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Author: Iain Adamson
Description: This is the first biography in English of Ahmad who said that he came in the gentle spirit of Jesus. But Christian, Hindu, and Muslim priests alike received him with Physical violance. His followers, as in early Christian times, have been murdered and martyred. (read it online)
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Home Critical Analysis/Archives Report on Punjab Disturbances of 1953
Report of The Court of Inquiry


We have so far confined this part to the conferences held and the speeches made, with a necessary reference here and there to a newspaper article or a pamphlet. There is a definite allegation, however, that while on the one hand Mr. Daultana took no action after the agreement with the Ahrar in July 1952, on the other hand certain papers which were under the Government’s influence were actively encouraged to fan the movement and to “canalise” it in the direction of Karachi.

The decision of the Provincial League Council, which was held at Lahore on the 26th and 27th Canalisation. July 1953, to refer the demands to the Centre is cited as an eloquent instance of canalisation. On the face of it, Mr. Daultana persuaded the delegates, in the teeth of stiff opposition, not to insist on passing a resolution that the Ahmadis be declared a minority, but he did so, it is argued, in order to ward off suspicion, to direct the movement to the Centre, to embarrass the Central Government. For that reason he prepared the ground by making up with the Ahrar, withdrawing all bans virtually without condition, but if there was any condition, it was that the Ahrar would support Mr. Daultana in the next election, which might be precipitated by the ferocity of the Khatm-i-Nubuwwat movement, and that Mr. Daultana would then stand on the Khatm-i-Nubuwwat ticket. Whether that was agreed or not is a matter for the next election, but our present object is to examine the so-called “canalising” tendencies. We should add here that Kh. Nazim-ud-Din also felt aggrieved on that score. “Whoever pressed the Centre for a decision,” he stated, “did so in order that the responsibility should shift to the Centre.            *          *          In that case, if the Army and the Police shot anybody, the provincial leaders would say it was at the bidding of the Centre. If in the sequel the Central Government were overthrown, the Provincial Government would say to the people: ‘We had supported you throughout’.”

The press generally receives vast patronage from the Directorate of Four papers in the pay of Government. Public Relations in the form of advertisements, but it will presently appear that four of the vernacular papers were more or less in the pay of Government for large sums received in advance as the price of newspaper copies to be supplied to certain institutions—schools, hospitals and Jails—in execution of on anti-illiteracy drive. The position as to the principal papers in Lahore was as follows: The ‘Pakistan Times’, the ‘Imroze’ and the ‘Nawae Waqt’ did not interest themselves in the movement, the ‘C. & M. Gazette’ belonged to a pro-Ahmadi concern, the ‘Azad’ was an Ahrar organ, the ‘Alfzal’ (with a limited circulation) an Ahmadi organ, and the ‘Zamindar’ notoriously pro-Ahrar. The ‘Zamindar’ and three other papers received altogether the following amounts from Government in the account we have already mentioned:—

(apart from Rs. 26,250 on account of advertisements).
Maghribi Pakistan
Parts of these payments were made on the following dates in July, 1952.—
To Zamindar
on 3rd July.
To Afaq
on 4th July.
To Ehsan
on 5th July.

The scheme of patronising papers wag first adopted in December 1950 Original scheme of patronage, 1950. or January 1951 in a conference convened by Kh. Shahab-ud-Din as Minister for Information “to compensate papers which suffered in sale because of maintaining a sober and sympathetic attitude towards the Government,” says Mir Nur Ahmad, who was Director of Public Information during Mr. Daultana’s Government. It was contended by the counsel for the present Government, Ch. Fazal Ilahi, that Mir Nur Ahmad was the agent of Mr. Daultana’s Government in using these four papers for the purpose of keeping the agitation alive and directing it to Karachi. Mir Nur Ahmad, however, maintains that D.P.R.’s plea until July 1952, the policy of Government was not to interfere with the right of newspapers to support or oppose a particular view, but that in the third or fourth week of July he was told by the Chief Minister to use his influence and advise the papers to give up writing on the subject.

