Politics of Persecution – 2004

2004

 

An observation in public by the Federal Minister of Information

Islamabad: December 19, 2004: Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, the Federal Minister of Information set aside the discretion expected of him, to give the edict unnecessarily that “one who does not believe in the end of prophethood is outside the pale of Islam, and the present government has unshakable faith in the Prophethood of Muhammad; Mirzais, sitting outside the country continue to conspire against the country; I consider them Kafir (infidels)”. (The daily Pakistan of December 20, 2004). It is noteworthy that the Geo TV channel continued to show the tape-line: “I consider Qadianis as Kafir” for long hours on that day.

 

An interesting comparison

The month of December 2004 provided an interesting study in the government’s behavior in Pakistan. Leaders and authorities, who wield power, took some laudatory initiatives in the field of human rights, while the same people took actions, by commission or omission, that will not bring them any credit. For example:

Commendable actions

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz spoke to a group of Christians led by minority MNA Mushtaq Victor and called for inter-faith harmony. He said the constitution provides equal rights to every citizen without any discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, caste and the place of birth. Religions Affairs Minister Ijazul Haq, who was present on the occasion, said the minorities would continue to be provided with equal opportunities. The prime minister also gave Christmas gifts to members of the group. He said he was committed to work for the uplift of the weaker sections of society and added that minorities were one of such segments that needed strong support from the government.

At a function to mark Christmas at Lahore the Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi said on December 23 that the government would soon return the nationalized missionary educational institutions. He announced two holidays for Christmas, and distributed gifts among the Christians, and announced a grant of Rs. 2.5 million for the poor among the Community. The Chief Minister and Father Francis Nadeem cut the Christmas cake jointly at Muslim League     House.

District Nazim Mian Amer of Lahore distributed gifts and cheques among the deserving Christians at the Jinnah Hall.

The DAWN in its issue of Dec 24 published a picture showing volunteers arranging lights on the roof of St Thomas Church in Islamabad preparing for Christmas.

Qazi Hussain Ahmad had himself photographed while cutting a Christmas cake along with Bishop Munawar Mal at Saint Jones Cathedral School, Peshawar.

The police and law enforcing agencies provided special support to ensure security in Churches at the occasion of Christmas services.

Christmas was celebrated with fervor at Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Mirpurkhas and Karachi.

Iniquitous Actions

The last week of December is of great significance to the Ahmadiyya Community. For three days, on 26, 27 and 28 December, the Community used to have its annual convention, the Jalsa Salana, that was introduced by the founder of the Community in 1891. Since then it has been held regularly till 1983, with rare exceptions caused by force majeur. With the passage of time it became the most prominent get-together of the community, loaded with great religious, social, communal, and educational fervor and value.  Ahmadis used to look forward to this occasion fondly and would prepare for the joyous trips to Rabwah in December. Many delegations would come from abroad, as far as the U.S. and Fiji Islands. After the promulgation of the notorious Ordinance XX by General Zia, the Jalsa Salana was banned. It remained banned during his lifetime, and no government since then had the decency and moral courage to restore to Ahmadis what was their constitutional right. This year again, Ahmadis have not been permitted to hold the Jalsa Salana. This convention is now being held regularly in all countries where sizeable Ahmadi communities are found – the only exception is Pakistan. Accordingly, Ahmadis can do nothing except shed tears in their prayers to God in the last week of December when they are reminded of the good old days when they had the freedom to practice their faith as enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan.

Also according to press reports:

Ch Shujaat Hussain: We shall ensure restoration of religion column (in MR Passports).

The daily Express, December 25, 2004

Mr. Ijazul ul Haq, the Religious and Minorities Affairs Minister said that the entry of the holder’s religion should be made in the passport.

The Daily Pakistan, December 19, 2004

MMA holds protests against deletion of religion column from passport.

The Daily Dawn, December 25, 2004

Mr. Nawaz Sharif stated that removal of religion entry from Pakistani passports is a conspiracy to make the country a secular state.

The daily Khabrain, December 15, 2004

A Qadiani is awarded life imprisonment and Rs. 10,000 fine on charge of blasphemy.

The daily Jang, December 1, 2004

A violent mob demolishes Qadianis’ place of worship and sets it on fire (in Distt. Sargodha).

The daily Nawa-i-Waqt; December 22, 2004

Three Qadianis booked on charge of blasphemy (PPC 295B) at Manget Unche, Hafizabad. Police are on their heels to make arrests.

