The vernacular press has also played its own role in this campaign. While far-right religious periodicals are only going about their sordid business when they stoke fires of sectarianism, regular press, however, is expected to be more responsible. Unfortunately that is not the case. When the subject is Ahmadis, the Urdu press of Pakistan has no compunction against giving inflammatory angle to news or highlighting demagogic and hateful speech. They appear to compete in providing print space for such stories. While this year’s statistics are still being compiled, last year, a few major Urdu dailies published in Lahore accounted for 1,468 news reports specific to Ahmadis. The editors of these papers, who like to pose as pundits of morality and righteousness, stand exposed as co-opted with the mullas in this campaign of breathtaking malice. Here we reproduce translation of some headlines published this year.
Qadianis are the worst enemies of Islam – Maulana Ilyas (Chinioti)
The Daily Musawat, Lahore; February 6, 2011
Qadiani place of worship in village 109 RB should be demolished. Maulvi Faqir Muhammad
The Daily Aman, Faisalabad; February 9, 2011
Qadianis are tearing the Constitution to pieces – Ilyas Chinioti
The Daily Waqt, Lahore; March 19, 2011
Anti-Ahmadiyya ordinance should be implemented in Chenab Nagar. Blasphemers of the Quran, the Prophet and the Companions threaten world peace. They promote disorder. Muslims and Islamic institutions in Chenab Nagar should be protected by the police and administration – Khalid Cheema (of Ahrar)
The Daily Ausaf, Lahore; March 28, 2011
The business of fake Prophethood should be banned in Pakistan, and Mirzais should be expelled from Pakistan. Non-Muslim Qadianis, Ahmadis, Mirzais should be deported so that they may run their business in Qadian, India, Gurdaspur. Maulvi Faqir Muhammad
The Daily Aman, Faisalabad; April 5, 2011
Swat-like operation should be carried out in Rabwah
Khatme Nabuwwat Conference (in Jhelum)
We hear of 5 thousand Qadianis who entered Pakistan after receiving terrorism training in Israel
The Daily Din, Lahore; April 8, 2011
The US, Israel and Qadianis are involved in terrorist activities. Maulana Abdullah Ludhianwi (of Majlis Khatme Nabuwwat)
The Daily Jang, Lahore; April 2, 2011
Qadianis are conspirators; people should rise to rid country of American spies. Khatme Nabuwwat Conference in Chicha Watni
The Daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; April 9, 2011
Qadianis are working for an Akhand Baharat (United India). Ataul Muhamamin (Ahrari)
The Daily Waqt, Lahore; April 9, 2011
Qadianis are busy destabilizing Pakistan. International Khatme Nabuwwat Movement
The Daily Post, Lahore; April 25, 2011
There is no state writ in Chenab Nagar. A Waziristan-like (military) operation is essential. Khatme Nabuwwat Conference
The Daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; May 15, 2011
Qadiani Dr. Abdus Salaam sold Pakistan’s nuclear secrets to the U.S. Majlis Ahrar
The Daily Ausaf, Lahore; May 30, 2011
Qadianis are a detestable move to destroy the unity of the Ummah. It should be undone by the state. Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat Conference (at Talha Gang)
The Daily Ausaf, Lahore; May 28, 2011
Qadiani gang is the worst enemy of Islam – Maulana Ilyas Chinioti
The Daily Musawat; Lahore, July 25, 2011
Western civilization and Qadianiat are two great evils of present times. Professor Khurshid (of Minhaj ul Quran)
The Daily Express; Faisalabad, July 5, 2011
Qadianis are agents of anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan elements
The Daily Din, Lahore; August 5, 2011
Sharia penalty (of death) for apostasy should be imposed at the earliest. Maulvi Faqir Muhammad
The Daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; August 10, 2011
Posting Qadiani teachers in educational institutions is a conspiracy against Islam and the government. Pir Atiq ur Rehman (former minister AJK)
The Daily Ausaf, Lahore; September 5, 2011
Non believers in Khatme Nabuwwat are Wajib-ul-Qatl (must be put to death). Ahle Hadith Youth Force
The Daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; September 20, 2011
Crushing the Qadiani mischief is important need of the hour. Syed Tahir Shah (Jamaat Ahle Sunnat)
The Daily Din, Lahore; November 1, 2011
With such provocative headlines circulating unchecked in the semi-literate society of Pakistan it would not be surprising if a general massacre of Ahmadis took place in Pakistan.