It is not correct, however, that the Government as a whole, (in which term we include the Secretaries) became Home Secretary’s complaint against press : 4th July 1952. concerned about the press only in the second or third week of July. For on the 4th July 1952, the Home Secretary sent to the Chief Minister at Nathia Gali quite an anxious note (Annexure H-1 to his written statement) about the perversity of some of the editors. “I sent for the D.P.R. in the morning and told him to accelerate his machinery and flood the province with propaganda material. I impressed upon him that one or two press notes will not meet the situation    *    *    *        *.    As desired by H. C. M., I spoke to Maulana Akhtar Ali Khan and the editors of his group on the 1st July and explained the whole situation to them and answered all the questions which they could think of for dispelling their apprehensions and misgivings. They went back completely satisfied, but I am sorry to say that with the exception of one paper they did not express approbation of Government’s action even in a mild form. I again spoke to M. Akhtar Ali Khan yesterday as desired by H. C. M. on the telephone and after having been convinced once again about the bona fides of whatever we have done, he has virtually upheld in today’s paper all that the Ahrar have been saying. The other papers of his group have done likewise.    *    *    *   Messrs. Hamid Nizami (of the Nawae Waqt) and Mazhar Ali Khan (of Pakistan Times) were also called by me yesterday. They both considered that what this Government had done was worthy of popular support.       *            *          *          *          Mr. Nizami, however, said he feared that if he were to say so in his organ, the newspapers favoured by the Government and the Muslim League would be the first to denounce him as an Ahmadi for increasing their own circulation.            *          *          *          *          Government itself made use of religion: Mr. Mazhar Ali Khan of Pakistan Times. Mr. Mazhar Ali Khan said that the root cause of the trouble was that Government had themselves made religion their source of slogans and strength. He added that if one group could exploit religion, how could the others be denied its use for furthering their own ends.”

In the Home Secretary’s place, we would have expressed gratitude to both these gentlemen for giving us some home-truths.

Mr. Ghias-ud-Din said in his evidence that this note was signed by the Chief Minister and returned. I.G. pulls up D.P.R. for paucity of publicity. On one occasion, he said, Mr. Anwar Ali, Mr. Qurban Ali and he himself waited on the Chief Minister and spoke to him on the subject. Thereafter, Mr. Qurban Ali sent for Mir Nur Ahmad and told him in strong terms that publicity must be organised on more effective lines. As a. result of this exhortation “one or two posters” were issued by the D.P.R.

Possibly that is why Mr. Ghias-ud-Din said in his note of 4th July that “one or two posters” will not do.

In the decisions taken on the 5th July, 1952, it was expressly stated that “propaganda in newspapers Propaganda stressed in decision of 5th July also. should also be intensified and the papers which are generally pro-Government should be asked to co-operate in this matter also because their attitude is anything but favourable towards the Government in this matter.”

But Mir Nur Ahmad says: “In the conference of 5th July the officers D.P.R.’s false defence. told me nothing in particular”—one gets the impression that they told him hardly anything worth mentioning. But he adds, unostentatiously: “except that pro-Government papers were not helpful and I should try to get more help.” This is like saying: “He did not cause any particularly serious injury, except that it was six inches deep.” Again; “Their attitude was that the administration should do nothing which might be construed either in favour of or against the demands. This meant that I should not interfere.” It was then that he was confronted with the relevant decisions of the 5th July. If the pro-Government papers were to be asked to co-operate “in this matter”, if it was by the Home Secretary that their attitude was “anything but favourable”, how could it mean that Mr. Nur Ahmad was not to interfere or do anything which should betray the mind of Government? But when confronted he said, “This related to the misunderstanding regarding the ban on the mosques.”

