Tag Archives: charges

Musharraf on the run after bail cancellation

.This act of the former military ruler “underscores his disregard for due legal process and indicates his assumption that as a former army chief and military dictator he can evade accountability for abuses”, Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

“It is essential that Pakistan’s military authorities which are protecting the former dictator comply with the Islamabad High Court’s orders and ensure that he presents himself for arrest,” the statement added.

It further said that “continued military protection for General Musharraf will make a mockery of claims that Pakistan’s armed forces support the rule of law and bring the military further disrepute that it can ill afford.”

ISLAMABAD: General (retd) Pervez Musharraf on Thursday escaped from the premises of the Islamabad High Court after the cancellation of his bail application by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui in the judges detention case.

Immediately after the bail cancellation, police tried to reach the former military ruler but he was escorted by his personal security, fleeing in his bullet-proof black four-wheeler.

“Islamabad High Court has cancelled Musharraf’s bail and ordered his arrest in the judges’ detention case today,” said Muhammad Amjad, secretary-general of Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League party.

In a written judgement printed in English, the IHC ordered that: “He (Musharraf) be taken into custody and dealt with in accordance with law.”

The detailed verdict issued by the Islamabad High Court ordered for terrorism to be added to the list of charges against the former military ruler. The order further said that Musharraf’s exit from the court earlier during the day warranted for separate charges to be filed against him.

According to reports, Musharraf’s lawyers reached the Supreme Court to file a pre-arrest bail application in order avoid his surrender to the police.

However, the SC returned the 14-page bail application as the timings for the Registrar’s office had ended. Musharraf’s lawyers are now expected to resubmit the appeal on Friday.

After departing from the IHC’s premises, Musharraf had reached his farmhouse in Chak Shahzad, a suburban area on the outskirts of Islamabad where security was beefed up and all entry and exit routes to the area were blocked.

Continue reading Musharraf on the run after bail cancellation

PAKISTAN PERISCOPE – Curse of Blasphemy Law

The likelyhood of death sentence being awarded to an 11 year old for alleged blasphemy is symptomatic of the naked abuse of power exercised by religious zealots

By Ayesha Siddiqa, Independent Social Scientist

Let us roll a dice and guess who is more lucky: Abbas, tortured and burnt to death for allegedly blasphemy, or Rimsha who may survive death but will forever be scarred for being nearly sentenced to death on similar charges? Some will probably consider the young Christian girl lucky, compared to Abbas and scores of others who suffered under the archaic blasphemy law.

Continue reading PAKISTAN PERISCOPE – Curse of Blasphemy Law

A sigh of relief: Maulvi who fabricated ‘burning of Quranic pages’ in order to frame charges against Rimsha in blasphemy, has been arrested

Prayer leader arrested for fabricating evidence in Rimsha Masih case

By Web Desk

RAWALPINDI: Police have arrested prayer leader Khalid Jadoon on charges of fabricating evidence, which he had used to accuse Rimsha Masih of committing blasphemy by allegedly burning Quranic pages, Express News reported early on Sunday.

Express News correspondent Qamarul Munawar said that Hafiz Muhammad Zubair, who witnessed Jadoon adding pages of the Quran, recorded a statement with the Rawalpindi magistrate on Saturday.

According to Zubair’s account, he was sitting in Iteqaaf in the mosque when some people handed burnt pages to the prayer leader. After a little while, Jadoon added additional pages of the Quran to the pile.

Zubair, in his statement added that three other people present with him in the mosque asked Jadoon why he was adding documents to the pile of burnt paper, to which prayer leader said that such an act was necessary to strengthen their case.

Munawar reported that Islamabad police has now arrested Jadoon who are now questioning him.

Rimsha has been in custody since she was arrested more than two weeks ago accused of burning Quranic papers, in breach of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. According to medical reports Rimsha is 14 year old minor, and has a mental age below her real age.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

http://tribune.com.pk/story/430049/prayer-leader-arrested-for-fabricating-evidence-in-rimsha-masih-case/

Corruption charges hit Pakistani `Sesame Street’

by: CNN, Priyanka Boghani

(CNN) – No more “sunny days sweeping the clouds away” in Pakistan as its version of ‘”Sesame Street” gets its funding cut due to fraud charges, according to Reuters.

