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Mardan KP; January 6, 2011: Mr. Wajih Ahmad Noman was injured in shoulder by a bullet when he was returning home at about 8 p.m. in company of his three relatives. The assailant fled after firing the shots and escaped taking a ride with a motorcyclist who waited for him around the corner.
Mr. Noman was rushed to the hospital where he became stable. The doctors did not remove the bullet at the time.
In the preceding few weeks, the Ahmadiyya community in Mardan had suffered a terrorist attack on their mosque followed by a series of targeted attacks.
At Mardan, religious extremists killed Sh. Aamir Raza last year on September 3, 2010, Sh. Mahmud Ahmad on November 8 and Sh. Umar Javed on December 23.
Perhaps they aim at driving Ahmadis out of Mardan by these series killings.
Lahore; October 21, 2010: According to a news headline in the Frontier Post of May 27, 2009 the Chief Minister of Punjab told the outgoing Australian High Commissioner. “Pakistan was facing threat of terrorism and extremism”. However, this perhaps suits the PML(N) fine, as is apparent from a formal government letter issued by the Home Secretary to the Government of the Punjab. The letter is registered as No. SO (JUDL.III) 7-15/2004 and is dated 21st October 2010. The letter orders the Principal Police Officer, Punjab, and District Police Prosecutor, Faisalabad inter alia to book and prosecute as many as 32 Ahmadis of Lathianwala under the Blasphemy law PPC 295-C. The background of this case is briefly stated below.
In July 2009, the police registered a case against 32 Ahmadis of Lathianwala, District Faisalabad under PPC 295-C, 295-A, 298-C, 506 and 109 for writing the Kalima and other Islamic phrases on their houses. The police thereafter undertook an operation and effaced all such writings from Ahmadi-owned buildings. During the investigation the police dropped the PPC 295-C from the charge sheet, concluding that it was not applicable under the circumstances.
It is learnt that the opposing religious zealots applied to the government of the Punjab to restore the PPC 295-C in the charge sheet. At this the Home Secretary proceeded to re-activate the lethal clause. He wrote the following, (excerpts):
The Secretary sent this letter for information and necessary action to the following as well, inter alia:
The Secretary implies by this letter that he is satisfied that the 32 Ahmadis should suffer death for writing Islamic phrases on their homes.
The Punjab is ruled these days by Mian Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Mian Nawaz Sharif, the Chief of PML(N).
It is suggested by some that when a higher official than a police inspector is appointed to allow/disallow registration of a Blasphemy case, that ensures rejection of a spurious case. However, if a high official like a provincial Home Secretary can deal with such cases so apathetically, the suggested solution is no guarantee against malafide registration of these cases.
Copy of the government letter is placed here.
Kotli, AJK: It was reported in our monthly report of June 2008 that on the order of the Deputy Commissioner, the District Headquarters Hospital Kotli refused to consider the bid of an Ahmadi contractor to provide food and medicines “due to Firqa Ahmadiyya”. A copy of the DC’s order has now become available to us and is placed below alongwith its translation:
It will be noted that this Deputy Commissioner was posing thereby to be more ‘pious’ than the mullas and had the audacity and lack of propriety to not only indulge in issuing Fatwa (a religious edict) but also beat the aggressive bigots in their game. If he is still in service, his superiors will do well to keep an eye on him. His name is Bashir Mughal.
Hyderabad, Sindh; January 27, 2011: Mr. Masood Ahmad while he was going to his work at 9:20 a.m. was intercepted by two motorcyclists. They demanded his motor bike. He gave his bike to them. They took the bike, but still shot him in the leg before leaving. He was taken to the Bhitai Hospital where he is recovering.
Mr. Ahmad is a devoted and active worker of the Ahmadiyya community. There is reason to believe that he was targeted.
Lahore; January 17, 2011: It is after almost six years that the Lahore High Court found time to hear the plea of the three Ahmadis who have been condemned by a lower court on a fabricated charge of murder.
After a few hearings, the two-member Bench declared their inability to hear the plea further on January 17, 2011on personal grounds, and stated that they will send the case back to the Chief Justice requesting him to find an alternate bench or course of action.
