mischief for ever. And, Inshallah this mischief (of Ahmadiyyat) will be put to an end the same way…….. Now Inshallah the mischief of Qadianiyat will be buried for all times to come. We have come here (to Rabwah) with these sentiments. We shall take out a procession in this town peacefully, as this is not their town, it is ours.
“To call Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (the holy founder of the Ahmadiyya Community) a Satan is an understatement, as Mirza Sahib was higher in stature than the Satan.”
“When I come here next time, promise me that (by then) you would have converted them (Ahmadis) into Muslims. If they accept Islam, they are our brothers; otherwise they will have to flee from this town. This Pakistan is not theirs, it is ours. Let them go to America. O Mirzais, if we were not peaceful people, we would have crushed you right now; we would have razed your Aqsa Mosque within the hour. But we are your well-wishers. We want peace, and we want to bring you under the banner of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).”
Mullah Allah Yar Arshad at different Mosques on May 14 and 21
At Masjid Bokhari: “Qadianis have dug holes here and there and planted trees. I tell these Qadianis to live in peace and let us live in peace; otherwise we shall take out our army and overpower this town. I request these police personnel standing outside to put this right. I propose to the (Town) Committee to do something about Qadianis, otherwise let us know; we are the guardians of Islam and people of God, we shall overpower them. Provide water to the college forthwith so that students face no difficulty; otherwise Qadianis will have to move over to Britain; they will not be allowed to stay here; they will be dealt with severely.”
(The mullah referred to the doctrine of End of Prophethood and said) “The Mirza calls himself a Prophet; if you show his photo to a beast, even he will get frightened and take to heels.”
At Masjid Muhammadiya: (Addressing the state high-ups) “You lackeys of Qadianis, monkeys: if you all get together and try to amend the Constitution, you dare not make an amendment to the Blasphemy law. Your Constitution is nothing but a scrap of paper; it has no worth in the face of Allah and His Messenger. Pervez Musharraf intends to amend the Blasphemy law to consolidate his position and power, but that will not happen. Today, this resolution is being moved all over (in mosques) that if you make any amendment to the Blasphemy law, the devotees of Muhammad are prepared oven today to sacrifice all they have.”
Ahmadiyya headquarters have sent a copy of the above report to the federal and provincial governments. (It is relevant to mention that state informers and agents are themselves present at such occasions to render reports of proceedings to higher authorities).
Water and power crisis in Rabwah
Rabwah: Although some other towns and neighborhoods elsewhere also complain occasionally of shortage of drinking water and electric power breakdowns, the problem at Rabwah, the Ahmadiyya headquarters in Pakistan is more acute and serious. This is mostly because of total absence of Ahmadiyya say in the local government of their own town. The daily Alfazl had the following to report in its issue of April 12, 2004:
A major crisis in Rabwah due to water (shortage) and power (breakdowns)
Since the onset of summer, there is again repeated interruption in the provision of water and electricity throughout Rabwah. Electric power is interrupted for hours in many neighborhoods of Rabwah without advance notice. This results in great inconvenience to the residents in the hot season, for example, damage to electrical appliances, disturbance in classes at schools and dislocation in daily chores. Also the water problem is at its worst in the heat of the summer. People are yearning for drops of water. This deprivation of the most essential necessity of life is driving the citizens to the wall. Citizens of Rabwah and its suburbs appeal to the government and concerned authorities to effectively attend to these perennial problems. (Translation)
People of Rabwah, who are 95% Ahmadis, are suffering at the hands of the management of the local Union Councils in which they have no representation. The Council is duty bound to provide water to the residents for their daily needs; it collects water charges from them regularly. However, on account of its inefficiency and lack of representative nature, it has failed to provide this basic and most essential need of the population. Rabwah is located on the right bank of the capacious river Chenab; there is no reason why the town should suffer from water shortage. The heat of the summer makes the plight of citizens worse. Young boys and girls moving from door to door, begging for water is a common sight here, and is ample evidence of the incompetence and insensitivity of the local Union Council. Senior Nazims in the line of District Government have also a responsibility to ensure that people of Rabwah are not deprived of their basic needs.
