Gujranwala blasphemy case: Ahmadis point fingers at 'silent spectators'

Published: July 28, 2014
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The charged mob started looting and setting the houses on fire at 8pm, and had continued to do so until 12:30am, on Monday, in the presence of the police, Dr Muhammad Akram, head of Gujranwala Jamaat Ahmadia. PHOTO: EXPRESS/KHURRAM SHAHZAD

The charged mob started looting and setting the houses on fire at 8pm, and had continued to do so until 12:30am, on Monday, in the presence of the police, Dr Muhammad Akram, head of Gujranwala Jamaat Ahmadia. PHOTO: EXPRESS/KHURRAM SHAHZAD

LAHORE: An elderly woman, two minors and an unborn child all perished late on Sunday when houses belonging to Ahmadis were set ablaze in Gujranwala by a charged mob after an Ahmadi boy was accused of blasphemy.

It was all too familiar for a community that saw back-to-back attacks on its places of worship just four years ago — attacks that killed 86 Ahmadis.

On Sunday, a woman and two of her granddaughters died of suffocation while a seven-month-old unborn child also suffered the same fate when the child’s mother had a miscarriage. The mother is still in critical condition.

The charged mob started looting and setting the houses on fire at 8pm and continued to do so until 12:30am on Monday in the presence of the police, said Dr Muhammad Akram, head of Gujranwala Jamaat Ahmadia.

He said the mob did not let ambulances of Rescue 1122, fire fighters aid the rescuers and the police remained silent spectators. “However, after the mob had set the houses on fire, the police recovered three bodies and nine injured people from the burnt houses.”

Akram told The Express Tribune that among the deceased were Bushra Bibi aged 54, Hira aged 7 and his sister Kainat who was six months old. Both girls were daughters of Muhammad Boota. He went on to add that Mubashra Bibi, Boota’s sister, had a miscarriage.

Akram added that eight others, including a four-year-old baby girl and a three-year-old baby boy were shifted to Tahir Heart Institute, Rabwa, from Gujranwala District Hospital.

“The hospital administration had referred them to a hospital in Lahore as they were in critical condition, but they preferred to have the injured shifted to Rabwa for better care and security,” said Akram.

He went on to add that eight houses and four shops were burnt during the incident, adding that the mob had initially looted their houses and their business of building material, and then set them on fire after spraying the houses with petrol.

“The mob would not let any police official or rescuer assist them,” he said, adding that a rickshaw, four electric generators and a tractor trolley were also damaged during the incident.

Munir Ahmed, Boota’s brother, tried to escape from the scene but the mob chased him and subjected him to physical torture.  However, men from the area managed to rescue Ahmed, who is now under treatment at a local hospital.

“Nobody was going to the house of the dead to shift their bodies into custody as they feared action from the mob. Later, however, after security from the police, they took the bodies into their custody and were shifted them to Rabwa,” he added.

There are 300 homes of Ahmadi families, comprising more than 2,000 members in Gujranwala. In 1974, Akram added, seven Ahmadis were killed in a day by an angry mob in Gujranwala.

SP Civil Lines Gujranwala Zeeshan Siddiqi told The Express Tribune that they had registered an FIR at the Peoples Colony under sections 302, 436, 148 and 149 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), and section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, against four nominated as accused and many unknown.

He said among the nominated accused are local cleric Hakim Ali, Khurram, Asif Boby and Asif Butt and said that so far no arrest had been made. He admitted that announcements were made in mosques against Ahmadis, which ensured the gathering of thousands of charged people against Ahmadis.

He said the mob had accused one of the Ahmadis of posting a blasphemous picture of the Kaaba, and that the mob had gathered outside their houses. An individual inside the house had shot at the mob, injuring one of them as a result. This caused panic among the mob which started setting houses on fire.

Jamaat-e-Ahmadi’s spokesperson told The Express Tribune that he had personally been in touch with federal minister Khurram Dastagir, local police officials and the inspector general of police, but no one had listened or bothered.

He said that Ahmadis all over the country were vulnerable to extremist attacks, adding that false cases had been registered against four Ahmadis in Badin, Sindh under 298-C of the PPC.

Further, Saleemudin said that an Ahmadi was accused of blasphemy and arrested a month ago and was shot dead in Sharaqpur while he was in custody of the police. He also said that a cardiac surgeon, who was a US national, was shot dead in when he had arrived to attend to a heart patient in Rabwa.

