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Pakistani Liberals Are No Leap of Faith

This beleaguered minority in the country still deserves international support.

BY SADANAND DHUME

This isn’t the best time to be a Pakistani liberal. Opinion polling shows most Pakistanis thinking of America as an enemy, democracy as an unwelcome concept and the imposition of Shariah law as a no-brainer. Meanwhile, recent news out of the country involves the judiciary taking down an elected prime minister and politicians like Imran Khan riding high by invoking anti-imperialist and Islamist ideas, even as an Urdu-language media remains saturated with hyper-nationalism.

Against this backdrop, the world can’t be blamed for regarding the Pakistani liberal as an exotic hothouse flower with no roots in the country’s unforgiving soil. As the United States enters a shaky new period of detente with Pakistan following the reopening last week of supply routes to Afghanistan, it’s fair to ask if these liberals deserve notice at all. Doesn’t it make more sense for the West to instead engage more intensely with the powerful army and assertive hardliners such as Mr. Khan?

The answer is no. It’s always tempting for the West to do business with whoever’s powerful, but this is a recipe for the kind of trouble America right now faces with its troublesome “ally.” Pakistan’s liberals are not only less weak and less of a fringe phenomenon than they’re made out to be, they’re also the only ones who hold out the promise of a better future for their country.

One recurring complaint against liberalism is that though Pakistan regained its democracy four years ago, President Asif Ali Zardari’s civilian government still can’t wrest decision-making away from the military. But no civilian government could realistically be expected to immediately assert its authority over an army that has directly ruled the country for 34 of its 65 years, and continues to command the lion’s share of national resources. As the experiences of Indonesia and Turkey show, only when democracy grows roots do politicians acquire the finesse and self-confidence to take on generals accustomed to command. This takes patience.

Continue reading Pakistani Liberals Are No Leap of Faith

Rough justice

By Asad Jamal

June 2012 will go down in the legal and political history of Pakistan as a watershed month as the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan intruded not only the domain of other state institutions and violated the code of conduct for the superior judiciary but also disregarded some of its own recent and not-so recent pronouncements.

It was the June 19 decision to disqualify Yousuf Raza Gilani as a member of the National Assembly (NA) and as Prime Minister of Pakistan that really stole the limelight. The decision, delivered through a short order which states that the reasons for disqualification will be recorded later, has been criticised on various grounds. The critics of the verdict variously call it legally infirm, an encroachment upon the domain of parliament and other constitutional offices, lacking impartiality and being potentially detrimental to democracy in Pakistan.

On the lack of impartiality first: while the decisions of a court may be debated and questioned, the judges should never lose the appearance of impartiality. In a 2006 speech during the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the SC, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had said “… independence of judiciary is not an end in itself; it is only a means to the end, and the end for sure is impartiality of judiciary.” Unfortunately, the order for Gilani’s disqualification is a glaring example of the court’s transgression into the jurisdiction of other constitutional offices, if not outright bias.

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Supreme Court and Public Accounts Committee

by Marvi Sirmed

Sharing with you this important document, which has left me shocked and extremely disappointed in the ‘wisdom’ of those who need to be the wisest. Amid all kinds of corruption allegations on politicians being pursued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCOP), one case got special treatment by the worthiest men of this country – the graft case of Mr. Arsalan Iftikhar. Iftikhar is a 34 years old ‘innocent boy’ who was reportedly ‘lured’ into accepting a not-s-small sum of money from one Malik Riaz, the real estate tycoon who knows how to make the mare go. The innocence of Mr. Iftikhar is further proven by the fact that he happens to be the son of Chief Justice of Pakistan. The case was thus, taken up by none other than CJP himself, as a suo-moto action under Section 184(3) which allows the CJP to move the court if the case pertains to violation of fundamental rights and is of public interest. The case, definitely is of public interest and violates Mr. Iftikhar’s right to remain innocent for the rest of his life! The case, as was right thing to do, was disposed of by mildly lecturing all parties to ‘behave’.

