Round table on Judicialization of politics organized by School of Political and Strategic communication (SPSC) Islamabad.
Courtesy: SPSC » YouTube
Round table on Judicialization of politics organized by School of Political and Strategic communication (SPSC) Islamabad.
Courtesy: SPSC » YouTube
In a controversial ruling, Pakistan’s Supreme Court axed Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani—a verdict that speaks volumes of the enmities and uncertainties haunting the country
By Omar Waraich
For anyone hoping to see a Pakistani civilian government complete a full five-year term without any interruption, this verdict was sorely disappointing. On Tuesday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that Yousaf Raza Gilani can no longer continue as Prime Minister, raising tensions between the government and the judiciary to their highest point and leaving the country vulnerable to a new phase of political instability.
In its unusually terse ruling, the Supreme Court instructed President Asif Ali Zardari to arrange a successor for Gilani. While there is little prospect of Zardari’s government falling, his ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has accepted that there is no Prime Minister at the moment, and, therefore, no cabinet. The PPP is currently in crisis talks with its political allies to decide on a new Prime Minister. The challenge for the ruling coalition will be to hold on to its numbers, achieve a consensus on a new premier and survive a vote of confidence expected in the coming days.
Islamabad’s Judicial Coup
The Pakistani Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday to dismiss Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani signals the unnatural death of another civilian government. While less dramatic than the military variety, this judicial coup—carried out on the pretext that Mr. Gilani refused to pursue corruption charges against President Asif Ali Zardari—perpetuates the cycle of unelected institutions “rescuing” Pakistanis from their own chosen leaders.
The man responsible for this constitutional crisis is Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry,
By: Asma Jahangir
THE masks are off and daggers drawn. Pakistan’s democratic process may once again become a part of history, leaving the world to wonder how we could so willingly poison ourselves in the belief that it would lead to better days.
Those in power have consistently let their people down — ruthlessly. But no one is being fooled. They may feel helpless in the face of manipulation by everyone trying to save their skins — the judiciary included — but as the courts have often held themselves the truth does eventually prevail.
In the meanwhile, the country is headed for another phase of political instability that may finally lead to yet another autocracy. Sense may prevail at the end, but in the process, many heads will roll and hopes will be demolished. These are sad days for Pakistan.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan removed the Prime Minister in what is known as a “short order” – essentially a court order lacking a full explanation. These orders often begin, “For reasons to be recorded later…” – a practice that seems the beg for abuse and controversy – and then proceed directly to ordering some specific action on the part of an individual or institution. In this case, though, the specific action was not given until almost two months later – and made retroactive.
On April 26, the Supreme Court issued an order “for the reasons to be recorded later” that found then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani “guilty of and convicted for contempt of court.” The Supreme Court did not declare the Prime Minister disqualified from office and sentenced him to a symbolic detention of about 30 seconds.
The Supreme Court having chosen not to disqualify the Prime Minister, the issue was then taken up by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Fehmida Mirza, who ruled that Mr. Gilani was not disqualified. That was last month.
Today, nearly two months after the Supreme Court issued its controversial conviction, a new short order, “for reasons to be recorded later,” was issued by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry – this time declaring that “Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani has become disqualified from being a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)…on and from the date and time of pronouncement of the judgement of this Court dated 26.4.2012…”
This raises several very interesting questions. If the Prime Minister was disqualified pursuant to the Supreme Court’s order on April 26, why did they wait until June 19 to say so? Some have suggested that the Supreme Court was giving the Prime Minister the opportunity for appeal, but this is doubtful for a number of reasons: One, the Supreme Court could have declared the Prime Minister disqualified and then stayed the order pending appeal. But more to the point, to whom would the Prime Minister have appealed? The original order was given by a 7 member bench of the Supreme Court – there was no higher authority to appeal to.
Then there is the matter of the ruling by the Speaker of the National Assembly. If the Supreme Court had determined that Mr. Gilani was disqualified as of April 26, why did they allow Dr. Mirza to proceed with deliberations and a ruling on Mr. Gilani’s status as parliamentarian? If the Supreme Court believed that Dr. Mirza did not have the authority as Speaker of the National Assembly to issue such a ruling, why did they not issue an injunction stopping the Speaker from carrying out the act?
While these questions remain unanswered, at least until the Supreme Court delivers more than the two pages made available today, they suggest very troubling possibilities. By allowing Mr. Gilani to continue serving as Prime Minister for months, the Supreme Court has created a policy nightmare for Pakistan. Making the disqualification retroactive to April 26 means that any decisions made by the government since are effectively nullified. Pakistan has, essentially, been operating without a government for over 8 weeks.
