Tag Archives: Jahangir

Asma Jahangir sees democracy in danger

KARACHI: Prominent rights activist and former president of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA)Asma Jahangir on Tuesday said that lawyers will not support any decision which is against the rule of law and democracy.

Addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club, she said future generations will not forgive us if democracy was derailed in the country, adding it is about time that we should start resisting undemocratic decisions.

Jahangir said the lawyers’ community will announce their strategy after going through written order of the Supreme Court for arresting Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and other accused in the rental power projects case.

President Sindh High Court Bar Association Mustafa Lakhani said an all parties’ conference was called to discuss the long march of Dr Tahirul Qadri a few days back in Lahore in which the participants, including lawyers, rejected it.

President Karachi Bar Association Naeem Qureshi said the lawyers had taken active part in the movement for independence of judiciary, adding the Karachi bar has given many sacrifices in this regard.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/2013/01/15/asma-jahangir-sees-democracy-in-danger/

Arsalan Iftikhar case: Asma voices concern over one-man commission

LAHORE: Former president of the Supreme Court Bar, Asma Jahangir on Monday said that the officer tasked by the SC to investigate the Arsalan Iftikhar case has close ties with the chief justice’s son and cannot be trusted to conduct a transparent investigation, DawnNews reported.

Speaking to media representatives at the Lahore High Court (LHC), Jahangir remarked that the UK’s Scotland Yard should be called in to probe the Arsalan Iftikhar case if Pakistani institutions are deemed unreliable.

Jahangir alleged that Shoaib Suddle, the investigating officer, is also known to regularly attend Arsalan Iftikhar’s events, she said, adding that he could not be expected to conduct a transparent investigation into the case.

Pakistan’s apex court is investigating allegations of a Rs342 million business deal between Dr Arsalan, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, and business tycoon Malik Riaz.

On Aug 30, the Supreme Court had accepted a review petition against its own earlier order, appointing Federal Tax Ombudsman Dr Mohammad Shoaib Suddle as the one man-commission to probe the controversial case. The commission is required to complete the task in a month.

Criticising the court’s decision, Jahangir said that if there were any questions over the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) investigating team, then the team could have been changed instead of changing the whole verdict.

Continue reading Arsalan Iftikhar case: Asma voices concern over one-man commission

Asma Jahangir or Hussain Haroon as caretaker PM?

– – [This is great news for every Pakistani and if political class show some maturity and openness, the day is not far away when Pakistan would become a true welfare and democratic state] – –

ISLAMABAD: Don’t be taken in by the negative sound-bites. On the face of it, political forces seem to be struggling to succeed in the litmus test of managing the first transition from one popularly elected dispensation to another in the country’s history, and are fighting it out bitterly over all things major and minor.

However, there is more to it than meets the eye.

Amid feverish speculation on what will happen by the end of the month in the high-stakes confrontation between the government and the judiciary, which may see a second prime minister elected by parliament losing his job, the two largest political parties of the country are quietly but rapidly finalising an agreement.

The Express Tribune has it from credible sources that the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are close to working out a political deal that would result both in naming a consensus caretaker prime minister and finalisation of a date for election to be held before the end of the year.

There are two candidates being discussed for the all-important post of caretaker prime minister, on which both sides have been holding discussions over the past 10 days. There is the soft, back-up option in Abdullah Hussain Haroon, currently Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations. Then there is the second, more sensational candidate under serious consideration: none other than Asma Jahangir, the former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Continue reading Asma Jahangir or Hussain Haroon as caretaker PM?

‘Arsalan graft issue was a conspiracy’

LAHORE: Prominent lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir said the Arsalan Iftikhar issue was a conspiracy hatched to threaten the judges, Geo News reported.

She was talking to reporters at the Lahore High Court. Asma said that the motive behind this was to wrap up the democratic setup and to threaten the judiciary, adding that those who created Tehrik-e-Insaf were the conspirators. …

Read more » The News

Twitter alert: Asma Jahangir a target for defamation

By Web Desk

How far does the tolerance of a political activist or a party supporter go? Not too far, apparently.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf supporters and workers have been known to lash out at political opponents or rather anyone for speaking against their party or chief Imran Khan.

Their current victim? Prominent lawyer, human rights activist, ex-Supreme Court Bar Association president and former UN rapporteur, Asma Jahangir.

The News had earlier today reported that Jahangir had termed the Arsalan Iftikhar case a conspiracy against the judges. The report quotes Jahangir as stating that the motive behind bringing up the case was to “wrap up” the democratic setup and to “threaten” the judiciary.

The icing on the cake? She was quoted as saying that the PTI were conspirators in this.

The senior lawyer, who has in the recent past represented former Pakistan ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani in the Memogate scandal, is a known outspoken advocate for the rights of women, minorities and others. Additionally, she is also a vocal critic of the military and its “control” of the civilian government.