Rabwah: Ahmadis continue to face criminal prosecution in courts despite all the rhetoric by agents of the state in favor of toleration and against sectarian strife. The number of cases against Ahmadis in courts is an indicator of the continuation of the old policy. Twenty-six Ahmadiyya cases were to be presented in a magistrate’s court on September 2, 2004, while 28 more such cases were due to be heard on September 6, 2004 in the same court. Why can the state not withdraw these accusations of zero criminality?
Rabwah – a town unlike any other in the whole world
The title of this story is neither a misstatement nor an exaggeration. Rabwah is truly unlike any other town – in many ways, especially from human rights perspective. The state and society have worked hard and made deliberate efforts to make it a show-piece of discrimination, persecution, even tyranny.
Rabwah is the headquarters town of the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan. It was founded and developed entirely by members of this community after the sub-continent’s Partition. Its population now is approximately 50,000; of these, 95% are Ahmadis. Here are located central offices of the Community, as also a number of sites considered holy by Ahmadis.
Because of its special significance to Ahmadis, not only of Pakistan but of the whole world, this town received and continues to receive hostile attention of mullahs as well as the government. The mischief of the anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance XX is applied here blatantly and deliberately. In fact, no other town in Pakistan has been targeted in this regard the same way as Rabwah. Subsequent to the promulgation of the anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance XX, the religious establishment posted here a number of mullahs whose sole function is to act as station-managers of anti-Ahmadiyya activities. They were provided funds to build mosques for themselves as centers for promotion of hatred and violence against Ahmadis. They built a religious seminary also on the outskirts of Rabwah. It now houses a few hundred students of theology. The government posted a rather large contingent of security and intelligence personnel at Rabwah. All these agents of religious intolerance and state persecution have remained active and busy in the past decades. They remain active today.
Rabwah claims some dubious distinctions as a town as compared to any other in the world. Some years ago, the authorities forbade its citizens to celebrate the centenary of their community existence. Authorities issued formal orders that even sweets were not to be distributed. A magistrate ordered that sports tournaments were also forbidden. Loudspeakers were disallowed in mosques for the purpose of congregational prayers and sermons. At another occasion, the entire Ahmadi population of Rabwah was charged under Section 298C of the penal code, for which the penalty is 3 years’ imprisonment. They were accused of practicing Islamic social etiquette and worship. The case is still pending and open. Even otherwise, hundreds of Ahmadis have been charged under anti-Ahmadiyya laws and other religious laws, and dozens of them are regularly called to the courts to attend to their prosecution.
At Rabwah, the Ahmadiyya press is in chains. These periodicals are not allowed to use terms even like Amen and Inshallah. They cannot quote verses from the Holy Quran or Hadith. Their editors, publishers and printers are facing dozens of criminal cases under the anti-Ahmadiyya press law. Qazi Munir Ahmad, the keeper of the press was charged in ninety-one cases and was harassed beyond his capacity. He could rid himself of this only by fleeing to some Scandinavian country. They have changed forcibly even the name of Rabwah, against the wishes of its inhabitants. At the demand of mullahs the Nawaz Sharif government changed the name of Rabwah and called it Nawan Qadian. The mullahs did not like even this name, so the government issued a new notification a fortnight later, and named the town Chenab Nagar. It is like changing the name of Oxford at the demand of a few clerics, regardless of the sentiments of the people of Oxford.
