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The important papers in Lahore are the ‘Pakistan Times’ the ‘Civil & Military Gazette’, the ‘Nawa-i-Waqt’, the ‘Imroz’, the ‘Zamindar’, the ‘Ehsan’, the ‘Maghribi Pakistan ‘, the ‘Afaq’, the Jama’at-i-Islami paper the ‘Tasneem’, and the Ahrar paper the ‘Azad’. Of these, the first four did not engage themselves in the Ahmadi and non-Ahmadi controversy and the ‘Tasneem’ wrote about it only rarely. Of the remaining papers, for the first half of 1952 the ‘Maghribi Pakistan’ referred to this subject only thrice and the ‘Afaq’ not more than twice ; but the ‘Azad’ and the ‘Zamindar’ had thrown themselves wholeheartedly into the controversy and were consistently carrying on a campaign against the Ahmadis, their beliefs, their leaders and Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan. The ‘Afaq’ was practically Mr. Daultana’s paper, while the ‘Zamindar’, the ‘Ehsan’, and the ‘Maghribi Pakistan ‘ were all Government-patronised papers. The history and details of this patronage are in themselves an interesting subject to which we may refer here.
The Provincial Government, in consequence of the recommendations made by the Pakistan Advisory Board of Education in 1947, introduced an adult education system with the object of reducing illiteracy in the Province. The objects of this fund were :
The system was in the charge of the Education Department and a sum of Rs. 2,25,000 in 1949-50, Rs. 10,00,000 in 1950-51, Rs. 6,00,000 in 1951-52 and a similar sum in 1952-53 was allocated to it.
On 18th May, 1951, Mir Nur Ahmad, the Director of Public Relations, submitted to the Chief Secretary a proposal for purchasing copies of suitable newspapers for institutions such as hospitals, jails, schools and colleges, and asked for the sanction of Rs. 50,000 expenditure for this purpose. In making the proposal he said :
He also added, but without giving any reasons, that further details of the scheme were to remain confidential. The proposal was supported by the Chief Secretary and forwarded to the Chief Minister for orders in consultation with the Education Minister but it was strongly opposed by the Education Department on the ground that newspapers could only be useful for the literate and not for those who had to be made literate. The officer noting on the case in the Education Department further thought that the proposed expenditure could not be rightly debited to the Adult Education Scheme. Despite this protest by the Education Department, however, the two Ministers decided on 26th May 1951 to sanction the amount and to place it at the disposal of the Director of Public Relations. From time to time the Director of Public Relations asked for, and received, from the Education Department further sums for 1951-52 and 1952-53, the total amount thus received being Rs. 2,03,000.
This money was spent in the following manner:
I. Rs. 50,000 received in June 1951—
II. Rs. 50,000 received in December 1951—
III. Rs. 1,00,000 received in June 1952—
IV. Rs. 3,000 received m December 1952—
It will thus appear that an aggregate amount of Rs. 1,00,000 was presented to the ‘Afaq’, of Rs. 58,000 to the ‘Ehsan’, of Rs. 15,000 to the ‘Maghribi Pakistan’ and of Rs. 30,000 to the ‘Zamindar’. The payments to these papers, two of which had a small circulation, was no less than a wind-fall, and out of sheer gratitude they could have had no scruples in adapting their policy if the Government so wished. The cuttings from these newspapers, however, show that they were all actively engaged in this controversy and went on fanning the agitation even during the days that they were receiving the payments. This activity of theirs was noticed by the Education Department, and Mr. Sana Ullah Khan, Officer on Special Duty in the Department of Public Instruction, had to note that these newspapers were doing more harm than good and that it was sheer waste of Government money to spend it on newspapers which were indulging in sectarian and political controversies. The case of the ‘Afaq’ is specially noticeable because Mir Nur Ahmad’s control of this paper having been. proved by documentary evidence, it was virtually his paper, and if the evidence of Professor Muhammad Sarwar, the editor of the paper, is to be believed, also Mr. Daultana’s paper. The initial payment to this paper was of Rs. 42,000 when it was about to convert or had just converted itself into a daily. Mir Nur Ahmad’s son, Mir Iqbal Ahmad, was the Advertising Manager of the paper and he continued on its staff in various capacities throughout and is now its Managing Director. A sum of Rs. 5,000 was presented to this paper by Mr. Daultana himself which had been collected by him from certain Muslim Leaguers in Lyallpur, and this amount eventually became the consideration for which later Mir Iqbal Ahmad purchased some shares in the newspaper. These substantial monetary presents to these papers, out of all proportion to their importance, became a scandal in the journalistic world in the hot weather of 1952 because, being the recipients of Government patronage, they earnestly engaged themselves in this unbecoming controversy and people began to