Incendiary news stories and op-eds appealing to meaner instincts are routinely published in the so-called respected press of the country. The daily Nawa-i-Waqt which is a leading right-wing paper, reported on September 7, 2011 that during the 1953 anti-Ahmadi riots in the Punjab 30,000 men were killed by security forces. A high level judicial inquiry however reported a total of 37 deaths only. The monthly Al-Saffaat, a women’s periodical, listed all those who had murdered alleged blasphemers during the past 14 centuries calling them blessed Ghazi and Shaheed (heroes and martyrs).
The daily Pakistan published an op-ed on Khatme Nabuwwat written by Allama Awaisi which referred to the founder of Ahmadiyya as “a badd bakht (wretched) whose aim was nothing but submission to the British. He was disloyal to his Holy Prophet (pbuh) and his religion, and sold his faith for a few pennies.” He also wrote, “Such great liars claimed prophecy in all ages but the lovers of the End of Prophethood put these liars to sword and dispatched them to hell.”
Some major Urdu newspapers also publish a special issue on September 7 celebrating the anniversary of the constitutional amendment that declared Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974. In their attempt to appease the mullas, they sadly ignore the fact that the particular amendment goes against the principles on which Pakistan was founded; that it helps the extremists’ agenda; that it is tearing apart the social fabric of Pakistan.
The Pakistani vernacular media, both print and electronic, have a poor reputation where high social values and communal harmony are concerned. As for the Ahmadiyya community, the Urdu press has played a very ugly role in its persecution. It lends itself to the mulla as a propaganda tool to propagate their most vicious lies and demands. It has played an unworthy role in leading the masses to the present turmoil and breakdown of the society. The electronic media, though to a lesser degree, has shared this questionable contribution.
Ahmadis’ human rights and the national Urdu press
Rabwah: Press Section of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya issued its annual report: Anti-Ahmadiyya news published by the Urdu newspapers – 2010. It makes harrowing reading.
The report was restricted to the major Urdu national dailies. During the year 2010, it was a matter of routine again for the Urdu papers to print anti-Ahmadiyya statements and hate-promoting news in bold headlines. However, no paper had the courage to print the Ahmadiyya viewpoint. In 2008, one thousand and thirty-three such news items appeared in the press; these increased in 2009 to one thousand, one hundred and sixteen items, and in 2010 these increased further to one thousand four hundred and sixty-eight. Almost all of these were prejudiced, hate-promoting and some even fabricated. The daily Nawa-i-Waqt (Editor: Majeed Nizami) printed the most news at 237 i.e. one almost every other day. The daily Ausaf (Editor: Mahtab Khan) stood second, and the daily Pakistan (Editor: Mujib ur Rahman Shami) was in third position.
Mullas are in the habit of making slanderous statements. These are published without any verification. As a result, common folk get agitated and inflict physical and material harm upon Ahmadis. As a result of such provocation and hateful propaganda ninety-nine Ahmadis were murdered last year for their faith.
