Tag Archives: Ahsan

New York Times – How Pakistan Lets Terrorism Fester – By HUSAIN HAQQANI

ON the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death last week, Pakistan was the only Muslim country in which hundreds of demonstrators gathered to show solidarity with the dead terrorist figurehead.

Yet rather than asking tough questions about how Bin Laden had managed to live unmolested in Pakistan for years, the Pakistani Supreme Court instead chose to punish the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, by charging him with contempt for failing to carry out the court’s own partisan agenda in this case, pressuring the Swiss government to reopen a decades-old corruption investigation of President Asif Ali Zardari. (Never mind that Swiss officials say they are unlikely to revisit the charges.)

In handing down the decision, one justice chose to paraphrase the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran. He held forth in a long appeal to religious-nationalist sentiment that began with the line, “Pity the nation that achieves nationhood in the name of a religion but pays little heed to truth, righteousness and accountability, which are the essence of every religion.”

That a Supreme Court justice would cite poetry instead of law while sentencing an elected leader on questionable charges reflects Pakistan’s deep state of denial about its true national priorities at a time when the country is threatened by religious extremism and terrorism.

Today, Pakistan is polarized between those who envision a modern, pluralist country and those who condone violence against minorities and terrorism in the name of Islam. Many are caught in the middle; they support the pluralist vision but dislike the politicians espousing it.

Meanwhile, an elephant in the room remains. We still don’t know who enabled Bin Laden to live freely in Pakistan. Documents found on computers in his compound offer no direct evidence of support from Pakistan’s government, army or intelligence services. But even if Bin Laden relied on a private support network, our courts should be focused on identifying, arresting and prosecuting the individuals who helped him. Unfortunately, their priorities seem to lie elsewhere.

In Pakistan, most of the debate about Bin Laden has centered on how and why America violated Pakistan’s sovereignty by unilaterally carrying out an operation to kill him. There has been little discussion about whether the presence of the world’s most-wanted terrorist in a garrison town filled with army officers was itself a threat to the sovereignty and security of Pakistan.

Pakistanis are right to see themselves as victims of terrorism and to be offended by American unilateralism in dealing with it. Last year alone, 4,447 people were killed in 476 major terrorist attacks. Over the last decade, thousands of soldiers and law enforcement officers have died fighting terrorists – both homegrown, and those inspired by Al Qaeda’s nihilist ideology.

But if anything, the reaction should be to gear up and fight jihadist ideology and those who perpetrate terrorist acts in its name; they remain the gravest threat to Pakistan’s stability. Instead, our national discourse has been hijacked by those seeking to deflect attention from militant Islamic extremism.

The national mind-set that condones this sort of extremism was cultivated and encouraged under the military dictatorships of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq from 1977 to 1988 and Gen. Pervez Musharraf from 1999 to 2008. A whole generation of Pakistanis has grown up with textbooks that conflate Pakistani nationalism with Islamist exclusivism.

Anti-Western sentiment and a sense of collective victimhood were cultivated as a substitute for serious debate on social or economic policy. Militant groups were given free rein, originally with American support, to resist the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and later became an instrument of Pakistani regional influence there and in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan’s return to democracy, after the elections of 2008, offered hope. But the elected government has since been hobbled by domestic political infighting and judicial activism on every issue except extremism and terrorism.

Before Mr. Musharraf was ousted, a populist lawyers’ movement successfully challenged his firing of Supreme Court justices. The lawyers’ willingness to confront Mr. Musharraf in his last days raised hopes of a new era. But over the last four years, the Court has spent most of its energy trying to dislodge the government by insisting on reopening cases of alleged corruption from the 1990s. During the same period, no significant terrorist leader has been convicted, and many have been set free by judges who overtly sympathize with their ideology.

This has happened because the lawyers’ movement split into two factions after Mr. Musharraf’s fall: those emphasizing the rule of law and those seeking to use the judiciary as a rival to elected leaders.

Asma Jahangir, who helped lead the lawyers’ movement, has become a critic of the courts, accusing them of overstepping their constitutional mandate and falling under the influence of the security establishment. And Aitzaz Ahsan, who represented the Supreme Court’s chief justice during the lawyers’ showdown with Mr. Musharraf, is now Prime Minister Gilani’s lawyer in the contempt-of-court case – a clear indication of the political realignment that has taken place.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s raucous media, whose hard-won freedom is crucial for the success of democracy, has done little to help generate support for eliminating extremism and fighting terrorism. The Supreme Court, conservative opposition parties and the news media insist that confronting alleged incompetence and corruption in the current government is more important than turning Pakistan away from Islamist radicalism.

