Tag Archives: Judges

Talking to Radio Pakistan, Asma Jahangir said it makes no sense if only judges have to appoint judges

Prominent jurists give expert opinion on Judicial Commission for appointment of judges

They were speaking in Radio Pakistan’s programme ‘Naey Ufaq’‚ which was aired on Saturday night.

Prominent jurists have opined that composition of the Judicial Commission for appointment of judges was not complete and therefore‚ appointments so made are open to question.

Taking part in Radio Pakistan’s programme ‘Naey Ufaq’‚ on Saturday night‚ former Law Minister and senior jurist Khalid Ranjha said there would be nothing wrong with the proceedings of the Commission if someone from the existing members does not attend its meeting. However‚ as Pakistan Bar Council has not as yet nominated its member to the Commission‚ therefore‚ appointments done by it would not be in line with the spirit of the Constitution.

Another senior legal brain Latif Afridi also subscribed to this point of view and said an incomplete Commission should not conduct its proceedings for appointment of judges.

Former President of Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jehangir said input from the legal community should also be included while making nominations for appointment of judges. She said it makes no sense if only judges have to appoint judges as the process may also result induction of people with questionable competence or background. ….

Courtesy: http://www.radio.gov.pk/newsdetail-36946

Qadri, the Brass, and the Judges Take on the Government

By: Aqil Shah

As the uproar in Pakistan this week shows, meddling in politics is a specialty of both the country’s judiciary and its military. There is a silver lining though. Pakistan’s two major parties — long enemies — have worked together this time to fend off the threat.

This month, Pakistan’s government is fending off a needless political crisis. On 14 January, Allama Tahir ul Qadri, a pro-military cleric turned revolutionary who once claimed to have a direct line to the Prophet Mohammad, marched into the capital with tens of thousands of supporters. He has since threatened to use whatever means necessary to implement his demands, which include the removal of the “corrupt” Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government, the disbandment of the current parliament, and the implementation of constitutional clauses that lay down strict financial, religious, and moral qualifications for election to parliament. The move follows on an unusual media blitz last month, during which Qadri took to the streets and airwaves to save the state by demanding the creation of a clean technocratic government backed by the army and the judiciary.

The timing couldn’t be worse. In 2013, Pakistan is expected to undertake its first transition of power from one elected civilian government that has completed its tenure to another. When the current government came to office in 2008, reaching that milestone had seemed unimaginably difficult. All of Pakistan’s previous transitions to democracy had been cut short by military takeovers. As the date for the handover neared, many Pakistanis had started to hope to avoid that scenario this time. As it turns out, though, even cautious optimism might have been too much. It appears that Pakistan’s powerful military, aided by an aggressive Supreme Court, might well have just put a spanner in the works.

Continue reading Qadri, the Brass, and the Judges Take on the Government

Burma’s Parliament ‘impeach supreme court judges’

Burmese MPs force out constitutional court judges

MPs in Burma have forced out all nine judges of the constitutional court, in a row pitting the government against the parliament created as part of political reforms. State media said that President Thein Sein had accepted the resignations.

Continue reading Burma’s Parliament ‘impeach supreme court judges’

“Pakistan Army, ISI must shut up shop if they can’t protect people”: Altaf Hussain’s bold stance on Shia genocide

Minorities under attack: Altaf lines up police, agencies, clerics, judges, army and… fires

By Saba Imtiaz

Karachi: In an impassioned speech that included critiques of clerics and the judiciary, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain asked the Pakistan Army, Inter-Services Intelligence and other agencies to shut up shop if they could not “protect people”.

“Leave them,” Hussain said before turning to his audience, “You have a right to defend yourself by any means.”

Altaf’s speech at an interfaith conference organised by his party in Karachi came after a series of statements by him and other party leaders on the increase in the number of attacks on Shias throughout Pakistan. Several clerics from Karachi as well as other cities of Pakistan such as Quetta, Lahore and Chakwal, were in attendance.

Continue reading “Pakistan Army, ISI must shut up shop if they can’t protect people”: Altaf Hussain’s bold stance on Shia genocide

Judges should not govern country: India’s chief justice

NEW DELHI, Aug 25: Asserting that judges should not govern the country or evolve policies, the chief justice of India said on Saturday he wondered what would happen if the executive refused to comply with the judiciary’s directives.

