By Najam Sethi
Excerpt: … General Kayani’s reputation as a premier “thinking” general cannot be denied. By the same token, however, he must bear the burden of his misguided strategic theories that have brought Pakistan to an “existential” crisis (his own words) in the last five years. The “good Afghan Taliban, bad Pakistani Taliban” theory that has underpinned the army’s Af-Pak strategy has come a cropper because all forms and shades of Taliban and Al-Qaeda are one criminal network and the quest for a “stable and Pakistan-friendly” Afghanistan has foundered on the rock of big power dynamics.
It has been argued that General Kayani supported the cause of democracy by not imposing martial law when the chips were down for the PPP government. But the truth is that a fiercely independent media, aggressive judiciary and popular PMLN would have revolted against any martial law. The international community would not have supported it. And General Kayani’s own rank and file would have frowned upon it.
Under the circumstances, we hope the next COAS will change course and help the elected civilian leaders make national security policy to salvage our country.
ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Friday unanimously passed a resolution calling for a trial of former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf under Article 6 of the Constitution for derailing democracy and abrogating the constitution.
The resolution was tabled by Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz’s Senator Ishaq Dar and was approved by all members of the Upper House of Parliament.
The resolution also demanded that all photographs, posters and banners of the former president be removed from all government buildings with immediate effect.
The Senators also called for the implementation on its earlier resolution of January 23, 2012.
Moreover, Federal Interior Minister Malik Muhammad Habib Khan informed the Senate that Musharraf was already in the government’s custody and that his Chak Shahzad residence had been declared a sub-jail.
ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers in the Upper House of the Parliament Thursday demanded action against former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf for his crimes against constitution, democracy, political leadership and the nation.
They also demanded from the caretaker interior minister to inform the House how he escaped from the court to his residence and “why a former General could not be arrested if the elected prime ministers of the country can be sent to jails.”
Speaking on points of order, the senators claimed that double standard existed in the country in violation of the Constitution which considers every Pakistani equal before the law.
“We have been talking of the rule of law and independence of judiciary. But, today we have seen that it is easy to send an elected prime minister to jail but a former General and military dictator cannot be arrested,” remarked senior PPPP Senator Raza Rabbani.
“In Pervez Musharraf’s case it is test of time. When the court had ordered to arrest him, then why he was not arrested. It’s a question mark,” Rabbani added.
He charged Pervez Musharraf of involvement in the abetment of killing of Benazir Bhutto and Nawab Akbar Bugti, abrogating the constitution and house arresting the judges of superior judiciary.
“Musharraf is a usurper who twice abrogated the Constitution. He was announced to be arrested but he safely fled in connivance with state institutions. The caretaker government was responsible to arrest him and the interior minister should inform the House why the government had not fulfilled its obligations,” Rabbani said.
PPPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said he does not hold caretaker government responsible for his escape. “I have been looking the state apparatus very closely. There are two laws and double standards in the country. If we could not mend it over the time how we can hold the caretakers responsible for these double standards.”
KARACHI: Members of the public, civil society, professional bodies and trade unions have expressed their strong disapproval of the tactics being used to push the election process in a certain direction, demanding that no attempt be made by any quarter to vitiate the atmosphere that can lead to subverting the will of the people as the upcoming elections are of crucial importance to the future of the country.
The statement issued on Thursday has been endorsed by I.A. Rehman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Mohammad Tahseen of the South Asia Partnership Pakistan, Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Suleman Abro of the Sindh Agriculture Forestry Workers’ Coordination Organisation, Naseer Memon of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation, Jami Chandio of the Centre for Peace and Civil Society, Dr Tipu Sultan of the Pakistan Medical Association, Dr Manzoor Awan of the Sungi Development Foundation, Samson Salamat of the Centre for Human Rights Education, Farhat Parveen and Mir Zulfiqar of NOW Communities, Uzma Noorani of the Women’s Action Forum, Zahida Detho of the Sindh Rural Partners Organisation, Javed Qazi of the Forum for Secular Pakistan, Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Unions Federation, Saeed Baloch of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Dr Kaiser Bengali, Dr A.H. Nayyar of the Pakistan Peace Coalition, B.M. Kutty, Zulfiqar Halepoto and others.
“We express particular concern at the process of scrutiny of the candidates by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which amounts to Zia-era vigilantism and a disguised return to the ‘accountability before elections’ mantra. This whole exercise smells of mala fide intentions,” the statement read.
By: Shaheen Sehbai
Zardari will have to make his decision very quickly on whether he wants to exit with dignity or become a martyr. The days, as they say, are in fact numbered.
ISLAMABAD: The crumbling presidential edifice in the bunkered palace with two green flags on the Constitution Avenue is giving rise to numerous stories, some fiction, some wishful thinking, and some partly true.
