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Munir Commission Report - Part -27: The conduct of Maulana Sultan Ahmad at the meeting of the Majlis-i-Amal

The second difference between the Jama’at-i-Islami on the one side and Majlis-i-Amal and the Ahrar on the other relates to the conduct of Maulana Sultan Ahmad at the meeting of the Majlis-i-Amal held on 26th February in the office of the khatm-inubuwwat movement in Karachi. Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi’s version is that though he had received a notice of this meeting he himself was ill and had given certain instructions to Maulana Sultan Ahmad by telephone which were followed by a detailed letter written to him on 22nd February 1953, the substance of the letter and the telephonic message being that the Jama’at-i-Islami’s view that direct action should not be resorted to, nor any unconstitutional step taken, should be pressed at the meeting and that if this proposal was not accepted, Maulana Sultan Ahmad should declare that the Jama’at had resigned membership of Majlis-i-Amal.

As Maulana Sultan Ahmad has not been called as a witness, we do not know when this letter reached him and what views he expressed at the meeting of the Majlis-i-Amal, In the letter to Maulana Sultan Ahmad, Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi had stated that he had no knowledge of any meeting of the Majlis-i-Amal after the meeting of the Convention on 18th January; that he disapproved of public demonstrations which were being staged at Lahore to create in the minds of the public the expectation that a great war would begin from 22nd February; that after the creation of this expectation, if no war was declared, the result would be defeat and failure of the common objective; that the Jama’at-i-Islami had joined the Majlis-i-Amal on the understanding that each party would adopt its own programme of action for the achievement of the object and not work under the command of, or in execution of the programme determined by, the Majlis-i-Amal so as to lose its identity; that it was wrong on the part of the Majlis-i-Amal to organise demonstrations exclusively against Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din because any such course would alienate the sympathy of Bengal with the movement; that emphasis was being wrongly laid on the demand relating to the removal of Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan; that atmosphere was not favourable for any wide scale agitation because, firstly, the educated classes had still not been convinced of the justification of the demands and, secondly, the Provinces other than the Punjab and Bahawalpur had not yet become interested in the movement; that if the course of action which the Majlis-i-Amal had chosen for itself was persisted in, the result would be failure; that these points must be pressed by Maulana Sultan Ahmad before the members of the Majlis-i-Amal and that if his view did not find favour with the Majlis, he should dissociate the Jama’at from the Majlis.

Though the instructions given by this letter to Maulana Sultan Ahmad were clear and definite, there is no evidence before us that the viewpoint of Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi was pressed before the Majlis-i-Amal. On the other hand, we have the evidence of Maulana Abul Hasanat Sayyad Muhammad Ahmad and Sayyad Muzaffar Ali Shamsi that Maulana Sultan Ahmad expressed no dissent from, or disapproval of, the decision taken. The evidence of Maulana Abul Hasanat on this part of the case is as follows:—

“Q.—Did you remember the part taken by Maulana Sultan Ahmad in the proceedings of the Majlis-i-Amal?


Q.—Did he express any difference with the resolution as it is recorded in the proceedings?

A.—No. Everyone was agreed. To Court—I am absolutely certain that Maulana Sultan Ahmad did not raise any objection to the decisions taken at the meeting.

Q.—Did Maulana Sultan Ahmad say that he had come to the meeting under telephonic instructions from Maulana Maudoodi and that the letter which Maulana Maudoodi had said had been written to him had not till then been received by him?

A.—Yes, that is correct.

Q.—Did Maulana Sultan Ahmad then say that in the absence of instructions from Maulana Maudoodi he could not adopt any definite attitude in regard to the decisions to be taken?

A.—No. he did not say that.

Earlier Maulana Maudoodi had told me that it was not necessary for himself to attend the meeting of the Majlis-i-Amal and that he could be represented by somebody else of his choice. Maulana Sultan Ahmad did not say that he was not in a position to express any opinion on the resolutions until he had received some letter which had been sent by Maulana Maudoodi and which was on its way. I definitely remember that I questioned Maulana Sultan Ahmad whether he was fully authorised to represent the Jama’at-i-Islami at the meeting of the 26th and his answer was in an unqualified affirmative.

Q.—When did Maulana Maudoodi tell you that he would send his representative with full authority to act on behalf of the Jama’at?

A.—I cannot give the date nor can I mention the month”.

