We found some research work on Ahmadis and the 1953 riots. We have pasted the data in the below, this is from a book called “The Vangaurd of the Islamic Revolution” by The Jama‘at-i Islami of Pakistan, written by Seyed Vali Reza Nasr.
The Anti-Ahmadi Controversy, 1952–1954
The status of minorities in Pakistan had long been of major concern to a number of the Islamic parties and to the ulama. Mawdudi, however, had never given much attention to what their place should be, believing that the question would be automatically resolved within the overall framework of an Islamic constitution. The other Islamic parties did not agree, particularly when it came to the Ahmadis, a sect which had emerged at the turn of the century in Punjab. The Ahmadis follow the teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (d. 1908), who claimed he had experienced divine revelation. The orthodox believe that the Ahmadis, also known as Qadiyanis or Mirza’is, stand outside the boundaries of Islam despite the Ahmadis’ insistence that they are Muslims. For Ghulam Ahmad’s claims are incompatible with the Muslim belief that Prophet Muhammad was the last of the prophets. The opposition of the ulama to the Ahmadis predated the partition, and the Deobandis had campaigned against them as early as the 1920s. Mawlana ‘Uthmani had written a book in refutation of the claims of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in 1924.
The Ahmadi issue had been the favorite of the Majlis-i Ahrar-i Islam (Society of Free Muslims), a populist Islamic party created in 1930 that grew out of the Khilafat movement and that was best known for the impassioned style of its speakers. The Ahrar had vacillated between supporting the Congress and the Muslim League before partition and did not declare its allegiance to Pakistan until 1949. The one constant throughout its existence, aside from its socialism, had been its vehement opposition to the Ahmadis. The Ahrar had first expressed this opposition in 1934, when Shah ‘Ata’u’llah Bukhari, the party’s leader, had demanded the official exclusion of the Ahmadis from Islam and the dismissal of Sir Zafaru’llah Khan—the Ahmadi Muslim League leader and later Pakistan’s foreign minister—from the viceroy’s council. Following partition, the erstwhile pro-Congress Ahrar moved to Pakistan, and after losing a significant portion of its membership between 1947 and 1950, its new leader, Taju’ddin Ansari, joined hands with Daultana’s faction of the Muslim League in Punjab.
With the passage of the Objectives Resolution, the Ahrar decided to utilize the state’s professed loyalty to Islam to elicit a ruling on the Ahmadis. Throughout 1949 it incited passions in Punjab against them (they had meanwhile established their Pakistan headquarters in Rabwah, not far from Lahore). The Ahrar were once again demanding the ouster of Zafaru’llah Khan, this time from the cabinet, and to weaken his position went so far as to argue that two of the defendants in the Rawalpindi conspiracy case were Ahmadis. The anti-Ahmadi campaign soon found support among the ulama, and served as the foundation for a religious alliance comparable to the one forged earlier between the Jama‘at and the ulama.
The Ahrar found an unexpected ally in the putatively “progressive” chief minister of the Punjab, Mian Mumtaz Daultana, who had found the obstreperous Islamic party and the emerging anti-Ahmadi alliance a useful counterbalance to Mamdot and the Jama‘at in the election campaign. Mamdot had defected from the Muslim League earlier in that year and had formed the Jinnah Awami League. The resignation of the former chief minister had greatly damaged the Muslim League’s standing in Punjab, all the more so as Mamdot’s electoral strategy—forming alliances with the Awami League and the Jama‘at—was threatening Daultana’s position. Mamdot had been particularly effective in depicting Daultana and his allies in Karachi as “un-Islamic.” The struggling Muslim League, also aware of challenges by the Jama‘at on its right and Mian Iftikharu’ddin’s Azad Pakistan party on its left could hardly withstand charges of secularism. Daultana therefore decided to mobilize the Ahrar to shore up the religious legitimacy of his ministry.