The man inside the house is reported by some to be collapsing while others say he is in a defiant mood and will fight till the last. One thing is clear though that a psywar is going on and President Asif Ali Zardari has not many friends who have unflinching faith and commitment to defend him.
The key role is being played by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and it is hard to figure out on whose side he really stands. His own political future is also at stake but his role has assumed the all critical importance because everyone is looking up to him, the civil and military establishment has put its power eggs in his basket as against the president, while his party remains confused and divided. The opposition and most of his coalition partners have abandoned the president but continue to back his handpicked prime minister.
The few who are still standing with Zardari include the Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer, whose latest brag that there would be no ‘minus-1’ but that if anything happened it would be a ‘minus-342’ (reference to total strength of the National Assembly) is considered by many as the final defeatist declaration that Zardari will not go alone but will take the entire house with him. There are not many takers for Taseer’s threats. On the contrary, the party which President Zardari considered to be his most dependable ally, the MQM of Altaf Hussain, has gone many steps forward to seek his removal from the top office. Almost everyone I met and talked to was surprised at the leap Altaf Hussain had taken from just opposing or abstaining from voting on the NRO to demanding the resignation of Zardari. It was like the last straw on the heavily loaded camel’s back and Zardari was stunned, those around him reported.
His attempt to save the sinking ship by calling Governor of Sindh Ishratul Ebad to Islamabad and then authorising Interior Minister Rehman Malik to fly to Dubai for urgent talks with an MQM delegation from London could be the last desperate effort but as someone who knows the scene reported, “The MQM has closed the doors and has gone to sleep,” meaning that it is no longer interested in seeing Zardari sitting in the Presidency.
Nice words wrapped in high sounding moral logic are being said by MQM to urge Zardari to make his exit dignified but Altaf Hussain is not backtracking from his demand of a resignation. He probably knows more than many in Islamabad. Even when Governor Ebad was rushing to Dubai on Wednesday night after meeting the president, the MQM made it a point to include the resignation issue in the agenda of the Dubai talks expected to begin on Friday.
PTI leaders, Tahirul Qadri hold talks over reconstitution of ECP
By Ema Anis
LAHORE: Top leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) met Minhajul Quran International (MQI) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri in Lahore on Wednesday to discuss their reservations over the current Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
PTI president Makhdoom Javed Hashmi told the media that the reservations were only discussed during the meeting, but the final decision will be taken by his party regarding the petition being filed in the Supreme Court by Qadri for the reconstitution of the election commission.
PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that a transparent ECP is crucial for the upcoming elections, “but the government claims that it cannot dissolve the election commission as it is against Article 209”. ….
By Farooq Sulehria
That Pakistan’s fragile democratic process has withstood yet another deluge unleashed in the form of Tahirul Qadri testifies to the maturity our political leadership has mercifully attained. More importantly, such was the mass pressure that even Imran Khan felt isolated and avoided joining hands with Qadri.
One hopes the people of Pakistan, for the first time in the country’s history, get the chance to vote out a government. Let all the messiahs, promising ‘change’ test their popularity in the forthcoming elections.
It is highly likely that the present setup will continue with some adjustments and the next government will fail to deliver anything tangible. But still I would not join middle-class fascists yearning for ‘change’ by ‘all means necessary.’ Democracy, even in its distorted bourgeois form, is a working-class gain.
It is true that the political parties have become family fiefdoms and the ruling politicians want to reduce democracy to polling booths. However, either to win reforms within the system or overturn the system altogether, the working classes stand a better chance in a democracy than under tyranny. A change takes place when workers, peasants, women, students, and marginalised communities organise themselves. It is not introduced by any well-intentioned messiah.
by Hakim Hazik
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By: Nadeem F. Paracha
John J. Pinto, the Caucasian Canadian and Catholic scholar who for some reason became a citizen of Pakistan has reached the Canadian capital, Ottawa, with some 40 billion followers of his.
Speaking near the Canadian Parliament Hall, Pinto told the mega-ultra-epic-mammoth crowd that he had returned to Canada to get rid of its corrupt politicians, parties and political system and impose true democracy with the help of the country’s armed forces, judiciary and ice hockey team.
‘I won’t move from here until I achieve my goal,’ he promised. ‘I will turn Ottawa into Nazareth and send Ceasar and his evil men home even if they feed me to the lions!’
Most Canadian politicians in the government and opposition have been critical of Pinto. They have accused him of staying in Pakistan as a Pakistani only to return to Canada on the instructions of those who want to derail Canada’s democracy, topple an elected parliament and replace it with a technocratic set-up backed by the military, judiciary and the country’s ice hockey squad.
‘Pinto is a former failed politician and a spiritual fraud,’ a government spokesman claimed. ‘We know who he is working for, and believe me, it’s not John the Baptist.’