Continue reading Twitter alert: Asma Jahangir a target for defamation

Pakistan’s gun-slinging chief justice faces backlash

…. But the CJP, too, has got his fair share of criticism. Some say the decision to disqualify Gilani smacks of a grudge match cheered on by his allies in Pakistan’s boisterous media.

Legal experts have questioned whether Justice Chaudhry may have exceeded his powers by ousting the prime minister, arguing that there were other options available to resolve the stand-off with Zardari’s government. “It’s my impression that the judgements are highly politicised,” said Asma Jahangir, a respected human rights lawyer. “The populist approach of the chief justice will destabilise the democratic process.” ….

Read more » Daily Times

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Click to read » Philippine Senate voted to remove Supreme Court Chief Justice

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

The laughing warrior

By: Nadeem F. Paracha

Born in 1956, Fauzia Wahab was enjoying a fiery career as a passionate human rights worker and one of the most prominent voices of reason in the often chaotic, judgmental and fiercely patriarchal world of Pakistani politics and sociology, when her life was cut short on June 17, 2012.

Belonging to Pakistan’s largest political outfit, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Fauzia’s fame was nothing like that of former PPP Chairperson, late Benazir Bhutto, and nor was she known so well outside of Pakistan like the country’s other famous women activists and democrats like Benazir or Asma Jahangir.

Fauzia’s fame was largely local, rooted deep in whatever that is left of the tradition of progressive politics and liberalism in the country’s urban middle-classes – a tradition that was triggered by the rise of the PPP in the late 1960s and gave large sections of the Pakistani middle-classes a left-leaning and almost revolutionary dimension.

Although Fauzia was in school when leftist student organisations and trade, labour and journalist unions rose to successfully challenge the rule of Pakistan’s first military dictator, Ayub Khan, in the late 1960s, she was quick to join politics when she entered college in 1972 and then the Karachi University in 1975.

A glimpse into her career as a student politician can be an insightful exercise to understand the kind of a charisma she possessed that continued to make her stand out without requiring her to be a leading political figure or an ideologue.

A PPP colleague of hers once described Fauzia as a smiling rebel who had a natural knack of balancing her traditional side with her rebellious streak without looking or sounding contradictory or confused.

The same colleague (who was talking to me late last year in an informal chat), thought that Fauzia’s first act of rebellion was actually against her own ethnic background.

Coming from an educated Urdu-speaking family settled in Karachi, Fauzia did not automatically support the Jamat-e-Islami (JI) or the Jamiat Ulema Pakistan (JUP) like most Urdu-speakers of Sindh and its capital, Karachi, did till the late 1970s.

Instead, when she joined college, she at once jumped into the ranks of leftist and progressive student groups, but without waving Mao’s Red Book or Marx’s Das Kapital.

Another colleague of hers who was with her in a progressive student group at Karachi University and then later joined the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), told me that Fauzia was always more interested in solving the problems of the students and challenging those who used faith to impose their politics than she was in leftist theory.

It was this attitude of hers that placed her in the leading ranks of the Progressive Students Alliance at the Karachi University – an alliance comprising of various left-wing, liberal and Sindhi, Baloch and Pashtun student groups.

But battling opposing student groups, especially those on the right, through student union elections and campaigning, was where it all started and ended for Fauzia – in 1978 she met and married another passionate progressive student politician, Wahab Siddiqui, who soon went on to become an accomplished journalist.

After marriage, Fauzia gladly became a housewife, raising her children and supporting her husband’s career as a journalist. But her love for politics, the liberal ideals that had driven her as a student and her romance for Karachi remained intact.

Some early recruits of the MQM claim that Fauzia almost joined the MQM when it suddenly rose to become Karachi’s leading party in the late 1980s. Though this was never mentioned by Fauzia herself, it is however true that she eventually became a kind of a pioneer of a little known but important strain in the workings of the PPP in Karachi, Sindh.

I can vouch for this because I, as an active member of the PPP’s student-wing, the PSF (in the 1980s), too got involved in what Fauzia would ultimately represent within the PPP as a Karachiite.

When Benazir returned to Pakistan from exile in 1986 and then went on to become the country’s first woman prime minister in 1988, she at once recognised the importance of having the MQM as a ‘natural ideological partner’ and a party that could keep governments afloat with the seats that it was able to win in Karachi and Hyderabad.

I was at the Karachi University in 1989 when Benazir constituted a team of Sindhi and Urdu-speaking members of the PPP to negotiate a coalition deal with MQM chief Altaf Hussain. I remember how this policy created a kind of a rift within the ranks of the PSF in Karachi.

One faction was totally against Benazir’s move, while the other faction saw it as a way to unite secular forces so they could reclaim the political space they had lost to the ‘reactionaries’ and religionists during Ziaul Haq’s dictatorship.

Though a Punjabi from my father’s side, I was born and bred in Karachi. So I decided to side with the latter group and was ultimately ‘expelled’ from the university by the former faction.

