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Home Critical Analysis/Archives Report on Punjab Disturbances of 1953
Report of The Court of Inquiry

PRESS

We have described and commented at length on the activities of the press during the relevant period. The worst offenders in this respect were the ‘Azad’, the ‘Zamindar’, the ’Ehsan’, the ‘Afaq’ and the ‘Maghribi Pakistan’. The first of these was a purely Ahrar paper, but the other four papers were certainly susceptible to Government influence because of the large aid they had received from Government. The ‘Afaq’ was practically Mr. Daultana’s own paper. In any case, it was directly under the control and supervision of Mir Nur Ahmad, who, as Director of Public Relations, was in matters of policy subject to the control of Mr. Daultana. We cannot imagine, as Dr. Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi could not, that Mr. Daultana was not aware of the nature and volume of stuff that these papers were pouring out during this long period. If the article in the ‘Afaq’ of 1st June was representative of its past attitude towards the movement, then it was till then taking a sensible view of the controversy; but in early July there came a sudden change in its policy and it started not only devoting unusual attention to the agitation but entirely changed its views on the subject, and in their policy and argument its articles began to present complete coincidence with the resolution of the Muslim League and the speeches of Mr. Daultana. Probably it borrowed its views from the resolution and the speeches, but it is equally possible, though there is no direct evidence of it, that there was some collaboration between Mr. Daultana and Mir Nur Ahmad, who was controlling the policy of this paper, with the object of diverting the direction of the storm to Karachi. In any case, this was the natural effect of the articles which this paper wrote after the Provincial Muslim League's resolution of 27th July.

The “Zamindar’s” popularity and circulation is stated to have been due to its constant abuse and ridicule of the Ahmadis. We, however, do not believe that if the Director of Public Relations, in view of the substantial help that Government had given to this paper, had wished to control its activities, it would have persisted in its attitude, particularly in view of the relations that existed between Maulana Akhtar Ali Khan and Mr. Daultana himself. The ‘Ehsan’ and the ‘Maghribi Pakistan’ could certainly not have afforded to displease the Director of Public Relations. The Government aid to the former was a sheer windfall, and in view of its small publication the contribution to the latter was substantial. These papers also carried on a vigorous propaganda in favour of the demands, with the result that it began to be more and more clearly recognised that to have the demands accepted it was necessary either to convert Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din to them or to threaten him into submission.

In an earlier part of the report we have reproduced the substance of the articles which these newspapers wrote on the controversy. The unusual interest that they took in the subject by repeatedly writing on it and the manner in which they attempted to justify the demands clearly show that their intention was to fan the agitation and to make it as much widespread as they could. Not one word is to be found anywhere in the columns of these papers to discourage or disapprove of what was happening in the Province in this connection. Publication of long and argumentative articles to show that Ahmadis were a separate community, sensational news of events and incidents connected with the agitation, results of interviews, speeches made in meetings and of resolutions passed in mosques and elsewhere could only lead to the spread and accentuation of the agitation, and this result was not only known to these papers but must have been intended by them. Further, the point sought to be made by these papers that the demands were within the cognisance of the Centre could only have the effect of diverting the course of the agitation to Karachi. Earlier we have accepted the allegation against the Director of Public Relations that he was a party to this policy of ‘canalising’ the movement towards Karachi, and all these papers who were, with the exception of the ‘Azad’, under an obligation to the Director of Public Relations and susceptible to his influence, seem to have borrowed their policy in this respect from him. They were, therefore, all responsible for the situation that was created by the rejection of the demands and, therefore, for the consequent disturbances.

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