Pinto refuted the claim: ‘I don’t want power,’ he shouted from behind his bullet-proof, water-proof, sound-proof, smoke-free, digital, 60-inch flat-screen altar. ‘I am ready to give my life for my country!’
By: Aqil Shah
As the uproar in Pakistan this week shows, meddling in politics is a specialty of both the country’s judiciary and its military. There is a silver lining though. Pakistan’s two major parties — long enemies — have worked together this time to fend off the threat.
This month, Pakistan’s government is fending off a needless political crisis. On 14 January, Allama Tahir ul Qadri, a pro-military cleric turned revolutionary who once claimed to have a direct line to the Prophet Mohammad, marched into the capital with tens of thousands of supporters. He has since threatened to use whatever means necessary to implement his demands, which include the removal of the “corrupt” Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government, the disbandment of the current parliament, and the implementation of constitutional clauses that lay down strict financial, religious, and moral qualifications for election to parliament. The move follows on an unusual media blitz last month, during which Qadri took to the streets and airwaves to save the state by demanding the creation of a clean technocratic government backed by the army and the judiciary.
The timing couldn’t be worse. In 2013, Pakistan is expected to undertake its first transition of power from one elected civilian government that has completed its tenure to another. When the current government came to office in 2008, reaching that milestone had seemed unimaginably difficult. All of Pakistan’s previous transitions to democracy had been cut short by military takeovers. As the date for the handover neared, many Pakistanis had started to hope to avoid that scenario this time. As it turns out, though, even cautious optimism might have been too much. It appears that Pakistan’s powerful military, aided by an aggressive Supreme Court, might well have just put a spanner in the works.
KARACHI: Prominent rights activist and former president of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA)Asma Jahangir on Tuesday said that lawyers will not support any decision which is against the rule of law and democracy.
Addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club, she said future generations will not forgive us if democracy was derailed in the country, adding it is about time that we should start resisting undemocratic decisions.
Jahangir said the lawyers’ community will announce their strategy after going through written order of the Supreme Court for arresting Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and other accused in the rental power projects case.
President Sindh High Court Bar Association Mustafa Lakhani said an all parties’ conference was called to discuss the long march of Dr Tahirul Qadri a few days back in Lahore in which the participants, including lawyers, rejected it.
President Karachi Bar Association Naeem Qureshi said the lawyers had taken active part in the movement for independence of judiciary, adding the Karachi bar has given many sacrifices in this regard.
By: Malik Siraj Akbar, Editor in Chief, ‘The Baloch Hal’
A Pakistani Muslim scholar with Canadian nationality has announced to transform Islamabad into “the world’s biggest Tahrir Square” on January 14th ahead of this year’s upcoming general elections. Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, a cogent public speaker, has made an abrupt but a robust comeback in Pakistan’s politics after spending nearly five years in Canada. Qadri, previously an unpopular politician but still a cleric with a large following of religious disciples, is asking for electoral reforms prior to the next polls.
There are two fundamental problems with Qadri’s demand.
First, he has given an absolutely unrealistic ultimatum of mere two weeks to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (P.P.P.) to carry out vague electoral reforms, for example to ensure the election of ‘honest people’ to the parliament. In order to conduct these reforms, Dr. Qadri, while citing the Article 254 of the Pakistani constitution, justifies the postponement of the general elections which are expected to take place in May. The mainstream political parties, such as the P.P.P. and the Pakistan Muslim League of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, want to go for elections without any interruptions soon after the completion of the current term of the parliament because they oppose any kind of derailment of the democratic process.
Second, Dr. Qadri is asking for representation for the powerful Pakistani military and the politically active judiciary in the interim government, a demand that clearly clashes with the very spirit of democracy.
“Pakistan Army, ISI must shut up shop if they can’t protect people”: Altaf Hussain’s bold stance on Shia genocide
Minorities under attack: Altaf lines up police, agencies, clerics, judges, army and… fires
By Saba Imtiaz
Karachi: In an impassioned speech that included critiques of clerics and the judiciary, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain asked the Pakistan Army, Inter-Services Intelligence and other agencies to shut up shop if they could not “protect people”.
“Leave them,” Hussain said before turning to his audience, “You have a right to defend yourself by any means.”
Altaf’s speech at an interfaith conference organised by his party in Karachi came after a series of statements by him and other party leaders on the increase in the number of attacks on Shias throughout Pakistan. Several clerics from Karachi as well as other cities of Pakistan such as Quetta, Lahore and Chakwal, were in attendance.
By Khaled Ahmed
We have to wait till the Chief Justice and his fellow judges overreach themselves and finally come to the conclusion that moderation is the only path to tread in this imperfect Third World environment
On 7 July, 2012, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said that Article 8 of the constitution empowered the Supreme Court to strike down any legislation which encroached upon the basic rights of the citizens. He said this while speaking at a ceremony for newly enrolled advocates at the Supreme Court’s Karachi Registry.