The United States has withdrawn funding for the Pakistani version of the American children’s television series known for its educational content and colorful puppets.  The U.S. Agency for International Aid received reports of corruption charges on the production company, Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, through an anti-fraud hotline, according to U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner. Exact details of the graft weren’t provided.

The show, which began airing six months ago, features Elmo with a cast of local characters. The funding cut comes just six weeks after the U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter visited the set of “Sim Sim Hamara,” the Pakistani name for the series, “to reaffirm the U.S. Government’s commitment to children’s education in Pakistan,” according to a USAID press release.

The U.S. had originally allocated $20 million to produce the show and $6.7 million of this has already been spent, according to press agency reports.

According to reports from Pakistan Today, the money was used to pay off Rafi Peer’s debts. The funding was also used to award lucrative salaries to family members, many of whom worked in the company.

Continue reading Corruption charges hit Pakistani `Sesame Street’

Pakistan needs to come clean on terrorism, says Germany

By: Wichaar Desk

New Delhi, July 14 — Germany Saturday made it clear to Pakistan that it needs to “come clean” over terror allegations, whether those are true or not, as this will be in its best interests.

German ambassador to India Michael Steiner, who took over this week, told reporters here that it did not matter whether the terror charges are proved in a court of law or not, but it was necessary that Pakistan clarify the “clear distinction” between its state institutions and terror outfits.

He was responding to queries about the recent revelations by terror suspect Abu Jundal, who was deported from Saudi Arabia last month, of Pakistani state players’ involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks that left 166 dead and over 230 injured in 2008.

Continue reading Pakistan needs to come clean on terrorism, says Germany

Pakistan’s National College of Art’s editorial board dissolved over blasphemy row

Pak college’s editorial board dissolved over blasphemy row

Pakistan’s first arts college’s editorial board has been dissolved and two other departments have been closed, weeks after the institution’s annual journal was accused of publishing material that supported homosexuality and ridiculed Islamic values.

The architecture and research and publication departments of the National College of Arts in Lahore have been closed while the director for research and publication, Sarosh Irfani, has been suspended.

Following complaints about the inclusion of some paintings and a feature in the annual journal Sohbat, the college’s editorial board too has been dissolved.

The principal of the NCA, Sajjad Kausar, and some other staff are facing charges of blasphemy, official sources told PTI.

With extremist and hardline religious parties, including the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, calling for stringent action against those responsible for publishing “blasphemous materials” in the journal, the college’s administration, including the Principal, are feeling insecure, the sources said.

“I have dissolved the editorial board, closed down the research and publication and architecture wings and suspended the director for research and publication,” Kausar told reporters.

He said a ban had been imposed on the publication of Sohbat for an indefinite period. ….

Read more » http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/Pakistan/Pak-college-s-editorial-board-dissolved-over-blasphemy-row/Article1-881693.aspx

The Guardian – Yousuf Raza Gilani’s sacking is bad news for Pakistan

By Muhammad Hanif

Pakistan’s judiciary is starting to care less for the rule of law than the sound of its own sermonising voice. Which suits the military

In the past, Pakistan’s supreme court has hanged an elected prime minister on trumped-up charges, sentenced another to life imprisonment and forced several career politicians into exile. So the disqualification of the prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, on contempt-of-court charges should be seen as a step forward. Nobody died, right? The Pakistan Peoples’ party and its coalition partners now have another prime minister in the shape of Raja Pervez Ashraf. Pakistan’s supreme court will thump its chest and say we have proved that the law is the same for a commoner and a king. Pakistan’s all-powerful army will say: look, no hands. So why are Pakistan’s human rights activists calling it a judicial coup and warning us that the whole democratic facade is about to be pulled down?

Political decisions used to be made in the Pakistani army’s HQ. But the action has shifted to court one of the supreme court, in full view of the public, with judgments framed and delivered like soundbites for the primetime news.

