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Home Critical Analysis/Archives Report on Punjab Disturbances of 1953
Report of The Court of Inquiry
PART V
RESPONSIBILITY FOR DISTURBANCES

RESPONSIBILITY

Having found the circumstances which led to the disturbances, we now proceed to determine the responsibility therefor. In this connection it is first necessary to state the respective views of the parties who have taken part in the proceedings before us.

The Punjab Government and the Muslim League do not appear to have any views on the subject, the former having contented itself with a written statement of a few lines to the effect that since no inquiry into the matter was held by the Punjab Government and a Court of Inquiry had been constituted to investigate the whole matter, it had no views to place before the Court of Inquiry but would assist the Court in placing before it such material as it required. In the arguments addressed to us by Mr. Fazl Ilahi as amicus curiae however, it was urged by him that on the evidence produced it should be held that the Punjab Ministry and the Muslim League were proved to be responsible for the disturbances. The Muslim League has contented itself by merely sending for information of the Court copies of certain resolutions passed by it, without expressing any opinion as to the circumstances which led to the disturbances or as to the persons or parties who were responsible for them.

The written statement of Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiya, Rabwah, lays responsibility for the disturbances on the Ahrar, the Jama’at-i-Islami, the ulama and the Provincial and Central Governments. The Anjuman accuses the Ahrar of having exploited a religious issue for the purpose of regaining their lost position and rehabilitating themselves with the public. Similar motives are attributed to Jama’at-i-Islami, and it is alleged that Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi’s object in emphasising on an Islamic Government for Pakistan was; to occupy the first place in the State and that it was with this ulterior object that Jama’at-i-Islami made a common cause with the Ahrar and the other ulama. The addition of a ninth demand to the eight demands of Jama’at-i-Islami for the future Constitution of Pakistan, which was intended to assign to the Ahmadis the position of a non-Muslim minority in the Constitution itself, is pointed out as having been prompted by a political and not by a religious motive. The same motive is attributed to the ulama who allied themselves with the Ahrar in the campaign against Ahmadis, and it is alleged that the object of the ulama was precisely the same as that of Jama’at-i-Islami, namely, to acquire political power and control by emphasising the religious aspect of the future Constitution. The Central Government and the Provincial Government are brought in for a share of the blame because of their indifference to the storm which, as a result of intensive propaganda, had been brewing for a long time, without either Government having made any effort to stop it. The Punjab Chief Minister’s proclamation of 6th March 1953, that the Punjab Government accepted the correctness of the demands and was deputing a Provincial Minister to go to Karachi to place the Punjab’s point of view before the Central Government, is stated to have caused complete collapse of law and order and let loose a reign of terror against Ahmadis, and in proof of this allegation several cases of murder, loot and arson that occurred in Lahore after that proclamation are mentioned.

According to the Ahrar’s case the responsibility for the disturbances rests, first, on certain foreign powers which were desirous of regulating Pakistan policy in their own interests. In this connection Great Britain and United States of America are accused of having pursued an anti-Muslim policy in the past and of having used Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan as a tool for that purpose. The second party held responsible by the Ahrar are the Qadianis themselves, particularly Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, the head of the Ahmadiya community, and Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan. The third party to be blamed for the disturbances is stated to be Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din. the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and his colleagues, who, by their weakness and lack of judgment, are alleged to have created an atmosphere favourable for the disturbances, while the fourth party arraigned under this charge is the Provincial Government and its officers, who are accused of having provoked the public by excessive use of force.

According to the written statements of the Punjab Majlis-i-Amal, the disturbances are relatable, firstly, to the Ahmadiya movement and the provocative conduct of the Ahmadis; secondly, to the preferential treatment accorded to Ahmadis by the Central and the Provincial Governments; thirdly, to the inability of both these Governments to find a timely solution of the Ahmadi problem; fourthly, to the excessive forces used to quell peaceful and constitutional demonstrations by the public and the provocative conduct of officers; fifthly, to some individual Ahmadis and organised parties of Ahmadis, who deliberately engaged themselves in violence to provide an excuse for the Government to crush the Tahaffuz-i-Khatm-i-nubuwwat movement; and sixthly, to anti-social elements of society who for their own nefarious ends created an atmosphere of lawlessness.

The Jama’at-i-Islami in its written statement throws the responsibility for the disturbances on the Ahmadis themselves in the first instance, and secondly, on Government, both Central and Provincial. In attempting to make out a case against the Ahmadis, the Jama’at makes a concise but full reference to the peculiar doctrines of the Ahmadis, to the writings and speeches of the founder of that community and his followers, which are alleged to be highly provocative and calculated to wound the religious susceptibilities of Musalmans, and to the separatist and disloyal activities of Ahmadis and a consistent effort on their part to carve out of the general body of Muslims a separate and cohesive class having nothing in common with them and constituting in fact a danger to their solidarity. As against the Government, it is alleged that it pursued a weak, unwise and vacillating policy in the matter which caused considerable confusion, not only among the public but also the services. The Government is accused of having allowed for several months a violent agitation to go on in the press and on the platform in support of the demands which had become a clear issue between all Muslims on the one side and the Ahmadis on the other. Though the ulama, including the head of Jama’at-i-Islami, did their best to make the Government alive to the delicate position that had developed almost to a bursting point, the Government is alleged to have persisted in its policy of indifference and indecision, without realising that the demands were the unanimous demands of all Muslims. The volte-face which Government displayed by ordering the arrest of the ulama on 27th February in Karachi and the subsequent policy of arrests on a wide scale, and the use of section 144 and excessive force are alleged to have materially contributed to the disturbances. The Jama’at dissociates itself from the ‘direct action’ and points out that it never endorsed that line of action and emphasises the principle that in a democratic country any popular demand which acquires such importance as the anti-Ahmadiya movement did in the present case, has got to be faced and determined on its merits.

On behalf of the deposed Ministry Mr. Daultana, the late Chief Minister, considers the following factors to be responsible for the situation as it developed :—

(1) Age-old anti-Ahmadi feelings of the Muslims,

(2) The short-sighted attitude of the Ahmadis themselves, who instead of mitigating their difference with the rest of the Muslims paraded and emphasised them.

(3) The vague religious basis of the national ideology of Pakistan, which, due to the stress put on it in and out of season, gave strength to mullaism and plausibility to the mulla’s way of dealing with political principles,

(4) The exploitation by the Ahrar of an explosive situation for their political purposes,

(5) The participation of general body of the ulama in the agitation.

(6) The activities of the malcontents, professional miscreants and similar elements after the disturbances broke out.

(7) The leadership of the Central Government which failed to give a lead to the people.

Deepest discontent in all sections of society, rapid deterioration in economic conditions and failure of food supply, national problems like Kashmir, Junagarh, relations with India, the handling of the constitutional problems and the delay in defining the future shape of Government, complaints with regard to the administration, lack of confidence in leadership and general frustration and demoralisation in every quarter are also mentioned by Mr. Daultana as contributory causes of the disturbances.

Most of the officers from Lahore and the mofussil, who have submitted written statements, have blamed the Ahrar and the mullas who joined them in fanning the agitation. Some of them have also commented upon the indifference of the Central Government in not giving a correct and timely lead to the public. A few officers hold the Ahmadis also to be responsible for what came to pass.

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