That there was a general complaint against the pro-Government press and also about the Complaint to Dr. Qureshi at Lahore: July 1952. Department of Islamiat is evident from the statement of Dr. Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi, Minister for Information. When he came to Lahore in the latter half of July, 1952, he was told by somebody whom he does not remember that the Directorate of Public Relations had been supplying newspapers with articles which were calculated to fan the agitation. He was morally convinced that the information was correct and frankly asked Mir Nur Ahmad “parries”. Mir Nur Ahmad whether it was true that the Department of Islamiat was Supplying articles to newspapers. “He tried to parry the question, but I pressed him. He said that efforts had been made to “canalise” the agitation into certain channels. I had in particular confronted him with the fact that the Afaq, which was for all practical purposes under the Directorate of Public Relations, had taken up the attitude that the Ahmadis should be declared a minority. His answer was that this had been done to canalise the agitation into certain channels. I said it was not ‘canalising’ but fanning the agitation.” Thereafter Dr. Qureshi contacted Mr. Daultana who asked him to tea on the 19th July. He told Mr. Daultana that if the Provincial Government had decided upon a line of action which was a departure from the previous line of action in connection with publicity, it was only fair that the matter should have been discussed with him at Nathiagali (at the meeting of the Basic Principles Committee early in July). Mr. Daultana said this “canalising” had been done without his knowledge. He conceded that Dr. Qureshi should have been consulted.

Dr. Qureshi had asked the local editors to an informal tea. At this function, Mr. Hamid Nizami accused D.P.R. Mr. Hamid Nizami alleged that Mir Nur Ahmad himself was responsible for carrying on this campaign in the papers. Dr. Qureshi said that Mir Nur Ahmad said nothing in reply to the allegation. Mr. Humid Nizami, appearing as a witness, stated that he had pointed his finger to Mir Nur Ahmad as “the arch-criminal”. Dr. Qureshi does not remember the exact words used, but agrees to the statement in broad outline.

When he returned to Karachi, he told the Prime Minister that in his opinion the agitation was being fanned by the Directorate of Public Relations and that “it was very strange that a department of a Provincial Government should adopt a policy in such an important matter without explicit permission or orders from the Central Government. I should say that if Mr. Daultana did not know that the Directorate of Public Relations was fanning the agitation, it was very strange, because cuttings of newspapers on this important question must have been supplied to him and he must have known that papers which were almost directly under the control of Government, like the ‘Afaq’, were adopting the same line. Therefore, I really was surprised when Mr. Daultana told me that this line had been taken without his knowledge”. Mr. Daultana told him he would look into the matter, but Dr. Qureshi heard nothing further.

Mir Nur Ahmad denies that Mr. Hamid Nizami had accused him before D.P.R. contradicts Dr. Qureshi. Dr. Qureshi—“within my hearing”—as being the arch-criminal. Mir Nur Ahmad is careful in the use of words, and therefore qualifies his denial with reference to his power of hearing, leaving it open to us to accept Dr. Qureshi’s statement without at the same time disbelieving Mir Nur Ahmad. According to him, the conversation which he had with Dr. Qureshi related to two complaints which had come to Dr. Qureshi’s notice : (1) that though pro-Government papers had been publishing articles in support of the agitation, Mir Nur Ahmad had not exerted himself to stop them, and (2) that Maulvi Ibrahim Ali Chishti, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Islamiat had been contributing articles on the subject. As to the first subject, he explained that what the papers had been writing was “generally within those limits” which had been regarded as permissible in the past and that he had received no instructions to stop them. (He spoke to Dr. Qureshi on or about the 19th July, and on the 5th July the Home Secretary had complained to him that the papers were not co-operating.) As regards the second complaint he expressed ignorance and surprise. He denied having told Dr. Qureshi that he was “canalising” the movement. He does not even remember using that quaint expression.

Mr. Daultana’s version of the matter is altogether different : Mr. Daultana’s version. Dr. Qureshi had suggested that personal influence should be exerted and had incidentally mentioned the fact that he had received complaints that Mir Nur Ahmad had either encouraged the writing of some articles or had himself written some under another name. Since his informant was Mr. Hamid Nizami, Mr. Daultana told him that Mr. Nizami and Mir Nur Ahmad were hostile to each other ; but that he would look into the matter. A few days later he called Mir Nur Ahmad who denied the allegation, and no further action seemed necessary.