Of course, the coalition collapsed and dozens of students lost their lives in the deadly clashes that followed between the PSF and MQM’s student-wing the APMSO.

However, even while an operation was underway against MQM militants under the second Benazir regime (1993-96), I am witness to the fact that Benazir’s idea of creating a bridge (made up of ideological similarities as well as pragmatism) between Karachi chapters of the PPP and MQM was very much alive.

And here is where Fauzia came in. After the tragic sudden death of her husband in 1993, Fauzia found herself returning to politics. Her husband had played an active role as a journalist against the Zia dictatorship and this drew the attention of Benazir who made Fauzia the Information Secretary of the PPP’s women’s wing in Sindh.

An articulate and educated person from a respected Urdu-speaking middle-class family, Fauzia was to become that bridge between the PPP and Urdu-speakers in Karachi. Later on, Fauzia, along with another prominent PPP Karachite, Faisal Raza Abidi, would play a prominent role in helping Asif Ali Zardari strike a coalition with the MQM after the 2008 elections.

Though a passionate Karachite and proud of her ethnic background, Fauzia was first and foremost a Pakistani who wanted to use the platform of a large political party to continue raising human rights issues, especially those related to women.

Fauzia became a close confidant of Benazir Bhutto. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Fauzia was the person Benazir banked on to continue building links between the PPP and Urdu-speakers in Karachi as well as being one of the faces in the PPP the MQM was most comfortable with.

But it wasn’t until during the Musharraf dictatorship that Fauzia was thrown into the limelight of Pakistani politics. Being made an MNA during the 2002 elections, she played an active political role against the Musharraf regime.

This was also due to the eruption of privately owned TV news channels in the country. Fauzia became a prominent fixture in most political talk shows, passionately criticising the Musharraf regime and articulating her party’s understanding of the situation.

After Benazir’s shocking assassination in 2007, Fauzia managed to survive the PPP’s new chairperson Asif Ali Zardari’s changes within the party structure. In fact she became an even more prominent figure in the party.

Along with Faisal Raza Abidi and Qamar Zaman Kaira, Fauzia became one of the fiercest defenders of the PPP regime’s polices in the electronic media. But unlike many other politicians who also became regular fixtures on TV talk shows, Fauzia retained a cheerful witty attitude.

However, she wasn’t only about defending her party’s regime. Along with famous human rights activist and lawyer, Asma Jahangir, Fauzia was one of the few prominent Pakistani women who never held back while lambasting crimes of hate committed by religious nuts and terrorists.

She openly condemned the murder of Punjab Governor, Salman Taseer, by a crackpot who wrongly accused Taseer of committing blasphemy. She was threatened by a number of fanatical clerics and their supporters for this.

Fauzia continued highlighting the threat to Pakistanis, especially women and those belonging to minority religions, faced from radical religious groups. She continued to remain a target of the abuse and menacing threats that came her way from religious outfits.

But she marched on, still holding her balanced mantle that seamlessly mixed passionate oratory with reason and hearty wit.

Continue reading The laughing warrior

Speaking truth to power

By: Irfan Husain

AS I was researching this article, reading scores of emails and writing to friends and contacts about the reported threat to Asma Jahangir’s life, something odd happened to my Gmail screen.

Now, whenever I open my email account, a red strip appears at the top with the following announcement from Google: “Warning – We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer. Protect yourself now.”

Following the link to security advice, I duly changed my password and switched to Chrome, a Google browser that’s supposed to be more secure. But so far, the problem persists. Any advice from tech-savvy readers would be welcome. I understand Google has recently taken to warning users of such attempts from intelligence agencies to hack into their accounts. ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

Asma Jahangir rejects memo report. “Under what law the commission can declare anybody a traitor”?

Asma Jahangir rejects memo inquiry report

LAHORE: Asma Jahangir, counsel for former ambassador Husain Haqqani, has expressed reservations over a report presented by the memo commission to the Supreme Court and accused the panel of being biased.

Talking to reporters at the Lahore High Court here on Tuesday, she questioned the commission’s jurisdiction in relation to its several findings and said “under what law the commission can declare anybody a traitor”?

Continue reading Asma Jahangir rejects memo report. “Under what law the commission can declare anybody a traitor”?

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH – Pakistan: Investigate Plot to Kill Leading Rights Activist

Former UN Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir at Risk

(New York) – The Pakistani government should investigate allegations that elements in the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies have plotted to kill the prominent human rights activist Asma Jahangir, Human Rights Watch said. Jahangir made the allegation in a television interview on June 4, 2012.

Jahangir is globally recognized for her human rights work and is one of Pakistan’s most respected rights activists. She is credited with establishing the highly regarded independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and AGHS Legal Aid, the first free legal aid center in Pakistan. In a career as a human rights activist spanning 30 years, Jahangir has been a consistent critic of human rights violations by the Pakistani military and the intelligence services.