Justice S.H. Kapadia asked judges if they would invoke contempt proceedings against government officials for not complying with their decisions and disapproved a recent Supreme Court judgment which said “right to sleep” was also a fundamental right.

“Judges should not govern this country. We need to go by strict principle. Whenever you lay down a law, it should not interfere with governance. We are not accountable to people.

Continue reading Judges should not govern country: India’s chief justice

Dictators and the Supreme Court

by: Mohammad Khan Sial

SINDH – KARACHI: The attorney general of Pakistan told a five-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on August 2, that the Supreme Court has always exonerated military dictators by targeting democratic governments. The attorney general’s comments are based on facts irrespective of intentions. I would humbly suggest that all the judges who have validated military dictatorships in the past should be tried for their decisions under Article 6 of the Constitution.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/417939/dictators-and-the-supreme-court/

Senator Faisal Raza Abidi demands Chief Justice’s resignation

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By Sidrah Moiz Khan

Abidi held Justice Chaudhry responsible for the alleged financial impropriety done by his son, Dr Arsalan Iftikhar

While hurling fiery allegations at Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Faisal Raza Abidi on Sunday demanded a resignation from him and other judges who were reinstated under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO).

During a press conference in Islamabad, Abidi held Justice Chaudhry responsible for the alleged financial impropriety done by his son, Dr Arsalan Iftikhar.

The senator said that if the chief justice does not tender a resignation, then he will “force him out from the same way he had been restored as a judge.”

“He [Justice Chaudhry] says that he did not have any idea where his son got all that money from…I ask, when the case emerged, did you ask him where he got Rs900 million from?”

The senator produced bank account statements of Dr Arsalan and said that the person who used to “work under somebody else” now owns billions of rupees. He also showed that the billing address mentioned was that of the Chief Justice House in Islamabad.

“You [Justice Chaudhry] are to be blamed for this. This happened right in front of you. You cannot pretend to not know anything. Who gave Dr Arsalan the right to use government’s property for running his own businesses? Could he not rent out an office in some other area?

Continue reading Senator Faisal Raza Abidi demands Chief Justice’s resignation

Supreme Court of Pakistan sets aside notification of Samosa prices

LAHORE, July 24: The Supreme Court has allowed an appeal by the Punjab Bakers and Sweet Federation and set aside a notification by the Punjab government through which the price of a Samosa was fixed at Rs6.

In 2009, the City District Government of Lahore on the instruction of the Punjab government had fixed price of a samosa at Rs6 and the magistrates had imposed fine on shopkeepers for selling samosa at higher rates.

The Punjab Bakers and Sweets Federation through its president Muhammad Afzal had challenged this order before the Lahore High Court. Their petition was dismissed and then an appeal was filed before apex court against the dismissal of the petition.

The appellant argued that a Samosa was not an item notified under the Punjab Foodstuffs (Control) Act of 1958. He said the government had no power to fix by the price of a Samosa.

On the other hand, Punjab government’s counsel argued that the government had the jurisdiction to fix prices of all items being sold to the public at large. After hearing both sides the Supreme Court set aside the impugned notification.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

http://dawn.com/2012/07/25/sc-sets-aside-notification-of-samosa-prices/

Justice Louise Arbour Concerned About Direction of Pakistan’s Supreme Court

Justice Louise Arbour has a distinguished career devoted to promoting the principles of justice. Currently serving as the President of the International Crisis Group, Justice Arbour is the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and the Court of Appeal for Ontario and a former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. As such, she knows a thing or two about the importance of an independent judiciary in developing countries and emerging democracies. That’s why, when Justice Arbour expresses concerns about the looming constitutional crisis in Pakistan, her concerns merit serious consideration.

An ardent supporter of Pakistan’s 2007 “Lawyer’s Movement” to restore judges deposed by Gen. Musharraf, Justice Arbour had hoped to see a new era for the Court, one that broke with its past of supporting military dictators and their mangling the Constitution and the rule of law. Today, she fears that those same justices have become “intoxicated with their own independence,” and that the current direction of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Justices threatens to upend the very democratic order that restored them to the bench.

