The Media-2015

The Media



Ahmadiyya annual report on persecution and press overview

Rabwah; April 13, 2015:        Press Section of the Directorate of Public Affairs of Ahmadiyya central office in Pakistan released its annual Urdu Press Overview Report 2014 and Persecution of Ahmadis Report 2014. The text of Press Release is reproduced below:

Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan has issued its annual report on persecution and Urdu press review

Rabwah: (PR) The spokesperson of Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan Saleemuddin issued the annual persecution report for 2014 and said that in 2014 the hatred and persecution against Ahmadis increased, and violence took a new shape. 11 Ahmadis lost their lives because of their faith, and this year more deaths were in the Punjab. In Punjab’s city of Gujranwala a vigilante mob burnt the properties of Ahmadis and killed three innocent humans including a woman and two children. The worst part but a norm in such crimes against Ahmadis was police presence that stood there doing nothing to protect the Ahmadis. As usual the police and state of Pakistan failed on many occasions to protect Ahmadi lives.

Saleemuddin said that the campaign to boycott Ahmadis socially has moved from the mosques and conferences to common man. More and more stickers and posters are visible now across Pakistan where increasing number of shops and public transport vehicles such as taxis have such stickers to stop Ahmadis from coming to their businesses. Such stickers openly claim that Ahmadis are not allowed to enter these shops and taxis and it is wrong and forbidden to do business with them. It’s happening right under the nose of the governments in Islamabad and Lahore and many other cities and towns of Pakistan. The hate campaign against Ahmadis is spread across Pakistan but the government is doing nothing to even address the issue, let alone do something. It’s not just limited to the living, but even dead Ahmadis are not spared as in Chak 96-GB in Jaranwala district Faisalabad where uniformed police took hammers and broke tomb stones of Ahmadi graves and desecrated their graves. We have yet to see iron hand of law and its enforcement agencies in curtailing and curbing miscreants on the other hand.

The spokesperson said that Pakistan media’s attitude towards Ahmadis is seriously questionable whereas it is their responsibility to give true and accurate news to its readers and viewers but it fails to do so. It is also their responsibility not to publish any hate material or news based on bias and hatred of a community. Yet around 2000 news stories and articles were published against Ahmadis in 2014, some of them containing grave threats. This is just an estimate from the newspapers that are accessible to Jamaat’s press office. The real number is much higher and threats are very serious.

The electronic media’s bigotry is visible from the fact that Pakistani news channel “Aaj TV” that airs BBC Urdu’s TV program Sairbeen refused to air the program on 31 July 2014 that had a report about the Gujranwala incident in it. It has also refused to air another program that contained a report about Ahmadis during the same year.

When the government of Pakistan and all its political and military leadership unanimously decided to lift the moratorium on death penalty and there was consensus against terrorists, the apologists of such terrorists were given free airtime on a morning show on Geo TV. The host of this program, a so called religious scholar allowed the participants to spew hatred against Ahmadis and encouraged them to opine that Ahmadis were behind all this, and then endorsed their views clearly. Yet nobody raised an eye brow and the media regulator PEMRA did nothing whatsoever to even send a forceful show cause notice to the channel or this host.

The spokesman said that Ahmadiyya-specific discriminatory laws are against basic human rights and international agreements that Pakistan is a signatory to. They are also against the Pakistan that its founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah created. These laws are increasingly becoming a tool in the hands of miscreants and militants. It’s high time that government should end this bigotry and discrimination.

After the notorious 1984 anti-Ahmadiyya ordinance till 31 December 2014, 249 Ahmadis have been killed because of their faith. 317 Ahmadis were target of assassination attempts, 27 Ahmadi places of worship were destroyed, 31 were sealed illegally by authorities and construction of 52 places of worship was stopped. 39 Ahmadi dead bodies were desecrated after their burial when their graves were dug out. 65 Ahmadis were not allowed to be buried in common graveyards that are for everybody.

Rabwah was named by the government as Chenab Nagar against the wishes of its 95 per cent population who are Ahmadi, who cannot hold a gathering in the city but the miscreants and militants are allowed to openly bring all sorts of rallies into town and hold gatherings without any consultation and regard of its majority Ahmadi residents. The participants and speakers of these rallies openly abuse the respected elders of the community and the police give them full protection. Ahmadis on the other hand are not even allowed to organize sports events, let alone religious gatherings.

Ahmadis face problems in their businesses and work places where there is constant harassment, abuse and sometime naked violence. The same situation is at educational institutions where Ahmadi students have to live with constant bullying and harassment because of their faith.

The spokesperson of Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan has appealed to sane voices in Pakistan to urge the government to end the prejudice and persecution on the basis of faith and do something to end this vicious cycle of violation of basic human rights. So the country could prosper and rid itself from this menace of extremism and terrorism.

