Restrictions on press & publications etc. (2001 – 2010)

2010

Acquittal of an Ahmadi accused

Rabwah; February 16, 2010: Mr. Sultan Adhmad Dogar, printer of the Ahmadiyya daily Al-Fazal was acquitted by the Civil Judge, Chiniot after three years and three months of baseless prosecution.  A brief account of his ordeal follows.

This case was registered against Mr. Dogar, Mr. Saifulla, the publisher of the newspaper and others in pursuance of Official letters No. 7576-PA dated October 28, 2006 and 7816-PA dated November 7, 2006. The letters did not specify the text to which the authorities objected. As such the initiator of this spurious case was the state itself and not any mulla. Only two months earlier in a similar case, the authorities had arrested Mr. Dogar. He was re-arrested on registration of this case, but was released subsequently on grant of bail after his arrest.

At the time of arrest Mr. Dogar was 60 years old, suffering from diabetes and took insulin injections every morning and evening. He was not told what wrong he had committed. Mr. Dogar had a large family. He had ten children of which, 6 lived with him and were his dependants. They all shared his suffering on account of these fabricated criminal cases. He was prosecuted by the state for three long years. He had worked in publishing for 35 years. His persecution by the state was the most unbecoming and in violation of its own policy on freedom of the print media. This discrimination against the Jamaat, is excessive and inexcusable – to put it mildly. This case was initiated during the regime of ‘enlightened moderation’ of General Musharraf.

 

2007

An attack on Ahmadiyya press — children booked

Jaura Kalan, District Khushab; January 26, 2007: At the instructions of the District Officer Intelligence Bureau Khushab, the police booked five Ahmadis, including two children aged 8 and 11 for receiving by post the Ahmadiyya monthly for children Tashhizul Azhan, in FIR No. 9/2007 dated January 27, 2007 at Police Station Jaura Kalan, under clause 17 MPO. Under this clause the accused could be imprisoned for one year.

The FIR quotes the Bureau letter No. 55-IKB dated 11 Jan 07 for alleging that this magazine is banned and it has been sent by post to 1) Mr. Abdus Sattar 2) Miss Nusrat Jehan 3) Mr. Umair Ahmad 4) Mr. Ashfaq Ahmad and 5) Mr Rafi Ahmad. The Bureau letter directs the police to ‘take necessary action and report within week without fail’.

In fact neither this magazine nor this issue has been banned. At least, the publisher has no information of this. The monthly is being issued under law, and sent regularly to its subscribers. It contains nothing objectionable. It is a periodical meant for children; its object is their moral and spiritual upbringing.

Under the circumstances, the Intelligence Bureau’s and police action was highly improper and was a confirmation of mindless harassment of the peaceful Ahmadi community. The unabashed booking of a boy and a girl, who are not even teen-agers, speaks volumes on the vicious violation of Ahmadis’ human rights. If the management of the periodical has not been told of any objection to its contents, how can the subscribing children at the receiving end be held responsible for accepting from the postman their mail? The fact that the action was initiated by an official security agency makes this incident even more regrettable and grave. Authorities of these departments should know better that Ahmadis do not indulge in offensive and hate-promoting journalism.

The prestigious Daily Times of Lahore reported the incident in its issue of February 2, 2007. It confirmed that there was no hate material in the magazine as alleged. Moreover, the accused had not yet received the magazine. The report is reproduced below:

Daily Times                                                     Friday, February 02, 2007

Hate material in children’s magazine?

Cases registered against Ahmadi kids over magazine subscription

By Ali Waqar

LAHORE: Police in Khushab district have registered a case against five Ahmadis, including two pre-teens, for subscribing to the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiya’s monthly children’s magazine Tasheezul Azhan, Daily Times has learnt.

According to the first information report, the complainant, an officer of the Intelligence Bureau, submitted to the Khushab district police officer (DPO) that the magazine is “banned literature” and contains “hate material”. A brief study of the 50-page magazine showed no obvious “hate material” against any group, and the articles were restricted to discussions about Ahmadi beliefs.

The IB officer reportedly learnt from the post office that the magazine was being mailed to the five Ahmadis, and named them in the FIR based on their names on the envelopes the magazines were to be posted in. They had not received the magazines yet.

A case was registered under Section 17 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance in Chora Kalan police station on January 26 against 11-year-old Nusrat Jahan, daughter of Hakim Muhammad Sadiq of Ahmadabad Janoobi; 8-year-old Umair Ahmad, son of Ghulam Ahmad of Ahmadabad Janoobi; Ashfaq Ahmad, son of Muhammad Mumtaz of Khai Kalan; Rafi Ahmad, son of Muhammad Yousaf of Omerabad Majoka; and Abdul Sattar, son of Ahmad Hasan of Thathi Omerabad.

The accused have not been arrested yet, and the Jamaat is trying to arrange pre-arrest bail for them, sources in the Ahmadiya community told Daily Times.

Punjab Home Department officials said they did not know if the magazine was banned or not.