The daily Express, December 19, 2004

The two types of actions mentioned above are at cross purposes with each other. The hypocrisy and double standards involved are obvious. If the commendable actions mentioned above are, in principle, right, why not stick to the principle rather than act under compulsions of personal interest and international politics. Let the enlightened moderation, tolerance, understanding, human rights etc prevail universally rather than apply these higher values on selective basis.

 

Visit of the Interior Minister to Rabwah

Rabwah; January 21, 2004: Mr Faisal Saleh Hayat, the federal interior minister at the time, paid a public visit to Rabwah. The program of the visit betrayed openly the human rights situation of Ahmadis in this town that comprise 95% of the local population.

The program of the visit was arranged by the local Nazim, Mr Sibtain Shah. He took care to invite few if any community member of the Ahmadi population. As such, while some Ahmadis, who were near the assemblage, joined the small crowd to watch the proceedings, but not a single Ahmadi was to be seen at the stage. Mr Shah, quite inappropriately, had nominated mullah Allah Yar Arshad to act as the Stage Secretary. This mullah is a full-time agent of a sectarian organization, and has little to do in Rabwah except to plan and execute mischief against the local Ahmadi population. His nomination as the Stage Secretary was an open admission of the non-representative nature of the whole program. The mullah occupied the Nazim’s seat when the Nazim got up to speak; later, when the Minister rose to speak, the mullah occupied the Minister’s chair. That shows the craving of these clerics to replace the politicians.

In his speech, Mr Hayat spoke inter alia about the government policy regarding sectarianism and extremism. Obviously, this message of the government, which the President delivered over two years ago in his January 12, 2002 speech, had still not reached Mr Sibtain Shah, the Nazim of Rabwah, otherwise he would not have asked a mullah like Allah Yar Arshad to act as the Stage Secretary in a function attended by a federal minister.

 

The Mullah and the MMA put up anti-Ahmadiyya resolutions in the National Assembly

Resolutions aim at serious violation of Ahmadis’ Human Rights

Islamabad/ Lahore; June 20, 2004: Mr. Farid Piracha, a Jamaat Islami MNA submitted two resolutions to the Secretary of the National Assembly for discussion and follow-up. These resolutions seriously threaten whatever little remains of the freedom of faith of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan. Mullah Manzoor Chinioti, the General Secretary of Khatme Nabuwwat (end of prophethood) Movement claimed credit through an article in the Urdu press for this move. If accepted, the resolutions will pave the way for further persecution and suppression of other religious minorities as well.

According to an article published in the Daily Pakistan of 8 June 2004, Mullah Manzoor Chinioti, in a letter addressed to members of the National Assembly, urged them to support the following two actions:

1.         The State should take over the management of Ahmadiyya Auqaf (charity endowments and properties), as (according to him) Ahmadis spend these funds on publicity against Islam and Muslims, and on promotion of their own false convictions.

2.         Entry of religion should be made on the national identity card of every individual. If that is not possible, at least the color of I.D. cards should be made different on the basis of religious identity, as done on Iqamah (stay permits) in Saudi Arabia.

As for the Auqaf, the mullah spoke on the subject in a public meeting on May 5, 2004 at Rabwah. Part of the proceedings including this demand was reported in the Urdu press. The mullah also stated that he had spoken to Qazi Hussain Ahmad (Acting President of MMA) and conveyed to him that if the government takes over Qadianis’ Auqaf, it will break their back. The mullah quoted the precedence of the government take over of some Muslim and a few non-Muslim Auqaf. What he failed to mention is that the exercise undertaken in 1960s was based upon some sound and worthy principles; ‘breaking the back of a community’ was not one of these. The mullah also claimed to have met Mr Ijazul-ul-Haq, the federal minister of religious affairs, son of the late General Zia ul Haq (the daily Nawa-i-Waqt, April 15, 2004). He quoted the Minister to have said that, “No minority will be allowed to harm the interest of Islam and the country… Qadianis have no right to preach their doctrine of apostasy; they should understand their constitutional status, should respect the Constitution and the law and live like good citizens, otherwise a serious notice will be taken of their anti-Islam and anti-state activities”. The Federal Minister was invited to the International Khatme Nabuwwat Conference to be held at Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) on September 7; he reportedly accepted the invitation. The mullah also attributed to Mr Ijazul ul Haq that he promised to support them on this issue (of Auqaf).

These resolutions were put up to the Speaker who has forwarded them to the Minister of Interior and the Minister of Religious Affairs for comments. These resolutions bear signatures of 26 MNAs, of which 21 are from the MMA and others from PML (N).