Why is it important to recall Mr. Iftikhar? Because his was not the only case where the worthy court to be partisan for its own interest. Responding to Public Accounts Committee, the elected watch body over the Auditor General of Pakistan that called Registrar of Supreme Court to present himself before the Committee and explained some overspending by the SCOP. Guess what happens next? The wise men in SCOP, came up with a document that conveniently leaves everyone in the SCOP outside the ambit of any elected watch body that oversees the transparency of financial transaction by public institutions including SCOP. Have a lok over how the Registrar of SCOP – an official who is not a judge – exonerates himself from legislature’s scrutiny.

One wonders who is going to ensure transparency when even the most responsible institutions of this country try to evade law on the pretext of law. Ironic and sad. The language used in this document and disregard for transparency makes my wish it must not be what the worthy men in SCOP meant. Have a good reading experience please!

Supreme Court, Pakistan, Chief Justice, Arsalan Iftikhar, Auditor General, Public Accounts Committee, Parliament, Judiciary, Pakistan …..

Read more » BAAGHI

http://marvisirmed.com/2012/07/08/supreme-court-and-public-accounts-committee/

Parliament not sovereign – Justice Khawaja

PRESS RELEASE: Dated: 3-July-2012 – Earlier today the Supreme Court released the detailed judgment in the Speaker’s Ruling case. On 19th June 2012, the Court had passed a Short Order, upholding petitions challenging the ruling of Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Fehmida Mirza. After the conviction of the former PM Yusuf Raza Gilani, the Speaker had to decide whether or not to make a reference to the Election Commission for Mr. Gilani’s disqualification. The Speaker decided that no question of disqualification had arisen, despite the PM having earned a conviction for contempt from the apex Court. Various petitioners, including PTI and PML-N challenged the Spreaker’s ruling. While hearing these petitions, the Court found the Speaker’s decision to be against the law and held that the PM did indeed stand disqualified to be a member of the Parliament. Today detailed reasons have been given for this order.

Continue reading Parliament not sovereign – Justice Khawaja

Judicial responsibility and organs of state

By Markandey Katju

After my article about the constitutional misbehaviour of the Pakistan Supreme Court was published in The Hindu (June 21), I received several queries and objections regarding it. Hence an explanation is called for, which I am giving below:

The first objection is that the British Constitutional principle, “The King can do no wrong” applies to a monarchy, not a republic. My answer is that I am well aware that Pakistan, like India is a republic. However, in both these countries, total immunity from criminal prosecution is granted to the President. Thus, Section 248(2) of the Pakistan Constitution states: “No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or Governor in any Court during his term of office.” Article 361(2) of the Indian Constitution is identically worded.

Continue reading Judicial responsibility and organs of state

Pakistan’s gun-slinging chief justice faces backlash

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

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

Read more » Daily Times

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

When is the full coup? – by Mazhar Arif

The decision is being seen as the ‘decision by the Punjabi court’. The disqualification was celebrated and sweets were distributed only in Punjab

At last, the judicial coup!

Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani has finally been toppled. By whom? By the opposition parties with the support of ‘independent’ judiciary or by the ‘Supreme Judicial Party’ with the facilitation of opposition parties which challenged the National Assembly Speaker’s ruling through petitions? This is still under discussion. Some people say the court had the blessing of the army to do the task which the army itself could not do, though it has much experience of the sort, because of perhaps unfavourable strategic and geo-political conditions.

Others, however, are of the opinion that the apex court is a crucial part of the Pakistani establishment, which hardly believes in the supremacy of the parliament, and the verdict is outcome of its own loyalty towards the ideology of the state and the establishment. In this regard, they quote a recent observation made by Mr. Justice Jawad S Khwaja while hearing the contempt of court case against Mr. Gilani. Justice Khwaja remarked: “the judiciary was an independent organ of the state and was answerable to the people not the parliament.” This is, however, not clear how the judges are answerable to the people when they are not elected by them. People hardly know how and by whom they are chosen, selected and nominated.