Ahmadis at Rabwah are denied basic human and civic rights. They are not allowed to hold here their traditional annual conferences and meetings. These used to be the most peaceful such congregations in the entire country. Prior to 1984, the year of promulgation of the notorious Ordinance, Rabwah used to host every year 22 major events, religious, community, social, literary and sports, most of them of national level, while some were attended by international participants. All these have been banned. On the other hand, mullahs are allowed here numerous conferences and processions routinely every year. Mullahs make highly inflammatory and provocative speeches at these occasions. It is with great difficulty that the police controls the rowdies in these processions. Often they succeed in doing some damage to Ahmadi homes and businesses despite police presence. Ahmadis, at these occasions, have to be vigilant, and they exercise great caution and take defensive measures to protect their persons and properties.
Although Rabwah’s 95% population is Ahmadi, the government makes sure that no Ahmadis are employed here in public offices. The post office, the telephone office, the railway station, police, security, the magistrate’s office etc have no Ahmadi employees. Even the college and the boys’ high school that were constructed by Ahmadis with their own money were taken over by the government, and for the last twenty years the posts of principal and headmaster have been denied to Ahmadi professors and teachers, although a large number of them qualify for these posts. In the city government, the procedures and voters’ forms have been designed to ensure that no Ahmadi gets elected to the council, nor any Ahmadi is able to cast his vote. As such, this Ahmadiyya town has absolutely no representation of its Ahmadi population in its city council. The 5% non-Ahmadis’ representatives administer the town. No wonder, the civic situation in the town is appalling. The population suffers greatly when it deals with the officials in the town office.
The master plan, devised by fundamentalists in 1984, envisaged virtual destruction of this Ahmadiyya stronghold, apart from other deadly actions. In this they enjoyed full support of the government. The new law made it impossible for the Supreme Head of the Ahmadiyya Community to perform his routine religious functions. They had plans to arrest him on one pretext or the other to cause major harm to the functional organization of the Ahmadiyya Community. Alarmed by the new situation, the community urged their Caliph to leave Pakistan. He did leave; this spared the worldwide Ahmadiyya Community from the crisis, but it deprived Rabwah of its crown. The residents miss him greatly; his departure has enormously affected the community and individual life of Ahmadis here. Even the physical growth of the town declined visibly. The denial of religious freedom has been most pervasive. Ahmadis have found it extremely difficult to build a house of worship after 1984, while non-Ahmadis who are so few here, have built no less than 16 mosques in and around Rabwah. While Ahmadis have to comply with loud-speaker restrictions, non-Ahmadi mosques have high-powered amplifiers from where the mullahs blare hurtful and provocative sermons and announcements at any time of day or night. While the authorities are so permissive in dealing with ‘Muslims’, they proceeded to seal an Ahmadiyya mosque on behest of a mullah, in Ahmad Nagar, in suburbs of Rabwah. This mosque is on Ahmadiyya land, built and used by Ahmadis for the last 16 years, the worshippers violated no law, their non-Ahmadi neighbors had no complaint against them, and still the authorities sealed it. It remains sealed to-date. Any independent inquiry commission would have no hesitation in condemning the authorities for their blatant high-handedness and unabashed and unjust administration.
The case of the Police Post mosque is very recent, and is a testimony to the utter disregard for fundamental rights of Ahmadis, by the government. Briefly, the Police Post in Rabwah was located at a site loaned by the Ahmadiyya Community to the police at latter’s request, more than quarter of a century ago. The post was shifted in July 2004 to another location by mutual consent, as the old site was needed by Ahmadis for their community needs. So the premises were handed back to Ahmadis. Some years ago, the police constructed, first a platform, then a small one-room mosque in the courtyard, without consent of the owners. On resuming the possession of the site, Ahmadis left the mosque intact. Mischief monger mullahs however fabricated the story that the mosque had been destroyed. When everyone saw that the mosque was intact, the mullah changed tack and claimed that a mosque once built enjoys perpetual sanctity and possession by the believers. When confronted with Sharia and High Court decisions that this position was fallacious, the mullah demanded that, regardless of all considerations, the Police Post must be brought back to the old site. To everyone’s amazement, the government complied with the mullah’s demand. It would be difficult to locate a parallel case of such callous disregard for fundamental rights in recent times and such spineless government reaction to hoax threats of clerics.