A candid comment by a courageous lady in a confident daily

Lahore:           Ms. Gul Bokhari wrote an op-ed titled ‘Resolve? hardly…’. And the daily The Nation published it on January 4, 2015. It is about the resolve of the state in its war on terror by putting a stop to hate speech and incitement to violence. The op-ed refered specifically to the sectarian outburst of a mulla on GEO TV in a show hosted by Aamir Liaquat Hussain. The mulla stated: Ahmadis were behind the massacre in the school in Peshawar, they are enemy of all of us (Muslims), they promote blasphemy, they cause bloodshed, etc. Extracts:

Resolve? hardly…

…In the unique war against terror that the Pakistan government and military has resolved to fight finally, one might have thought the government machinery would have swung into action to strike at the heart of terror in this country: religion based killings. The state did not have to pass new laws immediately, though there is a need to beef up the punishments to make them harsher, with the severity of the crimes. But no, what did the government do when Dr Amir Liaqat Husain, together with religious hate mongers (also known as Ulama whom Hussain invites regularly to his show)? It got PEMRA to issue a mealy mouthed notice to Geo. And I shall reproduce parts of it below word for word:

…This is the mealy mouthed notice an arm of the government issued to Geo News, without indicting the host of the show or, directly, the channel itself. This is the commitment of the government to rooting out terror permanently, it neither dared name the molvis preaching hatred against the Ahmadis, citizens of this country, nor named the host of the show, nor lay blame directly on the channel for having done this repeatedly and having got Ahmadi persons killed in this country.

And aside from this media law which deals with penalties, the government cravenly failed to bring criminal charges against all concerned in this act of terrorism. Indeed, one person has already been killed as a result of this programme. But all the sections of the penal code that the government could have used to book the criminals involved in this incidence were never used.

Right to life is surely more fundamental than the right to spew hate and incite violence and murder?

The first thing the government ought to have done was to book the molvis, the host and the audience under the readily available sections of the penal code. Together, all the codes mentioned earlier cover spreading religious strife, abetment, incitement of violence etc. However, the PML-N government is happy to hide behind PEMRA ordinance and military courts. If it really meant to do justice to the Peshawar APS victims, and all other victims of religious extremists, it would have shown its resolve by indicting the beasts preaching killings openly on national television.

I am sorry – but they have shown anything but sincerity with this act.

The security of minorities is necessary, but …        (not of Ahmadis)

The following is translation of an extract from the daily Islam’s editorial of October 17, 2015.

… In reality, recent American step is a well-planned conspiracy to amend or abrogate the Tahaffuz-e-Namus-e-Risalat Act in the beloved country and to reinstate the followers of the Qadiani religion in the Muslim brotherhood, whom the constitution of Pakistan has unanimously declared to be a non-Muslim minority. There is no doubt that Qadianiat was planted by the English colonizers. It has nothing to do with Islam and Muslims. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani played a very despicable role in promoting obedience, loyalty and support among Muslims for the imperial British Raj in the subcontinent. After the independence till today his disciples have proved their enmity to Pakistan, at every occasion. It is true that despite their status as non-Muslims, there is a guarantee of protection of their minority rights in the state’s constitution. However, Qadianis spared no effort to deceive the less educated Muslims by using Islamic credos and signs to preach and propagate their false religion; this led to the promulgation of Anti-Qadianiat Ordinance in 1984. Since then Qadiani lobby is crying falsely to the world of its victimization and persecution in Pakistan. Satanic forces should never forget that the dominant majority of Pakistanis believe in the dogma of End of Prophethood and will sacrifice everything for its protection. Every Ideological and Islamic aspect of our God-given country rankles in the heart of the world powers, for this reason all kinds of conspiracies are being hatched to declare Pakistan a secular state. This sensitive situation demands a deep consideration by the mindful and informed section of the society.

 A Vulnerable minority

Karachi:          The daily Dawn the leading English language daily in Pakistan made the following editorial comment in its issue of October 7, 2015 on Ahmadis’ situation in Pakistan:


PERSECUTION can be overt at times, subtle and insidious at others; and most people would likely agree that it is an ugly, despicable thing. However, there is one minority community in Pakistan — the Ahmadis — against whom persecution of both kinds not only exists but is celebrated as a virtue by sections of the majority.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan held a consultative meeting with members of the community on Sunday to explore the issue and perhaps, in the process, attempt to hold up a mirror to society’s unconscionable collusion in discrimination against them.

On the occasion, examples were cited from various aspects of life, including educational institutions and the workplace, where they are subjected to humiliation and harassment, as well as in the media — where hate speech against them may have even incited the murder of some members of the community.