By Saroop Ijaz
The temptation to ignore Sheikh Rasheed is a strong one for the reason that he is a clown who thrives on cheap publicity and takes pride in his crudeness. Yet, the temptation should be fought off since he has now completed the transition from being a third-rate comedian to more like a roving, blood-seeking individual. Equally significantly, Sheikh Rasheed now deserves our contempt and attention not only for himself but also for those he seeks to associate with. He called for the Chief Justice to act like a common murderer and kill the president of the country, asked the Chief of Army Staff to intervene and take over and implored Mullah Omar (who he also termed Ameer-ul-Momineen) to be benevolent enough to allow Imran Khan to make his expedition into Waziristan in one speech. This is quite unbelievable even by the low and vulgar standards of the Sheikh. He should be locked up (for good, if possible) for incitement to murder and subversion of the Constitution and treason and not be allowed to pollute our airwaves unnecessarily while the process is being conducted. No elaborate case needs to be made against him and the video clip of his speech at Rawalpindi should be sufficient to send him away.
By Omer Kamal bin Farooq
To begin with, I absolutely loathe generals in uniform running countries. No matter how incompetent the politicians are, how relevant the doctrine of necessity is and how much of a messiah the man in the boots is, there is something very corrupt and amoral about the whole thing.
I remember watching Ziaul Haq’s martial law speech for the first time as a teenager during the peak of the lawyers’ movements. As a child who grew up in Musharraf’s martial law, I, for the first time, was discovering terms like ‘judicial independence’, ‘supremacy of the constitution’, and the ‘primacy of democracy‘. I was caught up in the romance of all that.
Then I saw his speech in which he shamelessly went on about how “Mr Bhutto’s” government has been brought to an end, assemblies dissolved and ministers removed.
What flabbergasted me was how could a man say all this in one sentence and never stutter for once. How could he tell his “aziz humwatno” (dear countrymen) that they are inconsequential and their elected institutions and people are nothing more than fragile toys left to the whims of a badly brought up child?
But he did all this, never being weighed down by the burden of his own words. Heck, he even talked about the constitution in the last part of the sentence. So the constitution, head of the government, provincial and national assemblies, ministers and governors, all went in the same sentence and the man did not even show a modicum of remorse. Despite this, we all know who was hanged in the wee hours of the morning and who got the much celebrated state funeral only fitting for a national hero.
A lot has changed in the last five years since I saw the video of his speech. The lawyers are upholding the law by banning Ahmadi-owned soft drinks and showering cold-blooded murderers with rose petals. Even judicial activism has been harbouring on the fringes of judicial martial law, but one thing has remained constant; my disgust for what Zia has done to my country and what he stood for.
By: Iqbal Tareen
The painful plight of native Sindhi Hindu community, which has been under systematic onslaught of government agencies, criminal groups, decadent sardari system and violent clan groups in Sindh. Decades of religious extremism; collapse of judiciary and law enforcement agencies; criminalization and commercialization of political parties in the country especially in Sindh has created an environment where various religious, gender, and ethnic minority groups are thrown under serious vulnerability.
Although it is an unequivocal responsibility of State to safeguard life and property of every citizen but it does not relieve other individuals, groups, and institutions from their moral obligation to fight social injustice and discrimination.
In times when even advanced nations are actively alluring global talent, the most peaceful, law abiding, hardworking, highly skilled and entrepreneurial native children of Sindh are being forced to leave their
motherland just because they happen to be part of a very successful but defenseless community.
We could easily blame others but ultimate responsibility rests with us at the individual and collective level. By sitting on the sidelines or not doing enough we have allowed uprooting of hundreds and thousands of our
best and brightest native brothers and sisters. Unforgiveable failings of human rights and Sindh rights organizations compounded by our individual dereliction of moral duty have created a severe moral crisis of our collective consciousness.
At personal level, I feel guilty of my failure to bring this issue to the front burner of a public discourse within North American Diaspora. Having said that, I am not ready to lose my faith in the basic goodness of human
beings. Together we can still prevent further perpetration of this collective crime against a peaceful community in Sindh.
I hope members of Pakistani media, civil society and Pakistani Diaspora organizations will follow lead in exposing those individuals and groups who are behind religious cleansing of minority groups in Pakistan.
I assure you of my personal efforts in solidarity with the just and moral cause of our Sindhi Hindu brothers and sisters in Pakistan.
About – The writer is a President of Silver Lining International, author of books, rights activist and former president of Sindhi Association of North America.
Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, August 12-13, 2012.
By RAPHAEL MINDER
MADRID — Spain’s image suffered another blow on Thursday when the chief justice of the Supreme Court resigned after being accused by a fellow judge of claiming vacations as business expenses.
