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Faisalabad; May 29, 2009: Another member of the Ahmadiyya Community has lost his life in a senseless attack in Pakistan. Mian Laiq Ahmad (54), a well known Ahmadi trader in Faisalabad, died on May 29 after being brutally attacked the previous evening. He is the 5th Ahmadi to be murdered in 2009 for his faith and the 101st to be killed in Pakistan since anti-Ahmadiyya laws were introduced by the government of General Zia-ul-Haq in 1984.
On May 28 evening the deceased was returning home in ‘Peoples Colony’, when he saw a parked Toyota Corolla blocking the road outside his home. As Mr. Ahmad neared his home he slowed down when unknown persons jumped out of the Toyota and ran towards his car. It seems that at this point Mr. Ahmad tried to reverse his car but as he did, he was shot in the head. At that point the attackers got closer to Mr. Ahmad and fired repeatedly at him. He was hit in the stomach and arms. The assailants then fled the scene.
Mr. Ahmad was immediately taken to the local hospital and later transferred to the Allied Hospital but was unable to recover. He passed away at 11.30 a.m. the following day. Mr. Ahmad is survived by his wife, two sons and three daughters.
Currently throughout Pakistan and in particular within the Punjab, anti-Ahmadiyya conferences are taking place on a regular basis. In these conferences audience are instructed that it is their duty to kill Ahmadis, so the audience are led to believe that the bloodshed of innocent Ahmadis is something that will be greatly rewarded. It is worth noting that one such Khatme Nabuwwat Conference was held near to where the deceased lived only a day before the attack. The conference was addressed by mullas: Muhammad Usman Shakir, Muhammad Ayub Siddiqui, Khalid Mahmud Azamabadi and Abdul Hafeez Tabassum (The daily Aman; Faisalabad, May 28, 2009).
Faisalabad is a hub of Wahabi activism. Politically, the PML (N) is strong there. Authorities maintain a permissive attitude towards anti-Ahmadiyya agitation in this industrial city. This metropolis has claimed a number of Ahmadis’ lives in the past. A recent phenomenon is the abduction of Ahmadis. The criminals and religious fanatics are known to the police.
Kharian, District Gujrat; May 13, 2009: The police registered a case under PPC 298C against an Ahmadi, Mr. Mubashir Ahmad at Kharian with FIR 197/09 on May 13, 2009. Mr. Ahmad is headmaster of a government high school. The police arrested him. He is old and suffering from diabetes.
The complainant has accused Mr. Ahmad of misguiding the students quoting references from the Quran and Hadith, although he had been advised to desist from it. “Also, he took out Quranic texts and chapters from a school library and sent these to the complainant’s home; action should therefore be taken,” says the FIR. This, of course is not the whole truth.
Mr. Mubashir Ahmad was appointed the headmaster of the school a short while ago. Mr. Muhammad Anwar, the complainant, who was already working as a teacher at the same school, had a personal vendetta against Mr. Ahmad. The new headmaster, in his efforts to improve the school, discovered that one of the school cupboards was used by Mr. Anwar for his own personal needs. The headmaster asked him to vacate it, but Anwar did not comply. After repeated failed attempts the headmaster took out the contents of the cupboard, that included some holy texts and delivered these with due care to the residence of Mr. Anwar, who felt offended and consulted a mulla. Accompanied by some clerics, he went to the police station and got an FIR registered.
It is obvious that people continue to use the Ahmadi-specific laws to settle their personal grievances. These laws are commonly used to harass and persecute Ahmadis. The police register these cases with no regard to the circumstances and facts of the complaint and proceed with making unjustified arrests. This is blatant tyranny. Despite the opening of Pandora’s box in Swat, the state authorities continue to neglect the awesome menace of religious extremism.
Chakwal, May 21, 2009: Two madrassah students carried out a murderous attack on Mr. Mubashir Ahmad Tahir, an Ahmadi college lecturer. They tried to cut his throat and stabbed him in his chest and arm grievously injuring him.
According to a press report two Pathan students of the local madrassah at Imdadiya Masjid, Rawalpindi Road, Chakwal entered the residence of Professor Mubashir Ahmad Tahir of the Government Post-graduate College and attempted to cut his throat (the daily Jang, May 22, 2009). As they entered the house they told him: “You are a Qadiani, therefore we have come to kill you”. One of them shot at him with a pistol but missed. Then they took out knives and attacked him. This resulted in serious injuries to his neck, chest and arm. Hearing the noise his neighbors arrived at the scene. The assailants came out and declared that the professor had beaten them, and then they fled. One of the neighbours followed them on his motor cycle and apprehended one of them, while the other escaped. The one who was caught is reportedly from Malakand. However, according to the daily Jang, he is from Khyber Agency of FATA. Mr. Tahir was taken to a local hospital, thereafter he was referred to the GHQ Hospital in Rawalpindi where he is now recovering. They used five bottles of blood for transfusion. An FIR was later registered with the police.