Mullahs and the MMA apparently intend to exploit the volatile situation in the country to achieve their long-term obscurantist goals. They have acted this way before. By adopting these resolutions, the Assembly would effectively move the country away from the President’s vision of Enlightened Moderation, and push the state tighter in the clutches of extremist and fundamentalist forces that thrive on hatred, terror and militancy. These resolutions unabashedly betray the philosophy, policy and line of action of the political mullah in general, and the MMA and Jamaat Islami in particular.

 

MMA in its true colors

Naushero Feroz (Sindh): MMA may be cautions at the top so as not to disturb the apple cart in their own interest, but continue to show their true colors in the street. In April they toured some areas in Sindh and gave free vent to their obscurantist and anti-Ahmadiyya feelings. They addressed conferences at Moro, Naushero Feroz and Sukkur also. According to a report from Naushero Feroz, they held their open-air conference till 11 p.m., and used vulgar and highly provocative language against Ahmadis. A report in the daily Jang of Karachi on April 20, 2004 was given the following headlines:

We shall not permit the country to become a Qadiani State            – Ulema

The Muslim Umma must take on the anti-Muslim countries, the Qadianis and the Jews

Maulana Thanvi, Khalid Surmro, Qari Khalil and others address the final session of the Khatme Nabuwwat Conference (at Sukkur)

The press release added the following points:

1.         Muslims will exterminate the real terrorists from the world.

2.         Efforts to destroy Islam will have grave consequences.

3.         Various anti-Muslim countries are imparting terrorist training to Qadianis so as to disturb the peace of Islamic countries.   etc. etc.

 

Views of the high priest

Birmingham (UK): Maulvi Fazl ur Rehman of the MMA was one of the many mullahs who proceeded to the UK in July to attend the Khatame Nabuwwat Conference at Birmingham. His statements and proceedings of the Conference were reported in the Pakistani Urdu press. A few extracts of his speech are produced below from the report of the daily ‘Ausaf’, Islamabad of August 2, 2004:

  • Charges of terrorism against Muslims are one-sided and entirely baseless.
  • Acts of terrorism are being arranged in Islamic countries under a conspiracy so as to malign the Islamist forces.
  • Proposals to make amendments to Islamic laws like the Blasphemy law and the Hudood Ordinance are being pushed under the pressure of the West.
  • Muslim countries should move the UN to protect the honour of the Holy Prophet and the dogma of End of Prophethood.
  • The Islamic Umma should make special allocation of funds to fight the anti-Islamic activities of Qadianis, and the West should stop patronizing Qadianis and providing them asylum.

According to the ‘Ausaf’, 20,000 Muslims (a highly suspect figure) attended the Khatme Nabuwwat Conference. The daily Nawa-i-Waqt of August 2 reported that Fazl had actually demanded of the UN to declare Blasphemy a universal crime, and that it were the Muslims who were the targets of terrorism. According to the daily Jang, Rawalpindi of August 2, Maulana Fazl ur Rahman asserted that increasing number of people are converting to Islam after 9/11.

The daily ‘Khabrain’ reported that following Ulema also attended and spoke at the Birmingham Conference:            Khan Muhammad, Abdur Razzaq Sikandar, Allah Wasaya, Manzur ul Husaini, Khalid Mahmud, Abdur Rauf Rabbani, Muhammad Aslam, Abdur Rashid Rabbani, Nur us Salam, Tariq Usman.

The daily ‘Ausaf’ reported the proceedings of the last session of this conference in its issue of August 3. Some more extracts from Maulana Fazal ur Rehman’s address:

Islamic states should not make the mistake of sending their troops to Iraq…. We shall continue to oppose the dispatch of the troops…..We shall resolutely oppose the move to secularize Islamic countries and to make any changes to Islamic provisions of the laws… There is no question of any change to the Blasphemy Law and the Hudood law… The US is badly stuck in Iraq and is looking for ways to get out … Islam urges Jihad and counters terrorism through Jihad…

 

The issue of religion column in Pakistani passports

This became a hot issue in Pakistan in the month of December. Initially there used to be no mention of the holder’s religion in one’s passport. With the so-called Islamisation of Pakistan, a number of pointless actions taken to promote religious content of the state included the inclusion of religion column in the passport. Those who claimed to be Muslims had to sign a declaration to that effect; however the wording of the declaration was quite an innovation in that never before since the advent of Islam such declaration was introduced in any country or state to identify one as a Muslim.

Recently the government decided to introduce machine readable passports (MRP). As per international standards, the column for religion was not provided therein. The mullah came to know about it, and took it as a first and formal step backward from the Islamist Pakistan. He dug his heels and started making hue and cry about it. A brief chronological narrative is given below; it is expressive of the psyche, the character, modus operandi and therefore the political worth of various actors at the national level:

  • Mullah Abdullah Ludhianwi of Almi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat demanded that the religion column be maintained in passports; otherwise Islamic forces will make strong protest in the entire country.

