Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority and Ahmadis
It would not be wrong to say that so far Ahmadis are concerned the government (at least in the Punjab) has handed over its writ to the extreme right – be it mullas, TV anchors, op-ed writers, pressmen, whatever. The two incidents described below prove it beyond doubt. This happened despite the fact that a National Action Plan is claimed to be operative and a so-called ‘war on terror’ goes on. The foot-soldiers on both sides are falling, but the terror leaders are not only safe and sound, they indulge in their acts of extremism, and promote the violence-prone ideology blatantly and aggressively – and they win.
(i) Ahmadiyya and their persecution disallowed to be discussed on TV
Although it is difficult to say if a TV discussion on Ahmadis and their plight in Pakistan would be of any help to the beleaguered community, it is a policy with their bashers to discourage even a mention of Ahmadis on any forum. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has found it convenient to be of the same opinion. The daily Dawn published the following story in its issue of June 18, 2016 (extracts):
Banning a programme is against freedom of expression
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has barred actor Hamza Ali Abbasi and Shabbir Abu Talib from hosting Ramazan shows on Aaj TV and News One respectively, for promoting controversial and sectarian views.
The governing body banned the Aaj News programme Ramazan Hamara Imam, hosted by Mr. Abbasi. In one of his recent episodes, Mr. Abbasi discussed the oppression of the Ahmadi community, asking his guest whether the state could declare a community non-Muslim. During the same episode, he said he would discuss the Ahmadi community as well as the blasphemy law during the last days of Ramazan.
During the episode, Mr. Abbasi said: “The community is being suppressed, but if you talk about it, people say you are from that community. I’m not Ahmadi, I’m a Sunni Muslim.
It appears his show caught the attention of Pemra, which banned the programme on Friday.
According to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Chairperson Zohra Yusuf, Pemra has recently taken a number of decisions which seemed to be against freedom of expression.
… In a statement, Pemra said it has received 1,133 complaints through Whatsapp, Twitter and over the phone, for promoting sectarianism and violence.
The notification said any programme featuring Mr. Abbasi, Mr. Talib or the religious figure Maulana Kokab Noorani discussing this particular controversial issue or any other such topic on any other channel will also be banned.
… Several complaints have been received by the authority over the said programme, and they have been given a chance to clarify their position, the spokesperson added.
This incident will soon end up in dustbin of history, however it did expose a number of people who influence opinions in Pakistan, good or bad. Here, their brief mention will place them on record.
Those who supported Hamza Ali Abbasi’s attempt to broach the subject
Dr Mehdi Hasan: Pakistan of today is not that of Jinnah; it is that of Ziaul Haq. Religious extremism reigns supreme here. All decisions are made here to placate those who promote their politics in the name of religion. The present government is doing the same. BBC Urdu. Com
Jibran Nasir: Thank you Hamza Ali Abbasi, for raising this important question and starting discourse on this topic which is violating fundamental rights of hundreds of thousands of Pakistani Ahmadis. video
Asif Nawaz: He (Abbasi) went on to highlight the abuse faced by the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan, questioned why they weren’t guaranteed their rights and also lamented on how people label the person standing up for Ahmadis’ rights as an Ahmadi too. Sounds vaguely relevant to many of us, but Hamza took it to another level altogether.
Published on June 14, 2016 blogs.tribune.com.pk
Shamila Hayat: While commenting on mulla Kaukab Noorani Okarvi remark on TV that anyone who talked about Ahmadis or the blasphemy laws ‘should be shot dead on the spot’, posed the question about the mulla: Is he a scholar or a don or a goon? A religious goon….It really is the time we took our country back from these Mullahs and made it Jinnah’s Pakistan the way it was intended to be.
Those who opposed Hamza Abbasi’s line of thought
Maulvi Tahir Ashrafi, the chairman of the Pakistan Ulama Council said on social media that Aaj TV’s admin should close the program in favour of Qadianis… .
Jamaat Islami: Mian Maqsud Ahmad, Amir JI Punjab said, “… If PEMRA takes no notice, the JI will take it up to the Supreme Court against the program.”
The daily Ummat, 15.6.2016
JUP (Noorani)’s president Dr Abul Khair Zubair said that Hamza Ali Abbasi should be arrested forthwith.
The daily Ummat, 15.6.2016
A.K. Dogar, Ahsan Ali Khan, Imran Shahid Advocate and Z.A Malik all demanded that the anchor (Hamza Abbasi) should be arrested and prosecuted…. Ahsan Ali Khan said that such a person should have his tongue plucked, thereafter he should be lashed (Tiktiki par).
The daily Ummat 15.6.16
Mufti Abid Mubarak of Darul Ulum… In 1953, more than 10,000 Muslims were martyred merely because they believed that their Prophet had a right upon them…. (Note: This statement on TV was a lie because the number of dead counted and mentioned by the authoritative Judicial inquiry in 1953 Punjab riots put the level of deaths in the entire Punjab in two figures.)
Also, when Abbasi proposed to him to have a discussion on the TV program with an Ahmadi so that he could present arguments in favour of his belief, the Mufti immediately retorted:
“No. No. He (the Ahmadi) does not have the right to preach.”
