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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

1974 - II What was the question again?

Yasser Lateef Hamdani, a prominent Pakistani lawyer and  columnist asks a simple question on the In-Camera charade of 1974. Why was the Attorney General so intent on dissecting the details of Ahmadiyya beliefs and its history? The fundamental question at this stage was whether the Parliament of Pakistan has any right to declare anyone Non-Muslim?

The state should not be defining the boundaries of faith and putting people in or outside of it. Religious sects and their leaders are more than capable of defining (rightly or wrongly) what true faith is, and all should be free to do so.

The 'Mahzarnama' (Memorandum) submitted by the Ahmadiyya delegation to the members of the house prior to start of the In-Camera proceedings asked these two basic questions.

1. Is any Assembly in the world, per se, entitled to deprive an individual of the basic right to exercise his free will to attribute himself, to the religion of his choice? Or,

2. Is any Assembly in the world, per se, entitled to decide, by way of interference in the domain of faith and religion, as to what it considers to be the religion of any community, sect or individual?
Mr. Yahya Bakhtiyar, the Attorney General of Pakistan started the questioning on the first day, 5th of August 1974. After a brief introduction of the witness and of Ahmadiyya Jamaat, he went to the question of religious identity. At first he wanted the definition of a Muslim from the witness. But to prove that the Parliament has the right to decide on matters of faith, Mr. Bakhtyar went into one convoluted argument after another, all of which were extreme examples of fraud or willful impersonations in various settings. These were flawed and misleading tactics, but it becomes evident during the course of the proceedings that Mr. Bakhtyar was only playing out a script under the strict instructions of Mr. Bhutto and his Mullahs (rather Mullahs and their Mr. Bhutto). 

Yahya Bakhtiyar (from Pakistan sentate website)

At one point Mr. Bakhtyar said, as if trying to justify the immorality of his actions..

'(even if you were declared ) a non-Muslim minority... will they stop you from prayers ...or in believing that you are a Muslim?'

And on being asked about the freedom of propagating he says

'No, no, nobody can stop you from propagating either.' (page 128)
Barely ten years after the constitution was amended, it was made a criminal offence for Ahmadis to do all of the above and more. How short-sighted was that Attorney General? And how naive was his Prime Minister! *

Throughout the proceedings, one gets a distinct impression of the true characters of the assorted members belonging to the religious parties. Their behaviour was childish at times, but mostly disrespectful and clownish. Even on the first day, a Mullah objected (in the absence of the delegation) that some of them were whispering and smiling among each other. In fact, knowing the character and personalities of the Ahmadiyya delegation (May Allah have Mercy on all of them), I am not surprised at their patience, bravery and good humor. Only people of such personal conviction and sense of responsibility for their nation and Islam could have tolerated that circus of ignorance and moral deprivation.

Shah Ahmad Noorani, also could not bear the sight of Khalifatul Masih III (a.r.) being seated while answering the questions.(page 202) This was the measure of the small-mindedness of the main perpetrator of this resolution. Here is another example of his lies that he is narrating fully aware that he is able to create such fiction without an official transcript for anyone to verify.

Official transcript has no mention of Tel Aviv or the pigeon story. **
The question of the basic human right of a person being in conflict with the intentions of the Parliament was touched upon again but only fleetingly. I got the impression that Mr. Bakhtiar was offended or (pretended to be offended) by this assertion.

Despite his best effort, the Attorney General appears to be under a constant reminder to not let the witness speak, not let him read from a written source and only force a Yes or No answer. Someone even implies that the questioning committee is 'leaking' the questions to the delegation in advance (page 664). Such was the paranoia in the room.

Regarding the fundamental question of human rights and the remit of the parliament, Mujeebur Rahman sahib raises some valid questions in his article. i.e., on the basis of the questions put to the Ahmadiyya delegation, the resolution presented to the house should have been

Anyone who calls another Kafir, or does not pray Janaza prayer for other sects, does not marry persons of other sects or ever opposed the creation of Pakistan should be declared Non-Muslim.
(Please not that all these are false, exaggerated and fabricated allegations against the Jamaat. I am only posing a hypothetical scenario just to make sense of things).

* Mr. Bakhtiyar also represented his leader Mr. Bhutto in the murder case for which he was hanged.
** Tel Aviv was mentioned in the closing remarks by the members. During the cross-examination question was raised about the presence of an Ahmadiyya Mission in Israel. The town is known as Kababeer where Ahmadiyya Jama'at was established among the Palestinian Arabs since 1920s.

Next: 1974 -III : The war of narratives
Previous: 1974 - I : In camera proceedings released

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