Tag Archives: Coup

Parliament cannot discuss SC judges’ conduct: SC

Supreme Court has said PAC cannot carry out audit of apex judiciary as per Article 58.

According to a report presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday morning three existing and twelve retired judges of the Supreme Court received two residential plots each worth millions of rupees in expensive sectors of the federal capital.

The Supreme Court (SC) refused to provide audit report details to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) saying the Parliament cannot review judges conduct.

This was said in a reply written by Registrar Supreme Court to the Chairman Public Accounts Committee with the consent of full court bench of the Supreme Court in which it is mentioned that constitution prohibits PAC to call any official including Registrar of the apex judiciary, however President, being head of the state has the authority to decide about the consultative sphere of the Supreme Court, so the committee should consult President of Pakistan

If the committee is interested in a formal court order, it should approach the president , the letter said

The letter referred to Article 68 which said: “No discussion shall take place in [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] with respect to the conduct of any Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court in the discharge of his duties”.

It is worth mentioning here that on the orders of former Chairman PAC Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, a letter was written to the Registrar Supreme Court for presenting its accounts before the committee, however it was not dispatched at that time. But new chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan ordered to dispatch it.

Courtesy: Dunya News Tv

http://dunyanews.tv/index.php?key=Q2F0SUQ9MiNOaWQ9ODgxMzc=

Via – twitter

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More detials » BBC urdu

http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2012/07/120703_pac_judges_sa.shtml

The Man With No Plan for Pakistan

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan is not the messiah the country seeks.

BY SADANAND DHUME

Pakistan’s been a problem child for so long that even the dramatic appears mundane nowadays. Pakistani militants killed in drone strikes, the judiciary threatening to bring down an elected government—these are nothing new. But a poll released Wednesday ought to make even the most seasoned watchers sit up and take note. Pakistan’s frustrated population is growing ever more extremist, and many are starting to see a charlatan as their political savior.

The Pew Global Attitudes Project reveals that nearly three out of four Pakistanis view the United States as an enemy, up from about two out of three who felt … ….

Read more » The Wall Street Journal

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303561504577494242169308710.html

Humor on current situation of Pakistan – 7th Nuclear Power

There Are Seven Nuclear Powers In The World.1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th Nuclear Countries Are Thinking About How To Do Advancements In Space & How To Make A Permanent Station On Moon.

& The 7th Nuclear Power Is Debating On;

Load Shedding“, “Ramzan Ka Chand“, “Polio Ke Qatry Halal Ya Haram?”, “Iodine Mila Namak Aur Baanjh Pan?”, “Cheif Justice Hero Ya big Zero?” “Veena Malik”, “Rehman Malik”, “Riaz Malik“, “Tuk Tuk Misbah”, “Zubaida Aapa“,

Pakistan Zinda Baad, Pehlay Pakistan Sa Zinda Baag…

Courtesy: Pakistani e-lists, e-groups, 28 June, 2012.

‘Ousting PM instead of Parliament is the new khaki tactic’

By: Adnan Farooq

It goes without saying that the first thing which the Supreme Court will ask the next PM to do is to write the letter to the Swiss authorities. He will refuse too and the game continues

The Supreme Court’s verdict to disqualify Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani “is not a routine democratic change”, according to Ayesha Siddiqa. “In fact, it represents the new tactics of the military and its agencies,” she says.

Author of ‘Military Inc’, Ayesha Siddiqa is internationally known analyst on military and political affairs.

Commenting on the latest political developments in the country in an interview with the Viewpoint, she says: “Instead of ousting the entire Parliament, the military gets rid of prime ministers which has the same effect meaning a weak democracy. The judges seem to have become party to this”. Read on:

The opinion on Supreme Court’s verdict on Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani’s disqualification is divided. In general, the Opposition is hailing the verdict while the PPP and liberal circles are presenting it as a coup by other means. How do you assess the situation?

This is an intense political battle in which the Supreme Court is not neutral but a party as well. Look at the Supreme Court’s comparative behavior. There are times when it bails out murderers and looters but does not spare the ruling party in particular. Its wrath is mainly for the PPP and the chief judge seems to be making sure that he can ensure the PPP government’s ouster especially since he is now worried about his son being investigated.

Continue reading ‘Ousting PM instead of Parliament is the new khaki tactic’

The shadow of Zia (dictator’s ghost) still looms large over the Parliament

Rights activist and former Supreme Court Bar Association president Asma Jahangir.

Constitutional trap

By: Asma Jahangir

THE shadow of Zia still looms large over our political scene. Several parliaments and parliamentary committees have tried to exorcise this dictator’s ghost from the constitution but they never succeeded in rectifying all the ills. The current parliament is no different.