Jamil Rathore said on Abbasi’s program: In an interview, Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani had once said that apart from Sunni and Shia sects, all other sects in the sub-continent were founded by the British.
Agha Alam Rizvi (a Shia scholar, participant of the Abbasi program) said that he fully agreed with Mufti Mubarak and Jamil Rathore.
Note: It is learnt that fatwas calling for the revival of Abbasi’s Nikah have also been issued, as also those declaring him to be ‘deserving of being killed.`
Madeeha Hanif who on social media has posted her picture in veil and claims to be ‘Social Worker at Islami Jamiat Talibat Pakistan (Official), the female student wing of Jamaat Islami, put the following post in vernacular:
- Where exactly lives this Hamza Ali Abbasi?
- Are there nearby any lovers of my Prophet? Why don’t they make life unbearable for this person?
- Does no moth of the Prophet’s light live on his route, who could defile him the way he defiles the (Islamic) Faith? To which school his children go?
- Would someone lovingly inform them of the defiling undertaken by their shameless father, like the grandson of Ayub Khan who shouted a slogan in favour of the Prophet before the wretched man? Would someone insult him; become a Moses in the home of Pharaoh?
- Any relative of his? Anyone who would socially boycott him for faith and stop eating at his table?
- Any friend with a sense of shame, who would tell him that he could not be his if he was not of his Prophet?
- Would someone declare to be unfriendly to him and boycott his program from today?
- Are there people who would knock at the door of Aaj TV office?
- Only those who are unnecessarily harassing poor Junaid Jamshed?
- Are there any who could en-masse start blowing their horns in front of TV’s offices?
- Someone should refuse to guard the shameless Zuberi family whose billions have not sufficed to put a stop to their lust for wealth and rating and lack of scruples?
- Let some lawyer rise and in thirst for the Holy Water (Jam Kausar) move a court against Hamza!
Jamaat Islami’s ability to generate such hate, rage, and intrigue in its youth is indeed amazing – and that too in the fair name of Islam and its Prophet (pbuh).
(ii) PEMRA wimps out of its notices to TV channels on Ahmadiyya issue
Only a few weeks after PEMRA barred Hamza Abbasi from discussion of the Ahmadiyya issue on TV, two anti-Ahmadi TV programs were broadcast on September 7, 2016. The reaction of PEMRA and its eventual conclusion provide an interesting but woeful study of the function and writ of the state in this field.
Very briefly, TV channel 92 News aired a program Subah Noor, in which Mr. Nazir Ahmad Ghazi acted as the host while Mufti Farooq Al-Qadri, Mr. Khalid Mateen and Dr. Hameed Tanoli participated. This team grossly violated PEMRA’s code of ethics issued on August 19, 2015, and indulged in provocative sectarian discourse and undertook false propaganda against the founder of the Ahmadi community.
Similarly TV Channel Neo News team, Jamil Farooqi the host and Orya Maqbool Jan the guest indulged in blatantly hurting the feelings of a great number of Ahmadis who are patriotic Pakistanis. This duo called the Ahmadi community a ‘Mischief’ (fitna) and attributed fabricated claims to the founder of the community.
Ahmadiyya central office sent a formal complaint to the Chairperson of PEMRA’s Council of Complaints with copies to the Federal Ministers of Interior and Information, for violation of Pemra rules and the National Action Plan.
The daily Dawn reported the incident initially in its issue of September 16, 2016 as follows:
“LAHORE: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (Pemra) took notice of complaints against two television channels for airing ‘provocative’ content against the Ahmadi community.
“Anjuman Ahmedia Pakistan president registered a complaint with the media watchdog against Neo TV and Channel 92 alongside “a large number of complaints from the general public” against content aired by Neo TV’s ‘Harf-e-Raz’ and Channel 92’s ‘Subha-e-Noor’ shows, a Pemra statement said.
“The complaints termed the content aired in the shows as “provocative against a minority whose members are already threatened, harassed and have suffered a number of terrorist attacks in the past”.
“The complainants have also mentioned that such programming serves no national interest and is rather incitement to violence against minorities which is in violations of National Action Plan and Pemra laws.”
“Pemra forwarded the complaint to the Council of Complaints in Lahore for further action, adding that complainants had requested the regulator to take action against content “promoting disharmony among people”.
“The regulatory body made it clear that according to Pemra laws, both the channels and complainants will be provided with opportunities for hearing before a decision is recommended.”
The regulatory body issued notices to all concerned. The accused apparently decided to confront the PEMRA, all guns blazing.
The Khatme Nabuwwat organisations’ mullas made hue and cry over the PEMRA notices to the two TV channels. Some reports from the vernacular dailies are reproduced below:
The PEMRA notice to private channels is deplorable: Majlis Ahrar (Islam)
The daily Islam; Lahore, September 18, 2016
The notice issued to TV channels for the programme on Khatme Nabuwwat and rebuttal of Qadianiat is condemnable: Abdul Lateef (Tehrik Khatme Nabuwwat Rabita Committee)
The daily Ausaf; Lahore, September 19, 2016
PEMRA’s decision is entirely pro-Qadianiat: Majlis Tahaffuze Khatme Nabuwwat
The daily Dunya; Faisalabad, September 21, 2016
The programme on rebuttal of Qadianiat: the notice to the channels should be withdrawn – a letter to Pemra
The programme was in accord with the Quran, Hadith and the decision of the parliament: Member Rabita Committee Khatme Nabuwwat
The daily Islam; Lahore, September 23, 2016
PEMRA should apologize for sending notices to the channels: Majlis Tahaffuze Khatme Nabuwwat
The daily Islam; Lahore, September 26, 2016
The daily Dawn eventually reported the end result in its issue of September 30, 2016:
“LAHORE: The Council of Complaints of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (Pemra) dismissed on Thursday the complaints of the minority Ahmadi community against two private TV channels as ‘non-maintainable’.
