The official position
General Musharraf took over the government approximately one year ago. In the first few days, he put up a liberal face. He said that all citizens were equal. However, he soon succumbed to the pressure tactics of clerics. Wherever the mulla took a stand the general made a hasty retreat. He even appointed an anti-Ahmadi cleric on his National Security Council; now the same person (Mr. Mahmud Ghazi) is a member of his cabinet. The Chief Executive’s latest retreat is from his design to replace Separate Electorate with Joint Electorate.
The mulla has further dug in on the Ahmadiyya issue, so Ahmadis’ situation has further deteriorated, as following developments would show:
- As early as February 2000, the Ministry of Law made an express public announcement that status of Ahmadis had not changed.
- Mr Ghazi, the theocrat on the Security Council declared that Qadianis (Ahmadis) will remain Non-Muslim, and he chose to deny that the present government promotes Qadianism.
- The Chief Secretary of the Punjab addressed a letter on the subject to all D.Cs.
- A mulla, Ghulam Murtaza appeared on state-owned television PTV on December 30, 1999 and made slanderous and provocative remarks against the Holy Founder of Ahmadiyya Community.
- Justice Nazir Akhtar, a serving judge of Lahore High Court made a public statement that ‘Ghazi Ilm Din Law is available to deal with apostates.’ The Daily Insaf: August 28, 2000. (It implies that any Muslim can take the law in his own hand and kill any Ahmadi. Ghazi Ilm Din killed a Hindu in the 1920s, who committed blasphemy against the Holy prophet.) He thereby openly instigated and urged the common Muslim to murder Ahmadis.
- The Daily Nation reported on September 13: “Dr Mahmud Ghazi, Federal Minister of Religious Affairs said that the decision to declare Qadianis as not-Muslims was a well thought out decision. I am a firm supporter and believer of this decision.”
During the fourteen months of General Musharaf’s rule, Ahmadis have been murdered only for their faith. The number of murders of this period is twelve. Killing at Takht Hazara happened despite the fact that Ahmadi locals had earlier complained in writing to the authorities that communal tension against Ahmadis had mounted to a dangerous level, and requested that the authorities should do something about it. At other locations also, murder attempts and incidents of kidnapping have not stopped. 166 Ahmadis were booked under religious laws or in religion related situations. The Blasphemy Law was also applied simply because an Ahmadi was sent a parcel of Ahmadi literature. The PPC 295A clause, cognizable by Anti-Terrorist Courts was applied against fifteen Ahmadis, while none of them even remotely committed an act of terrorism. Mobs have attacked Ahmadis’ homes in the presence of authorities who took no action except registration of criminal cases against the victims (e.g. in Okara). Ahmadis have been expelled from districts by summary orders of the deputy Commissioner (e.g. in district Mustang in Baluchistan). Ahmadi families had to leave their homes and flee elsewhere (e.g. L Plot/Okara and Dhudial/Azad Kashmir). The Dhudial case is described in essential detail in Section 13. Ahmadiyya mosques were demolished (e.g. at Goth Chandi/Sind and Liaquatpur/Rahim Yar Khan), sealed by authorities (e.g. Faisalabad), and not allowed to be constructed (e.g. at Liaquatpur).
The Federal Government compiled with mullas’ demand by incorporation of all the religious provisions of the defunct Constitution in the military regime’s Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) with retrospective effect. The Government also backtracked on its declared intentions to modify the procedure for registration of cases under the Blasphemy Law.
The proposed modification in the procedure was much trumpeted by the military regime and was strongly recommended by the Convention on Human Rights and Dignity, held at Islamabad in April, 2000. The mulla threatened agitation, and the government beat a hasty retreat. As for the courts, they continue to refuse bails and continue to punish Ahmadis on religious grounds. Two years’ imprisonment was awarded to the president of a local Ahmadiyya Community in district Bahawalnagar for building a niche and minaret in an Ahmadiyya Mosque. On October 11, 2000 a magistrate at Qasur awarded one year’s imprisonment each to three Ahmadis for displaying Islamic creed and Quranic verses at home and in their shops, in a 13 years old case. Nothing has changed; Ahmadis are getting more of the same.