The committee drafting the 18th Amendment was urged time and again to do away with Zia’s crafty law that allows the disqualification of members of parliament. And now the PPP faces the consequences of its own omission as its prime minister is threatened with disqualification due to the Supreme Court judgment in the contempt case.

The SC has not convicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for obstructing the administration of justice but for ridiculing the judiciary. The court has been able to do this because of the law introduced by Zia. Article 63(g) is open-ended and can end up being used by the judiciary to persecute the politicians.

The law disqualifies anyone who has been convicted for “propagating any opinion or acting in any manner prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the Armed Forces of Pakistan…”

Very few would dispute that this article is problematic.

Continue reading The shadow of Zia (dictator’s ghost) still looms large over the Parliament

The Washington Post – Pakistan’s Supreme Court sets collision course with new prime minister

By Richard Leiby

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan–Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday demanded that the nation’s brand-new prime minister follow an order to reopen a long-dormant corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari, setting up the likelihood of a continuing constitutional crisis.

The court last week disqualified from office Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s longest-serving prime minister, whom it convicted of contempt in April because Gilani refused to follow the same order.

The ruling party replaced Gilani with a former federal energy chief, Raja Pervez Ashraf, who has already indicated he will not comply with the order and who faces his own set of corruption charges in a separate case before the high court.

Some political and legal observers have accused the court, headed by populist, corruption-battling chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, of working to destabilize an already-shaky civilian government. Ashraf and his predecessor maintain that the constitution grants the president immunity from prosecution, but the court has consistently ruled otherwise, saying no one is above the law. …..

Read more » The Washington Post

Judicial responsibility and organs of state

By Markandey Katju

After my article about the constitutional misbehaviour of the Pakistan Supreme Court was published in The Hindu (June 21), I received several queries and objections regarding it. Hence an explanation is called for, which I am giving below:

The first objection is that the British Constitutional principle, “The King can do no wrong” applies to a monarchy, not a republic. My answer is that I am well aware that Pakistan, like India is a republic. However, in both these countries, total immunity from criminal prosecution is granted to the President. Thus, Section 248(2) of the Pakistan Constitution states: “No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or Governor in any Court during his term of office.” Article 361(2) of the Indian Constitution is identically worded.

Continue reading Judicial responsibility and organs of state

What to Do About Pakistan

BY C. CHRISTINE FAIR

With an “ally” in a state of perpetual dysfunction, it’s time for Washington to reconsider its options: containment or benign neglect.

Excerpt: …. “At long last, it seems, various agencies of the United States government have come to the conclusion that Pakistan cannot be changed. Islamabad’s behavior in the region will remain staunchly pegged to its antipathy toward New Delhi. It will pursue policies that threaten the integrity of the Pakistani state for no other reason but the chimerical objective of resisting the obvious rise of India, while clinging to the delusion that it is India’s peer competitor — despite obvious and ever-growing disparities. Finally, Americans are asking what Pakistanis have long concluded: How can the United States and Pakistan have any kind of positive relationship when our strategic interests not only diverge but violently clash?…….While some may view these offerings as unreasonable, reckless, dangerous, and irresponsible, it is equally fair to ask whether Washington’s decades of policies toward Pakistan have been unreasonable, dangerous, and irresponsible? Moreover, what good have they accomplished? While many policymakers and analysts are willing to bank everything on the gamble that Pakistan is too dangerous to fail, we should be willing to consider what failure would mean and the inherent costs and benefits of this happening. After all, when the Soviet Union fell, none of the worst fears materialized. And Pakistan is hardly the Soviet Union” ….

Read more »Foreign Policy (FP)

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/06/21/what_to_do_about_pakistan?page=0,1

Please, not again

By Saroop Ijaz

Jo shakhs tum se pehle yahan takht nasheen tha/ Usko bhi Khuda hone pe itna hi yaqeen tha” (“The person occupying the throne before you was equally convinced of his divinity”).

It is always slightly discomforting when one is deprived of a metaphor or an agreed upon symbol. ‘Dictatorship’ — of the Pakistani variety — has been defined over the years and now we have the definition down cold, it is almost an intuition now, for e.g., it is khaki in colour, comes from the GHQ etc. However, in the past few days, the term, ‘judicial dictatorship’ is making the rare appearance here and there. This is, admittedly, an awkward term and also perhaps, inaccurate since it seems to suggest that judiciary as a collective is becoming dictatorial. Over the past four years, the authority and decorum of all courts in Pakistan except the Supreme Court has seen tremendous erosion, with lawyers routinely beating judges up in civil courts and using ‘non-parliamentary’ language in the High Courts. There is no point in euphemism now, hence somewhat more precise would be the even more clumsy phrase, ‘dictatorship of the Supreme Court’ or some permutation thereof.

