More on the anti-Ahmedi riots, Punjab government

The following is an excerpt from Relevance of Munir Report on 1953 Riots For Today’s Pakistan by Javaid Aslam:

The Ahmadi issue provided the Ahrar with an opportunity to assume a political role in Pakistan and they viewed this religious issue as an entry point for their political revival. The administrative machinery recognized the inherent danger of the Ahmadi problem. The Munir Report has noted page after page of situation reports generated by the C.I.D. and the field formations. These reports were however ignored by the political hierarchy and no positive action was taken. As early as in 1950 DIG., C.I.D had submitted the following observations:

“When the Muslim League in this Province became torn with dissensions and its influence suffered a severe set back, the Ahrar thought that it was high time for them to enter the political field. Accordingly, they started a series of Tablighi Conferences. The burden of Ahrar speakers used to be that they were loyal to Pakistan, that they acknowledged the Muslim Leagues as the only political party in the country, that the Kashmir Jehad was fully justified and that public effort should be mobilized for improving the defence of the country. Later they also began to speak against the Ahmadis.”

“Public memories are tragically short. In spite of the fact that about two years ago the Ahrar leaders were looked upon with distrust and suspicion, they are able to attract large audiences whenever they  address public meetings. There are few who question their bona fides or even care to ask why all this fuss in made about the Ahmadis. The Ahrar have partially achieved their objective; they have rehabilitated themselves and will before long emerge as a political party not necessarily on the side of the Muslim League. They have their counterpart in India as well. If they are sincere, they should have dissolved their organization and should have become Muslim Leaguers.”
“The Ahrar leaders probably do not realize that they are playing with fire. A certain amount of buffoonery can be overlooked, but where feelings are inflamed to such an extent that murders, riots, the heaping of insults, etc., are threatened, a halt must be called.”
“Unless action is taken at this stage against the Ahrar party and its workers, its popularity may increase manifold and later action might give them the role of martyrs apart from creating practical difficulties. I might also mention that intelligent and sane people do not want depraved utterances on the part of Ahrar leaders to be countenanced.”
The report is full of such notes, warnings and assessments submitted by the administrative machinery but political authorities continued to conveniently ignore all of these for their own political reasons.

The central government also was aware of the simmering situation but failed to take any action except for calling reports from the provincial government. The Punjab government felt peeved by the intrusion of central government in law and order affairs that were primarily a provincial responsibility. The provincial government wanted action by the central government on the issue of declaring Ahmadis as non-Muslims and on settling the demand regarding removal of Chaudhri Zafrullah as Foreign Minister. The Munir Report notes the typical central-provincial relationship by reproducing a note submitted by Inspector General of Police in 1952:

“There is a tendency on the part of the Ministry of the Interior to call for reports on all and sundry matters. This unnecessarily increases work. The Central Government is not in a position to pass any orders and, therefore, all the energy spent in preparing reports purely for the information of the Central Government is wasted.

In this case the proper course for the Central Government should have been to transfer the telegram to the Provincial Government for necessary action. In the matter of law and order the Provincial Government is supreme. If reports are called, it will unnecessarily encourage the public to go over the head of the Provincial Government and to call for the interference of the Centre.”

The Munir Report records the partisan behavior of Chaudhri Zafrullah at a number of places. It notes that:
“A meeting of Anjuman Ahmadiya, Karachi was advertised to be held in Jehangir Park, Karachi on 17th and 18th May 1952, and Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan, Foreign Minister, was mentioned as one of the speakers. Though the meeting was held under the auspices of Anjuman Ahmadiya, it was a public meeting as any member of the public could be present to hear the proceedings. A few days before the meeting, Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din, the Prime Minister, expressed his disapproval of Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan’s intention to attend a sectional public meeting. Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan, however, told Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din that he was committed to the Anjuman but that if he had been advised earlier he would have refrained from attending the meeting. In view of his commitment, he said, he felt it his duty to speak at the meeting and that if the Prime Minister insisted on his not attending it, he could have his resignation.”
By this time the agitators had fine tuned their demands which now were that:

(1) The Ahmadis be declared a non-Muslim minority;

(2) Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan be removed from the office of Foreign Minister;

(3) The Ahmadis be removed from all key posts; and
(4) In order to achieve the aforesaid objectives an All Pakistan Muslim Parties Convention be called.

The administrative machinery could by this time discern that the anti-Ahmadi agitation was being manipulated by hidden hands for their own reasons. The report notes that in July 1952, Inspector General of Police, Punjab had already submitted a note stating that:

“…. The Ahrar are assisted by some one is accepted in all quarters. The Ahrar by themselves are not strong enough to have raised this demand but someone from amongst them or those who are behind them are clever enough to have foreseen that none of the so-called religious jama’at’s would be foolish enough to lag behind on an issue over which every Musalman has the strongest feeling against the Ahmadis. That every
single Muslim will rise on this issue cannot be denied.”