A few of these headlines are translated below:
Qadianis are rebels of the country and the millat (Islamic society). Ilyas Chinioti
The daily Ausaf, Lahore; Jan 14, 2010
Qadianis and Blackwater are responsible for terrorism in Pakistan. Ataul Muhaiman
The daily Jang, Lahore; Oct 24, 2010
Qadianis should be expelled from the country. Maulvi Faqir Muhammad
The daily Aman, Faisalabad; Jun 10, 2010
Qadianis are our enemies and rebels of the country and the Millat (Islamic society). Abdul Latif
The daily Express, Faisalabad; June 24, 2010
Qadianis holding key posts are responsible for discord between the army, the judiciary and the democratic forces. Khatme Nabuwwat conference
The daily Pakistan, Lahore; Oct 16, 2010
Country-wide processions against blasphemous caricatures. America and Qadianis are the greatest blasphemers. Ulama Karam (respected clerics)
The daily Ausaf, Lahore; Jun 13, 2010
Qadianis are heretics, apostates and must be killed. Allama Abdur Rasheed Bilal
The daily Islam, Lahore; June 19, 2010
The penalty of death for apostasy should be imposed. Maulvi Faqir Muhammad
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; Sep 7, 2010
Confiscation of Ahmadiyya publications
According to a press report published in the daily Khabrain of November 10, 2011 the Punjab Government proscribed a number of religious publications and ordered all their copies to be forfeited. The headlines stated:
“Order to ban and confiscate copies of books, periodicals and translations containing objectionable material that hurt religious feelings”
The report lists four publications published by non-Ahmadi authors and four others published by Ahmadis.
It is not for us to comment on the contents of the non-Ahmadiyya publications, but as for the Ahmadiyya publications, we have not been able to locate the material therein that was considered ‘objectionable’. The authorities have also not indicated the same to us. In the past, authorities rarely responded to our request on such occasions to pinpoint the objectionable material. They however continue to ban Ahmadiyya publications, perhaps to tell the mulla that they wield the axe against Ahmadis too. A weird sense of ‘justice’.
Anti-Ahmadiyya hype through the vernacular press
Faisalabad: Urdu press has often been accused by the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan of serious and continuous violation of journalistic norms and ethics in the context of Ahmadiyya issue. Not that supporting evidence has not been provided by the community in the past, it will be appropriate to reproduce here some extracts of a recent op-ed from an Urdu daily to show the extent and style of the anti-Ahmadiyya propaganda that goes on despite the daunting political, social and security problems faced by the country.
The daily Aman, published from the major industrial city of Faisalabad, carried an op-ed titled “A Qadiani family” on December 15, 2011. Extracts (translation):
A Qadiani family
(Writer: M. Nadeem Khokhar)
… Despite all this, Qadianis do not appear to have relented. The evidence is all over the country, every day. They continue to blaspheme the religion of Islam by assuming Islamic names, praying like Muslims and keeping the Quran in their homes. It is essential to punish them with sentences provided in the law. Every Qadiani should be made to feel the heat of the law. Qadianis do not suffer the well-deserved impact of the law on account of shortage of police staff and the support of the so-called defenders of human rights. Cases come to the notice of the Ulama, and the Mujahideen of Khatme Nabuwwat warn the police that if effective action is not taken, the latter will be responsible for the breakdown in law and order. In such cases, the police makes the required effort to not only arrest the implicated Qadianis but also ensures that the courts award them appropriate punishments. A number of Qadiani families are always busy proselytizing, but avoid falling foul with the police and ulama….
One such family is that of a businessman in Faisalabad. The entire family has been Qadiani activists. Two years ago when the Ulama tightened the noose around them, the elder son fled from Pakistan along with his wife and children. The younger son lived in Lahore. When the ulama took notice of the head of the family, he also migrated to Lahore. This family continued with their activities in Lahore. In the face of heightened opposition, he also fled from Pakistan along with his wife and children. His son, however, continues with his community proselytization in Lahore. He had to shift his residence three times in Lahore, but he does not desist from his activities. Not only both the father and son continue to proselytize, his two sons living abroad maintain their contacts with simple-minded Muslims and preach Qadianiat to them. Their present address in Lahore is not known to us, but they remain in preaching contact with some Muslims. His three sons-in-law support him in the same manner as his sons. His elder son-in-law ought to be mentioned in particular; we think he is now residing in Lahore after his flight from Faisalabad. He is in contact with his childhood friend and class-fellow who lives in Madina Town Faisalabad and supports him to the hilt. If these people do not desist from their activities, peace will be disturbed. In such a situation, an ardent activist of Khatme Nabuwwat could forcibly quieten him or decide to impose the Sharia penalty of apostasy (death) on him; the ulama should not be blamed thereafter. This Qadiani has learnt no lesson from his children who had to flee abroad. They preferred to flee rather than renounce their disbelief (kufr). All the Muslims should beware of these people. They are sure to end up in disgrace sooner or later, and we ought have no social interaction with them whatsoever. Through this article, we request our readers to let us know if they come across these Qadianis or come to know of their address, so that we may take action against them under the anti-Qadiani law, through the police.”