The professor has been a resident in Chakwal for the last 10 years. He had been receiving threats on his cell-phone for sometime, so he changed his number. That provided him some relief. However the religious extremists then decided to act. The man under arrest confirmed that they intended to kill the professor for his faith.
The daily Jang reported: “This attempt to cut the victim’s throat has caused fear and alarm in the population of the entire area.”
The spokesman of the Ahmadiyya Community stated in a press release: “It is becoming almost normal to attack the lives and properties of Ahmadis in the name of religion. A violent anti-Ahmadiyya movement is surging throughout the country. … Anti-Ahmadiyya conferences have been held at various locations in the Punjab where death edicts are passed against Ahmadis and a message of hatred and malice is propagated openly. … This has resulted in murders of Ahmadi doctors, notables and social workers …” He urged the government to take serious notice of this incident and punish the guilty persons in accordance with law. He asked the authorities to take appropriate steps to put a stop to the mischief of extremists.
Silanwali; April 28, 2009: A fabricated case under the anti-Ahmadiyya law was registered here against 15 Ahmadis, on March 4, 2009. The police called both the parties for interrogation on April 8. They accused the Ahmadis of preaching to Muslims. The officer asked the complainant to point out the guilty party. The complainant pointed towards two Ahmadis. The police officer asked him the names of those two Ahmadis, the complainant had no answer except that he would tell their names later. Mullas presented some Ahmadiyya books to support this claim. They presented a magazine on which it was written, “I shall carry thy message to the corners of the earth”. They derived from it that preaching is an integral part of Ahmadiyyat. They presented a picture of an entrance to an Ahmadi’s house, on which it was written Mashallah. They said, “Look, they (Ahmadis) claim that God is theirs, while they have no right to claim God”. The mullas said that it hurt them when Ahmadis observed prayers, recited the Kalima, offered the Friday prayers and recited the Holy Quran. When they noticed that they had failed to make a prima facia case, they presented a man, Ghulam Abbas, who joined the Ahmadiyya community a year ago, but deserted later. He said that Qadianis had preached to him a year ago.
The police was then quick to register a case basing it on a year-old complaint by Ghulam Abbas and proceeded to arrest four Ahmadis. A case has been registered against them under 298-C with FIR No. 201/09 at P.S. Silanwali on April 28, 2009 over an incident dated May 25, 2008. The accused have now to face prosecution in courts for a long time.
Gujranwala; May 04, 2009: Mr. Riasat Ali Bajwa, advocate was fired at by unknown attackers when he arrived at his office in the morning. He was hit in his legs and back. He is now stable after an extensive surgical operation. He had been threatened on phone for some days and had been pursued.
There is a lesson not only for all Pakistanis but also for the whole world in the recent traumatic events of Swat, that religious extremism and sectarianism are fatal for peace and harmony in society. However, the current rulers of Azad Kashmir have come to the opposite conclusion; they appear to think that these evils are highly desirable for their people and polity. Recently the President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Assembly of Azad Kashmir attended a conference in Bagh, and spoke against Ahmadiyyat. Perhaps they are forwarding someone else’s agenda.
According to the press reports, these leaders along with their fellows attended a conference at Bagh on April 29, 2009. The conference was apparently held in memory of Sardar Muhammad Ayub, a former speaker of Azad Kashmir assembly, who sponsored a resolution in the Azad Kashmir Assembly that declared Ahmadis to be Non-Muslims. However the event now was simultaneously termed a Khatme Nabuwwat Conference as conveyed by the daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Islamabad of April 30, 2009 in its banner headline: Qadiani centres of apostasy should be destroyed forthwith. Resolution of the Yaume Khatme Nabuwwat Conference (End of Prophethood Day Conference)
The same newspaper reported in the story that Sardar Yaqub Khan, the PM said: “The object of celebrating the anniversary of Sardar Mohammad Ayub Khan’s death is to convey to the Muslims of the whole world that the first voice that was raised to counter the mischief of Qadianis was from Bagh in Azad Kashmir; this eventually culminated in the form of a law.” Raja Zulqarnain the president of the territory, said: “The services of Major Ayub (Rtd) in eradication of Qadianiat will be remembered for ever. … It will be an honour for me to attend his anniversary here every year.” He further stated that (in those days) “Mirzais were a major power in Pakistan and they held the entire establishment in their grip….” The president however came to the conclusion that, “We are under attack now from all over; we are passing through the most difficult time in our history. We shall have to fight through the situation by setting aside our subsidiary differences.” Shah Ghulam Qadir the speaker of the Assembly stated that, “His (Sardar Ayub’s) crowning achievement was to have Mirzais declared a Non-Muslim minority; this will be remembered forever in history.” (The daily Ausaf, April 30, 2009)
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt placed on record the following demands made in the Conference:
(Note: All these indecent and questionable demands were made in the presence of state dignitaries – of course, with their nod.) In his speech, the Prime Minister accused his predecessors of:
The confident Prime Minister made a hopeful prediction, “Those who seek to oust me will be disappointed. Allah who installed me as the prime minister might appoint me life-time prime minister in response.”