“Pakistani authorities should urgently and thoroughly investigate the alleged plot against Asma Jahangir and hold all those responsible to account, regardless of position or rank,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch. “A threat against Jahangir is a threat to all those in Pakistan who struggle for human rights and the rule of law.”

Jahangir told Pakistani media on June 4 that she had discovered through a “security leak” brought to her attention by a “highly credible” source that an assassination attempt was being planned against her from “the highest levels of the security establishment.” She said that she believed it was best to go public with the information because she feared that she might be killed and a member of her family framed for the murder.

Continue reading HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH – Pakistan: Investigate Plot to Kill Leading Rights Activist

If there was only one person worthy of respect in Pakistan, it had to be Asma Jahangir

We condemn threats to Asma Jahangir’s life by Pakistan army generals

Assassination plot against Asma Jahangir exposed

If there was only one person worthy of respect in Pakistan, it had to be Asma Jahangir. She must be protected from those afraid of her.

Not unlike millions of peace loving, progressive Pakistanis, LUBP editors and team members are concerned over threat to senior human rights activist Asma Jahangir’s life. In Kashif Abbas’s TV program today (Off the Record – ARY TV), Asma Jahangir detailed a plot by the military to assassinate her. Apparently, in view of Asma’s detailed revelations, Kashif took a break, but the show ended.

However, later on Geo TV’s Aapas Ki Baat, Asma did manage to speak to Najam Sethi about the plan by Pakistan army (ISI in particular) to assassinate her. In that show, she clearly stated that senior level army generals were planning to kill her.

Apparently, those with guns are afraid of an unarmed woman!

In Habib Jalib’s words: dartay hain bandooqan walay aik nihatti larki say (men with guns are afraid of an unarmed woman)

They want to eliminate her the way they killed Benazir Bhutto, Shahbaz Bhatti, Salmaan Taseer, Murtaza Bhutto, and thousands of other unnamed Balochs, Shias, Pashtuns and other citizens of Pakistan.

Continue reading If there was only one person worthy of respect in Pakistan, it had to be Asma Jahangir

Must read: ‘The path of isolation’ – by Asma Jahangir

PAKISTAN remains in the dog house of the international community mainly because its rulers refuse to accept that violence and conflict within the country are escalating and have serious ramifications for the entire region.

Pakistan’s friends fear a severe economic meltdown and there are widespread concerns over continuing corruption which has also partly impaired governance.

Amazingly, while militant non-state actors are knocking down our doors and have successfully solidified their networks, our civil institutions are busy rubbing each others’ noses in the dirt — perhaps for sound reasons but the rubbing is excessive.

Constant political bickering keeps policymakers, the media, the judiciary and the public distracted from the risks we face.

Corruption is rife in all governments and institutions. Sadly, selective investigations often remain inconclusive. Ironically, most of those accused of corruption brazenly say they have been singled out, rather than plead innocence and prove it too.

Continue reading Must read: ‘The path of isolation’ – by Asma Jahangir

Judicial circus on memo

Legal solution to a political question

Whichever way one looks at it, the beginning and end of the ‘memogate’ controversy is political, as there is no constitutional issue to be resolved.

Ultimately, Asma Jahangir’s stance on the Supreme Court Order is exactly right

By Maryam Khan

The ‘memogate’ controversy is a political question, which means it is a question for political resolution between the political branches of government (the executive and the legislature) and other State institutions, like the military and the intelligence, which are subordinate to the government. The controversy requires political resolution because it has a direct nexus with structural issues relating to civil-military relations. To put it bluntly, the Supreme Court, in principle, has no role to play in this controversy. Let us see why.

Continue reading Judicial circus on memo

Pakistan’s Supreme Court placed the concept of national security above that of fundamental rights.

Memogate contradictions

By Kaiser Bengali

The political crisis rages on, with the Supreme Court leading the charge. The battle lines were sharpened when Asma Jahangir withdrew from the memogate case, citing lack of confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary. She was of the view that the Supreme Court placed the concept of national security above that of fundamental rights. These grave developments and Ms Jahangir’s assertions need to be addressed with all the seriousness they deserve.

The so-called memo is a spurious and worthless piece of paper, whose authorship no one is claiming, and which has been tossed in the trash can by the person for whom it was intended, ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

Pakistan’s leading lawyers Asma jahangir & Ali Ahmed Kurd questioning using of “contempt of court act” and canceling licenses of Bar members by the top judge of supreme court

Pakistan’s leading lawyers Asma Jahangir & Ali Ahmed Kurd questioning using/abusing of “contempt of court act”  as “Black Law” against the media or the citizens of Pakistan to silence them and canceling licensees of Bar members (lawyers) to impose Judicial Dictatorship” on people  by the top judge of supreme court. The language of the news clip is urdu (Hindi).

» YouTube

Lawyers can do little if judiciary bent upon sending govt home: Asma

By Rana Yasif

Former Supreme Court Bar Association president Asma Jahangir continues her criticism of the judiciary.