The Pakistan Supreme Court has sent an elected prime minister home. This in itself is disturbing, however, permissible it may be under some circumstances. What is infinitely more worrying is the fact that the Supreme Court did not feel itself constrained by the procedure of law. The argument that the order of the Speaker cannot overrule the Court is a very decent one, yet does not explain why the Court ignored the clear provisions of the Constitution to send the matter to the Election Commission of Pakistan. There is also the issue of the three-member bench making a mockery of the seven-member bench. However, there is a vaguely linear progression to all of this. The Supreme Court terminated the employment of  “PCO” judges without reference to the Supreme Judicial Council, which was allowed to go unexamined. More recently, when memberships of members of parliament were suspended for dual nationality, again without reference to the Election Commission of Pakistan, not enough noise was created. Demagogy has a tendency of being incremental sometimes; they have tested the waters and now found it appropriate for a splash. It is likely to get worse now, it always does.

Continue reading Please, not again

Kurd unhappy over SC verdict on NRO

By Iftikhar A. Khan

The judgment appeared to be based on newspaper headlines and talk shows of private TV channels: Ali Ahmed Kurd.—Photo by APP

ISLAMABAD Ali Ahmed Kurd, the firebrand leader of the lawyers` movement and former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, who has been keeping quiet for quite some time, surprised a lot of people on Tuesday with his blunt criticism of the way the Supreme Court was behaving. Judges should “behave like judges”, he said.

Continue reading Kurd unhappy over SC verdict on NRO

Bangladesh model » By Najam Sethi

As expected, the Supreme Court has sent PM Yousaf Raza Gillani packing. As expected, too, the decision has been hailed and decried by the opposition and government respectively. But independent opinion at home and abroad is uniformly critical of the court’s unprecedented political activism that has relentlessly targeted the PPP – the decision has been variously described as a judicial “soft-coup“, “vendetta-judgment” and “political victimization“.

Certainly, some of the SC’s recent judgments have dampened our enthusiasm for its “populism”. In the contempt case against Mr Gilani, for example, the 7-member court which convicted him with a 30 second punishment did not expressly disqualify him in its detailed judgment on April 26th, yet a 3-member bench did so summarily in a short order on 19th June on the basis of a highly dubious clause of the constitution which has never been used before according to which Mr Gilani has been deemed not to be a good Muslim or Amin! It is significant that the two petitioners in the case were PMLN and PTI leaders and the SC blithely entertained and adjudged their prayers directly instead of forwarding them to the election commission as expressly ordained by the constitution.

Earlier, the SC’s approach in the case of Arsalan Chaudhry, son of the Chief Justice, had raised many sober eyebrows. The CJ took suo motu note of it, chaired a two judge bench, put a copy of the Holy Quran on his desk and declared that justice would be done in an Islamic fashion a la Hazrat Umar, disregarding the very code of conduct for judges that he had personally helped to formulate in 2009 in which a judge may not sit in judgment in matters such as the one before him. Then he gagged the media and accuser, hauling up both for contempt. No less disquieting was his decision not to set up a neutral commission of inquiry of either the bar or bench as demanded by many, instead passing the buck to the controversial Attorney General, a clear deviation from his decision to set up a judicial commission to investigate Memogate. Under the circumstances, if the AG’s Joint Investigation Team comprising the FIA and NAB holds against Arsalan Chaudhry and or the CJP and his family, it will be denounced as a vindictive attempt by the government to hurt the CJP and SC. The decision against the PM comes on the heels of the Arsalan case and has swiftly diverted public attention from it. What next?

Continue reading Bangladesh model » By Najam Sethi

When is the full coup? – by Mazhar Arif

The decision is being seen as the ‘decision by the Punjabi court’. The disqualification was celebrated and sweets were distributed only in Punjab

At last, the judicial coup!

Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani has finally been toppled. By whom? By the opposition parties with the support of ‘independent’ judiciary or by the ‘Supreme Judicial Party’ with the facilitation of opposition parties which challenged the National Assembly Speaker’s ruling through petitions? This is still under discussion. Some people say the court had the blessing of the army to do the task which the army itself could not do, though it has much experience of the sort, because of perhaps unfavourable strategic and geo-political conditions.

