Vernacular press – a review and comment
Vernacular press in Pakistan does not rise above the level of its readers; in fact it makes deliberate efforts on the Ahmadiyya issue to stay well below their intellectual potential. These newspapers have fairly wide readership, and few refuse to spare their space for the Mulla. While publishing ‘news’ items regarding Ahmadiyyat or Ahmadi community, they seem to care little for journalistic ethics or the long-term interest of the civil society. In fact, they rarely have a ‘news’ to publish on this issue; often it is the views, statements, demands, rhetoric and instigation to hate and intolerance. While the Ahmadiyya press is gagged, these newspapers are free to publish such sectarian propaganda. Below we reproduce the gist of a few of the sample entries in these papers to illustrate:
1. Condemnation of the Qadiani plan to grab the T.I. College, Chenab Nagar.
The Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; October 2, 2006
(The alleged ‘plan’ was only in the imagination of the reporter. Ed.)
2. Qadiani schools and academies should be closed down.
The daily Jang, Lahore; October 28, 2006
3. The English planted Mirzaiat to harm Islam.
The Aman, April 29, 2006
4. Qadianis and Pervaizis are traitors. They have nothing to do with Islam.
The daily Ausaf; Lahore
5. The Ulema should unite to destroy the cancer of Qadianiat.
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; December 16, 2006
- Qadiani girl accepts Islam, and marries a Muslim youth.
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; March 13, 2006
- Qadiani and Jewish collaboration should be a cause of concern for Muslim Ummah.
The Asas, June 03, 2006
- Qadianis are using the Western powers to weaken Islam.
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; June 16, 2006
- 16 Qadianis including 8 women become Muslims.
The daily Khabrain, Lahore; June 17, 2006
- Qadianis occupy government lands to build mosques.
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; January 15, 2006
- Qadianis are enemies of Islam and Pakistan.
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; May 24, 2006
- We shall not allow realization of the dream to convert Chenab Nagar into a Mirzael.
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; May 30, 2006
- Khatme Nabuwwat Conference by Majlis Ahrar Islam in memory of 10,000 martyrs (of 1953)
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; April 11, 2006
(In fact, less than 40 rioters died in intensive 1953 riots and agitation, at the hands of law enforcing agencies. Ed.)
14 Qadianis are involved in the Karachi tragedy (58 killed in bomb blast).
The daily Pakistan, Lahore; April 14, 2006
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt led this charade of falsehood and hurtful propaganda by printing 235 items during the year. The daily Pakistan stood second with 124 entries. The Khabrain was third and the Jang was close at fourth position. These papers almost refuse to print the Ahmadiyya rebuttals, except occasionally when they spare some space not more than that of a postage stamp. The mullah, as a matter of policy, uses the vernacular press in his anti-Ahmadi campaign. The press is ever willing to co-operate.
Falsehood in the name of Allah
The present day Pakistani mullah and vernacular pressman may follow the edicts of their forebears or not, but some of them do cherish and avail of the convenient tool provided to them by some of their controversial and misguided clerics who decreed that falsehood in support of religion is permitted, indeed essential at times. These ulama include notables like Maudoodi, Rashid Ahmad Gangohi and Sanaullah Amratsari, great opponents of Jamaat Ahmadiyya. The most recent fabrication of their acolytes is the story that it is Ahmadis who devised and implemented the blasphemous caricatures in Denmark. How is that!
The story was initiated in London by someone called Dr Javed Kanwal, and was published in the daily Jang on its internet edition of March 3, 2006. This bogus doctor is not even a qualified dispenser. Reportedly Kanwal was in Italy from where he intimated what was happening in Denmark. In order to follow up the conspiracy, Kanwal came over to Pakistan. Here the mullahs loved his lie and started repeating it in their conferences which they were holding in the name of ‘honour of the Prophet’. Their statements were published in the vernacular press of Lahore without verification. The mullah built up a sand castle on the foundation provided by Kanwal. For example, mullah Allah Yar Arshad and his gang from Chiniot issued a statement that Qadianis declared at the Royal Hotel in Denmark that the prophetic era of Muhammad is over and has been replaced by that of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani… the real instigators of blasphemous caricatures are Qadianis; Mirza Masroor directed the event… Mirza Masroor should be arrested by Interpol and brought back to Pakistan, etc. etc. (The daily Aman, Faisalabad; March 8, 2006)
A few weeks later, this fabrication was on the wane. However, the mullah cannot be blamed for lack of effort. The present day Islam needs no enemies in the presence of friends like these who live on falsehood and trickery.
A wise comment
The daily Dawn, Lahore of July 16, 2006 in its flagship column on the editorial page produced an article titled ‘Anatomy of blasphemy laws’ by Professor Anwar Syed who is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, US. The essay is of great merit and thus a recommended reading. It not only analyses the issue ably, it proposes a wise solution as well. Mr. Syed, at the end of his essay refers to the impossible position of Ahmadis. An extract is reproduced below:
“The law says the Ahmadis must not call themselves Muslims and their faith Islam. This puts them in an impossible position. They are not merely pretending to be Muslim. They honestly and truly believe themselves to be Muslim. The law requires them to lie about their self-perception. It calls upon them to be duplicitous. This is incredible.
The law is repugnant not only to the universally accepted charter of human rights, to which Pakistan is a signatory, but also to its own Constitution, which guarantees all citizens the right and freedom to profess and practice religions of their choosing. It sanctifies horrendous intolerance and reduces Pakistan’s professions of moderation and enlightenment to gross hypocrisy.
Islam is quite capable of “protecting” itself, if we will let it be. Moves to ‘protect’ it, and the resulting controversies, have only worked to divide us as a people. The blasphemy law serves no useful purpose. It is simply an expression of the majority’s anger at a small minority that is deemed to be heretical.
In its actual operation it has visited unspeakable suffering upon innocent persons. Men of ill will have used it to wage personal vendettas, grab the weaker party’s property, or simply vent their malice.
Yet, given the likely opposition of the Islamic parties, it may be politically difficult to repeal this law. The British compromise might merit consideration: the law may remain on the Statue Book, but let it be ignored, and thus made inoperative.”
Qadianis: Pakistan’s death-wish
Lahore: Khalid Ahmed wrote a readable piece in his Review of the Urdu Press in the Daily Times, Lahore of 17 March 2006. Its copy is made available here.
Three articles from the English press
Ahmadiyya issue, for its religious nature, is often neglected by self-styled intellectuals and even human rights activists for excessive consideration for the majority community in Pakistan. It is rare that when they compile a list of objectionable religious laws they include the anti-Ahmadiyya laws in the list. The vernacular press finds it sales-promotive to spare plenty of space for the mullah for his rhetoric against Ahmadiyyat. The English language press however is more considerate, and occasionally publishes views and news that address to the human rights aspect of the Ahmadiyya issue. At the occasion of the 10th death anniversary of Professor Abdus Salam, the Ahmadi Nobel laureate in Physics, most of the English newspapers published articles, and some writers availed the occasion to voice their criticism of the tyranny perpetuated by the Ahmadi-specific constitutional amendment and laws. Three of these articles are reproduced here in the next three pages.
The Ahmadiyya Community is grateful to all such writers and their publishers, and acknowledges similar articles in the Urdu papers, such as the daily Express.