LAHORE: Continuing her criticism of the judiciary, former Supreme Court Bar Association president Asma Jahangir has said that there is little that lawyers can do if the institution is poised to send the government packing. “It is difficult to run a government if civilian institutions cooperate with the establishment,” said Jahangir ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

Judiciary always supports army rule, rues Asma

LAHOREFormer president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir condemned the judiciary on Wednesday, saying it has always approved military rules in the past.

She said if judges wanted a hand in politics, they should contest elections. Talking to reporters at the Lahore High Court, she said that Parliament, not judiciary, was the supreme body in the country.

The judiciary should not consider itself as all knowledgeable, Asma said, while expressing her reservations over many decisions of the Supreme Court.

The judiciary also disregards decisions of Parliament, she said, while pointing out the annulment of the parliamentary committee’s decisions on judges’ appointment.

She further expressed her inability to understand the SC’s January 10 judgment on the NRO non-implementation case. She said that while the NRO was a complicated issue, she never favoured it.

Asma regretted that state institutions were being politicised and added that no institution was clean.

Continue reading Judiciary always supports army rule, rues Asma

Pakistan – We will not accept any unconstitutional act, says Yasin Azad

According to reports, Supreme Court Bar Association President Yasin Azad says they will not accept any unconstitutional act.

via » Twitter

A letter to Secretary of State, Ms. Clinton to show deep concern over the safety of former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madame Secretary:

We are writing today to express our deep concern over the safety and well-being of former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani. It has come to our attention that Ambassador Haqqani is under intense pressure in Pakistan, including possibly threats to his life, over the so-called “Memogate” affair.

Questions have been raised about the manner in which this case is proceeding against Ambassador Haqqani and whether due process of law is being followed. Internationally recognized human rights defender Ms. Asma Jehangir recently quit as Haqqani’s lawyer, citing her lack of confidence in the judicial commission established by the Pakistani Supreme Court to investigate the case. Because of her doubts about the commission’s impartiality, Ms. Jehangir refused to appear before it.

Ms. Jehangir described the Supreme Court decision to admit the memo petitions as a “black chapter” in the judiciary’s history and further noted her concern that Ambassador Haqqani could be picked up by Pakistan’s intelligence services and intimidated, and even possibly tortured, into providing a statement that suits their interests. In this context, the fact that Haqqani was forced to surrender his passport, despite returning to Pakistan voluntarily to face the charges, is particularly troubling.

The case against Haqqani follows an ominous trend in Pakistan. The assassinations of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, and journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad this past year have created a culture of intimidation and fear that is stifling efforts to promote a more tolerant and democratic society. Significant segments of the Pakistani media have already judged Haqqani to be guilty of treason, which could inspire religious extremists to take the law into their own hands as they did with Taseer and Bhatti.

While we, as individuals, may not have always agreed with Ambassador Haqqani’s views, we regarded him as an effective presenter of Pakistani positions in the Washington context. In keeping with its traditional support for human rights and its deep interest in a firmly democratic Pakistan, the U.S. government should do all it can to ensure Haqqani receives due process without any threat of physical harm.

We commend the State Department for its statement on Friday calling for fair and transparent treatment of Ambassador Haqqani in accordance with Pakistani law and international legal standards. We would urge the U.S. government to continue to weigh in with key Pakistani leaders and to make appropriate public statements to ensure that Husain Haqqani is not physically harmed and that due process of law is followed.

With High Regards,

Dr. Stephen P. Cohen, Brookings Institution

Ms. Lisa Curtis, Heritage Foundation

Mr. Sadanand Dhume, American Enterprise Institute

Mr. Toby Dalton, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Dr. C. Christine Fair, Georgetown University

Dr. Robert M. Hathaway, Woodrow Wilson International Center

Mr. Michael Krepon, Stimson Center

Ambassador Dennis Kux, Woodrow Wilson International Center

Ambassador William B. Milam, Woodrow Wilson International Center

Dr. Aparna Pande, Hudson Institute

Dr. George Perkovich, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Mr. Bruce Riedel, Brookings Institution

Ambassador Howard B. Schaffer, Georgetown University

Ambassador Teresita C. Schaffer, Brookings Institution

Dr. Ashley J. Tellis, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Dr. Marvin G. Weinbaum, Middle East Institute

cc.

The Honorable U.S. Vice President Joseph R. Biden

The Honorable U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta

The Honorable U.S. National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon

The Honorable Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency David H. Petraeus

January 7, 2012

Courtesy: http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/282550/letter-to-secretary-of-state-hillary-rodham.pdf

News adopted from Bolta Pakistan Facebook page.

Statement of concern – U.S. senators demand fair treatment for former Amb. Haqqani

By Josh Rogin

Three U.S. senators are calling on the Pakistani government and judiciary to protect former Pakistani Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, who they say has been the victim of “ongoing harassment and mistreatment” since resigning late last year due to the Memogate scandal.