Others, however, are of the opinion that the apex court is a crucial part of the Pakistani establishment, which hardly believes in the supremacy of the parliament, and the verdict is outcome of its own loyalty towards the ideology of the state and the establishment. In this regard, they quote a recent observation made by Mr. Justice Jawad S Khwaja while hearing the contempt of court case against Mr. Gilani. Justice Khwaja remarked: “the judiciary was an independent organ of the state and was answerable to the people not the parliament.” This is, however, not clear how the judges are answerable to the people when they are not elected by them. People hardly know how and by whom they are chosen, selected and nominated.

The disqualification of the prime minister by the apex court is under criticism by a part of the lawyers’ community and a section of the media. The Express Tribune in its editorial under the headline “A Judicial Coup?” on June 20 says, “The Supreme Court, in claiming to represent the will of the people, has removed from power the people’s representative saying that he stood disqualified from being a member of parliament and hence the office of the prime minister since April 26 — the day he was found guilty of contempt. Support for the decision may not be unanimous mainly because of recent developments, especially where the Honourable Court was dragged into the Arsalan Iftikhar matter

Continue reading When is the full coup? – by Mazhar Arif

A bad movie plot

By: Irfan Husain

ANOTHER day, another crisis in Pakistan. What else is new? Given the roller-coaster ride we have been on these last few years, nothing has the power to surprise or shock anymore.

Even the fact that a warrant for the arrest of Makhdoom Shahabuddin has been issued just as he was filing his nomination papers for election to the prime ministership causes a big yawn.

If a screenwriter had crafted the script we have been following, a movie producer would have rejected it for being too unbelievable. The whole business about a tycoon bankrolling a series of multimillion dollar holidays for the chief justice’s son and his family is bizarre enough. But in a swift counterstroke, the prime minister is dismissed by the top judge, pushing his son’s scandal into the background.

Continue reading A bad movie plot

Pakistan’s Institutional Battles: Coups and Continuity

The past few weeks have been been a tumultuous time for Pakistani democracy. Even Deputy US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Hoagland Tweeted last week that, “it’s getting confusing”. But as people try to make sense of rapidly changing events, it’s important not to miss the forest for the trees. Despite what seem like inscrutable events taking place, it’s what isn’t happening that points to democratic progress in Pakistan.

Continue reading Pakistan’s Institutional Battles: Coups and Continuity

Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry threatens Pakistan’s democracy

By George Bruno

As the NATO military offensive against the revitalized Taliban progresses in Afghanistan, the political situation in neighboring Pakistan remains tense in a way that can directly impact U.S. military and political objectives in the region.

I have long believed that the pacification of the extremist threat in South Asia and around the world can only be accomplished in an environment of democracy and the rule of law. Any assault on these values fuels the fires of fanaticism.

Continue reading Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry threatens Pakistan’s democracy

For the good of democracy – By Farrukh Khan Pitafi

Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.” — Gilbert K Chesterton

At a juncture when the propinquity of a truly democratic order was almost being taken for granted, Pakistan suffered the biggest disaster since the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. A three-member bench headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, who has vowed to protect democracy, sacked a democratically-elected prime minister on a matter of constitutional interpretation.

The sacked man, Yousaf Raza Gilani, and his party accepted the ruling with grace and nominated another candidate. But the day the prime ministerial nominee, Makhdum Shahabuddin, was to file his nomination papers, an anti-narcotics court issued a non-bailable warrant for his arrest, on a case that had been pending for weeks. Imagine, a court waking up on that precise day. The powers that be in the Islamic republic do not seem to care much for democracy. I have previously expressed hope in the growth of democracy and the institution building process. With the prime minister removed through an undemocratic, albeit legal method, that optimism cannot be sustained. It is clear that this is not the case of institutions clashing over boundaries, but disputes concerning other matters. Of course, the ruling party, too, is responsible for this sorry tale.

In Islamabad’s drawing rooms, it is being speculated that a government of technocrats backed by the army will soon be installed through a soft coup. Those who make these claims, carry a list of candidates for each ministry. Another theory is that the judiciary-executive tussle will result in the announcement of early elections and when the assemblies are dismissed, names in the aforementioned list will be adjusted in the caretaker cabinet, which in time, will be granted two to three years of extension. As the sacking of a prime minister and embarrassing an elected government by asking it to write a letter against its own head of state can be considered akin to protecting democracy, there is little doubt that this would also strengthen democracy.

Change may come in any shape, but if it comes through any means other than fresh elections, it will be detrimental. And change will definitely come. But let us fix responsibility for any undemocratic development. It should be remembered that the current democratic dispensation was founded on an intricate masonry of checks and balances. One function of the independent judiciary was to protect democracy. While it might have protected it from a military takeover, it has not been able to protect it from its own wrath. You can foresee the entire system collapsing. Some would say that the protectors of the Constitution have plunged the nation into another crisis-ridden bog.