This belief is further substantiated by the fact that the ruling Punjab Provincial Muslim League was passing resolutions against Chaudhri Zafrullah. The Munir report notes that the resolution dated 14.7.1952 of the Punjab Muslim League moved that:

“ This meeting of the Punjab Provincial Muslim League suspects Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan has exploited the office of Foreign Minister to propagate the doctrine of Mirzaeeat and in filling up public posts with Mirzais, that the failure to have the Kashmir issue solved is due not only to Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan’s inability but also to his and his Jama’at’s traditional loyalty to Great Britain and that the interests of Pakistan, Islamic countries and Kashmir demand that Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan be removed from his office as early as possible.”

The report also notes the speech made by Mr. Daultana the Chief Minister of Punjab on 30.08.1952, wherein he lay the responsibility of non-resolution of the Ahmadi problem with the Central Government on the grounds that only the federal government could declare the Ahmadis as minorities therefore provincial government could not provide any relief any in this connection.
The hidden agenda on this issue is further brought out in the report by noting the complicity of Punjab Government in arranging provocative press coverage of the situation through a bribed press. The report notes that Dr. Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi, Minister for Information and Broadcasting came to Lahore in the later half of July, 1952. It was complained to him that the Punjab Government was itself encouraging the anti-Ahmadiya agitation, and Mr. Hamid Nizami, editor of the ‘Nawa-i- Waqt’, openly charged Mr Nur Ahmad, Director, Public Relations Department, with complicity in this conspiracy. The report definitely concluded on this issue in following words:

“The press was definitely encouraged by the Director of Public Relations to fan the agitation, and with Dr. Qureshi we are inclined to think that vernacular papers had been handsomely paid for thousands of copies which were perhaps never purchased, in pursuance of an old policy that papers which supported the Government should be patronized, and although these very papers were the keenest agitators, their contracts were renewed early in July, 1952 with the knowledge of Mr. Daultana. A sum of over two lakhs which the Assembly had voted for the education of illiterate adults was diverted under the orders of Mr. Daultana on the purchase of these four papers and the scheme was to be kept confidential.”


8 responses to “More on the anti-Ahmedi riots, Punjab government

  1. Bravo. The collaboration of PML with Maududi should also come forward. How he entered Lahore on Army trucks and use to give lectures on Radio Pakistan on Islamic revolution. before that

  2. takhalus

    i believe Dr. Khan Sahib was killed by an Ahrar?

  3. thanks guys for your comments on both these posts.

    Shaheryar, I found an online archive of Hamza Alvi’s writings: — thanks for the recommendation.

    takhalus, I did not know that, that is really interesting. The paper by Javaid Aslam discusses the rule of bureaucracy in the 53 crisis at some length, btw.

  4. Publius

    An excellent study. I read it in full and I wonder whether rabia could provide some background to the author. Who is he ? Is this a widely known and popular study( I am referring of course to Javaid Aslam not the Munir report ) etc etc.


    I consider it to be an important truth that the long term trajectory of any society is governed by the broadest most fundamental ideas that are prevalent in it. And that if there are contradictions between those ideas and reality then those contradictions will get resolved, sooner or later , in favor of those ideas, unless a different set of fundamental ideas become acceptable.

    But the specific processes by which such contradictions get resolved is not necessarily obvious. I believe that Javaid Aslam’s report shows us some of the basic dynamics involved.

    There will be in any society a set of people, usually an energetic minority, who have an ideological and passionate commitment to those fundamentals, who will agitate and campaign on the behalf of translating those fundamentals into reality. These people will have what I would call public power. Public power does not equate to electoral popularity. It means the power to proclaim ideals, programs and policies that are beyond public challenge, that nobody else has the willingness to challenge because either they share those ideals, at some level, or because it brings about unacceptable social costs to do so.

    Sooner or later it will be realized by those men who are politically ambitious( and such men exist in every society) that this minority , who has public power, can be used as a tool to gain political advantages. But in order to do so they must offer some sort of sops or deals to this minority. That starts the process by which the ideas of this minority are translated into implementation.

    Even those , who may wish to attain power, without necessarily wanting to use them as a tool may have to offer sops for appeasement( Benazir and Zulfikar) for their survival.

    If this dynamic continues for a long enough period, even with stops and starts in the middle, one will see progressive movement in one direction.( Ahmadi stripped of status -> Hudood laws-> Shariah in swat)

    The only way out of this dynamic is make that group lose public power and the only way to do that is to propose and popularize opposite fundamental ideas. That is an enormously difficult and long term task.


    I would point out one more dynamic. Those elite who dislike the views of that energetic minority but do not wish to challenge them intellectually , at the deepest level, will have no recourse left but to to resort to force.

    The use of the army in quelling the Ahrar and the continued support among some Pak elite support the army are thus linked.

  5. Publius

    As a further example of how contradictions get resolved in favor of fundamental ideas I would point to the the issue of slavery in the US. And the role of the abolitionists as the energetic minority.

  6. Rabia

    that’s a really excellent comment, Publius.

    to answer your question, I really don’t know! I found it on ( while searching for something else.

  7. Publius

    Thanks, rabia. I had googled Mr Aslam myself with very little success. I believe that his study should be popularized as widely as possible and hopefully your blog posting will help in that.

    In fact the study is long enough to make more such postings, depending upon other factors of course.

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