The court’s chief justice, Carlos Dívar, also quit as leader of another institution, the General Council of the Judiciary, which acts as the administrator of Spain’s judiciary.
Chief Justice Dívar’s expense scandal came to light while the judiciary was being strained by several corruption cases against politicians from the country’s main parties. The monarchy has also been tainted by the investigations, with the son-in-law of King Juan Carlos I becoming the first member of the royal family to appear in court, in February.
LAHORE: Former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that if anything happened to the new prime minister, it would tantamount to breaking up the country. He said that the court decision against him was also unconstitutional. Gilani said that writing a letter to Swiss authorities would go against the constitution. The former prime minister also said that if elected officials were to be dismissed by court decisions, then there would be no use for elections. Gilani said that the system should be allowed to continue. He also said that the judiciary is not a political party and that it should not have any agenda.
- – – – – – – – -
As the Supreme Court ups the ante against the new prime minister, the battle between various stakeholders in Pakistan is likely to get intense
By: Ayesha Siddiqa Independent Social Scientist
…. the most challenging act seems to be the case against Chief Justice Iftikhar’s son Arsalan Iftikhar. Allegedly, Arsalan blackmailed real estate tycoon Malik Riaz into paying him more than PKR 36 crore in bribe for getting favourable judgments in cases being heard in the Supreme Court. Although nothing has been definitely proven against him as yet, the glitterati of Lahore talk about Arsalan’s extravagant lifestyle, which comes as a surprise since he didn’t have a job three years ago. The Chief Justice comes from a humble background and claims to have no property, a statement that adds to the complexity of his son’s fortune. Riaz, who is considered as being close to both the military and Zardari, has continued to point fingers at Arsalan, his father and the entire family for extorting money and favours out of him.
The Arsalan-Riaz case is now being heard by the Supreme Court and probed independently by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising members from the country’s prime anti-fraud agency, the National Accountability Bureau, the Islamabad Police and the Federal Investigation Agency. Clearly, this is a card in the government’s hand that Chief Justice Iftikhar and his team of close aides seem to try to destroy by casting aspersions on the JIT’s credibility. It is not a coincidence that after every hearing by the JIT, there is an effort by the pro-Chief Justice wing of a certain media group to point fingers at the credibility of JIT. The effort increases around every hearing by the court or the investigating team.
The yet-to-be-proven case of extortion and the players involved in it make the head spin at the complexity of the case. According to sources, Riaz, who is reputed to be an “ISI asset”, could not have taken the risk of so brutally challenging the Chief Justice without taking the security establishment on board. The question is how does one juxtapose this assumption against another that the higher judiciary has the army’s support to destabilise the government?
Justice Louise Arbour has a distinguished career devoted to promoting the principles of justice. Currently serving as the President of the International Crisis Group, Justice Arbour is the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and the Court of Appeal for Ontario and a former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. As such, she knows a thing or two about the importance of an independent judiciary in developing countries and emerging democracies. That’s why, when Justice Arbour expresses concerns about the looming constitutional crisis in Pakistan, her concerns merit serious consideration.
An ardent supporter of Pakistan’s 2007 “Lawyer’s Movement” to restore judges deposed by Gen. Musharraf, Justice Arbour had hoped to see a new era for the Court, one that broke with its past of supporting military dictators and their mangling the Constitution and the rule of law. Today, she fears that those same justices have become “intoxicated with their own independence,” and that the current direction of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Justices threatens to upend the very democratic order that restored them to the bench.
Speaking to a crowded auditorium at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, Justice Arbour noted that the current tension between Pakistan’s Supreme Court and its elected officials might seem like a political soap opera were it not for Court’s history of collusion with the military to suppress democracy. Judges “who took an oath to a military dictator are not well placed to make the decision” to remove democratically elected officials, she observed, referring to Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s 1999 oath under Gen. Musharraf’s Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO). While not inevitable, Justice Arbour said, it is possible that Pakistan’s Supreme Court could end up dissolving the democratically elected government with the help of the military, putting in place an extended caretaker government in what would be, for all intents and purposes, another coup.
During her visit to Pakistan, she assured the room, she met with no government officials. Her interest was in the views of the legal community, whom she found deeply divided, seemingly on political lines. This troubled the former Justice, who worries that Pakistan’s Supreme Court has become increasingly politicized, threatening its credibility. She pointed to the memo commission, which she said “reflected very poorly on the judiciary,” and added to the appearance of growing politicization.
The present case, in which the Supreme Court has ordered the Prime Minister to write a letter to Swiss authorities requesting that criminal cases be reinstated against the President, adds to the appearance of an increasingly politicized judiciary. From a legal perspective, the issue centers on one of separation of powers. In fact, Pakistan’s Chief Justice has repeatedly stated recently that “parliament is not supreme.” In questions such as these, where the Supreme Court has a vested interest in the outcome, Justice Arbour suggests that it is all the more important that court show self-restraint and frame its decisions in a way that “advances the authority of all institutions,” not only its own.