The institutionalized systematic persecution of Ahmadis continues in high gear with full support of the state. The government conveniently ignores any notice taken by foreign human rights concerns. Occasionally lip service is paid to the paper doctrine of equal citizenship but no concrete step is taken. At present, 24 Ahmadis are suffering in prisons on spurious grounds (See Section 9). Mr. Tahir Nadeem is in prison awaiting court decision for the last one year and three months for putting on a shirt with kalima (Islamic creed) written on it. A friend of his in US had sent it to him as a gift. There are other highly compassionate cases that deserve humanitarian concern for prompt relief.
Following facts are also very relevant in the context of the official attitude to Ahmadiyya situation:
1. The Government of Punjab has hired the services of one Allama Tahir Ashrafi as Advisor to the Governor. Ordinarily one would expect such an appointee promote religious harmony, shun partisan comments and promote tolerance and religious freedom among all denominations. That is not so with Ashrafi. He is hobnobbing with the Majlis Tahaffuz Khatame Nabuwwat leadership in general and with notorious Mulla Chinioti in particular whose sole aim in life is to promote anti-Ahmadiyya hatred and violence in Pakistan. In May 2000, Mulla Chinioti rushed to see him at Lahore regarding the non-issue of Rabwah signboards and the disposal of defective stillborn embryos by the hospital at Rabwah, and claimed supportive assurances from the Advisor. A few days later they shared a crowd as audience at Pindi Bhatian where the Advisor issued an open warning to Ahmadis to restrict themselves within the framework of the law or face handling by an iron hand (The Daily Jang, Lahore; 26 June 2000). Subsequently the ill-advised Advisor visited Chiniot and Rabwah and met the anti-Ahmadiyya extremists there. According to a report published in the Daily Jang, Lahore of June 29, 2000, he declared that no one who denies the Finality of Prophethood is a member of the present government. He reiterated that there is no change in the status of Qadianis. The Sipah Sahaba leader, Mulla Zia-ul-Qasmi offered to co-operate with him. The Advisor visited the Madrasa at Rabwah, and made it clear that the accusation against the present government of being pro-Qadiani was unfounded and was only a propaganda of the deposed rulers. In this he was correct.
2. Some persons of the police department approached the president of Ahmadis of District Sialkot and demanded the numerical strength and addresses of all Ahmadis in the district. The president told them that he was not in possession of exact details of this ever changing situation.
3. Housing and Physical Planning Department, Jhang decided to sell by auction a large number of residential plots in Muslim Colony area of Rabwah. These plots belong to Ahmadis but were forcibly and unlawfully taken over by the government. Authorities advertised the Auction in the Daily Jang of August 31, 2000. In the ad, the Department unashamedly published the following note:
As per order No.3-(1) 76-HM II
Dated: 7.6. 1976 of the Government
Are not eligible to participate in the auction
Of the plots at the Area Development Scheme
(Muslim Colony) Chenab Nagar
Participants in the auction will declare
on oath that they believe that Hadrat Muhammad
is the Prophet of Latter Days,
and that they are not linked with Ahmadi/Qadiani/
Awardees of plots in this scheme will
never be permitted to transfer their plot to
an Ahmadi/Qadiani/Marzai, if so, their allotment
will be cancelled, and their plot along with the
building and paid up sum will be confiscated by
4. Pakistanis in UK who wanted a Pakistani passport were required to fill in a proforma, on which one of the columns was ‘Religion’. It seems the High Commission found it rather embarrassing to ask people in UK to state their religion. So they have changed the form. In the new form, the religion column is missing, however, scared of the mulla, the High Commission has added a sub-para C to the certificate to be signed by Muslim applicants. The new entry, unashamedly reads as follows:
c) I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani to be an imposter nabi and also consider his followers whether belonging to the Lahori or Qadiani group to be non-Muslim.
Signature of the Applicant
This sub-para was not there in the old form. The change is for the worse. In addition to the preposterous sub-para C which is required of every Muslim applicant (although neither Ordinance XX nor the subsequent legal provisions of PPC, nor the Constitution obligates Pakistani Muslims to make this statement), the new format denies the applicants the right to state their own religion, as henceforth the High Commission will issue passports with Religion entry as simply ‘Muslim’ or ‘Non-Muslim’. But ‘Non-Muslim’ is not a religion. Pakistan is perhaps the only country in the world whose passport carries the religion entry. Now its passports will be burdened with additional absurdity of stating someone’s religion that is no religion at all. It will indeed be offensive to many passport holders – certainly to Ahmadis.