The denial of civil rights and liberties to the residents of Rabwah is so gross so as to be almost unbelievable. Since the death of General Zia there have been 7 different governments – none provided any relief. If at all, they added to the heap of injustices and tyranny in Rabwah. There is hardly a senior community leader here who has not suffered criminal prosecution. The common man remains an easy target. The social environment is charged with insecurity and is loaded with stress.
The persecution and suppression of Ahmadis of Rabwah is not limited to only the religious sphere; it extends well beyond into the political and civic domain. As stated above, Ahmadis have been deliberately denied participation in the town’s management, despite their being 95% of the population. Rabwah has been artificially divided politically to form part of three union councils, No: 41, 42 and 5. The incumbent Nazims here are Mr. Sibtain Shah, Ashfaq Qureshi and Mahr Hayat respectively. None of these three, nor any member of their councils belongs to the Ahmadiyya Community. The attitude of these Nazims leaves a great deal to be desired. They cannot be seriously blamed for not caring for Ahmadis, as they do not depend on Ahmadis’ votes for their positions. In the new system of local government, they are not responsible to anyone except to the voters – and Ahmadis are excluded from voters’ lists. As such these men enjoy a unique status, that they are accountable to nobody. No wonder, the town suffers. The residents pay the taxes, but the so-called city-fathers are free from any responsibility towards them. It is well-known that as a community, Ahmadis are best tax-payers in Pakistan, but here at Rabwah the great axiom is amended to read: Taxation without representation is perfectly normal. Consequently the staff at the city council are perhaps the most careless, corrupt and inefficient. They never use any initiative to improve the town, and they rarely move out of their offices to visit the neighborhoods. They feel no need and no urge to consult the citizens nor their community presidents. No wonder, the new tender notice for the year’s development program has hardly a mention of Rabwah neighborhoods where Ahmadis live. Whatever work is undertaken, it pertains directly to the personal needs of Nazims or a few score of voters living on periphery of Rabwah. Roads that lead to the deras (farm houses) of Nazims get repaired but not the streets where thousands live. Council workers work in Nazims’ private deras, rather than in the town. Once, when taken to task, a Nazim bluntly said, “You people have no votes.” At another occasion, when the citizens protested in a meeting at Tehsil level against shortage of drinking water, the Municipal Officer had the audacity to say this, almost sixty years after the town was born, “Why did you people build the town in this location anyway?”
At first sight, a visitor could say that the state of Rabwah town appears somewhat better than others in Pakistan. This is so, not because of the town administration; it is so, despite the town administration. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the town was laid out rather recently, in 1948, so it is better planned with wider roads, streets and green belts etc; this gives it a better look. Secondly, the Ahmadiyya community has taken some initiatives to look after and maintain the town on self-help basis. This costs more, and unofficially amounts to double taxation, but it is voluntary. In a few undertakings the work force and manpower is provided gratis by Ahmadis; it is not uncommon to see Ahmadi youth and children cleaning their streets and neighborhoods at 6.30 a.m. after the morning prayers. On the other hand, as for the town council employees, the daily Nawa-i-Waqt of Lahore had the following to report on August 6, 2000, “Since long, the residents of Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) have been informing the authorities of the Government of Punjab in writing about the corruption, irregularities, bad planning, incompetent political appointees and dishonest employees of the town council, but despite concrete evidence and proofs provided for all the above by citizens who pay their taxes 100%, no body paid any attention to their pleas and plight.” Below, we comment briefly on the state of various important civic and town services to point out their neglect and deterioration.