“We are increasingly troubled by Ambassador Haqqani’s treatment since he returned home to Pakistan, including the travel ban imposed on him,” said Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Mark Kirk (R-IL) in a Thursday statement. “Like many in Washington, we are closely following Ambassador Haqqani’s case. We urge Pakistani authorities to resolve this matter swiftly and consistent with civilian rule of law and to prevent the judicial commission investigating Ambassador Haqqani from becoming a political tool for revenge against an honorable man.” ….

Read more » Foreign Policy (FP)

‘Sherry Rehman reluctant to go to Washington’

Reports from US say that Sherry Rehman is reluctant to assume charge as envoy.

As the government getting fragile due to rising tensions with both judiciary and army, there are reports in Washington that Pakistan’s Ambassador-designate Sherry Rehman is reluctant to assume charge.

According to well-placed sources, Sherry’s indecisiveness was being discussed in knowledgeable quarters in the American capital. The sources claimed that the Ambassador-designate was not sure about the longevity of her party’s government.

“It was useless for her to travel to Washington to join the duties of most crucial ambassadorship of Pakistan here if the PPP government’s days are numbered,” the sources observed while quoting senior US Administration officials.

The sources cited the government’s two-way frictions against both the apex judiciary and the army in support of their argument for which Sherry was reportedly reluctant. “That is why” the sources added, “Sherry has realized of late that the establishment is having problems with the entire PPP government instead of just her predecessor Hussain Haqqani”.

With this background, the sources claimed that Sherry has already conveyed her apprehensions to the seniors in the party as well the government. She may regret taking on assignment quoting personal reasons.

The sources linked the visits of Speaker National Assembly Dr Fahmeeda Mirza and Chairman Senate Farooq Naik to the US on Jan 10 and 12, respectively, to these developments. The purpose of these two high profile visits has not been made public so far, the sources added. ….

Read more » DunyaNewsTV

Forensics and data may not resolve memo issue

By Asmat Zubair

ISLAMABAD: Although the focus so far in the media and the Supreme Court has been on the authenticity or otherwise of the text and BlackBerry messages allegedly exchanged between Mansoor Ijaz and Husain Haqqani, the real task of the memo commission might be to address the non-forensic questions about the origins of the memo.

According to legal experts who have read Mansoor Ijaz’s 81-page affidavit and additional submissions before the Supreme Court, his essential claim is that Husain Haqqani told him to write the memo in a telephone call from a London hotel. The rest of the material is included only to create the impression of close contacts between Ijaz and Haqqani and has no direct relevance to the memo.

As the Supreme Court heard arguments only about maintainability of the petitions about the memo, Haqqani’s lawyer Asma Jahangir was not allowed to make arguments about the substance of Mansoor Ijaz’s claim and point out the flaws in his story.

Careful reading of all the 89 texts and BBM messages submitted by Mansoor Ijaz shows that not once has Haqqani mentioned the memo in any of the alleged messages. Even if forensic evaluation determines that these messages were exchanged, Haqqani’s alleged connection to the memo still depends on Mansoor Ijaz’s claim of what was discussed in their phone call.

Although the DG ISI Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha found Mansoor Ijaz’s claim sufficiently reliable to demand a forensic inquiry, the judicial commission will have to address the political question of why Pasha and Mansoor Ijaz met on October 22 and why Mansoor Ijaz wrote the article in the Financial Times on October 10 that attracted the Pakistani military’s concerns leading to the Pasha-Ijaz meeting.

It is interesting to note that Ijaz says in his affidavit to the Supreme Court (Page 4), “At no time did I meet Haqqani in person” even though the very first Blackberry message sent by him to Haqqani on May 9, according to him, (Page 6 of affidavit) said, “I’m in Monaco but it’s no problem for me to fly up. Takes 90 minutes.” ….

Read more » The News

Treason? Under what Constitution?

By Mahmood Adeel

Asma Jahangir’s resignation as Husain Haqqani’s lawyer in the memo case surprised quite a few people. She had originally taken the case as a matter of principle based in her experience as a respected human rights lawyer. She reviewed the facts of the case, looked at the way it was proceeding, and immediately became concerned about the precedent that was being set. From the beginning until the end, she said her concern was not specific to her client but to the greater principles of constitutional law. Ironically, what has not been discussed much in the endless analysis of the memo case are not the facts – who was involved, who knew what and when did they know it – but the principles of the case.

Please allow me to clear up one apparent misconception about this case: There has been no proven evidence of anyone’s involvement except for three people, all Americans: Mansoor Ijaz, Gen Jim Jones and Adm Mike Mullen. That is supposedly why the Supreme Court has set up a commission – to investigate for evidence. If the evidence was already proven, there would not be need for an inquiry commission, would there? But let us assume for the sake of this post that some genie will present to the court fool proof evidence that someone from the federal government was involved in the memo. Many people are suggesting that it constitutes treason under Article 6. Is this true?