Representatives of the Ahmadiya community said they did not believe the magazine was banned, and they always sent a copy of each issue to the government department concerned. They asked why, if the magazine was banned, no cases had been lodged in other districts. They said the Ahmadis were being unfairly victimised in this case and appealed to the government and civil society organizations to look into the matter fairly.

Tasheezul Azhan, which is edited by Sajjad Mahmood Buttar from Chinab Nagar (Rabwah), is one of the oldest publications of the subcontinent. Started in 1906, the magazine has a circulation of about 10,000 across Pakistan, an official of the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiya told Daily Times.

In September last year, police raided an Ahmadi newspaper office and arrested a printer and a journalist, charging them with offences under the Anti Terrorism Act. Ahmadi representatives condemned the raid as harassment and an attack on press freedom. Daily Alfazal opened in 1911 and is one of the oldest newspapers in Pakistan.

The news received fair coverage in the press, especially English. The monthly Herald of Karachi examined the case in depth and reported: “The 50-page January edition (of the magazine) contains articles on religion, moral issues, qualities of the Prophet (Pbuh), quotations and jokes for children, and informative features on scientists and the Great Wall of China whose picture is printed on the cover.” The Herald also mentioned Mehboob Ahmad Khan, an advocate and legal officer at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan  who ‘describes the case as an act of either ignorance or prejudice’ (The Herald, March 2007). The authorities relented. They withdrew the case FIR 9/2007. However, their arrogance and sense of false pride urged them to register the same case afresh under FIR 10/07 on February 3, 2007 against two adults namely Ashfaq Ahmad and Rafi Ahmad. This time they decided to drop the names of children; however they booked two adults in the case that pertains to children’s magazine. They failed to mention the text that they consider objectionable — there is none. Hannah Arendt (1906-75) was right in saying: “Under conditions of tyranny, it is far easier to act than to think”.

 

Ahmadi booked for subscribing to the community newspaper

Jampur, district Rajanpur: The police booked numerous individuals belonging to different religious denominations under religious laws. The case was registered as No. 492 dated 29 September 2007 under PPC 298, 295-A and 16MPO. Perhaps to appear even, an Ahmadi was also booked for essentially no reason.

The accused Ahmadi is Dr Mumtaz Ali of Allah Abad. He was accused of subscribing to the daily Alfazal, the community newspaper. The daily Alfazal is properly authorized by the government. It is registered by the government under Regn. No.29-FD/CPL. Thousands of Ahmadis are on its subscription list. Its copies are sent regularly to the government as well.

It is interesting to mention that Dr Ali died approximately three months ago. The criminal case was registered by the police despite their knowledge of his death; they complied with the “Agencies’ directions”, nevertheless. It would be ridiculous if the dead man is awarded 10 years’ imprisonment under PPC 295-A.

Someone could assess the police and the secret service as ‘simply crazy’, whose professional conduct calls for an intensive scrub.

 

Attack on Ahmadiyya Freedom of expression, belief and press

Lahore: The police raided the printing press of an Ahmadi proprietor Mr. Tariq Mahmud Panipati at Lower Mall on January 22, 2007 at about 7:00 p.m. They interrogated him, and took away some Ahmadiyya publications, pamphlets and other material in the process of printing. Moreover they sealed the press by closing the location with their own locks. They told Mr. Panipati to report to the DSP Office at Islampura the next day at 10:00 a.m. where a decision was to be taken about further proceedings.

The press is engaged in routine activity of printing. It occasionally does undertake printing of material sent in by Ahmadiyya sources as well, however the community takes care to ensure that the material is not objectionable. Even prior to this incident, security personnel had visited and were provided with samples of books and periodicals under print. Even this time they found nothing apparently objectionable, hence they did not arrest Mr Panipati. However, the mere fact that they raided the press during Muharram and sealed it exposed the proprietor to great harm. The police in Pakistan are notorious for going for easy targets and then fabricating stories to prove that they have done a great job.

Mr. Panipati was at risk. The authorities acted against whatever little space was available to Ahmadis in their freedom of expression. The press was sealed and workers had no work. The evil of anti-Ahmadi policy of the state made still another visit to the marginalized community.

 

2006

Attack on Ahmadiyya Press

Ahmadiyya press subjected to fresh attack by authorities on fabricated charges

Two named pressmen and ‘others’ booked under Ahmadi-specific clauses, anti-terrorism law and 16 MPO

Mr. Dogar, an old man, sick and under treatment, arrested and denied bail for months

Rabwah: It happened on September 9, 2006. Two days earlier mullahs of the Khatme Nabuwwat Movement had held a provocative and slanderous conference at Rabwah by permission of the authorities. Among their other demands, highly prejudicial to human rights of Ahmadis, one was against the Ahmadiyya periodicals, undoubtedly the most docile and modest of religious journals in Pakistan. Nevertheless, the police, under orders from the provincial capital, struck on the forenoon of September 9.