The HRCP panelists recounted Pakistan’s legislative history whereby adherents of the minority faith were declared non-Muslim through a constitutional amendment in 1974; that was later followed by Gen Ziaul Haq making it a punishable offence for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim, to refer to their call to prayer as ‘azan’ or their places of worship as ‘masjid’.

The HRCP deserves to be commended for highlighting an issue that the conscience of society has long buried. Years of institutionalised discrimination against the Ahmadi community and its persistent vilification have led to a situation where even the mass murder of its members in Lahore on May 28, 2010 failed to elicit the kind of public outrage that such carnage should have merited — and has done so in the case of similar attacks on adherents of other minority faiths.

But then, why should one be surprised at such callous indifference when the state, duty-bound to protect the fundamental rights of all its citizens, has left the community’s right to religious freedom entirely at the mercy of what the majority considers acceptable?

This carte blanche is best reflected in Section 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which stipulates that an Ahmadi is liable to sanctions if he “in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims”: such an open-ended law cannot promote the cause of justice.

Now that there is a realisation that religious intolerance has spawned many of the problems that Pakistan is grappling with today, there must be a resolve to eliminate it in all its forms — without exception.

A good news from Rabwah and its shoddy reporting by vernacular press

Rabwah; May 21, 2015:         Rabwah had a rare happy occasion to report in the field of education. According to media reports, Miss Sitara Burooj Akbar, a 15-year old girl from here had the honour of being the youngest female student in the world to receive nine ‘bands’ out of nine in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. Earlier she had won distinction of clearing ‘O’ level in Chemistry at the age of nine. When 11, she set world record of being youngest girl to complete O level. She set another record by achieving A level at the age of 13.

In a statement to the press she said that she was happy to bring this honour to Pakistan and she hoped that her achievement will prompt Pakistani girls to excel in education.

Most of the Urdu newspapers decided not to publish the news. The daily Jang, Express and Dunya reported the story but did not have the stomach to report that Miss Akbar was from Rabwah (or Chenab Nagar, as such an Ahmadi); instead she was incorrectly reported to be a resident of Chiniot. The same day, the daily Islam decided to suppress this story; instead it published the statement by Majlis Khatme Nabuwwat: Qadianiat in death throes. The next day the daily Jang spared plenty of its space to the memory of mulla Khan Muhammad, the ‘Mujahid Khatme Nabuwwat’.

The daily Ausaf, however, distinguished itself by the mention that Miss Akbar was a resident of Chenab Nagar.

P.S. As per press report Mr. Afzaal (Ahmad Zeeshan), another youth from Rabwah was awarded Computer Programming Award as he stood first in 2014 ranking for computer programming as Most Valuable Professional of international website C-Sharp Corner. The daily Ausaf; May 19, 2015

Threats of sectarianism

Lahore; August 26, 2015:      The daily Dawn chose to write an editorial with the above title. Some extracts:

“There remains a troubling disconnect between what the government claims and the reality on the ground when it comes to the state’s attempts to fight sectarianism. …

“A key part of the problem is that the state appears not to have given much thought to what constitutes sectarianism and the violence it engenders. If that were to be done and meaningful action taken, sectarian groups like the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan could not simply morph into the ASWJ or another avatar at some later point.

“By defining sectarianism clearly and robustly, the focus would be on the leaders spewing hate and the recruits perpetrating the violence — a change from the present nonsensical approach of simply banning organisations and waiting for them to appear in a new form.”…

It is known to all concerned that a number of organizations that spawn intense sectarianism operate under the umbrella of charity and some tenets like ‘end of prophethood’, honour of the Prophet, status of the Companions, etc. Their operations are partly in the open but a lot is planned and implemented from behind closed-doors. Their funding is opaque but sources are known to authorities.

The Dawn took due notice of this threat although the space available to the editor was perhaps restricted to cover all aspects of this issue.

 Addressing constitutional takfir

Lahore:           The prestigious The Friday Times published a very readable and apt op-ed with the above title by Kunwar Khuldune Shahid in its issue of September 11, 2015. For its value, the article is reproduced below in entirety.


While Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s statement on Monday on taking “action against those calling others kafir (non-Muslim)” has been lauded on multiple fronts, the state’s duplicity on takfir (excommunicating a person or sect) was simultaneously called out. It is ironic that the government’s arguably refreshing stance against mudslinging accusations of apostasy was highlighted on the 41st anniversary of the Second Amendment to the Pakistani Constitution, which ‘officially’ excommunicated the Ahmadiyya sect under the auspices of Pakistan’s ‘first democratically elected leader’ Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

In his press conference on September 7, while discussing potential madrassa reform, Nisar claimed that the government had ‘already tackled hate speech and [the] glorification of terrorists in the first phase’ of the National Action Plan (NAP). The Punjab Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Rana Sanaullah declared a couple of weeks ago that, “not a single madrassa in (Punjab) was reported to have any links with militancy.” So where is hate speech being ‘tackled’ if the hubs are being given the state’s green signal?