The Punjab elections became a platform for the Ahrar’s anti-Ahmadi propaganda. Daultana, bogged down in the election campaign and eager to build a base of support among the religious electorate, turned a blind eye to these activities. Nor did he show any signs of discomfort with the Ahrar following his victory in the elections. The continued pressures exerted on the Muslim League by Mamdot, Suhrawardi, Mawdudi, and Mian Iftikharu’ddin made the Ahrar an indispensable asset. Further emboldened by Daultana’s sweep of Punjab, the Ahrar set out to turn the Ahmadi issue into a national debate.
The dire economic conditions in Punjab at the time—a rise in food prices and famine precipitated by the landowners—meanwhile provided fertile ground for the Ahrar’s agitations. The Islam League (formerly Tahrik-i Khaksar) had already done much to translate popular discontent into an Islamic movement. Throughout the summer of 1952, when food prices and the grain shortage reached their peak, Mawlana Mashriqi organized numerous anti-Muslim League demonstrations, demanding the amelioration of suffering and a greater Islamization of government. The economic situation in Punjab no doubt made local politics susceptible to religious activism. As social unrest spread, demonstrations led by religious activists in general and the Islam League in particular turned into riots. The Islam League’s penchant for violence convinced the government of the dangers of allowing the continued sacralization of politics and eventually led to Mashriqi’s arrest.
The Jama‘at had also tried to take advantage of popular discontent. It organized the February 24, 1952, demonstration at Machi Gate of Lahore to protest the hike in the price of wheat flour, a protest that soon turned into a riot, which was forcibly quelled by the police. Although the Islam League and the Communists were implicated by the authorities as the main culprits, the role of the Jama‘at in the whole affair did not go unnoticed. It was, however, the Ahrar, with its socialist leanings, that assumed the role of the Islam League after Mashriqi was arrested. The Ahrar continued to articulate economic grievances in Islamic terms, but with a new twist; it tied the demand for economic justice to the Islamicity of the state by questioning the status of the Ahmadis. Every harangue against government policy and demand for greater Islamicity were accompanied by complaints about the discrepancy between the wealth of the Ahmadi community and the poverty of the struggling Muslim masses: in the homeland of Muslims, it was the Ahmadis who reaped the benefits and the Muslims who suffered hunger and hardship. This strategy was by and large successful, though it was the Ahmadis themselves who set off the final conflict. Zafaru’llah Khan played directly into the Ahrar’s hands. On May 17, 1952, the foreign minister turned down Prime Minister Nazimu’ddin’s pleas of caution and addressed a public Ahmadi session in Karachi. By openly admitting his religion, Zafaru’llah Khan gave credence to the charge made by the Ahrar that the government was “controlled” by the Ahmadis. For the other Islamic groups and the ulama, who viewed the Ahmadis with opprobrium, the very presence of an Ahmadi minister in the cabinet was proof of the un-Islamicity of the state. The Ahrar and the ulama, infuriated by the foreign minister’s action, organized a protest march; the marchers clashed with the Ahmadis, and there was a riot.
On May 18, Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi, Pakistan’s new spiritual leader, convened an ulama board to formulate an official policy. Shaikh Sultan Ahmad represented the Jama‘at on the board. The board demanded that the Ahmadis be declared a non-Muslim minority, that Zafaru’llah Khan be removed from his cabinet post, and that all key government jobs be cleansed of Ahmadis. The board also elected a majlis-i ‘amal (council of action) to implement its recommendations. Amin Ahsan Islahi became the vice-president of this majlis, and Malik Nasru’llah Khan ‘Aziz one of its members.