Since being restored to his job after being sacked by President Musharraf in 2009, the chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, has been betraying an evangelical streak in his pronouncements. Maybe he feels that, with a country full of self-righteous zealots, he needs to adapt their tone. Or perhaps he is one. He doesn’t wait for the petitioners to come to the court, he watches TV and acts on his own cognizance. Even the half of Pakistan that can’t read or write will tell you what a suo motu is. We have already been quoted Khalil Jibran and the Persian poet Hafiz, and, it seems, a verse from the Qur’an or a hadith is only ever a suo motu notice away. When the chief justice took suo motu notice of allegations of his own son’s corruption he turned up in court waving a copy of the Qur’an and insinuating comparisons with himself and the second caliph, Umar.
Last year the chief justice took suo motu notice against the country’s most famous television actress for possessing a bottle of wine. Elsewhere, one of his sidekicks wondered aloud that if one day Pakistan’s parliament were to legalise gay marriages, would the supreme court sit quietly and watch?
This court is not as much in love with the rule of law as with the sound of its own sermonising voice. It has also mastered the art of selective justice. The same supreme court that has been sitting on an ISI corruption case for 15 years, the same judiciary that can’t look a retired general in the eye or force a serving colonel to appear in court, feels it perfectly constitutional to send a unanimously elected prime minister home.
There are not many tears being shed over Gilani. Looking at his record, many would say that he should have stayed home in the first place. But what is the point of clamouring for democracy if we can’t elect imperfect people – slightly less competent and way more corrupt than our average traffic cop – to lead us?
There are many ways of getting rid of a prime minister (though the old-fashioned way of voting them out has never been tried in Pakistan) but no simple way of telling the country’s highest judge, restored to his job as a result of a popular movement, that he has begun to sound like that dictator who sent him home.
In Pakistan, generals often confuse access to private golf courses with the country’s security. Senior bureaucrats consider it their right to name roads and villages after their grandfathers. Mullahs always fall back on God to justify their greed. Political leaders believe that democracy makes it mandatory to groom sons and daughters to take over their political parties. It’s not surprising that senior judges have started to believe that respect for them is the same thing as respect for the rule of law.
Pakistanis are being forced to choose between Gilani’s right to rule without doing a thing for his people, and a supreme court judge’s right to send him home. And people are refusing to choose. For a few days the country lacked a prime minister and a cabinet. And nobody really missed them.
The alarm being raised by pro-democracy people in Pakistan is that the whole system is about to be derailed. The supreme court’s reckless pursuit of government politicians could pave the way for a caretaker setup that will suit the military establishment.
The military, indeed, sulking after a series of humiliations at home and abroad, is watching from the sidelines. Some would say it’s even gloating at the prospect of civilian institutions cutting each other down to size, traditionally its job.

New York Times – Pakistan Court Orders Arrest of Presidential Ally

By DECLAN WALSH

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The high-stakes battle between Pakistan’s judiciary and government took a fresh twist on Thursday when a court issued an arrest warrant for a close ally of President Asif Ali Zardari, effectively blocking his nomination as the country’s next prime minister.

Mr. Zardari wanted Makhdoom Shahabuddin, a former health minister from Punjab Province, to replace Yousaf Raza Gilani, who was dismissed as prime minister by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

But hours after Mr. Shahabuddin’s nomination, a magistrates court, prompted by the military-run Anti-Narcotics Force, ordered his arrest to face charges relating to the illegal production of a controlled drug two years ago.

The court also issued an arrest warrant for Ali Musa Gilani, a son of the outgoing prime minister, in relation to the same case.

The ruling party Pakistan Peoples Party quickly nominated a new candidate, former information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, who now looks likely to become the prime minister after a vote in parliament on Friday.

The dramatic court manoeuver highlights the growing difficulty of separating law from politics in the country’s rapidly evolving machinations of power.

Mr. Zardari’s supporters, and some analysts, say judiciary is using its widening powers to erode the authority of the government and ultimately push it from power. “Absolutely no subtlety anymore in going after the govt. Amazing,” wrote Nadeem F. Paracha, a newspaper columnist, on Twitter.

Continue reading New York Times – Pakistan Court Orders Arrest of Presidential Ally

The Wall Street Journal on Islamabad’s Judicial Coup

Islamabad’s Judicial Coup

The Pakistani Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday to dismiss Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani signals the unnatural death of another civilian government. While less dramatic than the military variety, this judicial coup—carried out on the pretext that Mr. Gilani refused to pursue corruption charges against President Asif Ali Zardari—perpetuates the cycle of unelected institutions “rescuing” Pakistanis from their own chosen leaders.