They raided the office of the daily Alfazl, and searched for the editor, the publisher and the printer. Not finding them, they picked up Messrs Qasim Ahmad and Abdus Sattar who have nothing to do with the Alfazl, took them to the police station, and locked them up. Subsequently the police continued with their raids, and arrested Mr. Sultan Ahmad Dogar from his residence. To secure arrest, they came in a big way in three vans and two motor cycles. They surrounded Mr. Dogar’s house and banged open the outer door. Mr. Dogar who has perhaps never harmed a rat, offered no resistance. It seems the police posed to believe their own lie of terrorism. By nightfall they registered a serious criminal case vide FIR No. 480/06 dated September 9, 2006 at Police Station Chenab Nagar, District Jhang, under PPC 298B, 298C, 16MPO and the terrorism clause 9ATA. The FIR mentions Messers Agha Saifullah and Sultan Ahmad Dogar by name and includes ‘others’ in the business of the Press. Thus the net has been kept wide open maliciously. The FIR states that the Alfazl promotes hatred and injures the feelings of Muslims. The accusation is mullah-inspired, false and pure fabrication. They have not specified any ‘extracts’ or excerpts that are hate-promoting; there are none.

The mullahs’ conference at Rabwah on September 7 was so highly sectarian and even anti-government that the authorities decided to book four mullahs. Perhaps to look even-handed, they booked the Ahmadi pressmen. But while they have on record the highly objectionable diatribes of mullahs, it is certain that authorities will not have the audacity to quote from Alfazl any passage that is objectionable, so as to avoid being absurd. It is noteworthy that they arrested no mullah, but they arrested an important Ahmadi and are looking for the other. The victims committed no terrorism; it is they and their families who are terrorized.

Both the named accused are old and on medication. Mr. Dogar is 60 years old, suffering from diabetes, and is taking insulin injections morning and evening. He does not know what wrong he has committed except that of being an Ahmadi pressman. Two days after the arrest, he was presented at the Anti-terrorism Court at Faisalabad. The judge told the police to bring him up a week later, so they sent him to the far away prison at Jhang. On September 18, the judge rejected Mr. Dogar’s plea for bail, and gave the date of September 25 for commencement of the trial. On September 25, the judge gave no hearing, and gave him the next date of October 4. He was under acute stress and his nervous condition visibly deteriorated. If declared ‘guilty’, he could be imprisoned for seven years.

The charge is false. There is no formal complainant or the accuser; the case is at government’s initiative. As per FIR, the Assistant Inspector General of Police (Operations) ordered the action. It is a serious violation of the flagship policy in the field of human rights of the present regime – “Freedom of Press”. Why the government decided to undertake the unjustified and unworthy action is not exactly known. The application of the terrorism clause was preposterous.

Mr. Dogar is old, not in the best of health, and under medication. They put him in prison. He asked as to what exact excerpts or passages the authorities object. They had no reply. “The whole lot”, said a mullah. But is that the way the present government has decided to function?

The defense told the trial judge that 9ATA was not applicable. He agreed, and told the state to take it off. Mr. Dogar could not avail of the relief of bail earlier, because of the ATA clause. He remained in prison. Now he applied again for the bail.  The Civil Judge refused the bail again, and did not give a reason. Mr. Dogar does not know what wrong he has done. If this is not tyranny, what else is? And as for Freedom of Press in Pakistan, it is obviously selective and discriminatory. It reminds one of the concluding speech, made by the state prosecutor of China in 1979 at the trial of a dissident Wei Jingsheng:

Freedom of speech of the individual citizen must be based on the four basic principle of: insisting on the socialist road, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the leadership of the party, and Marxism – Leninism – Mao Zedong thought. The citizen has only freedom to support these principles and not the freedom to oppose them.

 

Beijing zhi chnun shiwen xuan

Reportedly there are official agencies, groups and parties who commit accesses against pressmen, but they do it discreetly, mindful of the state’s declared policy of freedom of press. For example, the abduction, disappearance and detention for a day of Mr. Dilawer Khan Wazir, a reporter of the daily Dawn in November 2006; no one claimed responsibility. However, the Ahmadiyya pressmen are not accorded any such privilege, caution or pretense; the Home Department or the Police Head Office issues written orders to commit the violation of fundamental freedoms.

Although the judge removed the terrorism clause from the charge sheet, the prison authorities kept Mr. Dogar in the special cell meant for dangerous criminals. Here, he was allowed open-air time of only one hour during twenty-four hours, as compared to much longer hours allowed to ordinary prisoners that he was now as per rules. That was tough. Mr. Dogar then put up his plea for bail before the Addl. Session Judge, who accepted the plea. As such, he was released from the prison on December 2, 2006, almost three months’ incarceration for no valid reason. The daily Alfazl is extra careful in minding the rules. It carries the notice on its front page: ‘Meant only for the education of Ahmadis’. Its management makes sure that none of the subscribers is an Ahmadi. So the accusation of hurting the feelings of Muslims is fallacious and contrived.

Mr. Dogar has ten children, of which 6 still live with him and are his dependents. They suffered a great deal because of his ordeal. His wife bore the brunt. Mr. Dogar instructed the family women folk not to visit him in prison, as the procedure and the environment of meeting a prisoner is greatly inconvenient and even forbidding. Mr. Dogar has served 35 years in the world of publications. His undeserved persecution by the state is unbecoming and in violation of its own policy on print media. The discrimination against anything Ahmadiyya is excessive and unsupportable – to put it mildly.