This evidence is confirmed by Sayyad Muzaffar Ali Shamsi and Ex. D. E. 336, the record of the proceedings of the Majlis-i-Amal which is signed by Maulana Sultan Ahmad himself. It is true that the signatures of the members appear in this document above the record of the proceedings, but Maulana Abul Hasanat’s evidence is clear and definite on the point that the document is a correct record of the proceedings and the decisions taken which had the approval of Maulana Sultan Ahmad. We have, therefore, no hesitation in finding that the decision to picket the houses of the Governor-General and the Prime Minister from the morning of 27th February had the approval of Maulana Sultan Ahmad.

This finding, however, does not contradict Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi’s statement that the instructions to Maulana Sultan Ahmad were not to be a party to any such action and that full instructions for the guidance of Maulana Sultan Ahmad were contained in the letter, Ex. D. E. 66.

We might at this stage mention the Jama’at-i-Islami’s version of the circumstances in which the Conventions of 16th to 18th January and 26th February, 1953, were held in Karachi. The Jama’at was a member of the Majlis-i-Amal which had been constituted by the All Muslim Parties Convention held in Lahore on 13th July.

Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi and Malik Nasarullah Khan Aziz were the two representatives of the Jama’at at the Majlis-i-Amal, but later Mian Tufail Muhammad replaced Islahi. At a meeting of the Majlis-i-Amal which was attended by Malik Nasarullah Khan Aziz and Mian Tufail Muhammad, held near the end of November, a resolution proposing civil disobedience was moved by Sahibzada Faiz-ul-Hasan, but it was withdrawn, the resolution moved by Sheikh Husam-ud-Din to call a Convention in Karachi having been adopted. This Convention was accordingly held in Karachi from 16th to 18th January, which was attended by Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi. At a subsequent meeting of the Punjab Majlis-i-Amal held at Lahore in the middle of February, a letter from Maulana Maudoodi was read by Malik Nasarullah Khan Aziz to the effect that what was being done by the Majlis-i-Amal in the Punjab was ultra vires because the form of rast iqdam had not been defined by the Convention held in Karachi on 18th January. It was, therefore, decided that a meeting of the Central Majlis-i-Amal be called and it was in pursuance of this requisition that the meeting of 26th February was held, which, as already mentioned, was attended by Maulana Sultan Ahmad who had been instructed by Maulana Maudoodi to dissociate himself and the Jama’at from the Majlis-i-Amal if it insisted on taking some unwise and hasty step.

Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi returned from Karachi to Lahore on 24th January and addressed a public meeting outside Mochi Gate. The purport of this speech has already been mentioned in an earlier part of the report.

On I8th February, 1953, Mian Tufail Muhammad, Qayyam of Jama’at-i-Islami, Pakistan, issued instructions to the members and muttafiqeen of the Jama’at to the effect that the Majlis-i-Amal was a body constituted by the All Muslim Parties Convention, that the organisations which had agreed to join this Majlis had not merged their own individuality in it, that therefore no member or muttafiq of Jama’at-i-Islami should sign any pledge or declaration at the instance of Majlis-i-Amal, that it was contrary to the discipline of the Jama’at that any member of it should obey any order issued by any other organisation, that no programme of action should be acted upon until it had been decided upon by the Central Majlis-i-Amal which was about to meet and that in the struggle for the declaration of the Ahmadis as a non-Muslim minority nothing should be done which was unconstitutional or improper or likely to lead to disorder.

When the arrests were made in Karachi on 27th February, Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi, on 1st March, 1953, issued a statement condemning these arrests as well as the Press Note issued by the Government attempting to justify them. The Maulana said in this statement that Government was in the hands of people none of whom rose above the mentality of a Thanedar, that the arrests were the act of persons who had no sense or wisdom, that the true course for the Government was either to accept the demands or to convince the people that their demands were not justified or to resign, that the demands could not be suppressed by means adopted by the Government, that the Government’s Press Note had falsely stated that the demands had been engineered by the Ahrar who were the enemies of Pakistan, and that the demands were the unanimous demands of the Musalmans, though as to the means which should be adopted to secure acceptance of the demands there could be difference of opinion between the Jama’at and others.