Speaking to a crowded auditorium at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, Justice Arbour noted that the current tension between Pakistan’s Supreme Court and its elected officials might seem like a political soap opera were it not for Court’s history of collusion with the military to suppress democracy. Judges “who took an oath to a military dictator are not well placed to make the decision” to remove democratically elected officials, she observed, referring to Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s 1999 oath under Gen. Musharraf’s Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO). While not inevitable, Justice Arbour said, it is possible that Pakistan’s Supreme Court could end up dissolving the democratically elected government with the help of the military, putting in place an extended caretaker government in what would be, for all intents and purposes, another coup.

During her visit to Pakistan, she assured the room, she met with no government officials. Her interest was in the views of the legal community, whom she found deeply divided, seemingly on political lines. This troubled the former Justice, who worries that Pakistan’s Supreme Court has become increasingly politicized, threatening its credibility. She pointed to the memo commission, which she said “reflected very poorly on the judiciary,” and added to the appearance of growing politicization.

The present case, in which the Supreme Court has ordered the Prime Minister to write a letter to Swiss authorities requesting that criminal cases be reinstated against the President, adds to the appearance of an increasingly politicized judiciary. From a legal perspective, the issue centers on one of separation of powers. In fact, Pakistan’s Chief Justice has repeatedly stated recently that “parliament is not supreme.” In questions such as these, where the Supreme Court has a vested interest in the outcome, Justice Arbour suggests that it is all the more important that court show self-restraint and frame its decisions in a way that “advances the authority of all institutions,” not only its own.

Continue reading Justice Louise Arbour Concerned About Direction of Pakistan’s Supreme Court

Say ‘NO’ to Judicial Coup – by Dr. Saif-ur-Rehman

Dear countrymen, democracy in Pakistan is gone, our country is running under “Judicial coup”[Judicial dictatorship]. Pity the judiciary that some judges have declared “Judicial coup” in Pakistan. May 24th ruling of the Speaker of National Assembly on the issue of PM Yousaf Raza Gilian’s conviction in the contempt of court case was declared void.

The court observed that the speaker had no authority to find faults in the apex court’s judgement and should have sent the disqualification reference to the Election Commission of Pakistan within 30 days. Supreme Court’s disqualification of the sitting Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on 19th June was a practical example of Judicial coup in Pakistan. And that decision was widely lamented by the world leaders, scholars and journalists round the globe. All the democratic nations, pro-democratic think tanks and groups of scholars, journalists, students of politics and people from all walk of life were deeply shocked, when they heard about disqualification of sitting Prime Minister of Pakistan by biased judiciary.

Yet again, Supreme court is on its way to hunt its prey –another elected prime minister of Pakistan. For to fulfill its nefarious designs, court has accepted petitions against contempt of court act 2012, which was signed into law. It is pertinent to mention here that CJ had already vowed to do declare contempt of court bill null and void before its passing in elected houses both upper and lower.

Continue reading Say ‘NO’ to Judicial Coup – by Dr. Saif-ur-Rehman

CJ’s remarks

CJ’s remarks

CHIEF Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on Saturday fired the latest salvo in the perceived escalating fight between the superior judiciary and the PPP-led federal government. The Supreme Court, according to Justice Chaudhry, can strike down any legislation that is incompatible with the fundamental rights guaranteed under the constitution. While this is a well-established principle, the timing of Justice Chaudhry’s comments is impossible to ignore: the chief justice’s dilation on the ins and outs of the constitution came in a week that the government proposed legislation to protect its constitutional office-holders from suffering the same fate as former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani suffered recently. Unfortunate as it is that the past judicial practice of justices speaking only from the bench and through their judgments has been discarded in recent years, the comments by the chief justice come very close to pre-empting the legislative process. Astonishingly, however, the chief justice did not just stop there: he indicated that the supremacy of parliament was ‘out of place in the modern era’, the constitution itself enjoying pre-eminence over the will of parliament. This is explosive, particularly given the backdrop of the judiciary-government battles. Start with the claim that the constitution, not parliament, is supreme, add the corollary that the SC is the final and unquestioned interpreter of what the constitution does or does not permit — and suddenly Pakistan is in the realm of a supreme judiciary, an unelected institution dictating the contract by which state and society interact. This would be a fundamental shift in the way Pakistan’s constitutional arrangement is imagined and it is quite extraordinary that a serving chief justice would see fit to make such a pronouncement outside a judicial forum. In the SC, the chief justice is the administrative head but his vote is equal to that wielded by any other justice in any given case. Surely, then, at the very least, this is a matter to be decided before a full court, if and when the matter comes before the court.

