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
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
By: Asma Jahangir
THE masks are off and daggers drawn. Pakistan’s democratic process may once again become a part of history, leaving the world to wonder how we could so willingly poison ourselves in the belief that it would lead to better days.
Those in power have consistently let their people down — ruthlessly. But no one is being fooled. They may feel helpless in the face of manipulation by everyone trying to save their skins — the judiciary included — but as the courts have often held themselves the truth does eventually prevail.
In the meanwhile, the country is headed for another phase of political instability that may finally lead to yet another autocracy. Sense may prevail at the end, but in the process, many heads will roll and hopes will be demolished. These are sad days for Pakistan.
ISLAMABAD: Business tycoon Malik Riaz, speaking with reference to the Dr Arsalan Iftikhar suo motu case, on Tuesday claimed that he did not give any bribes to anyone but rather was blackmailed.
Riaz, who had earlier appeared before the Supreme Court to hand over his statement, was speaking to the media at a hotel in Islamabad.
“Blackmailers were sent after me. Where should I go? Why was I pushed against the wall?” Riaz questioned.
Riaz said that despite being blackmailed, he continued to “bear” the trouble to avoid destroying his credibility and his career. “I cannot see this country collapsing. I have helped built it.”
He further claimed that there is no free judiciary in the country and it is being run by a ‘don’. “Arsalan Iftikhar is the don. But I still respect the chief justice.”
By Pervez Hoodbhoy
The honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan says he is losing patience with the Capital Development Authority (CDA). In a court-initiated (suo motu) action, he wants a quick rebuilding of the Jamia Hafsa madrassa, flattened by bulldozers in 2007, after it became the centre of an insurgency. A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the CJ, is now dragging procrastinators over the coals by issuing notices to the CDA chairman, Islamabad’s chief commissioner and the interior secretary. The Court has also expressed its “displeasure” over the status of police cases against the Lal Masjid clerics and ordered the deputy attorney general to appear before it next week.
It is dangerous to comment on Pakistan’s highest level of judiciary. So let me solemnly declare that the highest wisdom must lie behind this extraordinary judicial activism. Nevertheless, I must confess my puzzlement because — as was seen by all — Lal Masjid and the adjoining Jamia Hafsa had engaged in a full-scale bloody insurrection against the Pakistani government, state, and public. Hundreds died. That those who led the insurrection should be gifted 20 kanals of the choicest land in sector H-11 of Islamabad is, I think, slightly odd.
Such thoughts crossed my mind last week when a flat tyre occasioned me to walk along the outer periphery of the freshly-painted and rebuilt Red Mosque. I momentarily stopped to read a large wind and rain-weathered monument which, placed on the government-owned land that Jamia Hafsa once stood upon, declares (in Urdu) that “The sacred Islamic worship place here was destroyed by a tyrannical ruler to prevent Sharia from becoming the law”.
The story of the insurrection and its tragic end is well-known. In early January 2007, the Lal Masjid had demanded the immediate rebuilding of eight illegally-constructed mosques that had been knocked down by the CDA. Days later, an immediate enforcement of the Sharia system in Islamabad was demanded. Thereafter, armed vigilante groups from this madrassa roamed the streets and bazaars. They kidnapped ordinary citizens and policemen, threatened shopkeepers, and repeated the demands of the Taliban and other tribal militants fighting the Pakistan Army.
At a meeting held in Lal Masjid on April 6, 2007, it was reported that 100 guest religious leaders from across the country pledged to die for the cause of Islam and Sharia. On April 12, in an FM broadcast, the clerics issued a threat to the government: “There will be suicide blasts in the nook and cranny of the country. We have weapons, grenades and we are expert in manufacturing bombs. We are not afraid of death….”
Lal Masjid was headed by two clerics, the brothers Maulana Abdul Aziz and Maulana Abdur Rashid Ghazi. They had attracted a core of militant organisations around them, including the pioneer of suicide bombings in the region, Jaish-e-Muhammad. Also on April 12 2007, Rashid Ghazi, a former student of my university, broadcast the following chilling message to our female students:
“The government should abolish co-education. Quaid-e-Azam University has become a brothel. Its female professors and students roam in objectionable dresses. They will have to hide themselves in hijab otherwise they will be punished according to Islam…. Our female students have not issued the threat of throwing acid on the uncovered faces of women. However, such a threat could be used for creating the fear of Islam among sinful women. There is no harm in it. There are far more horrible punishments in the Hereafter for such women.”