In the darkest days of dictatorship, because of the previous role of some courageous judges, their respected and somewhat inviolable positions, the public has always considered the judiciary as a ray of hope
Primarily what is wrong with our judiciary is that apparently it is corrupt. No! This is not a jaundiced personal opinion; this is according to the rating of Transparency International. Among the primary 10 institutions in the country previously, the judiciary was very low in the ‘corruption’ ratings. In 2008 and 2009, it rocketed up to number three, in 2010, it was number six and in 2011, it was number four. Such an increase in corruption is understandable because of the inadequacy of the judicial accountability regime.. A vocal section of the public and media influence public opinion considerably, and in the eyes of this section, the judiciary with its newfound independence can do no wrong. It is about time somebody revealed the other side of the picture. In this country, it has always been a problem of who will check the corruption of those who are checking corruption.
The battle in Pakistan is not between executive and judiciary, but between rule of law and rule of a Judge
Know thy facts
By Feisal H Naqvi
There are moments in my academic past of which I am quite proud. Getting a distinguished Yale Law School professor of Constitutional Law to swear at me in open class is not one of them.
By Zia Khan
ISLAMABAD: Leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have begun to advise party chief Nawaz Sharif against blind support for judicial activism.
The main opposition party has sided with the higher judiciary in the standoff between the government and the apex court, which has begun to reach a crucial point once again – however, recent developments have led to a reconsideration among the PML-N’s hierarchy.
PML-N insiders told The Express Tribune that several central party leaders had cautioned Nawaz to be calculated in his backing for the judiciary, warning of a slippery slope. “A significant number of people in the party feel the judiciary in its decisions recently, and [Chief Justice] Iftikhar Chaudhry in his statements, have crossed certain red lines. This is not a good omen for the democratic system,” said an official. ….
Read more » The Express Tribune
Suppose for a moment that the Constitution of Pakistan is unanimously amended by the Parliament and an article is inserted saying, “from here on in all military takeovers/coups are declared illegal and treasonous and no court of law shall legitimise such a takeover…”. High-minded as it would be, one needs to be fantastically gullible or hopelessly optimistic to believe that mere tinkering with some legal provisions is all that is required for uninterrupted democratic governance. This may seem odd to you coming from someone who makes his sustenance on legalese but law is not really all that it is made out to be and especially not what our media would lead (or perhaps, like) you to believe. Firstly, a military coup is by definition extra-constitutional (or to quote the Supreme Court from the past meta/supra-constitutional) and hence, it will be merely another clause violated and on most occasions, the khakis are not overly concerned about constitutional nuance anyways. Secondly, the courts would read such an article as creatively as they desire since interpretation is, admittedly, their prerogative. However, the hypothetical article would serve some purpose insofar as it will make it more embarrassing for the courts and maybe even for the military adventurers, although they are generally immune from such petty sensibilities.
Dear countrymen, democracy in Pakistan is gone, our country is running under “Judicial coup”[Judicial dictatorship]. Pity the judiciary that some judges have declared “Judicial coup” in Pakistan. May 24th ruling of the Speaker of National Assembly on the issue of PM Yousaf Raza Gilian’s conviction in the contempt of court case was declared void.
The court observed that the speaker had no authority to find faults in the apex court’s judgement and should have sent the disqualification reference to the Election Commission of Pakistan within 30 days. Supreme Court’s disqualification of the sitting Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on 19th June was a practical example of Judicial coup” in Pakistan. And that decision was widely lamented by the world leaders, scholars and journalists round the globe. All the democratic nations, pro-democratic think tanks and groups of scholars, journalists, students of politics and people from all walk of life were deeply shocked, when they heard about disqualification of sitting Prime Minister of Pakistan by biased judiciary.
Yet again, Supreme court is on its way to hunt its prey –another elected prime minister of Pakistan. For to fulfill its nefarious designs, court has accepted petitions against contempt of court act 2012, which was signed into law. It is pertinent to mention here that CJ had already vowed to do declare contempt of court bill null and void before its passing in elected houses both upper and lower.
This beleaguered minority in the country still deserves international support.
BY SADANAND DHUME
This isn’t the best time to be a Pakistani liberal. Opinion polling shows most Pakistanis thinking of America as an enemy, democracy as an unwelcome concept and the imposition of Shariah law as a no-brainer. Meanwhile, recent news out of the country involves the judiciary taking down an elected prime minister and politicians like Imran Khan riding high by invoking anti-imperialist and Islamist ideas, even as an Urdu-language media remains saturated with hyper-nationalism.
