Tag Archives: Sharif

Exciting times…country on the move

Islamabad diary

By Ayaz Amir

Wordsworth would be a bit of an exaggeration: “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive”…. But short of that, it’s an exciting time to be a Pakistani. Six months ago this seemed a dead country, beyond hope or redemption, the Sharifs in power, with little to offer beyond bizarre schemes of Margalla Hill tunnels and fast trains to Murree and Muzaffarabad. The opposition too seemed dead and politics looked no better than a doormat.

This was six months ago. It’s all so different now, the country shaken out of its somnolence and rocking to a new beat, rallies drawing record crowds and the Sharifs looking more dazed and clueless than ever, confined to their palaces and haunted by that cry which has caught on so much, “Go Nawaz Go”.

The important thing, however, is that something is happening in Pakistan. Things are not dead; the water is not stagnant. Old skin is being shed, a new light, even if flickering, can be espied on the mountains…this in a country where nothing good was ever expected to happen.

All this has happened without the least bit of violence or mayhem. For the most part, except for the stampede in the Multan stadium, the rallies and marches have been disciplined and orderly affairs, great enthusiasm on display but no disorder. The number of women attending these rallies has been amazing…young and old, housewives and school and college girls and no badtameezi, none whatsoever. If for nothing else, the rallies would be worth it for this reason alone, the way they have drawn women into the political arena and pulled the middle classes from their drawing rooms.

Continue reading Exciting times…country on the move

No room for democracy

By Ayesha Siddiqa

The video of two parliamentarians being forcibly offloaded a PIA flight from Karachi to Islamabad has gone viral. The incident is generally being viewed as an indicator of how a peculiar behaviour, which was associated with old style patronage politics, will get challenged. The national carrier may find it increasingly difficult to treat its passengers differently — trap over two hundred souls in an aircraft while allowing VIPs to sit in a comfortable lounge as the aircraft recovers for two hours from its technical problems. Surely we can all clap at the event as a forward movement, this also indicates militant attitudes creeping into our political and social lives. Here I am not taking a position for or against but only suggesting what has changed.

This is not even an isolated incident. Those enjoying video evidence must also see the manner in which the police have been taking a thrashing from the ‘Naya Pakistan’ protestors. While we can all sympathise with Imran Khan’s right to change the political tone, it would be worthwhile for him to envision how he would, if he did become the prime minister of this country, put the genie back into the bottle. Much that he likes to compare himself with Jinnah, Imran would not be able to ensure that the same police, which get battered and bruised during the rule of his opponents, will get respected when he becomes the man in charge. No one seems willing to tell the story of the tired policemen who have been doing their duty for the last 30 days with little to boost their ego.

Continue reading No room for democracy

Imran Khan’s Threat to Pakistan Democracy

Cricketing hero’s anti-Sharif campaign is overstepping the mark

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Imran Khan was a true cricketing hero for Pakistan. He was an exceptional all-rounder, a graceful batsmen and a formidable fast bowler. But as a politician – seemingly hell-bent on becoming prime minister at whatever cost to his country – he makes a far less edifying spectacle.

Read more » Financial Times
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bbb645ba-39c3-11e4-93da-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3DR6t4wXJ

‘Overt ouster’ of Sharif may trigger sanctions: US report

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: The anti-government protest in Pakistan has reversed the country’s struggle to establish a sustainable democratic system, says a report prepared for the US Congress.

The report — “Pakistan Political Unrest” — warns that “any overt military ouster” of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “could trigger another round of democracy-related US sanctions on foreign assistance to Pakistan”.

This could put “an indefinite halt to what has been one of the highest-priority American aid programmes since 9/11”.

The report also warns that the unrest could impact Pakistan’s relations with India by increasing the army’s influence in foreign policies.

“The Pakistan Army’s more openly direct control of Pakistan’s foreign and security policies may, over time, shift Pakistan’s approach towards Afghanistan further into a policy framework that seeks to counter Indian influence there,” warns the report prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1130987/overt-ouster-of-sharif-may-trigger-sanctions-us-report

Pakistan #Fail

Islamabad can’t fix its many problems until the government, the opposition, and the military learn to respect the rule of law.

BY HUSAIN HAQQANI

After paralyzing Islamabad for days, the crowds at boisterous protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are starting to thin out. But even if Pakistan’s current political standoff comes to an end, the country’s deeper political crisis won’t.

Read more » FP
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/05/pakistan_fail_military_politics_protests_nawaz_sharif_imran_khan

Army chief holds off generals seeking Pakistan PM’s ouster

By Mehreen Zahra-Malik

ISLAMABAD, Sept 5 (Reuters) – Weeks of mounting anti-government protests in Pakistan had been enough to convince five of the powerful army’s 11 Corps Commanders that it was time for them to step in and force embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign.

According to a minister close to military circles, top generals met in the garrison city of Rawalpindi at the end of August as demonstrations raged in nearby Islamabad. Thousands of protesters had just tried to storm Sharif’s residence.
At the tense, four-hour conclave, Pakistan’s democratic process was once again in peril, with the military pondering another intervention in a country that has seen power change hands more often through coups than elections.
But army chief Raheel Sharif decided the time was not right to overthrow the civilian leadership, and moved to quell any disagreement in his ranks by overruling the hawks and declaring the crisis must be solved through politics, not force.
Soon afterwards, the army issued a brief statement, reaffirming its commitment to democracy, and the threat of a coup, at least for now, had passed.

The minister, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of discussing the inner workings of the military, said at least five generals had been pushing for weeks for the army to take a more “active role” in defusing the crisis.
“The time for the army to be neutral is over,” was how the minister summed up the message from dissenters around the table.
Two military sources confirmed this version of events. They, like the minister, spoke on condition of anonymity.
A senior security source added: “Raheel Sharif is not interested in direct intervention. The tanks aren’t going to come rolling in. This army believes in compromise.”