And lo and behold, the authorities registered still another criminal case under Ahmadi-specific PPC 298B and 298C against the same team including ‘others’. The government apparently believes in ‘hit them, hit hard and keep on hitting’ – its own citizens, and for no good reason whatsoever. Who says only the Mullah is to be blamed for the sorry state of the ‘land of the pure’? The FIR was registered as No. 602/06, at Police Station Chenab Nagar, on November 17, 2006 under PPC 298B and 298C against Messrs Sultan Ahmad Dogar, Agha Saifullah and others, in pursuance of Official letters No. 7576-PA dated October 28, 2006 and 7846-PA dated November 7, 2006.

Eventually Mr. Dogar was released on bail. However, he will face prosecution in court for the two criminal cases against him under the Ahmadis-specific laws. He is at risk of imprisonment for years – for what, he does not know.

 

Case registered under the Blasphemy law against the Supreme Head of Ahmadiyya Community and four presspersons including a woman at the complaint of a mullah, and with the approval of senior police official

Tando Adam, District Sanghar, Sindh: At the complaint of mullah Ahmad Mian Hamadi, the Convener of the Action Committee of the Protection of the End of Prophethood Association (Majlis Tahaffuz Khatm-e-Nabuwwat), Sindh, the District Police Officer Sanghar told Police Station Tando Adam to register a case under all the three clauses of the Blasphemy law PPC 295A, 295B and 295C as also the Ahmadi-specific law PPC 298C, against the Supreme Head of Ahmadiyya Community (now residing in London) and four others namely Ms Amat ur Rashid the essay-writer and Messrs Mirza Khalil Ahmad Qamar the editor, Sheikh Khurshid Ahmad the publisher and Sultan Ahmad the printer, all of the women’s magazine, the monthly Misbah. Under the imposed clauses of the PPC, the accused could be given death sentence and also imprisonment for life. The law provides for the trial to be held in a Special Court under the Anti-terrorism law. The FIR is numbered 04/06, and is dated January 5, 2006.

The basis on which this case was registered is grotesque, even bizarre. It is expressive of the mindset of the mullah, the collaboration of the authorities and the absurdity of the law. The FIR records the grievances of the complainant mullah as follows (extracts):

“On page 1 and 3 are written the Words of God and the Words of the Holy Prophet…. The epithet of ‘on him be peace’ is used for Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani…. On page No. 2 are boldly written verse 266 of the chapter Albaqrah (of the Quran) and its translation, as also in bold letters a tradition of the Holy Prophet and its translation…. On page 1 and 3 the epithet huzur (seigneur) has been used for Mirza Ghulam Ahmad…. On page 10, Surah Nahl verse 91 (of the Quran) has been quoted and Qadianis have been urged to follow the teaching therein…….On page 9, a speech of their present leader Masroor Ahmad is printed wherein a reference has been made to verses 36-38 of the chapter Ahzab of the Noble Quran….. It is mentioned that Mirza Masroor Ahmad commenced his speech after the recitation of Tashahud, Ta’awwuz and the Surah Fatiha (the opening chapter of the Holy Quran), and he also urged his followers to be regular in prayers….. On page 10 it is mentioned that Qadianis must pray five times a day… on Page 25 the recitation of Surah Fatiha and of Darud (invocation of blessings on the Holy Prophet p.b.u.h.) has been mentioned…. Also Ahmadis have been urged to recite Quranic and Traditional supplications in their optional prayers every day, and to fast once a month voluntarily. …..On page 21, the Holy Prophet has been called ‘our beloved master’, as such they have insulted him and posed as Muslims…. Although five daily prayers are a part of Islamic faith, but Qadianis have adopted them in their Kufriyya (infidel) religion; this has hurt our feelings. As such a case against….. (all the accused) be registered. The application was made to the DPO Sanghar who ordered that a case be registered.”

The mullah went crazy centuries ago, but for a DPO in this country of ‘enlightened moderation’ of 21st century to tow his line makes no sense. In fact, in this, he is most probably supported by his superiors and the system. Perhaps the mullah told him that he has no legal option but to register the case. This shows the futility of the much trumpeted Amendment of 2004 to the procedure of handling the Blasphemy cases. It is probable that the authors of the Amendment designed it as such, to hoodwink the protesting world and to simultaneously maintain deadly poisonous fangs of this law. The registration of this case also reveals the very thin coating of the ‘enlightened moderation’ on the establishment, under which it remains plastered with thick coats of extremist emulsion. What else can be expected of a political establishment that calls MMA its ‘natural ally’?

Also, whither the Freedom of Press! Or, is it that it is also selective and discriminatory; and not available to Ahmadis?