Moreover, by allowing the Speaker of the National Assembly to deliberate and issue a ruling without comment, only to nullify that decision weeks later, the Supreme Court has undermined the authority of parliament and created confusion about fundamental issues of separation of powers and constitutional authority. What government official can now carry out their duties without the fear of Supreme Court action if the Chief Justice does not like the outcome.
This gets to what is perhaps the most troubling question of all – would the Supreme have issued this new order had the Speaker of the National Assembly herself disqualified Mr. Gilani? In other words, is Pakistan’s Supreme Court acting pursuant to due process or desired outcomes?
Via – Twitter
In a matter of days, the allegations of the real estate tycoon Malik Riaz against Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, son of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, has taken on the hue of a full blown conflict between the accuser and the judiciary. In shocking but unsubstantiated accusations of a bribe amounting to Rs 340 million, and financing of lavish foreign trips, the Riaz claim, notwithstanding its yet to be proved veracity, points to the most important judicial body’s head. The accused is the son of the CJP, thus presenting a more than unpleasant scenario where the establishment of proper distance between the two parties — the accused and the CJP — must be maintained at all costs. A simple civil matter (with possible criminal implications), no matter how preposterous or outrageous it may appear, did not merit a suo motu notice by the Supreme Court (SC), the redundancy of which was proved during the first hearing for lack of concrete evidence. This case must be pursued through the normal course. The recusing of the honourable CJP from the initial bench is a positive step, and the future proceedings of the case would be transparent and unbiased too if the consideration that the accused is the son of the CJP is not allowed to influence the proceedings.
Suspended judge, 2 State MLAs face arrest in bail ‘sale’
Hyderabad, June 9, 2012, DHNS:
Anti-Corruption Bureau files FIRs
Suspended CBI special court judge Pattabhirama Rao and two Karnataka legislators Gali Somasekhara Reddy and T H Suresh Babu are facing arrest in the sensational cash-for-bail scam as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in Andhra Pradesh filed FIRs against them on Saturday.
FIRs were also filed against five accomplices of the suspended judge, including his son. The ACB found prima facie evidence against the suspended judge and the two legislators in the case. Around Rs 10 crore crossed borders from Karnataka to Andhra Pradesh to bribe the judge, who granted conditional bail to Janardhana Reddy, currently jailed in Bangalore.
The case was handed over to ACB by the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday.
Janardhana Reddy’s brother Somasekhara Reddy (Bellary City MLA) and Suresh Babu (Kampli MLA) face arrest as bribe givers – for striking the deal and making a payment of Rs 10 crore to the judge.
Recently, on June 2, the cash-for-bail scam broke out when the then Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court Madan B Lokur suspended Pattabhirama Rao on charges of accepting bribe last year in exchange for granting bail to former Karnataka minister Gali Janardhana Reddy and three others involved in illegal mining.
The five accomplices of the suspended judge booked on Saturday are: the judge’s son, Ravichandra, retired sessions court judges T Chalapathi Rao, his son Balaji, rowdy sheeter Yadagiri Rao of Nacharam in Hyderabad and a junior lawyer Dasaradharami Reddy.
All 8 people have been charged under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act 13(1) and (2) besides 120(b), 420 and 417 of the Indian Penal Code. The arrests of the prime accused and their accomplices are likely to be made soon, said the police. ….
Read more » Decan Herald
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More details » BBC urdu
By Farrukh Khan Pitafi
Every wolf’s and lion’s howl
Raises from hell a human soul
— William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence”
Every scandal that is brought to limelight brings with it some sign of hope. The Arsalan Iftikhar scandal is no exception. It is true that it raised some serious questions about the need for oversight over the conduct of the judiciary, the media and big businesses. Also true that it has brought our unceasing hypocrisy to the fore. Amazingly, many among those who insist that Arsalan was acting alone, even if he was not actually a victim of a conspiracy, also believe that since Abdul Qadir Gilani, the prime minister’s son, called Mubashar Lucman during a staged interview with Malik Riaz, it proves that the PPP government is involved in a plot to malign the judiciary. But what is good for the goose is also good for the gander, sirs. If you can readily believe that the chief justice’s son kept his father in the dark about his corruption, what is the harm in believing that Abdul Qadir Gilani, too, might have acted alone? …
Read more » The Express Tribune
By Amina Jilani
When former president General Pervez Musharraf decided to embark upon his politically suicidal path in March 2007, the first step was the production of a reference against the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry — a fatal move. The first item of the reference concerned the CJP’s son, Arsalan Iftikhar, a doctor, who since then has now come somewhat full circle.
Justice Chaudhry was charged with having influenced the upward mobility of his son’s career. In 1996, the son of a judge of the Balochistan High Court managed a ‘C’ grade in his intermediate examination. This being insufficient for him to gain admission to the Bolan Medical College, Quetta, the judge allegedly approached the Balochistan chief minister with the request that the son be admitted to the college, regardless of his grade and given a special or vacant seat. Apparently this was done.