The man responsible for this constitutional crisis is Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry,

Continue reading The Wall Street Journal on Islamabad’s Judicial Coup

Treason charges on Husain Haqqani reflect Pakistan’s isolation.

My real ‘crime’: Standing up for U.S.-Pakistan relations

By Husain Haqqani

Husain Haqqani, a professor of international relations at Boston University and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011.

I am saddened but not surprised that a Pakistani judicial inquiry commission has accused me of being disloyal while serving as my country’s ambassador to the United States. The tide of anti-Americanism has been rising in Pakistan for almost a decade. An overwhelming majority of Pakistanis consider the United States an enemy, notwithstanding the nominal alliance that has existed between our countries for six decades. Americans, frustrated by what they see as Pakistani intransigence in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan, are becoming less willing to accept Pakistani demands even though Pakistan has suffered heavily at the hands of terrorists.

Continue reading Treason charges on Husain Haqqani reflect Pakistan’s isolation.

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

PAKISTAN: Officers of the Pakistan Rangers abduct a subordinate from a police station to settle his wife’s court case of harassment against senior officers

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-060-2012 – The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that officers of the Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) have been continuously harassing the wife of a subordinate officer with ill intention for three years. In the latest development high officials of the Pakistan Rangers abducted her husband and his whereabouts are presently unknown. The Pakistan Rangers wanted to have an out of court settlement on the constitutional petition filed by his wife for the harassment she endured. He was abducted twice during the last 24 hours and managed to escape the first attempt. He was illegally detained last night for 12 hours in three different police stations without any charge and in the early hours of this morning (13 April), 12 intelligence personnel from the intelligence wing under the leadership of the Wing Commander of 50 Sachal Sarmast Wing, abducted him from the police station. He was also tortured in three different police stations to force to urge his wife to withdraw the cases against the high officials of the Rangers.

Continue reading PAKISTAN: Officers of the Pakistan Rangers abduct a subordinate from a police station to settle his wife’s court case of harassment against senior officers

Turkey’s ex-army chief on trial for coup plot – When the Pakistani generals will meet the same fate?

Turkey’s ex-army chief on trial for coup plot

Ilker Basbug is among 29 accused of being part of shadowy group plotting to overthrow government.

Ilker Basbug, Turkey’s former army chief, has gone on trial on charges of leading a terrorist group accused of plotting to overthrow the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister. ….

Read more » AlJazeera

Mother of all scams? Will justice be done by the Supreme court that called itself “Aazad Adliya”!?

Mother of all cases?

A testimony of the slim, short, veteran businessman-cum-banker, Yunus Habib, may come in handy when the Supreme Court starts hearing the almost decade-old petition of Air Marshal Asghar Khan on Feb 29, 2012. Habib hit the headlines in the 1990s for his key role in the release of Rs14 million (or maybe more) from his own Mehran Bank to defeat the Benazir Bhutto’s PPP in the next elections.

The affidavit submitted by the then ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani, is the first ever confession by any official of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency of the role it played in pre-poll rigging and its direct involvement in political matters. But there is much more to it and all facts must come to the surface.

Though there was an unusual delay in the case being taken up for hearing, one hopes it will proceed as fast as other petitions like the ones dealing with NRO, NICL, the infamous Memo Case or the Haj scam.

Continue reading Mother of all scams? Will justice be done by the Supreme court that called itself “Aazad Adliya”!?

Some sanity, but the shenanigans go on

By Kamran Shafi

Excerpt;

…. The Prime Minister is again summoned to the SC on charges of contempt of court. By golly, the majesty of the Honourable Court when it comes to ‘bloody civilian’, elected leaders! When will those who disappear people, or those who imprisoned the judges in their homes also appear in court? …

Read more: The Express Tribune

‘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

Cleric sentenced to death in blasphemy case

By Nabeel Anwar Dhakku

CHAKWAL: A ‘blasphemy’ accused was sentenced to death and also to 10 years’ imprisonment on Monday, sources told Dawn.

Soofi Mohammad Ishaq of Talagang town had been facing the charge since 2009.

On Monday, an Additional Sessions Judge of Jhelum sentenced him to death and 10 years’ imprisonment and fined him Rs200,000.