It is learnt that one of the judges had received a threat to his person; this became the cause of their inability to proceed further with the trial. The ‘poor governance’ is rapidly ending up as ‘no governance’.
Chak 30/11-L, District Sahiwal; January 2011: Mullas routinely demand removal of the Kalima from the Ahmadiyya mosques as also the demolition of their niches and minarets. The authorities often disregard such demands but there are exceptions which are on the rise. Ahmadiyya mosque in Chak No. 30/ L-11 was the most recent target. The police and agencies came to the local Ahmadiyya mosque to investigate one such demand. A delegation of the Ahmadiyya community met the District Police Officer, who showed his intent to remove the Kalima. In the second meeting he decided to cover the Kalima with wooden planks rather than remove it.
The SHO came to the village on January 24, 2011 to implement the dishonourable decision. First he intended to break the tiles on which the Kalima was written. Ahmadis told him that the orders required him to cover it. He then nailed wooden planks at the face of the Kalima. However, while departing, he threatened that he would efface the Kalima at the next opportunity.
Ghatyalian Kalan, District Sialkot; January 2011: The local Ahmadiyya community reconstructed their mosque as it was in a state of decay. When its roof was to be installed, the police ordered a stop to further work. It is learnt that the SHO stopped the construction on the complaint of a local mulla. The police told the Ahmadis to seek permission from the government to proceed further with the reconstruction. Permission from higher authorities is neither required nor is it likely to be granted. The police has acted unlawfully and in bad faith.
Kotli AJK; January 14, 2011: Anti-Ahmadiyya agitation in Kotli was reported last year in our reports in the months of April, September, October and November. The authorities’ handling of the communal situation was poor, as they bent backward to placate the mulla. In September 2010, the religious bigots targeted the Ahmadiyya mosque in the city.
It is now learnt that on January 14, 2011 at about 11:00 p.m. two men intruded into the mosque via the neighbor’s roof. When they jumped inside, the noise stirred the guards into action. The intruders ran for the gate, opened the bolt and fled on their motor cycle they had parked outside.
Chak 70 M-L, District Bhakar; December 30, 2010: Mr. Qamar Ahmad runs a small clinic in his village. He is head of the local Ahmadiyya Youth Organisation. Five armed men stopped him on his way home, beat him up and remarked that a Mirzai was in no position to do them any harm in return. He is very upset.
Lahore; January 7, 2011: Three unknown persons were standing near the Ahmadiyya missionary’s house in Shalamar Town, Lahore, when an Ahmadi youth riding a motor bike stopped by them, put it down and feigned a look into its fuel supply system. He heard them say: “Their (Ahmadis’) missionary lives in this house. If we kill him, all the rest will calm down.”
All the Ahmadiyya missionaries and officials have been advised by the local leadership to take special precautions for their security.
Bahawalpur: The south of Punjab is regularly in the news and is mentioned in dispatches for its radicalization and as a contemporary cradle of religious extremism. Ahmadis are targeted there routinely by the banned organizations, Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat and politico-religious parties.
According to a recent report, mullas were active in Chak No. 9/BC in fomenting agitation against Ahmadis. They have undertaken a campaign against a private school run by an Ahmadi, Mr. Muzaffar Ahmad.
Pasting stickers and posters was also a part of their program. When on 21 January the mullas wanted to put up a poster on a non-Ahmadi’s shop he protested. The mullas insisted and became violent. They hit him on the head, and he had to be hospitalized. The police registered a case against them. The shop-keepers co-operated with the police against the violent bigots.
The poster was issued by the Khatme Nabuwwat Committee Bahawalpur. The Committee, conscious of its unlawful activities, took care not to publish its address on the poster. Instead they printed their mobile phone numbers on the poster: 0301-7757602; 0300-6812976; 0301-7756983.