According to Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan, “Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.”

Continue reading Treason? Under what Constitution?

RIM Asked to Hand Over Memogate Data to Pakistan Court

By Tarek Fatah

this involves the private messages between two individuals and as such RIM is unlikely to share this data — if it exists — with Pakistan’s Supreme Court

Research in Motion (RIM) and the Canadian High Commission in Islamabad have become the latest actors in the so-called “memogate affairthat observers believe is a slow-motion palace coup by Pakistan’s military aimed at unseating the civilian administration of President Zardari.

In a decision on Friday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the country’s attorney general to demand RIM hand over BBM messages allegedly exchanged between the former Pakistan ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, and American businessman Mansoor Ijaz. The exchanges involve an unsigned memo handed over to to former American Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, requesting U.S. intervention to stave off a military coup in Islamabad.

The latest tug of war between the government of President Zardari and his generals erupted on Oct. 11, 2011 when the Financial Times ran an op-ed titled “Time to take on Pakistan’s Jihadis.”

In the article, Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani-American businessman, claimed he was contacted by a Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, and asked to contact Admiral Mullen to prevent a military coup from taking place in Pakistan. The military was outraged and wanted heads to roll. Ijaz wrote:

Early on May 9, a week after U.S. Special Forces stormed the hideout of Osama bin Laden and killed him, a senior Pakistani diplomat telephoned me with an urgent request. Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, needed to communicate a message to White House national security officials that would bypass Pakistan’s military and intelligence channels.

As evidence, the American businessman handed over copies of his alleged BlackBerry message exchanges with Haqqani to Pakistan’s feared military intelligence force, the ISI. On his part, Haqqani categorically denied that he had asked Ijaz to draft any message and dismissed the messages cited by Ijaz as a fabrication.

As a result of the controversy, Ambassador Haqqani — a man not liked by his country’s jihadis, whether civilian or military — was forced to resign his post and ordered back to Pakistan, where he was placed under security watch and barred by the military from leaving the country.

The country’s parliament set up a commission to get to the depth of the matter, but this inquiry was upstaged by opposition politician Nawaz Sharif who took the matter to the country’s Supreme Court that is closely allied to the country’s military generals.

Pakistan Supreme Court

Last Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that there was merit in the complaint against Haqqani and set up a three-member judicial commission that will report back in four weeks to determine the guilt or innocence of the former Boston University professor and Pakistan’s most prominent diplomat in the last four years.

At the crux of the matter is the authenticity of of the BlackBerry messages that were allegedly exchanged between the two men.

In its decision on Friday, the Pakistani Supreme Court ordered the country’s attorney general to get in touch with Research In Motion in Waterloo, Ontario to secure from RIM the data verifying the validity of the alleged BlackBerry conversation between Haqqani and Ijaz.

In an unprecedented move, the Pakistani Supreme Court stepped beyond its jurisdiction to direct the Canadian High Commissioner in Islamabad, ordering it to facilitate in the securing the data from RIM.

In August 2010, Research In Motion was pressured by the Indian government to allow it access to data exchanged on its BBM messenger service. RIM resisted that pressure and the two parties came to a resolution. However, that involved BlackBerry messages within India, not overseas.

RIM ended up ready to compromise on the privacy of corporate customers to placate Indian regulators. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates too threatened to shut off BlackBerry services unless RIM opened its encrypted client data for the sake of national security.

However, in this case, the alleged exchanges between the Pakistani Ambassador and the American businessman were conducted in the United States, not Pakistan. Unlike the Indian request, this involves the private messages between two individuals and as such RIM is unlikely to share this data — if it exists — with Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

In addition, the Supreme Court ordered former ambassador Husain Haqqani to not leave the country, thus placing him in virtual house arrest. Haqqani, fearing for his life at the hands of the military and jihadis, has now taken refuge inside the Prime Minister’s residence in Islamabad.

Dark day for Pakistan

Haqqani’s counsel in the case, prominent human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir reacted with shock at the Supreme Court decision, labelling it a “dark day” for the country’s judiciary.

Ms. Jahangir a former president of the country’s Supreme Court Bar Association and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion, said the decision was evidence Pakistan’s civilian government had for all practical purposes come under the thumb of the army.

Speaking to the media outside the Supreme Court on Friday, Ms. Jehangir said that the court’s judgment in the “memogate scandal” had forced her to wonder whether Pakistan’s judiciary represented the people of Pakistan or the country’s (military) establishment.

Two days later Jahangir announced that in protest at the high-handedness of the Pakistan Supreme Court, she was stepping down as counsel for Husain Haqqani. She alleged the judges of the Supreme Court were acting “under the influence of the [Military] establishment” and not in the cause of justice or due process.