Soofi Mohammad Ishaq was settled in United States where he worked as a cleric. He returned to Talagang in 2009 and was given a warm welcome by hundreds of his disciples. His followers also kissed his feet, but some people objected to the act of “bowing down before Ishaq” and later accused his followers of branding him a prophet.

Later, Ishaq’s rivals launched a campaign against him and a young man named Asadullah, allegedly at the behest of his Deobandi mentors, lodged a complaint at the Talagang police station. He accused Ishaq of committing blasphemy.

Police booked Ishaq under sections 295A and 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code and his case was heard by Chakwal’s Additional Sessions Judge Sajid Awan.

After completion of hearing, the judge set a date for announcing the judgment, but later he wrote a letter to the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench, informing it that he could not announce the verdict because of security risks. “Judge Sajid Awan pleaded to the LHC that as he is deputed in Chakwal, he cannot announce the verdict because of security risks and, therefore, the case should be referred to another district,” said Advocate Chaudhry Mehmood Akhtar, the counsel of the accused.

The LHC referred the case to Jhelum’s district and sessions judge, who marked the case to his subordinate Additional Sessions Judge Chaudhry Mumtaz Hussain, who announced the verdict on Friday.

Informed sources told Dawn that Soofi Ishaq had been appointed Gaddi Nasheen of the shrine of Pir Fazal Shah. This, according to sources, infuriated complainant Asadullah, who belonged to Pir Fazal Shah’s family, and he used the opportunity to register the blasphemy case against Ishaq.

“My client pleaded to the court that he cannot even think of committing blasphemy.” He told the court that he believed that the holy prophet (peace be upon him) was the last Messnger of Allah,” Advocate Chaudhry Akhtar Mehmood said.

When contacted by Dawn, Asadullah claimed to have seen followers of Ishaq bowing their heads before him and heard them chanting slogans of “Yaa Rasool Allah”. When asked why other religious leaders did not move against Ishaq, he said: “I was the first to see the way Ishaq’s followers behaved and I recorded it on my camera. And Allah has given me the courage to move against the blasphemer.”

A Hostage in Pakistan Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S., is living under house arrest. The reason? He offended the country’s military.

By MIRA SETHI, Islamabad, Pakistan

There are forces in Pakistan that want us to live in fear—fear of external and internal enemies.” So warns Husain Haqqani, until November Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington and now a de facto prisoner of the Pakistani generals whose ire he has provoked. “But just as the KGB and the Stasi did not succeed in suppressing the spirit of the Soviet and East German people, these forces won’t succeed in Pakistan in the long run, either.”

I am speaking to Mr. Haqqani in a spacious room in the official residence of Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, where the 55-year-old former ambassador—wearing a cotton tunic, loose trousers and white rubber slippers—has been living for weeks, mainly for fear that he might be assassinated outside. The living arrangements may seem odd for those unfamiliar with Pakistan’s fractured politics. But his fear is not ill-founded.

Continue reading A Hostage in Pakistan Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S., is living under house arrest. The reason? He offended the country’s military.

Ethnic cleansing of Christians in Pakistan

Christian children have become the victims of recent violence

The shocking protest of a Catholic Member of Parliament in Pakistan: “In Karachi children are being raped and tortured to eliminate the presence of Christians. Dozens of people have been reported as a result of the blasphemy law

By Vatican Insider staff

Rome –

Children raped and tortured, families extorted, abuse and violence taking place at the expense of terrified victims who remain silent: this is the reality of what is happening to the Christian community in some suburban quarters of Karachi, Southern Pakistan’s biggest city and the capital of the Sindh province.

Speaking to Catholic news agency Fides, Michael Shind, a Catholic MP working in Pakistan’s Sindh province, gave a shocking statement condemning the situation for Christians in the Country. Javed, whose statement was also reported by Vatican Radio, warned that for months now, Christians in the areas of EssaNagri, Ayub Goth and Bhittaiabad, have suffered indescribable violence perpetrated by members of political movements, such as the Pashtuns, which are characterised by a strong ethnic and Islamic identity. Christian families are going through living hell but “people are not reporting the abuse for fear of retaliation.”