The daily Nawa-i-Waqt; November 5, 04

  • Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Chinioti stated that the removal of religion column is an effort to please Qadianis, Jews and Christians. Islamic identity of the prime minister will be doubtful to 140 million people if he fails to restore the religion column.

The daily Aman; November 11, 04

  • Headlines in the  daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Nov: 27, 04:

Protest day observed on Friday by Almi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat on deletion of religion from passports. Qadianis will be able to visit the Haram Sharif (in Mecca) with the new passports.

Saudi government objects to deletion of religion in the new Pakistani MRP.

  • Deletion of religion from passport is a rebellion against the Constitution. Ulema

The daily Pakistan; Nov ember 28, 2004

  • The MMA urged the government to include religious affiliation information on passports and on National Identity Cards.

The daily Times; November 28, 2004

  • The daily Nawa-i-Waqt of December 1, 2004 strongly recommended that the religion column be restored. This way, Qadianis will be able to benefit from all the facilities that are available to minorities; the paper commented.
  • MRPs are (now) being stamped with religion of the holder, stated the Minister of State of Interior, Mr. Shehzad Wasim in the Senate. Professor Ghafur Ahmad (of JI) said that conspiracy is underway to make the country secular.

The daily Jang; December 3, 2004

  • There will be dire consequences if religion column is not restored in passport. Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat Chicha Watni
  • The Interior Secretary, Mr. Tariq Mahmud, has conveyed the decision to restore religion entry in the passport.       Maulana Jalandhri

The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, December 3, 2004

  • The Interior Ministry has restored the entry of religion in MRPs. A letter has been issued to all passport offices to enter religion ‘Islam’ on page 4. Software is being altered to enter Islam in the new passports.

The daily Khabrain; December 3, 2004

  • Ten stamps have been issued to passport offices in the country to mark that the holder is, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Ahmadi, Sikh, Parsi, Jew, Buddhist, Jane. A separate stamp with blank space has been provided for any other faith…. The passport offices have started stamping the passports accordingly.

The daily Pakistan; December 3, 2004

(Note: The daily printed a copy of the imprint of the stamps.)

  • Proposal to call an All Parties Conference on the passport issue is under consideration. The issue could be an integral part of the (forthcoming) movement. Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman (of JUI)

The daily Khabrain; December 7, 2004

  • Persons who do not indicate their religion should not be given the visa. Letter to Saudi and Pakistani governments. Motamar Alam Islami, Mecca

The daily Pakistan; December 10, 2004

  • The US plans to induct thousands of Qadianis in Saudi Arabia. Removal of religion column from MRP is part of this plan. Israel has already trained Qadianis in this regard. Allama Mumtaz Awan (Director General and Spokesman of Alami Tehrik Khatme Nabuwwat).

The daily Pakistan; December 12, 2004

  • Editorials and columns were written in the following Urdu newspapers in favor of restoring religion column: The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, (2); Jang; Din; Pakistan; Awaz
  • The federal government should restore the religion column in the MRP. This is a religious issue. All are agreed; they have offered sacrifices before, and they will offer in future as well.           Akram Durani (Chief Minister NWFP)

The daily Sahafat; December 12, 2004

  • No column of religion in MRP. We shall make no changes for the present. Saudis have not rejected the new passport. NADRA has placed 5 computers in Saudi Embassy and 4 in Karachi Consulate so as to issue visa after verification of identity cards. The Federal Interior Minister (Mr. Aftab Ahmad Sherpao)

The daily Sahafat; December 14, 2004

  • Deletion of religion entry in Passport is a conspiracy to make the country secular. Nawaz Sharif (former prime minister). If the people remain quiet (on the issue), the words Islamic Republic will also be deleted. In Saudi Arabia every passport holder is a Muslim, hence they do not need such a column.

The daily Khabrain; December 15, 2004

  • A bloody revolution may be on cards, if the religion column is not restored.

The daily Pakistan; December 15, 2004

  • PPP, PML-N differ over religion issue. A senior PPP leader said that the All Parties Conference has been called (by the MMA) on a ‘non-issue’.