Mr. Khokhar, the writer is not content with the fact that some members of his targeted family had to flee from the country, he is chasing those who had to shift to other locations in Pakistan. He has openly suggested to some ‘ardent’ fellow-Muslims to impose the Sharia penalty (of death) on his targeted family, or at least let him know the address so that he can do the needful. The daily Aman has happily provided ample space to this preacher of hate and violent crime.
A story on the Ahmadiyya daily in The Express Tribune, Karachi
The following story on the Jamaat Ahmadiyya daily Alfazl, was published in the Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine on October 9, 2011. It describes well the situation faced by the Ahmadiyya press in the last 27 years, and is suitable for placing on record.
Daily Alfazl: 98 years and counting
The list of words that the Daily Alfazl cannot use. Editors replace the words with dots, leaving readers to figure out what was redacted from the original text.
It is only at mid-afternoon that most bleary-eyed sub-editors start thinking about heading to their respective newsrooms. But for the 15-memebr editorial team at the daily Alfazl, that’s usually when the paper is being sent to the press.
It is far from a conventional broadsheet. The Jamaat Ahmadiyya’s Daily Alfazl newspaper started off as a weekly in 1913. Almost a century later, the paper is still in circulation, despite the bans, threats and legal issues that followed the introduction of Ahmadi-specific laws.
At the newspaper’s office in Rabwah in Chiniot District, the impact of those laws is tangible.
While proofers at other publications look for factual and grammatical errors, staffers at the daily Alfazl have a different set of tasks. In 1984 a sign was placed in the proofers room, featuring a list of words the Daily Alfazal cannot use in line with the ‘Anti-Islamic Activities of the Qadiani Group, Lahori Group and Ahmadi (Prohibition and Punishment) Ordinance, which was promulgated that year, intriguingly, editors replace the words they cannot use with dots, leaving readers to figure out what was redacted from the original text. The prohibited words include ‘Muslim’, Azan and Tabligh.
At one point, according to editor Abdul Sami Khan, there were over a hundred lawsuits against the paper’s printer and publisher. And even though the Daily Alfazl is only circulated within the Ahmadiyya Community, objections have been raised by people incensed at the mere sight of its masthead. It has been banned several times, and its printing press was sealed for a year in 1953, during riots against the Ahmadi community. Shipments of the paper are often delayed at the post office.
This isn’t the only publication people have been offended by, “People have had issues with the children’s magazine as well,” says Khan. According to the Ahmadi watchdog website, www.thepersecution.org cases have been instituted against five monthly magazines and the newspaper itself, as well as books published by the community. The Daily Alfazl also receives no government advertisements, a key source of revenue for most publications.
“We used to get advertisements before 1974 (the year amendments declaring Ahmadis non-Muslims were introduced in the constitution.” says Khan, “Not anymore, instead, the newspaper runs ads from local advertisers or large businesses run by members of the community.”
The slim newspaper – which publishes 9,000 copies daily – is primarily a journal for the community, featuring sermons and local news. A weekly edition is published in the UK.
But were Daily Alfazl tasked with refuting the allegations made against the Ahmadiyya community in the local press, it would have to produce at least a 40-page edition daily. Coverage of the community in the mainstream Urdu press mostly ranges from vitriolic diatribes to headlines that can only be described as bizarre – and at least one such headline is recycled every year without fail. According to an official at the Jamaat Ahmadiyya press section, a story alleging that Ahmadis had enlisted in the Israeli army has been doing the rounds for several years. “When the story was first published, the government of Pakistan issued a clarification to say that no Pakistanis were serving in the Israeli army.” he said, “But that story is reprinted every year regardless.”
