A weak state without conscience
On 28 May 2010, two Ahmadi mosques – which can’t be called mosques under law – were attacked during the Juma namaz – which can’t be called namaz under law – and when the attack was over, 95 graves were dug in Rabwa – which can’t be called Rabwa under law – to receive the Ahmadis killed. The deed was done by six or seven suicide-bomber terrorists armed with kalashnikovs and hand-grenades. The attacks were owned by Punjabi Taliban.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah revealed on TV that the attackers had come from South Punjab after being trained in Waziristan. The terrorist captured alive revealed that the attackers were brought to Lahore nine days earlier in the form of a group from Bannu, kept in various mosques including the Tablighi centre at Raiwind, and were driven to the two targeted locations; and that their minders were waiting in back-up vehicles ready to kill and replace any attackers who tried to run away instead of killing the Ahmadis. The terrorists had been trained for months in Miramshah in North Waziristan, the agency the Pakistan army is not ready to invade yet. Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik was more forthcoming: the attackers in Lahore belonged to Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the former being an ‘asset of the state’ based in Bahawalpur.
Punjab connection with North Waziristan: The Law Minister stated that the terrorist captured was from Rahimyar Khan but insisted that South Punjab was not the hotbed of terrorism (The terrorist had later found his way to a madrassa in Karachi). He did not go into the details of what made Rahimyar Khan such a prominent subject of intelligence reports which are routinely ignored by his government. Lahore with a population of nearly 10 million has 1,100 madrassas; Rahimyar Khan with a population of 3 million has 850 madrassas.
And madrassas belonging to the old Sipah-e-Sahaba are now atomised into Jaish and Lashkar groups of terrorists aligned to Punjabi Taliban – estimated at 5,000 by ANP leader Afrasiab Khattak - under the leadership of North Waziristan’s terrorist, Ilyas Kashmiri, whom Hamid Mir once described in ‘The News’ as an ex-army officer of Pakistan. Ilyas Kashmiri, gets people killed anywhere in Pakistan – for instance the ex-commando officer Faisal Naqvi - through other ex-army officers, but is a member of the North Waziristan Shura of Al-Qaeda. The Punjabi Taliban who killed Khalid Khwaja as an Ahmadi agent are supposed to be reporting to Ilyas Kashmiri. ISPR denies that Ilyas Kashmiri was ever in the army.
‘America and India killed Ahmadis’: Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif was greatly upset and made his statement after the attacks but announced no compensation for the dead in it. He also could not make an appearance at the two targeted locations. The TV channels tried to discuss the issue but the anchors were bemused by the legal implications of discussing the Ahmadis without attracting the mischief of the anti-Ahmadi laws. Already the reporters had made the blunder of referring to ‘mosque’, ‘Juma’, ‘khutba’ and ‘namaz’, before being corrected.
‘Jang’ (29 May 2010) carried a front-page report communicating the message from the intelligence agencies of Pakistan that the Qadianis were being killed in accordance with the plots hatched by the United States, India, Afghanistan and Israel to defame Pakistan. These four countries which are opposed to ‘Islami jihad’ are determined to damage the image of Pakistan in the international community, and India seeks in it a justification for clamping down on the Deobandi madrassas in India. The Indian intelligence agents had contacted a Qadiani representative in Kapurthala in East Punjab to tell him that Qadianis would be targeted in Lahore.
Commissioner Lahore accuses RAW: Commissioner Lahore Khusrau Parvez was reported in ‘Jang’ (29 May 2010) as saying that RAW agents had penetrated Lahore and had killed the Ahmadis to avenge Yom-e-Takbir – the anniversary of the day Pakistan tested its nuclear devices in 1998 – because through Yom-e-Takbir Pakistan had become secure against India. He did not explain it but it is assumed that by killing the Ahmadis Pakistan would start worrying about its international image and stop celebrating the historic achievement of becoming a nuclear state. It brought to mind the statement made in 2009 after the Manawan suicide attack in Lahore – later proved a fabrication - which said that RAW had done it. Once again the police department had ignored the Ahmadi community’s request for help after receiving threats of attack.
On 29 May 2010, Commissioner Khusrau Parvez admitted on ‘Dunya’ TV channel that he had received a report from the Interior Ministry that the Ahmadis would be attacked but he insisted that he found the ‘India angle’ more credible because he had got it from the sectarian terrorists taking training in Afghanistan. Had he read the publications being regularly published by NGOs tracing the growth of terrorism in Punjab, he would have known the truth. But civil servants seldom read anything apart from their files. He was totally oblivious of what happened to the CCPO who had pinned the Manawan attack on RAW. Civil servants often regard anti-terrorism NGOs as enemies of Pakistan.