The army’s media wing confirmed Sunday’s meeting but declined to share details. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told Reuters the army was a “monolithic institution”. “What comes out from the army is ultimately one opinion,” he said. “And … they have supported democracy.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-2745005/Army-chief-holds-generals-seeking-Pakistan-PMs-ouster.html#ixzz3CS3QguyO
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Pakistani military – back in charge

Crisis in Pakistan could become unmanageable

Excerpt;

The ongoing violence prompted the top generals of the nuclear-armed state to hold an emergency meeting on Sunday, August 31. The army – which has directly ruled the nation for more than three decades collectively – voiced support for democracy, but also “expressed concern.”

Pakistani military – back in charge

But many people in the country think the army’s “concern” is part of the script that the generals have written themselves. Pro-democracy activists believe Khan and Qadri have the full backing of the army, which is wary of Sharif’s cordial moves towards the country’s regional arch-rival India. The PM and the army are also not on the same page over the Islamic Republic’s Afghanistan policy, nor on the future of Pervez Musharraf, former military chief and ex-president, who is currently detained.

The military, which has been in control of the country for most of its recent history, enjoyed limited power during the five years former President Asif Ali Zardari was in office. The generals fear that if Sharif remains in power, they may further loose grip on the country’s defense and foreign policy.

Read more » dw
http://www.dw.de/crisis-in-pakistan-could-become-unmanageable/a-17892970

Saving the Incompetent Sharif Brothers and this Rapacious Unfair System

By Omar

We know from history that the skill, wisdom and effort (and oodles of luck) needed to build and sustain a working democratic system (whatever you may think of the pros and cons of such a system is a separate and interesting discussion) in one of the ex-colonial countries is orders of magnitude greater than the skill needed to just run a functional government for a few years. Saddam, Gaddafi, Ayub Khan, they all ran functional regimes and even made their Universities conduct their examinations on time. But none had a system with adequate checks and balances or the mechanism to transfer power smoothly from one elite clique to another without having to shoot the other clique first.
It may be possible to repair the effects of poor governance by this or that democratic regime in a few years, but if the system as a whole is undermined and devalued, then it may never get working again, or may take decades to repair. Political authority (like money) is a shared (useful) illusion. Puncture the illusion and what is left is naked force (or, if enough of asabiya exists, a monarchy; whether called a monarchy or under some other name).

Given our history, it is a significant achievement that all parties participated in a reasonably (by our standards) fair election under reasonably (by our standards) neutral caretaker administrations and an actual transfer of power took place peacefully. All that progress can be (and is) being undermined by this sustained campaign against democracy and civilian politics (with TUQ playing a conscious and Imran Khan a characteristically semi-conscious role in the undermining). That the Sharifs are not the best rulers is hardly debatable, but that the system should be wound up on that account is a disastrous step beyond the punishment of the Sharifs for any specific crime or misdemeanor. They must be removed from within the system or else they must be tolerated for their term. There is no third choice.

We know very well from our history that the next step in the paknationalist (aka PMA) framework is a “technocratic government of all talents” and we also know that in short order that will prove worse than the poor Sharifs and will lack even the rickety checks and balances that limit the damage done by the Sharifs or any other democratically elected crook. Beyond that, we also know that the institutional biases of the Pakistani army in particular are utterly opposed to the rights of smaller nationalities and are determined to pursue suicidal and extremely disruptive policies with respect to relations with our neighbors and with the wider world. The Sharif brothers dalliances with ASWJ notwithstanding, it is the army that is most responsible for creating and sustaining various sectarian and islamofascist tendencies in the body politic. For all these (and other) reasons, this latest farcical soft coup is very bad news.

Finally, it is good to keep in mind that it is not all fun and games…there really IS a bottom. One fine day the whole shithouse could go up in flames (as East Pakistan did in 1971); and what follows could then cause significant discomfort even to those whose low opinion of the Sharifs or of bourgeois politics or of the current politicians, makes them look kindly upon any disruption to the system...

I would add that I have come around to agreeing with those who think that NONE of the major VISIBLE players really had a detailed plan or a script that has been faithfully followed during this farce. But that does not mean that there is no one with a coherent agenda. There are people with coherent agendas and they make hay while the sun shines on Imran Khan’s empty chairs. Just as the ASWJ terrorists are pursuing their agenda, the “Paknationalists” in the intelligence agencies are pursuing theirs. Sharifs (including Raheel Shareef) may have no plan and may be blundering in the dark, but some people have plans and most of them are dangerous…

Courtesy: Brown Pundits
http://brownpundits.blogspot.ca/2014/08/saving-incompetent-sharif-brothers-and.html?spref=fb

Is Imran Khan the biggest threat to democracy in Pakistan?

On the website of the leading Pakistani daily Dawn, two (of the four) articles in the section dedicated to editorials are as follows: ‘PTI’s bizarre proposals‘ and ‘The mask of anarchy‘.

The first, presumably written by the edit page staff of the paper, underlines the absurdity of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s demands placed before the Nawaz Sharif government. Last week, the protest march, led by Imran Khan had stormed Islamabad’s red zone, proceeded towards the country’s parliament with next to no resistance from the government.

While, it was read as a victory for the protesters demanding Nawaz Sharif resign immediately the events that followed revealed that Sharif had played well. Because in the course of the next few days, the events unfolded in a way to make Imran Khan look increasingly vacuous, while Sharif held fort, quietly. From threatening to storming Sharif’s house, Imran Khan came down to demanding a temporary resignation, where he asked Sharif to step aside for a month so that the judicial commission’s enquiry into the alleged rigging in the country’s polls concluded without government pressure.