If any undemocratic change comes, our armchair theoreticians assure us, it will not be limited to the cabinet and parliament alone, but will affect the judiciary as well. Perhaps, our judicial custodians have forgotten that they are part of the very democratic order that their recent verdicts seem to have so negatively impacted.

Courtesy:  The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2012.

Pakistan – Murder of Democracy

. Why go through this gradual decay of democracy, why not make Ayman al-Zawahiri the Khalifa of Pakistan and be done with it.

The Army is playing with the judiciary and democracy in Pakistan.

It is a shameful day for democratic traditions in Pakistan. As soon as the nomination papers for Makhdoom Shahbuddin for Prime Minister are filed by the largest democratically elected group (PPP) in Pakistan, the Army through Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) http://www.anf.gov.pk/ issues non-bailable warrant for arrest of the nominee.

According to the rules of election now the contest will be between Raja Pervez Ashraf (derogatory termed as Raja Rental by his opponents) and Molana Fazlur-Rehman (derogatory title: Molana Diesel). The original nominee of the people could be either in jail or hiding under a rock from the ANF warrant.

Here is a comment on social media:

“ANF is run by Army. A major general heads it. It is a open secret that Army is in charge of the drug trade in Pakistan/Afghanistan. This is how they fund their minions of terror groups.

So you don’t think it even slightly coincidental as far as the timing of these warrants are concerned.

Army is playing its card, media and Judiciary are enabling them.”

Some think that the PPP made a mistake by having Gilani stay on after he had been held in contempt by the Supreme Court http://criticalppp.com/archives/79330. The Supreme Court was clearly on the wrong side of history with this decision . However, once the decision had been made PPP could have shown political savvy and exited their PM with a glorious concession speech.

Now there is too much water under the bridge. Army has a lot of cards, they, through their sympathizers carefully placed in Urdu and English press, have successfully painted PPP as a band of thieves with the biggest thief at the top i.e. Zardari. Perception as they say matters more than the reality. I am not trying to defend PPP, I am not a Jiyla and have never been one. What I am concerned about is the continued weakening of democratic traditions.

Nowhere in the world other than Pakistan a Prime Minister is sent home by the Supreme Court. No where in the world warrants for arrest of the next nominee are issued on the very day nomination papers are filed.

The media in Pakistan will just fall in line and play the corruption tune to cover up the bigger crime, i.e., the MURDER OF DEMOCRACY by the usual suspects.

Courtesy: LUBP

http://criticalppp.com/archives/79613?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

via – Twitter

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.

Pakistan’s ruinous political farce

By M Ilyas Khan

The political pantomime played out in Pakistan over the past few years is degenerating into farce.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court terminated the career of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani – disqualifying him from office on the basis of a contempt of court conviction linked to his refusal to reopen corruption cases against President Zardari.

Two days later, a lower court issued a warrant for the arrest of Makhdoom Shahabuddin, a member of Mr Gilani’s party, just hours after he was nominated as his possible successor. Uncanny timing, some might say.

Late on Thursday night Mr Shahabuddin was still closeted with senior colleagues at the president’s house – but whether he will be a free man come morning remains to be seen.

Many in Pakistan see these developments as signs that the skirmishes between the judiciary, the military and the civilian government are now erupting into all-out war.

This is all happening at a time when the country can least afford it – relations with the West are at an all-time low, the economy is heading for disaster and people are battling severe power and fuel shortages.

To compound matters, nuclear-armed Pakistan – which is known to have promoted armed militant groups over the past two decades – has steadily been losing territory to these groups in recent years. That’s a major issue for its neighbours and the wider world.

But instead of dealing with the big problems, Pakistan’s power elite have other fish to fry.

Military role

A major part of the problem lies in the traditional domination of the military in Pakistan, and the fact that the judiciary has supported successive attempts by the generals to cut the politicians down to size.

The civilians have rarely held the reins of power, and when they have, they have always had the military establishment to contend with.

Accusations of corruption are a time-tested tool to beat the civilians with, and corruption cases lodged against them during the country’s 64-year history literally run into the hundreds. Few of those cases have ever been resolved.

But they have been successfully used to bring every single civilian government down well before the end of its constitutional five-year term.

The present administration is the longest-serving civilian government Pakistan has ever had – it is just over six months short of reaching the finish line.

If it does, it will set a new precedent – and this is an unsavoury proposition for the establishment for two reasons.