The Jama‘at’s shura’ considered the unfolding events: a number of the Jama‘at leaders, including Sultan Ahmad, Islahi, and Nasru’llah Khan ‘Aziz, favored the party’s wholehearted participation in the agitations as a policy natural for the holy community to support; Mawdudi, who was keen on formalizing the Jama‘at’s political role, was reluctant to approve. He argued that the Ahmadi issue would be resolved automatically once the country was Islamized and that in the meantime riots would only tarnish the image of the Islamic groups, lessen the appeal of an Islamic constitution, and, by playing into the hands of the opponents of Islamization, was bound to derail the whole campaign for an Islamic state. The holy community’s choice of policy could not be premised on religious considerations alone; it had to be examined in light of the party’s political aims. Mawdudi was, moreover, not keen on alliance with the Ahrar built around the Ahmadi issue or any other cause. He never subscribed to the kind of impassioned denunciations which characterized the ulama or the Ahrar’s encounters with them. Mawdudi had always believed that proper Islamization would “reconvert” the Ahmadis to Islam, and the Islamic state would find a political solution to their place in society. However, even among the Jama‘at’s members there was support for the riots. It was clear that they could open up contacts with the Punjabi masses, whose politics had thus far been dominated by landowners and pirs. Until then the Muhajirs had served as the Islamic parties’ main constituency; now the Islam League, Ahrar, and the anti-Ahmadi riots had opened Punjabi politics to the Islamic groups. Given its political objectives, the Jama‘at could not ignore the opportunity. The desire to sustain the momentum for an Islamic constitution had to be balanced against the opportunities the agitations presented.
The shura’, therefore, would not give its wholehearted endorsement to the majlis-i ‘amal, then dominated by the Ahrar; but in recognition of the preeminence of the Ahmadi issue, it incorporated the demands of the majlis-i ‘amal into its own constitutional proposals. The August 1952 issue of the Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an carried a lengthy denunciation of the Ahmadis written by Mawdudi, and promised to include the demand for their exclusion from Islam into the Jama‘at’s proposals for an Islamic constitution. The Jama‘at members who sat on the majlis-i ‘amal, in keeping with Mawdudi’s views, sought to temper the Ahrar’s violence, but when they failed, the Jama‘at officially dissociated itself from the majlis-i ‘amal on February 26, 1953.
Between July 1952 and January 1953, Mawdudi had lobbied the ulama against the agitations, hoping instead to keep their attention on the Islamic constitution and to preserve the alliance which had produced the Objectives Resolution, repeating the argument that the Islamic constitution would provide a solution to the Ahmadi issue along with a host of other problems. Mawdudi was increasingly worried about what effect the riots were having on the government of Nazimu’ddin, which the Jama‘at regarded as an asset, and about the distraction they presented from the constitutional cause. In June 1952, when the Ahrar were busy with their campaign against the Ahmadis, the Jama‘at launched a nationwide drive to collect signatures in support of the Islamic constitution. In July, as the agitations grew worse, the Jama‘at demanded that the government reveal the contents of the Basic Principles Committee report before the assembly convened in order to ascertain its Islamicity. There followed a joint declaration of the Jama‘at and other ulama parties to hold a “Constitution Day” in Karachi on December 19, 1952, which the American envoy called “the only effort in Karachi on behalf of the constitution.” Finally, in January 1953, when the Ahrar were engaged in fine-tuning their anti-Ahmadi campaign, the Jama‘at joined the Jinnah Awami League, the Awami League, and the Azad Pakistan party in opposing the Muslim League by objecting to the committee’s report. The Jama‘at, however, failed to redirect national attention away from the Ahmadi issue. The majlis-i ‘amal, dominated by the Ahrar, and nudged along by Daultana and the Punjab Muslim League,proved a more decisive force in determining the position of the ulama than Mawdudi’s cautions.