But returning to the issue of fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution, why is it that the court keeps invoking fundamental rights when it comes to engaging with the government instead of concentrating on securing the fundamental rights of the people? Why not focus on the broken judicial system in which the average complainant has virtually no hope of ever getting justice, and none of getting it on time? Why not focus on the abysmally low rate of successful prosecution that allows criminals to walk free? Must the court be so obviously selective?

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

http://dawn.com/2012/07/09/cjs-remarks-3/

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

‘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’

Double Standard – Only judges allowed to be dual nationals.

Dual-national MPs insist loyalties lie with Pakistan

By Azam Khan

Excerpt; … Dual nationality holding parliamentarians, however, defended their loyalty towards Pakistan before a three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

If we allow dual nationality holders to enter into our assemblies, then imported prime ministers will come to rule us, the chief justice said.

Senator Wasim Sajjad, counsel for MNA Farahnaz Ispahani, said it was not realistic to question someone’s loyalty on the basis of dual nationality and to suspend their membership from the assembly subsequently.

The court suspended Ispahani’s basic membership a month ago on the grounds that she had US citizenship. Meanwhile, former senator Rehman Malik is also fighting for restoration of his membership before the court.

No impediment for judges

The chief justice remarked that the court would not allow a foreign citizen to have direct access to nuclear facilities and other secrets of the country.

Why are there no such impediments for some other tops slots, like the auditor general, high court judges or chief justices, Ispahani’s counsel remarked.

Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said that high court judges never sit in defence committee meetings or have direct access to the Kahuta facility.

A high court judge is authorised to suspend a prime minister and can also seek record and minutes of sensitive meetings of the defence and parliamentary committees, Sajjad replied.

The chief justice asked him to remain specific to the case. ….

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

A must read article of Khaled Ahmed – Fallout from Arsalangate

Fallout from Arsalangate

By Khaled Ahmed

The PPP government was already in the dock for corruption. Arsalangate dragged some other entities into it: the army, the media, and the chief justice

Malik Riaz Hussain, arguably the biggest real estate developer in Pakistan with ‘connections’, decided to reveal that he had been blackmailed by the son of Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and had allegedly been forced to spend nearly Rs 40 crore on him. He used journalists of a media house on a social media website to deniably make his case, after which the country witnessed a full-blown media scandal undermining the authority and credibility of the Supreme Court.

Called to the Supreme Court on suo motu, Malik Riaz submitted evidence of payments made to Dr Arsalan Iftikhar. He then went on TV and made additional allegations, some of them implying that Chief Justice Chaudhry may have been aware of what was going on. In answer, Dr Arsalan Iftikhar claimed that he had never met Malik Riaz and that he had received no payments from him or his relatives to finance his clearly lavish holidays abroad. Chief Justice Chaudhry expressed his complete lack of knowledge of all this.

The linguistic divide: One partisan of the debate that followed stated: ‘The Chief Justice took suo motu notice of the case and presided over the Bench while in the complete knowledge of the code of conduct of Judges. Given the experience and acumen of My Lord, the Chief Justice, one can say to a moral certainty that he would be aware of the general principle and the specific provision of the code of conduct, which requires judges not to hear matters involving immediate family members’. This comment was in English.

The first divide became visible on the subject and it was linguistic. In Urdu, the issue was addressed in the light of the example of Hazrat Umar who presided over the trial of his son and punished him with his own hands. This linguistic split – which is the most glaring ideological bifurcation in the country – was followed by politicians squaring off against one another: the PMLN and Tehreek Insaf announced themselves on the side of Chief Justice. They accused the ruling PPP of having engineered entrapment through Malik Riaz to get rid of the Chief Justice.

First Army, then TV Anchors: The media rallied to the defence of the Chief Justice. Most of the TV anchors thought it was a conspiracy to challenge the Chief Justice because he had made pointed investigations into “disappearances” in Balochistan. The implication was that the Army was offended and wanted the judge to ‘lay off’, and had used Malik Riaz to make revelations about Arsalan whose reputation was already subject of rumours in Pakistan for some time.

Continue reading A must read article of Khaled Ahmed – Fallout from Arsalangate

Israel Has Sharia Law?