The mullas issued another poster calling for a rally against the ‘Qadiani’ Muzaffar Public School, Chak No. 98C Baghdad, Bahawalpur. They programmed the rally for 10:00 a.m. on 24 January 2010 at Hussaini Chowk to DC Office Chowk, Bahawalpur. They accused the school of “Urging the youth to rise in revolt, subconsciously, against the Holy Prophet (saw)”. The call for the rally was made, according to the poster, by the following:
Anjuman Talaba Islam
Shaban Khatme Nabuwwat Students Bahawalpur
Sunny Tehrik Bahawalpur
Al-Muhammadiyya Students Bahawalpur
Shola Students Al Rahmat Trust Bahawalpur
Lahore; January 2011: Tahaffuze Khatme Nabuwwat group (Safeguarding the End of Prophethood) has become very active and bold after the murder of Governor Salman Taseer. They are holding anti-Ahmadiyya courses in different parts of Lahore. In some places they are holding three-day courses while at others one-day courses. These courses have been held at the following places, inter alia; Jamia Usmania Macload Road, Idaratul Furqan Shadi Pura Band Road, Jamia Siddiqia Frooqia Township, Idaratul Furqan Lilbinat Shadipura Band Road, Jame Noor Hakeema Wali Muslimabad Tariq Shaheed Road.
These courses are advertised through banners and stickers. All concerned authorities have been informed by the Ahmadiyya Jamaat in this regard.
Badin, Sindh; January 2011: A threatening leaflet has been distributed in Goth Saban Dasti of District Badin, Sindh. It targets Seth Nasir, who is a well-known Ahmadi businessman of the area. It urges Muslims to kill him. Its English translation is given below:
Mr. Nasir is shown as a dog at the bottom of this hateful leaflet.
Chak TDA-172: An Ahmadi, Mr. Mehta A Bajwa was building a shop for his business when a few bullies arrived and used highly obscene and provocative language. They accused Ahmadis of blasphemy and threatened a shoot-out. The situation became very tense, however, it calmed down fortunately. The next day Mr. Taseer, the Governor of Punjab was murdered. The mullas arranged a public meeting in the local mosque where they declared that Taseer was a blasphemer, a Qadiani or their follower, and deserved to be killed. They harangued the people against Ahmadis.
Sialkot: The daily Khabrain, Lahore of January 21, 2011 published a report. Its translation is given below:
Khushalabad, District Kotli; July 9, 2009: Mr. Muhammad Imtiaz Khan faced an effective social boycott from his clan when he disclosed to them that he had joined Ahmadiyyat. Fifty-nine persons representing their families signed a document imposing a complete boycott against him. Mr. Khan had to leave his home and shift elsewhere.
Rabwah: Mr. Muhammad Iqbal, a convert, was accused of blasphemy in 2004 by a mulla and his acolyte in district Faisalabad. He was arrested and sentenced to imprisonment for life. Iqbal appealed to the High Court against the verdict. While awaiting a hearing of his appeal, he stayed in prison for over six years. Eventually he was acquitted of the charge by the appellate court last year.
Iqbal appears to have recovered from the tragedy that afflicted him for years, however he is no longer able to squat or sit on his knees, as that hurts him. When asked the reason, he said that it was the after-effect of the police torture inflicted upon him on his arrest six years ago. Why, at all, did they torture him? “It was for religious prejudice and hate; they called me kafir (infidel), murtad (apostate) and beat me up with heavy sticks. They pressed a steel roller over my calves and thighs to torture me and compelled me to admit what I had not said or done. They thought that they were thus acting pious”, he said. His disability appears to be permanent.
“After I came out, the mulla and his false witness died within the same week”, he says. He thinks it is a sign of God that the false accusers have perished. Iqbal, however, is unable to return to his village and attend to his family farm to make a living.
December 31, 2010: There is great ongoing uproar in Pakistan in opposition to any revision of the blasphemy laws. The extremist mullas have taken up abusing the government openly. Their aim is to make some political mileage out of this movement. They called for a country-wide shutter-down strike on December 31, 2010. Here is a brief report of this strike from different parts of the country.
All businesses and shops remained closed in the whole city. Some who tried to open their shops were forced to close them down by armed mullas. Several processions were taken out. Tens of thousands participated in the rally. They rejected any revision of the blasphemy laws. The mullas used foul language against Babar Awan and Sherry Rehman. They also provoked the masses against Ahmadis. The agitators blocked the public transport and created a lot of problems for the public.
