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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. ….

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CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry should be asked to appear before Parliamentary Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges

In the light of recent commentaries by leading Pakistani and international lawyers including but not limited to Asma Jahangir, Justice Markandey Katju [Listen Justice Markandey’s interview at BBC urdu] (Indian Supreme Court), Saroop Ijaz etc, it is evident that Supreme Court of Pakistan has violated not only national constitution but also attacked the very foundation of parliamentary democracy in Pakistan.

Former Indian Supreme Court judge Justice Markandey Katju, writing in The Hindu recently, questioned what he said was the “lack of restraint” on the part of Pakistan’s superior judiciary. Justice Katdue wrote: “In fact, the court and its Chief Justice have been playing to the galleries for long. This has clearly gone overboard and flouted all canons of constitutional jurisprudence”. He said that Article 248, Clause 2 of the Pakistani Constitution very clearly states: “No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or governor in any court during his (or her) terms of office”. He then went on to ask that if this is the case, how could a court approach what is a settled provision in the “garb of interpretation”?

The Pakistan Constitution draws its basic structure from Anglo-Saxon laws, which establishes a delicate balance of power among the three organs of the state — the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. However, in recent past, particularly since April 2012, Pakistan’s top judiciary led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has encroached into the elected parliament’s domain. This situation is not only a violation of Pakistan’s constitution but violates privilege of the elected parliament.

In his desire to become a saviour and hero of Pakistan, CJ Chaudhry has become a tool in the hands of politicians and media, and is through his actions and verdicts hurting Pakistan’s very security and stability.

Lawyer Saroop Ijaz writes:

Continue reading CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry should be asked to appear before Parliamentary Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges

“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