Continue reading New York Times – How Pakistan Lets Terrorism Fester – By HUSAIN HAQQANI

Who will demand justice for Sindhi victims of Enforced Disappearance?

By Khalid Hashmani

Sindhi Victims of Enforced Disappearances

It looks like the powers that fully or partially control Pakistan have found a new target to vent their anger – the Sindhi nationalists! With Baloch nationalists continuing to win more and more public relations battles against those who are bent upon enforced control of Balochistan, these forces have now unleashed their fury on Sindhis. Not a single day goes by without a story about a Sindhi nationalist disappearing or a bullet-riddled body of a Sindhi young man being found. The federal and provincial governments that won largely because of support of Sindhi masses are pre-occupied with looting more and more and/or saving their government from another group of looters and dictators. They seldom find courage to come to the rescue of Sindhis whether they are victims of severe floods or victims of enforced disappearances. Sindhis must realize that they cannot solely rely on international human rights’ organizations to fight for their human rights and the time has come for them to get involved and demand justice for Sindhi victims of Enforced Disappearances. A partial list of missing persons who are presumed to have fallen victims of enforced disappearances include:

Sources:
http://rightsnowpak.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/three-more-enforcedinvoluntary-disappearances-in-sindh-will-that-ever-end/
http://www.balawaristan.net/Latest-news/four-activists-also-disappeared-after-their-abduction-by-the-law-enforcement-agencies.html
http://www.worldsindhicongress.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=347&Itemid=1

1. Sanaullah Bhatti – He was kidnapped on February 7, 2011 from the city of Hyderabad.
2. Muzafar Bhutto – Kidnapped on February 24, 2011.
3. Riaz Kakepoto – Kidnapped from Rainbow Center Karachi on April 11, 2011.
4. Ali Nawab Mahar – Also kidnapped from Rainbow Center Karachi on April 11, 2011.
5. Shah Nawaz Bhutto – Also kidnapped from Rainbow Center Karachi on April 11, 2011.
6. Jam Bhutto – Also kidnapped from Rainbow Center Karachi on April 11, 2011.
7. Lala Yasir – Kdnapped from Karachi.
8. Shafqat Brohi He is a clerk of Maleer Court Karachi and was kidnapped from Karachi.
9. Afzal Pahnwar – A student of the University of Sindh, kidnapped on June 26, 2011.
10. Mukhtiar Pahnwar – kidnapped on September 28, 2011 from Chandni Chowk, Hyderabad.
11. Babar Jamali – Kidnapped on December 8, 2011 near Hyderabad by-pass Gas Station.
12. Mohummad Bashir Arisar disappeared on 17 November, 2011.
13. Ahsan Malano disappeared on 17 November, 2011.
14. Mohsin Shah disappeared on 17 November, 2011.
15. Noor Muhammed Khaskheli.
16. Shahid Notayar.
17. Shoukat Brohi.
18. Faisal Wagan.
19. Mohammed Brohi.
20. Nadeem Lashari.
21. G M Abro.
22. Noor Abro.
23. Anwar Depar.
24. Yasir Notiar.
25. Zulfiqar Jamali.
26. Hameed Shar.
27. Ali Bachal Themor.
28. Ghulam Kadir Boryio.
29. Taj Mohammed Themor.
30. Mohammed Boryio.

In a recent press statement, Dr. Rubina Greenwood, Vice Chairperson of World Sindhi Congress (WSC) said that a number of prominent political leaders and activists have been killed. Those who lost their lives in 2011 include:

1. Zulfiqar Kolachi
2. Aijaz Solangi
3. Sirai Qurban Khuhawr
4. Roplo Choliani
5. Nadir Bugti
6. Noorullah Tunio
7. Haji Abubakar
8. Abdul Ganai Mirbahar

Abduction Details about some Sindhi victims

Continue reading Who will demand justice for Sindhi victims of Enforced Disappearance?

‘Restraint’ must follow ‘activism’

By Khaled Ahmed

Expansion of judicial power is welcome, but one must not forget that there is also such a thing as judicial excess

On 30 February 2012, the Supreme Court (SC) has allowed former Pakistani ambassador to US Husain Haqqani to travel abroad after an important witness in the ‘memo’ case finally refused to present himself at the judicial commission set up by the Court. This is the first sign of gradual erosion of the charges that were finally to target President Zardari as the originator of ‘treason’ against the Pakistan Army through an American businessman, Mansoor Ijaz.