Naturally, national and international media reacted with ridicule. Almost in the way India’s media reacted when AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal first organised a dharna against his city’s police force, then quit the government and then decided to run for the general elections this year by challenging Narendra Modi. Like Kejriwal’s recent political trajectory in India, Imran Khan’s gimmicky ‘protest’ has not been received well by the media in Pakistan and abroad.

Understandably, therefore, the editorial in Dawn punches several holes in PTI’s stand on the Nawaz Sharif government by observing, “Consider that the very elections that the PTI is disputing were held under a caretaker government. Clearly then, even within the PTI’s scheme of things, if the PML-N was allegedly able to rig an election when not in office, could it not affect the outcome of a judicial inquiry when the party has governments at both the centre and in the principally electorally disputed province of Punjab?”

Almost as a nod to Dawn’s stand, an editorial on another Pakistan daily Express Tribune describes Imran Khan’s situation as ‘Lose Lose’. Talking about Khan’s grand announcements, the writer Saroop Ijaz says about PTI’s stir, “Everybody wants it to stop, except maybe Mr Imran Khan. One can only speculate on how those who truly care for him will be pained to see all this happening to him. It is all heading towards ending with a whimper; any banging sound will only be made by heads.”

The second editorial in Dawn spells it out without mincing words: “What is the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s great revolutionary idea that will fix our broken homeland? Replacement of Nawaz Sharif with Imran Khan? Is the PTI fighting for a goal larger than the political aggrandisement of Imran Khan?”

Writer Babar Sattar observes, “If its sole purpose is to fix a perceived unproven wrong inflicted on the PTI voter in 2013, this movement by definition is a narrow partisan struggle not aimed at empowering ordinary citizens but a means to snatch power from the PML-N and hand it to the PTI.”

And it’s not just Pakistanis who seem to be discomfited by Imran Khan’s flashy political rhetoric and confusing political message. New York Times’ Declan Walsh observes in a piece on the protest that the mood at the protests is mostly carnival-esque. He writes, “On the streets, Mr. Khan’s movement has the boisterous feel of a midsummer music festival. Pop stars introduce his speeches, which are punctuated by songs during which his supporters, many of them women, burst into dance. A disc jockey known as DJ Butt is part of his entourage.”

It’s almost impossible to ignore the glaring similarities with the anti-corruption movement started by Anna Hazare, steeped in rousing youth support. Like that movement was almost a performed, with all its pop culture ramifications, Imran Khan’s ‘protest’ seems theatrical, almost an elaborate attempt to confer heroism on Imran Khan, anew.

It’s equally hard to ignore, how, like the anti-corruption movement that AAP’s grandiose anti-establishment politicking ran out of fizz. And the latter got branded as ‘anarchists’ – a brand they anyway decided to flaunt with impudence. However, the petulance had its effect on the voters, reflected in the shoddy performance of the party in the general elections.

Imran Khan, might, well be headed in the direction. The Wall Street Journal notes that despite all the sound and fury, despite Khan promising at least a million protesters, the officials numbers could be anything between just 20,000 and 50,000. Definitely not more than 60,000.

Like we had noted in our live blog in the past, Khan’s call to stop paying taxes and utility bills was met were severe criticism from the business communities and intellectuals of the country who pointed out that he is encouraging the citizens to serve a death blow to their own country’s economy.

Also, PTI’s voters in Peshawar were reportedly wary of Khan’s theatrics and said that none of the promises made to them have even been taken up by Khan in the past few months. The region continues to suffer from the same old ills.

Walsh notes in The New York Times article, “Mr. Khan’s call for supporters to stop paying taxes and utility bills met with widespread derision because few Pakistanis pay income taxes, and the country is already crippled with power shortages.” Much like Kejriwal’s call to Delhi to stop paying bills was met with a fair amount of concern.

If the alarm bells ringing about Khan manage to shake his voters up, this protest movement might be just his undoing.

Courtesy: First Post
http://m.firstpost.com/world/is-imran-khan-the-biggest-threat-to-democracy-in-pakistan-1680387.html

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PM Sharif’s convoy stopped to let Army chief pass

ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan witnessed a historic democratic transition, many in the county have started to believe that the days of military supremacy are over. But not on the roads, at least not yet.

As Nawaz Sharif, along with his family, left for the Presidency to take oath as prime minister for a record third time on Wednesday, he struck reality on the streets of Islamabad.

The question is: who is the real power wielder in Pakistan? The prime minister or the Army chief? Theoretically, the army chief is answerable to a grade-22 civil bureaucrat. Practically, he is mightier than any elected or non-elected individual in the country.

One such demonstration of this reality was witnessed Wednesday soon after Mian Nawaz Sharif’s election as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

After securing more than two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, the premier reached Punjab House to freshen up.

The prime minister was supposed to reach the Presidency before 4:00 pm to take oath from President Asif Ali Zardari.

At the oath-taking ceremony, services chiefs, political leaders, diplomats and senior civil and military officials had been invited.

PML-N sources and eyewitnesses said first to come out of Punjab House was the SUV carrying first lady Kulsoom Nawaz and her daughter Mariam Safdar. Just behind them were the vehicles of Hamza Shahbaz and Hassan Nawaz.

The convoy of the prime minister was standing at close distance from the cars of his family members. As soon as they reached the outer barrier of Punjab House adjacent to Margallah Road, an alter commando blew the whistle with full force ordering the driver to stop the vehicle.

Consequently, the prime minister’s convoy had to stop as well. The pause remained for two to three minutes.

The commando was there to make sure nothing should obstruct the route of the Army chief’s convoy, only allowing vehicles from Punjab House to pass after the entire convoy of the army chief drove away.

Continue reading PM Sharif’s convoy stopped to let Army chief pass

After owning the deadly bomb blast in Quetta, Taliban (TTP) welcomes Nawaz Sharif’s call for peace talks

TTP welcomes Nawaz’s call for peace talks

By Zahir Shah Sherazi

PESHAWAR: Nawaz Sharif’s call for peace talks made to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan was welcomed by the proscribed militant organisation on Thursday.

