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Pakistan: The 1974 National Assembly proceedings on the Ahmadi issue — Yasser Latif Hamdani

The argument of both Ahmadi delegations was simple and straightforward: whatever the personal views of a sect within Islam, the state had to remain neutral and respect each sect’s interpretation. In other words, if a person professes to be a Muslim, the matter becomes one between him and God Almighty.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: Daily Times | Pakistan
By Yasser Latif Hamdani | October 21, 2012

Consider the role of Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) in 1974 when it declared Ahmadis to be out of the fold of Islam

The Supreme Court judgment in the Asghar Khan case has exposed the deep state completely. The deep state seeks to control the electoral process to an extent that only those suitable to it and its interests can come forward. The Asghar Khan case is just the tip of the iceberg. I am sure. Asghar Khan himself was part of the nine-star alliance called the Pakistan National Alliance along with a rag tag outfit of mullahs and even liberals, which too must have been brought together by similar maneouvring to oust Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1977.

While the deep state is recognised and rightly so for its nefarious role in keeping the general will of the people subservient to the vested interests of those who hold the strings, it must also be stated that some of our worst decisions have had nothing to do with the deep state. Consider the role of Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) in 1974 when it declared Ahmadis to be out of the fold of Islam, which has since created sectarian monsters in Pakistan of which there seems to be no solution any more.

The in-camera proceedings of the National Assembly — especially the cross examination of the two Ahmadi delegations, one from the Qadiani Jamaat and the other from Lahori Jamaat — are now common knowledge thanks to a public interest writ petition no. 7283/2010 by one Bashir Ahmad Khan adjudicated by his Lordship, Ijaz Chaudhry, then of the Lahore High Court. This report is an eye-opener as to how far the ‘liberal’ PPP went in its efforts to declare an entire community out of the pale of Islam.

The argument of both Ahmadi delegations was simple and straightforward: whatever the personal views of a sect within Islam, the state had to remain neutral and respect each sect’s interpretation. In other words, if a person professes to be a Muslim, the matter becomes one between him and God Almighty. The first Ahmadi delegation led by Mirza Nasir Ahmad forthrightly put forward that there were two definitions of Muslims: one, the political category whereby all sects should be considered within the ‘Millat-e-Islamia’ and the second, a religious category that is to be left to each Muslim sect and would not be the business of the state. Only this way can an endless conflict with regards to takfir after takfir could be avoided and political unity of the Muslim peoples be ensured.

Instead of addressing these issues, Yahya Bakhtiar, the then attorney general, repetitively attacked Ahmadis on essentially two counts, i.e. Ahmadis’ views on other sects and on Ahmadis’ insistence on being counted as a separate sect or group of Muslims. By making the whole proceeding about Ahmadis’ religious beliefs and not the question of law, i.e. whether the state had any right to interfere in the individual’s religious beliefs, Mr Bakhtiar and the PPP conceded a point that hitherto the Pakistani state had refused to concede to the clergy, i.e. a majority can decide the beliefs of a minority constitutionally. This is hogwash and a throwback to the days of the execution of Sir Thomas More, who was executed in 1535 for his ‘Catholic’ beliefs in a Protestant England or earlier the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The problem with that is — other than the fact that we do not live in antiquity or even the Middle Ages — Pakistan’s National Assembly is constitutionally not the religious assembly of all the Islamic world. Islam does not recognise a clergy and finally, and most importantly, Pakistan is not self-avowedly a sectarian Sunni or Shia Muslim state, which Protestant England was, and the United Kingdom in theory still is. Indeed, even if we concede that Pakistan is an Islamic state, its constitution takes pains to establish Islamic provisions are to be interpreted and applied according to each sect.

The second plank of Mr Bakhtiar’s argument was that Ahmadis had submitted themselves to a separate community and therefore it was alright to declare them out of the fold of Islam. He relied heavily on the fact that at the time of partition, the Ahmadi community gave a separate representation before the boundary commission, overlooking the fact that the Muslim League had given time from its own allotted time to the Ahmadi community to give its representation, which was a supplemental representation given to counteract the Sikh case for Nankana Sahib. The proceedings also contain absolute historical untruths by leaders like Mufti Mehmood, the father of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, against Ahmadis to the effect that Ahmadis somehow were opposed to the creation of Pakistan. On the contrary, Ahmadis, as a jamaat (party), had been instrumental in the Muslim League’s victory in the 1946 elections, and this was duly recognised by Quaid-e-Azam and the Muslim League. It is for this reason that Jinnah had chosen Zafrullah to plead the Muslim case before the Boundary Commission. Meanwhile, Mufti Mehmood had been until partition a leading worker for the Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind and the Congress, having opposed the creation of Pakistan throughout, as did most of the Islamic divines who in 1974 deposed against the Ahmadis.

The 1974 proceedings expose the dual-faced bigotry of the mullahs and their ability to lie blatantly. The same mullahs, of course, later became the recipients of the funds that were released by Messrs Beg, Durrani and Younas Habib. In many ways, the proceedings are also a damning indictment of the PPP and its liberal protestations. Far from being liberal or secular, the PPP comes across as a prejudiced and biased majoritarian party. In retrospect, the decision by Ahmadis to even submit themselves to such examination and exercise in futility was a tactical mistake of immense proportions. Perhaps they assumed that reason might still prevail over ignorance and bigotry. They were wrong.

In the end, it must be stated — as a disclaimer — that this author has never subscribed to any of the Ahmadi religious beliefs. This is necessary because it seems that anyone who speaks out for the cause of justice for this patriotic and honest Pakistani community is automatically branded as one of them. If I was one, I would proudly say so. However, my interest in this subject arises mainly out of my concern as a Pakistani on what this crass and crude exercise in sectarianism has led this country to.

The writer is a practising lawyer. He blogs at hhtp://globallegalforum.blogspot.com and his twitter handle is @therealylh

Read original post here: Pakistan: The 1974 NA proceedings on the Ahmadi issue — Yasser Latif Hamdani

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