Analysts believe the Court has been let down by the other parties interested in crucifying the PPP leader and sending the PPP government packing before its term. Nawaz Sharif may have stitched up a deal with Zardari over the timing of next general election; and the Army may have been appeased through Zardari’s sacrifice of Husain Haqqani as burnt offering to the generals. At the time of writing, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan was defending Prime Minister Gilani against a charge of contempt and persuading the honourable Court to relent and be satisfied with a belated letter to the Swiss authorities.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan is hearing two cases – and a third one is coming up later in the month – that threaten to expose it to lack of judicial restraint. At home, internecine politics and the besiegement of the ruling party give it the ballast with which it can keep going if it wants. But the lawyers’ movement – which deluded it into feeling that it was backed by ‘the nation’ rather than the Constitutionis split at the top, the vanguard of its leaders now skeptical of its steamrollering activism. Internationally too it is now facing isolation.

On January 25, 2012, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) expressed its concern over the convening of the inquiry commission for the memo affair, saying ‘there are legitimate concerns‘ that, by neglecting the rights of the ex-ambassador Husain Haqqani, the Court ‘may have overstepped its constitutional authority and that this action could undermine the ongoing Parliamentary inquiry. The ICJ supported the ousted Supreme Court and consistently accepted its activism in a national environment of extreme dereliction and corruption in state institutions topped by the incumbent executive.

Sitting inside Pakistan and bristling over country’s eroding sovereignty, it is easy to be isolationist and ignore the ICJ warning. Those among the top lawyers – Asma Jahangir, Munir A Malik, Ali Ahmad Kurd, Aitzaz Ahsan – who have decided to caution judicial restraint after a bout of activism so intense it looked like revenge, are being cursed by the mainly conservative and bucolic (mufassil) lawyers’ community as well as the media clearly bent on getting rid of a largely dysfunctional PPP government.

The ‘national consensus’ is chiding the Supreme Court to review just anything under the sun as the forum of last resort. There is no forum higher than the Supreme Court if you feel aggrieved. Except that the Court takes an objective view of its authority and a realistic view of the fallibilities of a third world state cut to pieces by terrorism. It is more difficult to convict a known terrorist in Pakistan than the sitting prime minister.

Continue reading ‘Restraint’ must follow ‘activism’

A million dollar question of Aitzaz Ahsan – “Why are only the Civilian prime ministers indicted for contempt of court & not military generals?”

Contempt case: Gilani summoned on February 13

By Azam Khan / Web Desk

Excerpts;

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court concluded its hearing of the contempt case against Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Thursday and summoned the premier on February 13, reported Express News. The court said that it will frame charges against the prime minister during the hearing. …

…. Ahsan also questioned the court that if it can send notices to Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Gilani, then why it can’t initiate any action against the generals who were involved in arresting the judges.

Read more » The Express Tribune

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More details » BBC urdu

BBC – “Will the generals and judges force the president from power?” Pakistan’s political soap opera – By Owen Bennett Jones

Pakistan’s political soap opera

By Owen Bennett Jones, BBC News

Islamabad – Earlier this week, Pakistan’s prime minister appeared before the country’s Supreme Court to defend himself against allegations of contempt – it is symbolic of a dispute that is on-going at the centre of the country’s powerful elite.

When great institutions of state clash, history is made. It is the stuff of school history lessons – the Magna Carta, the Star Chamber, the Great Reform Act – that kind of thing.

But while in the UK such milestones have generally been once-a-century type events, in Pakistan they have become a way of life. Constitutional crises have become business as usual.

This week Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was forced to appear before the Supreme Court. He was there to face contempt proceedings related to the president’s immunity from prosecution.

I will spare you the details. But as I sat in the court’s press gallery, I felt pretty sure that in 100 years, Pakistani school children would not be learning about the January 2012 contempt case.

Perhaps they will be studying something the Western journalists did not even know was happening: a debate between some clerics on what role Islam should have in the state.

But the court was colourful. There was the prime minister, alongside him his brilliant lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan and a throng of ministers showing solidarity.

And buzzing about all of them, the journalists – representatives of Pakistan’s new, irrepressible 24-hour news television culture.

For millions of Pakistanis, the constant wrangling of the elite has the quality of a TV soap opera.

I do not want to belittle the importance of politics. The failure of successive elected and military governments has left millions of Pakistanis highly frustrated. But still the TV news shows attract massive audiences – people both despair of their leaders and want to know all about them.

Because many of the political parties are little more than family businesses, the same names have been around for decades – with power passed from father to daughter, brother to brother, and so on.

All this is against a backdrop of corruption cases, the frequent imprisonment of politicians, the “war on terror”, suicide attacks, assassinations, US military incursions – there is so much going on.

Pakistani news anchors can pirouette from the big news such as “The Prime Minister’s Day in Court”, to the tittle-tattle – the affairs, the hair transplants, the family rows.