Against this backdrop, the world can’t be blamed for regarding the Pakistani liberal as an exotic hothouse flower with no roots in the country’s unforgiving soil. As the United States enters a shaky new period of detente with Pakistan following the reopening last week of supply routes to Afghanistan, it’s fair to ask if these liberals deserve notice at all. Doesn’t it make more sense for the West to instead engage more intensely with the powerful army and assertive hardliners such as Mr. Khan?
The answer is no. It’s always tempting for the West to do business with whoever’s powerful, but this is a recipe for the kind of trouble America right now faces with its troublesome “ally.” Pakistan’s liberals are not only less weak and less of a fringe phenomenon than they’re made out to be, they’re also the only ones who hold out the promise of a better future for their country.
One recurring complaint against liberalism is that though Pakistan regained its democracy four years ago, President Asif Ali Zardari’s civilian government still can’t wrest decision-making away from the military. But no civilian government could realistically be expected to immediately assert its authority over an army that has directly ruled the country for 34 of its 65 years, and continues to command the lion’s share of national resources. As the experiences of Indonesia and Turkey show, only when democracy grows roots do politicians acquire the finesse and self-confidence to take on generals accustomed to command. This takes patience.
By Asad Jamal
June 2012 will go down in the legal and political history of Pakistan as a watershed month as the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan intruded not only the domain of other state institutions and violated the code of conduct for the superior judiciary but also disregarded some of its own recent and not-so recent pronouncements.
It was the June 19 decision to disqualify Yousuf Raza Gilani as a member of the National Assembly (NA) and as Prime Minister of Pakistan that really stole the limelight. The decision, delivered through a short order which states that the reasons for disqualification will be recorded later, has been criticised on various grounds. The critics of the verdict variously call it legally infirm, an encroachment upon the domain of parliament and other constitutional offices, lacking impartiality and being potentially detrimental to democracy in Pakistan.
On the lack of impartiality first: while the decisions of a court may be debated and questioned, the judges should never lose the appearance of impartiality. In a 2006 speech during the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the SC, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had said “… independence of judiciary is not an end in itself; it is only a means to the end, and the end for sure is impartiality of judiciary.” Unfortunately, the order for Gilani’s disqualification is a glaring example of the court’s transgression into the jurisdiction of other constitutional offices, if not outright bias.
CHIEF Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on Saturday fired the latest salvo in the perceived escalating fight between the superior judiciary and the PPP-led federal government. The Supreme Court, according to Justice Chaudhry, can strike down any legislation that is incompatible with the fundamental rights guaranteed under the constitution. While this is a well-established principle, the timing of Justice Chaudhry’s comments is impossible to ignore: the chief justice’s dilation on the ins and outs of the constitution came in a week that the government proposed legislation to protect its constitutional office-holders from suffering the same fate as former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani suffered recently. Unfortunate as it is that the past judicial practice of justices speaking only from the bench and through their judgments has been discarded in recent years, the comments by the chief justice come very close to pre-empting the legislative process. Astonishingly, however, the chief justice did not just stop there: he indicated that the supremacy of parliament was ‘out of place in the modern era’, the constitution itself enjoying pre-eminence over the will of parliament. This is explosive, particularly given the backdrop of the judiciary-government battles. Start with the claim that the constitution, not parliament, is supreme, add the corollary that the SC is the final and unquestioned interpreter of what the constitution does or does not permit — and suddenly Pakistan is in the realm of a supreme judiciary, an unelected institution dictating the contract by which state and society interact. This would be a fundamental shift in the way Pakistan’s constitutional arrangement is imagined and it is quite extraordinary that a serving chief justice would see fit to make such a pronouncement outside a judicial forum. In the SC, the chief justice is the administrative head but his vote is equal to that wielded by any other justice in any given case. Surely, then, at the very least, this is a matter to be decided before a full court, if and when the matter comes before the court.
But returning to the issue of fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution, why is it that the court keeps invoking fundamental rights when it comes to engaging with the government instead of concentrating on securing the fundamental rights of the people? Why not focus on the broken judicial system in which the average complainant has virtually no hope of ever getting justice, and none of getting it on time? Why not focus on the abysmally low rate of successful prosecution that allows criminals to walk free? Must the court be so obviously selective?
Thousands of hardline Islamists stream to Pakistan’s capital to protest NATO supply line
By: Wichaar Desk
LAHORE, Pakistan — Thousands of hardline Islamists streamed toward Pakistan’s capital in a massive convoy of vehicles Sunday to protest the government’s decision to allow the U.S. and other NATO countries to resume shipping troop supplies through the country to Afghanistan.
The demonstration, which started in the eastern city of Lahore, was organized by the Difah-e-Pakistan Council — Defense of Pakistan Council — a group of politicians and religious leaders who have been the most vocal opponents of the supply line.
Pakistan closed the route in November in retaliation for American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani troops. Following months of negotiations, Islamabad finally agreed to reopen the route last week after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton apologized for the deaths.