The daily Dawn; December 16, 2004

  • Islam has no need for extremist maulvis. President Pervez

The daily Pakistan; December 18, 2004

  • Religion Column should be restored in passport. President Musharraf cannot categorically speak against the beard and the hijab. Ijazul Haq (Federal Minister of Religious and Minority Affairs)

The daily Pakistan; December 19, 2004

  • 1700 Qadianis will go to Mecca in the garb of pilgrims. 200 of these will be from Pakistan, led by Dr Sharif of Chenab Nagar. They will try to entrap simple folks. This is our confirmed information. (Maulvi) Zahid Mahmud Qasim of JUI and Khatme Nabuwwat Movement. The daily Khabrain; December 20, 2004
  • No breach in the name of religion. Muslims and Christians should work together. The Governor of Punjab.

The daily Jang; December 20, 2004

  • Decision made to restore the column of religion in passport. The government will proceed accordingly.             Shujaat Hussain, President PML (Q)

The daily Nawa-i-Waqt; December 21, 2004

  • Strict surveillance is to be maintained at mosques that promote sectarianism. Pervez Musharraf.

The daily Nawa-i-Waqt; December 22, 2004

  • Shujaat meets (Maulana) Sami ul Haq, and concurs on the issue of restoration of the religion column.

The daily Din; December 22, 04

  • The government should show no weakness on the issue of religion column. Fundamentalists and extremists have high-jacked the Ideology of Pakistan. Muslim League should be reorganized in accordance with the enlightened views of the Quaid-e-Azam and the agenda of President Musharraf. Syed Kabir Ali Wasti, Central Vice President of Pakistan Muslim League.

The Daily Sahafat; December 22, 2004

  • Concern over religion column uncalled for. The passport is an identity of state, not religion. Technically it is not possible to add religion column, and the state should not discriminate against its citizens on the basis of religion. So said Mr. Shahid Akram Bhinder, the State Minister for Law, Justice and Human Rights.

The daily Nation; December 23, 2004

  • Religion should be entered not only on passports but also identity cards. Almi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat.

The daily Jang; December 23, 2004

  • The government will consider restoration of religion column in passport. Ijazul Haq (Federal Minister of Religious and Minority Affairs)

The daily Khabrain, December 23, 2004

  • Federal Cabinet considers the political situation in closed-door session. Decides to restore the religion column in MRP. Talks will continue with political parties.

The daily Pakistan; December 23, 2004

  • No decision yet on religion column. Chaudhry Shujaat’s statement may be his party’s position.                  The Interior Minister

The daily Jang; December 25, 2004

  • We shall forbid Interior Minister’s entry in NWFP.                   MMA’s threat

The daily Khabrain; December 25, 2004

  • The rulers are providing protection to Qadianis; they are trying to please America and Britain by removing the religion column from MRP. Hafiz Saeed (of defunct Lashkar Taiba).

The daily Sahafat; December 25, 2004

  • Column of religion should be restored in passport. Shujaat’s statement depicts our stand. Sheikh Rashid (Federal Minister of Information)

The daily Din; December 26, 2004

  • Prime Minister meets Shujaat. They agree to restore the religion column in passport
  • The government will restore religion column in passport in response to the wishes of 140 million Pakistanis.  Ijazul Haq

The daily Jang; December 28, 2004

It is relevant to mention that while the mullah insisted that the major reason to have the religion column in the passport is to stop Ahmadis visiting the holy cities in Saudi Arabia, Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan made no plea to the government on the issue. The mullah’s reasons are unsupportable because there are more Ahmadis outside Pakistan and their passports do not identify them as Ahmadis; they are free to visit the holy sites of Islam and they do visit them routinely. Also for almost forty years, Ahmadis from Pakistan continued to visit the holy cities, and no heavens fell down; what is now new apart from the intolerant and bigoted imposition of Islamism the Zia ul Haq version. The real issue is that of human rights in Pakistan and also whether enlightened moderation will prevail in Pakistan or the fundamentalism of Taliban. It seems Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Mr. Ijazul Haq of PML (Q) have decided to support their “natural allies’ rather than the great idea of Enlightened Moderation.

The daily Nation wrote an editorial on December 26, 2004 entitled: MMA softening. It summed up the editorial as below:

In view of statements by Ch Shujaat Hussain and Mr. Ijazul Haq favoring the MMA demand on Passports, the possibility of the government accepting it cannot be ruled out. The MMA’s critics believe this would provide a face saving excuse to gradually wind down its campaign on the uniform. If this was to happen, it would confirm the view that the change in the passport entries was affected by the government to provide it a lever to bargain with the MMA over uniform, on which General Musharraf is not willing to give in. If this happened, the MMA’s critics will project it as another proof of its acting in unison with government on issues of substance while pretending to be in opposition.

As per Interior Ministry’s orders, the passport offices are now stamping the machine readable passports with the holder’s religion. Copy of a stamped passport is placed here.

 

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