Several processions were taken out in Sialkot. They protested against any changes in the blasphemy laws. Approximately 400 people attended the procession; most of them were madrassah students. They abused the Ahmadiyya community. Mullas made the traders shut their shops. They blocked the traffic for several hours causing great inconvenience to the people.
The same happened in Faisalabad. Approximately 2000 men attended the procession.
Several processions were taken out by the mullas in the city. Tens of thousands participated in the rally. Public transport remained off road. Petrol pumps remained closed. The PPP minister Babar Awan also spoke in one of the conferences and claimed, “We are those who declared the Qadianis non-Muslims in 1974”.
All markets remained closed in the city. The transporters refused the call but there were fewer commuters than usual. Approximately 2000 joined in the main procession; most of them were madrassah students. A conference was held in Karachi Company where the attendance was 800.
The mullas of Chiniot, the neighbouring city of Rabwah, were active at this occasion. Mulla Ilyas Chinioti led the main procession which comprised 1500 – 2000 men. They raised anti-Ahmadiyya slogans. They raised banners which read as:
The punishment of the blasphemer is death.
The Prophet(sa) said: Kill the one, who abuses me.
A mulla from Rabwah, Qari Shabbir Usmani said in his speech, “We will kill the one with our hands, who abused the Holy Prophetsa.”
Apparently this strike was successful, but in reality it was not such a big success. Firslty, most of the business remains closed on Fridays. Secondly the attendance remained low in processions which comprised mostly of madrassah students. The public did not show much interest in this call.
Lahore; January 2011: Mr. Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab fell to the bullets of a guard in his security detail in Islamabad on January 4, 2011. The incident is far-reaching and relevant enough to other extant human rights situations in Pakistan to deserve a mention in this report, so that appropriate and useful conclusions may be drawn in the national context. Most of the information quoted here is based upon reliable media reports.
Mr. Taseer was a patriot. He had taken up the cause of presidential pardon for Ms Aasia Noreen, accused of blasphemy. He had personally inquired into the case and was of the opinion that the charge was a fabrication. He also favored appropriate changes in the country’s controversial blasphemy laws. It is confirmed that he personally committed no blasphemy whatsoever.
Mr. Mumtaz Qadri, who killed him, was a member of the Elite Force of the Punjab Police. He had close links with Da’wat Islami, a Barelvi outfit, professedly not violent like some other Islamist organizations. In 2004, he had been assessed as ‘unfit’ for VIP security, by his superiors. Prior to the fateful day, he had talked of killing the governor to his colleagues, who took it lightly as a joke.
In the weeks prior to the assassination, religious parties took up the issue of blasphemy and the relevant laws in a big way and launched a campaign in the name of Namoos-i-Risalat (The Prophet’s honor). Apart from a great deal else, the mullas declared the Governor a heretic and an apostate. On November 24, 2010 there was a demonstration of 150 maulvis outside the Governor House calling for his head. On December 31, more than 20,000 religious bigots congregated in Karachi and condoned Taseer’s murder. The authorities took no action against these outrages. The ruling party nor the secular lobby took the trouble of confronting the mulla’s onslaught on any forum in an organized and well-orchestrated manner. The government acted as if the issue deserved only appeasement or neglect.
Within hours of his assassination, students from the religio-political party Jamaat-i-Islami texted celebratory messages about the murder, and on Facebook, pages lionizing the Governor’s killer quickly found hundreds of supporters. Munawwar Hasan, the JI chief stated that the Governor himself was responsible for his murder. Fazal ur Rahman the JUI Chief seemed to issue a veiled warning to supporters of Mr. Taseer, saying that sympathizing with a blasphemer was just as extreme as blasphemy itself. More than 500 religious leaders of Jamaat-e-Ahle Sunnat, a leading Barelvi religious party, forbade its followers to either pray or attend the funeral prayers for Mr. Taseer.
The Khatibs of the Badshahi Mosque and the Governor House mosque refused to lead the funeral prayers of the fallen governor. Both are on the government’s pay-roll.
