Tag Archives: timing

Pakistan’s ruinous political farce

By M Ilyas Khan

The political pantomime played out in Pakistan over the past few years is degenerating into farce.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court terminated the career of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani – disqualifying him from office on the basis of a contempt of court conviction linked to his refusal to reopen corruption cases against President Zardari.

Two days later, a lower court issued a warrant for the arrest of Makhdoom Shahabuddin, a member of Mr Gilani’s party, just hours after he was nominated as his possible successor. Uncanny timing, some might say.

Late on Thursday night Mr Shahabuddin was still closeted with senior colleagues at the president’s house – but whether he will be a free man come morning remains to be seen.

Many in Pakistan see these developments as signs that the skirmishes between the judiciary, the military and the civilian government are now erupting into all-out war.

This is all happening at a time when the country can least afford it – relations with the West are at an all-time low, the economy is heading for disaster and people are battling severe power and fuel shortages.

To compound matters, nuclear-armed Pakistan – which is known to have promoted armed militant groups over the past two decades – has steadily been losing territory to these groups in recent years. That’s a major issue for its neighbours and the wider world.

But instead of dealing with the big problems, Pakistan’s power elite have other fish to fry.

Military role

A major part of the problem lies in the traditional domination of the military in Pakistan, and the fact that the judiciary has supported successive attempts by the generals to cut the politicians down to size.

The civilians have rarely held the reins of power, and when they have, they have always had the military establishment to contend with.

Accusations of corruption are a time-tested tool to beat the civilians with, and corruption cases lodged against them during the country’s 64-year history literally run into the hundreds. Few of those cases have ever been resolved.

But they have been successfully used to bring every single civilian government down well before the end of its constitutional five-year term.

The present administration is the longest-serving civilian government Pakistan has ever had – it is just over six months short of reaching the finish line.

If it does, it will set a new precedent – and this is an unsavoury proposition for the establishment for two reasons.

First, prolonged civilian rule is likely to permanently dent the political influence of the military, and thereby the massive business and real estate empires it has acquired.

Second, while Pakistan’s military and civil bureaucracy are dominated by Punjab province, the country’s largest vote-bank, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party has its roots in the southern province of Sindh, the country’s main source of revenue and home to a distinct linguistic group that detests Punjab’s domination. So while the establishment is generally sceptical of politicians, it has been almost intolerant towards the PPP.

Judicial activism

The military is widely accused by Western powers of playing a double game in Afghanistan and lost credit in the eyes of many Pakistanis when US forces killed Osama Bin Laden in a secret raid on Pakistan’s soil.

But its diminishing ability to openly control Pakistan’s politicians has been more than offset by what some analysts describe as the judiciary’s increased ability to encroach on the administrative sphere.

This has led to a number of fierce battles between state institutions in recent years which are a distraction from the main challenges.

Since 2009, when judges sacked by the Musharraf regime were reinstated by the present government, they have shown an appetite for pursuing long-standing corruption cases against President Zardari.

Mr Zardari spent eight years in jail because of them, without being convicted in a single case.

That led to the Supreme Court’s dogged pursuit of Prime Minister Gilani and his conviction in April.

The Supreme Court also responded with alacrity late last year in investigating a controversial memo which invited the US to help avert a possible coup in Pakistan after Bin Laden’s death.

The “memogate” affair had the potential to drag in President Zardari but has led only to the dismissal of Pakistan’s then ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani. Top military leaders showed a keen interest in the case and participated in initial hearings, but gradually pulled out when questions were raised over their own political role.

Most recently, the country was stunned to find its bulwark against corruption – Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry himself – implicated in allegations of bribe-taking levelled against his son. They both deny any wrongdoing and an investigation has been ordered.

Continue reading Pakistan’s ruinous political farce

Condolences at the unfortunate death of Mr. Bashir Qureshi

Sufi Munawar Laghari

Washington, DC: (7th, April 2012)-  The executive committee of Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) is shocked and extremely sad at the news of the sudden death of Chairman Bashir Qureshi, leader of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz.

The timing and sudden nature of this tragic event, shortly after a very successful rally in the heart of Karachi, raises serious questions about the circumstances surrounding his death.

Therefore we demand a public inquiry into his death, by a completely neutral judicial committee, as soon as possible.

We call on the whole Sindhi nation to unite together to carry on his mission.

‘Restraint’ must follow ‘activism’

By Khaled Ahmed

Expansion of judicial power is welcome, but one must not forget that there is also such a thing as judicial excess

On 30 February 2012, the Supreme Court (SC) has allowed former Pakistani ambassador to US Husain Haqqani to travel abroad after an important witness in the ‘memo’ case finally refused to present himself at the judicial commission set up by the Court. This is the first sign of gradual erosion of the charges that were finally to target President Zardari as the originator of ‘treason’ against the Pakistan Army through an American businessman, Mansoor Ijaz.