Munawar Ali Shahid, a member of the Ahmadia community and a human rights activist, who is taking refuge in Germany after receiving life threats, condemned the incident. ‘No Ahmadi is safe in Pakistan, and the state had failed to protect the minorities as their houses had been burnt in the presence of the police.”

He said such attacks had been made against Ahmadis in Chak Sikander, Nankana Sahib, Ghando Sahi, Sialkot and Shamshabad Kasure – but none of the accused for these incidents were arrested.

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Reader Comments (53)

  • Station to Station
    Jul 29, 2014 - 12:27AM

    Time to get rid of the blasphemy law and the thinking behind it. Sorry, but blasphemous pictures don’t warrant murder. They’re just pictures, that’s all.

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  • AlChemist
    Jul 29, 2014 - 12:34AM

    Complete barbarism and ignorance at its height. Extremely hard to find such example in current times.

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  • M M Malik
    Jul 29, 2014 - 12:46AM

    When law enforcers become silent spectator to a crime, a failed state is not far. The Almighty is never a silent spectator to such crimes.

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  • Napier Mole
    Jul 29, 2014 - 1:09AM

    Let some investigative journalist do some due research and find out if it was property related interests or just an assumed god given right that forced this mob and its leaders to carry out this barbaric act.

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  • survivor
    Jul 29, 2014 - 1:22AM

    Most tragic and worst kind of hatred that has no place in civilized society.

    These crimes against humanity must be condemned at the highest level and criminals must be punished severely to set an example.

    We also must teach tolerance to our young generation and the difference between right and wrong and value of life.

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  • View
    Jul 29, 2014 - 1:24AM

    This is what happens when you have mindset of dark ages and technology of 21st century. So you read things on Facebook or watch things on the internet (like a “blasphemous video) and then you act like barbarians of the dark ages, when this religion came into existence. This is what happens when countries like Pakistan are created based on delusions (e.g “two nation theory”) and then being delusional is rewarded (e.g so called educated people supporting PTI or lawyers declaring the murderer of Salman Taseer as hero). As long as racists like most of the anchors of pakistani media have jobs, that means people are foolish enough to watch them, and founding fathers of pakistan are respected instead of ridiculed, I regret to say that the chance of this country becoming a mentally sophisticated nation compatible with the 21st century is next to impossible.

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  • [email protected]
    Jul 29, 2014 - 1:25AM

    Unless the antiquated blasphemy law is done away with; unless all Pakistanis are given a decent education; unless they show respect for all religions including the Ahmadis; unless Ahmadis as all other Muslim sects, Christians, Hindus or whomever, are allowed to practise their religions in peace; Pakistan will continue its downhill spiral into medieval dark times, a failed state and has its ruling class to blame simply said. More importantly Pakistan’s political class, elite, and armed forces must change the course of “business as usual” if the country’s welfare is of interest….

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  • bahaha
    Jul 29, 2014 - 1:31AM

    Really strange behaviors of police. Next time a mob approaches the house of a PM the police can watch them torch it and say well he wasn’t elected ” fairly”.Recommend

  • Had enough
    Jul 29, 2014 - 1:34AM

    This is a disgrace.

    All citizens need to be treated equally and protected.

    Who are these savages – if some one has allegedly broken the law, they should face the court – not mullah fuelled mob justice.

    I am so sad and ashamed.Recommend

  • sabi
    Jul 29, 2014 - 1:43AM

    Where are you Shahbaz Sharif why have you not suspended policemen.You are extra hyper to suspend policemen even if a dog is over run by a speeding car.Your inaction shows minorities lives have no importance in your eyes.Shame on you.

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  • Arsalan
    Jul 29, 2014 - 1:45AM

    What a big shame. Does Islam not teaches protection of minorities and their rights? Why Muslims point fingers towards Israel if they are no different. Means whoever has the power will use it to oppress the weaker.

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  • Jul 29, 2014 - 2:21AM

    Where is Shahbazullah?? Not a peep out this so called
    CM of Punjabistan.. This man should be issuing certificates of
    Genocide to Ahmadis and Shias. Admitting, yes, the govt. is
    culpable in this heinous Genocide. This will allow these tortured
    people to seek asylum in civilized countries.