Supporters of this heinous act showered Qadri with rose petals when he appeared in court. He was garlanded by the president of the lawyers’ wing of the local PML (N). Reportedly, hundreds of lawyers volunteered to take on Qadri’s defense free of charge.
A number of TV anchors indirectly blamed the Governor. Pakistan’s free wheeling (and conservative) television talk shows publicized the fatwas against Taseer and misrepresented his principled position on the blasphemy law as itself blasphemy. The Urdu press, as usual, acted generally hostile to the secular and liberal sentiment. The daily Nawa-i-Waqt spared only one inch of single column space to report the Resolution of condemnation by the KP Assembly against the assassination, but it splashed the refusal of Khatibs to lead the funeral prayers of the deceased, over 3 columns on its front page.
The ruling party PPP, after the murder, distanced itself from the governor and from Sherry Rahman, another party liberal who had urged a review of the Blasphemy laws. The PPP declared the assassination a political murder (as opposed to religious).
Mr. Rehman Malik, the federal interior minister declared that if anyone blasphemed in his presence, he would shoot him. The government has declared that it would not try to amend the Blasphemy laws. In Karachi the government agreed to install a 10-memebr penal of ulama to look into cases of blasphemy accusations.
Having seen that the government is unwilling to resist the pressure and is retreating fast, the clerics decided to push further, and declared that they will hold a big rally in Lahore on January 30.
The above would seem very distasteful, wrong, even unacceptable to most of the Pakistani elite, but they are a witness that all this, even worse, has been happening to Ahmadis for the last 36 years. However, most of the elite decided to look the other way, all along. The mulla, now in the habit of maltreatment of a weaker section of the society, has mustered enough experience and audacity to take on the society which was reputed to be primarily tolerant and rational.
We end this piece with an excerpt of an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune of January 6, 2011:
Muzaffarabad (AJ&K); December 2010: Three drivers employed by a company Neelum Jhelum Consultants (NJC) were discharged from service on disciplinary grounds. They sent an application to the Prime Minister AJ&K against Mr. Jamil Ahmad the General Manager Services of the NJC, an Ahmadi, accusing him of :-
The complainants were guided and helped by the anti-Ahmadiyya lobby in their efforts to malign Mr. Ahmad. They arranged them press support (The daily Mohasib; December 12, 2010).
The Prime Minister told his Chief Engineer to follow up the complaint. The Chief Engineer wrote to the Project Manager NJC to: ‘investigate the matter thoroughly and detail report in this regard may be submitted to this office at the earliest.’ He followed it up three days later by another letter to him, titled: Unwanted Activities by a Group. In this he referred to the ‘honorable Minister Religious Affairs AJ&K’s intimation that the Qadiani group was involved in undesirable activities’ etc. The Chief Engineer conveyed that this was an ‘extremely sensitive issue’ that was ‘creating sectarian violence’ and urged the Project Manager to ‘take prompt action’ against the group….
Thus, the Minister of Religious Affairs and the Chief Engineer conveyed their inclination and preference clearly to the NJC.
The Project Manager NJC was not a Kashmiri nor a Pakistani; he carried out an in-depth inquiry and conveyed to the Chief Engineer that:
This is how Mr. Ahmad got off the hook that was flung through the Prime Minister’s office. The mulla and the vernacular press had helped spinning the yarn. Not all Ahmadis are lucky to have foreign bosses who call a spade a spade.
Kohat; January 12, 2011: It was reported last month that bullies of the local Tehrik Khatme Nabuwwat had broken open the lock of the sealed Ahmadiyya mosque and had occupied it. The miscreants were led by a former MNA Javed Ibrahim Piracha, a member of JUI (F). The police moved fast, recovered the mosque and resealed it.
The police took serious notice of this deliberate and malicious act of entry into a place of worship that was not theirs, fomenting a riot, refusing to obey lawful orders of the police etc, and booked all the participants under PPCs 295-A, 295, 147/148, 188, 488.
The accused moved the court for bail, but the Sessions Court rejected their plea. Accordingly, the police arrested them all.
Handling of this case by the District officials is exceptional in many ways. It is a model, which if followed all over Pakistan, will dilute greatly the threat of the unscrupulous mullas to the society and the state.