Analysts believe the Court has been let down by the other parties interested in crucifying the PPP leader and sending the PPP government packing before its term. Nawaz Sharif may have stitched up a deal with Zardari over the timing of next general election; and the Army may have been appeased through Zardari’s sacrifice of Husain Haqqani as burnt offering to the generals. At the time of writing, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan was defending Prime Minister Gilani against a charge of contempt and persuading the honourable Court to relent and be satisfied with a belated letter to the Swiss authorities.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan is hearing two cases – and a third one is coming up later in the month – that threaten to expose it to lack of judicial restraint. At home, internecine politics and the besiegement of the ruling party give it the ballast with which it can keep going if it wants. But the lawyers’ movement – which deluded it into feeling that it was backed by ‘the nation’ rather than the Constitutionis split at the top, the vanguard of its leaders now skeptical of its steamrollering activism. Internationally too it is now facing isolation.

On January 25, 2012, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) expressed its concern over the convening of the inquiry commission for the memo affair, saying ‘there are legitimate concerns‘ that, by neglecting the rights of the ex-ambassador Husain Haqqani, the Court ‘may have overstepped its constitutional authority and that this action could undermine the ongoing Parliamentary inquiry. The ICJ supported the ousted Supreme Court and consistently accepted its activism in a national environment of extreme dereliction and corruption in state institutions topped by the incumbent executive.

Sitting inside Pakistan and bristling over country’s eroding sovereignty, it is easy to be isolationist and ignore the ICJ warning. Those among the top lawyers – Asma Jahangir, Munir A Malik, Ali Ahmad Kurd, Aitzaz Ahsan – who have decided to caution judicial restraint after a bout of activism so intense it looked like revenge, are being cursed by the mainly conservative and bucolic (mufassil) lawyers’ community as well as the media clearly bent on getting rid of a largely dysfunctional PPP government.

The ‘national consensus’ is chiding the Supreme Court to review just anything under the sun as the forum of last resort. There is no forum higher than the Supreme Court if you feel aggrieved. Except that the Court takes an objective view of its authority and a realistic view of the fallibilities of a third world state cut to pieces by terrorism. It is more difficult to convict a known terrorist in Pakistan than the sitting prime minister.

Continue reading ‘Restraint’ must follow ‘activism’

Memogate: Two psychopaths a ‘new threat’ to Pakistani democracy? – by Shiraz Paracha

Excerpt;

…. Mansoor behaves like a psychopath and has been intimidating Pakistani politicians and military leaders, who always look towards Washington for support. Mansoor cashes on their weakness and makes exaggerated claims about his connections and influence on the Hill. Benazir Bhutto was bitten by Mansoor Ijaz’s inflated claims and was thus very sceptical of Mansoor.

Mansoor criminal-minded business associates made tones of money through questionable business deals. Interestingly, Mansoor uses his Muslim and Pakistani background to promote his business and career interests in the United States. Precisely on these grounds, he acts as a friend of Israel and his role suits Zionist lobbies. Mansoor is also a self-appointed flag carrier for American crusaders. Mansoor’s ideas and plans often hurt Pakistan, yet he wants to be loved and appreciated in Pakistan. Thanks to some Pakistani media outlets, Mansoor gets out of the proportion attention in Pakistan where the majority of the public is unaware of his real motives and agenda. ….

…. Upon my return to Pakistan when we published our interview with Mark Segal, Benazir Bhutto’s spokesperson Farhat Ullah Babar called and congratulated me on having an interview with Mark Segal, this time I was sadly surprised. The point is that in Pakistan exaggeration and distortions about people and events are common.

Now, Husain Haqqani and Mansoor Ijaz are central in the so-called memo scandal. The memo that was allegedly written back in May could be a new excuse to justify the dismissal of the civilian government in Pakistan as some forces have been trying to windup the fragile democratic process in Pakistan.

The timing of the leak about the alleged memo to a U.S general is interesting. Rather than questioning the role of the Pakistani military in bringing troubles for Pakistan, some Washington-based Pakistani journalists like Shaheen Sehbahi always blame President Zardari. ….

…. Some Pakistani generals groomed and harboured bin Laden and others calling them Pakistan’s strategic assets. Such generals should be brought to justice, not an elected President and the civilian government. Pakistani generals have been violating the constitution and have no regard for the law. They disobey and disrespect elected representatives of people. Instead of exposing misdeeds of the military, the Pakistani media support and strengthen generals’ wrongdoings.

In such an environment trivial matters and non-issues become serious threats for the future of democracy. Now an alleged personal and unofficial communication between two individuals is presented as another reason for derailing democracy in Pakistan. Can two rightwing psychopaths be a threat to democracy? One wonders for how long such nonsense will continue in Pakistan?

To read complete article » LUBP

http://criticalppp.com/archives/63301

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. …

Read more : DAWN

Pakistan the ‘most bullied US ally’!?

RAWALPINDI: On the day WikiLeaks released a slew of American diplomatic cables revealing, among other things, tensions between the US and Pakistan over nuclear matters, a top Pakistani military official claimed the country “has transited from the ‘most sanctioned ally’ to the ‘most bullied ally’” of the US.

The comments were part of a wide-ranging briefing given to editors, anchors and columnists on Sunday. The timing of the briefing appeared to be a coincidence, having been scheduled before the WikiLeaks information became public. All comments were made strictly on the condition of anonymity being maintained. …

Read more : DAWN

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Courtesy: DunyaTV (Dunya Mere Aage with Nusrat Javed and Mustaq Minhaas, 30 November, 2010)

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