Water. After fresh air, water is the most important item for human existence. Rabwah is located on the bank of the great river Chenab. Apparently there is no reason why the residents of this town should not be provided with adequate water. However, as the town administration is charged with this function, it has made a mess of it. In fact, among civic services, shortage of drinking water is the major complaint of residents. There is a perpetual shortage. One finds young boys going from door to door begging for water. A number of mohallahs (residential areas) like Rahmat Gharbi, Nasirabad, Factory Area suffer from acute shortage of drinking water in summer when it is most needed. There are other areas where even pipe lines have not been laid. The entire system is badly maintained and badly regulated. Water is released sometimes once in 24 hours or 36 hours. A resident affirmed that on one such day when the water was released, he received two liters only. Recently the daily Khabrain of December 3, 2004 reported water crises in headlines: “No water in Chenab Nagar for 48 hours. Residents obliged to drink muddy water (directly) from the river. Residents accuse the Officer-Incharge Water Supply and his staff of bad planning.”
The water problem is rooted in bad planning, poor implementation, incompetent operating and insensitive officials who are not held accountable for their lack of performance. The water lines were laid 30 years ago. They need to be replaced by pipes of adequate diameter of the right material. The turbines at the river were wrongly installed too close to one another. This affects their output badly. The water system that was laid out in the town had technical defects in installation. It was due to incompetence of the staff and lethargy of the supervisors. The system is operated by nincompoops who are competent only at advancing reasons why water cannot be provided. Sometimes back when a resident of Mohallah Darul Fazal Gharbi complained to the Provincial Ombudsman regarding water, the Tehsil Administration explained that the complainant was wrong. However the Ombudsman undertook the necessary inquiry and gave the verdict in his Order in Complaint Nr. 5403/03 D-IP-285/03, dated October 7, 2004, “By not providing water to Mohallah Darul Fazal Gharbi Chenab Nagar, the MTA is guilty of maladministration”, and he directed that “All possible measures to increase the water supply to an acceptable level to this mohallah should be taken.” A copy of another such complaint made by a resident of Nasirabad mohallah is reproduced here. The complainant states that although three months have passed the Tehsil Nazim has not even acknowledged the letter; the Secretary LG & RD however did acknowledge its receipt.
The problem of costs and billing for water also deserves a mention. The town administration is liberal, rather grotesque in increasing water rates. In 2001, it increased water rate from Rs. 240/- to Rs. 360/-, an increase of 50 per cent. The next year they increased it to Rs. 600; an increase of 66 per cent. This year, they proposed to increase the same to Rs. 1200, by another 100 per cent; fortunately this could not get through. These increases hit the consumers hard. They had to pay the higher rate, but the water supply failed to improve even marginally. The town has a brazen accountant who continued to send water bills to even those consumers who had not received even a drop of water for years. He added official warnings for any delay in payments. Eventually the residents had to threaten to take him to the court; this calmed him down. On the other hand there are influentials who get plenty of water and pay no bills. For example, mullah Allah Yar Arshad, the station manager of mischief at Rabwah has the privilege of a special motor pump installed at the main water tank to ensure wholesome supply to him at all times.
Citizens of Rabwah have offered to make special payments to finance a project under Citizen Community Board to increase the supply of water. In fact, they have already paid up their share of the budgeted amount. They are keeping their fingers crossed, if the TMA and the District Government will get the project approved by authorities.
Roads and Streets: Roads inside the town are in a very bad state of repairs. In fact most of them are no longer fit for vehicular traffic. It is common that drivers now consider the paved part of the road as the track where not to drive; they use the footpath instead, thereby putting the pedestrians at great risk. There are only two or three roads that are in satisfactory state of repairs; these lead to the deras of Nazims. Whatever funds are spared for other roads, these are consumed in doing a bad job, so that repairs are again required the next year. The tar is often applied very thin, under-head drains are constructed in total disregard to specifications, so the road lasts half of its half-life. All this generates dust pollution that affects the health of citizens very adversely. Vehicles also age much faster on such roads. The state of roads is one of the causes of increase in accidents.
Common man is hard hit by unpaved streets more than bad roads. A large number of streets are uneven, unpaved, and unlit. When it rains, women and old people are unable to move out of their homes because of the mud and little pools. Even when dry, they are not negotiable at night because of being unlit. Citizens have made repeated pleas and complaints to authorities, with no reply whatsoever or even an acknowledgement of their applications.