Mir Nur Ahmad says it was he who had told the Chief Minister that Dr. Qureshi had complained to him, and that the Chief Minister had not told him that Dr. Qureshi had complained to him also.

Dr. Qureshi is not an interested party in this matter. We are satisfied that his statement has not been disproved, and that the evidence to the contrary is mutually contradictory. Dr. Qureshi could not have said one thing to Mr. Daultana and another to Mir Nur Ahmad, in respect of the same complaint.

Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani has stated that some time during the summer of Mr. Gurmani supports Dr. Qureshi. 1952, Dr. Qureshi had told members of the Cabinet that he had received complaints that the sectarian articles appearing in the Punjab press were being supplied through agencies which were either Government agencies or were patronised by Government, that the Chief Minister had denied knowledge and promised to make inquiries, and that he, namely Dr. Qureshi was not satisfied with Mir Nur Ahmad’s explanation.

Kh. Nazim-ud-Din discussed the subject with Mr. Daultana on or about the 4th August. Says Kh. Nazim-ud-Din: Kh. Nazim-ud-Din speaking to Mr. Daultana “I told him Dr. Qureshi thought that Mir Nur Ahmad had been supplying material to various papers in support of the movement. I pointed out that while the Pakistan Times, the lmroze, the Nawa-i-Waqt and the C. &. M. Gazette were silent, the Government-controlled papers, particularly the Zamindar, were fanning the agitation. He said that Urdu papers depended for circulation on a popular subject and it was difficult to stop them, but that his object was to control the vigilance of the campaign in the papers by advice. I told him the best way of tackling the situation was to prevent the papers from fanning the agitation and that he was the only person who could do so as these papers depended on him for patronage”.

As to this, Mr. Daultana has said that the statement of Kh. Nazim-ud-Din was “incorrect and Mr. Daultana contradicts Kh. Nazim-ud-Din quite illogical, because, after acting on Dr. Qureshi’s suggestion that I should try and use personal influence to have the subject blacked out, I could not go to the Prime Minister and tell him that it was a good thing for the Punjab Government to contribute to the newspapers articles in favour of the agitation when we were persuading them not to write anything whatsoever on the subject”. The argument assumes that Mr. Daultana acted on Dr. Qureshi’s suggestion, but a better argument in defence of Mr. Daultana would be to say that after informing Dr. Qureshi that he knew nothing about Mir Nur Ahmad’s activities, he would not tell Kh. Nazim-ud-Din that, after all, “canalising” was not without merit. Mr. Daultana does not inform is, however, what exactly he told Kh. Nazim-ud-Din, or whether the subject was at all mentioned. We have no doubt that it was mentioned, because Dr. Qureshi left Lahore with as firm a conviction about Mir Nur Ahmad as circumstantial evidence could ever produce—to say nothing of Mr. Hamid Nizami’s straight accusation—and since he mentioned the subject not only to Kh. Nazim-ud-Din but also to the whole Cabinet by way of a complaint, Kh. Nazim-ud-Din would naturally discuss it with the general situation relating to the movement.