The disqualification of the prime minister by the apex court is under criticism by a part of the lawyers’ community and a section of the media. The Express Tribune in its editorial under the headline “A Judicial Coup?” on June 20 says, “The Supreme Court, in claiming to represent the will of the people, has removed from power the people’s representative saying that he stood disqualified from being a member of parliament and hence the office of the prime minister since April 26 — the day he was found guilty of contempt. Support for the decision may not be unanimous mainly because of recent developments, especially where the Honourable Court was dragged into the Arsalan Iftikhar matter

Continue reading When is the full coup? – by Mazhar Arif

A bad movie plot

By: Irfan Husain

ANOTHER day, another crisis in Pakistan. What else is new? Given the roller-coaster ride we have been on these last few years, nothing has the power to surprise or shock anymore.

Even the fact that a warrant for the arrest of Makhdoom Shahabuddin has been issued just as he was filing his nomination papers for election to the prime ministership causes a big yawn.

If a screenwriter had crafted the script we have been following, a movie producer would have rejected it for being too unbelievable. The whole business about a tycoon bankrolling a series of multimillion dollar holidays for the chief justice’s son and his family is bizarre enough. But in a swift counterstroke, the prime minister is dismissed by the top judge, pushing his son’s scandal into the background.

Continue reading A bad movie plot

Pakistan’s Institutional Battles: Coups and Continuity

The past few weeks have been been a tumultuous time for Pakistani democracy. Even Deputy US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Hoagland Tweeted last week that, “it’s getting confusing”. But as people try to make sense of rapidly changing events, it’s important not to miss the forest for the trees. Despite what seem like inscrutable events taking place, it’s what isn’t happening that points to democratic progress in Pakistan.

Continue reading Pakistan’s Institutional Battles: Coups and Continuity

Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry threatens Pakistan’s democracy

By George Bruno

As the NATO military offensive against the revitalized Taliban progresses in Afghanistan, the political situation in neighboring Pakistan remains tense in a way that can directly impact U.S. military and political objectives in the region.

I have long believed that the pacification of the extremist threat in South Asia and around the world can only be accomplished in an environment of democracy and the rule of law. Any assault on these values fuels the fires of fanaticism.

Continue reading Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry threatens Pakistan’s democracy

For the good of democracy – By Farrukh Khan Pitafi

Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.” — Gilbert K Chesterton

At a juncture when the propinquity of a truly democratic order was almost being taken for granted, Pakistan suffered the biggest disaster since the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. A three-member bench headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, who has vowed to protect democracy, sacked a democratically-elected prime minister on a matter of constitutional interpretation.

The sacked man, Yousaf Raza Gilani, and his party accepted the ruling with grace and nominated another candidate. But the day the prime ministerial nominee, Makhdum Shahabuddin, was to file his nomination papers, an anti-narcotics court issued a non-bailable warrant for his arrest, on a case that had been pending for weeks. Imagine, a court waking up on that precise day. The powers that be in the Islamic republic do not seem to care much for democracy. I have previously expressed hope in the growth of democracy and the institution building process. With the prime minister removed through an undemocratic, albeit legal method, that optimism cannot be sustained. It is clear that this is not the case of institutions clashing over boundaries, but disputes concerning other matters. Of course, the ruling party, too, is responsible for this sorry tale.

In Islamabad’s drawing rooms, it is being speculated that a government of technocrats backed by the army will soon be installed through a soft coup. Those who make these claims, carry a list of candidates for each ministry. Another theory is that the judiciary-executive tussle will result in the announcement of early elections and when the assemblies are dismissed, names in the aforementioned list will be adjusted in the caretaker cabinet, which in time, will be granted two to three years of extension. As the sacking of a prime minister and embarrassing an elected government by asking it to write a letter against its own head of state can be considered akin to protecting democracy, there is little doubt that this would also strengthen democracy.

Change may come in any shape, but if it comes through any means other than fresh elections, it will be detrimental. And change will definitely come. But let us fix responsibility for any undemocratic development. It should be remembered that the current democratic dispensation was founded on an intricate masonry of checks and balances. One function of the independent judiciary was to protect democracy. While it might have protected it from a military takeover, it has not been able to protect it from its own wrath. You can foresee the entire system collapsing. Some would say that the protectors of the Constitution have plunged the nation into another crisis-ridden bog.

