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CONCLUSIONS ON THIS PART
It is fitting to review the whole situation.
Everybody was agreed that the Ahrar were a subversive force. They were opposed to the creation of Pakistan and even Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar thinks that they were anxious to “rehabilitate” themselves. In 1950 and again in 1952, Mr. Anwar Ali, then D. I.-G, (C. I. D.) strongly recommended that they should be declared an unlawful body. Mr. Qurban Ali Khan wrote very strong and prophitic notes on the possible consequences of neglect. One lawlessness breeds another. One damn thing leads to another. But whenever there was a conference, either they were persuaded to change their strong views, or official decorum restrained them from protesting. Mr. Daultana, therefore, says that everybody agreed with whatever decision we find on the files, and the officers concerned have not contradicted him. We ought to hold, therefore, that the responsibility was joint, though we feel differently. Further, we feel that the Ahrar were treated as members of the family and the Ahmadis as strangers. The Ahrar behaved like the child whom his father threatens with punishment for beating a stranger, but, who, knowing that he will not be punished, beats the stranger again. Then, out of sheer embarrassment, since other people are watching, his father does strike him—but gently.
And so, as the Central Government was constantly inquiring, and C. I. D. notes were mounting pile upon pile, a conference was held on the 25th of May 1952, and it was decided to ban all Ahrar and Ahmadi meetings. This was good enough, but by the 5th of July it was whittled down to a mere nothing. Let processions be taken out, let meetings be held, in defiance of the ban. Let nobody be arrested—except the Ahrar, Let no Ahrar be arrested—except the prominent Ahrar. Let no prominent Ahrar be arrested, if he addresses a meeting not organised by his own party, without reference to Government.
And the district authorities naturally added to it a fourth injunction. Let there be no reference to Government. For if there is a reference, it will take time. After all, the Government has to look after sixteen police stations, and refugees and receptions make two additional police stations. The case will have to be referred to a meeting after seven or eight other files of the same kind become available. Then, after three months, you hear that Abdullah and Narain are only petty people and their prosecution will serve no useful purpose. But even if a prosecution were sanctioned, what deterrent value has it after three months?
Although the decisions of the 5th July were taken when Mr. Daultana was at Nathiagali, there are indications that they were discussed with him before he went there. The Home Secretary also maintained telephonic contact with him.
While on the one hand it was impressed upon the officers that these decisions were intended to isolate the Ahrar, on the other the Ahrar were allowed to join hands with the Ulama of all Muslim parties by holding a convention on the 13th July. By this device the Ahrar won the sympathies of a very large section of the public, who respected the Ulama infinitely more than the Ahrar.
When the Ahrar found, that their meetings were banned and some of them were prosecuted, they bought their freedom for a penny. They made a statement that they had never before preached violence, that they did not propose preaching it thereafter. But Government knew that they had preached violence, or at least that was the effect of their speeches, and knowing this, they accepted the statement as though it were an apology. Only a fortnight ago they had refused to apologise, when Mr. Anwar Ali had suggested it to them. Government know how to elicit a proper apology, as they did from Maulana Akhtar Ali Khan on the 28th February; but in the case of the Ahrar, a statement which did not detract from their respectability was accepted as a great achievement, and they were allowed to make speeches, to vilify the Foreign Minister, to calumniate the Prime Minister, to use words which tingle decency. All this time Mr. Daultana was being reminded by his officers that the Ahrar were not abiding by their undertaking, but they themselves suggested little action. Either they were conscious that their notes had little effect, or they fell into the habit of writing notes. When a number of files had accumulated, a policy meeting was suggested, and it was decided on 24th December 1952 that the ordinary law should be respected. It seems to be a joke that until then the Punjab Government in the Ministry of Law and Order, inclusive of its civil and police secretariat, did not know that the ordinary law had to be respected. But by this time the officers had reached a stage of insensitiveness where the violation of ordinary law could also be appropriately punished with a mere warning.
The Central Government issued a policy letter in September 1951 and another in July 1952, making it clear to the Provincial Government that aggressive sectarianism must be suppressed with a heavy hand. The provincial authorities, however, emphasized in their notes that the demands were a matter for the Centre’s decision, and that unless these were decided one way or the other, the law and order situation will not improve. They knew very well that the Centre could under no circumstances accept the demands and that if there was going to be any decision, it would be a decision of rejection. But they insisted that a decision must be taken, and the Centre, represented by Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din, did not wish to say openly that he was rejecting the demands, as, he thought, this would bring him into a head-on clash with the Ulama, and he had a profound leaning towards the Ulama.
But while we think that the demands could have been rejected without any religious scruple, and without any danger to public peace, and without injury to public feelings, we do not think it was necessary to give an answer for the purposes of the law and order situation. That situation had tremendously improved by the imposition of a simple ban, inadequate as it was, but was allowed to deteriorate by an attitude of complete indifference to what the Ahrar or the Ulama said or did after July 1952. On the contrary, it was encouraged by the Chief Minister’s public utterances supporting the view that the Ahmadis were not Muslims.
The press was definitely encouraged by the Director of Public Relations to fan the agitation, and with Dr. Qureshi we are inclined to think that Mr. Daultana could not have been unaware of what the press was doing. Four vernacular papers had been handsomely paid for thousands of copies which were perhaps never purchased, in pursuance of an old policy that papers which supported the Government should be patronised, and although these very papers were the keenest agitators, their contracts were renewed early in July 1952 with the knowledge of Mr. Daultana. A sum of over two lakhs which the Assembly had voted for the education of illiterate adults was diverted under the orders of Mr. Daultana to the purchase of these four papers and the scheme was to be kept confidential. The Director told us without the least compunction that his scheme was to aid a certain type of papers, not to promote literacy. The “Zamindar”, notwithstanding that it continued spreading hatred even after July 1952, when Dr. Qureshi complained to Mr. Daultana, was treated as God’s own agent and action delayed against it until it could no longer be delayed. In short, the Centre complained vigorously. The “Azad”, the Ahrar’s official organ, was repeatedly brought to the notice of the Provincial Government by the Centre and repeatedly treated with mere warnings.
The challenge of the Majlis-i-Amal was not treated seriously by either Government. Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din was hoping to the last moment that something happy will turn up, while the Provincial Government seemed satisfied that the agitation will start in Karachi.
Finally, when the ultimatum was rejected, the whole situation was treated as a peaceful theatrical performance where processions are stage-managed and slogans raised, for the benefit of a contented audience. “Processions in Lahore are taken out almost daily, and nobody takes them seriously”. There were many palavers and little action, “The police was there and the army was there.” And everybody was devoting deep thought to the situation, as one officer said, and everybody knew what to do. Everybody felt that the army could have accomplished a great deal, but nobody can say why it did not happen.
“Some say, they were three, and the fourth was their dog; others say, they were five, and the sixth was their dog, guessing at random. * * * * say, my Lord knoweth best.”
And it is our deep conviction that if the Ahrar had been treated as a pure question of law and order, without any political considerations, one District Magistrate and one Superintendent of Police could have dealt with them. Consequently, we are prompted by something that they call a human conscience to enquire whether, in our present state of political development, the administrative problem of law and order cannot be divorced from a democratic bed fellow called a Ministerial Government, which is so remorselessly haunted by political nightmares. But if democracy means the subordination of law and order to political ends—then Allah knoweth best and we end the report.
268. 362 CS 3,000—2-7-54 SOPP Lahore