It has already been noticed that some of the payments to papers were made on Contracts with pa-pers renewed not-withstanding their attitude. the 3rd, 4th and 5th July, when the movement was in swing. No Government which felt worried about an agitation would continue patronising a press which, rather than co-operate, gave publicity to the contrary point of view. But Mir Nur Ahmad did so, and Mr. Daultana knew about it. We know how bitterly the Home Secretary complained against the “pro-Government papers” on the 4th July and how the decisions of the 5th July described their attitude as anything but favourable. When asked why he made these fresh payments when he knew that these papers were engaged in “objectionable activities”, Mir Nur Ahmad replied: “I do not think they were engaged in objectionable activities”. That is quite true, if these activities were approved by Government, or at least by Mir Nur Ahmad. He further says he made these allocations “on his own” and “submitted the case to the Chief Chief Minister approved his action. Minister who approved the allocations”. He is apparently referring to his note of 30th July 1952, which says that the payments were made “as already verbally submitted to H. C. M”. There was obviously a previous verbal submission. When the note was shown to Mr. Daultana, he said : “This means that after expending the money, the fact was mentioned to me. He did not discuss the expenditure with me”. Mr. Daultana’s emphasis was on the words italicized. But as the note shows that payments were made on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of July, the following question was put to him : “The  expenditure, therefore, must have been mentioned to you by the D. P. R. before you left for Nathiagali ?” The answer was that “disbursements were in continuation of a previous policy of 1950”. This is hardly a useful answer, for the policy of 1950 was to subsidise pro-Government papers, which, by reason of their moderation, suffered in circulation. Mr. Daultana, therefore, explains that the first time that Government decided to use its influence in persuading these papers to blackout the controversy was in the third week of July, This answer was intended to meet the present situation, but in a different place Mr. Daultana included the month of August also in the policy of non-interference. “With the ‘Zamindar’ we were not successful.*   *   *   *   *   The contract with the ‘Zamindar’ was not terminated because it was not the aim to establish control over the entire policy of a paper. In July and August neither we not the Centre had any policy as regards the demands”. Mr. Daultana says there was no policy till then : July-August 1952. But this answer forgets that in the third week of July Dr. Qureshi had asked Mr. Daultana to persuade the press to blackout the agitation, while in the previous answer there is at least an admission that Government did decide to blackout the controversy at some stage. There should, consequently, be no doubt in the mind of Government what attitude to adopt towards the agitation after July.

Further, one cannot agree that there was, at least according to the C.I.D. files, no But there was a policy. policy to control the press in July. In the note of 4th July, Mr. Ghias-ud-Din informed Mr. Daultana at Nathiagali that in obedience to the latter’s instructions on the telephone, he had sent for Maulana Akhtar Ali Khan and spoken to him. Either Mr. Daultana spoke with one voice to the Home Secretary and with another to the D. P. R., or he is forgetting that even in the beginning of July he was suggesting methods of control to the Home Secretary.

Mr. Daultana’s contention that there was no policy in July and August furnishes, by implication, an affirmative answer to the question that the payments must have been discussed with him before he went to Nathiagali. But if there is any meaning in the words “after expending the money”, then at least at that stage Mr. Daultana could have pointed out that the payments actually defeated the policy of 1950, and that he ought to have been consulted previously.

There is hardly any answer in this context which fails to invite criticism. The contract with the ‘Zamindar’ continued with propaganda. ‘Zamindar’ notwithstanding its rabid pursuit of the controversy, was not terminated “because it was not the aim to establish control over the entire policy of a paper”. One might ask whether the aim was to establish control over that part of a paper’s policy which did not affect the Government. Was it consistent with the policy of 1950 to patronise a paper which fanned the agitation ? It would be, if the policy of Government also is to fan the agitation.

Both Mr. Daultana and Mir Nur Ahmad maintain that, with the exception of the ‘Zamindar’, the other Reason for it. three papers seldom published any article in connection with the controversy after they had been advised to black it out. We have noticed in Part II how illusory this “ blackout ” was. The reason why the ‘Zamindar’ did not abstain, says Mir Nur Ahmad, was “I guess that M. Akhtar Ali Khan thought he was getting a great deal of popularity by associating with the movement”. It was perhaps for that reason that it received another sum of Rs. 7,000 in October 1952. “The case of the And received another sum in October. ’Zamindar’ was discussed with the Chief Minister on several occasions (and once also with the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) and each time it was decided that the normal considerations which were being shown to friendly papers should not be withdrawn from it.” Why they should not be withdrawn is exactly what we want to know. On the 2nd of March 1953 the paper was banned under the orders of the Central Government, but was continued in another name, ‘Asar’ with the word ‘Zamindar’ written prominently on the reverse. The ‘Asar’ was an old paper under the same proprietor, but its declaration had lapsed owing to non-publication for a certain period. It was stopped on that ground, but not on the ground that it was in effect a continuation of the ‘Zamindar’. However, Mir Nur Ahmad forthwith recommended that ‘Maghribi Pakistan’, which had been acquired by Maulana Akhtar Ali Khan, should be allowed to continue publication in the same month. This was because M. Akhtar Ali Khan’s son, Mansoor Ali Khan, had given an undertaking that he would follow a totally different policy. At a time when Martial Law regime was trying to purge Lahore of the crude chauvinism which the ‘Zamindar’ stood for, Mir Nur Ahmad was innocently administering a counteracting pill, and if the Central Government had not protested in time, he might well have succeeded. He denied that there was any protest from the Centre until he was confronted with a note relating to a telephone call from Karachi.