If any undemocratic change comes, our armchair theoreticians assure us, it will not be limited to the cabinet and parliament alone, but will affect the judiciary as well. Perhaps, our judicial custodians have forgotten that they are part of the very democratic order that their recent verdicts seem to have so negatively impacted.

Courtesy:  The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2012.

Pakistan – Murder of Democracy

. Why go through this gradual decay of democracy, why not make Ayman al-Zawahiri the Khalifa of Pakistan and be done with it.

The Army is playing with the judiciary and democracy in Pakistan.

It is a shameful day for democratic traditions in Pakistan. As soon as the nomination papers for Makhdoom Shahbuddin for Prime Minister are filed by the largest democratically elected group (PPP) in Pakistan, the Army through Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) http://www.anf.gov.pk/ issues non-bailable warrant for arrest of the nominee.

According to the rules of election now the contest will be between Raja Pervez Ashraf (derogatory termed as Raja Rental by his opponents) and Molana Fazlur-Rehman (derogatory title: Molana Diesel). The original nominee of the people could be either in jail or hiding under a rock from the ANF warrant.

Here is a comment on social media:

“ANF is run by Army. A major general heads it. It is a open secret that Army is in charge of the drug trade in Pakistan/Afghanistan. This is how they fund their minions of terror groups.

So you don’t think it even slightly coincidental as far as the timing of these warrants are concerned.

Army is playing its card, media and Judiciary are enabling them.”

Some think that the PPP made a mistake by having Gilani stay on after he had been held in contempt by the Supreme Court http://criticalppp.com/archives/79330. The Supreme Court was clearly on the wrong side of history with this decision . However, once the decision had been made PPP could have shown political savvy and exited their PM with a glorious concession speech.

Now there is too much water under the bridge. Army has a lot of cards, they, through their sympathizers carefully placed in Urdu and English press, have successfully painted PPP as a band of thieves with the biggest thief at the top i.e. Zardari. Perception as they say matters more than the reality. I am not trying to defend PPP, I am not a Jiyla and have never been one. What I am concerned about is the continued weakening of democratic traditions.

Nowhere in the world other than Pakistan a Prime Minister is sent home by the Supreme Court. No where in the world warrants for arrest of the next nominee are issued on the very day nomination papers are filed.

The media in Pakistan will just fall in line and play the corruption tune to cover up the bigger crime, i.e., the MURDER OF DEMOCRACY by the usual suspects.

Courtesy: LUBP

http://criticalppp.com/archives/79613?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

via – Twitter

The Guardian – Yousuf Raza Gilani’s sacking is bad news for Pakistan

By Muhammad Hanif

Pakistan’s judiciary is starting to care less for the rule of law than the sound of its own sermonising voice. Which suits the military

In the past, Pakistan’s supreme court has hanged an elected prime minister on trumped-up charges, sentenced another to life imprisonment and forced several career politicians into exile. So the disqualification of the prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, on contempt-of-court charges should be seen as a step forward. Nobody died, right? The Pakistan Peoples’ party and its coalition partners now have another prime minister in the shape of Raja Pervez Ashraf. Pakistan’s supreme court will thump its chest and say we have proved that the law is the same for a commoner and a king. Pakistan’s all-powerful army will say: look, no hands. So why are Pakistan’s human rights activists calling it a judicial coup and warning us that the whole democratic facade is about to be pulled down?

Political decisions used to be made in the Pakistani army’s HQ. But the action has shifted to court one of the supreme court, in full view of the public, with judgments framed and delivered like soundbites for the primetime news.