Mr. Muhammad Iqbal, Ahmadi of Faisalabad and Mr. Mansur Hussain of Hafizabad are now undergoing prison sentences for life on charge of Blasphemy, on grounds as flimsy as this case; in fact their cases were fabricated, and false witnesses were paraded in the courts in support of prosecution to ensure conviction. Their appeals now lie with Lahore High Court, awaiting redress; while Mr. Iqbal is now in the third year of his undeserved incarceration. Is their some decency around to come to their rescue?

 

A brief note on the complainant of this case: MAULVI AHMAD HAMADI of Sanghar is an employee of the Auqaf Department, so he gets his pay from the government but works primarily for the Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat organization. He has played a leading and active role on the anti-Ahmadiyya front for more than 20 years. When in 1984/1985 Ahmadis were being murdered in Sindh at regular intervals, he publicly declared, “I have not killed them; but I do not disapprove of these either.” In 1990, he took out a revolver in the court’s premises and threatened the Ahmadis present, particularly Chaudhry Muzaffar. This mullah volunteered to be ‘the complainant’ in numerous criminal cases that were registered against Ahmadis under Ahmadi-specific laws, the Blasphemy laws and others based on faith of the victims. He is a past master in intimidating government officials through threats of agitation, rallies etc; so they tend to readily comply with his demands. He has no reservations about indulging in falsehood, fabrication and fraud to achieve his objects. He is Khatib at a Jame Masjid, runs a seminary and is a professional rabble-rouser. His son-in-law leads a gang of bullies, while his body guard is a drug pusher. Those who do not comply with his whims are declared ‘Qadiani’ by him, and he declares their marriages terminated. He also indulges in ‘Bhatta’ (forced financial contributions) from businessmen and charges money in Anti-Ahmadi cases. On account of his financial means including the regular income from government service, he has plenty of spare time to attend to court hearings and visit police stations in pursuit of his extremism. He was the prime mover in many major cases including those against the Khalifatul Masih IV (the former Supreme Head of the Ahmadiyya Community), Ahmadiyya periodicals Ansarullah and Misbah, and Mr. Idrees, a former minister in an interim Sindh cabinet.

 

Forfeiture of Ahmadiyya periodicals

Lahore: The Provincial Home Secretary of the Punjab issued the following two Notifications:

i.          No.  SO (IS-III)1-1/2005          dated 12th June 2006

ii.         No.  SO (IS-III) 1-4/2005         dated 19th July 2006

The notifications mentioned a few issues of some Ahmadiyya periodicals, accused these of containing matter ‘objectionable and deliberately/maliciously intended to outrage the religious feelings of the Muslims’ and stated that ‘the Government of the Punjab is pleased to declare all copies of the above mentioned Booklets/Magazines along with its translation in any language to be forfeited to the Government with immediate effect.’

The government has never told Ahmadi publishers as to what specific extracts and passages it objects precisely. It would be interesting if someone could persuade the authorities to formally pinpoint in writing such matter. We are fairly certain that the government will not respond. It knows that any objection would expose it to serious accusation of discrimination and violation of Freedom of Press and Expression on flimsy grounds. These notifications are issued only to placate some bigoted mullah who poses having some clout with politicians.

In the meantime, the local police indicated that they had instructions to register a criminal case against the pressmen. Thus, while the present regime is very proud of its policy concerning freedom of press, it readily yields to the mulla to suppress the freedom of Ahmadiyya press.

 

2005

Attack on Ahmadiyya press

Police seals Ahmadiyya printing presses, arrests its keeper and registers criminal cases against 17 Ahmadiyya pressmen

Rabwah: The government used its hammer for the most obscure reason against the persecuted Ahmadiyya community, and committed a grave wrong, once again, against Ahmadis’ fundamental rights.  It violated its own policy of Freedom of Press, of which it boasts often.  Why it did so, remains an enigma.  Mullahs, apparently continue to enjoy a close liaison with the government, at some high level, in that they can coerce it to act very irrationally and bring a bad name to itself and the country.  It is a malignant relationship indeed that refuses to dissipate and go away.

A large contingent of police in Rabwah, led by Deputy Superintendent Police raided two Ahmadiyya printing presses i.e. Ziaul Islam Press, Nusrat Art Press and the offices of Ahmadiyya Community daily paper Al-Fazl on Friday the 5th of August 2005.  They searched the three places and seized printed and unprinted material and took the keeper of the Ziaul Islam Press, Mr. Sultan Ahmad Dogar in custody.  After raiding the printing presses and offices of the Daily Al-Fazl the police sealed the three buildings.  They were acting under the instructions of District Police Officer in Jhang, who sent them a written ‘Extremely Important’ order to raid the printing press where the afore-mentioned daily and periodicals are printed, and seize ‘objectionable material’ and seal the printing press.  The District Police Officer, in his instructions, enclosed details of eighteen issues of the Daily Al-Fazl, and other Ahmadiyya periodicals about which the Punjab Home Department had notified that those issues of the newspaper and magazines printed such material through which Qadianiat (Ahmadiyyat) is preached.  The police in their rash action disregarded the fact that none of the periodicals were printed in the second of the sealed printing presses i.e. the Nusrat Art Press.

