The 1974 ouster of the ‘heretics’: What really happened? Zulfikar Ali Bhutto: The sole culprit?


The Sole Culprit?

The legacy of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, is a mixed bag of praise, platitudes and panning. Where, on the one hand, he is hailed as being perhaps the sharpest and most dazzling politicians ever to grace the country’s political landscape, he is also panned for being a megalomaniac and a demagogue, readily willing to sideline his democratic principles in pursuit to retain political power. Applauded for successfully regenerating a demoralised and fractured country’s pride (after the 1971 East Pakistan debacle), and igniting within the working classes a sudden sense of political consciousness, Bhutto is also remembered as the man who (to remain in power) continued to play footsie with reactionary political outfits and (thus) ultimately betraying his own party’s largely secular, democratic and socialist credentials. Not only did he attract fierce opposition from the right-wing Islamic parties, over the decades, the left and liberal sections of the Pakistani intelligentsia have also come down hard on him for capitulating to the demands of right-wing parties on certain theological and legislative issues that eventually (and ironically) set the tenor and the tone of a reactionary General (Ziaul Haq) who toppled his regime. With the ever-increasing problem of religious bigotry and violence that Pakistan has been facing ever since the 1980s, many intellectuals, authors and political historians in the country have blamed the Bhutto government’s 1974 act of constitutionally redefining the status of the Ahmadiyya, formerly recognised as a Muslim sect, as the starting point of what began to mutate into a sectarian and religious monstrosity in the next three decades. The Ahmadiyya community was (almost overnight) turned into a non-Muslim minority in Pakistan.

Mirza Ghulam Ahmed (as)

Many observers correctly point out that by surrendering to the demands of the religious parties in this context (especially after they had resorted to violence), Bhutto unwittingly restored their confidence and status that was badly battered during the 1970 election. But I believe panning Bhutto for introducing legislative and constitutional expressions of bigotry has become too much of a cliché. It’s become a somewhat knee-jerk reaction, and an exercise in which the details of the 1974 event have gotten lost and ignored in the excitement of repeatedly pointing out the starling irony of a left-liberal government passing a controversial theological edict. I will not get into the theological aspects of what was then called ‘the Ahmadiyya question,’ because I’m not academically qualified to do so. Nevertheless, it is important that one attempts to objectively piece together the events that led to the final act. Events that seem to have gotten buried underneath the thick layers of polemical theological diatribes exchanged between orthodox Muslim scholars and those associated with the Ahmadiyya community; and also due to the somewhat intellectual laziness of the secular intelligentsia that has exhibited a rather myopic understanding and judgment of and on Bhutto’s role in the episode. This article is by no means an attempt to judge the theological merits or political demerits of the bill that constitutionally relegated the Ahmadiyya community as a non-Muslim minority. It is just an attempt to bring to light certain events that culminated in the relegation of the Ahmadiyya …continue reading at

3 replies

  1. Bhutto was in the hands of powerful persons before he came to power. He was being guided. He did what he was told to do because it appears that it was part of his plan to brng down the Jama’at Ahmadiyah.
    That is noticeable in the 1973 constitution. He had friends who supported him in that direction against the jama’at Ahmadiyah.

    It is a joke that he did something to please the Mullas. Quaid e Azam never succumbed to the wishes of Maulvis in the 1940’s. The greatest ooponents of the Jama’at ahmadiyah maulvis had requested Jinnah sahib that they will clean the boots of Jinnah sahib with their beard if he threw out the Ahmadis from the Muslim league.
    Jinnah sahib did not agree to their demand. It was foolish of Bhutto (and his friends) to agree to please the maulvis in 1974. The same maulvis agitated against Bhutto sahib in 1977 and brought him down. It was the united effort of the maulvis that weakened the position of Bhutto. America was against Bhutto. General Zia overtook Bhutto easily, and eventually, Bhutto was hanged to death at the age of 52.

    Like Hitler, Bhutto was not a good leader. He tried to be smart but no use. Hitler also tried to bring down the British Cabinet of Sir Winston Churchill (1939), by making a no war pact with Russia, just before attacking Poland.
    The Ministry of Sir Churchill survived by just one vote in parliament. And Hitler went to his bad end because of his wrong (bad) policies.

  2. [Reference: The 1974 ouster of the ‘heretics’: What really happened? by Nadeem F. Paracha]

    1. It is not true that Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at ‘accused all Muslims who did not accept him (that is, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (alaihissalaam)) as being non-Muslims’. Nadeem F. Paracha just made it up.

    2. Nadeem F. Paracha is creating a myth when he says “Contrary to popular belief, agitation against the Ahmadiyya movement (by the orthodox Muslim sects and sub-sects in India) was not an immediate happening that emerged right after the formation of the community in 1889.”. He conveniently ignored the plethora of edits or Fataawaa issued by the so called clerics or Ulamaa’ and the agitation and havoc created by them for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at.

    3. It is not true that ‘the more vocal accusations against the community first arose 24 years later in 1914′. The accusations were there even before the foundation of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at. The more vocal accusations first arose with the foundation of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at. The accusations increase, with the increase of the failure of the clerics or Ulamaa’ to annihilate Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at.

    4. The declaration of the Mahdi Mahood and Masih Mauood has always been public from the very reception of the related Revelation from Allah.

    5. It is not true that Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (razee Allah anhu) declared that those Muslims who disagreed with the declaration that Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (alaihissalaam) was the Messiah, were infidels. It is a distortion of the implied and intended meanings of the words of Ahadeeth, taken out of the context and ambience, by Nadeem F. Paracha and his types.

    6. It is not true that “However, when the incident was related to some Ahmadiyya leaders in Rabwa, they ordered Ahmadiyya youth to reach the station with hockey sticks and chains when the train stops again at Rabwa on its way back from Peshawar.”. It is a patent fabrication of Nadeem F. Paracha.

  3. I have read the write-up of Nadeem Piracha and I am sorry to say that he is not an impartial analyst of the facts. He relied on hearsay stories from a particular segment of society who are biased to Ahmadiyyat from the very beginning. Rabwah incident 1974 was not a sudden happening at all. In 1973, I started my legal apprenticeship with Ch. Sharif Allam, a leading lawyer in Sialkot. His junior was Manzoor Ahmed Bhatti, a smart lawyer and Secretary General or president of Majlas-e-Ahrar in Sialkot. It was somewhere in July/August 1973, one day at night while in the office, he was discussing with a man in office about the plans against Ahmadiyyat and said that this time, we have strong plans against Qadiyyanis and will implement this plan very shortly while I was sitting next to him. I never discussed with him about my religious apathy as I was quite junior and new starter in their office. However, one of my other colleaque know that I am an Ahmadi. He suddenly pointed to Mr. Manzoor Bhatti saying that I belong to the Ahmadiyya community and you are discussing something against them. Mr. Manzoor Bhatti suddenly reacted which I could read on his face. That time I realized that some thing is going to happen against Ahmadiyya Jamaat with such strong conspiracies of Majlas-e-Ahrar and other religious groups. In March 1974, I left Pakistan for higher education abroad. Before Rabwah incident, this person, Manzoor Bhatti got heart attack and died within hours about which I was informed by my friend who was working in their office. It was a great sign from God that he could not witness the great achievement which he was claiming to achieve against Ahmadiyyat.

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