In July 1952 the Punjab government imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code restricting public gatherings. On July 19 the Ahrar organized a large demonstration in Multan which culminated in clashes with the police and the deaths of six people. Fearful of further escalation, Daultana sought to reign the Ahrar in, though his approach remained conciliatory. On July 21, after securing from the Ahrar a promise to help restore order, the Punjab government lifted the Section 144 restrictions and the ban on the Ahrar’s paper, Azad. A week later, in a gesture of conciliation, upon the insistence of Daultana “the council of Punjab Muslim League…adopted a resolution by a vote of 264 against eight in support of the anti-Ahmediya agitation.”Given the Punjab government’s response, the Ahrar found more reason to push for a showdown. On July 27, despite the Muslim League’s endorsement of the Ahrar’s position, it demonstrated against the League in Punjab and assaulted its councilmen. Daultana ordered the arrest of some 137 people and put Punjab under heavy police protection. The breakdown in the constitutional effort, which Mawdudi had feared, soon followed.
After a brief lull in January 1953, the Ahrar resumed its campaign in full force, and by arguing that the Muslim League resolution was not definitive enough again mobilized the ulama. Sacrificing their greater interests in the Islamization of Pakistan, the ulama, including the Jama‘at leader, Sultan Ahmad, gave Nazimu’ddin an ultimatum: either sack Zafaru’llah Khan and declare the Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority within a month or face “direct action”—a euphemism for widescale riots.
Nazimu’ddin had initially tried to win over the agitators by expressing sympathy for the anti-Ahmadi cause. But he had refused to ask for Zafaru’llah Khan’s resignation, because in his view such a move would have upset the United States—which regarded Zafaru’llah Khan as an ally—and jeopardized the grain aid, which, given the gravity of food shortages in Punjab, was a risk he could not take. On August 14 he issued a decree which forbade those holding public office from proselytizing, an open reference to the Ahmadis and Zafaru’llah Khan, but this too failed to subdue the agitations, and he soon came under pressure to take a tougher stand. At this point he changed his strategy completely. He initiated a virulent attack against the ulama in the press that, given his reputation for piety, was a bolt out of the blue for the majlis-i ‘amal and a cause for remorse for Mawdudi. When his trip to Lahore on February 16 was marked by strikes and black-flag demonstrations and the agitators threatened to carry their protest to Karachi on the occasion of Zafaru’llah Khan’s return from abroad, the government reacted swiftly; on February 27 it ordered a number of ulama and Ahrar leaders to be rounded up and placed in protective custody.
Mawdudi was no longer able to remain aloof. The constitutional debates were set aside. The government and the Islamic parties were now clearly on opposite sides, and the loyalties of the Jama‘at naturally lay with the latter. The Ahrar’s meteoric rise to prominence and the direction public opinion was taking led the Jama‘at to reassess its own approach to the crisis. Mawdudi and Sultan Ahmad participated in an all-Muslim parties convention in January 1953, where they approved the declaration of the session which demanded the resignation of Nazimu’ddin. Mawdudi then joined the majlis-i ‘amal, but quickly withdrew. Mawdudi and the Jama‘at became entangled in the agitations, which between February and March spread throughout Punjab. On March 5, 1953, Mawdudi published the most systematic denunciation of the Ahmadis since the beginning of the crisis: Qadiyani Mas’alah (The Ahmadi Problem). It was designed to establish his primacy in the religious circles, to confirm his religious credentials before the ulama who had chastised him for not supporting the agitations, and to upstage the Ahrar. In doing so, the book placed Mawdudi squarely at the center of the controversy. True to form, Mawdudi, who was opposed to the agitations, now became their leading figure.
The federal cabinet, although disturbed by Daultana’s machinations, continued to vacillate. General Iskandar Mirza—the doyen of the bureaucracy and the defense secretary—was, however, sufficiently alarmed by the rising tide of agitations in Punjab, and especially by the Punjab government’s decision to endorse openly the demands of the agitators to act. On March 6, the Punjab government, in its capacity as the representative of the people of Punjab, dispatched a provincial minister to Karachi to put before the central government the demands of the agitators and push for the dismissal of Zafaru’llah Khan. Viewing Nazimu’ddin’s indecision and Daultana’s “flirtations with the mullahs as yet another example of the ineptitude and destructive potential of the politicians,” on March 6 General Mirza ordered General A‘zam Khan to place Punjab under martial law. Soon thereafter Daultana resigned, and Mawdudi, along with Mawlana ‘Abdu’ssattar Niyazi (the minister for religious affairs from 1990 to 1993) and a number of Ahrar leaders, was arrested.