Nine years later, in June 2005 (his father, by then on the Bench of the Supreme Court), the young doctor was appointed as a medical officer in Quetta’s Institute of Public Health. In July, a short time following this appointment (by this time Justice Chaudhry was chief justice of Pakistan) the Balochistan chief minister again allegedly came to the aid of Arsalan Iftikhar, ordering his promotion as a section officer in the health department.
According to the reference, in that same year, August 2005, the young man decided to redirect his career. A letter was sent by the interior ministry to the Balochistan chief secretary informing him that the FIA wished to acquire the services of Dr Iftikhar. By September 2005, the doctor had a job as an assistant director in the FIA. This was followed up in April 2006 by his promotion to the position of deputy director.
Then, Arsalan, as claimed the reference, decided he would prefer a career in the police service. So, the ministry of the interior acted again, allowing him to bypass the necessary competitive services examination and the commandant of the National Police Academy was instructed to take him and put him through a course of field training, usually exclusive to Police Service of Pakistan (PSP) officers, after which, he was scheduled to move over to the Punjab Police.
But it was not that simple. For the doctor to be admitted as a permanent employee of the PSP, an amendment would have to be made in the Police Service of Pakistan Rules, which required presidential assent, the reference alleged. The prime minister’s secretariat was requested to do the needful but apparently the desired amendment did not materialise. The reference claimed further that in October 2006, he was nominated as a non-PSP officer to attend a training course in Istanbul, interestingly enough on the subject of Combating International Terrorism and Organised crime, the only non-PSP and sole under training individual to do the course.
Well, if our press and Dr Iftikhar are to be believed, the young man has moved on considerably and is now involved in business. He has also done quite a bit of travelling — regularly to Europe, London and Monaco, that we know of. It would seem that he is either naïve or forgetful when it comes down to brass tacks. In his statement dated June 6, made in the Supreme Court, referring to his 2011 visit to London, he stated: “I do not know from whose credit card the rent of the flat, which I remotely remember was around 3,200 pounds sterling per week, was paid. Perhaps I stayed for four weeks…”
In India at least half a dozen chief justices in the past have been accused of corrupt practices or conduct unbecoming a judge of high stature. However, none has ever been dragged to the dock. But matters are very different in Pakistan where the chief justice and the Supreme Court are battling for their credibility and independence because of the misdemeanours of the son of the chief justice. There is bitter discord in state and society. The fear is that if the political fallout isn’t quickly contained, the military might be tempted to step into the fray.
Riaz Malik has presented credible evidence of footing the bills of Arsalan Chaudhry, the son of the CJP, for more than Rs 34 crore in the last three years for favours promised but not fulfilled in cases of property disputes relating to Mr Malik’s business empire pending before his father in the SC. He claims he was blackmailed by Arsalan Chaudhry to cough up or face hard times in the court before his father. Arsalan says he was entrapped in order to influence his father. In the event, Arsalan took favours from Mr Malik but his father didn’t return the compliment, which raises the question of who was blackmailing whom and who gained and who lost from this unholy transaction.
CJ receives Holbrooke, calls on Zardari
By Matiullah Jan
ISLAMABAD, June 5 Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry met visiting US envoy Richard Holbrooke in the Supreme Court building on Friday.
“The meeting was held at the request of the visiting US envoy Mr Holbrooke who came to meet the chief justice in his chambers,” said Dr Faqir Hussain, Registrar of the Supreme Court. He said that officials of the Foreign Office were present at the meeting.
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”?
London: Lunch-time on the 28th of May 2012 the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry received a vocal reception at the hands of the protesters gathered outside the award giving ceremony of the International Council of Jurists (ICJ). Ironically Justice Chaudhry is himself the vice president of ICJ.
Zee News reported, “Pakistan’s Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry ha[s] been awarded the prestigious International Jurists Award 2012. Justice Chaudhry received the award from Lord Phillips, President of the Supreme Court of the UK, for his “unique and tremendous contribution in the field of administration of justice and for the tireless and fearless endeavours towards administration of justice in Pakistan against all odds.”
Shortly before Justice Chaudhry received the award, two persons barged into the auditorium at the Hotel Court House raising slogans against killings of Shias in Pakistan.”
While outside a large demonstration by Sindhi, Hindu, Christian, Muslim and Human Rights organizations was taking place against forced conversions of Hindu and Christian girls in Pakistan. The protesters were chanting loud slogans against Justice Chaudhry ’s role in handing over the Hindu girls to their Muslim ‘husbands’ whereas their families allege that all three girls were abducted on the orders of the influential custodian of a Muslim shrine Mian Abdul Haq-Member National Assembly for the ruling PPP.