Faisalabad; May 9, 2009: Mr. Rashid Karim S/o Dr. Fazl Karim, a local well-known Ahmadi in Faisalabad, was abducted while returning from his pharmacy at 10:30 P.M. He was on his motor cycle when two assailants also on motor cycles stopped him on Jail Road and fought with him. Meanwhile a white car appeared at the scene and he was forcibly taken into it, and was driven away. This was witnessed by a nearby shop-keeper. No trace of him has yet been found.
Thehri, District Sargodha; May 14, 2009: District Sargodha was the scene of another grave sectarian incident. On this occasion Ahmadi family were denied the right to bury a loved one in the public graveyard of Thehri village.
Ms. Bibi died at about 2 p.m. on May 14, 2009. Ahmadis had always been buried in the public graveyard prior to her death. This time when Ahmadis dug up a grave to bury Ms. Bibi, the mullas agitated. They sent a van-load of religious bigots and boys to the site. They told Ahmadis to stop further work on the grave, and insisted that they would not allow an Ahmadi burial there.
They informed the police of their intentions and told them to support their plans. The police arrived at the scene and, in league with the mulla, told the Ahmadis not to commit a burial to the graveyard. The Ahmadis had no choice but to comply with the police’s orders. They took the dead body to another village and buried it there. The police remained with them until the end of the burial to ensure that the mulla’s will prevailed.
Faisalabad: As if last year’s events at the Punjab Medical College were not a sufficient eye-opener, the authorities of the state-owned Engineering and Technology University have allowed another crisis to occur on their campus.
Mr. Adnan Asif, an Ahmadi, is a lecturer/lab engineer. Two former students of the University, Waqas and Sajid, who graduated last year, visited the campus, went to various class rooms and delivered addresses against Ahmadiyyat. They urged the students to implement a social boycott of all Ahmadi students and lecturers. The university administration responded only after the damage had been done. Their hate campaign was quite successful. As a result, the students in general wanted not to be taught by an Ahmadi lecturer.
Thereafter the Campus Coordinator advised the students that they had been misguided. However, he was not forceful or convincing enough; the students did not agree with him. The Coordinator then timidly took the easy course. He asked Mr. Asif to resign. This was, of course, not acceptable to the latter who replied that it is the writ of the administration that should prevail in the University and not that of the students. Also that, he would not opt to set a precedence that Ahmadi lecturers should resign in the face of student protests. The Coordinator then asked him not to come to the campus for a month while still on pay. Mr. Asif did not agree to this either. At this, the Coordinator told him not to enter any class-room; he will nominate other lecturers to take the classes instead.
Mr. Asif feels very concerned, as he is filling the post on ad-hoc basis. He was expecting to get confirmed soon. But in the present situation, when authorities readily submit themselves to the pressure of so-called Islamists, his job is at risk.
Obviously, the state has failed to learn a lesson from the happenings in the Malakand Division and is woefully slow in adopting a wholesome counter-extremism policy.
If religious extremism has been recognized as the biggest evil afflicting this country, one would expect that the government would move immediately and effectively to control and eradicate this evil from the provincial capitals. However, the government of Punjab thinks otherwise; it organized a major End of Prophethood conference at the Badshahi Mosque last month (News Report for April 2009 refers). The Wall Street Journal was right to comment:
Sectarian groups are well aware of the government policy, they move and act freely in neighborhoods of Lahore to propagate anti-Ahmadiyya hatred. The organizers of the Shuban-e-Khatme Nabuwwat are in the forefront of this agitation and they openly give their cell-phone numbers on their publicity leaflets, stickers, posters etc. These are: 0300-4900673; 03214571912; 0333-4398770; 0333-4221287.
The Shubane-Khatme Nabuwwat generally undertakes the following in their hate campaign:
The most affected neighborhoods in Lahore are: Township, Cantonment (North), Model Town, Rachna Town, Bhati Gate, Karim Park at Ravi Road, Engineering University, Factory Area in Shahdarah etc.