“The decision was made after a mob entered the Pemra office in the Cantonment area, asking the authority to quash the complaints and raising slogans against the Ahmadi community.
“Acting on complaints, Pemra had called the hosts of Neo TV’s talk show ‘Harf-i-Raz’ and Channel 92’s ‘Subh-i-Noor’ to explain their position over allegations of ‘provoking’ people to resort to violence against the minority community.
“The representatives of the community were also present there when a good number of people, including clerics, entered the Pemra office, asking the authority to quash the complaints.
“A Pemra official told Dawn that the authority had to call police to control the situation. “Police rescued representatives of the Ahmadi community who could not record their statements before the council,” he said.
“Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya spokesman Saleemuddin said the council had issued the verdict “under pressure” and without hearing the complainants instead of taking action against those involved in putting lives of the minority community members in danger.
“The complainants in their applications to Pemra had alleged that the content aired in the two shows contained “provocative” remarks against a minority community whose members were already threatened, harassed and had suffered terrorist attacks in the past.
“The content fostered disharmony among people and incited them to violence against minorities which was in violation of the National Action Plan and Pemra laws, they said.
“Pemra said in a statement that in response to a public announcement made on Facebook by Orya Maqbool Jaan, the anchor of Neo TV, over 100 lawyers and other people, led by Mr Jaan, entered the conference room of the authority’s office and raised slogans.
“However, it said, after considering the content of the complaints and hearing the respondents, the council unanimously recommended that the complaints were not maintainable.”
It is worth mentioning that when Ahmadiyya delegation reached there, they saw a few mullas and lawyers already present there. Hassan Muaviya (brother of Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi – Chairman of Pakistan Ulama Council) was also there. This mulla is very active on anti-Ahmadiyya front and serves as ever-ready complainant in most of the anti-Ahmadiyya cases in Lahore. The Ahmadiyya delegation waited for two hours for their turn to state their case but were not invited to do so. Eventually the PEMRA called the police, but the two departments jointly decided to yield to the threatening bigots. The police were asked to provide safe return to the Ahmadi delegation who protested against non-hearing of their plea.
After the hateful programs, the Daily Times published an article titled Neo’s hate speech and PEMRA’s inaction on September 12, 2016; its opening paragraphs mentioned:
“Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) is completely silent on Neo channel’s abusive hate speech against the Ahmadi community. Hamza Ali Abbasi’s show during Ramzan was promptly banned because Abbasi dared to speak out about the fundamental human rights of a peaceful community that has been repeatedly wronged by Pakistan since September 7, 1974. Now Orya Maqbool Jan’s abuse against the Ahmadis has been allowed without check by PEMRA. These are double standards, and all I can say at this point is shame. On all of us.
“That it was hate speech is unquestionable. Ahmadis and their sect’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, were painted as British plants by Neo and Jan. Ironic to say the least! Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was for the longest time seen by the Muslim community as a valiant ideological warrior against the onslaught of Christian missionaries on the faith. This was before his more controversial claims were aired. To accuse him of being a British lackey is a travesty of justice and fair-mindedness. You can have a theological disagreement with his claims, but to try and retrofit British perfidy on to him cannot be sustained in the eyes of historical evidence.”
The daily The Express Tribune published the following story as well on October 3, 2016 under the title, “When custodians of law turn into an unruly mob,” (extract):
“A group of lawyers, under the leadership of Lahore High Court Bar Association President Rana Zia Abdur Rehman and LHCBA Secretary Anas Ghazi, and enraged clerics from different seminaries barged in the office of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Lahore, where its Council of Complaints was holding a meeting on the complaint of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya, who had accused two TV channels of airing programmes aimed at spreading hatred regarding them.
“The lawyers would have not done so had the former judge of LHC, and father of LHCBA secretary, Nazir Ghazi, not been among those against whom Pemra had initiated proceedings.
“Nazir was the host of the show, aired on September 7, in which the members of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya said remarks were made against them.
“The enraged lawyers and clerics also hindered the Council of Complaints to an extent that it could not continue the proceedings.
“A Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya representative, who was at the Pemra office, had to hide in the premises to save themselves. However, the council had to carry out the proceedings under the influence of the protesting lawyers and clerics, because of which the application filed by representatives of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya was disposed of without the complainant being heard.
“So the rule of “no one can be condemned unheard” was compromised. No action was taken or even demanded by Pemra, under Section 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) of Pakistan Penal Code.”
