Jinnah refused to turn out Ahmadis from the Muslim League, and stood steadfast on the principle that anyone who called himself a Muslim is a Muslim. This is how Jinnah managed to keep Shias, Sunnis, Ahmadis, Ismailis and countless other Muslims united und
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) is completely silent on Neo channel’s abusive hate speech against the Ahmadi community. Hamza Ali Abbasi’s show during Ramzan was promptly banned because Abbasi dared to speak out about the fundamental human rights of a peaceful community that has been repeatedly wronged by Pakistan since September 7, 1974. Now Orya Maqbool Jan’s abuse against the Ahmadis has been allowed without check by PEMRA. These are double standards, and all I can say at this point is shame. On all of us.
That it was hate speech is unquestionable. Ahmadis and their sect’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, were painted as British plants by Neo and Jan. Ironic to say the least! Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was for the longest time seen by the Muslim community as a valiant ideological warrior against the onslaught of Christian missionaries on the faith. This was before his more controversial claims were aired. To accuse him of being a British lackey is a travesty of justice and fairmindedness. You can have a theological disagreement with his claims, but to try and retrofit British perfidy on to him cannot be sustained in the eyes of historical evidence.
As I write these lines, I am well aware that even speaking about the facts can get you branded a ‘Qadiani’ in Pakistan of today. Yet what I write is no different from what even Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal had said about him in his day. On that note let us ponder for a second as to how or why Allama Iqbal got the title of ‘Sir’ i.e. a knight of the British Empire, but more on that later.
The reason why the Ahmadiyya movement is branded as pro-British is because they propounded the doctrine of peaceful jihad of the pen. Yet how different was this position from that of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who incidentally was also a ‘Sir’? Did the Congress or the Muslim League wage a jihad against the British Empire? The Muslim League especially was founded with the express purpose of promoting loyalty amongst Muslims towards the crown. It was only when Mohammad Ali Jinnah joined the organisation that the Muslim League changed its stated goal to self-government and later independence. Yet even Jinnah, a most passionate opponent of British rule amongst Muslims and a rarity, did not at any point call for a jihad. His means of struggle were strictly constitutional through parliamentary procedures.
Did Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III call for a jihad against the British? The answer is again no. Even the maulanas of Deoband and Rai Bareli never called for a violent jihad against the Empire, and many of them received stipends from the crown, unlike the Ahmadis. Then of course you have the case of Allama Iqbal, who on the death of Queen Victoria wrote a eulogy for her where he compared the Queen to holy personages of Islam. This is how Iqbal got the title of Sir. The Muslim position, as a whole with a few exceptions, throughout the British rule was of a loyal community. When the Quit India Movement was started by the Congress in 1942, Muslims by and large refused to join it and rightly so. The same would have been tantamount to helping the Nazi cause in the Second World War. Why then are Ahmadis singled out for this unfair criticism?
The irony is that in slandering a peaceful community, Neo abused Pakistan and its antecedents as well. The hero of this narrative, dishonestly spun by Orya Maqbool Jan and his cronies, was Ataullah Shah Bukhari of the Majlis-e-Ahrar. The same Bukhari had routinely abused Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and called Pakistan “Na-Pakistan.” Another president of this party, Mazhar Ali Azhar, had called Jinnah “Kafir-e-Azam” or the great infidel. The Ahrari slogan was “Ik kafira ke peechay Islam ko chora, yeh Quaid-e-Azam hai ke kafir-e-azam?” (Jinnah left Islam for an infidel woman, is he a great leader or a great infidel?).
The Majlis-e-Ahrar was tasked by the Congress to divide the Muslim community along sectarian lines. In Lucknow they started the Shia-Sunni riots. In Punjab they attacked the Ahmadis. This is the real foundation of the so-called “Tehreek-e-Khatm-e-Naboowat.” It was a deliberate ploy by the so-called secular Congress to ensure that Muslims were kept divided. Jinnah was wise to such perfidy of the Congress leadership. Jinnah refused to turn out Ahmadis from the Muslim League, and stood steadfast on the principle that anyone who called himself a Muslim is a Muslim. This is how Jinnah managed to keep Shias, Sunnis, Ahmadis, Ismailis
and countless other Muslims united under his leadership.
Today Neo and intellectually dishonest people like Jan are championing those crooks, cranks and madmen who did their worst to rattle the fragile Muslim unity that Jinnah had achieved. The channel is lionising traitors like Bukhari while denigrating a patriotic community like Ahmadis who were in the forefront of the struggle for Pakistan.
It is a matter of great shame for us as Pakistanis that we allowed those foulmouthed traitors from Majlis-e-Ahrar to flourish in the country time and time again. In my opinion, Jan is one of these enemies of Pakistan. He is a self-serving civil servant who is allowed, against the law, to lie and pollute innocent minds day in and day out. The sooner we realise this and reject dishonest people like him, the sooner we will set ourselves on a course correction. The least we can do, till such a day approaches, is to rein in hate speech against a community that has been forcibly declared a minority in the country they were in no small measure instrumental in achieving. Unfortunately, there is no moral courage from to top to bottom in this country. This is not Jinnah’s Pakistan that has died many deaths at the hands of opportunists who had branded Jinnah kafir-e-azam in his lifetime.
The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore and the author of the book Mr Jinnah: Myth and Reality. He can be contacted via twitter @therealylh and through his email address firstname.lastname@example.org