Christian groups pointed out the lack of justice in Pakistani courts for scores of victims languishing in jails under trumped-up charges under Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy laws which carry the punishment of death penalty. The protesters were allowed to speak to the organizers of the event. ….
Read more » Global Christian Voice
Philippines’ top judge ousted in victory for Aquino
By Stabroek editor
MANILA, (Reuters) – The Philippine Senate voted today to remove the country’s top judge for failing to disclose his wealth, a landmark victory for President Benigno Aquino as he pushes a campaign to root out endemic corruption in the Southeast Asian nation.
More than two-thirds of the 23 senators voted to oust Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, who becomes the first official in the country to be removed by an impeachment court. The decision bars him permanently from public office.
The ruling is likely to be welcomed by investors amid concern that the four-month-long trial was distracting the government from policy matters at a time when the Philippines is seeing a resurgence of interest in its long-underperforming economy. ….
Read more » Stabroek News
Pakistan: Top Judges Attack P.M. Gilani With Poetry and Threats
The Supreme Court calls for an “Arab Spring” uprising.
The opposition already calls him “the former prime minister of Pakistan.” His country’s Supreme Court has declared him “wicked”—a “criminal” seeking political “martyrdom through disobeying the law.” It may be a good thing for Yousaf Raza Gilani that he claims descent from Sufi saints, since he’ll certainly need the patience of one as pressure intensifies for him to step down.
The outcry reached an unprecedented pitch last week as the court issued a 77-page “detailed judgment” against Gilani, publicly exhorting the people of Pakistan to rise up against him and his government. “The recent phenomenon known as the Arab Spring is too fresh to be ignored or forgotten,” wrote Justice Asif Khosa in an assenting opinion, citing “the responsibility of the people themselves to stand up for defending the Constitution and … for dealing with the delinquent appropriately.” Gilani’s alleged crime was to disobey the court’s order for him to request that Swiss authorities reopen old corruption cases against his boss, President Asif Ali Zardari. (Gilani and the Swiss both maintain that Zardari has immunity from criminal prosecution.)
1. Anonymous source claiming PPP-led government cutting judiciary down to size by revoking the March 16, 2009 executive order on restoration of Judges . It lead to emergency late night judges meetup and judgement .
Anonymous WON !!!!
2. Anonymous Memo resulted zardari’s main opening bastman losing his job and in first day of court hearing his name added in ECL .
Today , after 6 months memo issue first came in the limelight its seems odds are even now . specially after former ISI Chief testimony in judicical commision where he confessed he didn’t investigated Mansor Ijaz claims he believed what Mansoor Ijaz was saying was’ true’ . PPP have weather the storm of Media , Judiciary who’s Chief initially said “IF ISI Chief is claiming memo is reality than we can’t simply ignore it ” now finding it really hard to declare accused traitor , and the alliance of Jihadi organization Difae Pakistan which was leading the campaign to hang ‘traitors’ President Zardari and Hussain Haqqani have failed to sustain its initial momentum.
According to Daily Times Columnist Dr. Taqi :
President Zardari not only remains in the ring but also has a realistic chance of being the one remaining standing after the 15th round — not unlike Muhammad Ali in that Manila fight. The generalissimos, on the other hand, appear to be at the end of their wits. While President Zardari might have been politically wounded, the damage on the other side is to the egos bloated by decades of illegal authority that they have become used to exercising unchecked.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has survived the last couple of months thanks to the sheer grit of President Zardari, matched only by a resolute Husain Haqqani. Clearly, both men have decided that they will sink or swim together, and rightly so. …
Read more » LUBP
ON the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death last week, Pakistan was the only Muslim country in which hundreds of demonstrators gathered to show solidarity with the dead terrorist figurehead.
Yet rather than asking tough questions about how Bin Laden had managed to live unmolested in Pakistan for years, the Pakistani Supreme Court instead chose to punish the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, by charging him with contempt for failing to carry out the court’s own partisan agenda – in this case, pressuring the Swiss government to reopen a decades-old corruption investigation of President Asif Ali Zardari. (Never mind that Swiss officials say they are unlikely to revisit the charges.)
In handing down the decision, one justice chose to paraphrase the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran. He held forth in a long appeal to religious-nationalist sentiment that began with the line, “Pity the nation that achieves nationhood in the name of a religion but pays little heed to truth, righteousness and accountability, which are the essence of every religion.”
That a Supreme Court justice would cite poetry instead of law while sentencing an elected leader on questionable charges reflects Pakistan’s deep state of denial about its true national priorities at a time when the country is threatened by religious extremism and terrorism.
Today, Pakistan is polarized between those who envision a modern, pluralist country and those who condone violence against minorities and terrorism in the name of Islam. Many are caught in the middle; they support the pluralist vision but dislike the politicians espousing it.