If the federal ministers believe that none of the “13,787 geo-tagged seminaries” in Punjab deem the Shia to be infidels and, in turn, wajib-ul-qatl (worthy of being murdered), the state is clearly not serious about tackling internal militancy. To claim that none of these madrassas calls for the murder of Ahmadis is tantamount to burying one’s head in the sand, leaving one’s neck exposed to the mercy of the machete. To link the spread of wajib-ul-qatl edicts to the ensuing militancy really is a simple equation. And yet our federal ministers fail to find the most obvious of links.

To give the madrassas a clean bill of health means that the government is not interested in tackling takfir, which is something embedded in our social setup. According to a Pew Survey in 2012, when Shia killings in Pakistan had peaked, only 50% of the surveyed Pakistanis accepted the Shia as Muslims – 7% for Ahmadis.

With soaring levels of bigotry and xenophobia, the state’s ostensible action against religious extremism, which doesn’t even address – let alone counter – its ideological origins, will continue to boomerang on Pakistan after every span of militarily enforced ‘peace’. Furthermore, as long as the Constitution of Pakistan itself continues to play God and give verdicts on who can and can’t call oneself a Muslim, any government claims of going after takfir or hate speech remain laughable.

The Second Amendment to Pakistan’s Constitution and Ordinance XX of the Penal Code, which bars Ahmadis from “posing as Muslims” and using Islamic titles or salutations, are a direct breach of, among other codes, the UN’s Human Rights Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Pakistan’s own Constitution. Not only does the Pakistani Constitution vow to protect every citizen’s “right to life and liberty” – with the right to self-identify being a fundamental part – it sanctions the “freedom to profess religion” and “freedom of religious institution”.

What’s ironic in Pakistan’s jurisprudential bigotry is this: not only does the Constitution violate its own guarantee to protect Ahmadis’ freedom to self-identify and profess religion by sanctioning their non-Muslim status, it also does not allow their ideology the rights that other religions have. And so, while the Ordinance XX forces Ahmadis to call their mosques ‘places of worship’, Ahmadi religious institutions and figures aren’t protected, let alone deemed worthy of esteem, even as representatives of a separate religion.

When the Penal Code criminalises a community’s reading of the Quran and Islamic scriptures – the very text that’s supposed to encourage ‘non-believers’ to convert to Islam – it’s obvious that the state isn’t even ready to consider Ahmadis ‘deviants’ who might be encouraged to return to the ‘true path’; it is merely bent on marginalising the community through every possible means. This is further clarified by the state needing every ‘Muslim’ citizen’s signature on a document declaring Ahmadis non-Muslims in order to get ID cards or passports. For a state clamouring that it has ‘already tackled hate speech’ through the NAP, that declaration forcibly endorsed by hordes on a daily basis at NADRA and passport offices, is the most repulsive exhibition of official, government-sanctioned hate speech.

And so, with the state play-acting a no-nonsense approach towards takfir and hate speech, will it first address its own exhibits of bigotry? Will it take “strict action” against itself for forcing on the entire nation the official, bigoted view of a community? Will the much-lauded NAP include Pakistan’s own Constitution as a document that authorises xenophobia, resulting in incidents like the Shab-e-Qadr mob violence in 1995 and the May 2010 massacre in Lahore, among countless others?

When the country’s topmost politician Nawaz Sharif has to retract his statement calling Ahmadis ‘brothers’ in the aftermath of the 2010 attacks, when renowned TV anchor Aamir Liaquat Hussain hosts multiple shows inciting violence against the community, and when top government officials and public figures participate in hate campaigns and conferences that target the community, the state’s complicity in anti-Ahmaddiya hate crime is evident. The police desecrating Ahmadi graves and parliamentarians like Ilyas Chinioti calling for “war to be waged against Ahmadis” reflect the perfectly legal status of Ahmaddiya persecution.

Clamours to apostatise the Shia community, propagated by the likes of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Sipah Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), now known as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) – all with hubs in Punjab – have their roots in Pakistani ‘democrats’ succumbing to calls for Ahmaddiya excommunication in 1974. The same calls are being made for everyone who does not adhere to a bigoted and narrow version of Islam. And so, it shouldn’t be particularly difficult to understand that undoing this chain of takfir is only possible if the state undoes its own Constitutional takfir – one that has exacerbated calls for blasphemy and murder over the past 41 years.