The ‘Tasneem’ of 2nd March, 1963, wrote a leading article repeating a portion of Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi’s statement of 27th February about the Government’s Press Note and reiterating the three courses open to Government which had been indicated by Maulana Maudoodi in that statement. In its issue of 3rd March, the same paper devoted another article to the subject disapproving improper slogans that were being raised during speeches in public meetings, the rowdyism that was being witnessed in processions and the mock funerals of high personages in Government that were being staged. Though the article condemned all this, it proceeded to mention that people had inherited this conduct from the Muslim League itself when it had organised the agitation against Malik Khizar Hayat Khan Tiwana, and pointed out that such conduct would be injurious to the sacred mission for which the public were striving.

Again in the issue of 4th March, 1953, this paper published a statement by Mian Tufail Muhammad, Qayyam of the Jama’at, that according to the information received by him the house of Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi and the office of ‘Tasneem’ were going to be picketed which showed that the movement had fallen into irresponsible hands; that those who had suggested such picketing did not know that before the Council of Action was dissolved the Jama’at-i-Islami in consultation with responsible leaders of the movement had undertaken a duty which it would continue to discharge; that Maulana Akhtar Ali Khan in his speech had made an attack on Jama’at-i-Islami to which Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi had a reply; that it was not wise to blame people who were working for the achievement of a common object; and that the public should not be affected by rumours and at the instigation of unwise friends embarrass people who were engaged in the achievement of the same end.

In the issue of 5th March, 1953, the ‘Tasneem’ published a report by the staff reporter that he had contacted responsible persons of Jama’at-i-Islami to seek a clarification of the Jama’at’s position and that one who could speak on behalf of the Jama’at had stated that the Jama’at’s position had been defined in the ‘Tasneem’ of 4th March, that one Maulana Muhammad. Yusuf who had been arrested with Maulana Akhtar Ali Khan on the preceding day but had been released was doing something which was detrimental to the common object, that the public should attach no importance to rumours spread by irresponsible persons and that they should let the Jama’at do the work which it had taken upon itself.

The Qadiani Masala, a pamphlet of 40 pages, in which detailed reasons were given for Maulana Maudoodi’s opinion that the Qadianis were outside the pale of Islam, was published on 5th March 1953. It reproduced a large number of quotations from Ahmadiya literature, and asserted that all religious organisations in Pakistan had decided to excise a cancer (Ahmadiyyat) from Muslim society and to have Zafrullah Khan removed from his office because of his activities in spreading the roots of this cancer abroad including Muslim countries. At the end of the pamphlet there was a casual remark that the kind of demonstrations which common people were suggesting to be held to secure an acceptance of the demands were not proper and were not approved by seriousminded educated people, but this remark was immediately followed by the assertion that people had learnt such demonstrations from the Muslim League in the course of the agitation that it had launched to break up the Ministry of Malik Khizar Hayat Khan Tiwana and that they had not been invented by the mulla.

On the same day the Majlis-i-Shura of Jama’at-i-Islami passed a resolution declaring the necessity of adopting effective measures to have the unanimous demands of the Musalmans accepted and in order to make the movement successful, of directing it on right lines. It was stated in this resolution that the demand of the public was justified; that a refusal or omission to accept the demand was bound to cause dissatisfaction and anger in the masses; that a policy of indifference in such matters drove the public to have recourse to unconstitutional means; that it was wrong on the part of Government to suppress the demands by force, and when people were provoked by the use of such force, to use the police and the military against them; and that this course was bound to lead the country to a civil war.

 The resolution also reproduced the substance of Maulana Maudoodi’s speech of that day at the Government House. Referring to that speech the resolution declared that what the Maulana had said was that after the rejection of the popular demands it was useless for Government to make an appeal for peace; that no useful purpose would be served by such appeal if the Government was bent upon suppressing the demands of the public by force; that if Government was anxious to prevent further deterioration of the situation it should cool down the feelings of the public by abandoning the endeavour to suppress the demands by force and should open negotiations with the representatives of the public; that unless the principle of meeting argument with argument was adopted, incidents of disorder and bloodshed would continue to occur; that if the Government had any doubts whether the demands were the unanimous demands of the public it was for Government to suggest some other method of ascertaining whether they were such; and that if on application of all tests the demands were found to be unanimous but the Government even then did not concede them, the people had no other course left open to them.