Just last month, Javed told Fides, “We recorded 15 cases of rape.” In EssaNagri there are real “torture cells” where Christian children are imprisoned and tortured. “Captors ask for ransoms of up to 100.000 rupees and if families cannot pay, the little ones are tortured until they are beyond recognition.” The result of the violence that has been going on over the past six months is that numerous families have decided to leave Karachi. “These acts of violence are aimed at eliminating Christian presence in the area; it constitutes a kind of ethnic cleansing: we are seen as slaves who are unworthy of setting foot on Pakistani soil.”

In another case reported, a so-called “house of tolerance” was opened near a Catholic Church in Ayub Goth where “Christian girls from destitute families are forced into prostitution.” Although the authorities have been made aware of this, they have not taken any action yet. Javed is launching an appeal to ask “for an end to the oppression of our community.”

What is more, the controversial blasphemy law continues to provoke disputes and attract criticism in Pakistan and internationally, while the situation for religious minorities is very serious. They are suffering as a result of the rising extremism of Islamic fundamentalist groups. As reported by Fides, the numbers of people against whom charges have been pressed for allegedly committing blasphemy are shocking. In 2011, the blasphemy law (articles 295b and 295c of the Penal Code) led to at least 161 people being incriminated and 9 killed in extrajudicial executions after they were accused of blasphemy. These accusations “are false in 95% of cases,” says one Muslim lawyer, who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons.

According to a Report by the Asian Human Rights Commission, a human rights watch NGO operative in Asia, “Pakistan failed to guarantee respect for the human rights of its people.” The Commission documented the killings of 18 human rights defenders and 16 journalists in 2011. They had been involved in a process of denouncing evil in society, corruption and Islamic extremism.

Corutesy: Vatican Insider

Witch-hunt against democracy in Pakistan

Pakistani diplomat accused over memo claims he is victim of witch-hunt

Husain Haqqani says he fears for his life as hearing begins into allegations he sent memo to US official warning of military coup

By Saeed Shah in Islamabad

The former Pakistani diplomat at the centre of a scandal threatening to bring down the government in Islamabad says he has become embroiled in a “witch-hunt” against democracy in Pakistan.

A judicial commission on Monday began investigating allegations that could lead to treason charges against Husain Haqqani, who resigned as ambassador to Washington following claims he was behind an anonymous memo asking for US support to stave off a military coup in Pakistan.

The case has again drawn battle lines between the civilian government and the military in Pakistan, where the generals have ruled for half its existence. Haqqani, who denies knowledge of the memo, was a key adviser to President Asif Ali Zardari.

Haqqani was summoned to Pakistan in November and has, in effect, been under house arrest since, with his travel abroad banned. He is staying at the heavily guarded official residence of the prime minister in Islamabad, afraid that religious extremists or military agents will kill him if he ventures out. He said he was there for his “personal safety and security“. Last year, militants assassinated two senior officials of the ruling Pakistan Peoples party.

“Some people want to have the right to judge the patriotism of civilians. Some have joined the witch-hunt to keep democracy weak or even get rid of it if they can,” said Haqqani, speaking to the Guardian in a worn-looking sitting room where he receives few visitors.

In Washington, where Haqqani served for nearly four years, he was lauded as one of the best-connected diplomats in town, a smooth-talking, hyperactive defender of Pakistan on American television screens and in the corridors of the US capital. He is credited by some with keeping aid money flowing and relations with the US alive as the alliance between the two countries foundered in recent years over charges that Pakistan was playing a “double-game” by secretly supporting the Taliban.

In Pakistan, however, Haqqani was persistently vilified by the military establishment and the country’s press, painted as an American stooge and a too-clever-by-half strategist for the unpopular Zardari. Many in Pakistan believe it is the president who is the real target of the “memogate” furore, although he insisted over the weekend that he was not going to quit.

Pakistan’s armed forces, used to controlling the relationship with the US, deeply resented Haqqani’s contacts and level of access in Washington. Democracy was restored in Pakistan in 2008, but the government has been shaky, with simmering tension with the military. Haqqani had advocated closer ties to the US and was a strong critic of the army’s role in politics and its policy of supporting jihadist groups, laid out in his 2005 book, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military.

“I am being targeted for my views and beliefs on civil-military relations and US-Pakistan ties, not because I did anything wrong,” said Haqqani.