 Al-Faisal Town, Lahore Cantt; June 7, 2015:                      The mullas of madrassa Anwar ul Aloom here decided to come out in the street in their anti-Ahmadi drive. They came out after 1:00 p.m. and distributed leaflets to the pedestrians in the bazar. They put up stickers here and there and distributed hateful calendars and posters.

 A researcher’s views on the Second Amendment to the constitution, concerning Ahmadis

The News on Sunday of September 6, 2015 published an interview. We produce below some extracts from it. The opening paras introduced the subject as follows:

On September 7, 1974, exactly 40 years ago (sic), the Second Amendment to the Constitution that declared Ahmadis as non-Muslims was passed. It was a kind of culmination of their social ostracisation that began after the intense and violent anti-Ahmadiyya movement of the early 1950s. Thereafter, they became non-Muslims legally speaking. But then the ulema began their next set of demands which led to the promulgation of Ordinance XX in 1984 during Ziaul Haq’s rule. This effectively curtailed their social and political exclusion in every manner possible.

An academic work drawing sustenance from research and open discussion has the potential to influence public discourse which seems to have reached a dead end in this case. This is how one should read Ali Usman Qasmi’s recent book Ahmadis and the Politics of Religious Exclusion in Pakistan. Pathbreaking and insightful, the book relies on the recently declassified parliamentary debates from 1974 as well as the proceedings of the Munir Inquiry Committee.

A PhD in South Asian History, Ali Usman Qasmi who teaches at LUMS shared his thoughts on the book which is going to be available in Pakistan in December this year. Excerpts of interview follow.

(Note: In view of the shortage of space, only parts of the interview are reproduced below.)


TNS: What is the sense that you got out of the 1974 parliamentary debates?

AUQ: The way the discussions were held was determinant of the outcome itself….

The second was a sort of a gap between the theological debate taking place between the Attorney General and the Ahmadi representative and the sense that ordinary members of the Assembly were getting. Once the cross examination ended, individual members of the assembly got up to make speeches which showed they had not understood much of what was debated for 30 days or so. They did not know what the term Khatam e Nabuwat meant or the nuances which the Ahmadi representative was trying to invoke.

This comes out very strongly that there is a communication gap as a theological issue was being translated into a precise legal statement or legal question.

TNS: Were they aware that probably parliament was not the correct forum to debate such an issue?

AUQ: That’s the key point. That was the main argument of the Ahmadis themselves because they said that this parliament is not sovereign in anything it wants to do. It has put certain restrictions, like individual rights and so on, on itself which it cannot undo. It cannot go outside that framework.

The way the discussions were held was determinant of the outcome. My understanding is that the ulema had become very influential. So it was difficult for Bhutto to deny them the kind of role they came to play during the proceedings of 1974.

But I think the ulema’s point of view since the 1950s or since 1947 has been that since Pakistan has been declared an Islamic state, since the Basic Principles Committee report says that the head of the state should be a Muslim, it is therefore necessary that a Muslim should be defined and a non-Muslim should be excluded from exercising the same rights that are exclusively held for a Muslim.

So this distinction between a believer citizen and a non-believer citizen is pretty much there. Until and unless you do away with this distinction it will inevitably come to the point where the parliament or state will be involved in questions relating to religion.…

TNS: But it was Bhutto who decided to bring this issue to the parliament?

AUQ: Yes that was Bhutto’s decision. In my interaction and interviews with different people the reasons have been brought forth. For instance Dr Mubashir Hassan says the pressure was coming from Saudi Arabia and by that time India’s atomic explosions had also happened. They said that if you want financial aid from us, do this. But then the question comes up that if Saudi Arabia wanted something done, why would it be this?

Ahmadis have their own point of view. They believe that Saudis wanted to claim leadership of the Muslims. They were emerging with petrodollars at the time and had started financing madrassas and Islamic groups throughout the Muslim world.

TNS: Where do you see Allama Iqbal in this entire debate? Was his definition of Muslim brought before the Munir Commission in any way?

AUQ: The definition of a Muslim has been there in the Anglo-Muhammadan law since the late 19th century. And the definition is that anyone who recites the kalima is a Muslim for legal purposes. It had been there until the 1980s, when it was changed.

TNS: We have come to a point where we feel the issue of Ahmadis can only be discussed in a purely academic way. Do you see this book as a window of opportunity or a loss of hope?

AUQ: Basically, people at large are not opposed to Ahmadis because they have listened to the Attorney General’s arguments in 1974 or because they have seen the evidence or read Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s writings. They oppose or hate them because they have been fed a certain opinion about the Ahmadis and there is no scope or possibility for a counter response coming from the Ahmadis.

At this point it can only be hoped that this work will lead to academic discussion that will in turn influence the larger public discourse as well.