The above led to the claim: “The rejection of Qadiani application against TV channels is our triumph: Khatme Nabuwwat Rabita Committee”
The daily Islam; Lahore, September 30, 2016
Khaled Ahmad, a renowned columnist has recently written a book: Sleep Walking to Surrender; dealing with terrorism in Pakistan. It was briefly reviewed in The Friday Times of September 30, 2016. Following extract of that review appears relevant to this case, in particular the mention of ‘deep state’:
“Non-state actors, and the extremist terror outfits they control, pursue extortion, kidnapping and murder to fund their activities, and receive ideological, financial and logistical support from the deep state. The army continues to use them in its India-centric agenda. Civilian institutions are intimidated and individuals who speak out against the terror outfits become targets of their retribution. Violence, not law, increasingly commands human conduct, and the state’s willingness to enter into ‘peace talks’ with the Taliban is viewed as a form of surrender to extremism.
“Khaled Ahmed is Pakistan’s most respected columnist, and his formidable expertise on the ideologies of extremism is internationally acknowledged. In Sleepwalking to Surrender, he analyses the terrible toll terrorism has taken on Pakistan and appraises the portents for the future.”
The extremists’ comment on the PEMRA decision on the Ahmadiyya complaint
The incident was a clear victory for the bigots of the right wing, and a demonstration of ‘wakeful surrender’ of the state authority. The victors celebrated it in op-ed columns of vernacular newspapers. We produce below extracts from one such op-ed published in the daily Islam of October 3, 2016. It is titled: Qadianis’ defeat in PEMRA.
“…We were informed on the evening of September 28 that there will be a hearing of the Notices at 2 p.m. on September 29, issued by PEMRA to the two TV channels. On Thursday 29 September 2016 at 2 p.m. when Mr. Nazir Ahmad Ghazi (Channel 92) and Mr. Orya Maqbool Jan (New News) turned up at the court (office) of Dr. Mehdi Hasan and other members of PEMRA Lahore Council, (they found that) a large number of leaders and workers of Majlis Ahrar Islam, Aalami Majlis Khatme Nabuwwat, JUP and all other denominations, and lawyers, students and representatives of other groups were present at the location.
“On commencement of the hearing, Mr. Muhammad Matin Khalid, Mr. Nazir Ahmad Ghazi, Mr. Orya Maqbool Jan and Mr. Azhar Siddique advocate high court, drunk with the love of the Prophet (PBUH) defended the programs of the TV channels and explained the Qadianis’ status in constitution and law. Dr Mehdi Hasan and other members of the PEMRA Lahore Council gave their decision in favour of the programs of the TV channels. At this, there were deafening shouts of slogans of Allah o Akbar, Taj-o-Takht (crown and throne) Khatme Nabuwwat – Long live. Mr. Orya Maqbool Jan addressed all those assembled there, and thus Qadianis came to disgrace.”
The follow-up was interesting and deserves a place in records. The same evening chairperson of the complaints council Dr. Mehdi Hassan spoke to Voice of America and denied dismissing the complaint and said:
“If something else has been published in the press release then whoever wrote that did it due to the pressure of the 100 or so people who raised slogans.
“I implored the crowd that we have not yet made a decision on whether the complaint of the Ahmadiyya community is maintainable or not and due to the atmosphere that has been created in the conference hall, we cannot objectively make a decision. Yet they continued to raise slogans and alleged that I am not authorized to make the decision on the complaint since they have doubts about my faith.”
Pakistan Minority (Ahmadis) Victimized in Name of Fighting Extremism
September 07, 2016: Ayesha Tanzeen of Voice of America (VOA) produced a program on the current state of Ahmadis’ situation in Pakistan, and VOA has made it available on its website: http://www.voanews.com/a/pakistan-religious-minority-suffers-discrimination-for-fighting-extremism/3496946.html. It is professional, interesting, factual, balanced and updated. It is recommended reading and viewing.
Hate propagation – A l’extrême
Lahore: The daily ‘Ausaf’ published an anti-Ahmadiyya article by a mulla Mushtaq Ahmad Qureshi in its issue of February 17, 2016. The article crosses all boundaries of decency and journalistic ethics.
The on-going National Action Plan aims at eliminating sectarianism and extremism from the Pakistani society. In this, it forbids dissemination of hate and slander through media and rallies etc. However, it appears that Ahmadis are an exception as targets.
In this article mulla Mushtaq Qureshi refers to a ‘video clip’ message doing the rounds on social media, prepared by an Ahrari mulla Matin Khalid who is known for his anti-Ahmadi foul language and insults. Even for his group Majlis Ahrar Islam, the prestigious high-level judicial committee, that inquired in depth in 1953 anti-Ahmadi riots in the Punjab placed on record: “The conduct of the Ahrar calls for strongest comment and is especially reprehensible. We can use no milder word for the reason that they debased a religious issue by pressing it into service for a temporal purpose and exploited religious susceptibilities and sentiments of the people for their personal ends.”
This video prepared by Matin Khalid is titled: “Qadiani Caliph Mirza Bashir ud Din Mahmood – an evil-doer (Qadiani Khalifa Mirza Bashir ud Din Mahmood – ek badkar shakhsiyat).” Qureshi himself describes the video as: “It is such a devastating clip that I tremble when I write this.” Here we mention only the outline and leave out the fabricated sordid details that were published in the daily.