Since being restored to his job after being sacked by President Musharraf in 2009, the chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, has been betraying an evangelical streak in his pronouncements. Maybe he feels that, with a country full of self-righteous zealots, he needs to adapt their tone. Or perhaps he is one. He doesn’t wait for the petitioners to come to the court, he watches TV and acts on his own cognizance. Even the half of Pakistan that can’t read or write will tell you what a suo motu is. We have already been quoted Khalil Jibran and the Persian poet Hafiz, and, it seems, a verse from the Qur’an or a hadith is only ever a suo motu notice away. When the chief justice took suo motu notice of allegations of his own son’s corruption he turned up in court waving a copy of the Qur’an and insinuating comparisons with himself and the second caliph, Umar.
Last year the chief justice took suo motu notice against the country’s most famous television actress for possessing a bottle of wine. Elsewhere, one of his sidekicks wondered aloud that if one day Pakistan’s parliament were to legalise gay marriages, would the supreme court sit quietly and watch?
This court is not as much in love with the rule of law as with the sound of its own sermonising voice. It has also mastered the art of selective justice. The same supreme court that has been sitting on an ISI corruption case for 15 years, the same judiciary that can’t look a retired general in the eye or force a serving colonel to appear in court, feels it perfectly constitutional to send a unanimously elected prime minister home.
There are not many tears being shed over Gilani. Looking at his record, many would say that he should have stayed home in the first place. But what is the point of clamouring for democracy if we can’t elect imperfect people – slightly less competent and way more corrupt than our average traffic cop – to lead us?
There are many ways of getting rid of a prime minister (though the old-fashioned way of voting them out has never been tried in Pakistan) but no simple way of telling the country’s highest judge, restored to his job as a result of a popular movement, that he has begun to sound like that dictator who sent him home.
In Pakistan, generals often confuse access to private golf courses with the country’s security. Senior bureaucrats consider it their right to name roads and villages after their grandfathers. Mullahs always fall back on God to justify their greed. Political leaders believe that democracy makes it mandatory to groom sons and daughters to take over their political parties. It’s not surprising that senior judges have started to believe that respect for them is the same thing as respect for the rule of law.
Pakistanis are being forced to choose between Gilani’s right to rule without doing a thing for his people, and a supreme court judge’s right to send him home. And people are refusing to choose. For a few days the country lacked a prime minister and a cabinet. And nobody really missed them.
The alarm being raised by pro-democracy people in Pakistan is that the whole system is about to be derailed. The supreme court’s reckless pursuit of government politicians could pave the way for a caretaker setup that will suit the military establishment.
The military, indeed, sulking after a series of humiliations at home and abroad, is watching from the sidelines. Some would say it’s even gloating at the prospect of civilian institutions cutting each other down to size, traditionally its job.

CMKP Rejects Judicial Coup in Pakistan

In his statement Dr. Taimur Rahman, General Secretary of the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party Pakistan (CMKP) opposes the recent judicial coup against the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan. This decision by the SC, which is completely outside of the power of the Supreme Court, is simply one more coup in a series of coups that have been organized time and time again in the history of Pakistan against elected governments. These successive coups have destroyed the democratic process in Pakistan, destroyed any chance of the development of a mature political leadership. And finally contribute to nothing except to further fragment politics along reactionary right wing lines.

We would have been the first to support a change in government if it was the product of a mass movement of workers and peasants fighting for their rights. But nothing of the sort is taking place. In fact, the elected government and the right wing judiciary have been trading punches only within the framework of their own narrow class interests for the last four years.

When little over a week ago the moral authority of the judiciary was questioned in a fundamental manner over serious charges of corruption, the judiciary decided to act immediately before its own corruption was completely exposed to the public. Today all those allegations of corruption of the judiciary have been buried in an avalanche of right wing propaganda hailing the decision of the Supreme Court as a great step against corruption. Nothing of the sort has been achieved. In fact, a new PM will be elected very soon. The same case of writing a letter to the Swiss authorities to open cases against the President will be opened against the new Prime Minister. And the musical chairs will continue.

Continue reading CMKP Rejects Judicial Coup in Pakistan

Pakistan courts order arrest of new prime minister nominee

Having already ousted one prime minister this week, Pakistan’s courts on Thursday sabotaged the appointment of a replacement by ordering the arrest of the man nominated to take up the job.

By Rob Crilly, Islamabad

The extraordinary move deepens the sense of political crisis in a country already reeling from an Islamist insurgency, economic woes and crippling power shortages.

Mahkdoom Shahabuddin, who most recently served as Textiles Minister, was due to be voted into office by parliament on Friday, replacing Yousuf Raza Gilani who was disqualified by the Supreme Court earlier this week.