Talking to Dawn.com from an undisclosed area, TTP spokespersons Ehsanullah Ehsan said that the offer for peace talks made by Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif was a positive sign and that the militant organisation was devising a strategy over the course of action to be taken in response to the peace talk offers.

Moreover Ehsan also claimed that the banned oganisation was responsible for the bomb attack in Quetta today and said that the attack was carried out in retaliation to the killing in Balochistan of their activists from Malakand region.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://beta.dawn.com/news/1013236/ttp-welcomes-nawazs-call-for-peace-talks

via – Twitter

Nawaz promises to stand together with West in taking on terror

The next prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif has promised to stand together with the West in taking on the forces of terrorism, hours after voting finished in the country’s historic general election.

During a close-fought campaign Nawaz Sharif had promised to end drone strikes and review the country’s relationship with America. As he publicly claimed victory in the poll, the two-time prime minister sought to reassure Western governments and said he would not pull back on the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

“I have experience of working with US counterparts and will be very happy to further work with them,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

“What is most important is that we must never allow our soil to be used by anyone to create problems with any country in this world.”

Continue reading Nawaz promises to stand together with West in taking on terror

Nawaz says would invite Indian PM Singh to oath-taking

LAHORE: Nawaz Sharif on Monday said his government would establish friendly ties with India, adding that he would invite Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his oath-taking ceremony to Islamabad.

Speaking to foreign correspondents at his Raiwind residence, Sharif called upon Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf to respect the mandate of the people and accept the results of the elections.

He further said that his government would devise a national policy to tackle the problem of terrorism. Referring to the attack on PML-N leader Sanaullah Zehri in Balochistan, Sharif said it was not fair to say that terrorism had not affected PML-N.

Continue reading Nawaz says would invite Indian PM Singh to oath-taking

Pakistan’s Sharif calls for warmer ties with India

By Michael Georgy

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Nawaz Sharif, seen as the front-runner in Pakistan’s election race, said he would not allow militant groups to attack India from his country and would work to improve ties with rival New Delhi if elected.

If I become the prime minister I will make sure that the Pakistani soil is not used for any such designs against India,” Sharif told CNN-IBN in an interview.

Despite recent strains, India and Pakistan’s relations have improved after nose-diving in 2008 when gunmen killed 166 people in Mumbai in a three-day rampage that India blamed on a Pakistani militant group.

According to opinion polls, Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) is expected to win Saturday’s general election after capitalizing on the failure of the outgoing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to tackle everything from power cuts to a Taliban insurgency.

Continue reading Pakistan’s Sharif calls for warmer ties with India

Shahbaz speaks in Sindhi

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif spoke in Sindhi with a delegation of some senior journalists from Sindh visiting Lahore.

According to a handout, the journalists were pleasantly surprised by the chief minister’s fluent Sindhi. The chief minister exchanged views with the Sindhi journalists over the national situation and development projects in the Punjab.

Talking about Karachi, Shahbaz Sharif said Karachi was a beautiful city back in the 1960s when he was a student and used to visit the city frequently. However, he said he felt extremely sad to see the situation in Karachi when he visited the city some time back.

Courtesy: http://www.pmln.org/shahbaz-speaks-in-sindhi/

Battle for the Soul of Pakistan

By: Bruce Riedel

2013 will be a pivotal year in Pakistani history. National elections, turnover at the top military position and the denouement in the war in Afghanistan; all promise to make it a critical year for a country that is both, under siege by terrorism and the center of the global jihadist movement. The changes in Pakistan are unlikely to come peacefully and will have major implications for India and America. The stakes are huge in the most dangerous country in the world.

Pakistan is a country in the midst of a long and painful crisis. According to the government, since 2001 45,000 Pakistanis have died in terrorism related violence, including 7,000 security personnel. Suicide bombings were unheard of before 9/11; there have been 300 since then. The country’s biggest city, Karachi, is a battlefield.

One measure of Pakistan’s instability is that the country now has between 300 and 500 private security firms, employing 3,00,000 armed guards, most run by ex-generals. The American intelligence community’s new global estimate rates Pakistan among the most likely states in the world to fail by 2030.

Pakistan also remains a state sponsor of terror. Three of the five most-wanted on America’s counter-terrorism list live in Pakistan. The mastermind of the Mumbai massacre and head of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafeez Saeed, makes no effort to hide. He is feted by the army and the political elite, appears on television and calls for the destruction of India frequently and jihad against America and Israel.

The head of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Omar, shuttles between ISI safe houses in Quetta and Karachi. The Amir of Al Qaeda, Ayman Zawahiri, is probably hiding in a villa not much different than the one his predecessor was living in, with his wives and children, in Abbottabad until May 2011.

Pakistan also has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world, bigger than Great Britain’s. The nukes are in the hands of the generals, the civilian government only has nominal control. President Asif Ali Zardari has only nominal influence over the ISI as well; indeed it has conspired for five years to get rid of him.

Against the odds, Zardari has survived.

By next fall, he will have served five years, becoming the first elected civilian leader to complete a full term in office and pass power to another elected government. It will be a major milestone for Pakistani democracy. He has served years in prison and lost his wife to the terrorists who besiege the nation. He has often been called a criminal by many, including his own family, and the national symbol of corruption.

Yet, as president, he presided over a major transfer of power from the Presidency to the Prime Minister’s Office, even the titular national command authority over the nukes, to ensure the country is more democratic and stable.

The parliamentary election in the spring will be a replay of every Pakistani election since 1988, pitting Nawaz Sharif’s PML against the late Benazir Bhutto’s PPP. Needless to say, many Pakistanis are sick of the same stale choices. But the odds favour the old parties. Both Sharif and Zardari are committed to cautiously improving relations with India, keeping open ties with America and trying to reform the Pakistani economy. Both will have troubled relations with the Army.