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  • Aysha M
    Jul 29, 2014 - 3:08AM

    The state has brought innocent citizens to a point where they are led by emotionalism thereby atrocities, unless 1974 legislation against is repealed, nothing will change for the Ahmediyya community, tweeting and talking will not help protect this persecuted section of society

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  • Afghan Maihan
    Jul 29, 2014 - 3:35AM

    The mob rules in Pakistan. What is wrong with you people?

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  • Raj - USA
    Jul 29, 2014 - 5:40AM

    Ahmedis should not complain. They are far more fortunate than hindus or christians in Pakistan.
    They should see this:http://www.onefreeworldinternational.org/portfolio/saving-neeha/
    May bring them some solace.

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  • Tight Patloon
    Jul 29, 2014 - 6:23AM

    Thank god, that Jinnah made a separate country for the savages.

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  • sad
    Jul 29, 2014 - 7:07AM

    and then we talk about the atrocities in Palestine.. fix your own damned system

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  • mahmooda
    Jul 29, 2014 - 7:08AM

    گوجرانوالہ کے واقعہ کے بعد کیا ہم پاکستانیوں کو اب غزہ کے بچوں اور عورتوں کےقتل کا رونا رونے کا کوئی حق ہے؟

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  • Station to Station
    Jul 29, 2014 - 7:36AM

    “founding fathers of pakistan are respected instead of ridiculed”

    You are free; you are free to go to
    your temples. You are free to go to
    your mosques or to any other places of
    worship in this State of Pakistan. You
    may belong to any religion, caste or
    creed—that has nothing to do with the
    business of the State.
    ― Muhammad Ali Jinnah

    Don’t blame the founders. Your actually doing a disservice to victims by shifting the blame from the real perpetrators. Just so you can justify your own ideological stance, rather selfish if you ask me.

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  • Shamsher Singh Dhillon
    Jul 29, 2014 - 7:48AM

    Pakistanis have lost all shame !Recommend

  • kulwant singh
    Jul 29, 2014 - 7:58AM

    Muslims got their home in 1947 but they are not safe in their own house, Shias, Ahmadi killed with impunity because those people who commit such acts knows very well that no one will touch them.

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  • Ahmer Qamar
    Jul 29, 2014 - 8:20AM

    Sick..so where are all the Palestinian sympathisers now….or is this different.

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  • Amir
    Jul 29, 2014 - 8:41AM

    Can our pious media be bold enough to go and question the higher ups in Police, government. No they are not. More concerned with Gaza, IK and TQ march on Aug 14, PM tactics to call in the army, Supreme Court playing ignorant baboons.

    So this will continue unabated, unless the west starts imposing sanctions.

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  • K. Kamal
    Jul 29, 2014 - 9:02AM

    Shameful, barbarians these fundoos. About 1,000 Muslims are massacred each day on an average by other fellow Muslims in Muslim countries of Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc, etc. But no protests. But its all about Gaza, Gaza, Gaza….

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  • Timorlane
    Jul 29, 2014 - 9:32AM

    At the day of Yum e Ishq e Rasool (Peace be Upon Him) miscreants across the country looted and burned down hundreds of properties and killed dozens of people (all Muslims). Same at much massive scale happened at the killing of benazir bhutto when “mourners” looted and burned thousands of properties and vehicles besides butchering dozens of innocent people. We need to understand that this corrupt nation has found all such occasions as an ideal opportunity to loot and vandalize

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  • Dr Sun
    Jul 29, 2014 - 9:41AM

    Whatever is the matter is; no religion give individuals freedom to kill innocents. These my pure Muslim brothers should keep in mind that by doing this they are not doing a worth service for Islam and humanity. Blasphamy laws are there with only one purpose to safeguard the sentiments to religion. If someone do such act, let him face the courts and these laws. There is no reason and support to take laws in yours own hands. This is totally wrong thing.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Jul 29, 2014 - 9:59AM

    This news is being posted around the world in detail by Reuters!
    As usual, police never fired guns in air to disperse the mob!
    As usual, police never filmed mob to identify perpetrators!
    As usual, no one will ever be arrested/convicted for these murders!
    So much for the long gone “Good Name” of Pakistan!

    Recommend

  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Jul 29, 2014 - 10:21AM

    We are calling Israelis as butcher and murderers of innocent children, women and elderly people are these people who burned them alive anyless than the Israeli butchers or TTP Beasts?
    For once the perpetrators should be arrested and punished according to the law.