After taking this action, the police demanded that the editors, printers, publishers, and managers of all Ahmadiyya periodicals should present themselves in the police station.  However, before their orders could be complied with by them, the police charged seventeen persons who are editors, publishers, printers and managers of Ahmadiyya daily paper ‘Al-Fazl’ and four monthly magazines (published by the Community for education and moral formation of its members) under anti-Ahmadiyya laws i.e. PPC 298-B, 298-C, and 16 MPO i.e. maintenance of public order.

On the following day the police, after another search exercise of the three places sealed by them and collection of material therefrom, unsealed offices of the daily Al-Fazl and Nusrat Art Press.  However Ziaul Islam Press where all periodicals of Ahmadiyya Community are printed remained sealed.  The action of sealing this printing press was recorded by the police in their FIR No. 352, wherein the above mentioned seventeen pressmen of Ahmadiyya daily paper and magazines were charged.  All of them were exposed to arrest if they were not granted bail by the court.  Mr. Sultan Ahmad Dogar, the keeper of Ziaul Islam Press remained under arrest.

It is noteworthy that the code of criminal procedure No 99-A, under which the District Police Officer issued his order to seal the Ahmadiyya Printing Press, does not authorize him to seal the press.  The action of the police was therefore illegal.

The implication of this action was that neither Al-Fazl, the Ahmadiyya daily paper, nor the four monthly magazines could be published, as according to the law, they can only be printed in the press for which permission had been granted by the authorities, and that printing press i.e. the Ziaul Islam Press was sealed by the police.  Furthermore according to the law, if a daily paper or a magazine is not published for a specified period its ‘Declaration’ (permission to publish a paper or a magazine, granted by the authorities) stands cancelled.  There was thus a serious risk that the action would result in a complete ban on Ahmadiyya daily paper and magazines. This caused great concern to Ahmadis. Such a ban was imposed earlier in 1980s; it lasted many years.

Ahmadis in Pakistan are targeted not only by anti-Ahmadi laws i.e. 298-B and 298-C but also by other laws which the mullah and the establishment find convenient to apply.  After the promulgation of anti-Ahmadiyya laws by General Ziaul Haq, blasphemy law i.e. 295-C was enacted by him, which was not Ahmadi-specific, yet majority of the victims of the law are Ahmadis.  Later, when anti-terrorism law was promulgated by the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a great number of Ahmadis were targeted under that law while Ahmadis are well known to be a peaceful people.   Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif placed 295-A, a penal code which deals with injuring the religious feelings of others, under the jurisdiction of anti-terrorism courts, punishable by ten years imprisonment.  The mullah seeing a chance to victimize Ahmadis, started lodging complaints against Ahmadis under that law with obliging police officers, resulting in implication and imprisonment of a large number of Ahmadis.

Now, when President Pervez Musharraf announced crackdown on religious extremists and banning of their hate-literature, again the establishment in league with the mullah, started acting against Ahmadis.  Victims of religious extremists and targets of hate-literature are being made targets of anti-extremist action by the law enforcement authorities. What an irony!  Thus there is a pattern; policies and laws that appear to be contingent and otherwise reasonable, are dishonestly applied to Ahmadis to persecute them further.  The hypocrisy and enormity of bad governance is mind boggling.

President Pervez Musharraf needs to be reminded of the pious words he uttered only a few days earlier.  He said:

Pakistan would carry out its crackdown on extremist elements in a realistic manner, through moderation and prudence.  We are acting in accordance with Pakistani environment, with a lot of moderation, understanding and realism so that we do not fail. (Dawn, July 30, 2005)

What a classic example of misplaced ‘crackdown’ on ‘extremist elements’, by targeting a community which is already the victim of religious extremists.  Whither moderation and realism, one may ask?

It is relevant to state here that Ahmadiyya community is peace loving and has never been involved in sectarian strife, violence and hatred.  Actually it is victim of hatred and violence at the hands of extremist elements.  The community periodicals publish no objectionable material against any sect or religion.  It can be justifiably claimed that Ahmadiyya periodicals in their contents are the most mindful of others’ sentiments as compared to all the other periodicals of religious nature in Pakistan.  Ahmadiyya periodicals also boldly carry a notice on their front pages: ‘For education of Ahmadis only’; this is an Ahmadi-specific imposition in compliance with unfair official restrictions.  It is also significant that among the list of banned periodicals there are a number of those that were published abroad, some of these years ago.  The FIR lodged by the authorities objects to certain epithets used in the periodicals, although the Supreme Court has already validated them for use by Ahmadis.  It objects to words like Khalifa, Imam, Maseeh Maud, although these words were in common use in Arabic language even prior to Islam.  The authorities thus seem to misappropriate such words as ‘trade marks’; or is it that they demand from Ahmadis to invent a new language for their religious use.

The entirely unjustified crackdown on the entire Ahmadiyya press caused great consternation in the community in Pakistan, and its millions of members in the rest of the world.  It earned Pakistan a bad name once again, although the country otherwise is struggling to improve its international image.