A noose around Haqqani’s neck

She told Karachi’s DAWN Television she was stepping down because the only outcome left was a noose around Haqqani’s neck. She said:

“If nine judges of the Supreme Court can be under their [military] influence, then I am sorry to say I cannot have any expectations from three judges, who are subordinate to the same Supreme Court judges.””Should we close our eyes? Should we allow ourselves to be fooled?… I have told my client [Haqqani] he can appear before the commission if he wishes to — and he will go–but I have no confidence at all in the [judicial] commission.”

Continue reading RIM Asked to Hand Over Memogate Data to Pakistan Court

ZAB reference case: Verdict passed cannot be revised, says CJ – Just add memogate and it can, over and over again.

ZAB reference case: Verdict passed cannot be revised, says CJ

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, hearing the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) reference case on Tuesday, remarked that any case whose verdict has been passed cannot be revised by the court, reported Express News. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

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‘Memogate’ commission should examine existing evidence, not create new evidence

By Beena Sarwar

What is ‘Memogate’? The ‘memo’ in question is a letter allegedly written at the behest of Pakistan’s President by the Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, asking USA to prevent a possible military coup in Pakistan after US Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011. Haqqani denied the allegations, sent in a letter offering to resign in order to facilitate an impartial inquiry, and returned to Pakistan to clear his name. Instead, he found his resignation letter accepted. The Supreme Court barred his exit from Pakistan. He has been forced for his own safety to confine himself first to the Presidency and then to the Prime Minister House. On Dec 30, 2011, The Supreme Court in response to a petition against the ‘memo’ formed a three-member judicial commission to look into the matter that the media has dubbed as ‘memogate’.

Asma Jahangir, counsel for Husain Haqqani and former Supreme Court Bar Association President, has refused to appear before the commission saying that she does not trust the judiciary. She has said that instead of forming a commission to create or produce new evidence the Supreme Court should have looked into the evidence placed before it to decide whether there was a prima facie case and whether the court could proceed to enforce any fundamental rights by making a binding order.

The entire affair appears to be geared towards undermining the democratic political process in Pakistan – specifically at targeting President Asif Ali Zardari, using Husain Haqqani as a vehicle. Asma Jahangir has unequivocally termed the Supreme Court’s judgment as a victory for the military that has run affairs in Pakistan for decades and is obviously still all-powerful behind the scenes.

Asma Jahangir has argued that the Supreme Court had no right to bar Haqqani’s travel abroad. Nor does Supreme Court or the judicial commission set up, have the right to demand Blackberry (RIM) data without due process of law. No server (BU or RIM) should share data with Commission, which is essentially pursuing a political dispute, not criminal charges. The judiciary seems to be ruling on the basis of national security ideology instead of constitution and law.

Continue reading ‘Memogate’ commission should examine existing evidence, not create new evidence

Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Vice chairman (VC) Latif Afridi has backed noted lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir’s stance regarding court’s judgement in the controversial memo scandal

PBC backs Asma’s stance on memogate

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Vice chairman (VC) Latif Afridi has backed Asma Jahangir’s stance regarding court’s judgement in the controversial memo scandal, saying that the superior judiciary cannot play the role of an investigator in any matter. Talking to Daily Times, the PBC vice chairman endorsed Asma Jahangir’s stance that the Supreme Court has wrongly assumed its jurisdiction in the memo scandal. Regarding the memo probe commission, consisting of three high courts chief justices, Afridi said that ordinary litigants would face difficulties in this situation. “The nation is already divided politically, ethnically and economically… it cannot be allowed to further divide on judicial consideration,” he added. The VC hoped the judiciary would not become a source of conflict and things would proceed in accordance with the constitutional division of powers. “Pakistan needs coherence, unification and support of all the federation units and democratic forces, minus those who make hay while the sun shines,” Afirdi said. He urged the SC not to adopt dual standards, and take notice of Mansoor Ijaz’s other statement regarding the ISI director general’s visits to the Arab countries for the removal of President Asif Ali Zardari. The PBC VC urged the court to adopt the policy of judicial restraint, and refrain from entertaining political cases, as the move could make the SC prone to allegations of favouritism. On the other hand, he urged the chief justice of Pakistan to take up the Asghar Khan case. Concerning Pervaiz Musharraf’s return, he said the lawyers would agitate against the former dictator upon his arrival. hasnaat malik

Courtesy: Daily Times

Husain Haqqani’s wife parliamentarian Farahnaz Isphani talks to Wolf Blitzer

Farahnaz Isphani discusses the status of memogate hearing and threats being made while making an emotional appeal for justice in the case.

Courtesy: CNN » Wolf Blitzer

Pakistan’s leading lawyer, Asma Jahangir on Supreme Court’s decision on memogate: we know of Shakespearian tragedy, now we will see “Sheikh Chillian” tragedy

Asma Jahangir, Pakistan’s leading lawyer, former President Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion says says, “we can’t compromise on fundamental rights, people’s rights. 2ndly, there was no danger to national security”. The language of interview is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: DAWN News Tv (Memo Gate [Asma Jahangir Exclusive Interview with Matiullah Jan] 1st Jan 2012 p3)

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