Mawdudi was charged with violating martial-law regulations and “promoting feelings of enmity and hatred between different groups in Pakistan” by publishing the Qadiyani Mas’alah, as well as inflammatory articles in Tasnim. Some twelve Jama‘at leaders, including Islahi and Mian Tufayl, and twenty-eight workers, including the publisher of the Qadiyani Mas’alah, were also held on these charges; and Jama‘at’s newspapers, Kawthar and Tasnim, were closed down. The Jama‘at’s headquarters were raided, and its papers and funds were confiscated. Mawdudi, the editor of Tasnim, and the publisher of Qadiyani Mas’alah, would be tried on charges of sedition in May.
The anti-Ahmadi agitations, as Mawdudi had feared, proved to be the undoing of Nazimu’ddin, and a major setback for the Islamic constitution. With martial law in place in Punjab, and a climate of uncertainty and crisis reigning in the country, the governor-general, Ghulam Muhammad, found ample room for maneuvering and summarily dismissed Nazimu’ddin on April 17, 1953. In this he was backed by leaders such as General Mirza who had already taken issue with Nazimu’ddin’s “flirtations with the mullahs” and placed the entire responsibility for the crisis in Punjab on his shoulders.
The pious Nazimu’ddin was replaced by the more secular Muhammad ‘Ali Bugra. The change was immediately reflected in the constitutional debates. The Constituent Assembly played down the Islamic provisions of the Basic Principles Committee report, and the interim constitutional proposals of June 1953 did not even mention the hitherto agreed-upon provisions regarding the place of Islam in the constitution. A special court of inquiry was set up under the supervision of Muhammad Munir, the chief justice of the supreme court of Pakistan, to look into the roots of the agitation in Punjab and to roll back the gains made by Islamic groups. The power of religious activists was effectively reduced by the adroit Justice Munir, who depicted them as incompetent judges of how to run a modern state. The inability of the ulama and the lay religious activists to produce a unanimous response to such axiomatic queries as “the meaning of a Muslim” led to the conclusion that no such definition of Islam, let alone of an Islamic constitution, existed and that the religious experts were best advised to leave the constitution-making process alone and concentrate on putting their own house in order.
Munir’s incisive inquiry, known popularly as the “Munir Report,” was later singled out as the most celebrated “modernist” expression of backlash against Islamic activism and an indictment of religious activism, an act of bravado allowed by the change in the balance between the government and the Islamic parties. Munir’s inquiry continues to cast its shadow over the activities of the sundry Islamic parties in Pakistan to this day.
By blaming Pakistan’s developmental crisis on the “perfidious” meddling of the Islamic parties in politics, the Munir Report turned the central question before the Pakistan state on its head. Islam was depicted as an unwelcome intruder into the political arena and an impediment to national development. What the Munir Report failed to realize was that, as deficient as the program of the Islamic groups may have been, in the absence of representative institutions, national elections, national parties with a strong organizational apparatus and a meaningful political platform, and shared national values Islam was all Pakistanis had in the way of a cohesive force, and that was the very reason why politicians had continued to appeal to it. In a society with arrested political development and state formation and deeply divided along ethnic, linguistic, and sectarian lines, Islam had become the intermediary between state and society, the more so as the former had faltered and the latter grown unruly. Islam could not be selectively appealed to and then successfully manipulated. Forays into the domain of the ulama and the Islamic groups by politicians and the resultant sacralization of the political discourse could generate uncontrollable and undesirable outcomes. Costs and responsibilities had to be shouldered by Jinnah, Liaqat ‘Ali Khan, Nazimu’ddin, and Daultana, to name only a few of Pakistan’s political leaders of the time, as well as by those whom the Munir Report sought to implicate. By inviting Islam into the political arena, it was the politicians, and not the Islamic activists, who confirmed the centrality of Islam to the national political discourse.