Subsequent to the initial onslaught the situation improved somewhat.  The presses were unsealed, and the periodicals were issued.  A court accepted the plea for bail of the accused.  However, the unjustified criminal charges under Ahmadi-specific laws remained imposed for a while, and thereby the entire Ahmadiyya press corps remains exposed to years of imprisonment.  The government did not specify the piece of writing it found objectionable.  It knows that if it specifies, it would expose itself to ridicule in the world of intellect and human rights.

The entire episode is so callous, damaging to the state and idiotic that it calls for in-depth Judicial Inquiry to determine the individual(s) who initiated and implemented such malevolent strikes.

Following individuals faced criminal prosecutions under Ahmadi-specific laws PPC 298-B, 298-C and 16-MPO vide FIR 352/05 registered at police station Chenab Nagar on August 5, 2005; they were liable to three years imprisonment:

  • Mr. Abdus Sami Khan, Editor Alfazl
  • Agha Saifullah, Publisher Alfazl
  • Mr. Sultan Ahmad, Printer Alfazl
  • Mirza Khalil Ahmad, Editor Misbah
  • Sheikh Khurshid Ahmad, Publisher Misbah
  • Mansur Ahmad Nuruddin, Editor Khalid
  • Qamar Ahmad Mahmud, Publisher Khalid
  • Mr. Aziz Ahmad, Manager Khalid
  • Mr. Farid A Naveed, Editor Tashheez
  • Syed Mubashir A Ayaz, Editor Ansarullah
  • Abdul Mannan Kausar, Publisher Ansarullah

Note: These eleven pressmen were counted as seventeen in the FIR because some of them hold positions in more than one periodical, hence involving repetition.

A few weeks later, the authorities withdraw the unsubstantiated charges. These should not have been leveled in the first place. This vicious attack on the Ahmadiyya Press is indicative of the senseless and permissive attitude of authorities towards basic civil rights of Ahmadis in Pakistan.

 

Another instance

The Government of Pakistan often claims credit for freedom of press in Pakistan. Whatever the veracity of this claim, this freedom is obviously discriminatory as far as Ahmadis are concerned.  A notification by the Government of the Punjab proves the point.  The Home Department issued Notification No. 1-1-11-18-111/2005 on June 5, 2005 to forfeit all copies of the following Ahmadiyya periodicals (specified issues) and publications:

1. The daily Alfazal  2&3. Weekly Alfazal International (two issues)  4. monthly Ansarullah  5. Letter and ………… of book titled (Muslims’ message of tolerance)  6. Book titled    “Ander Ki Batain.

Mr. Hassan Wasim Afzaal, Secretary to the Government of the Punjab, Home Department issued the above notification containing the following Order:

“NOW THEREFORE In the exercise of the powers conferred in Section 99A……………the Government of the Punjab is pleased to declare all copies of the above-mentioned Magazines/books and letter along with its translation in any language to be forfeited to the Government with immediate effect.”

It should be mentioned that the notification failed to specify the content that the government considers objectionable. This was deliberate, as that would have exposed the government to accountability regarding its failure to take similar action against hundreds of anti-Ahmadiyya magazines and books that indulge in vastly disproportionate calumny and slander.  It is also rather amusing to note the admission that the Government of Punjab often cooperates with the mullah, although a sympathetic opinion would consider this cooperation to be under constraint rather than pleasure as admitted.

 

2004

The Sanghar case is resuscitated

Rabwah: The police visited Rabwah to arrest four Ahmadi scholars and pressmen in a criminal case registered about 4 years ago under religious laws.

It was in January 2001 that Mullah Hamadi of Tando Adam (Sindh) got registered a criminal case under the Anti-Ahmadiyya laws PPC 298B, 298C and the Blasphemy law PPC 295C at Police Station Tando Adam against Mr. Nasrullah Khan Nasir, the editor of Monthly Ansarullah, Muhammad Ibrahim the publisher, Qazi Munir Ahmad the printer and Mr. Shabbir A Saqib the writer. This senseless case remained dormant for 3 ½ years, then the mullah who is a full-time anti-Ahmadiyya activist got it activated. It is relevant to mention that the case was registered and is now being pursued under the same regime that claims to be the standard bearer of Enlightened Moderation.

 

Denial of freedom of press

Lahore; The Home Secretary of the Government of Punjab went for the Ahmadiyya press also. He issued a letter No. 1. 2H/SPI. 111/2003 on July 22, 2003 forfeiting copies of the Ahmadiyya daily Alfazl and the monthly Khalid. He wrote that these contained objectionable and deliberately and maliciously intended material to ‘outrage the religious feelings of the Muslims’. The letter did not specify the material. It is reasonable to assume that the Home Secretary decided to be discreet because the objection could appear ridiculous to an outsider who would read the passages if mentioned. In the past, mullah has persuaded the Home Department to take exception to terms like Amen and Inshallah. It is regrettable that the Home Secretary allows the mullah to ruin the reputation of the provincial government. Copy of the Government letter is available. 