Continue reading Witch-hunt against democracy in Pakistan

In short the prime minister should now be reading to face the contempt of court charges

PPP to not respond to court in Swiss case

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) categorically refused to submit a letter to Swiss authorities as demanded earlier by the Supreme Court, Express News reported on Thursday. The decision was taken during a meeting of the party’s core committee.

Chairing the committee meeting, President Asif Ali Zardari remarked that the Constitution provides the president with immunity in such cases. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was also present at the meeting.

The Supreme Court on January 3 gave a seven-day deadline to the government for the implementation of the National Reconciliation Ordinance, which included an order to the government to write a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen cases against President Zardari.

The meeting continues in the President House, and sources say that the Memogate issue will be discussed along with upcoming Senate elections, current political situation of the country and relations with coalition parties. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

via » twitter » NJ

Sharif brothers: The pot calling the kettle black

By Iqbal Tareen

The alleged “Memo-Gate” controversy has sucked air out of Pakistan and has stolen attention from the real problems facing unfortunate common men and women of the country. Taking advantage of this opportunity, the corrupt, opportunistic, and power hungry politicians are busy jump-starting their otherwise hopeless political careers.

Although the charges against PPP look pale in comparison to what Sharifs had previously enacted but the spineless PPP leadership has neither courage nor an ability to fight back the pack of wolves, which is after the remains of its slimy body politics.

The paper written by Bruce Riedel – a former Bill Clinton White House official, reveals how Sharif brothers had sought American help against a potential coup by then Army Chief Pervez Musharraf.

I really wonder why this act of Sharifs has never been considered treason by Pakistani military, media, politicians, pundits and even the judge of the highest court – Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.!!!!?

Courtesy » Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, 19 Dec 2011.

So they find a way!?

Pakistan’s chief justice keeps up pressure on beleaguered Zardari

By Simon Denyer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan’s chief justice kept the pressure on President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday, demanding he respond to charges of undermining national security, in a Supreme Court inquiry into the “Memogate” controversy.

Zardari returned to Pakistan early Monday from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where he had been receiving medical treatment for a heart condition.

His sudden departure nearly two weeks ago had sparked rumors he was fleeing the country, being ousted by the nation’s powerful military or trying to wait out the inquiry. However, his return has neither silenced the rumor mill nor ended the sense of mounting crisis surrounding his presidency.

He will continue to face pressure from the Supreme Court and the military,” said Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad. “The suspense will continue for quite some time.”

Zardari’s immediate troubles revolve around a secret, unsigned memo that surfaced last month, which solicited Washington’s help to rein in the Pakistani military and prevent a possible coup after the U.S. raid to kill Osama bin Laden in May.

The memo was sent by Pakistani American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, who alleged that he was following the instructions of the Pakistani ambassador to Washington to convey a message from Zardari.

The government has denied having anything to do with the memo, but the ambassador, Husain Haqqani, has resigned and is trying to clear his name.

The opposition alleged that treason had been committed, and the Supreme Court took on the inquiry, collecting depositions from government and military officials last week.

During the opening hearing Monday, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, a longtime foe of Zardari’s, was clearly unhappy that the president had failed to respond to a request that he submit a sworn statement about the affair, saying it could be taken as acceptance of the charges.

This is what happens in civil cases,” Chaudhry said. “When you don’t reply, then charges are deemed as accepted by you.”

Although the president can be impeached only by a two-thirds majority of parliament on the grounds of violating the constitution or gross misconduct, a Supreme Court verdict of wrongdoing in the Memogate affair would put significant pressure on Zardari.

Last week, the military appeared to be at loggerheads with the government, arguing in its depositions that evidence showed the memo did lead back to Haqqani and demanding a full investigation.

Read more » The Washington Post

Pakistan: The State of Human Rights in 2011

The year 2011 was started with the killings of hundreds of persons including the killings of high profile personalities, the governor of a province and a federal minister of minority affairs, by the extremist religious groups who seeped in to the law enforcement agencies. The arrest of one Christian lady, Aasia Bibi, on Blasphemy’s baseless charges from some mosque leaders leads to the religious intolerance and fanaticism at its highest peak. The state played a dubious role to appease the religious extremism. state remained as silent spectator in the country and killings of Mr. Salman Taseer, former governor of Punjab province and former federal minister of minority affairs, a Christian minister in cabinet. The government’s ineptness to stop the religious and sectarian intolerance has strengthened the banned militant religious groups to organize and collect their funds in the streets and hold big rallies. This ineptness of the government has helped the forced conversion to Islam of girls from religious minority groups. In total thorough out the country during the year 1800 women from Hindu and Christian groups were forced to convert to Islam by different methods particularly though abduction and rape.