The same motives that governed the politicians’ appealing to Islam now conditioned the role of Islam in the politics of the masses. Just as the politicians had opened the door to political activism by the Islamic parties, so had the masses. With no national elections in which to express their demands, nor any national parties to represent their interests rather than those of the elite, the masses, whose commitment to Islamization until that point was by no means certain, turned to Islamic slogans and Islamic parties to express their political demands and vent their frustrations. But as the Punjab crisis indicated, neither the ruling elite nor the masses were capable of controlling the flow of Islam into politics or the sacralization of the national political discourse. Munir had really focused on the symptoms rather than the causes of that sacralization. The lesson of the Punjab crisis might have eluded Munir but not the military and bureaucratic elite. From it they concluded that secularism was the handmaiden of political stability, and, moreover, only an apolitical polity could help bring about a secular society.
Politicians and Islamic activists alike agreed that what happened in Punjab was a testament to the emotive power of Islamic symbols. The ulama and Mawdudi may be ridiculed, but in the absence of nationally shared values or a viable state ideology they were bound to rise again. The Munir Report was the last attempt to extricate Islam from Pakistan’s politics; neither Munir nor Ghulam Muhammad, nor in later years, Ayub Khan, however, could find a substitute for its role. Islam held the state together. Whenever Pakistan fell into crisis in the years to follow, politicians and people alike appealed to Islam’s symbols and loyalties to construct political programs and social movements, thereby expanding the wedge through which Islamic groups entered the political arena. As Justice Munir was busy systematically rolling back the gains made by the Islamic parties, Nuru’l-Amin, the chief minister of East Pakistan, told Prime Minister Bugra that “Islam was the League’s one hope of warding off defeat in east Bengal” and keeping the wayward province under Karachi’s control. He then assured the public that the Muslim League was determined “to give the country a full-fledged Islamic Constitution within six months.”
Changes in the political climate in 1953 also proved to be a problem in the Jama‘at’s legal battles. In May the military tribunal convened to determine the fate of those arrested in Punjab. After a brief trial, on May 8 the tribunal found Mawlana ‘Abdu’ssattar Niyazi and on May 11, Mawdudi, guilty of sedition; both were sentenced to death. Many among Pakistan’s leaders were convinced that India was behind the Punjab disturbances, which made Mawdudi and Niyazi guilty not only of sedition but also of treason. This, however, does not explain why the harshest sentences were reserved for only these two religious leaders. The tribunal also sentenced the publishers of Tasnim and Qadiyani Mas’alah to three and nine years in jail, respectively. The sentences were unexpectedly harsh, and in the case of Mawdudi was thought by many to be incommensurate to his role in the entire affair, which was limited to having published the Qadiyani Mas’alah, and even that book had been published the day before martial law was declared. In effect, Mawdudi had been arrested for violating a martial law ordinance that had not yet existed when the book was published. Mawdudi’s writings were hardly as inflammatory as those of the Ahrar leaders, none of whom received as severe a punishment. Even more perplexing, the most active of the Jama‘at’s leaders, Sultan Ahmad, had not even been arrested, and Mawdudi had received the same sentence as Niyazi, whose incendiary speeches had directly incited violence and on one occasion had led to the murder of a policeman outside of the mosque where Niyazi was preaching. The American consul-general in Lahore reported that the chief of the intelligence directorate of Punjab told him that “there is no evidence “as yet’ that Jamaat-i-Islami as a party was involved in the riots. He stated the arrests had been made of individuals against whom there was some evidence of participation in the riots…. He was sure a good case would be made” (emphasis in the original).