Meanwhile, an elephant in the room remains. We still don’t know who enabled Bin Laden to live freely in Pakistan. Documents found on computers in his compound offer no direct evidence of support from Pakistan’s government, army or intelligence services. But even if Bin Laden relied on a private support network, our courts should be focused on identifying, arresting and prosecuting the individuals who helped him. Unfortunately, their priorities seem to lie elsewhere.
In Pakistan, most of the debate about Bin Laden has centered on how and why America violated Pakistan’s sovereignty by unilaterally carrying out an operation to kill him. There has been little discussion about whether the presence of the world’s most-wanted terrorist in a garrison town filled with army officers was itself a threat to the sovereignty and security of Pakistan.
Pakistanis are right to see themselves as victims of terrorism and to be offended by American unilateralism in dealing with it. Last year alone, 4,447 people were killed in 476 major terrorist attacks. Over the last decade, thousands of soldiers and law enforcement officers have died fighting terrorists – both homegrown, and those inspired by Al Qaeda’s nihilist ideology.
But if anything, the reaction should be to gear up and fight jihadist ideology and those who perpetrate terrorist acts in its name; they remain the gravest threat to Pakistan’s stability. Instead, our national discourse has been hijacked by those seeking to deflect attention from militant Islamic extremism.
The national mind-set that condones this sort of extremism was cultivated and encouraged under the military dictatorships of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq from 1977 to 1988 and Gen. Pervez Musharraf from 1999 to 2008. A whole generation of Pakistanis has grown up with textbooks that conflate Pakistani nationalism with Islamist exclusivism.
Anti-Western sentiment and a sense of collective victimhood were cultivated as a substitute for serious debate on social or economic policy. Militant groups were given free rein, originally with American support, to resist the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and later became an instrument of Pakistani regional influence there and in Indian-occupied Kashmir.
Pakistan’s return to democracy, after the elections of 2008, offered hope. But the elected government has since been hobbled by domestic political infighting and judicial activism on every issue except extremism and terrorism.
Before Mr. Musharraf was ousted, a populist lawyers’ movement successfully challenged his firing of Supreme Court justices. The lawyers’ willingness to confront Mr. Musharraf in his last days raised hopes of a new era. But over the last four years, the Court has spent most of its energy trying to dislodge the government by insisting on reopening cases of alleged corruption from the 1990s. During the same period, no significant terrorist leader has been convicted, and many have been set free by judges who overtly sympathize with their ideology.
This has happened because the lawyers’ movement split into two factions after Mr. Musharraf’s fall: those emphasizing the rule of law and those seeking to use the judiciary as a rival to elected leaders.
Asma Jahangir, who helped lead the lawyers’ movement, has become a critic of the courts, accusing them of overstepping their constitutional mandate and falling under the influence of the security establishment. And Aitzaz Ahsan, who represented the Supreme Court’s chief justice during the lawyers’ showdown with Mr. Musharraf, is now Prime Minister Gilani’s lawyer in the contempt-of-court case – a clear indication of the political realignment that has taken place.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s raucous media, whose hard-won freedom is crucial for the success of democracy, has done little to help generate support for eliminating extremism and fighting terrorism. The Supreme Court, conservative opposition parties and the news media insist that confronting alleged incompetence and corruption in the current government is more important than turning Pakistan away from Islamist radicalism.
Pakistan’s puppet Court – By Shiraz Paracha
The Supreme Court’s controversial detailed verdict against the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan is one more bad decision by a Court that has a dark history of collaboration with the military in depriving the people of Pakistan of their fundamental rights.
The Supreme Court has been transcending its legal boundaries and constitutional role. Its decisions are biased, unfair and politicized. The Court is not a neutral and objective defender of law and judges have been acting as puppets.
The Judiciary is not independent and appears to be playing someone’s game. Indeed the Supreme Court is acting as a proxy for imposing a controlled democracy in Pakistan. It seems that characters such as Imran Khan and Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan are part of this game. The former ISI chief Lt. General Shuja Pasha was an architect of the latest effort to introduce ‘clean democracy’ in Pakistan. General Pasha was not alone in military’s one more political adventure.
Actually, the military considers itself the sole defender of Pakistan and generals have been trying to shape and control the Pakistani politics. In fact, the military never felt comfortable with parliamentary form of democracy. For this reason every few years new campaigns are launched to ‘clean’ the system.
Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan’s recent calls for the establishment of a technocrat government and Imran Khan’s Tsunami are reflections of military’s new efforts to bring a setup that ‘suits’ Pakistan. The Judiciary and media are means to complete that agenda. As the Parliament is about to complete its term, Imran Khan is threatening that he would not accept results of the new elections. Dr. Qadeer, dubbed by some as the future president, has joined hands with Imran Khan. The media and the Judiciary are taking cue from some in the military to pressurize the present government. All these actors want to maintain the status quo by imposing a controlled democracy.