First, prolonged civilian rule is likely to permanently dent the political influence of the military, and thereby the massive business and real estate empires it has acquired.

Second, while Pakistan’s military and civil bureaucracy are dominated by Punjab province, the country’s largest vote-bank, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party has its roots in the southern province of Sindh, the country’s main source of revenue and home to a distinct linguistic group that detests Punjab’s domination. So while the establishment is generally sceptical of politicians, it has been almost intolerant towards the PPP.

Judicial activism

The military is widely accused by Western powers of playing a double game in Afghanistan and lost credit in the eyes of many Pakistanis when US forces killed Osama Bin Laden in a secret raid on Pakistan’s soil.

But its diminishing ability to openly control Pakistan’s politicians has been more than offset by what some analysts describe as the judiciary’s increased ability to encroach on the administrative sphere.

This has led to a number of fierce battles between state institutions in recent years which are a distraction from the main challenges.

Since 2009, when judges sacked by the Musharraf regime were reinstated by the present government, they have shown an appetite for pursuing long-standing corruption cases against President Zardari.

Mr Zardari spent eight years in jail because of them, without being convicted in a single case.

That led to the Supreme Court’s dogged pursuit of Prime Minister Gilani and his conviction in April.

The Supreme Court also responded with alacrity late last year in investigating a controversial memo which invited the US to help avert a possible coup in Pakistan after Bin Laden’s death.

The “memogate” affair had the potential to drag in President Zardari but has led only to the dismissal of Pakistan’s then ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani. Top military leaders showed a keen interest in the case and participated in initial hearings, but gradually pulled out when questions were raised over their own political role.

Most recently, the country was stunned to find its bulwark against corruption – Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry himself – implicated in allegations of bribe-taking levelled against his son. They both deny any wrongdoing and an investigation has been ordered.

Continue reading Pakistan’s ruinous political farce

CMKP Rejects Judicial Coup in Pakistan

In his statement Dr. Taimur Rahman, General Secretary of the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party Pakistan (CMKP) opposes the recent judicial coup against the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan. This decision by the SC, which is completely outside of the power of the Supreme Court, is simply one more coup in a series of coups that have been organized time and time again in the history of Pakistan against elected governments. These successive coups have destroyed the democratic process in Pakistan, destroyed any chance of the development of a mature political leadership. And finally contribute to nothing except to further fragment politics along reactionary right wing lines.

We would have been the first to support a change in government if it was the product of a mass movement of workers and peasants fighting for their rights. But nothing of the sort is taking place. In fact, the elected government and the right wing judiciary have been trading punches only within the framework of their own narrow class interests for the last four years.

When little over a week ago the moral authority of the judiciary was questioned in a fundamental manner over serious charges of corruption, the judiciary decided to act immediately before its own corruption was completely exposed to the public. Today all those allegations of corruption of the judiciary have been buried in an avalanche of right wing propaganda hailing the decision of the Supreme Court as a great step against corruption. Nothing of the sort has been achieved. In fact, a new PM will be elected very soon. The same case of writing a letter to the Swiss authorities to open cases against the President will be opened against the new Prime Minister. And the musical chairs will continue.

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Pakistan courts order arrest of new prime minister nominee

Having already ousted one prime minister this week, Pakistan’s courts on Thursday sabotaged the appointment of a replacement by ordering the arrest of the man nominated to take up the job.

By Rob Crilly, Islamabad

The extraordinary move deepens the sense of political crisis in a country already reeling from an Islamist insurgency, economic woes and crippling power shortages.

Mahkdoom Shahabuddin, who most recently served as Textiles Minister, was due to be voted into office by parliament on Friday, replacing Yousuf Raza Gilani who was disqualified by the Supreme Court earlier this week.

Mr Shahabuddin was selected by President Asif Ali Zardari after two days of talks as the man best able to keep his coalition government alive until elections due early next year.

But no sooner had his name been announced than an arrest warrant was issued for his alleged role in a corruption scandal involving controlled drugs.

Fawad Chaudhry, a senior figure in Mr Zardari’s Pakistan’s People’s Party (PPP), said the arrest warrant was the latest attempt by unelected judges to bring down the government.

“This has been going on for one and a half years,” he said. “If they really believe he is involved why have they waited until today to issue an arrest warrant?”

Party leaders were meeting on Thursday night to select an alternative candidate. Qamar Zaman Kaira and Raja Parvez Ashraf, both former ministers in Mr Gilani’s cabinet, filed nomination papers for the post ahead of Friday’s parliamentary vote.

Pakistan’s civilian government, military and judiciary are locked in a three-way tussle for supremacy.

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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.