The audio commentary by Matin Khalid of this clip has been reproduced by Qureshi verbatim in this op-ed, according to the latter. In this he refers to one Muhammad Hussain who is mentioned as an eye witness to ‘incest committed by the caliph’. Hussain is stated to have immediately lost all his body hair due to the shock suffered over this repugnant incident. Matin Khalid attributes having heard this from Dr. Asrar Ahmad. Dr. Asrar Ahmad and Muhammad Hussain are now both dead. All these individuals hold or held in great esteem clerics like Maulvi Rashid Gangohi who issued the edict: “To tell a lie for revival of Truth is permissible. One should desist from that as far as possible; however if unavoidable, one may tell a pure lie. Otherwise one should avoid. Signed: Rashid Ahmad”. Fatawa Rashidia
Qureshi quotes Matin Khalid: “Why have not Qadianis gone to court yet (over this accusation)?” These liars know that going to the court will provide them a greater opportunity to heap still more insults and garbage on the beleaguered community – by quoting witnesses, dead since long.
In the renowned 1953 Enquiry Report, the worthy judges referred to one of such numerous outbursts and observed: “If these words had been uttered in the presence of a member of the Ahmadiyya Community, we should not at all have been surprised if the result had been a broken skull.”
Sixty years later, the children of that generation continue with the same evil practices despite having suffered shattering consequences of tolerating and promoting the mulla. Against the Ahmadiyya community, marginalized more than ever before, the mulla, the bigoted vernacular press, the selfish politician, all take no notice of the ultimate form of hate propaganda and slanderous abuse. Although various clauses of the penal code, PPCs, 295-A, 298-A and 153-A amply and obviously apply, no high official feels motivated to invoke the National Action Plan formulated after the massacre of 134 school children in Peshawar.
Some people never learn their lesson and invite the wrath of destiny.
Hateful book advertised and marketed
Lahore: The daily The Express Tribune published the following report in its issue of June 25, 2016:
LAHORE: The unrelenting nationwide anti-Ahmadiyya campaign took a perturbing turn on Friday with a preeminent body calling for donations to curb Ahmadiyya worldwide with an advert placed across all editions of a leading Urdu daily.
The move comes at a time when the National Action Plan (NAP) – which criminalizes the proliferation of hate material – is being ostensibly implemented. Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) Chairman Salahuddin Mengal told The Express Tribune that the aggrieved party could file a complaint before the council. He said the council would then refer the complaint to a pertinent committee following its filing. Mengal said the matter would then be presented before a judicial commission which had the power to impose a maximum fine of Rs. 10,000.
However, he said, the PCP was largely ineffectual – composed primarily as it was – of journalists who were inimically disposed to the prospect of action being taken against any media outlet. Salahuddin said no newspaper had been fined since he assumed chairmanship of the council. He said the PCP could not take suo motu action on such issues.
Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya (JA) spokesperson Saleemuddin termed the advertisement inflammatory. He said it incited the people to kill Ahmadis. Saleemuddin said the anti-Ahmadiyya body had been openly canvassing for funds, spewing venom and exhorting the people to kill Ahmadis. …
The JA spokesperson said law enforcement agencies should take notice of such activities as they contravened the NAP. He said it was perturbing to see advertisements replete with hate being carried by a leading newspaper. Saleemuddin said the publication of the advertisement was unprecedented. He said an advertisement of such nature had never been featured in the media this prominently.
On the other hand, the JA spokesperson said, all newspapers had refused to carry advertisements from the community pertaining to why it had distanced itself from electoral exercise. He said the anti-Ahmadiyya advertisement constituted a question mark on the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies and the NAP’s efficacy. Saleemuddin demanded action against those responsible.
The advertisement called for munificent contributions to curb Ahmadiyyat and save Muslims from the community. Money was needed to establish seminaries the world over and publish the body’s weekly to counter Ahmadi propaganda, the advertisement stated.
The body said it also needed funds to finance cases across higher courts against the community and its adherents and spread anti-Ahmadiyya material in English, Arabic and Urdu. The advertisement stated that funds were needed to organize Khatme Nabuwwat conferences the world over, build religious sites across Ahmadi-majority Chenabnagar (Rabwah) and publish hundreds of anti-Ahmadiyya books. The advertisement also featured the names and particulars of prominent people affiliated with the body and its offices nationwide.
The ad was published in the daily Jang on June 17, 2016. It was sponsored by Aalami Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat Pakistan, as claimed in the ad itself. In the headline it was mentioned that “the aim is to accomplish the mission of Maulana Muhammad Yusuf Ludhianwi Shaheed”. This is the same mulla who was the author of the pamphlet distributed in the Stockwell Green mosque in London, which were discovered by the London Police after the murder of Mr. Asad Shah, Ahmadi in Glasgow by Tanweer Ahmad of Bradford. The Stockwell Green mosque was the location of the office of the Khatme Nabuwwat organization in UK.
The call for financial contributions was made by the following three mullas:
- Abdul Razzaq Iskandar, Emir (AMTKN)
- Hafiz Nasir ud Din Khakwani, Deputy Emir
- Aziz ur Rahman Jallandhary, Nazim Aala
The ad gives three bank account numbers, including two ‘International Bank Account Numbers`. It gives phone numbers of its head office in Multan and branches in Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Chenab Nagar and Quetta.