Drainage, sanitation etc: Other than the natural drainage, Rabwah has no drainage system whatsoever. There is no overall system constructed to drain the sewage away from the residential areas. Some areas have open drains that, after a few hundreds yards, end up in open plots or grounds. These are most welcome by mosquitoes that breed there profusely and spread malaria.
Residents are short of drinking water, but a number of them have private motors that pump brackish water from underground. This water is good enough for washing, kitchen-use etc. But this calls for a drainage system. At present the water often drains out on to the road outside. Because of its heavy salt content it corrodes the road leaving it in a deteriorated state. If the street is unpaved, the sewage accumulates in little pools. They stink and cause disease.
As for the garbage disposal, there is no satisfactory system yet despite the community’s active support. As for sewage and drainage, the town council has no plan; if they have even thought about it, they have told no one.
Taxes and their spending: Ahmadis, as a community are perhaps the best tax-payers. As they routinely contribute their share to meet financial needs of their religious community, they easily pay up their civic and city dues as well. However, they are disappointed to find that the authorities fail to provide services for which taxes are paid to them. Property tax authorities use unfair tactics to unduly harass the common man. They send him inflated tax assessment in violation of the Schedule, and then expect him to deal with them to bring it down in line with rules. Tax demands are sent repeatedly to even those individuals who according to the government rules are exempted, for example retired government servants. As to how to spend this money, there is no money even to pave the streets. On the other hand, an administrator of Rabwah acquired enough funds to build himself a tennis court next to his residence. The town office has a beautiful garden added to it, although it can hardly be used by the citizens. The truth of the watchword of the American Revolution, ‘Taxation without representation is tyranny’ is apparent everywhere at Rabwah.
Unauthorized Possessions: This is another problem at Rabwah. Some people, with the connivance of local officials occupy public areas, green spaces, roadsides etc and install themselves there to the great inconvenience of the community in general. Occasionally, there is a fake drive to dislodge them from there, but some insider gives them advance warning, and they escape accountability and legal action. The next day they are back again at the same place. Outskirts of Rabwah are occupied by unauthorized persons who work at stone quarries etc. By permitting them to stay there and providing them some civic services the councilors and mullahs enlist their loyalties as voters and supporters. The town dwellers of Rabwah have nothing against them except when they become tools of mischief and make sorties as agitators and religious zealots.
The eastern part of Rabwah was forcibly acquired by the government to establish a Muslim colony. Open spaces were wrongfully handed over to mullahs who constructed there a huge seminary and a mosque and made it a sub-headquarters of anti-Ahmadiyya activities. Ahmadis complained to the High Court. The Court gave a stay order against the government to stop further construction and development of the locality. The government has heard, and, over the years, has decided not to care. Now construction goes on unhindered by the ‘Muslims’, while Ahmadis who legally own the place face difficulties if they undertake even repairs to their property. One is then reminded of the line: The law courts of England are open to all men like the doors of the Ritz Hotel.
State of Federal and Provincial Departments and Services
Electricity: WAPDA is responsible to provide this important utility to the citizens. On account of major faults in the original plan, its implementation and its operation, Rabwah suffers, more than other towns, in this field as well. Electric breakdowns and interruptions are so often that the service providers and the clients now have learnt to live with it, although the latter are at the receiving end and suffer greatly. The daily Nawa-i-Waqt reported the problem in its issue of July 4, 2000 in the following headlines:
Negligence of Wapda: Electricity remains interrupted for hours in Chenab Nagar. Residents protest. Appliances worth millions have been damaged.