The Economist has tagged Sharif as likely to do best. If he returns to the Prime Minister’s job for a third time, it will be a remarkable turn in his own odyssey.

Sharif was removed from the office in 1999 in an illegal coup and barely escaped alive, to go into exile in Saudi Arabia. His decision to withdraw Pakistan’s troops behind the LOC, during the Kargil war, prompted his fall from power; it also may have saved the world from nuclear destruction. It was a brave move. I remember talking to him and his family in the White House the day after he made the decision to pull back, you could see in his eyes that he knew Musharraf would defame him; but he knew he was in the right.

But many Pakistanis want a new face to lead their country. Out of desperation some are turning to Imran Khan to save Pakistan. The ISI is probably helping his campaign behind the scenes to stir up trouble for the others. He is a long shot at best. He is much more anti-American, anti-drone and ready to make deals with the Taliban, to stop the terror at home. Yet, he understands well that Pakistan is a country urgently in need of new thinking.

Whoever wins will inherit an economy and government that is in deep trouble. Two-thirds of 185 million Pakistanis are under 30, and 40 million of the 70 million 5 to 19 years old are not in school. The youth bulge has yet to spike. Less than one million Pakistanis paid taxes last year. Most politicians don’t pay any taxes. Power blackouts are endemic. Clean water is increasingly scarce even as catastrophic floods are more common. Growth is 3%, too little to keep up with population demand.

So, it is no wonder that the generals prefer to have the civilians responsible for managing the unmanageable, while they guard their prerogatives and decide national security issues. As important as the coming elections will be, the far more important issue is who will be the next Chief of Army Staff.

The incumbent General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was given an unprecedented three-year extension in 2010. He is the epitome of the Pakistani officer corps and the so-called ‘deep state’. Pervez Musharraf made him Director General of the ISI in 2004. It was on his watch that the Afghan Taliban recovered and regrouped in Quetta, Osama bin Laden built his hideout 800 yards outside Kayani’s alma mater the Kakul Military Academy in Abbottabad in 2005, and planning began for the Lashkar-e-Taiba attack on Mumbai. He was DG/ISI when David Headley, the American serving life for his role in the 2008 attack, began his reconnaissance trips to Mumbai to prepare the way for 26/11. Kayani probably authorized the funds for Headley’s cover and travel. He is the first DG/ISI to become COAS. His term expires in September, 2013.

The history of civilians choosing Chiefs of Army Staff in Pakistan is not encouraging.

Continue reading Battle for the Soul of Pakistan

Pakistan – The soldiers’ dangerous itch

There are fears that the army is thinking of moving against the civilian government. That would be a disaster

IN MOST countries the sight of 50,000 devout Sufis riding into the capital in brightly coloured buses and lorries would not raise the spectre of military intervention. But so convoluted are Pakistan’s politics that the march led by Tahir ul Qadri is read by many as an indication that the army is planning another intervention in government (see article). If that happens, it will be a catastrophe for the country.

Mr Qadri, a cleric who served briefly as a politician under the latest military dictator, has recently returned from Canada and says he wants a “revolution” against the civilian government. He has emerged from nowhere, yet organised a march which arrived in Islamabad on January 14th—no mean feat, since marches are usually banned in the city—and which was broadcast non-stop on television. Pakistan’s many conspiracy theorists, encouraged by the country’s many conspiracies, suspect that he may be the army’s latest favourite to replace the politicians with whom the soldiers have lost patience.

Mr Qadri’s rise is not the only reason Pakistanis have to worry about the soldiers. On January 15th the Supreme Court suddenly ordered the arrest of the prime minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, over a long-running bribery scandal. The court, along with the army, has long been hostile to the government. There is talk in Pakistan of a “Bangladesh option”, a reference to a quiet coup in that country, engineered by the army in January 2007 and legitimised by the judiciary, leading to a two-year suspension of democracy in favour of unelected technocrats.

If the army were to try to get rid of the civilian government, now would be the time, for two reasons. An election is due this year, and a new administration with a decent mandate would be harder to bin than the tarnished Pakistan Peoples Party government of President Asif Ali Zardari. And this year, too, the chief of army staff, General Ashfaq Kayani, is due to step down. His term in office has already been extended; but he may wish to defer his retirement a little longer.

A recent Pew survey found that Pakistanis are the least enthusiastic about democracy among six Muslim countries polled. That is hardly surprising. After nearly five years of civilian rule, the country is in a desperate state. Terrorist bombings are horribly frequent. The latest, in Balochistan, killed 86 people (see article). The country’s politicians are venal, self-interested and chaotic. Its growth is feeble, its debt unsustainable and its tax revenues have collapsed.

Yet rather than being a solution to Pakistan’s problems, the army is a large part of the reason for them. Its frequent interventions contribute to corruption: politicians reckon they need to make money quickly. Its dominance distorts spending priorities: the government spends around ten times as much on defence as on education. And it undermines the country’s security: the threat of war with India provides a justification for army rule, which is why Pakistanis fear the recent flare-up on the border with India in which five soldiers died.

This could be its big chance

Pakistan could be on the verge of a breakthrough. If the election happens and if it is won by a coalition led by Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister, then it will be the first time that an elected leader has served a full term and handed power to a successor. Such a peaceful transition would be a milestone in Pakistan’s journey towards democracy. It might even help the country get a decent government. It is to be hoped that Pakistan’s soldiers are not thinking of derailing the process. America, which in the past has shown a regrettable ambivalence towards military rule in the country, must make it clear that if they do they will get no support from Pakistan’s friends.

Courtesy: The Economist
http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21569733-there-are-fears-army-thinking-moving-against-civilian-government-would

Qadri has returned to subvert electoral process: Nawaz

PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif.
PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif.