The government was fully aware that the public regarded its case against Mawdudi to be weak. It had been hard-pressed even to explain his arrest. Four days before Mawdudi’s sentencing, Justice Munir told the consul that “he [had] already been getting many informal petitions and letters challenging the legal validity of actions taken under Martial Law and especially of cases tried under Courts Martial which in many cases meted out severe sentences.” If the army, Justice Munir, or the secularist elite had thought they could cleanse the politics of Islamic parties this way, they were wrong. Nazimu’ddin criticized the sentence, and even offered to sign a petition for mercy for Mawdudi. Prime Minister Bugra, too, was surprised with the sentence and remarked that Mawdudi could appeal, and should he do so would get a most sympathetic hearing. Martial law and the persecution of religious groups proved to be highly unpopular enterprises, which only made heroes of the accused. On May 13, Mawdudi’s sentence was reduced to fourteen years.
The Jama‘at, however, was not assuaged and continued to clamor for justice. On May 21 four Jama‘at leaders were arrested for protesting Mawdudi’s fourteen-year sentence, but they continued their campaign for his release and complained of government vindictiveness and strong-arm tactics toward their party. On June 18, 1954, for instance, Sultan Ahmad, the provisional amir of the Jama‘at, declared that Mawdudi’s arrest and sentence had nothing to do with the anti-Ahmadi agitations, and everything to do with his constitutional proposals. Echoing a general sentiment among the Islamic parties, Sultan Ahmad stated that the government’s reaction to the agitations was merely a pretext for eliminating stumbling blocks to the passage of a secular constitution. Justice Munir’s probing into the politics of Islamic activists under the pretext of determining the causes of the Punjab agitations had only added to their suspicions. Many religious leaders, including those in the Jama‘at, charged that the court of inquiry was better advised to look for the cause of agitation in economic injustice and the political maneuverings of Daultana.
Some in the military and the bureaucracy saw the Punjab agitations and the five-year campaign for an Islamic constitution as interrelated, and therefore believed that Mawdudi’s crime extended beyond his role in the Punjab agitations. Zafaru’llah Khan and Iskandar Mirza claimed that Mawdudi was “one of the most dangerous men in Pakistan,” guilty of generating a national crisis. Munir himself believed that the Jama‘at had as “its objective the replacement of the present form of Government by a Government of the Jamaat’s conception,” a point that was hardly new since the Jama‘at had openly advocated the establishment of a government to its liking since setting foot in Pakistan. But now the Jama‘at’s campaign for Islamization was depicted as a seditious undertaking whose result was the Punjab crisis. It followed that there existed no difference between Mawdudi’s apparently academic activities and Niyazi’s manipulation of the mob.
Mawdudi himself remained unapologetic. While he may have received assurances regarding the outcome of his case from Muslim League leaders,he forbade his followers from seeking clemency on his behalf. They did, however, stage a number of strikes and street demonstrations decrying the “injustice.” To the government’s dismay, Mawdudi was gradually becoming a hero.
Reacting to pressures from within, reluctant to carry out the sentences against Mawdudi and Niyazi, and dismayed by the Jama‘at’s success in arguing its case before the public, the government grew conciliatory. Mian Muhammad Sharif, a judge of the supreme court, was appointed by the government to review the tribunal’s judgment. Sharif recommended that the martial law administration commute the sentences. By the end of 1953 most of the Jama‘at’s workers had been freed, and in March 1954 Islahi was released. Mawdudi, however, was to be kept away for as long as the government could manage. The court, however, once again proved to be a boon for the Jama‘at. Following the ruling of the federal court on a petition of habeas corpus for two defendants in the Rawalpindi conspiracy case, Mawdudi and Niyazi filed a habeas corpus petition before the Lahore High Court in April. However, before the court could render a verdict, the government remitted Mawdudi and Niyazi’s sentences. After two years in prison, Mawdudi was released on April 29, 1955. Already a hero, he quickly became the spokesman for a religious alliance whose zeal he was determined to rekindle.