The Jamaat Ahmadiyya also maintains a record of anti-Ahmadi stories published in newspapers printed from Lahore. In 2010, it recorded 1,468 news stories against the community, the majority of which were in seven of the most popular Urdu newspapers in the country.
That’s not all. Pakistani newspapers also refused to run a paid-for advertisement by the Jamaat which detailed its reasons for boycotting the 2008 general elections.
Ironically, the Pakistani media has unwittingly promoted the Ahmadiyya community’s places of worship, which cannot be called mosques for legal reasons. In 2009, as furor built up over a referendum in Switzerland to ban minarets, images of a mosque in the European country were published throughout Pakistan. Editors would be shocked to realize that the Swiss mosque being defended in the Pakistani press actually belongs to the same community they prefer to vilify.
Before leaving Rabwah, my copies of the daily Alfazl and books are wrapped up in brown paper to evade scrutiny. Or, as a Jamaat representative wryly remarks, blasphemy charges. While I only have to hide the publications for a few hours, for the editors and readers of the Daily Alfazl, this is a daily battle – one that shows no signs of ending anytime soon.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, October 9, 2011
Right-wing press and the minorities’ human rights
Lahore: We produce below translation of a para from an editorial of the daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore, the leading and influential vernacular newspaper of the right-wing nationalist majority in Pakistan, published on March 13, 2011:
“The West should be told that the Blasphemy law is unchangeable
“The resolution moved in the US House of Representative referred to the Quaid-e-Azam’s statement: ‘You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.’ In fact, this is the command of the Quaid that has been the most obeyed in the country. Every government here has acted most fairly and without bias. Minorities in Pakistan, like the majority, have complete freedom to practice their religion. Their places of worship are present and protected. …”
We need not comment.
Mulla demands expulsion of Ahmadis from Pakistan
Faisalabad; April 5, 2011: Maulvi Faqir Muhammad the Information Secretary of the Aalami Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat feels no pangs of remorse in demanding the expulsion of all Ahmadis from Pakistan for the reason that they interpret the Finality of Prophethood a bit differently. The daily Aman of Faisalabad reported the following in headlines on April 5, 2011:
The business of fake prophethood should be closed down and Mirzais should be expelled from the country. Maulvi Faqir Ahmad
Non-Muslim Qadianis, Ahmadis, Mirzais should be thrown out of Pakistan and told to run the business of fake prophethood in Gurdaspur, India.
The Blasphemy law is operative in Pakistan; the penalty for its violation is Death; as such, no denier of the End of Prophethood can claim to be a fake Prophet.
Faisalabad (Press Release) …
Freedom House: Report on control of cyberspace
Karachi: Freedom House released a global study of internet freedom in 37 countries. It is titled: Freedom on the Net 2011. It assesses that successive Pakistani governments have “adopted various measures to exert some control over cyberspace and the sharing of information online.”
An excerpt from the Report, published in The Express Tribune on April 20, 2011 mentions an Ahmadiyya website:
“The report also highlights the block on the website of Lal Masjid and The Baloch Hal (which focuses on news from Baluchistan). However, it says the website of the World Sindhi Institute is blocked, which was accessible in Pakistan at the time of filing this report. Other websites to which access has been blocked off and on include thepersecution.org (focused on issues of the Ahmadiyya Community.)”
“It highlights that “by contrast, Facebook and Twitter postings by banned Islamic groups such as Hizbut Tahrir, including comments inciting violence against the Ahmadi religious minority, have been allowed to circulate with few restrictions.”
A WikiLeak of great import
Karachi: The daily Dawn of May 22, 2011 published a secret US cable accessed by this newspaper through WikiLeaks. Extracts:
KARACHI: A US official in a cable sent to the State Department stated that ‘financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in south Punjab from organizations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.
The cable sent in November 2008 by Bryan Hunt, the then Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Lahore, was based on information from discussions with local government and non-governmental sources during his trips to the cities of Multan and Bahawalpur. …
Hunt refers to a ‘network of Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith mosques and madrassahs being strengthened through an influx of “charity” which originally reached organizations such as “Jamaat-ud-Da‘wa and Al-Khidmat foundation”. Portions of these funds would then be given away to clerics ‘in order to expand these sects’ presence’ in a relatively inhospitable yet potentially fruitful recruiting ground.