The resolution also expressed the opinion of the Jama’at-i-Islami on the incidents that were happening and alleged that the Amir of the Jama’at-i-Islami, since the resolution of ‘direct action’, had repeatedly drawn the attention of the sponsors of the movement to two aspects of the matter: (1) that the issue was confined to the Punjab and (2) that even in the Punjab the educated classes did not realise the religious, social and political implications of the issue, but that the members of the Majlis-i-Amal had started the ‘direct action’ without paying due regard to these two aspects; and that when the ‘direct action’ was started, it was marred by incidents and disorders which were a reflection on Islamic morals and were calculated to bring a sacred cause into disgrace. The resolution reaffirmed the Jama’at-i-Islami’s support of the object of the movement but pointed out that the Jama’at could not sacrifice all its principles to support methods which were being adopted in achieving the object of the movement.

The resolution enumerated the three responsibilities of the Jama’at in this connection, one of which, was to adopt effective methods to secure acceptance of the demands, the second to direct the movement as far as possible into peaceful channels and to keep it within the limits of decency and the third to persuade all fair-minded people to devise measures to stop the repression that was becoming a danger to the peace and integrity of the country.

In the same issue was published another statement of Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi in which he referred to two telegrams which he had sent to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and to his speech in the Government House in the course of which after explaining the whole situation he had advised the Government to stop the use of the police and the military against the people and open negotiations in order to ascertain the reasonableness of the demands, and expressed his surprise on the Government’s appeal over the radio inasmuch as the Government had contented itself with appealing for the maintenance of order and had not said one word about the consideration of the demands and had put the entire blame on the public and none on itself.

Now after this detailed statement of the activities of the Jama’at-i-Islami and its founder, the facts that are either admitted by or have been proved against the Jama’at are:

(1) that Jama’at-i-Islami was a party to the Punjab Majlis-i-Amal;

(2) that the Jama’at was also a party to the Majlis-i-Amal set up by the All Pakistan Muslim Parties Convention which had passed the resolution of ‘direct action’ in Karachi on 18th January 1953;

(3) that Maulana Sultan Ahmad, who attended the meeting of the Majlis-i-Amal on 26th February in Karachi, did not dissociate himself from the activities of the Majlis-i-Amal, and the programme of sending volunteers to the residences of the Governor-General and the Prime Minister was decided upon in his presence and without any protest from him;

(4) that throughout one representative or another of the Jama’at-i-Islami kept on attending the meetings of Majlis-i-Amals of Karachi and Lahore;

(5) that from the date that the resolution of ‘direct action’ was passed until the disturbances were in full swing, the Jama’at-i-Islami made no public declaration that it was not a party to the ‘direct action’ and that it dissociated itself from the activities which were being carried on in prosecution of the programme settled by the Majlis-i-Amal;

(6) that in his speech at the Government House on 5th March Maulana Maududi, according to evidence which we see no reason to doubt or reject, stated that a civil war between the people and the Government was on and that unless the Government stopped the use of force and opened negotiations with the representatives of the people, there was no occasion for an appeal for peace; and

(7) that the Jama’at-i-Islami in its resolution of 5th March repeated the same view as had been expressed by Maulana Maudoodi on that day in the Government House.

It was well known to the Jama’at that the programme of ‘direct action’ would lead to disorders of a very grave character as appears from Maulana Maudoodi’s reference to the word “war” used by him in some of his speeches published in the ‘Tasneem’ and from the reference to Hindu-Muslim riots in his speech delivered outside Mochi Gate in Lahore on 30th January 1953.

In the various writings in the ‘Tasneem’ or the directions issued by the Jama’at-i-Islami there is, before the 5th March, not one word indicating that the programme of ‘direct action’ did not have the Jama’at’s support or approval. On the other hand, there are veiled admissions in these writings of the fact that Jama’at-i-Islami had undertaken some responsibility in the matter and that it would discharge that responsibility to the best of its ability.

 This corroborates Hafiz Khadim Husain’s evidence that there was some scheme of division of work between the Jama’at and the other parties, indications of which are to be found in Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi’s statement that the Jama’at’s programme was to make speeches and publish literature. Even, therefore, if it be admitted, and we believe that this part of the statement of Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi is correct, that there were differences between the Jama’at-i-Islami and the other parties in regard to the details of the programme of ‘direct action’, and that the Jama’at insisted on adopting constitutional means, this was no more than an internal affair between the members of the Majlis i- Amal themselves and does not affect the Jama’at’s responsibility for the natural consequences of the ‘direct action’ to which the Jama’at had solemnly subscribed.