Clinton met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar for the first time since the apology Sunday on the sidelines of an Afghan aid conference in Tokyo and expressed hope that resolution of the supply line conflict would lead to better relations between the troubled allies.
One of the reasons Pakistan waited so long to resolve the conflict is that the government was worried about domestic backlash in a country where anti-American sentiment is rampant despite billions of dollars in U.S. aid over the last decade.
The protest started Sunday in the center of Lahore, where several thousand people assembled with scores of buses, cars and motorbikes. They linked up with thousands more supporters waiting on the city’s edge and drove toward Islamabad in a so-called “long march” against the supply line. The convoy included about 200 vehicles carrying some 8,000 people when it left Lahore, said police official Babar Bakht.
After completing the 300 kilometer (185 mile) journey to Islamabad, they plan to hold a protest in front of the parliament building Monday.
“By coming out on the streets, the Pakistani nation has shown its hatred for America,” one of the Difah-e-Pakistan leaders, Maulana Samiul Haq, known as the father of the Taliban, said in a speech on the outskirts of Lahore.
Supporters showered Haq with rose petals as he rode through Lahore in the back of a truck with other Difah-e-Pakistan leaders, including Hafiz Saeed, founder of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group; Hamid Gul, a retired Pakistani intelligence chief with a long history of militant support; and Syed Munawar Hasan, leader of Pakistan’s most powerful Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami.
Many demonstrators rode on the tops of buses, waving party flags and shouting slogans against the U.S. and NATO. “One solution for America, jihad, jihad!” they shouted.
The crowd was dominated by members of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, widely believed to be a front group for Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is blamed for the attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 that killed more than 160 people. Jamaat-ud-Dawa is led by the group’s founder, Saeed.
“The movement that has been started to reverse the government’s decision to restore the NATO supply will go on until America leaves this region for good,” Saeed said in a speech on the outskirts of Lahore. “The mission is noble because it is to save the country and the nation from slavery.”
The U.S. announced a $10 million bounty earlier this year for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Saeed, but he operates freely in the country. Pakistan says it doesn’t have enough evidence to arrest Saeed, but many suspect the government is reluctant to move against him and other militant leaders because they have longstanding ties with the country’s military and intelligence service.
Rehman Malik, a government security adviser, said members of banned militant groups would not be allowed to enter Islamabad for the Difah-e-Pakistan protest Monday, but all others would be welcomed.
“They are patriots. They are not anti-state people,” Malik told reporters. “We will welcome them with open arms.”
It’s unclear if they will try to prevent Saeed from attending the protest.
Difah-e-Pakistan is widely believed to be supported by the Pakistani army as a way to put pressure on the U.S. Its leaders have vowed to stop NATO trucks from making the journey from the southern port city of Karachi to the Afghan border. But if the group has army backing, it could moderate its actions.
by Marvi Sirmed
Sharing with you this important document, which has left me shocked and extremely disappointed in the ‘wisdom’ of those who need to be the wisest. Amid all kinds of corruption allegations on politicians being pursued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCOP), one case got special treatment by the worthiest men of this country – the graft case of Mr. Arsalan Iftikhar. Iftikhar is a 34 years old ‘innocent boy’ who was reportedly ‘lured’ into accepting a not-s-small sum of money from one Malik Riaz, the real estate tycoon who knows how to make the mare go. The innocence of Mr. Iftikhar is further proven by the fact that he happens to be the son of Chief Justice of Pakistan. The case was thus, taken up by none other than CJP himself, as a suo-moto action under Section 184(3) which allows the CJP to move the court if the case pertains to violation of fundamental rights and is of public interest. The case, definitely is of public interest and violates Mr. Iftikhar’s right to remain innocent for the rest of his life! The case, as was right thing to do, was disposed of by mildly lecturing all parties to ‘behave’.
Why is it important to recall Mr. Iftikhar? Because his was not the only case where the worthy court to be partisan for its own interest. Responding to Public Accounts Committee, the elected watch body over the Auditor General of Pakistan that called Registrar of Supreme Court to present himself before the Committee and explained some overspending by the SCOP. Guess what happens next? The wise men in SCOP, came up with a document that conveniently leaves everyone in the SCOP outside the ambit of any elected watch body that oversees the transparency of financial transaction by public institutions including SCOP. Have a lok over how the Registrar of SCOP – an official who is not a judge – exonerates himself from legislature’s scrutiny.
One wonders who is going to ensure transparency when even the most responsible institutions of this country try to evade law on the pretext of law. Ironic and sad. The language used in this document and disregard for transparency makes my wish it must not be what the worthy men in SCOP meant. Have a good reading experience please!
Supreme Court, Pakistan, Chief Justice, Arsalan Iftikhar, Auditor General, Public Accounts Committee, Parliament, Judiciary, Pakistan …..
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