    Recommend

  • Uzair
    Jul 29, 2014 - 11:05AM

    @View: Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you for stating the plain truth, and ET thank you for publishing it.

    Recommend

  • Alan
    Jul 29, 2014 - 11:42AM

    And these people have the bomb… And all this over a facebook post. People have lost their minds.

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  • Aman Ki Asha
    Jul 29, 2014 - 12:02PM

    @View:
    Thank you. I couldn’t agree more.

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  • Aman Ki Asha
    Jul 29, 2014 - 12:07PM

    @Aysha M: Though the state sanctions this terrorism, every individual is ti be blamed for his/her own action and reaction. These aren’t ‘innocent’ civilians by any means. Vile savages is more like it. They and only they themselves are to be blamed for these atrocities.

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  • Fazal
    Jul 29, 2014 - 2:32PM

    For those who doubt the state’s role in the genocide of Ahmedis, here is the law of the land.
    I am not saying anything just copying and pasting the law which is being taught in our law schools by our Lawyers and judges. None dares to say a word against the extreme form of injustice being done in the name of Law and Justice. And this is 2014 AD Pakistan not 1300 BC Egypt.

    Pakistan Penal Code
    298-C.
    Person of Quadiani group, etc., calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith:
    Any person of the Quadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves ‘Ahmadis’ or by any other name), who directly or indirectly, poses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

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  • Jul 29, 2014 - 3:16PM

    Israelis are better than Pakistani Muslims.

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  • View2
    Jul 29, 2014 - 3:46PM

    @Station to Station: Have you conveniently forgotten the stance of him defending the murderer of the publisher of a book because of the perceived “blasphemy” ? Have you forgotten the other supposed founder Iqbal who called the same murderer as “ghazi”? Give me a break!

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  • Observer
    Jul 29, 2014 - 3:50PM

    @Station to Station:
    If you do not find “two nation theory” as ridiculous and devoid of any understanding of the human mind, then I do not know what else you can find ridiculous. And the quote that you are writing also undermines the whole reason for the creation of pakistan, all that could have happened in secular india! but no you had to have a land of the pure racists!

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  • View
    Jul 29, 2014 - 4:40PM

    @Station to Station:
    it seems like your comment is directed towards me. The quote that you have given describes the current state of India, it definitely does not describe Pakistan, as in Pakistan minorities’ daughters are kidnapped and forced to marry and convert, In Pakistan people who are not even Muslim are required to mind their language so that they do not even accidentally say something that will be considered by their “masters”, the Muslim majority, as blasphemous. UN declares Pakistan as one of the worst states when it comes to Religious freedoms. In Pakistan people are killed because of religion on a regular basis. So this is the reality of Pakistan, and now you compare with the dream or fantasy of its founders (the quote that you gave), either you have to conclude that the founders were naive, as I do, and hence their quotes/ideas ridiculous, or you have to believe that the product, that is the people of Pakistan, are just misguided, as it appears that you do, you are free to believe whatever you believe, we have the right to believe whatever we want to , but reality can never be suppressed for too long without seeing the decay that false pretenses bring…hope I answered your comment.

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  • Observer
    Jul 29, 2014 - 4:44PM

    @Station to Station:

    Really, you just recognized that ? as simple as that?

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  • Parrot
    Jul 29, 2014 - 5:13PM

    @View:
    View, I parrot your view! 100%.

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  • Parrot
    Jul 29, 2014 - 5:19PM

    @Station to Station:

    Nice bit of selective quoting on your part. You seem to be forgetting that Jinnah also said this:
    “When we say ‘This flag is the flag of Islam’ they think we are introducing religion into politics – a fact of which we are proud” (Gaya Muslim League Conference, January 1938);

    And this: “(Pakistan) will be an Islamic state on the pattern of the Medina state…” (Muslim League session Allahabad, 1942);

    And this: “The Muslims demand Pakistan where they could rule according to their own code of life and according to their own cultural growth, traditions, and Islamic Laws” (Frontier Muslim League Conference November 21, 1945)

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  • 3rdRockFromTheSun
    Jul 29, 2014 - 5:48PM

    Like many originally from across the border, but now in Canada and based on my interaction with Pakistanis here; I had hopes that this tide of intolerance could be turned. I no longer think so – that ship has sailed. It is just downhill from here.

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  • Jibran
    Jul 29, 2014 - 6:02PM

    Eid Mubarak from Lahore!