LAHORE: Referring to Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran chief Tahirul Qadri, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif has said that the “Sheikhul Islam” had come to Pakistan to subvert the electoral process and create anarchy in the country. Talking to media after meeting with the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) chief, Talal Akbar Bugti, on Thursday, the former prime minister said that the threat to hold a long march by Dr Qadri just ten weeks before the general elections appeared to be a conspiracy to create hurdles in the election process. “The Canadian national (Qadri) wants to derail democracy, which will not be allowed. A few people cannot hold hostage the entire nation,” he said. Nawaz said that the long march would create chaos in the country, which had already been hit by severe challenges.

Continue reading Qadri has returned to subvert electoral process: Nawaz

Tahirul Qadri, the Bhutto boy, and the establishment’s last play

by Adnan Khalid Rasool

Based on the political events of the last 10 days, one of the most commonly asked questions in Pakistan is:

‘What is going on?’

As in what is going with the whole Qadri parade, what is up with Bilawal’s launch, and generally what on earth is going on in Pakistan?

Simply put, there are two sides going up against each other and all of these events, or whatever you want to call them, are just parts of that.

Who are these sides and what are they after?

One side to all this is the establishment.

For the last five years, the establishment has played one hand after another against a democratically elected government but failed, as for once, the largest opposition parties refused to play along with them. So a year ago, they launched their own horse in the race who initially did very well but later fizzled out like most of the establishment’s schemes.

The establishment learnt from this failed experiment and went back to the drawing board and came up with Tahirul Qadri. Tahirul Qadri, already having played a pawn multiple times in the establishment’s miscalculated moves, jumped right back on the horse and rode in promising to change the system. But as is the case with most of the establishment’s experiments, he came, he saw and he backed off from what he said.

So one side to this fight is these guys, but why are they doing this?

The answer to that is actually very simple but not very commonly discussed.

What the establishment is after is something dubbed as the ‘Bangladesh formula’. For years, our army and their army have been messing around in politics without much success. No matter how many times they took over, they were always kicked out eventually and in this process they ended up earning a bad name. But about four years ago, the Bangladeshi army finally cracked the code to solve this complicated riddle. The play was that the army does not get involved; instead a caretaker government needs to be formed that would include all branches of the state including judiciary and the military.

This way the army would get a seat on the table, but it would not be the bad guy as the caretaker government would make it a ‘joint effort’. And just to make things more ‘legitimate’, smaller insignificant parties would be invited to become part of the caretaker setup. That would then decide the rules for elections which would be delayed from their actual date as the new structures being designed just happen to take about two years to complete.

Continue reading Tahirul Qadri, the Bhutto boy, and the establishment’s last play

Sindh nationalist parties to observe Nov 30 as ‘black day’

By Hassan Siddiqui

Karachi: The nationalist parties of Sindh have announced to observe PPP’s formation day (November 30) as ‘black day’ and lodge protest during the president’s address in Sindh Assembly.

Awami National Party, Functional League and opposition parties have agreed to support the protest. Moreover, chief PML-N, Nawaz Sharif has phoned Chairman Sindh Bachayo Committee (Safe Sindh Committee), Jalal Mehmood Shah and assured him of complete support on the issue.

The protest of nationalist parties seems to be against the controversial local government ordinance in the province.

Courtesy: The News Tribe

http://www.thenewstribe.com/2012/11/26/sindh-nationalist-parties-to-observe-nov-30-as-black-day/

Petition Challenging SPLGA – Support from North American Sindhis

By: Khalid Hashmani

I have read the article of adi Sarah Zaman a couple of times but I still do not see any argument against the legal challenge except that the Supreme Court may give a decision of rejecting the argument of Barrister Ghumro and that it will weaken the case of Sindh against SPLGA. The argument made is also that this legal challenge will weaken Nawaz Sharif and strengthen MQM. My view is that if we Sindhis are afraid of even challenging a violation of our rights in Pakistan’s supreme court, how are we going to file the case of Sindhi rights at the International Court and the UN? Do we expect Nawaz Sharif to guarantee Sindh rights?

Whether or not Nawaz Sharif wins the next election should not digress us from taking the actions that we believe are in the larger interest of Sindh. At best, Nawaz Sharif can guarantee us the same deal that he gave us when he won the election last time and became Prime Minister and imposed his Chief Minister on Sindh just as the PPP did it. It would be a grave mistake if Sindhis assumed that any political leader would help resolve this issue for them. The civil society has to take it upon itself to beat the crisis. It does not matter who the winner of election is. Sindhis will keep losing until they are able to get up on their own to safeguard their interests. We simply cannot afford any more to depend that a political party that is popular in Punjab to protect Sindh rights.

In objecting to the Barrister Ghumro’s legal petition, adi Sarah Zaman raises the following seven (7) questions: 1. Was the decision to file a petition by Barrister Ghumro approved by the Sindh Bachayo Committee? 2. Is the legal petition in the interest of Sindhis? 3. Does the Sindh Bachayo Committee agree with the main argument of the Barrister Ghumro’s petition? 4. Is this not an action to protect MQM and hurt Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League? 5. Is the present government in Islamabad doing what one would say the “back foot playing” game to push back Nawaz Sharif? 6. Can Sindh afford to bear the loss if the Supreme Court gives the decision that is not acceptable by Sindhis? 7. Were the intellectuals, writers, and poets consulted on the filing of the legal petition and were they in agreement?

Other than pointing out another legal point, adi Zaman has neither analyzed nor provided any answers to the questions raised by her. On the legal point, if I am reading correctly, she says “Since the (SPLGA) Ordinance was sent on October 11th in the form of a ‘Bill’ to the Governor of Sindh for his approval. That bill, according to newspaper reports was signed by the Governor and sent to Ministry of law on 18th October. For this reason the petition can be nullified. The attorney of Barrister sahib should have waited when the representative of Sindh would have come on November 8th”. Frankly I cannot make head and tail of this argument and would appreciate anyone to clarify as to what adi Zaman means by this argument?