Here’s something that came as a surprise to me, but in retrospect I suppose it shouldn’t. Israel actually has official, publicly funded Sharia courts for Muslims, just as they have rabbinical courts for Jews. That makes sense, in a way, because if you’re going to allow religious courts to adjudicate certain issues, you have to allow them for all religious groups.

Not only is sharia law officially recognised by the justice system in Israel in everything regarding the personal status of Muslims, but the judges of the sharia courts are officially appointed by a joint ministerial-parliamentary committee and their salaries paid for by the state. ….

Read more » Free Thought Blogs

The military-backed judges and a section of media and politicians acting against the PPP leadership as instruments of power and negotiation through the decades

A question of accountability

By Raza Rumi

The inevitable has happened. An assertive judiciary has convicted the prime minister even if the punishment was token — awarded for non-compliance of court orders. The prime minister’s counsel, Aitzaz Ahsan, has objected to the judgment saying that the punishment awarded was beyond the scope of his original indictment. There are multiple legal questions surrounding this decision and only the full judgment will clarify matters. However, it is the political ramifications of judicial assertion, which are of import in today’s Pakistan.

The PPP’s victim card — of being wronged by the establishment and the courts — is not entirely unfounded. Yet, this Supreme Court is not the court of the past. The lawyers’ movement (2007-9) allowed for an unprecedented populist backing to the courts and now many vested interests and groups deem the courts a natural ally in their own quest for independence, leverage and profits.

Public officials must be held accountable for their transgressions. This is vital for effective governance as well as for building legitimacy of democratic institutions. In purely technical terms, the Court’s decision is a welcome one. No longer can the executive be allowed to trample on judicial orders. After all, a letter to the Swiss authorities seeking the reopening of a case against President Asif Ali Zardari may have averted the crisis. Presidential immunity in the international and domestic laws is a given. However, in hindsight, this was a great opportunity for the PPP to underscore the fact that it is always the victim of selective accountability.

The cases against President Zardari and twice-elected Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto were registered by their political opponents, i.e., military-backed arbitrary presidents; and the main opposition party, which till 1999 was on the right side of the establishment. This context cannot be divorced from the legal aspects of the case. That said, at the end of the day the courts decide on issues of law and fact. The truth is that the Pakistani state has used cases against the PPP leadership as instruments of power and negotiation through the decades. This is why the perception within the PPP support base especially in Sindh (and now southern Punjab) is that the court’s verdict is not a ‘fair’ one given that other political parties and state institutions have gotten away with far worse.

As for the Supreme Court, it has done its job according to its interpretation of the Constitution and law. That, however, will not prevent the PPP from using the conviction to ramp up its support, especially with the next election around the corner.

Moving on, the role of some TV channels and anchors in acting as lawyers, judges and prosecutors has been most worrying. Legal issues require informed debate and political commentary requires objectivity. Both were missing before and after the Supreme Court verdict. This brings us to the vital issue of accountability of the new players in the power game.

The higher courts are accountable via the Supreme Judicial Council. The latter’s record has not been encouraging, as far as holding members of the superior judiciary accountable is concerned. Similarly, the media — or large segments of it — acts as if it is not accountable to any authority.

Continue reading The military-backed judges and a section of media and politicians acting against the PPP leadership as instruments of power and negotiation through the decades

Forced faith or force of faith?

By: Waris Husain

Excerpt;

…… When the decision by the Pakistani Supreme Court was released, a commentator on twitter noted that Rinkle Kumari, one of the three females in the case, was showing signs of Stockholm Syndrome. Neither the commentator nor I have the credentials to administer a psychological diagnosis to Ms. Kumari, now known as Faryal Bibi. However, let us think of the hundreds of other cases that have existed throughout Pakistan’s history where Hindus, Sikhs, or Christians were converted against their will.

Stockholm Syndrome has been described as a condition where an individual is abducted or kidnapped, and begins to empathise with their captor to the point that they defend their actions. In evolutionary psychology, theories have been developed that explain the evolutionary benefit of the Syndrome. When humans lived in hunter gatherer societies, clans of men would continually fight one another, and women would be taken as “victory prizes.” The women who protested their capture were regularly killed, while the ones who adjusted to life with their brutal captors survived.