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  • disgusted
    Jul 29, 2014 - 7:05PM

    @Jibran:
    I am sure nothing can be more worthy to you than to send Mubarakbad to the “real” Muslims after reading this story!Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jul 29, 2014 - 9:39PM

    Shameful. We should be ashamed of ourselves. What kind of society have we become? Brutish and thuggish.

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  • Station to Station
    Jul 30, 2014 - 12:31AM

    @Parrot
    Basing your state on religion doesn’t automatically make a country non-secular nor does having a state religion make the nature of your country non-secular in any way. You just have to look at the United Kingdom and the United States. The United States was built on religious grounds yet it remains a secular country. Similarly, England has a state religion but remains very much a secular society. Remember, many of these western countries had their laws modelled after the ten commandments and other Christian laws but they knew where to draw the line so that they wouldn’t turn into a theocracy. That’s what Muhammad Ali Jinnah did in his speech, he clearly drew the line. It’s the present generations fault for not heeding his words.

    @Observer
    No, I realised the folly of the blasphemy law the minute I was made aware of it as a teenager. Sadly, sometimes the obvious has to be pointed out, hence my first comment.

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  • Sharief
    Jul 30, 2014 - 8:20AM

    Is it called good governance?

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  • mosawwir
    Jul 30, 2014 - 10:29AM

    Why still no policemen suspended? Why still no action has been ordered against these silent spectators (Police) who stood by watching all this happening? Where is Chief Minister Punjab? Why not a single word of condemnation from Chief Minister?

    This apathetic behavior and inaction from all concerned shows their tacit approval for such incident. How ruthlessly these people who are supposed to provide full protection to their citizens turn a blind eye to these incidents. The current state of affairs is really appalling and indicates how impassive our leaders have become.Recommend

  • mosawwir
    Jul 30, 2014 - 10:49AM

    We should feel shame while pointing fingers at Israel when we are behaving much more brutally and burning the houses of our own citizens and torching them alive. Really disgusting.Recommend

  • mosawwir
    Jul 30, 2014 - 10:57AM

    @Fazal
    Dear Fazal Sahib.
    You quoted the law but also tell us where it is written to take law into your own hands against Ahmadies and kill them, burn their houses and demolish their mosques, wipe out Kalimah from their mosques? If you mention law then you should also advise people to let the law and law enforcement agencies do their work instead of taking law into their own hands.

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  • mosawwir
    Jul 30, 2014 - 11:20AM

    Being an Ahmadi, I do not expect any justice of this brutality from these silent spectators and the law of this country. But let me tell you that Allah will do justice one day as Allah is seeing everything. Allah will do the justice for the blood being shed by the Ahmadies.Recommend

  • Tahir Khan
    Jul 30, 2014 - 9:43PM

    These people, their so called religious and political leaders are currently at a historical height of cruelity, ignorance, falseness, senselessness, inhumanness, barbarousness and brutality. Being a muslim is too far, they cannot even worthy of calling themselves HUMANS. In history, nations with such characteristics were punished and ELIMINATED by God and the outcome will be NO different for this “WORST CREATURE ON EARTH” and it is just a matter of time!
    They have lost all morals, basic human elements and do not at all fear of God.
    InshaaAllah God will soon tighten His rope around the necks of these fanatics and Himslef take revenge of the blood of Ahmadi Muslims!

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  • cosmo
    Jul 31, 2014 - 2:31AM

    @Station to Station:
    You say, “That’s what Muhammad Ali Jinnah did in his speech”.
    I say, Jinnah was navie! He should have known better that when you sow the seeds of hatered and stoke communal passions for years and years, you just cannot undo all that ill work in one speech. Remember its easy to elarn but hard to unlearn!!

    He had all the right to ask for legitmate rights for the Muslims, but he shouldn’t have used the religion as one of the devicing lines. He was navie and has done the greatest disservice to this world.

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  • Jul 31, 2014 - 5:00AM

    @Tahir Khan: ” InshaaAllah God will soon tighten His rope around the necks of these fanatics and Himslef take revenge of the blood of Ahmadi Muslims!” — God will do the justice of your perception is only a consolation of bruised sentiments and speaks helplessness. We derive strength to survive / continue in our life from some one whom we believe a just , almighty, protector of helpless people but the facts/ future happenings/ events speak totally different yet we never want to be disillusioned because that is is our last resort. Nothing will change unless efforts will be made at our end.

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