Mr Shahabuddin was selected by President Asif Ali Zardari after two days of talks as the man best able to keep his coalition government alive until elections due early next year.

But no sooner had his name been announced than an arrest warrant was issued for his alleged role in a corruption scandal involving controlled drugs.

Fawad Chaudhry, a senior figure in Mr Zardari’s Pakistan’s People’s Party (PPP), said the arrest warrant was the latest attempt by unelected judges to bring down the government.

“This has been going on for one and a half years,” he said. “If they really believe he is involved why have they waited until today to issue an arrest warrant?”

Party leaders were meeting on Thursday night to select an alternative candidate. Qamar Zaman Kaira and Raja Parvez Ashraf, both former ministers in Mr Gilani’s cabinet, filed nomination papers for the post ahead of Friday’s parliamentary vote.

Pakistan’s civilian government, military and judiciary are locked in a three-way tussle for supremacy.

Continue reading Pakistan courts order arrest of new prime minister nominee

New York Times – Pakistan Court Orders Arrest of Presidential Ally

By DECLAN WALSH

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The high-stakes battle between Pakistan’s judiciary and government took a fresh twist on Thursday when a court issued an arrest warrant for a close ally of President Asif Ali Zardari, effectively blocking his nomination as the country’s next prime minister.

Mr. Zardari wanted Makhdoom Shahabuddin, a former health minister from Punjab Province, to replace Yousaf Raza Gilani, who was dismissed as prime minister by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

But hours after Mr. Shahabuddin’s nomination, a magistrates court, prompted by the military-run Anti-Narcotics Force, ordered his arrest to face charges relating to the illegal production of a controlled drug two years ago.

The court also issued an arrest warrant for Ali Musa Gilani, a son of the outgoing prime minister, in relation to the same case.

The ruling party Pakistan Peoples Party quickly nominated a new candidate, former information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, who now looks likely to become the prime minister after a vote in parliament on Friday.

The dramatic court manoeuver highlights the growing difficulty of separating law from politics in the country’s rapidly evolving machinations of power.

Mr. Zardari’s supporters, and some analysts, say judiciary is using its widening powers to erode the authority of the government and ultimately push it from power. “Absolutely no subtlety anymore in going after the govt. Amazing,” wrote Nadeem F. Paracha, a newspaper columnist, on Twitter.

Continue reading New York Times – Pakistan Court Orders Arrest of Presidential Ally

Life after Pakistan judicial coup

By: Manoj Joshi

On Tuesday, Foreign Policy and Fund for Peace published their fourth annual failed states index. The good news was that Pakistan had moved from the 12th position to the 13th in the rankings.

The bad was that on the same day, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had conducted a judicial coup and declared that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani stood dismissed from his office. ….

Read more » Wichaar.com

No, Prime Minister: Pakistan’s Highest Court Plunges Country into Uncertainty

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.

Continue reading No, Prime Minister: Pakistan’s Highest Court Plunges Country into Uncertainty

Political Instability Rises as Pakistani Court Ousts Premier

By DECLAN WALSH

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Supreme Court dismissed Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Tuesday, drastically escalating a confrontation between the government and the judiciary and plunging the political system into turmoil.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry declared that Mr. Gilani’s office had been effectively vacant since April 26 when the court convicted him on contempt charges because he refused to pursue a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari, his superior.

Although the decision is unlikely to topple the government, many viewed it as the product of a grudge-driven tussle between Mr. Zardari and Justice Chaudhry, with the prime minister caught in the middle.

“The court has been gunning for the prime minister for a long time,” said Najam Sethi, a veteran political analyst. “Clearly there is a lot of politics in this.”

The order left Pakistan in a state of constitutional uncertainty, with the cabinet effectively dismissed. The court instructed Mr. Zardari to “ensure continuation of the democratic process” — words widely interpreted as an order to arrange the election of a new prime minister.

Legal experts said Mr. Gilani cannot appeal the decision but he may continue in an interim role until his successor is chosen. ….