Therefore, one should examine the case of religious minorities in Pakistan from this brutal, archaic, and outdated perspective. Potential converts are born into a society that subjects them to massive social and institutional discrimination, for public services and employment. Non-Muslims have been subject to murder, rape, or beatings merely for simply being born to a different religion in a nation where the right to spread Islam is more protected than the right of minorities to live in peace. In this environment, when a woman, child, or minority is converted to Islam, they could likely develop Stockholm Syndrome and embrace their new faith as an instinct to survive in a brutal society.

This raises a question that should be asked to the ‘gairatmand.’ Is the benefit of forcibly converting one individual to Islam worth jeopardising the validity of all the converts to their faith? Many say that the justice system is flawed if it mistakenly punishes one man, even when it rightfully punishes thousands. In that light, does the forced conversion of one soul not call into question the thousands of others that may have converted voluntarily?

There should be no societal benefit for belonging to the majority religion, just as there should be no detriment for being a minority. Therefore, one hopes that Parliament can address the societal discrimination at the heart of this issue by passing appropriate legislation. This legislation could thereafter be utilised and enforced through the Court. The Pakistani Constitution recognises the right to religion as fundamental, and despite contradictory laws that discriminate against minorities, a legislation is required to fairly deal with forcible conversions.

Read more » DAWN.COM

Rinkle Kumari – the new Marvi of Sindh

By Marvi Sirmed

Malalai Yusafzai, the brilliant Pakistani girl who defied Taliban’s dictation and stood firm on getting educated and persuaded her peers to do so, is a face of Pakistan that we all want to see. More and more. With pride and denial. We like to see Malalai in denial of Rinkle. Rinkle Kumari, the 19 years old Sindhi Hindu girl who was kidnapped and allegedly forcibly converted to Islam before coercively marrying her to a Muslim Naveed Shah. The ones who show this uncomfortable face of Pakistan are condemned to be the ‘traitors’ and ‘Pakistan-haters’. If trying to correct these painful imperfections of our society is treason, let me commit it for once. Rinkle’s story needs to be told loudly and to everyone.

Rinkle was kidnapped on February 24 by Naveed Shah and four other people. Police refused to lodge an FIR and to include the names of the influential Mian Aslam, Mian Rafique and their father Mian Mithu. She was produced in the court of Civil Judge Ghotki where she insisted on going to her family but the judge illegally sent her to the police custody in Sukkur Women’s Police Station.

Continue reading Rinkle Kumari – the new Marvi of Sindh

Pakistan’s tax-GDP ratio is at the same level as Ethiopia and Afghanistan – Shahid Kardar

Tax reform agenda for next government

By Shahid Kardar

Pakistan has one of the lowest tax to GDP ratios and, even considering developing countries alone, it is in the bottom ranked nations in terms of the proportion of population registered as taxpayers – less than 5 percent. of household population. There is rampant tax evasion, partly with the collusion of the official machinery. Whereas 3.1 million people have the National tax Number, a mere 1.2 million filed an income tax return in 2010/11. What is even more startling is that of 47,800 companies that have NTNs, less than 16,800 filed an income tax return against 400,000 industrial electricity connections.

As admitted by FBR, there is a tax gap of 79 percent. (the difference between potential revenues under the existing system and that actually collected). Revenues can be raised through broadening of bases, improving the equity of the tax regime, incentivising documentation, checking evasion by embracing a zero-tolerance policy, checking harassment of, or collusion with, taxpayers by simplifying tax returns and making FBR a faceless bureaucracy, with interaction between taxpayers and tax officials limited through greater reliance on automated computerised systems.

The general tax reforms would include taxation of all incomes of same levels equally irrespective of source, with a swift reversal of the travesty of the recent amnesty granted to trading in shares. There is also need for legislation that will render all Benami Transactions illegal and subjecting all cabinet members, who should all be taxpayers, to detailed tax scrutiny throughout period of office, and they should all be taxpayers. The tax returns and Wealth Statements of all parliamentarians and holders of key public offices and their spouses (including Secretaries, Chief Justices, Chief of Army Staff, Governor State Bank, Auditor and Attorney Generals) should be public during period of office and one year thereafter. Finally, following good results of tax mobilisation initiatives, individual and corporate income tax rates and the GST rate could be lowered under a phased programme.