A former PM’s anti-Ahmadi bluster and The Indian Express
Mr. Khaled Ahmed, the well-known Pakistani journalist was struck by the tone and content of PPP’s Raja Parvaiz Ashraf`s rant in support of anti-Ahmadi state policy for which he claimed the credit for Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the founding chairman of his party. Khaled availed the occasion to write an op-ed for The Indian Express which was published on June 4, 2016. This article sums up well the role of ZAB in steering the Amendment II to the Constitution, but leaves a blank by omission of mention of the role played by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia in providing the initial push to the scheme of excommunication of Ahmadis.
Ahmadiyya annual reports on persecution and media hostility released
Rabwah; April 26, 2016: Mr Saleemuddin, Director Public Affairs and Spokesman of the Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan released here annual Persecution Report and the Media Report for 2015 to the press.
He stated that there was distinct increase in anti-Ahmadiyya hatred and tyranny during the year. The on-going persecution of the Jamaat Ahmadiyya, initiated long ago, is reaching the limit; meanwhile the law-enforcement agencies continue to play puppets of the anti-Ahmadi lobby.
Below we translate only the headlines of the press conference printed in the daily Al-Fazl, Rabwah on April 27, 2016:
- 2015: Further increase in violation of Ahmadis’ human rights
- Premeditated murder attacks made on Ahmadis. They continued to be killed for their faith.
- Ahmadis were deprived of participation in Local Government elections, through a discriminatory list.
- A factory and Ahmadi homes were burnt down over fabricated accusation of defiling the Holy Quran.
- Highly inciteful literature is openly distributed that urges the reader impose a social and economic boycott on Ahmadis, as also to murder them (for their faith). Does the official inaction over this amount to approval by the authorities?
- Punjab government bans Ahmadiyya literature (including almost 90 books written by the founder of the community) on baseless recommendation of the Motahida Ulama Board.
- Throughout 2015 Urdu press continued to publish fabricated and inciteful anti-Ahmadiyya news.
- More than 1570 hostile news items and 334 op-eds were published as hostile propaganda.
- Restoration of Ahmadis’ basic human rights and annulment of discriminatory laws demanded.
‘Pakistan, no home for Ahmadis’
Lahore: The prestigious Daily Times of Lahore made an editorial comment at the occasion of target killing of Dr Abdul Khaleeq in Karachi, in its issue of June 22, 2016. Excerpts:
Pakistan, no home for Ahmadis
A 50 years-old doctor, belonging to the Ahmadi community, was gunned down in his clinic in the Abul Hasan Ispahani area of Karachi on Monday evening. Reportedly, the murder of Dr Chaudhry Abdul Khaleeq was second such incident in the same vicinity within a month. He was shot in his clinic where he sustained a single bullet wound to his head and died on the spot, as confirmed by SSP Malir Rao Anwar. The officer was of the opinion that it was a targeted attack. Later, a Jamaat Ahmadiyya spokesperson confirmed that the deceased belonged to their community.
Earlier in May, another member of the Ahmadiyya community was shot in a suspected targeted attack in the Metroville-II area of Karachi. Dawood Ahmad, 55, was sitting outside his home when two gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on him. The victim had sustained five bullet wounds to different parts of the body and was taken to a private hospital, where he succumbed to injuries during treatment.
…The subjugation of Ahmadis started soon after independence in 1947. Led by Jamaat-i-Islami, right-wing groups spearheaded anti-Ahmadi campaigns. The first such violent movement erupted in Punjab in 1953, resulting in the imposition of martial law in the province. The military dictator, president of Pakistan, Zia-ul-Haq, furthered the agenda by passing an ordinance making it unlawful for Ahmadis to identify themselves as Muslims. In 2010, in Lahore, 86 Ahmadi worshippers were brutally murdered by the Punjabi Taliban. In December last year, protests had erupted after a shopkeeper was arrested for displaying anti-Ahmadi banners at his shop at Hafeez Centre, amid a crackdown by city authorities against posting hate material.
Over the years, speaking out on sensitive issues such as religious discrimination has become increasingly dangerous, highlighted by murders of some high-profile people including Salman Taseer.
The death of Dr Khaleeq comes in the wake of a ban imposed on Hamza Ali Abbasi by PEMRA for questioning the second amendment which declares Ahmadis non-Muslims in his TV show. All Abbasi did was ask the clergy on his show; is it allowed in religion to have the state declare anyone non-Muslim?
Unless a debate does not start in the mainstream media and public against the persecution of minorities and other sensitive issues like the blasphemy laws, religious fanatics will continue to exploit gullible people to incite violence against the minorities and everyone who dare to question their authority.
Pakistan came into existence to respect the rights of Muslims who felt persecuted in the Hindu-dominated India. And after its existence, what happened to Pakistan is the antithesis of what the essence of Pakistan was; a free country for all who made it their home. The persecution of non-Muslims and Shias and Ahmadis is a black stain on the soul of Pakistan, darkening the white on its flag irreparably, and sullying the message of equality and brotherhood emphasized upon by Jinnah.
No comment on depravity of an Urdu daily
Lahore; June 1, 2016: Below we reproduce a news item from the daily Insaf (chief editor: Junaid Saleem) printed in four-column headlines, four in number:
Qadianis proliferate promiscuity to lure youth. They’ve initiated biological warfare with help of RAW.