I am in 100% agreement adi Zaman’s advice to Sindh intellectuals and leaders that it is their duty to awaken the people and not to mislead Sindhis in taking the steps that would lead them to further misery.

She also says that Barrister Ghumro has taken 180 degrees turn from what he said before on the issue of SPLGA and his action of filing petition. I have tried to researched this alleged “turn about” by Barrister Ghumro but cannot find any evidence. Once again, I would appreciate anyone to clarify as to what adi Zaman means by this allegation?

Another point that adi Zama makes is that Sindhis in London decided to focus on awakening people in Sindh instead of demonstrating in front of 10 Downing Street and shouting “Balle Balle..” or going to international forums and courts. First of all, Sindhis never shout “Balle, Balle…”, second, to the best of my recollection WSC held an impressive demonstration against SPLGA in London and many SANA GTA Chapter members gathered to tell Canadian authorities about how SPLGA violated human rights of Sindhis.

I am very much concerned about the campaign against one of the most active champion of Sindh Rights Barrister Ghumro. He has fought for Sindhi Rights in many innovative ways and has been source of most intelligent and thoroughly researched legal advice to Sindhis. I would trust him any day more than any urban or rural wadero or any political party in Pakistan. I abhor any attempts to create rift among Sindh’s intellectuals, poets, and writers. I believe that we should talk to every one and any one but please do not insist that Sindhis refrain from adapting an independent line of action and get on the bandwagon of Nawaz Sharif, Pir Pagaro, Altaf Hussain, Imran Khan, or Asif Zardari. This would hurt Sindhis both in the long term and short term.

Our intellectuals, poets, and writers had been in slumber for quite sometime and now that they are wakening and activating themselves, it will be a unforgivable crime to create a rift among them so that one or other political party wins the next elections in Pakistan. In the long run, only Sindh’s intellectuals, poets, writers, and other civil society will keep the candle of Sindhiat alive and help Sindhis to defeat SPLGA just like they defeated “one unit”.

Continue reading Petition Challenging SPLGA – Support from North American Sindhis

We are billionaires, let Pakistanis suffer! Ishaq Dar sons..

We are billionaires, let Pakistanis suffer!

By Ahmed Tamjid Aijazi

Dubai: HDS Tower in Cluster F of Jumeirah Lakes Tower is only one of the 34 story buildings that belong to the mighty HDS Group. The News Tribe learnt that several other buildings in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Business Bay and International City, like the HDS Sunstar Towers, are also owned by the millionaire brothers, surprisingly Pakistanis.

The uniqueness of the car rental company lies in its array of niche car manufacturers and models of cars unavailable to the market. HDS Rent a Car owns the 2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4, Mercedes Benz SLS 63 AMG Gullwing, apart from the more economy cars such as Peugeots and Renaults. Some of the many exotic, luxury and SUVs in the lineup are the the Ferrari Berlinetta F12 and the McLaren F1, and you can do the numbers yourself!

The owners from a ‘poor and starving’ country Pakistan, where the average monthly income for an individual is $41, are offering such exotic services in Dubai, which even the local Emiratis fail to afford.

Sources further told The News Tribe that the story does not end here; another Finance Minister from the Nawaz Sharif Government, made hundreds of real estate transactions with Madhu Bhindari, an Indian billionaire entrepreneur, who is on a run-away from Dubai, after losing 150 million dirhams in the 2008 crisis. However, the finance minister’s buildings and investments are still there, earning a hefty income.

A Pakistani real estate agent, who claimed to carry out transactions for a serving government officer in Sindh Government, told The News Tribe that a lot of Pakistani bureaucrats and politicians have properties worth millions in Dubai.

“The son of a serving government officer from Sindh government invested a huge amount of money in real estate here in 2008, and I carried out transactions for him,” the agent claimed.

“Where are these politicians getting the money from?” asked a frustrated Pakistani in Dubai, who came to know that the building he lived in is owned by Ali and Hasnain Dar’s HDS Group.

“If they have billions of dollars and so much money, why is it not in Pakistan? These politicians talk about the welfare of Pakistani people, but all they can think about is themselves!”

Previously, Director Swiss Bank had stated that Pakistan has around 97 billion dollars only in Swiss Banks. But, it seems that Pakistani politicians and businessmen have more than 97 billion dollars outside Swiss Banks, invested in various countries and financial hubs like Dubai.

According to the Swiss Bank director, if the money is utilized for the welfare of Pakistan and its people, then Pakistan can make tax free budget for next 30 years, can create 60 million jobs, can carpet four lanes road from any village to Islamabad, provide endless power supply, every citizen can earn Rs. 20,000 salary for the next 60 years and there is no need to take loans from IMF or World Bank.

Courtesy: The News Tribe

http://www.thenewstribe.com/2012/08/11/we-are-billionaires-let-pakistanis-suffer/#.UEVIKpZXljs

Partymen caution Nawaz against blindly supporting judiciary

By Zia Khan

ISLAMABAD: Leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have begun to advise party chief Nawaz Sharif against blind support for judicial activism.

The main opposition party has sided with the higher judiciary in the standoff between the government and the apex court, which has begun to reach a crucial point once again – however, recent developments have led to a reconsideration among the PML-N’s hierarchy.

PML-N insiders told The Express Tribune that several central party leaders had cautioned Nawaz to be calculated in his backing for the judiciary, warning of a slippery slope. “A significant number of people in the party feel the judiciary in its decisions recently, and [Chief Justice] Iftikhar Chaudhry in his statements, have crossed certain red lines. This is not a good omen for the democratic system,” said an official. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

Asma Jahangir or Hussain Haroon as caretaker PM?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading Asma Jahangir or Hussain Haroon as caretaker PM?