The vernacular press, with some rare exceptions, has played a very negative role for over half a century in the victimization of the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan. It has propagated hostile false news, promoted sectarian strife, prompted its shallow readership to blatantly violate Ahmadis’ human rights and urged the state to do all that it can to persecute this harmless religious community. The Urdu press finds it convenient to routinely give space to any petty mulla to declare: Qadianis are enemies of Islam and Pakistan. Some leading dailies can boast more than two anti-Ahmadiyya news items per day. Most of them print special editions on anti-Ahmadiyya theme on any excuse. Last month they highlighted this theme at the occasion of the conference in the Badshahi Mosque and also on the death anniversary of Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, whom one of these papers called the ‘Mujahid’ of the End of Prophethood (The daily Pakistan of April 4, 2009), while another unabashedly declared that “It was shaheed Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto who drove the last nail in the coffin of Qadianiat”. (The daily Jinnah of April 4, 2009)
One of these dailies is the Ausaf in Lahore (Chief Editor: Mehtab Khan; Editor: Mohsin Bilal Khan). It recently tasked one of its staff reporters to fabricate a story regarding Ahmadi students in medical colleges, and came up with three ‘news’ items under a three-column headline on May 9, 2009. The following is the brief account of it. First, the headline:
The Ausaf attributes all three stories to a ‘lady reporter’, without mentioning her name. The malicious view given in the main headline is attributed to ‘students’ although the Ausaf’s record provides ample evidence that this is also its own opinion. This ‘lady reporter’ is said to have visited the medical colleges at Lahore but her opening salvo was again a willful fabrication: “The students of medical colleges express extreme anger (intihai ghamo ghussai ka izhar انتہائی غم وغصّے کا اظہار) over the discreet transfer of Qadiani students who had been expelled from the Faisalabad Medical College.” Obviously the Ausaf aims at reopening the Faisalabad issue of last year. Who, other than the extremist and sectarian clerics’ lobby, is it working for?
The lady reporter lamented: “Although the Muslim students come from high class families they are unaware of these people who defile the Prophethood (Qadianis) (sic)”. It is obvious that the objective of the Ausaf was to reignite a sectarian issue like the one that took place in Punjab Medical College at Faisalabad. The Ausaf took numerous photographs at this occasion and printed 10 of these along with the story. This is reproduced below in facsimile.
It is relevant to mention that only two days earlier, on May 7, 2009, this newspaper published a story under a three-column headline in which it reported that the issue of Ahmadi students of the Punjab Medical College, Faisalabad had been completely suppressed (daba diya gia دبا دیا گیا) by ‘hidden powers in utmost secrecy’. The Ausaf disclosed the names of all the Ahmadi students, their roll numbers, their home addresses and their new locations.
Pakistan is facing a mortal threat from forces of obscurantism and extremism. Who energizes these forces? Some of them occupy offices of such newspapers. Let this come on the record.
The daily Dawn of May 5, 2009 reported in brief from the USCIRF Annual Report 2009 issued recently. Excerpts:
Sahiwal: An all-parties Khatm-e-Nabuwwat convention was held in the central Jame Mosque under the auspices of Mutahida Tahrik-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Rabta Committee متحدہ تحریک ختم نبوت رابطہ کمیٹی, Sahiwal Division. This conference inflamed anti-Ahmadiyya sentiments and promoted the clerics’ national as well as international political agenda. Some highlights are quoted below from the daily Pakistan; May 8, 2009:
Kotli: Last year, the authorities at Kotli withheld the award of a business contract to an Ahmadi on the basis of his faith, and conveyed to him their decision in writing (News Report for June 2008). Despite the change of the Prime Minister, the discrimination on the basis of religion continues.
At Kotli, an Ahmadi’s companies provided medicines, rations and general stores to the District Hospital. This had been going on for more than 20 years. In 2008, although these firms offered bids that were the most attractive, the authorities disqualified them for their association with ‘Firqa Ahmadiyya’. This also resulted in difficulties in recovering the arrears from the hospital. Six hundred thousand rupees are still outstanding with the hospital.
Recently the hospital ordered some medicines, and the company delivered them on May 19. However, the Medical Superintendent lost courage and refused to take the delivery on account of ‘pressure’ from various quarters. He issued a circular, No. 1534-37/MS/09 dated May 19, 2009, indicating cancellation of the previous tenders “for unavoidable reasons”, and conveyed that tenders would be called afresh.
The two companies intend to offer their bids for the next year’s contract in June 2009. However, in the prevailing political and religious circumstances, the possibility of their success in winning the contract is remote, even if they deserve it on merit.
The daily Ausaf, Lahore published the following story on Rabwah in its issue of May 31, 2009:
Sargodha: Mr. Shahzad Ahmad Waraich received a threatening letter from self-styled Taliban Pakistan (Punjab). Its translation is given below:
In recent months incidents of abduction of Ahmadis and threats to their persons increased visibly which demands the attention of the administration. To provide security to every citizen in the country is the primary duty of a government.