Addition: The Daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore of September 20, 2003 reported that the Secretary Information has sent the case of cancellation of Declaration of the daily Alfazl to DCO Jhang for necessary action. Secretary P&C Punjab conveyed this in a letter to Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, the so-called Information Secretary of the Almi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatame Nabuwwat. (It would be recalled that in the past, Mr Javed Qureshi, a Commissioner arrested this mullah under the Goonda Act that is aimed at rascals. Faqir was placed on record as an evil-talker and a bully.)

 

2002

Back to the future – again

Rabwah, June 2002: A police contingent comprising two ASIs and 4 constables raided a book store at Rabwah and took away a few books, under orders of the District Police Officer, JHANG. This used to happen during the past regimes but the practice had stopped for the last few years. It appears that the interval was only temporary, and the mullah is again being permitted to prod the government to violate fundamental rights.

The order of the District Police Officer Jhang referred to the Government of the Punjab (Home Department) No: 1-7-H-SPL-111/2001 dated 18 May 2002. This letter states that a book ‘Masih Maud’ published by Anjuman Ahmadiyya Ashaat Islamiyya, and an issue of the Daily Alfazl of 02-02-02 contains material that is ‘entirely objectionable’ etc. The fact is that there is no Anjuman Ahmadiyya Ashaat Islamiyya at Rabwah, whatsoever. Secondly, any third person, other than the reporting mullah and the compliant Home Secretary, will find it extremely difficult to locate in the daily Alfazl any material that is even remotely objectionable. It is simply a resumption of the old routine when a mullah of the Khatme Nabuwwat Organization would report to the Home Department against any Ahmadiyya publication, and the department, without any further inquiry, would routinely issue orders for the confiscation of the same. The incumbent authorities are once again lapsing into their indignity of the past.

The District Police Officer JHANG, in a show of enthusiastic compliance went a step further by emphasizing in his order:

“SHO Police Station Chenab Nagar is specifically directed that as there is already great tension between Ahmadis and Muslims in his area, strict security precautions are to be adopted in the face of present situation. The objectionable book and the newspaper is to be confiscated by the police forthwith so that no untoward incident takes place. These instructions are to be strictly complied with. It is an issue of great importance.” (Translation)

In fact, there was hardly an Ahmadi or a non-Ahmadi in this town or area who was even aware of any objectionable material in these two publications, prior to the issue of the administrative orders. How efficient these authorities are when they move against imagined (never committed) actions of already suppressed communities!

 

2001

Ordeal of an Ahmadi newspaper hawker

Sargodha; September 1, 2001: Mr Sultan Ahmad Bhatti is a hawker for the Ahmadiyya daily Alfazal, in Sargodha. On September 1, at about 0530 when he approached an Ahmadi’s house to deliver the daily paper, he was nabbed by a neighbour, Sheikh Athar, and detained in a room that the kidnapper bolted from outside. Athar’s elder brother, Amjad joined him and the two subjected Sultan to violence. They also told him that he will be slaughtered if he did not recant. At about mid-day, Mulla Toofani, a leading fundamentalist figure of the city came along with three other clerics. They had brought along a policeman. They accused Sultan of distributing Ahmadiyya literature. Sultan told them that he was only a hawker of the Daily Alfazl that was published with the permission of the government.

They took their Ahmadi victim to the police station. They offered to release him if he recanted, but he refused. At the police station, they locked him up. The police wanted him to sign a given statement, that he refused to do.

In the meantime, Sultan’s family got to know of his predicament. They rushed to some influentials to rescue the poor fellow. They contacted the police and told them that the detainee was innocent. Eventually the SHO let him go after sunset. It was a heavy day for the unsuspecting hawker who had gone out to earn his daily bread.

It may be mentioned that Mulla Toofani has often violated the law and absconded, but, on the Ahmadiyya issue he has sufficient clout to avail official support. In this case, the authorities should have taken him to task for severely harassing an innocent citizen; instead he managed to get help from the police to assist him in his evil undertaking.

Press and publications in chains

The law and the government policy concerning Ahmadiyya publications and periodicals has undergone little change. Part IV of the anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance XX regarding Press and Publications remains operative. None of the executive orders that banned various Ahmadiyya books has been withdrawn. Ahmadiyya periodicals remain vulnerable to the mischief of the law and the mulla. This year, in the month of March, a criminal case was registered against the editor, the publisher, the printer and an essay writer of the Ahmadiyya monthly magazine Ansarullah. According to the FIR, the accuser found a copy of the magazine lying over the Holy Quran in the book shelf of his (own) mosque; the monthly contained some verses of the Holy Quran; not only that, it also contained some sayings and traditions of the Holy Prophet; even words like Hadrat, Maulana and Maulvi had been used for Qadianis. For this, the Mulla demanded that four Ahmadi pressmen be charged under PPC 295C and be hanged. The authorities and the police readily agreed and the charge was framed. As for hanging, it is upto the judiciary who is often a willing partner in the tyranny perpetuated against Ahmadis.

It is relevant to mention here that to-date 87 cases have been registered against Ahmadiyya periodicals, 400 periodicals have been proscribed, and 63 books and publications have been banned since the promulgation of anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance. Ahmadi editors, printer and publisher are facing extensive prosecution in these cases.

 

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