 

The specific reforms under different tax heads would be the following: For Income Tax: Greater dependence needs to be placed on technology and through that on the CNIC for tracking commercial transactions to identify potential tax evasion/evaders, including movements in bank accounts of large deposit holders. The FBR should periodically reconcile the property tax registers of all provincial governments, names of credit card holders and members of private clubs with those allotted National Tax Numbers, for the system to generate notices to non-filers. All presumptive taxes should be replaced by withholding taxes (which presently contribute 60 percent. of income tax revenues). And the rates of all withholding taxes should be increased by at least two percentage points as a revenue enhancing measure, to incentivise documentation and penalise those trying to avoid capture in the tax net. ….

Read more » The News

Beyond the memo affair – By Raza Rumi

Excerpt;

…. Citizens have a right to ask why three serving chief justices of high courts are investing huge amounts of their precious time in handling the bizarre claims (and counter-claims) made by Mr Ijaz, when they should be attending to their core mandates of managing the high courts and thousands of subordinate courts. There are roughly 1.2 million cases pending in Pakistani courts and the cost of litigation is soaring due to a virtually unaccountable legal profession and corruption in lower courts. The Supreme Court has time and again reminded us that it is representing the people’s will and is answerable to the people only. Perhaps, nothing is as pressing for the ‘people’ than the denial of justice they are facing.

The Urdu media and internet forums are full of edicts against Mr Haqqani and sections of the establishment feel betrayed by his critical book on the Pakistan military. The least we can do is not to expose a man of his intellect to the rogue elements in the country. For the record, I have never met Mr Haqqani and hold no brief for his past adventures with the intelligence agencies. All I know is that he deserves a fair deal by a country he has tried to serve and defend in difficult times when everyone and his aunt have been wanting to ‘punish’ Pakistan.

Read more: The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2012.

We expect the Supreme Court to apologise for the role it played, says PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari

We expect SC to apologise for role it played in murder of ZAB: Bilawal

By APP

NAUDERO: “We expect the Supreme Court to apologise for the role it played in the judicial murder of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto,” were the words with which Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari summed up the case of righting his dead grandfather’s name in history, on the eve of the PPP founder’s 33rd death anniversary being observed in Naudero.

With his father, the President of Pakistan and co-chairman of PPP, Asif Ali Zardari watching, along with the PPP central executive committee, hundreds of thousands of loyal party workers which had gathered in Ghari Khuda Bux, and around the country, Bilawal exhorted, “the restoration of these judges by our Prime Minister was a truly historic milestone for our country. Now it is up to the courts to redeem their institutions sullied reputation in the eyes of history.” ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

http://tribune.com.pk/story/359398/we-expect-the-sc-to-appologise-for-the-role-it-played-in-the-murder-of-zab-bilawal/

Balochistan: Silence of the courts

By Yunas Samad

Balochistan has been burning in the background for sometime, but what made Congress — to the embarrassment of the State Department and the Government of Pakistan — take up this issue now? Some say this was just a stunt but there is a growing frustration in Washington that Pakistan is double-dealing with the US; taking substantial aid dollars and then pursuing a strategy in Afghanistan which is costing lives of US soldiers. American troops have now been in Afghanistan longer than the Vietnam War, and there is considerable unhappiness with Pakistan for the grief it has caused them and an increasing desire, in some quarters, to hit back.

What is interesting is that for the first time, the international community is now reflecting on the possibility of an independent Balochistan, is being sold to them as a package, which would break-up Iran and Pakistan and give over Gwadar as a facility for the US fleet. Let’s be clear that this is a minority view; it is more of an attempt to embarrass Pakistan, but such developments can generate their own momentum and with time become a reality. Who would have thought that South Sudan or East Timor would become independent states? But those who live by the sword die by the sword and, this could easily be applied to countries.

Pakistan of all countries should be familiar with this theme after resorting to military force to deny the Bangladeshi people their democratic rights. Military solutions to political problems results in disaster and invite foreign intervention and we are repeating these mistakes again in Balochistan. Failure to resolve the human rights situation is creating opportunities for foreign intervention. From the extrajudicial execution of Akbar Bugti to the deaths of activists (1,100 according to Human Rights Watch and 10,000 according to Baloch activists) and their torture and disappearances are — in eyes of those critical of Pakistan, evidence of — crimes against humanity. Pakistani generals were fortunate that they weren’t dragged into an international court and prosecuted for war crimes after the Bangladesh civil war, mainly because such bodies could not function during the Cold War. However, in the unipolar world of today, we have seen Ratko Mladic of the former Republic of Yugoslavia, President of Liberia, Charles Taylor and Nuon Chea, of the Khmer Rouge all end up in court to get their comeuppance.