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Life after Pakistan judicial coup

By: Manoj Joshi

On Tuesday, Foreign Policy and Fund for Peace published their fourth annual failed states index. The good news was that Pakistan had moved from the 12th position to the 13th in the rankings.

The bad was that on the same day, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had conducted a judicial coup and declared that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani stood dismissed from his office. ….

Read more » Wichaar.com

HRCP terms Gilani’s removal as depressing

LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called the disqualification of Yousaf Raza Gilani a sad occasion in a country where democratic traditions have perpetually been denied the nourishment they need to take roots.

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The day justice was dispensed! – by Bahadar Ali Khan

A malifide intended PM has been disqualified. Every one on the streets is reciting ‘Va ja ul-hukke va zahaq-al-batil, Innul batila kana zahuka’. Finally piety, chastity and good has prevailed. There is fresh breeze of purity that is causing stir on the horizon of virtue. Crying babies have started giggling, trees and crops have started smiling, milkmen started distributing non-contaminated milk, the sounds of angels’s wings have started spurring on the sovereign aerospace of Pakistan, the faces of parliamentarians are beaming with the new respect that they have attained and last but not least executive has finally cheerfully decided to not to interfere in the craft of running a government again, ever! And every one is going to live happily ever after. Right?

I don’t know about you but personally I don’t agree with my above bizarre juxtaposition. Reality is actually more grim. From the history, we know there were times when military dictators would topple elected governments and aggrieved party would go to Supreme Court as a last recourse. But times have changed now. A bad and corrupt Prime Minister has been disqualified by an honest and upright judiciary. The maligned fellow was in General Musharraf’s dungeons when the same esteemed judges were taking oath under PCO ( not once but twice ) and gifted the blank cheque decisions to the dictator to amend the constitution, the way he pleased to do so.

Continue reading The day justice was dispensed! – by Bahadar Ali Khan

Daily Times Editorial : Virtual judicial coup

The Supreme Court’s (SC’s) verdict on the petitions challenging the ruling of the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA) that rejected the argument that Prime Minister (PM) Yousaf Raza Gilani stood disqualified after being convicted and sentenced for contempt of court has pronounced that he does stand disqualified, not only from the premiership, but from membership of parliament as well. Not just that, the SC in its short order has laid down that he cannot stand for election for five years. To that end, the SC has sent instructions to the Election Commission (EC) to issue a notification to that effect. Meantime the PPP’s Central Executive Committee (CEC), which happened to be meeting when the verdict was announced, revealed its decisions on the crisis through a press conference by PPP leaders. The gist of the CEC’s decisions was that despite having reservations about the SC’s verdict, they had accepted the court’s finding that the conviction and sentencing till the rising of the court of Gilani for contempt on April 26 meant that he was no longer the PM, and with retrospective effect, had been removed on and since that date. The PPP has appealed to its workers and supporters to remain calm and restrained, despite the fact that the verdict is bound to inflame opinion in the PPP and allied camp. The CEC has empowered party Co-chairperson President Asif Ali Zardari to take whatever decisions he thinks fit regarding a replacement for Gilani. The intriguing question of course is whether the new PM will suffer the same pressure from the SC to write the letter to the Swiss authorities regarding President Asif Ali Zardari that the court was insisting on Gilani writing, and refusal to comply with which had attracted the contempt conviction for the former PM. In that case, the looming confrontation between state institutions, which began as a confrontation between the judiciary and the executive, could expand to now a confrontation between the judiciary and parliament as well. After all, the SC’s verdict overruling the Speaker of the NA too has set an unprecedented example, one that will reverberate in our jurisprudence for a long time to come. Questions have also been raised whether all the decisions and acts of the former PM since April 26 to date stand. The most important of these acts was the passing of the budget. It is possible that the detailed judgement may throw more light on this matter. Normally, courts are mindful that retrospective judgements should not disrupt things done and transactions closed to an extent that causes greater difficulties.

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“First the military used to carry out coups and now the judiciary has overthrown an elected PM” – Hasan Askari

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari hoped on Wednesday to nominate a new prime minister following a night of crisis talks after the Supreme Court disqualified Yousuf Raza Gilani for contempt.

The move could ease uncertainty in a country that is increasingly trying US patience over al Qaeda-linked havens, struggling with a Taliban insurgency and heading deeper towards a financial crisis that could force it back to the IMF.

The court ruling effectively dissolved the cabinet and unless the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and its fractious coalition members agree on a replacement prime minister, could bring elections forward to later this year.