By Shehryar Riaz Sheikh
26 April 2012 was another tragic day in our democratic history; the unanimously elected Prime Minister of Pakistan who in his wisdom ordered the release of the deposed Lordships of the Superior Courts immediately upon his election was convicted of Contempt of Court. Notwithstanding the uniqueness of NRO judgment condemning over 8000 accused without a hearing and the inherent selectivity of only targeting the President and his aides in the process, the overwhelming part of the judgment was implemented by the Federation of Pakistan. It is pertinent to mention that the grand strategist (of the “strategic depth” fame)–the promulgator of the infamous Ordinance luxuriously resides safe and secure from the wrath of law. Former Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo and his almost 9 March’07 like moment of defiance during the notorious Zia regime is a case in point as to how an instance of individual heroism could not break the dictatorial chains. In case of the present dispensation, it was Benazir Bhutto’s sheer political maneuvering in striving for a political settlement, her ultimate sacrifice coupled with the sagacity of the political leadership along and the democratic struggle unleashed by the lawyers movement which paved way for the return of democracy to Pakistan. The present democratic dispensation is the sequel to NRO. History is bound to narrate as to how if had not been achieved, there would have been no elections, no assemblies, no free media and no free judiciary. The national leadership too would still have been languishing in exile.
By: Cyril Almeida
WITH all the paper and crayons the PML-N carried to parliament the past week, you’d think a Leaguer or two could have spared some time to write a little letter.
Dear Madam Speaker, The PML-N believes that a question has arisen that Yousuf Raza Gilani stands disqualified as a member of parliament under Article 63(1)(g) of the constitution for bringing the judiciary into ridicule as stated by the Supreme Court in its conviction of Mr Gilani for contempt of court on Thursday, April 26, 2012.
Accordingly, under Article 63(2) of the constitution it is required of you as Speaker of the National Assembly to forward the question of Mr Gilani’s disqualification to the Election Commission of Pakistan for a final decision.
With kind regards, The PML-N.
A letter short enough to be written with a crayon on the back of a protest placard and handed over to the Speaker during one of the PML-N’s noisy protests on the floor of the National Assembly.
A letter that would have triggered the only constitutional process for declaring Gilani disqualified.
But in seven days of protests until the Assembly session was prorogued Friday, the N-League avoided the legal route and demanded Gilani’s resignation instead.
Behind that choice lies a political calculation. Take the legal route and the N-League risks its anti-PPP message being buried under an avalanche of legalese. The technicalities of Article 63 — can the Speaker decide no question of disqualification has arisen? If so, is there any appeal against the Speaker’s decision? Wouldn’t the matter ultimately return to the Supreme Court for an inconclusive answer? — are confounding.
Better a simpler message that the electorate can understand: the prime minister is a convict, his boss is corrupt, the Supreme Court tried to do the right thing; ergo, the prime minister should resign.
However, catchy as the slogans may be and fun as charged-up rallies will be, they also betray the opposition’s impotence.
This was originally a fight between the PPP and the SC [Supreme Court]; the PML-N are Johnny-come-latelies. Once the court baulked at pulling the trigger, the N-League’s ability to force the very outcome the court wasn’t willing to force was always going to be limited.
The reality is that the fundamentals that have been in place since 2009 have not changed. And until those system fundamentals change, regime change isn’t going to happen.
Think of it this way. At the centre is the PPP, surviving through a combination of unexpected political acumen — Zardari the political maestro, anyone? Gilani the heroic defender? — and luck.
The luck is that surrounding the PPP, as with every other civilian government, are three traditional rivals — the political opposition, the judiciary and the army — who can agree that they don’t like the PPP but can’t quite bring themselves to work in concert to attain the desired outcome.
For reasons of history and politics and systems, to engineer the downfall of a government you need at least two of the three forces opposing the government to align. PPP conspiracy theories aside, this time that combination just refuses to emerge.
With memogate there was, briefly, an almost perfect alignment. The army raised the alarm over Haqqani’s alleged antics, Sharif petitioned the court to take notice, the court swung into action, drawing out the blunt affidavits from the army chief and DG ISI and just like that, everyone seemed poised to plunge the knife into the PPP.
But then Sharif pulled back. He realised that he’d been lured into a trap to make an army vs PPP fight look like a PPP vs everyone scrap. Next, the army relented when the PPP refused to budge and another chapter in their frenemy relationship had been inked.
The court was the one which had formally gone the furthest, setting up a high-powered commission to investigate the silliness that was Mansoor Ijaz and his claims, so it’s taken the longest to extract itself from a battle that its fleeting allies have long since abandoned.