‘Let’s be friends’ ads in newspapers and pretty girls trap the youth. Infected juices are offered during meetings.
Youth are infected with aids, hepatitis and other diseases. They are then treated and befriended. Contaminated syringes are doled out (in hundreds of thousands).
Liberal youth, sick coming to hospitals and prisoners in jails are specifically targeted. Sick women are assembled with the help of NGOs.
Copy of the original daily
In fine print narrative, the above is repeated with the following addition: “Many aids inflicted women are operating with this (Qadiani) group. Many women are recruited for this revolting drive by holding their children as ransom (sic).’’
A vernacular daily reports on Ahmadiyya issue – a sample
Karachi: The daily Ummat, published in Karachi filed a report as ‘Ummat Report’ on July 18, 2016 on Ahmadiyya community’s activities in Karachi. It is a deliberate dishonest mix of some facts with numerous fabrications and conjectures. It is a report that repeatedly violates fair journalistic standards and is a sample of corrupt and harmful journalism. Space does not allow the reproduction of the entire report here, so we, produce translation of only some extracts from this ‘Ummat Report’ of the daily that claims publication from offices in Karachi, Hyderabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar:
14 Qadiani Networks Active in Karachi
These activities are undertaken in 7 suburbs of the city. Poor Muslims are trapped by offers of free medical care, rations, jobs in foreign countries and financial support. Bagh-i-Ahmad, the Qadiani graveyard is one of the centres of Qadiani proselytization.
…Activists of Qadiani preaching network specifically target suburban and coastal areas of Karachi in the garb of providing medical assistance, whereby they trap poor and sick and make them succumb to the benefit and greed of free treatment.
… Qadianis have been establishing secret networks in Defense, Tariq Rd, Gulshan Iqbal, North Nazimabad and other locations.
…..Bagh-e-Ahmad, this Qadiani graveyard has high parameter walls. Next to its gate is the guard room. One of the guards, on plea of not disclosing his name, stated that he is a guard there for the last 10 years, and … he disclosed that often rich Qadianis come there in their expensive cars. They shut the gates, turn out the guards with instructions to warn them of anyone coming to the site. The guard said that these people often met in the hall inside while armed guards are on duty outside. This is normally done on Sundays as Qadianis undertake Work Day and clean-up their worship places and graveyards on Sundays…
….Sources disclose that Qadianis look for poor people, trap them with offers of expensive treatments in big hospitals and free medicines. … Ahmad Qadiani in Jinnah Hospital undertakes rounds of the Emergency Ward (for this purpose); he lives in Sector … of North Karachi.
This daily and its reporter could easily produce a similar report on the ‘activities’ of Mr. Abdus Sattar Edhi who surely was active with the poor, the needy and the sick, and he and his colleagues were often seen in clinics, hospitals and graveyards.
It is no secret that Ahmadis are resident in scores of Karachi neighbourhoods and their local communities are well-organized, mostly for over half a century, to attend to community functions which include social services to not only their own members but also to others, regardless of creed, colour, ethnicity or language. The Ummat has indulged in painting Ahmadiyya charity as dishonesty, sinister and scandalous. One wishes that the Ummat itself would do something similar and positive for the poor Ummah.
Also, this hostile propaganda report reminds one of the following statement conveyed to the UNHRC in 2010 by the International Humanist and Ethical Union while referring to the Ahmadiyya situation in Pakistan:
‘‘Need we remind the Council and the government of Pakistan that it was government and media support for expressions of hatred that led to the Nazi holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda.”
Prevention of Electronic Crime Act is draconian: AHRC
Islamabad; August 2016: Recently Electronic Crime Bill was cleared both by the Senate and the National Assembly. This law, like most other laws, looks apparently neat and justified; it discourages child pornography, terrorism, corrupt behavior or misconduct of the government or officials etc. – but the devil lies in detail. The law is subject to interpretation and prescribes harsh sentences, long term imprisonments and hefty fines.
This law has been criticized by most of the civil society. According to rights groups, this law has provisions that will blatantly infringe upon fundamental rights that are guaranteed under the Constitution. It criminalizes activities such as sending text messages without the receiver’s consent, or criticizing government actions on social media with fines and imprisonment. On-line criticism of religion, the county and its courts are among the subjects that could invoke official intervention under the bill.
Asian Human Rights Commission, in a special Statement commented:
“Not only is the bill arbitrary, it is also severely unjust. The wordings of the law are overly vague; many experts have warned that the law will open a floodgate of frivolous litigation on behalf of the state against dissenters, and atrocities to harass them. The bill is deliberately left ambiguous to provide the government the crutches for censorship and suppression.… Under Section 8 specifically, the law enforcement agencies have been granted arbitrary powers; if they deem any offence to fall under the ambit of cyber terrorism, they may treat the said offence as cognizable and arrest without court permission or warrant. Of course, cyber terrorism is not clearly defined, leaving it susceptible to misuse by law enforcement agencies.”