suspect that Government itself was encouraging these newspapers to devote their energies towards promoting sectarian hatred. Though in its issue of 1st June 1952 the ‘Afaq’ had declared itself unequivocally against all sectarianism, in its issue for 4th July 1952, that is to say, just after the receipt of the first instalment of patronage, it announced that it would devote special attention to the Qadiani question and. start writing special articles to show that Qadianis were a danger to the solidarity of Pakistan. Accordingly the first article on the subject was written on 5th July 1952, and a slip attached to a copy of this issue shows that free copies of it were distributed to Friday congregations in mosques. An attempt was made in this article to show that the differences between the Qadianis and the Muslims were fundamental, that the Qadianis were not a sect of Islam, that with them belief in the nubuwwat of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was an essential part of the dogma and a belief to the contrary kufr, that they were an entirely separate community, having their own Government, their own courts, and their own police and magistrates and that their aim was to acquire control of all departments of Government. Having attempted to establish the Qadianis as a separate community, the article suggested that all Muslim parties should rally round this issue and chalk out a programme of action to have that community declared a non-Muslim minority. Special stress was laid in this article on the advice that in attempting to achieve the objective recourse should not be had to force, rowdyism, riots, assaults, abuses, blackening of faces or breaking up of assemblies because such acts would be detrimental to the cause and that all activities in this respect should be kept within constitutional limits.
In the month of July alone there were fourteen articles on this subject in the subsequent issues of the ‘Afaq’. The trend of all these articles was that the Qadianis, for the reasons given therein, were a separate community and that a campaign should be organised to have them declared a minority but that all activities in prosecution of this campaign must be carried on in a constitutional manner and without resort to force or breaches of the law.
The article of 5th July was followed by an article in its next issue under the heading ‘Section 144 and Khatm-i-Nubuwwat’ in which the Ahrar were advised to abstain from making violent speeches which were calculated to lead to breaches of the peace and from committing acts of lawlessness. In the issue of the same date, there were two more articles one of which contained reports of speeches made in different places demanding the declaration ot Ahmadis as a minority and the removal of Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan, and the other held out an assurance to the Ahrar that if they refrained from indulging in lawlessness and avoided causing provocation, there was no reason why the unfortunate estrangement that had come to exist between the Musalmans and the Government in this respect, should continue for a moment. The article also reproduced some provocative addresses of Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad.
In the article of 9th July under the heading ‘Stop Lawlessness’ people were advised to make the issue a common issue for all the Musalmans and not to disobey orders passed under section 144 or to commit other breaches of the law. In the same issue there appeared another article in which Allama Iqbal’a views on the 17-year-old Ahmadiya movement were reproduced.
The issue of the 10th July published a statement by Maulana Ahmad Ali welcoming the Government’s clarification of the reasons for the promulgation of orders under section 144 and of their application to public meetings in the mosques and suggesting that the demand relating to the declaration of Qadianis as a minority had nothing to do with the Punjab Government and that the demand should be pressed in a constitutional manner without resorting to breaches of the law. Another statement published in the same issue was by Maulana Abul Hasanat who welcomed the communique of the Punjab Government and declared that he would not permit any party to achieve its political objective by exploiting religion and that those who advocated breaches of the law would not have his co-operation. The Maulana condemned disorders, lawlessness and provocative speeches and stated that the demand relating to the declaration of the Qadianis as a minority could be Successfully pressed in a peaceful and constitutional manner. This issue also published a letter appreciating the newspaper’s services to the cause of khatm-i-nubuwwat and reiterating the view that the agitation should be carried on in a constitutional manner and not by breaking the law. The issue of 11th July published the views of Maulana Ghulam Murshid that the declaration of the Qadianis was a matter for the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. The issue of 13th July contained reports of speeches delivered in forty mosques of Lahore on Friday demanding the declaration of Qadianis as a minority.