The Hamid Mir factor: The TV channels were bending over backwards defending the powerful TV anchor Hamid Mir and his alleged phone conversation with the Punjabi Taliban in the Tribal Areas. But ‘Business Plus’ (28 May 2010) had ex-ISI Imtiaz Ahmed Billa speculating that Hamid Mir’s alleged reference to the Ahmadis was behind the latest attack. Mir had allegedly accused an ex-ISI officer Khalid Khwaja of working for the Ahmadis. Khwaja was captured and executed by Punjabi Taliban after Mir’s alleged phone-call. Punjabi Taliban have owned the killing of the Ahmadis in Lahore too. On ‘Dunya’ (28 May 2010) anchor Nusrat Javeed shut down a caller who wanted to discuss Hamid Mir in connection with the Ahmadi killings.
Because of the on-the-spot direct coverage a TV channel could not expunge the remark of an Ahmadi trying to escape the scene of terrorism. He said it was all done because of one powerful TV channel that had targeted the Ahmadis. The pointer was to anchors Hamid Mir and Amir Liaquat Hussain, the latter getting Sunni scholars to say on his programme that Ahmadis were ‘wajibul qatl’ (to be killed), after which three Ahmadis were actually murdered inun Sindh. This charge was repeated on ‘Dunya’ (29 May 2010) in Nasim Zehra’s Policy Matters programme, which also revealed that the Human Rights Commission had actually informed Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif about the coming attacks.
The Khatm-e-Nabuwwat factor: No reference to the growing anti-Ahmadi environment in Pakistan was made during discussions. No one took note of the free distribution of banned publications (dailies and weeklies) in the country carrying messages about the rising trend of ‘Ahmadi fitna’ in Pakistan. Even the ‘legal’ newspapers steadily carried statements from the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat organisations of aggressive clerics warning the state of dire consequences if it did not remove Ahmadis from ‘kaleedi’ (key) positions.
Writing in the ‘banned’ daily ‘ Islam’ (19 March 2010) Maulana Allahwasaya recalled that Mufti Saeed Ahmad Jalalpuri, killed in Karachi on 11 March 2010, belonged to Tehsil Shujabad near Multan, South Punjab, and was the son of a great religious scholar. He got his early religious training at a Zahir Pir madrassa in South Punjab before graduating to Madrassa Kabirwala – where the founder of the Sipah-e-Sahaba also got his training - before coming to the Banuri Town madrassa in Karachi. He was noted by the great teacher there, Maulana Yusuf Ludhianvi, himself killed later in the sectarian war. Mufti Jalalpuri was the sworn enemy of the excommunicated Qadiani community and led the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Movement against them.
A weak state without a conscience: Jalalpuri’s death was pinned on another adventurer of Islam, Zaid Hamid, but it was to be avenged on the Ahmadis. The ‘movement’ of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat was badly wounded by the death of Jalalpuri. After that, a video of the late populariser of Islamic Khilafat, Dr Israr Ahmad, appeared on the Internet saying, ‘I have never said it before, but I will say it now that that the real solution to the Ahmadi problem is not excommunication but death’. Persecution of Ahmadis in Model Town Lahore was routinely ignored; it was ignored when the Ahmadis in Faisalabad began to be kidnapped. The annual Ahmadi booklet itemising horrendous crimes committed against the apostatised community has never become a subject of discussion on our ‘independent’ TV channels or at our ‘independent’ higher suo motu courts.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates states in the May-June 2010 issue of Foreign Affairs: ‘In the decades to come, the most lethal threats to the United States’ safety and security are likely to emanate from states that cannot adequately govern themselves or secure their own territory. Dealing with such fractured or failing states is, in many ways, the main security challenge of our time’. In the case of Pakistan, it is a weak state stricken with the additional palsy of ‘exclusion’ which may apostatise the Shias – killed like flies in the cities along the road from Kohat to Kurram - and the Ismailis too. With the killing of the Ahmadis in Lahore, Pakistan’s pariah status in the world will become more consolidated, giving rise to more xenophobia – expressed through its commissioners and senior police officers – and leading to more killings at home.
This Article firstly published in FridayTimes, 04-06-2010
Pakistan: Massacre of Minority Ahmadis, By Human Rights Watch
Obscurantists and apologists, By Imtiaz Gul
Five steps to sanity, By I A Rehman