- It is amazing to what length the religious extremists can go in Pakistan with their violent exhortations and in their slander and profanity against respected leaders of the Ahmadiyya Community. More amazing is the tolerance shown by the authorities to their outrageous attacks. Recently, the Central Body (Markazi Shura) of the Almi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatame Nabuwat Pakistan issued a pamphlet that is being circulated in the Punjab. Some extracts (translated) are given below.
Traitor, Son of a Traitor, Mirza Ghulam Ahmadi Qadiani, the Founder of Ahmadiyya Denomination, was the Great Apostate, Deserving-Death. He is burning in Hell.
The Muslim nation demands from the Government of Pakistan where the official religion is Islam and which was created only in the name of Islam and for Islam, that :
Ahmadi apostates be given an ultimatum of three days to revert to Islam like other 1100 million Muslims worldwide; Ahmadis who do not become Muslims within three days should then be made to stand in lines and their killing should start and continue till all Ahmadis are killed and killing not stopped till these apostates have been killed.
The Central Consulative Body, International organization for Protection of the Finality of Prophethood, Pakistan – Head Office, Multan; Founder-Patron Khatame Nabuwwat Youth Force Pakistan, Dar Plaza, Sialkot, Pakistan.
Sajjad Ahmad Khan Shirwani, Sialkot.
The authorities neither confiscated the outrageous pamphlet nor took any action against the carefree provoker. Copy of the translated parts of the original is shown here.
6. Mullas made written accusation on religious grounds against Ahmadi of the Nagar Parker area in Thar, Sind to the authorities. The district authorities at Mirpur Khas referred the matter to the Nagar Parker police. A police inquiry in Pakistan often means undue trouble and harassment. The police inspector visited the Ahmadiyya mission house. He went through Ahmadiyya books and literature. The next day he sent for the boys of the Ahmadiyya hostel; these were presented to him. Their statements were recorded on paper and they were told to sign those. The inspector demanded other information about other Ahmadi communities in the area. This had to be provided. The police found nothing wrong and forwarded its report to higher authorities. Then the Tehsildar of Nagar Parker ordered the Ahmadi headman to appear before him. Just compare this official behavior with that apparenr from the entry at serial 5 above.
A sly and unworthy politician:
Begum Kalsum Nawaz, wife of the deposed prime minister, was leaving no stones unturned to secure the release of her husband. While none would mind any fair efforts on her part, but when she banked upon falsehood, slander, religious fanaticism and Ahmadi-bashing, she only betrayed her desperation and character. According to the Daily Pakistan of 16 October 2000, the Begum congratulated her party worker on the success of the Black day observed on October 12, 2000, and stated the following, inter alia:
- Kargil Operation was a conspiracy of Hindus and Jews against Pakistan.
- The coup of October 12 was a Qadiani revolution.
- The people and the army will not allow Qadianis to occupy the country.
- The Ulema should jointly resist the Jewish NGOs.
- People will come out in the streets in a suicidal mission against the Qadiani take-over.
- In 1953, we drenched the earth with our blood for the honour of the Holy prophet. (She was referring to the Ahrar-led Anti-Ahmadiyya riots in the Punjab.)
If the Ulema do not unite now on the one-point agenda of ‘Protection of the Finality of Prophethood’ they will never deserve the atonement by the Holy Prophet, till the Doomsday, etc. etc.
Minister shows his true colours
In October, some column writers attributed to Mr Muhammad Ghazi, the Federal Minister of Religious Affairs statement to the effect that the decision to declare Ahmadis a ‘Minority’ was an emotional one, and that the charge of infidelity against Ahmadis was not well-founded. Mr. Ghazi refused to own up the alleged statements, and wrote an article in the Daily Nawa-i-Waqt of 13 September 2000 wherein inter alia, he stated the following:
- I myself have written three books in rebuttal of Qadianism.
- I had addressed the conference of ‘Jamaat Mujahideen’ at Lahore and stressed that public awareness of Sharia’s rationale was essential to its smooth implementation.
If promotion of religious ‘tolerance’ is a need of the Pakistan society, the nomination of Mr Ghazi to the post of ‘Minister of Religious Affairs’ is indeed questionable.