Read more » Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Fai pleads guilty to working for ISI

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: A US-based Kashmiri leader Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai pleaded guilty on Wednesday to federal charges of lobbying for Kashmir without registration and spying for the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence).

Mr Fai also acknowledged receiving money from the Pakistani spy agency through clandestine routes and causing revenue losses.

Pleading before the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, Mr Fai conceded that he received at least $3.5 million from the ISI between 1990 and 2011. This resulted in a revenue loss of between $200,000 and $400,000 to the US government. …

Read more » DAWN.COM

DG ISI met Mansoor Ijaz in London

by Shaheen Sehbai & Mohammad Malick

ISLAMABAD: The identity of the mystery government official whom American businessman Mansoor Ijaz claimed to have met in a European city and shared his trough of forensic communication data with, has remained a key missing link in the memo-authenticity-chain. Mansoor had also said that the gentleman was not a parliamentarian or a political personality. And he was right. According to highly classified information obtained by The News, the mystery caller was none other than the Director General ISI, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

It was revealed that owing to the sensitivity of the charges levelled by Mansoor, including the alleged authorisation of the controversial memo by President Zardari, it was decided at the highest level of the military leadership that the initial investigation must be carried out by the top spymaster himself.

When asked by The News to confirm whether the official who met him on Oct 22 was the ISI chief Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha himself, Mansoor Ijaz simply said: ‘Yes.’ He has been saying in several statements in the last few days that the full data and evidence was given to the official including records of phone calls, SMS messages, BBM chat exchanges, emails etc. According to details, the meeting took place on the eve of October 22, in a Park Lane Intercontinental hotel room in London. The meeting is said to have started around 6:30pm and lasted for over four hours. The News has learnt that during the meeting, Mansoor Ijaz was exhaustively grilled over his claims and that Mansoor handed a fairly large quantity of records, both copies and originals. ….

Read more » The News

Is the military establishment of Pakistan thinking to sack the elected civilian government?

The language of the analysis is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy » Geo Tv (Khabarnaak with Aftab Iqbal – 19th november 2011, part 2)

via » ZemTv » YouTube

China executes Pakistani man on drugs charges

China has executed a Pakistani man, Zahid Husain Shah, despite last-ditch appeals for clemency, his family says.

Mr Shah, 35, was arrested in 2008 and was convicted last year of drug smuggling. He was put to death by lethal injection in Shanghai on Wednesday morning.

Human rights groups had called on Beijing to stop the execution and urged Islamabad to take up appeals on his behalf. There was no comment from either government.

Relatives were allowed one last meeting with Mr Husain at Shanghai Detention Centre on Wednesday morning.

His cousin, Tasneem Fatima, told the BBC the family expects to travel back to Pakistan later this week, once his body has been returned to them. The last thing he told her was that he was innocent, she said.

Four other Pakistanis arrested with Mr Shah were sentenced to life imprisonment. According to Mr Husain’s relatives, he was framed for a crime he did not commit.

“Executing someone for drug-related offences violates internationally accepted standards for imposing the death penalty,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director.

The human rights group argues that no-one sentenced to death receives a fair trial in China, where thousands of executions for drug trafficking take place every year, more than the rest of the world combined.

Courtesy: → BBC

FBR confirms 24,000 containers missing from Karachi Port

by Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: Thousands of Nato, ISAF and US Military containers have reportedly gone missing inside Pakistan during the last four years amid serious fears that many of these may have contained arms and ammunitions, which may have gone to terrorists.

Almost corroborating the grave charges levelled by PPP leader Dr Zulfiqar Mirza that a senior minister of MQM was responsible for these missing containers being in-charge of Ports and Shipping Ministry, sources in the Federal Board of Revenue say in addition to more than 24,000 missing containers of Afghan Transit Trade Commercial side, thousands of the unchecked containers belonging to Nato, ISAF and US Military had left the Karachi Port, but did not cross the Pak-Afghan border during the last four years. The sources, ….

Read more → The News