Who are Ahmadis?
According to Leonard Binder, the Ahmadiyya is the newest of the Islamic sects and is distinguished from the majority of Muslims by some doctrinal idiosyncrasies and by the social exclusivity of its believers. Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani (1835–1908), who claimed prophethood and Messiah (awaited by Muslims) as well as what is prophesied by many other religions of the world, founded the Ahmadi Movement in late nineteenth-century colonial India. However, there are many controversies surrounding the Community. The Ahmadis, who lived during Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s lifetime, regard him as a Prophet because they think that through him, God revealed his unchanging word.
The status of Ahmadis in colonial India
The British colonial authorities had promised the Ahmadis that they would be allowed to express their ideas, and nothing was done to impede vigorous Ahmadi proselytizing despite this conflict between the Ahmadi sect and the orthodox representatives of the faith. The Ahmadis prospered as a result of British policy that forbade interfering in religious matters. Even though their numbers were never large, their close-knit community placed a premium on teamwork, self-discipline, and most importantly, educating its children in a way that would allow them to integrate into subcontinental society.
Ahmadis opt for Pakistan
The Ahmadis have experienced numerous types of persecution ever since the movement’s foundation. They have been subjected to systematic oppression and have been labelled as heretics and non-Muslims in several Muslim countries. After Pakistan’s independence, a sizable percentage of the population chose to live in the Muslim country, thinking themselves to be Muslims.
One of them was Chaudhri Zafrulla Khan, a Lahori who had attended King’s College in London after graduating from Government College. He returned to Pakistan to practise law in Sialkot and Lahore after being admitted to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn. Zafrulla had served as a representative at the Round Table Conferences in London in 1930–1922, a member of the Joint Select Committee on Indian Constitutional Reforms, and a member of the Punjab Legislative Council in 1926.
In addition to being a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council and acting as India’s Agent-General in China in the early years of World War II, he was chosen President of the All-India Muslim League in 1931.
Zafrulla Khan chose the new Muslim nation when Pakistan became independent, and Mohammad Ali Jinnah invited him to become the country’s first foreign minister and a member of the national cabinet.
It would be quite impossible to find someone with more accomplishments than Chaudhri Zafrulla Khan, but because he was also an Ahmadi, orthodox religious groups, particularly in Punjab, used him as a target for their criticism. Jinnah was encouraged to remove him from the cabinet, but the Quaid-i-Azam remained firm in response to the orthodox leaders’ objections, continuing to support him as the best person to handle Pakistan’s foreign policy requirements. Jinnah had experienced multiple assaults from the same people.
Ahmadi’s demands from the Punjab government
After the independence of Pakistan, The Ahmadi community faced various threats from traditional religious and militant groups. The Ahmadis requested protection from the government, but these requests simply served to feed those who were already setting fire to the minority community. Additionally, police intelligence, notably in Punjab, documented the escalation of the anti-Ahmadi campaign and cautioned the government that, if left unchecked, it would result in “disaster” for the nation as law enforcement would crumble under the strain.
However, the Daultana government in Punjab disregarded all such intelligence reports, and the national government, which consistently subordinated to the provincial governors, did nothing either. Even the British Deputy High Commissioner in Lahore expressed concern about the slander against Ahmadism and criticized the government for turning a blind eye and giving those who incite hatred and violence what appeared to be free reign to carry out their horrific deeds.
Muslims gleefully targeted their brethren just a little over five years after the catastrophic bloodshed between Muslims and non-Muslims in Punjab.
Ahrar and Muslim leagues colludes against Ahmadis
In terms of the Ahmadis, the Punjab Muslim League not only did not oppose the Ahrar, a militant religious organization but also readily allied with the extremists. As a result, the Ahrars started actively supporting the Punjab Muslim League, helping it to easily win the provincial election of 1951.
The Ahrars made significant gains, owing to League’s triumphs in the polls. The Ahrars had proven they could gain an advantage in situations where the League required assistance. Furthermore, when the Ahrar leadership ordered a murderous vendetta against the Ahmadis and the Daultana government did nothing to stop it, League dependency on the Ahrars translated into dishonesty.
Ahrars incited violence in Punjab
The attack on the Ahmadi community sparked the riots that tore Punjab apart, but because the government was unwilling to take the necessary action, the unrest grew and expanded until a large portion of the province was embroiled in senseless devastation and bloodshed.
Numerous religious orders, including the Jamaat-i-Islami and the anarchy-prone Ahrars, had joined their legions to those of the orthodox ulema, and they all focused their attention, and particularly their hatred, on the Ahmadi community. This was under the secular authority of Mian Mumtaz Daultana. When Nazimuddin arrived in Karachi, a Muslim Parties Convention approached him and requested that the Ahmadis be excommunicated right away.
Punjab’s chief minister was hesitant to take action
Daultana avoided taking the prompt action necessary to stop an all-out assault on the Ahmadi community because he was determined to divert growing opposition to his provincial government. The Chief Minister defended his indifference to provocations by pointing to the widespread nature of the criticism leveled at Ahmadis. Despite being the one to subscribe to liberal concepts of pluralism and free expression, he knowingly assisted those seeking to persecute the minority sect.
On February 27, 1953, the Ahrars instigated the Punjab riots that were directed towards Ahmadis, and Maulana Maudoodi and his Jamaat-i-Islami were totally behind them. A diverse cross-section of Punjab society, including distinguished ulema, reputable journalists, well-established politicians, and rank demagogues with their retinues of squalor-based miscreants, joined in the attack on the Ahmadi community.
Zafrulla Khan’s removal from his position as foreign minister and the dismissal of all high-ranking Ahmadis who are members of the civil militia were among the demands made public after the agitators showed their considerable strength and the Punjab government quickly ceded control.
This empowered the hate-mongers, who then issued a series of demands that would declare the Ahmadi community to be a non-Muslim one. They organized themselves into a Committee of Action and encouraged the governments of Daultana and Nazimuddin to act swiftly or suffer the repercussions of their inaction.
Nazimuddin swift actions saved Punjab
To avert chaos in the metropolis, Nazimuddin gave the Karachi police the required instructions. He anticipated Daultana in Punjab to act similarly. But whereas the unrest in Karachi was stopped in its tracks, Daultana did little to halt it in Punjab. The protesters then intimidated store owners, interfered with transportation, and essentially stopped all activity in Lahore and the nearby towns and villages.
At first, there were a few isolated deaths, but as the chaos spread and grew worse, the number of deaths and the amount of property damage swiftly grew. It was too late for the Daultana government to stop the widespread anarchy from sweeping the area by the time it realized what it had unleashed.
On March 6, Daultana issued a request for discussions with the disturbance’s instigators, offering negotiations based on their original demands. Daultana’s actions and words revealed his support for the demonstrators, and the subsequent court of inquiry singled him out for criticism due to his dishonesty, perfidy, and duplicity (Report of the Court of Inquiry into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953, 1954).
Nazimuddin imposed martial law over the province of Punjab when the central government could no longer wait for the Chief Minister to take the appropriate action, but only after the situation in the state had reached a critical point.
With the adoption of stern measures, the arrest of many of the disorder’s perpetrators, and the banning of a number of religious-cum-political orders, including the Ahrars, peace was eventually restored to the province, but Punjab and the Pakistani nation had sustained a serious wound. This was due to Daultana’s languid behavior, which compelled Nazimuddin to return to Lahore, where he succeeded in getting the Chief Minister to resign.