Of course, if the Jama’at had publicly and unequivocally dissociated itself from the programme of ‘direct action’, it would not have been responsible for what subsequently occurred. But there is no evidence of any such dissociation nor of any denunciation or disapproval of the ‘direct action’. Mere disapproval of the manner in which processions were being organised or of the mock funerals that were being arranged, or of slogans that were being raised during the speeches at public meetings does not at all amont to a disapproval of the ‘direct action’ or of the steps that had been decided to be taken in pursuance of that action in the meeting of 26th February, and the responsibility of the Jama’at increases considerably when its leader, Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi, did not at all co-operate with the desperate efforts that Government was making on 5th March to stop disorders.

 On the contrary, the Maulana took a defiant attitude, blamed the Government for everything that had occurred and attempted to create sympathy with disorderly elements by describing them as subjects of repression. The impression that one gets from the evidence about his attitude at the Government House is that he was anticipating the whole system of administration to crumble down and expressing his glee over the expected discomfiture and surrender of Government. And when all this is taken into consideration with the avowed object of Jama’at-i-Islami to seize power, because, according to it, this is the most effective way of achieving its object of establishing religious institutions under the Sovereignty of Allah, no doubt is left in one’s mind that what was happening had the complete approval of the Jama’at. The Jama’at is accordingly responsible for the natural consequences that flowed from the passing of the ‘direct action’ resolution and from the programme, which the Majlis-i-Amal decided to embark upon by its decision of 26th February in Karachi, of sending batches of volunteers to the residences of the Governor-General and the Prime Minister and appointing Maulana Abul Hasanat as the first dictator of the movement.

That the arrests of the leaders of the movement had become inevitable and the leaders themselves were in no doubt about it, is clear from a reference to the possible arrest of the first dictator to be found in. the proceedings of the Majlis-i-Amal of 26th February. As the events that followed the arrests were folly expected as also the steps that would be taken by the authorities to deal with the situation arising from public protests and demonstrations, it does not lie in the mouth of the Jama’at to assert that the entire blame lay on the Government because it resorted to force to quell the disturbances which had rapidly assumed an alarming form. Sayyad Firdaus Shah was murdered by a furious mob in or outside the Wazir Khan Mosque on the evening of the 4th. This event was merely a precursor of what was to follow, but even after that incident the Jama’at did not say one word of regret or of disapproval of a barbaric murder.

On the contrary its founder flung the Qadiani Masala in the midst of a colossal conflagration. We think we are reading the Jama’at’s mind quite rightly when we say that, though it did not believe in the propriety of the programme that had been decided upon in execution of the resolution of ‘direct action’, the Jama’at was throughout afraid of becoming unpopular by giving frank and honest expression of its real views to the public. In its mentality and attitude, therefore, it did not differ from any other political personality or organisation, and was as much afraid as anyone else of doing anything which might expose it to public criticism.

We see no force in the contention raised by the Jama’at and by Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi that the meeting of the Majlis-i-Amal held on the evening of 18th January 1953 in Karachi was irregular and unconstitutional and that everything done subsequently by the Majlis-i-Amal was ultra vires. If the matter had been one between the Jama’at-i-Islami and the other parties to the Majlis-i-Amal, and the Court had been called upon to decide this question of constitutionality in proceedings in which some right or liability had to be enforced inter partes, we would probably have agreed with the Jama’at. But no question of ultra vires or unconstitutionality can arise in the proceedings before us, because the Jama’at had lent its name both to the Majlis-i-Amal, Punjab, and the Central Majlis-i-Amal; it was a party to the resolution of ‘direct action’ ; and in the meeting of the Majlis-i-Amal on 26th February its representative was a party to the resolution of sending batches of volunteers and to the appointment of a dictator who was to conduct the operations. The point is, therefore, of no consequence whatsoever in the inquiry.

The rustication of Ghulam Siddiq of Mianwali and Sayyad Ahmad Shah of Sargodha from the Jama’at was long after Martial Law had been proclaimed, and does not in any way improve the Jama’at’s position. The confidential reports submitted by the Deputy Commissioners and the Superintendents of Police of several districts show that members of Jama’at-i-Islami took part in the disturbances. The name of Sultan Ahmad in this respect is mentioned by the Deputy Commissioner, Montgomery, in his diary, dated 28th March 1953, and Muhammad Husain, another member of the Jama’at from the same district, was actually arrested. Reports by the Superintendents of Police of Gujranwala and Rawalpindi also refer to the activities of members of the Jama’at during the disturbances.