“Chenab Nagar (Press reporter). Electricity remains interrupted in the area due to negligence of WAPDA Chenab Nagar. There is hardly a day when electric supply does not remain broken down for eight to ten hours. Last weekend, the supply remained off for almost thirty hours. This badly affected the business in the entire area. Appliances worth millions of rupees, including air conditioners, deep freezers, tube lights, bulbs and electric irons were damaged. The town’s water supply came to stand still due to lack of electric supply, as water turbines came to a halt and residents were deprived of drinking water…”
When the WAPDA staff is questioned, they pass the buck to their predecessors. They are partly right, although their own performance is not any better. The grid station is located 15 kilometers away; this long distance results in many problems, including voltage drop and difficulties in trouble shooting. Concrete poles are of poor constructions, not as per specifications, and are often not installed vertically on firm foundations. Transformers are badly installed. Power lines are made to pass over residential plots. Some poles are fitted wrongfully in play grounds. The entire system is so sensitive that while an approaching wind is still over the horizon, or one has still to count ten drops of rain, the electricity goes off. This is no exaggeration, it happens often. How and why it happens, boggles one’s mind. It has become an unpleasant joke.
Bad-billing is another problem. The charging system is based on a tier system. Higher consumption is billed at higher rates. The corrupt and incompetent meter readers often manipulate the readings in a way that the consumers have to pay more. An average citizen is sensitive towards the high cost of utility services. So he is put to great convenience to pay the right amount. Ahmadis at Rabwah willingly pay their (correct) bills, while the corrupt functionaries are known to have offered or compelled them to make other arrangements. Citizens’ complaints draw inadequate response. Consumer of Bill Ref No. 17 3344 08833009 R has a number of such bills that were wrong and he had to repeatedly approach WAPDA office to have them corrected. The office corrected them; but think of the amount of time and effort wasted unnecessarily. In fact, the meter reader was trying to punish this consumer for repeatedly complaining against the wrong bills. This gentleman has kept these bills in his personal record and can produce them if asked to do so.
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, of July 4, 2000 ended its report on load-shedding and breakdowns in the following words: “(The area notables) strongly protested against (the policy of) punishing the consumers by FESCO Chenab Nagar, and conveyed to the Chairman FESCO Faisalabad to consider, in the name of human sympathy, that the residents of Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) have the bad luck that officials known for their anti-people attitude get appointed here in all the government offices. Accordingly, consumers of electricity suffer perpetually. At this occasion, a resolution was unanimously adopted and sent to the Chief Executive, General Pervez Musharraf for immediate consideration. It maintained that as 90% population of Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) belongs to Ahmadiyya sect, officials here deliberately deprive the officially non-Muslim citizens of their basic human and civil rights.”
Education: Quality education was a hallmark of Rabwah. Many families shifted to Rabwah to educate their children here, while their bread winners remained in other locations. Many non-Ahmadi students lived in hostels to avail of the quality education offered by Rabwah schools and colleges. Then the socialist government of Z.A. Bhutto nationalized all schools and colleges. This was considered a God-sent by mullahs who went all out to destroy the education here, especially after the promulgation of the anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance in 1984. The mullah succeeded in his ignoble efforts, in that most nationalized schools and colleges of Rabwah now perform lower than the national average.
It is a long story, sad and poignant; and the space does not permit its narration here. The present government decided years ago to denationalize such educational institutions. The Ahmadiyya Community has met all the laid down conditions to get back its property, but the government is dragging its feet and is stunned into inaction in the face of opposition by the mullah. Perhaps this is not entirely true; the government disregards the mullah with contempt whenever it so decides, however where Ahmadis are involved, there is an unwritten understanding that the government will give in – even willingly.
Environment: Great damage is being done to the environment of Rabwah. Hills of Rabwah add to the beauty of the place and are a part of local heritage. However, the concerned department is selling out the hills to contractors to blast them away for crushed stone. As a result, while some hills have entirely disappeared, others look grievously mauled. The damage is permanent; it cannot be repaired nor replaced. Repeated protests from residents have been futile.