The problem is that there is a human crisis; our concern is how to resolve this human crisis. This crisis cannot necessarily be addressed through legal or constitutional means. It requires changing the minds of people and influencing their opinion. This can only happen through research and open discussion. Only then we might be able to avoid the impending human disaster which is in the making. (emphasis added)

Apparently Qasmi (AUQ) does not go into the right and wrong of the grave decision taken through the Amendment No. II and its ramifications in the nation’s future; he is more concerned with narrating the flow of events, what caused them and their nature. The conclusion that he draws at the end of his interview is an alarm bell – loud and clear.

 HRCP alarmed by Pak opposition to UN resolution for rights defenders

Lahore, December 1, 2015: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed its alarm and serious dismay over Pakistan voting last week against a United Nations General Assembly resolution that called for recognizing the role of human rights defenders (HRDs) and the need for their protection.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Commission said: “HRCP welcomes the passing of the UN General Assembly resolution, titled ‘Recognizing the role of human rights defenders and the need for their protection’, by 117 votes on November 25. It is unfortunate that the resolution had to be put to vote this year and could not be adopted by consensus as had been the norm in the past.

“At the same time, HRCP must express alarm and great disappointment that Pakistan chose to be one of the 14 nations that voted against the resolution.

“It is ominous that all 14 countries opposing the resolution are from the Afro-Asian region, as is the predominant majority of the 40 states that abstained from voting. The HRDs in the region work in such perilous circumstances that the hope was for the states to be more enthusiastic about protecting them and facilitating their work. It seems that the rights defenders are going to have a rough time in Asia and Africa in the coming days.

“While regretting Pakistan’s decision to oppose the resolution, the civil society is entitled to ask what rights defenders have done to deserve this step-motherly treatment. It is unfortunate that the government wishes to see civil society as an adversary. The civil society cannot, and must not, surrender its role as a watchdog for people’s rights because that constitutes an entitlement, by virtue of citizens’ social contract with the state, and not as a concession.

“HRCP also stresses people’s right to know through an explanation in parliament the reason why the government chose to deny the need for protection for HRDs, who include, besides human rights groups, journalists, lawyers, political and social activists.”

Zohra Yusuf


 USCIRF condemns attack on Ahmadis in Pakistan

Washington: The USCIRF issued the following for IMMEDIATE RELEASE on November 30, 2015:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemns in the strongest possible terms the heinous attack on an Ahmadi Muslim factory and mosque on November 21 and 22 in the Jhelum district located in the Punjab province.

USCIRF strongly condemns this attack against the Ahmadi Muslim community and is saddened by reports that people are fleeing their homes in fear for their lives,” said USCIRF Chairman Robert P. George. “While the Pakistani government reportedly has dispatched the army to restore peace and detained more than 40 suspects, the government needs to do much more to stem the climate of impunity that pervades Pakistan. To these ends and as a first step, the government should provide protection to the Ahmadi community and denounce language clerics use that incites hatred and violence.

The attacks on the factory and mosque reportedly occurred when an Ahmadi factory worker was accused of desecrating the Qur’an, an act that under Pakistani law is considered blasphemous and punishable by death (sic). A mob of several hundred people reportedly destroyed the factory by setting it ablaze. Additional reports indicate that inflammatory speech by religious clerics incited the additional violence that lead to the mosque attack.

 The Ahmadiyya betrayal

Anyone remotely familiar with the poetry of Dr Muhammad Iqbal would know of his multi-pronged flirtations with numerous – often paradoxical – ideologies, at the same time. From fluctuating between a poet and a preacher to being the torchbearer of theocracies and personal faith at the same time – from presenting an anti-capitalist case for theism through Vladimir Lenin in Lenin Khuda Ke Huzoor Mein to his appraisal for sultani, while ostensibly challenging the British Raj – from promoting a Pan-Islamist caliphate-lusting monolithic Muslim world spearheaded by the mard-e-momin(inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche’s übermenschen or superman) to propagating individualism through khudi (inspired by Nietzsche’s der Wille zur Macht or Will to Power) – Iqbal’s writing is brimming with beautifully phrased contradictions. Little wonder that one can find Islamists, secularists, democrats, autocrats, everyone quoting an Iqbal verse to forward – and substantiate – their viewpoint.

Iqbal’s staunch followers argue that these paradoxes are actually exhibits of philosophical evolution that the ‘Poet of the East’ manifested during various stages of his writing career. This assertion, however, doesn’t factor in inconsistencies found during the same epoch of Iqbal’s poetry, and quite often in the same book if not the same poem.

Just like his political and social ideological ‘pluralism’, Iqbal’s religious understanding was an amalgamation of a wide array of centrifugal – and centripetal – interpretations of Islam. A perfect implementation of ideas set in Iqbal’s The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam touted as the ‘Bible of Modern Islam’ would be Tahirul Qadri’s recently launched “anti-ISIS, counterterrorism curriculum” in the UK, which relies on selective readings – and understanding – of Islamic scriptures. It could also be called the ‘Bible of Islam apologia’.