Certain objectionable articles appearing in various papers, principally the ‘Azad’ and the ‘Zamindar’ (pages 1588-89 of the paper book) were brought to Mir Nur Ahmad’s notice and he was asked whether he had proposed any action in respect of them. He replied that these were from time to time discussed with the Chief Minister, who each time said that action should be postponed till some decisions was taken on how the movement was to be dealt with as a whole. The main reason for postponing action against the Zamindar, according to him was that action would create more problems that it would solve.

On 18th February, 1953, a telegram came from the Centre, drawing attention D.P.R. tries to save Zamindar to certain articles in the ‘Azad’ and the ‘Zamindar’, two in the ‘Zamindar’ and three in the ‘Azad’, all relating to February, and hoping that necessary measures would be taken to check the press from fanning the agitation. In relation to the ‘Zamindar’ Mir Nur Ahmad made the following note : “Zamindar is pretty bad on the Ahmadi question, but I think we should wait and see how the agitation develops’’. He now says he thought it would be suitable to deal with the ‘Zamindar’ as part of Government’s action against the movement as whole. “The reason for discrimination was that the ‘Zamindar’ presented a peculiar problem ; Akhtar Ali Khan was President of the Pakistan Newspaper Editor’s Conference and in the good books of the Centre”. When he was told that the Centre itself was proposing action on this occasion, he replied : (we reproduce only the substance of his evidence). “The Centre had two voices. The Ministry of Information, anxious to keep this paper on the right side of Government, advised only persuasive methods with the ‘Zamindar.’ The Ministry of Interior drew attention to objectionable passages and suggested action which they themselves could take. The question was discussed with the Chief Minister at intervals of about a month, but not this time. It is true that the Ministry of Interior sent a top-secret moat-immediate cypher telegram suggesting action, but I had to place my views before Government. I did not refer in my note to the other voice of the Centre—the Ministry of Information”.

The more we read Mir Nur Ahmad’s explanations, the more we get a feeling of sickness. But we should observe that he must have relied on strong backing somewhere if he could so flout the urgent requests of the Centre. But how could anything said by the Ministry of Information—assuming that something was actually said—be even distantly related to the following passage in his note : “Action in regard to the press will have to be part of a comprehensive policy dealing with the agitation if it takes the form of law-breaking?” Most of his expressions had no meaning for us, and therefore, we asked him whether he intended that action should be deferred until the law started being broken. He said that he merely meant that action would probably have to be stricter Fudge. if lawlessness broke out. “By action I meant suitable action—that action would have to be suited to the situation.” We think “Fudge” would be the least harmful expression that ought to be used in reply to these explanations.

There is no doubt that the ‘Zamindar’ was a pampered paper. Zamindar was a favourite. After all the admissions of favouritism, express and implied, made by Mir Nur Ahmad in relation to the ‘Zamindar’ he stated in reply to Mr. Daultana’s counsel that Maulana Akhtar Ali Khan was on intimate terms with Kh. Nazim-ud-Din. But is there any other Maulana, including Qazi Ehsan Ahmad Shujabadi, with his wooden box of Ahmadi literature, who cannot claim that honour ? Kh. Nazim-ud-Din made himself available to all these gentlemen in the hope of furthering his negotiations, and if Maulana Akhtar Ali Khan took advantage of the situation and even asked for the Governor-General’s Viking to take him from Bahawalpur to Karachi, it merely reflects on his own great qualities. After all his efforts to oblige both the Government and the people, Kh. Nazim-ud-Din has called him a fickle-minded person “who told me one thing in Karachi and did another in Lahore”.

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