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The Munir Inquiry Report

Name of Book: Report of the Court of Inquiry constituted under Punjab Act II of 1954 to enquire into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953.

This book is an official document published by the Government of Pakistan and is officially titled, Report of The Court of Inquiry constituted under Punjab Act II of 1954 to enquire into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953. It is commonly known as the “Munir Inquiry Report” or the “Munir-Kiyani Report”.

The anti-Ahmadiyya sentiment that had been brewing for decades turned into a violent movement in 1952. The opponents of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat united on one issue – Ahmadis be declared non-Muslims. 

This, in itself, is quite historic in that the Ulema of the Muslim Ummah have seldom agreed on any issue; “seldom” being a generous overstatement based on benefit of doubt. Ahmadis in Pakistan had always been known for being more educated, honest and progressive. This resulted in Ahmadis progressing to higher ranks in the Pakistani bureaucracy and other public service institutions. The jealousy of their opponent circles would come to surface from time to time, but it turned into a unified force by the appointment of Sir Zafrullah Khanra, an Ahmadi stalwart, as the first Foreign Minister of Pakistan. 

The so-called Ulema called for him to be removed but the demand was always seen as unfounded. They had to devise a ground and this they found in declaring them non-Muslim; this, as they put it, left an infidel in charge of the foreign policies of a “Muslim” nation. It was portrayed as a grave threat for the integrity of the whole nation.

This sentiment of hate turned into the anti-Ahmadiyya agitation that saw a great deal of violence directed towards Ahmadis in Pakistan. February and March, 1953 saw human rights and religious freedom, in the words of Francis Robinson, “being sacrificed on the altar of politics” in Pakistan. Ahmadis were persecuted in every possible manner, from being hated to having their properties looted.

This led to martial law being imposed in Punjab, to somehow bring the situation under control. The governments in those infancy years of Pakistan were not as bigoted as they have been since Z A Bhutto decided to shift his mind-set from the left to the far-right. Khawaja Nazimuddin, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, sensed the gravity of the issue and instructed that a special Inquiry Commission be set up to assess the whole situation. 

Headed by Justice Muhammad Munir and Justice M R Kiyani part the bench, the commission called to the dock all parties involved. 

The anti-Ahmadiyya Majlis-e-Amal (or Ahrar as they are commonly known) were given a full opportunity to have their demands recorded and also to explain what grounds they were based on. Ahmadis also got a chance to clarify the theological differences before the inquiry commission. As the Ahrar upheld their demand to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslims, the commission asked for the definition of the word “Muslim” so that it could be easier for them to then see who could be declared “non-Muslim”. It is a great historical irony that all anti-Ahmadiyya “Muslims” could not agree on a single definition of “Muslim”.

The whole document is worth a thorough read, but the concluding remarks by Justice Munir are especially worthy of notice.

“Everybody agrees that the Ahrar were a subversive force. They were opposed to the creation of Pakistan. Sardar Abdur-Rab Nishtar thinks that they were anxious to ‘rehabilitate’ themselves. In 1950 and in 1952, Mr Anwar Ali, then DIG (CID) strongly recommended that they should be declared an unlawful body.

“Further, we feel that the Ahrars were treated as family members and the Ahmadis as strangers.”

His remarks end with these words: “But if democracy means the subordination of law and order to political ends—then Allah knoweth best and we end the report.”

Tariq Ali, in his book The Duel, very rightly states, “The published report, I have often argued, is a classic of its type, a modern masterpiece of political literature.”

(AB)

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