Iqbal’s journey from Sunni Islamism to Sufi Islam, also made a pit-stop at the Ahmadiyya ideology, something that has been heavily debated in the secret chambers of Two Nation Theory enthusiasts. “…in 1897, Sir Muhammad Iqbal took the (Ahmadiyya) pledge,” according to the Daily Nawa-i Waqt, Lahore, 15 November 1953. Ex-General Secretary of the Anjuman Himayat-i Islam, Lahore, Maulvi Ghulam Muhiy-ud-Din Qasoori, confirmed this during the Munir Enquiry. The Munir Report was crucial in sidelining the popular call for excommunication of Ahmadis in Pakistan following the 1953 anti-Ahmadiyya riots. The Munir Report confirmed that “neither Shias nor Sunnis nor Deobandis nor Ahl-i-Hadith nor Barelvis are Muslims, and any change from one view to the other must be accompanied in an Islamic State with the penalty of death, if the Government of the State is in the hands of the party which considers the other party to be kafirs.”

While Maulvi Ghulam Muhiy-ud-Din Qasoori’s assertion of Iqbal’s allegiance to the Ahmadiyya ideology proved to be pivotal in overcoming calls for judicial takfir, it was the same Iqbal whose essay The Muslim attitude towards the Ahmadiyya movement (1935) presenting the case for declaring ‘Qadianis’ a separate community, which was cited in the lead-up to the Second Amendment in 1974 to ‘officially’ excommunicate the Ahmadis.

Iqbal had written: “The best course for the rulers of India is, in my opinion, to declare the Qadianis a separate community. This will be perfectly consistent with the policy of the Qadianis themselves, and the Indian Muslim will tolerate them just as he tolerates other religions.”

Whether Iqbal’s regression from labelling Ahmadiyya community “a true model of Islamic life” – as he had asserted in an Aligarh session – to their identification as a separate community altogether, was a corollary of Islamist pressure, or a result of theological self-reflection only he would’ve known best. For, only in 1931 Iqbal had played an instrumental role in the selection of Ahmadi leader Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad as president of the All India Kashmir Committee.

The 1930s saw an upsurge in anti-Ahmadiyya protests among the Muslim community, with Jinnah being condemned as an infidel for his visits to the ‘Fazl Mosque’ in London, which was affiliated with the Ahmadiyya community. It was Maulana Abdur Rahmin Dard, the Ahmadiyya Imam who persuaded Jinnah to return to India and it was inside the ‘Fazl Mosque’ that he announced his decision to return. Jinnah staunchly defended the Ahmadis’ right to self-identify as Muslims, and stood by Sir Zafarullah Khan – Pakistan’s first foreign minister – whenever his religious identity was attacked to discredit his political acumen.

According to multiple literary sources, Iqbal regularly visited Qadian following his conversion to the Ahmadiyya ideology in 1897. When the founder of the ideology – who Iqbal had praised as “probably the profoundest theologian among modern Indian Muslims” in a paper written in 1900 – visited Sialkot in 1904 Iqbal, along with his friend Sir Fazli Husain, was in audience with him. While many believe that Iqbal formally left the Ahmadiyya ideology in 1908, his correspondence with the Ahmadi khalifas continued in the coming years. Before 1935 Iqbal had never exhibited any condemnation of, nay disagreement with, the Ahmadi ideology.

Iqbal’s parents are believed to have converted to the Ahmadiyya ideology, along with his elder brother Shaikh Ata Muhammad, which might have influenced his early affiliation with the ideology. Even though narrators suggest that Iqbal himself was inspired by the ‘reformist movement’ as he exhibited in his writings and recorded exchanges with many Ahmadi leaders during his lifetime.

Iqbal’s affiliation with the Ahmadiyya ideology is used by Islamists to discredit his work; and by his staunch followers as an exhibit of his ‘spiritual pluralism’. The actual remnants of the affiliation unfortunately self-manifests in the anti-Ahmadiyya bigotry that prevails in Pakistan – the country whose ideological founding father – and his blood relatives – were once affiliated with the Ahmadiyya ideology.

Iqbal’s critics have long debated over self-defeatism in his writings. With the same man being cited to maintain the faithfulness and infidelity of the same community, in 1953 and 1974 respectively, Pakistani Ahmadis are the most unfortunate emblem of Iqbal’s paradoxes.