For months, unhindered by General Musharraf’s government, the Lal Masjid operated a parallel government that was barely a mile or two away from the presidency and parliament. Its minions ran an unlicenced FM radio station, occupied a government building, set up a parallel system of justice, made bonfires out of seized cassettes and CDs, received the Saudi Arabian ambassador on the mosque premises, and negotiated with the Chinese ambassador for the release of his country’s kidnapped nationals. But for the subsequent outrage expressed by Pakistan’s all-weather ally, the status quo would have continued indefinitely.
Nevertheless, our courts say that they cannot find any evidence of wrongdoing during the entire six-month long saga. They say there are no witnesses or acceptable evidence. Abdul Aziz and Umme Hassan (his wife, who heads Jamia Hafsa), therefore, stand exonerated. Also lacking, they say, is proof that the Lal Masjid accused possessed heavy weaponry.
But Islamabad’s residents know better. When the showdown came in July 2007, machine guns chattered away as mortars and rocket launchers exchanged their deadly fire. Copious TV coverage shows armed madrassa students putting on gas masks to avoid the dense smoke. The final push left 10 of Pakistan’s crack SSG commandos dead, together with scores of defenders. A tidal wave of suicide attacks — as promised by the clerics — promptly followed.
Some speculate that the land gifted to Aziz and Hassan is actually the price for keeping hornets inside their nest. This is not impossible because suicide bomb attacks inside Pakistan’s major cities have decreased dramatically in the last two years. The authorities claim credit, saying the reason is better intelligence about violent groups and better policing. But anyone driving through Islamabad knows how trivially easy it is to conceal weapons and explosives; the security measures are certainly a nuisance to citizens but hopelessly ineffective otherwise. So, could the H-11 land offer be part of a much wider peace deal with various militant groups?
The temptation to make deals has grown after the battle for Lal Masjid. It is clear who won and who lost. Even as they fought tooth and nail against the Pakistan Army, the madrassa clerics were never dismissed and continued to receive their full government salaries. On the other hand, General Musharraf — who acted only after things went out of control — now sulks in exile. All madrassa curriculum reform plans are dead; the government does not talk about them anymore — let the clerics teach what they want.
Appeasement is the hallmark of a weak state and dithering leadership. Once again, Pakistan is showing its helplessness in the face of those who carry guns and bombs. For a country alleged to have the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal, this is surely ironical.
Courtesy: The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2012.
KARACHI, March 4: An alliance of minority parties on Sunday appealed to Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to take a suo motu notice of the kidnapping of a Hindu girl and order her immediate return to her parents to restore the waning sense of security in the minorities.
Speaking at a protest demonstration staged outside the Karachi Press Club, Pakistan Minority Leaders Alliance representatives said they would launch a protest movement and stage a sit-in on March 10 if the authorities failed to recover the girl, Rinkle Kumari.
According to an uncle of the girl, Raj Kumar, she was kidnapped from her house in Mirpur Mathelo over a week ago and forced to marry Naveed Shah and change her religion. He alleged that the case was heard by a civil judge in Ghotki, but he did not allow her relatives to enter the courtroom while giving a verdict in favour of the ‘kidnapper’, Mr Shah.
Speaking on the occasion, Jeay Sindh Mahaz chief Riaz Chandio expressed solidarity with the minority community members and demanded arrest of and punishment to culprits involved in her kidnapping.
He said those belonging to religious minority groups, including Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, were sons of the soil. They should not feel threatened by such acts, as all Sindhis were one and that they were equal citizens and had equal rights, he said.
He said it was unfortunate that the girl was given in police custody instead of being sent to Darul Aman.
Mr Chandio announced that if “the daughter of Sindh” was not rescued and returned and culprits were not arrested soon and punished according to law, a province-wide sit-it would be staged on Saturday.
Manohar Lal, Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker in the national assembly, condemned the kidnapping and forced conversion of a young girl. He urged the president to take notice of the incident.
He said Islam guaranteed protection to minorities, but such people were giving a bad name to the religion. With such incidents, a sense of insecurity was growing in the community, he said. Earlier their sons were kidnapped for ransom, but now their daughters were being kidnapped and forcibly converted, he remarked.
Jeay Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party leader Gulzar Soomro said that forced conversions were a conspiracy against Islam, which preaches love and peace and opposes use of force. He said the culprits were agents of the establishment that wanted to divide the Sindhis.