For all their dislike of the PPP, the problem is that the presumptive allies are also suspicious of each other. Nothing new there but it tends to get forgotten each time a political crisis erupts.
Nawaz doesn’t like the army, the army doesn’t trust Nawaz, neither would want a judiciary that would make life difficult for them if they have to run the show and the judiciary knows that when push comes to shove, it’s usually the judiciary that’s trampled underfoot.
By: Huma Yusuf
POLITICAL hysterics resulting from the prime minister’s conviction and an equivocal Supreme Court sentence are currently overshadowing discussions about Pakistan’s security challenges.
PM contempt: ‘Govt will comply if SC orders Gilani’s disqualification’
By Web Desk / Sumera Khan
…. Privilege motion against SC assistant registrar
The government has decided to move a privilege motion against the assistant registrar of the Supreme Court for writing a letter to speaker of National Assembly to initiate an action against the prime minister under recently passed judgment by the apex court.
Terming the letter ‘illegal’, Law Minister Naek said that the letter in which Speaker of National Assembly Fehmida Mirza was directed to implement the SC’s judgment was an open violation of law. Naek added that the assistant registrar of the Supreme Court is not authorised to issue directions to the speaker of National Assembly.
“We will move a privilege motion against assistant registrar as the letter is illegal which was written as a clear violation of rules and procedures. He has directed the speaker of National Assembly to implement the court’s verdict at the earliest which is we believe is an offence to the parliament.”
Naek went on to say that, “The parliament’s privilege was disparaged by the assistant registrar’s letter to the speaker of National Assembly directing her in the prime minister contempt case.”
Read more » The Express Tribune
By Nusrat Javeed
Before hiring the services of Pakistan Army for launching a multi-pronged assault on troops of the ‘Evil Empire’ deputed in Afghanistan, Ronald Reagan needed some deceptive trappings of ‘democracy’ in Pakistan. General Zia facilitated him by inventing a consultative assembly in the early 1980s.
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.
The language of the video clip is urdu (Hindi).
Mother of all cases?
A testimony of the slim, short, veteran businessman-cum-banker, Yunus Habib, may come in handy when the Supreme Court starts hearing the almost decade-old petition of Air Marshal Asghar Khan on Feb 29, 2012. Habib hit the headlines in the 1990s for his key role in the release of Rs14 million (or maybe more) from his own Mehran Bank to defeat the Benazir Bhutto’s PPP in the next elections.
The affidavit submitted by the then ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani, is the first ever confession by any official of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency of the role it played in pre-poll rigging and its direct involvement in political matters. But there is much more to it and all facts must come to the surface.
Though there was an unusual delay in the case being taken up for hearing, one hopes it will proceed as fast as other petitions like the ones dealing with NRO, NICL, the infamous Memo Case or the Haj scam.
By Najam Sethi
The Pakistan army’s vaulting mission to remain the most powerful actor in Pakistani politics has received irreparable setbacks in the last few years.
On the one hand, this is due to the onset of several new factors in the body politic determining the direction of political change in the future.
On the other, it reflects poorly on the ability and willingness of the army’s leadership to understand the far-reaching nature of this change and adapt to it seamlessly.
Pakistan’s future as a viable nation-state now depends on how the generals read the writing on the wall and quickly come to terms with it. Here is a checklist of recent failures that have downgraded the Pak army’s rating with Pakistanis.
(1) The army’s policy of nurturing anti- Americanism in Pakistan for leveraging its strategic relationship with the US has backfired and left it stranded in no-man’s land. It can’t let go of the US privately for purposes of economic rent and military aid extraction but it can’t embrace it publicly because of the rampant ‘Ghairat’ brigade of extremist Islamic nationalists that it has brainwashed.
(2) The army’s policy of nurturing the Afghan Taliban in private while appeasing the Pakistan Taliban in public has also backfired.
The Afghan Taliban are now negotiating directly with America while the Pakistan Taliban are waging an ‘existential’ war against the Pak army and civil society. PAK army’s relationship with the government, opposition, and media is at an all-time low.
The government has meekly folded before the army on every issue; but the army’s arrogant, intrusive and relentlessly anti government propaganda and behaviour is deeply resented.
The media is also wiser and critical about its manipulation by the army and ISI viz its Drone policy, the Raymond Davis affair and Memogate.
Question marks remain over its incompetence or complicity in the OBL affair, especially following recent revelations by former DG-ISI Ziauddin Butt that General Pervez Musharraf ‘hid’ Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad.
The murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad, followed by running threats to a clutch of independent journalists, is laid at the ISI’s door.