 Breeding hate against the Ahmedis

Zeeba T Hashmi                April 18, 2015


Persecution in Pakistan is the culmination of stewing hate speech that has been growing unchecked in our society. Religious minorities here are the worst ones anywhere in the world to suffer the brunt of hate crimes. But what makes the persecution of Ahmedis unique is that they consider themselves Muslim but are made to sign a statement that they are non-Muslims before taking up their citizenship. This was defined in the Constitution when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in 1974, declared Ahmedis to be non-Muslims, a move demanded and hailed by the orthodox clergy. This was further strengthened and enacted into an Ordinance later by General Ziaul Haq, which criminalised Ahmedis for practicing normal rituals that ordinary Muslims would do like greeting each other with the term “Asaalamualaikum”. Ridiculous laws set precedents for general intolerance and hate crimes. Politically, Ahmedis are unrepresented and denounced in public. The chairman of the PTI, Imran Khan, during his election campaign in 2013, alienated himself from the Ahmedis, who had initially been supporting him for change. The ‘honourable’ Khan had to make a special television appearance to clarify his stance on the issue on how the laws that are discriminatory to this particular segment of the population are synchronised with his beliefs.

 In 2014, 11 members belonging to the Ahmedi sect were killed for their faith. The increase in crimes against Ahmedis is becoming a reason behind why many of them are opting to leave Pakistan for the sake of living dignified lives in countries that ensure religious freedom and security. There are about three million Ahmedis residing in Pakistan at present and most of them are resiliently living here despite the fact that the authorities deliberately ignore the many dangers and threats they face here. Many perpetrators are set free whereas the Ahmedis, by the discretion of the law, are taken in and persecuted at the smallest instance of practicing their beliefs in public. This not only gives a negative image of Pakistan to the world, it is shameful on every level of humanism of how the state has given in to the whims of the extremist mullahs here.

 There is a plethora of hate speech against the Ahmedis that often incites violence against them. There are no background checks or investigative and forensic measures taken against the publication of such pamphlets that call for vicious action against our religious minorities. There have often been reports of the circulation of pamphlets considering it a religious responsibility to kill Ahmedis, whom they consider to be murtids (apostates). There is a 720-page book titled Tohfa Qadianiat, written by Muhammad Yousaf Ludhianvi of Khatam-e-Nabuwat, which openly calls for the murder of Ahmedis. This book is making the rounds in the residential areas of Lahore without any government intervention to stop it or to prosecute its author for inciting murder. A well-known television celebrity, Amir Liaqat Hussain, has twice named Ahmedis as wajib ul qatal (justifiably to be murdered) on television, which has been followed by the murders of Ahmedis and not once has he been indicted for inciting violence against them. He unabashedly keeps running his show on television, which is viewed by millions across Pakistan.

A local Urdu newspaper in Lahore has been printing an advertisement for the Khatam-e-Nabuwat Conference that was to be held on March 22. The sponsors of the advertisement and the organisers of the event are all revealed in it yet no one from the authorities is willing to take note of the conference. In the months of February and March 2015, there have been six such conferences that took place under the nose of the government. These conferences were held by the Khatam-e-Nabuwat, Majlis Ahrar Islam, Tahafuze Namoose Risalat Committee and other elements that preach the killing of Ahmedis, limiting their movements, restricting them and obscuring their rights to assess education, health and other services. It is also important to note that a meeting organised by the Tahafuze Namoose Risalat Committee was presided over by Liaqat Baloch of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and it was attended by the federal minister for railways, Khawaja Saad Rafique of the PML-N and Mehmood ur Rasheed of the PTI. In February this year, a similar conference was held at the Aiwan-e-Iqbal, a government cultural facility in Lahore. Such conferences insist their communities excommunicate the Ahmedis. This is ironic as freedom of speech for alternate voices is quashed while abettors to murder are given open and free spaces to actually propagate their mission to persecute religious minorities. Moreover, this is a contradictory resolve of the state to end religious extremism in the country. However, actions like these are not even discouraged, let alone eradicated from the roots. The police are also notorious for picking up Ahmedis in fabricated crimes and physically torturing them at the behest of the mullahs.

 Why is it that the state is helpless in safeguarding the Ahmedis from mullah persecution? Last year, an Ahmedi woman and her two minor granddaughters were attacked and killed by an angry mob over an allegedly blasphemous post on Facebook made by another Ahmedi. The killers of the woman and two minors are still roaming free. Is it because of fear of the mobs that the state feels absolutely unable to take up responsibility for the protection of a persecuted community? There are reports that the extremist mindset has also seeped into the state machinery (many were seen attending the Khatam-e-Nabuwat conferences) making it impossible to secure Ahmedis their rights on an equal footing with other citizens. It is a tragedy for Pakistan that, despite knowing the grudge and religious hatred for people choosing and practicing their faith, the government has failed to protect and safeguard its citizens.   (emphasis added)



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