Ahmadis in Pakistan have plenty of experience of misuse of apparently fair laws. The Blasphemy law, vast majority of Ahmadis felt, was of no great concern to Ahmadis because no Ahmadi would ever dream of defiling the name of his own prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his own scripture the Holy Quran. However, one of the devious drafters of this law, (a federal minister) confided to a Christian objector: (Don’t worry) this law was made to target a certain other community (Ahmadis). And surely enough, hundreds of Ahmadis have been most wrongfully implicated in the blasphemy laws since their promulgation. In fact, the largest number of accused, in proportion to the size of the community, is Ahmadis. It is no exaggeration to say that each and every one of those police cases was false and fabricated. Sad to say, even Muslims have suffered prosecution under those laws. Non-Muslims have been greatly victimized as well. Recently, 30 years after promulgation of these laws, a judge has, in very discreet words, mustered the courage to meekly recommend revisiting these laws.
Take the case of Anti-terrorism Act – apparently a well-considered and justified law. However, after its promulgation till date, Ahmadis have been crookedly made its targets. Ahmadis are known all over the world for being perhaps the community most committed to peace and tolerance. But in Pakistan, the mulla, the state and the society joined hands to use the anti-terrorism laws to terrorize the Ahmadis. At the turn of the century, it became a practice with mullas and the police to book Ahmadis under religious laws and add PPC 295-A to the charge sheet – simply because under this section the victim could be delivered to an Anti-terrorism court for trial.
Most recently, under the National Action Plan, the authorities became active to energize counter-terrorism department and nab ‘terrorists’. Ahmadis were already in the crossfire of the Ulama Board. The CTD personnel accompanied by the Elite Force raided the only Ahmadiyya book shop in Rabwah, owned by Mr. Abdul Shakoor, an 80-year old crumbly. Mr. Shakoor gladly sold them the Ahmadiyya books they wanted, issued them the voucher and stamped it for them. Soon afterwards they arrested him, locked him up and took him to an Anti-terrorism court where, in a speedy trial, he was sentenced to five plus three, eight years’ imprisonment. The gentle patriarch remains in prison; the CTD have won an additional feather in their cap.
The official cyber agencies have already amply shown their attitude towards Ahmadis. Ahmadiyya main website alislam.org has been blocked periodically in Pakistan. It is not available in the country now for years. Most other websites that have Ahmadiyya origin indicated in their title are banned in the broad sweep. Surely, that directly negates and violates constitutional commitment to free speech and freedom of information. Under the new law this grim situation could become dreadful.
Under this law any Ahmadi, individual or organization, could be prosecuted for:
- Criticizing the government
- Saying anything religious that would or could arguably affect politics
- Posting religious content which any mulla could readily and malafidely term blasphemous, and, by extension, assert that it amounts to terrorism
- Sending unsolicited messages, etc.
There is no shortage of mullas and bigots who are ever ready to get upset on smallest excuse and report against an Ahmadi or an Ahmadiyya organization. Recently a rabid group of antagonists sent a plea to authorities to demolish the minarets and niche of an Ahmadiyya mosque in a Punjabi village on the grounds that the law does not permit such construction – in fact, the law only forbids Ahmadis calling their place of worship a ‘Masjid’.
An op-ed writer recently analyzed the situation resulting from the promulgation of this law and concluded for the readers, “Stop using the internet. Period.”
A quote from thefridaytimes.com/tft/be-very-afraid:
“Many of these (above mentioned) scenarios may seem extreme but given the potential, for abuse and the nature for what appear to be considered ‘crimes’, anyone with power and agenda can leverage their resources to wreck your life, and do it completely legally. The loosely and vaguely worded bill opens up the potential for abuse not just by officials but also by average people and organizations. For example, all data communicated is being retained and people often pass on sensitive information electronically. Someone listening in could use that information to blackmail. This is not just a theory; it has happened and is now being given legal cover.”
One does not need a crystal ball to see how the cybercrime law will be misused, wrote Huma Yusuf in the daily Dawn of August 15, 2016.
One is keeping one’s figures crossed hoping an occasion does not arise in the Ahmadiyya context to exclaim: I told you so.
Media responsibility in fight against extremism
London; March 19, 2016: The World Head of the Ahmadiyya Community, the Fifth Khalifa (Caliph), His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad delivered the keynote address at the 13th National Peace Symposium hosted by the Ahmadiyya Community UK. He presented Ms Hadeel Qassim with the Ahmadiyya Prize for the Advancement of Peace in recognition of her outstanding personal efforts to alleviate the suffering of thousands of refugee children stranded in dangerous and inhospitable camps in the Middle East.
At this major event, according to the press-release (extracts):
“He called on the media to use its influence ‘as a force for good and a force for peace’ by publicizing the positive activities of the majority of Muslims across the world as opposed to the ‘tiny minority’ who were perpetuating mass cruelties falsely in the name of Islam.” His Holiness also stated that there was no punishment for apostasy in Islam and that the Holy Quran was the standard bearer for universal religious freedom. His Holiness reiterated the need to cut the supply lines and funding of all terrorists and extremist groups worldwide.
“There is no doubt that the media plays a great role influencing public opinion and so the media should use this power responsibly – as a force for good and as a force for peace.
“It should show the world what true Islam represents, rather than focusing on the merciless acts of the tiny minority.”
Some MPs, a Minister and a Secretary of State also addressed the Symposium attended by 900 people from 26 countries.