By this time the ulama who were to participate in the conference that was to be held on 13th July had arrived in Lahore and the ‘Afaq’ in its issue of 14th July referred to the view expressed by some of them that the conference was likely to resolve that the demands in respect of the Ahmadis were to be pressed in a constitutional manner.
The issue of 15th July published two significant articles in one of which it reported the proceedings of the All Muslim Parties Convention and pointed out that the Ahrar had dominated throughout the proceedings of the Convention, and that some of the fifteen resolutions which were passed by the Convention were calculated to serve the political interests of the Ahrar. The other article contained critical comments on some of the resolutions. It pointed out that the movement was likely to suffer by the folly and selfishness of some of its directors and that it appeared that some frustrated politicians and quondam opponents of Pakistan were trying to serve their own interests and behind the sacred cloaks of the religious divines were seeking to regain their lost political influence. It went on to remark that the exploitation of tahaffuz-i-khatm-i-nubuwwat movement for one’s personal or political ends was a crime and political hypocrisy and in this connection it referred to public statements of some of the ulama that they would not permit religion to be exploited for political ends. It supported the demands but pointed out that some of the resolutions were calculated to bring into importance a discredited political party and to produce disorder. Referring to the resolution condemning the orders promulgated under section 144 as an interference with religion and to that relating to the withdrawal of cases against the Ahrar leaders who were being prosecuted for defiance of such orders, it asserted that these resolutions were bound to bring the Ahrar into popularity. Another resolution disapproved was that condemning the lathi-charge in Gujrat, The resolution next severely commented upon was the yaum-i-mutaliba resolution according to which 18th July was to be observed as a ‘Day of Demands’. The article pointed out that there was no occasion for yaum-i-mutaliba because the demands were within the competency of the Constituent Assembly and that the method proposed had in it the possibility of a conflict between the Government and the sponsors of the movement.
The ‘Maghribi Pakistan’ in its issue of 10th July 1952 published an article ‘Khatm-i-Nubuwwat and the Mirzai Movement’ by Mubassir who attempted to prove that the Qadianis were kafirs who should be socially boycotted.
The ‘Azad’, which is an Ahrar paper edited by Master Taj-ud-Din Ansari, had since its very inception been consistently carrying on in its columns a vulgar, scurrilous and venomous campaign against the Ahmadis and their beliefs and leaders. Since the Punjab Government did nothing to restrain or discourage this paper in its activities, the Central Government by its letter No. 44/1/51-Poll-1, dated 24th May 1952, drew the attention of the Provincial Government to certain articles published in this paper, which were enclosed with that letter, and inquired whether the Provincial Government was contemplating to take any action against it. The Director of Public Relations ordered an examination of these and previous articles in the paper. The officer who scrutinised these articles reported that there were in them passages which were mischievous and amounted to a vilification of the Ahmadis. In his note dated the 22nd August 1952, the Director of Public Relations remarked that the propaganda in which this paper had been indulging against the Ahmadis amounted to a hymn of hatred and was actionable under section 4 (1) (d) of the Press (Emergency Powers) Act. He, however, recommended no action and suggested that the method of persuasion and warning should be further tried. The Home Secretary thought that this method had had no effect and that something more effective had to be thought of, but what this effective method was to be was not suggested, and though the case was seen by the Chief Minister on 28th August, no step against the paper was taken, and the letter from the Provincial Government, D. O. No. 788-PR-52, dated the 30th August 1952, to the Central Government merely informed the latter that a severe warning had been administered to the newspaper.
The ‘Mazdoor’ is an Urdu newspaper published from Multan under the editorship of Sayyad Abuzar Bukhari, the son of the prominent Ahrar leader Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari. The main topic to which this paper devoted its attention was the anti-Ahmadiya movement, and in its issue of 13th June 1952 it published an article in the course of which it gave such a vulgar description in Arabic script of the head of the Ahmadiya community that decency does not permit us to explain it. If these words had been uttered in the presence of a member of the Ahmadiya community, we should not at all have been surprised if the result had been a broken skull. The words used reveal a shockingly depraved taste and constitute a most disrespectful ridicule of the language of the Qur’an and the language of the Holy Prophet. This article was examined by the Director of Public Relations and only a warning was decided to be given. Three days later, this paper in its issue of 16th June 1952 wrote another article abusing the Central Government, and though the paper was required to give a security of Rs. 3,000, the Chief Minister cancelled the order at the request of a deputation which waited on him.