Blasting is carried out by the contractors in violation of rules. It causes damage to buildings and puts common people at risk. There have been incidents of heavy stones flying away and falling in built-up areas. People have been hurt. Stone crushers emit great amount of noise and dirt during operations. This adds to the pollution and is a hazard to public health. Again, pleas in this regard have fallen on deaf ears, and resulted in nothing.
It is not difficult to produce the required amount of crushed stone, and still maintain the environment intact. Plenty of stone is easily available a few kilometers westward of Rabwah. Also, if absolutely essential, quarries can be set up on the other side of Rabwah, north-east side of the hills. The problem is equally acute for the twin cities of Rabwah and Chiniot. Hills on both sides of the river should be left intact. The government owes it to future generations.
Traffic: Due to lack of attention by authorities, even traffic has become a problem. The main road from the bus-stop to the Aqsa Square becomes a nightmare for women/aged drivers. Rickshaws have become a great nuisance. Most rickshaw-drivers have no driving training nor do they possess a license. They are a great hazard to pedestrians and to their own passengers. A number of them are teen-agers. On December 11, 2004 the daily Express reported:
Chenab Nagar: Young rickshaw drivers have become postmen of death. A few accidents (daily) are normal. Most of them do not have driving licenses. Citizens protest.
According to the reporter, 90% of these drivers do not have a driving license. 20% of them are below the minimum age required for acquiring a license. The police are unable to resolve the problem due to shortage of staff.
The problem is not insurmountable. Not more than four traffic police constables are required to maintain smooth flow of traffic during the daylight hours. The police department should be able to spare four cops.
PS It is learnt that very recently a few traffic constables were seen in Rabwah. It is hoped that their presence is not temporary and they will contribute to the improvement of traffic in the town.
Gas: A main gas pipeline passes through Rabwah. It has been there for years. Apparently there is no reason why some mohallahs of Rabwah should not have been provided with Sui gas long ago. However, resident of Darul Yuman etc had to suffer from deprivation of gas for years. They applied for gas every year, but were promised during the next year’s budget. Eventually, citizens offered to bear part of the installation costs under the Citizen Community Board scheme. Work is now underway in Darul Yuman. Still there are many other neighborhoods in Rabwah that do not have gas. They should be provided; the main line passes through Rabwah. What is the problem?
In conclusion, Rabwah has a few distinguishing attributes at international level, both positive and negative. It is a town of great significance to the worldwide Ahmadiyya Community. It became a major target of serious human rights violations from April 1984 onward. It lost its crown when the Supreme Head of the Ahmadiyya Community had to leave Rabwah and start living in the West, from where he could not return for as long as he lived. When he died 19 years after his departure, the mullahs in Pakistan threatened violent agitation if his dead body was brought to Pakistan for burial. He was therefore buried ‘temporarily’ in Surrey, England. In 1999, the government heaped another grievous wrong on the residents of Rabwah, when in total disregard to their sentiments, it changed the name of Rabwah to Chenab Nagar. It would be difficult to locate an identical wrong elsewhere in recent years. Religious freedom of the residents here is curtailed by law as nowhere else in the world. Civic rights are violated grossly and persistently. The so-called city-fathers do not represent the local population and are responsible to nobody. Although the local government is based on democratic principle, residents of Rabwah have been deliberately and effectively denied their right to vote. This is a deprivation of a very important human right. Officials of various utilities and service departments are well aware of the government policy of persecution of Ahmadis, so they do their duty in a most inappropriate and unbecoming manner. A citizen called them shuter be muhar (camels without nose-strings) and mader pider azad (a brazen mafia). It is no surprise that almost all utilities and services are in bad shape. Ahmadis of Rabwah remain at the crosswire of fundamentalists’ sights. They feel exposed and at risk. Recently, on the passport issue, a mullah threatened khuni inquilab (a bloody revolution). His threat was published in the press and the authorities took no action against him. For the last twenty years, Rabwah (or Chenab Nagar) is a showpiece of how a town and its residents can be made targets of stark discrimination and deprivation of human and civic rights. And there is no light yet at the end of the tunnel.