Tag Archives: prosecution

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

Jinnah and the Ahmadis

Why speak for the Ahmadis?

By Saroop Ijaz

Excerpt;
….. there were calls by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Jamaat-i-Islami and others for the shutting down of an Ahmadi place of worship (I will be in breach of law if I say ‘mosque’) in Rawalpindi. I do not want to create a false binary here and I am glad that the snooping dame is unemployed now, and commend the people who played their part in bringing that about. Nevertheless, I find it astounding that the happenings in Rawalpindi escaped the notice of our liberal ‘intelligentsia’ almost completely, at least in mainstream public discourse; hence furnishing a near identical example of partially what the television anchor was guilty of. The alternate explanation is grimmer, that being that it was not for failure to notice, but rather fear. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

http://tribune.com.pk/story/332507/why-speak-for-the-ahmadis/

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

Double Standards of Pakistan Judiciary: 3 judges of High court has refused, resigned or Avoided the bail Application of Aafaque Ahmed Chairman MQM Haqeeqi. He remained in jail form 8 years without any court proceedings! Big question mark on independent Judiciary?

Afaq Ahmad, Chairman MQM, Haqiqi
Afaq Ahmad, Chairman MQM, Haqiqi

– Another judge refuses to hear Afaq`s petition

KARACHI, July 25: The petition of Afaq Ahmed, the chairman of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement, better known as MQM-Haqiqi, seeking protection against political victimisation and prosecution in false cases could not be heard on Monday as another judge of the Sindh High Court refused to proceed with the matter.

Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh told Mr Afaq`s counsel that he could not proceed with the petition.

Earlier, Justice Mohammed Athar Saeed had refused to proceed with Mr Ahmed`s petition that was transferred to another judge, Tufail H. Ebrahim.

However, the petition was later transferred to Justice Shaikh after the resignation of Justice Ebrahim. ….

Read more → DAWN.COM

Mukhtaran Mai: Pakistan betrayed you once again

By Raza Rumi

April 21, 2011 will be remembered as a black day in Pakistan’s history. Not because this was the day when the Supreme Court acquitted the alleged rapists of a poor, marginalised woman. It will be marked as the day when, once again, Pakistan’s colonial criminal justice system failed to protect the vulnerable, thereby rendering a heinous crime such as gang rape almost unpunishable.

Nine years ago, a misogynistic panchayat of south Punjab ordered the gang rape of a woman for no sin of hers. It was her (then 12-year-old) brother who was sodomised and then accused of illicit relations with the sister of the powerful rapists. This low-caste family had to be ‘fixed’. Thanks to the media frenzy, the state had to act when what happens in subaltern Pakistan was exposed. Suo motu notices by the courts, police investigation and faulty prosecution ultimately led to no justice. At every step of the legal process, powerful men obstructed the cause of justice. …

Read more : The Express Tribune

Book Review – Fatema of Sindh

Sindh Ji Fatema – A book Tribute by Chacha Mohammad Ali Laghari to his Wife

Book Review by Khalid Hashmani

After several years, in early part of 2011, Chacha Mohammad Ali Laghari visited his son (Sufi Munawar Laghari) who now lives in Washington D.C. The last time when I met him in May 2008, he was tending to his wife Ghulam Fatema Laghari at Munawar Laghari’s apartment. Fatema was suffering from cancer and had travelled thousands of miles to see his son. Munawar cannot visit Sindh due to fear of prosecution. She soon departed after returning to Sindh few days later. As I had enjoyed hospitality of gracious Chacha Mohammad Ali and his spouse Fatema Laghari and their son Anwar Laghari when I visited Sindh in 2000. Naturally, I invited Chacha Mohammad Ali for a simple meal at my apartment in the outskirts of Washington D.C. After “Hal-Ahwal“, Chacha Mohammad Ali took out a book from his bag and after writing a short note, he gave me that book to read. The title of the book was “Sindh Ji Fatema”. It intrigued me very much and I immediately started browsing this 200 plus book written in the Sindhi language enshrined with spiritual Sindhi poetry by legendary Sindhi poets such as Shah Abdul Latif, Sachal Sarmast, Shaikh Ayaz, and others. I was intrigued because it is not often that a person writes a book about his/her spouse. Particularly, coming from a male-dominated society, where literacy rate is substantially lower, his book about his wife was quite remarkable undertaking and indeed a great tribute.

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