Will the generals and judges force the president from power?” …

Read more » BBC

A must watch speech – Aitezaz Ahsan, a senior Pakistani politician on the floor of the Parliament

The language of the speech is urdu.

» YouTube

Aitzaz denies he is replacing Gilani as PM

Aitzaz Ahsan

By Mehreen Zahra-Malik

ISLAMABAD: In an intriguing political development, PPP leader and former president Supreme Court Bar Association, Aitzaz Ahsan, is being tipped as the likely replacement of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Highly informed sources close to President Asif Ali Zardari told The News that barring certain procedural hiccups, the decision to bring in Aitzaz may be as good as final.

Whatever else may be said about President Zardari, one thing is for certain: the co-chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party has a special knack for surprising his friends and foes alike. This Tuesday, addressing crowds at Garhi Khuda Bux on the fourth death anniversary of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, President Zardari left political observers perplexed once more with his garrulous eulogising of Aitzaz Ahsan.

The president thanked Aitzaz for coming to Naudero and, in an unprecedented move, announced that Aitzaz’s speech was next, after the president’s. Indeed, Aitzaz Ahsan appeared to be the keynote speaker at the event.

According to a source extremely close to the president, it seems that serious discussions are underway about replacing Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani with Aitzaz. “It is a fact that this option is being considered,” the source told The News. “Gilani may go. It’s a serious option. We can say with certitude that Aitzaz as prime minister is becoming a bigger and bigger possibility everyday.” ….

Read more » The News

Flight of Reason – by Aamer Ahmed Khan

We published two photo galleries on BBC’s Urdu website last Friday. One on the Jamaat-e-Islami’s youth wing Shabab-e-Milli’s tribute to Mumtaz Qadri’s father in Rawalpindi and the other on the candlelit vigil in Lahore in memory of the slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer.

As expected, comments started to pour in almost instantly. The most telling among them simply said: “Please compare the crowd in the two, for every Taseer mourner, there are at least 50 Qadri supporters.” If nothing else, it says a lot about the state of siege in which liberal opinion finds itself, as more and more people flock behind Mr Qadri, a cold-blooded killer who had been painstakingly planning Taseer’s murder for weeks before he struck.

Irrespective of the number of people who gathered for the vigil in Lahore, I am stunned at their courage in standing up to a crazed mob that neither understands its religion nor the man who brought it to them. It is a mob of moral cheats that has become religiously, politically, intellectually and morally so bankrupt that it seems to have convinced itself that its only salvation lies in baying for innocent blood.

Let us give ourselves some idea of how courageous the dozens who flocked to the vigil in Lahore really are. Since the glowing tribute paid to Qadri by lawyers at his first court appearance, we have been trying to contact the lawyer leadership that spearheaded the civil society movement only three years ago to bring down General Musharraf’s dictatorship. In that movement, millions around the world saw the seeds of a politics that Pakistan has desperately been waiting for all its life — a politics that flows from the combined intellect of the mobile middle class instead of dynastic politics, hereditary constituencies and endemic corruption.

Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed, Aitzaz Ahsan, Ali Ahmed Kurd and Justice (retd) Tariq Mahmood became household names as tens of thousands of people rallied behind them wherever they went. For weeks, no political talk show in the country was considered complete without at least one of them in the chair. Since Taseer’s murder, they simply seemed to have vanished into thin air.

We finally managed to get through to two of them: one simply said that we are free to call him a coward if we want to but he doesn’t want to comment on the issue at all. The other one went even further: he said he would not even allow us to report that he was contacted for his opinion on the issue.

Predictably, Asma Jahangir was the honourable exception who not only spoke in detail about the atrocity against Taseer but was candid and unambiguous in her criticism of the legal fraternity’s sudden gush for a killer. But then, one has always known her to be one of the bravest women in the country.

Which brings to mind another brave woman who dared to bring a bill to the National Assembly aimed at amending some of the more draconian provisions of a law that has spawned nothing but injustice in the quarter century of its existence. Our crazed mob has distributed pamphlets advocating that she must meet the same fate as Mr Taseer. I am proud to have worked for her at Herald for six years. She was one of the bravest editors I know. Today, she has been forced into abandoning her public life by the tyranny of bloodthirsty criminals masquerading as religious zealots.

President Asif Ali Zardari’s administration has already surrendered to these criminals. It is pointless to expect him to fight this battle. However unfortunate as it may be for the liberals, they do not have the luxury to follow suit. They have to go on fighting even if their battle is far more dangerous than the one Pakistan has been fighting in its tribal areas for the last 10 years.

Courtesy: http://www.columnspk.com/flight-of-reason-by-aamer-ahmed-khan/