Ahmed Mukhtar, until recently defence minister and now minister for water and power, is thought to be the most likely candidate, favoured for his experience and unflinching loyalty to President Asif Ali Zardari.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who has made international headlines for her beauty and designer handbags, has been apparently ruled out for inexperience.

“The process of consultation is continuing. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has made up its mind to elect a new prime minister rather than confront the court and create constitutional deadlock,” a government official told AFP.

Zardari was to present “three or four names” to coalition party leaders late Tuesday to try and find a consensus, said the official.

Aside from Mukhtar, other strong candidates were Makhdoom Shahabuddin, the textiles minister, and Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the commerce minister.

“If all the coalition parties agree on a name, then the PPP is expected to announce the name for new prime minister on Wednesday,” the official said.

The nominee would then need to be approved by parliament, where the PPP-led governing coalition has a majority.

The crisis is the worst in a showdown between the judiciary led by the popular, anti-corruption campaigning chief justice, and the government which waited till March 2009 to restore independent judges sacked under the military.

The Supreme Court convicted Gilani of contempt on April 26 for refusing to ask Switzerland to reopen multi-million-dollar graft cases against Zardari.

Gilani always insisted Zardari had immunity as head of state and that writing to the Swiss would be a violation of Pakistan’s constitution.

The new prime minister will also come under pressure from the court, for which analysts said Zardari was determined to appoint a loyalist and someone from the central province of Punjab to supplement his powerbase in the south.

Members of the government believe the court is trying to bring down Gilani and Zardari before February 2013, when the administration would become the first in Pakistan to complete a full five-year term.

The president, deeply unpopular among ordinary Pakistanis and nicknamed Mr 10 Per cent for alleged corruption, cancelled a visit to Russia to convene emergency talks with legal experts and party bosses to resolve the crisis.

The Supreme Court verdict was followed in hours by an announcement from the election commission that Gilani had been dismissed as an MP.

Senior PPP members also appealed for calm, a sign that the party preferred to elect a new prime minister than contest the court ruling.

Analysts warned it would be impossible to get parliament to overturn the court’s decision without the support of the main opposition PML-N party.

This is a destabilising move. It is a kind of judicial coup. First the military used to carry out coups and now it’s the judiciary which has overthrown a prime minister,” said political analyst Hasan Askari.

Read more » DAWN.COM

More of a political vendetta than a legal crusade – Los Angeles Times

Pakistan highest court ousts Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani

The ruling stems from a conviction involving a graft case against Pakistan’s president. It sets up a clash between President Asif Ali Zardari and the judiciary.

By Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times

ISLAMABAD, PakistanThe Pakistani Supreme Court ousted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday, leaving an important U.S. ally without a chief executive and setting up a showdown between the country’s president and judiciary that could lead to political chaos.

The ruling, triggered by Gilani’s contempt conviction in April for failing to revive an old corruption case against Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, potentially sets up a constitutional clash between the judiciary and parliament, which is controlled by Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party, or PPP, and a fragile coalition of allied parties.

For now, Zardari’s party appeared to accept that Gilani and his Cabinet are no longer in government.

“Technically, after this Supreme Court decision, Gilani is no longer prime minister,” Qamar Zaman Kaira, a top party leader who up until Tuesday was information minister, said at a news conference. “And if the prime minister isn’t there, then the Cabinet is no longer there.”

Though Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry is revered in Pakistan as a bulwark against corruption, many experts believe his pursuit of the graft case against Zardari may be more of a political vendetta than a legal crusade. ……

Read more »Los Angeles Times

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-pakistan-gilani-20120620,0,2429553.story

No, Prime Minister: Pakistan’s Highest Court Plunges Country into Uncertainty

In a controversial ruling, Pakistan’s Supreme Court axed Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani—a verdict that speaks volumes of the enmities and uncertainties haunting the country

By Omar Waraich

For anyone hoping to see a Pakistani civilian government complete a full five-year term without any interruption, this verdict was sorely disappointing. On Tuesday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that Yousaf Raza Gilani can no longer continue as Prime Minister, raising tensions between the government and the judiciary to their highest point and leaving the country vulnerable to a new phase of political instability.

In its unusually terse ruling, the Supreme Court instructed President Asif Ali Zardari to arrange a successor for Gilani. While there is little prospect of Zardari’s government falling, his ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has accepted that there is no Prime Minister at the moment, and, therefore, no cabinet. The PPP is currently in crisis talks with its political allies to decide on a new Prime Minister. The challenge for the ruling coalition will be to hold on to its numbers, achieve a consensus on a new premier and survive a vote of confidence expected in the coming days.

Continue reading No, Prime Minister: Pakistan’s Highest Court Plunges Country into Uncertainty

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,

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