The ease with which terrorists have breached military security, as in the attacks on GHQ, ISI offices, military Messes, Mehran Naval Base, etc also rankle deeply.
Finally, the media is now speaking up and asking disturbing questions about the role of MI in the disappearances and torture of Baloch activists. Consequently, the media is loath to blindly follow the army’s ‘line’ on any issue any more. The PMLN, meanwhile, has gone the whole hog, openly demanding that the intrusion of the military in politics must be curtailed and the army’s overweening power cut to size.
If its ratings are falling, the army’s ability to manipulate politics to its ends is also diminishing. In the old days, the army chief was the most powerful member of the ruling troika that included the president and prime minister. Now the office of the president has lost its clout and there are two new and powerful contenders for say.
The first is the judiciary under Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry that has unprecedentedly pushed politicians into a corner for corrupt practices and the military on the defensive for being unaccountable (the Mehrangate affair of 1990, disappearances and murder of Baloch and Taliban extremists in captivity).
The second is the electronic media that is reaching tens of millions of Pakistanis and courageously raising their consciousness. Neither will countenance any direct or indirect military intervention in politics. Recently, in a bid to salvage some wounded pride, the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, said that defense expenditure is a mere 18 per cent of the budget and not over 50 per cent as alleged by critics like Maulana Fazlur Rahman. But the truth is that defense expenditure is about 25 per cent of the budget after hidden ‘defense’ items in government expenditures like the military’s salaries and pensions, special project allocations, etc are unveiled and supplementary grants in any budgetary year are accounted for.
More to the point, it is about 50 per cent of all tax revenues in any year, which puts a big burden on the fiscal deficit. Gen Kayani also insists that the army is not involved in quelling unrest in Balochistan. But the fact remains that the Rangers and Frontier Corps who are in charge of ‘law and order’ in the province are directly commanded by army officers who report to GHQ even though they are formally under the interior ministry.
Ijaz embarrasses ISI DG, SC with fresh claims
LAHORE: The instigator of the memo case, Musawwer Mansoor Ijaz, has claimed that he has been in contact with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha in connection with “logistics and security arrangements” for his testimony before the inquiry commission created by the Supreme Court.
Talking to a private television channel last Friday, Ijaz said that he had been in touch with the ISI chief after his first meeting in London on October 22, 2011. Ijaz’s claim, if true, creates doubts about his being a disinterested party only seeking to reveal the truth and raises questions about why he maintains relations with the spy agency that he has described as “a cancer” in past writings.
Mansoor Ijaz also quoted text messages and emails he exchanged with General Pasha in the letter he sent to Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on January 30, which was sealed by the chief justice in the custody of the Supreme Court Registrar.
Pakistan politics: contempt for voters
The national reconciliation ordinance was a dirty deal, brokered by the Bush administration, between Pakistan’s then military ruler Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto. It allowed her to return from exile and take part in elections in exchange for the dropping of corruption charges against her husband Asif Ali Zardari and other officials. The constitutional court was right to declare it unconstitutional two years later in 2009 and, it could be argued, equally right to demand the current government’s full implementation of the court’s decision.
The court is trying to do this by requiring the serving prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, to write to the Swiss authorities asking them to reopen a corruption inquiry against Mr Zardari. This the prime minister refuses to do on the grounds that Mr Zardari, who is now president, enjoys executive immunity from prosecution both inside and outside the country. The immunity the president enjoys while in office has not been the issue in the court, only Mr Gilani’s failure to comply with an unimplementable order. Yesterday he was charged with contempt, a move which could lead to his dismissal from office. If the legality of the court’s move is debatable, the politics of it are extremely murky.
First the timing. Having sat on this issue for three years, the supreme court are only now moving against Mr Gilani, who has become Pakistan’s longest serving prime minister. He was also the only one to be have been voted unanimously in power by parliament. Why now? With elections coming up in March 2013 which the leading party in the coalition, the Pakistan People’s Party, could very well win, this is an attempt to stop the civilian government from consolidating its power. In past eras this would have been done by tanks and generals. Today, it is been done by using supreme court justices as proxies. That may be called progress, but the manoeuvre to unseat a democratically elected government before its term is up remains the same.
Further, no domestic proceedings are being brought against President Zardari. They want a foreign government to do their work for them. Nor is any politician in Pakistan in a rush to challenge the rule of the executive immunity from prosecution for the simple reason that in power they would be sure to benefit from it as well. Once Mr Zardari loses office, fairly and at an election, he will lose that immunity and it is entirely right that he should have to account for allegations that he received kickbacks in a court of law. But that is not the purpose of yesterday’s contempt hearing. It is to sow political chaos and Mr Gilani is right to resist it. If he is convicted and forced from office, he will become a martyr in his party’s eyes. This will only propel his career forward.
via » WICHAAR.COM