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/20/world/asia/political-instability-rises-as-pakistani-court-dismisses-prime-minister.html?_r=2

Faisal Raza Abidi of PPP removed as Karachi division president

PPP leader removed as Karachi division president

SINDH – KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party leader Faisal Raza Abidi has been removed from his official position as the party’s Karachi division president, DawnNews reported.

Southern District president Khalil and Secretary Taimur Sayal have also been removed from their positions.

According to PPP sources, President Asif Ali Zaradri has met with disgruntled colleagues to work out grievances.

In replacement of the removed figures, Qasim Baloch has been made Southern District president, while Karamallah Waqas Batoor has been made secretary.

Sources said that Faisal Raza Abidi has sent a request for a three month leave from the Senate.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

Via – Siasat.pk

Gilani removes Lodhi from Defence Secretary post

ISLAMABAD: Lt Gen (Retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi was removed from the post of Defence Secretary by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Wednesday, a move that is likely to create further friction between the government and the military. “Prime minister has terminated the contract of defence secretary Naeem Khalid Lodhi for gross misconduct,” a senior government official told AFP.

Nargis Sethi has been given the additional charge of Defence Secretary. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

Shahbaz was willing to have CJ removed after ‘face-saving’ restoration

KARACHI: Even as PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif was rallying street support by publicly refusing to back down from demands for the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in February and March 2009, the party was privately telling American diplomats that the future of the then-non-functional chief justice was up for negotiation.

“Shahbaz stated that following the restoration, the PML-N was prepared to end the issue and remove Chaudhry once and for all,” reported Lahore Consulate Principal Officer Bryan Hunt in a secret American diplomatic cable describing his meeting with the younger Sharif on March 14, 2009.

“On the issue of former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, Shahbaz claimed that the PML-N was open to negotiation, provided that Chaudhry was symbolically restored.”

The conversation took place just a day before Nawaz Sharif would join a lawyers’ long march in a dramatic public protest for the reinstatement of judges deposed by Gen Musharraf, a demand that President Zardari had been resisting. In private, however, a different story was being told.

“Shahbaz stressed that his party could not afford the political humiliation of abandoning what had become a long-standing principle in favour of Chaudhry’s restoration,” Mr Hunt reported. “At the same time, Shahbaz claimed to understand that Chaudhry was a problematic jurist, whose powers would need to be carefully curtailed.”

Shahbaz Sharif strategised that as a judge who had taken oath under Gen Musharraf’s first provisional constitutional order, Chaudhry could be removed – once “some sort of face-saving restoration” had been carried out – “by adopting legislation proposed in the Charter of Democracy that would ban all judges who had taken an oath under a PCO from serving.”

A week earlier, in another meeting at the Lahore consulate, Shahbaz Sharif had proposed an alternative solution: creating the Constitutional Court envisioned in the Charter of Democracy and ensuring that “it be made superior to the Supreme Court. Iftikhar Chaudhry’s restoration … would then have little measurable impact, as the Constitutional Court, staffed by appointees from both parties, could nullify his decisions.”

Even before the restoration, Shahbaz Sharif confided, the PML-N leadership would agree to any constraints President Zardari might want placed on Chaudhry, “including curtailment of his powers to create judicial benches, removal of his suo motu jurisdiction, and/or establishment of a constitutional court as a check on the Supreme Court.”

“Although Nawaz publicly has said Chaudhry’s restoration is also a red line,” commented US Ambassador Anne Patterson in a separate report, “no leader in Pakistan really wants an activist and unpredictable Chief Justice. … Nawaz emerges stronger in the public eye and retains the ‘high moral ground’ by defending the judiciary.”

As late as January 22, in fact, PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique had told Mr Hunt that a minimum requirement for saving the coalition with the PPP in Punjab was “full retirement of Chief Justice Hameed Dogar and appointment of Justice Sardar Raza in his place.” Chaudhry did not seem to have been a concern.

But by March 2009 he had become the PML-N’s rallying cry, and the timing clearly had to do with political developments at the time: a February 25 Supreme Court decision had declared the Sharif brothers ineligible for office, and the president had imposed governor’s rule in Punjab. …

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