Outlining the process of recruitment for militancy, the cable describes how ‘families with multiple children’ and ‘severe financial difficulties’ were generally being exploited for recruitment purposes. Families first approached by ‘ostensibly charitable organizations’ would later be introduced to a local Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith maulana who would offer to educate the children at his madrassah and ‘find them employment in the service of Islam’. ‘Martyrdom’ was also ‘often discussed’, with a final cash payment to the parents. Local sources claim that the current average rate is approximately Rs. 500,000 (approximately USD 6,500) per son, the cable states. …
Recruits ‘chosen for jihad’ would then be taken to ‘more sophisticated indoctrination camps’. ‘Locals identified three centers reportedly used for this purpose.’ Two of the centers were stated to be in the Bahawalpur district, whereas one was reported as situated ‘on the outskirts of Dera Ghazi Khan city’. These centers ‘were primarily used for indoctrination’, after which ‘youths were generally sent on to more established training camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and then on to jihad either in FATA, NWFP, or as suicide bombers in settled areas’.
The cable goes on to quote local officials criticizing the PML-N-led provincial and the PPP-led federal governments for their ‘failure to act’ against ‘extremist madrassas or known prominent leaders such as Jaish-i-Mohammad’s Masood Azhar’.
The Bahawalpur district Nazim at the time told Hunt that despite repeatedly highlighting the threat posed by extremist groups and indoctrination centers to the provincial and federal governments, he had received ‘no support’ in dealing with the issue unless he was ready to change his political loyalties. The Nazim, who at the time was with the PML-Q “blamed politics, stating that unless he was wiling to switch parties … neither the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz provincial nor the Pakistan Peoples Party federal governments would take his requests seriously.”
A rare op-ed
Lahore: One does not come across pro-Ahmadiyya op-ed often in the press – almost never in vernacular dailies. However, the English press in Pakistan does take courage occasionally to say something positive and helpful on the Ahmadiyya issue. The prestigious The Friday Times printed a ‘TFT Special’ by Yasser Latif Hamdani in its recent issue of May 27, 2011 and gave it the title: A minority without rights.
Hamdani is forthright and bold in his article. He is of the opinion that by making every citizen who applies for a passport sign a statement abusing Ahmadis and their religious beliefs, the state commits a crime under its own law PPC 295-A.
Hamdani is also of the view that now that the word ‘freely’ has been restored in the Objectives Resolution of the constitution, the judiciary has a fresh opportunity to correct a wrong against Ahmadis, that was committed by a martial law regime.
This article is very readable and actionable. It is reproduce here: A minority without rights – Friday Times.
‘Qadianis’ accused of violation of the constitution
Lahore: September 10, 2011: According to the instructions of the Election Commission in August 2011, separate voters’ lists are to be prepared for Ahmadis – despite Joint Electorates. Any applicant who requests registration as a Muslim voter has to sign a certificate that he has unconditional faith in the ‘end of prophethood’ and that he is not an Ahmadi. Ahmadis have decided not to participate in elections in view of blatant discrimination.
The daily Jang of September 10, 2011 reported in a three-column report that leaders of the Khatme Nabuwwat Lawyers Forum expressed strong objection to Ahmadis not accepting their non-Muslim status imposed on them by law. Extracts of the Jang report are translated below:
Chiniot: (correspondent) Malik Rab Nawaz Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan addressed the conference and said that the parliament had accepted the unanimous resolution and declared the Qadiani and Lahori followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani Kafir (infidel), but this group has not accepted their Kafirana (infidel) legal status. He pointed out to Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhri, the Chief Justice that it is the duty of the Supreme Court to ensure implementation of the constitution. … He further asserted that Muslims have not usurped the rights of Qadiani and Lahori groups, but it is Jamaat Ahmadiyya that has usurped Muslims’ rights…”
This Forum is not content only with the discrimination against Ahmadis, it wants them to be punished for not accepting the discrimination.