Pakistan – Punjab government declares martial law in hospitals.

By: Nusrat Javed

Why Shahbaz Sharif always fails to address any crisis by political means and administrative tools put at his disposal? When he was the Chief Minister of Punjab the last time, he asked the Army to find out the ghost schools for him; his elder brother also asked the army to take care of electricity stealing and now Shahbaz has asked the army doctors to fill the void left by protesting doctors.

Courtesy: Bolta Pakistan facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/boltapakistan1/posts/372935972774149

via – Twitter.

Chief Justice is responsible for the crisis – by Sikandar Mehdi

Justice (r) Fakhurddin J Ibrahim, a respected jurist also known to have close relationship with Nawaz Sharif & PML-N has very different opinion of CJs’ ruling while PML-N & PTI are trying to ride on the back of judiciary. On this program he openly criticized judiciary but after he left the show the ultimate Legal Expert Dr. Shahid Masood criticized him with some lame and frivolous examples.

Our media is acting like Toilet Paper of judiciary especially. Everybody criticized Iftikhar M****l except Pakistani media. All international media and especially Indian SC judge has openly criticized this Clint Eastwood style of Justice (Clint Eastwood had no PCO oath and definitely no son like Arsalan). Since the judicial coup not even a single international outlet has praised the decision but rather labelled it as ” REVENGE DECISION”. This farce called judiciary is bent on taking PPP government down but instead they are making heroes out of fallen leaders. Mr. Iftikhar m****l no matter what you do, you can never legally become president or the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Your wish can only be served by illegal means. It is matter of discussion, want you want to name it Bangladesh model, revolution, judicial restraint, National interest, but between you and the whole world, it will still be ILLEGAL.

Media pundits who have continuously spread right wing pro Taliban/Al-Qaeeda agenda are now the Legal experts too. Our supreme court is in hyper drive with Dual core Pentium 10 processor to derail democracy or at least weaken it. First I was of the opinion that instead of having all this democratic set up and continuous military interruptions, why not make COAS to be president of the country but now I think why not make CJ the president of the country and let him run this bloody show. Forget Bangladesh model, make a new Pakistani model. After 62 years of independence we are still searching for damn models. We had military governments, we had imported PM’s governments, we had technocrat governments, we had lota governments, we had Ameer ul Momineens and why the not this new thing. We love experimentation what the heck, have this Judge be the president, CJ, PM and do what ever he wants to do with this unfortunate country self proclaimed Fort of Islam, leader of Ummah country. Mr. CJ go a head and make Mullah Omar the president of country if it serves you better.

As the time goes by I fail to see any light left for democracy in this hell bound country. First this weak political government couldn’t provide par excellence governance but rather a bad performance, then on top of it we have this PCO loving judiciary backed by media and right wing political parties harking to shut down this democracy-wemocracy bullshit.

This social fibre of this country was destroyed by uneducated bearded mullah with its out of the world interpretation of religion and now we have this bloody new kind of BUFOONS ***** and **** who are interpreting constitution for us. God help us.

Fawad

Need to watch at least first 15 minutes renowned jurist & former judge of Supreme Court of Pakistan, Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim says Parliament is Supreme and CJ is responsible for the crisis.

Faisla Aapka with Asma Shirazi, 26th June 2012

Courtesy: LUBP

http://criticalppp.com/archives/82076?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Via – Siasat.pk » YouTube » Twitter

The Washington Post – Pakistan’s Supreme Court sets collision course with new prime minister

By Richard Leiby

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan–Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday demanded that the nation’s brand-new prime minister follow an order to reopen a long-dormant corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari, setting up the likelihood of a continuing constitutional crisis.

The court last week disqualified from office Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s longest-serving prime minister, whom it convicted of contempt in April because Gilani refused to follow the same order.

The ruling party replaced Gilani with a former federal energy chief, Raja Pervez Ashraf, who has already indicated he will not comply with the order and who faces his own set of corruption charges in a separate case before the high court.

Some political and legal observers have accused the court, headed by populist, corruption-battling chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, of working to destabilize an already-shaky civilian government. Ashraf and his predecessor maintain that the constitution grants the president immunity from prosecution, but the court has consistently ruled otherwise, saying no one is above the law. …..

Read more » The Washington Post

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

Constitutional Conspiracy against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry – by Riaz Malik

Greetings to His Holiness Highness Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary

Dear Enlightened Ghairatmand followers of Chief Justice of Muslim Tehrik League Party and Supreme Leagues of Pakistan (Hamid Khan-Hafiz Saeed Group)

I am even more hurt than many of you at the blasphemous content that is being said about our Beloved Infallible Chief Justice. First it was RAW agent Markandey Katju who said:

“Pakistani court has no right to dismiss a Prime Minister or overrule the constitutional immunity given to the President.”

Pakistani Supreme Court has gone overboard – by Justice Markandey Katju (Supreme Court of India) http://bit.ly/NTQlXh

Just because someone adds Justice before their name, does not mean he knows more about the law than great Punjabi Puttar Patriots like Sharif-ul-Raiwand and Hazrat Imran Khan.

After that a deep Amriki-Zionist-Neocon-capitalist-Masonic Lodhi conspiracy has been hatched to entrap the brilliant but simple son of His Holiness Highness Chief Justice who we should refer to as Ibne Iftikhar out of respect for his infallible FATHER. Everyone knows that Ibne Iftikhar made his money from selling cures for cancer, sewing namaz caps and doing commentary on kabaddi tournaments.  In Monte Carlo casino, he was simply giving a lecture on advanced probability theory.  Along with his female teaching assistant, he was presenting on topics like random variables, stochastic processes and non-deterministic events. There is no evidence; this LUBP Special: Documentary evidence of payments made to Pakistan’s Chief Justice’s son is all rubbish.

Continue reading Constitutional Conspiracy against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry – by Riaz Malik