“Our patience should not be mistaken as our weakness,” he warned, seeking her immediate recovery.
A Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader and former lawmaker, Michael Javed, said the Quaid-i-Azam had said that the minorities would be equal citizens in Pakistan, but over the years the Quaid’s message was being forgotten.
Amar Lal, a community leader, said he and the girl’s uncle had met US consulate general staff a few days back and political counsellor Junaid J. Muneer had assured him that the issue would be taken up with the authorities concerned. He said he had also received a call from a former political counsellor of the US embassy in Islamabad, L.K. Robinson, who was currently in Washington. He told him that he would take up the issue with human rights organisations there.
Mahesh Singh, Mangla Sharma, Ramesh Kumar, Vijay Kumar and others also spoke.
Raj Kumar, the girl’s uncle, earlier informed the gathering that on Feb 24, a few armed men barged into her home in Mirpur Mathelo and kidnapped her at gunpoint.
He said a case was filed in a Ghotki court where he said she gave a statement about the threats she had received to convert and marry Naveed Shah or she and her entire family would be killed. He quoted her as saying in the court that she wanted to return and live with her parents.
He also alleged that the judge, in the presence of gunmen in the court, sent her to police custody rather than to her parents’ home or to a shelter home. The next hearing was scheduled to be held at 11am on Feb 27, but the case was heard at 8.15am and the girl’s family was not allowed to enter the courtroom, he said, adding that the judge then gave a verdict in favour of Mr Shah.
Mr Kumar urged the chief justice to take a suo motu notice of the issue and order her safe return to her parents.
Earlier, the participants in the demonstration chanted slogans such as ‘we want justice’ and ‘Rinkle be rescued’.
Call for end to bickering among institutions
HYDERABAD, Oct 20: Judiciary and Executive are two important pillars of a democratic society and the present split between the two is apt to creating disastrous situation for the state, if not checked early.
This and other similar concerns were expressed by the Sindh Democratic Forum over boiling political state of affairs ruling the country. The SDF, in a statement, criticized the national institutions of not resolving the basic issues of general public like growing inflation, increasing poverty, lawlessness, daily killings, unemployment, electricity problem and other allied issues instead were busy in bickering with each other over petty matters.
People had endured enough and now they want peace for which cooperation among national institutions was a prerequisite, it further stated.
Commenting over the midnight drama between the judiciary and the executive, it stated that perhaps it was for the first time in contemporary judicial history that a full bench was called on a rumour which has damaged the sanctity of justice.
The democratic-minded people feel the elected parliament a supreme body and because the 18th Amendment was passed by the representative of 16 parliamentary parties, therefore there appears no supra body which can challenge parliament’s decisions, said the SDF.
The coverage of court proceedings, judges’ statements, conservative comments by media and support of right wing political parties is portraying as if judiciary was being influenced by armed forces and they were trying to disband the present democratic setup, it further said.
The SDF appealed to superior judiciary to protect the cause of justice and avoid creating the impression as if it were against the elected parliament and democracy.
Judiciary being an important pillar of state and custodian of justice should give a shut up call to irresponsible statements of media, besides taking suo-motu notice against such utterances, it said.
Read more : DAWN
By Aziz Narejo
We have seen all kinds of weird politics and political ‘changes’ in Pakistan. We have seen serving PM’s murder; overthrow/ change of governments by first Governor General and then by the next GG; overthrow/ change of governments by presidents; overthrow/ change of governments by military generals; now are you ready for a ‘judicial change’ of the government?
We have even seen a ‘judicial murder’. If they can kill an elected PM, why can’t they just dispose off another elected PM? Pakistani Adliya zindabad!? …
The “independent” judiciary went after the judges who took oath under PCO in 2007 but they can’t go after the judges who took oath under PCO in 1999. They don’t like extensions of other government officials but extended services of chosen brother judges. They opened some cases settled under infamous NRO but can’t do so with thousands of criminal cases settled under same NRO because they don’t have the spine to take on the … MQM.
They can’t take up the Mehrangate scandal case, which is sitting on their desks right under their noses since so many years but they have declared ‘Jihad’ against a singled out culprit. May be they don’t like his teeth!
How about a suo motu action against the judges who legalized the Musharraf coup? That is a fit case of High Treason under Article 6?
Courtesy: Sindhi e-llists/ e-groups, September 27, 2010