Our political leaders are in a huddle, trying to figure out how to respond to the crisis in Balochistan; idle resolutions condemning foreign interference are being passed but our judiciary remains inactive and silent on this issue. It is tragic that our activist judges have not seen the abuse of fundamental rights in Balochistan to be given priority, particularly since the Baloch disappearance case was an important reason for the clash between former General Pervez Musharraf and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Why cases about presidential corruption are considered more important than cases of extrajudicial killings, torture and disappearances beats me? It only resonates with the Baloch nationalist argument that they are not treated like Pakistani citizens and hence, want independence, even if it means becoming a satellite of the US. The best possible response to the Congressional hearing is for the judiciary to demonstrate that it actively safeguards the fundamental rights of all the citizens of Pakistan.

The judiciary needs to investigate the killing of Akbar Bugti and if necessary charge Musharraf, reopen the case on disappearances and threaten contempt charges against the agencies for ignoring their orders. The Supreme Court cannot sit idle and ignore these issues by risking greater foreign interference in the matter. It needs to demonstrate to the Baloch people and the world that they are, in fact, citizens of Pakistan and their rights are protected.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2012.

A sitting Judge i.e. Malik Muhammad Qayyum [Govt. of Nawaz Sharif] discussing the “Sentence and Punishment” against Zardari and Benazir Bhutto with Senator Saif ur Rehman [video and transcript]

LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was annoyed over delay in the Lahore High Court’s decision in President Asif Ali Zardari’s case during his tenure, according to a transcript of conversation between Justice (r) Abdul Qayyum and National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) former chairman Saifur Rehman, aired on a private news channel. The audiotape was provided by Senator Faisal Raza Abdi. The channel also aired a conversation between Pervez Elahi, Shahbaz and Justice Qayyum. Following is the transcript of the conversation. Justice (r) Abdul Qayyum: Your task will be done in a day or two. I had to request an adviser (Peerzada) for you. I told him that I am very ill and I have to leave abroad and I have asked him to end up the matter for my sake. Peerzada has told me that he will do it and it will be done. He told me that he would compensate for all the mistakes I have, adding that Mian Sahib (Nawaz Sharif) would be happy as well. REFERENCE: Audiotape reveals Sharifs manipulated verdict in Zardari’s case Daily Times Monitor Sunday, November 21, 2010 http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\11\21\story_21-11-2010_pg7_21 UK paper’s report on Benazir’s conviction M Ziauddin DAWN WIRE SERVICE Week Ending: 10 February 2001 Issue:07/06 http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/2001/feb100… In this hammaam who is covered? Ayaz Amir DAWN WIRE SERVICE Week Ending: 10 February 2001 Issue : 07/06 http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/2001/feb100… Rush to judgment Irfan Husain DAWN WIRE SERVICE Week Ending:10 February 2001 Issue : 07/06 http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/2001/feb100…

Courtesy: Duniaya News Tv Arshad Sharif with 13 Feb 2012

Via » CHAGATAIKHAN » YouTube

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

Contempt case: Gilani summoned on February 13

By Azam Khan / Web Desk

Excerpts;

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

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

Read more » The Express Tribune

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More details » BBC urdu

International scrutiny of the Supreme Court – Pakistani Spreme Court may have overstepped its constitutional authority

International scrutiny of the Supreme Court

By Asad Jamal

In a press release issued on January 25, 2012, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) expressed its concern over the convening of the inquiry commission for the so-called memo affair. The ICJ, while calling for respecting the rights of former ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, said there are legitimate concerns that in doing so the “SC may have overstepped its constitutional authority and that this action could undermine the ongoing Parliamentary inquiry”. Can the honourable judges of our apex court ignore the views of the ICJ?

Continue reading International scrutiny of the Supreme Court – Pakistani Spreme Court may have overstepped its constitutional authority

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

Pakistan’s political soap opera

By Owen Bennett Jones, BBC News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more » BBC