Monday, December 31, 2007

Video of Benazir's last few seconds

Video clearly showing Benazir getting shot by assassin before the bomb. Lays waste to government claims that she did not die of bullet wounds.


Channel 4 also has exclusive footage showing the point at which the shots were fired at the former premier. It can be seen here: http://www.channel4.com/player/v2/player.jsp?showId=10619#

Benazir takes four names in letter

It is being revealed that Benazir Bhutto has named former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi, former Sindh chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim, Intelligence Bureau chief Ijaz Shah and ex-ISI chief Hameed Gul as possible suspects in her assassination in a letter written before her death. This letter was written before her arrival in Karachi on October 18th and after the bomb blast, she told the media that she had told President General Retired Musharraf about a few names but did not disclose them.

The general assumptions amongst the intelligentsia of Pakistan stand to be spot on. Not a name more and not a name less. Did they have a hand in December 27th assassinations?

Our Darkest Hour

This is perhaps the darkest hour in our nation's sad history. The Concerned Citizens of Pakistan, mourn the loss of Benazir Bhutto - as we all do, regardless of agreement or disagreement with her politics - and send our deepest condolences to her family. At this time, we would do well to remember the words of her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in his letter to Benazir from his death cell:

"Tin-pot dictators have ravaged Asia, Latin America and Africa... They are the worst tyrants of the post-colonial period. They have destroyed time-honoured institutions and treated their people like animals. They have caused internal divisions and external confusion. The dictator is the one animal who needs to be caged. He betrays his profession and his constitution. He betrays the people and destroys human values. He destroys culture. He binds the youth. He makes the structure collapse. He rules by fluke and freak. He is the scourge and the ogre. He is a leper. Anyone who touches him also becomes a leper. He is the upstart who is devoid of ideals and ideology. Not a single one of them has made a moment's contribution to history."

Following the tragic assassination of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, we have been plunged into a crisis whose proportions are difficult to exaggerate. Because of the divisive policies of one dictator and his refusal to back down, the country is on the verge of descending into complete chaos. To resolve the crisis and pull the country back from the brink of disaster, the Concerned Citizens of Pakistan demand the following:

1. Musharraf should step down immediately, and hand over power to a National Government, formed by the consensus of all major political parties and drawn from all Provinces of the country. The National Government should be headed by a neutral icon such as Justice (R) Wajihuddin Ahmed or Rana Bhagwandas.

2. The Judiciary be immediately reinstated as it stood on November 2, 2007.

3. Curbs imposed on the media be immediately removed.

4. A new and truly independent Election Commission be constituted.

5. Free and Fair Elections be conducted within 90 days, with complete freedom for international observers and independent exit polls.

In Mourning and Complete Solidarity,

Concerned Citizens of Pakistan (CCP)

The Flag's Complaint

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi
In this poem, the flag of pakistan summons the common pakistani citizen and expresses its grief on the countrywide mourning of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed, moreover it levels some complaints and reminiscises old times!
17 crore people asleep and someone cried
wake up from apathy, Bhutto died!
Sea of tears, a nation mourns
drenched in grief, the flag adjourns!
' Thee cried with me, Thee felt my bliss
Thee shed thy blood, So that I exist!
From the chains of slavery, rose the man
the grace, the karma and the movement began!
with wisdom, faith and passion, beside my pole
with love so pure, the consummated goal!
The moment to thou, I was handed
My colors faded, My fate stranded;
between the people and the mighty tyrannts
but thee my beloved, remained silent!
My memory, though vague, still retains
the cries of those bloody stains!
and again, my heart is vexed with woe
burnt down streets, that gloomy show!
Now I am torn, My pole has rusted
But dont let me down, faith entrusted!
far from this dark, the fountains ply
fountains of hope, that never die!
brook of thy tears, go to the fountain
thy fears how foolish, thy lament vain!
What is this hope? wouldst thou rightly know?
Be aware, wake up and it will never cease to flow!
'In the best interest of nation' or personal lust of power
Rains of patriotism, or alcoholic showers ?
My countrymem, My sisters, My elderly peers
this is the time, to shatter all fears!
He calls it right, and right you deem?
what about Quaids vision, my Iqbal's dream!
for this is the moment, the time is high
stand up for the right, or i will die!
No man with stick , or khaki hide
Is above my land or its pride! '

Mobile phone pictures reveal Benazir was shot before the blast

(Courtesy Teeth Maestro - http://www.teeth.com.pk/blog/2007/12/29/mobile-pictures-benazir-was-defintely-shot-dead-before-the-blast/)


Considering all the commotion and fuss created by the government of Pakistan saying the called that Benazir Bhutto was not hit by the three bullets but instead she hit her head on some ‘lever’ of the sunroof. Last night I was contacted by a person via Orkut who had uploaded these images on his profile (now he has taken them off) he was offering to share his video to the extent that he gave his cell number in Islamabad, since his dial up did not permit transferring this heavy file.
On contacting him today he claimed that he was a PPP supporter and his party had instructed him not to share this with anyone. Later when a news reporter tried contacting him, his cell phone was switched off. I have two images to share with you which were initially taken off his Orkut Profile.


The first image clearly shows Benazir Bhutto standing upright in the car through the sunroof waving to the crowd.




The next image is just after the gun shots which were fired from the left but moments before the bomb blast. Here we see Benazir Bhutto not on the sunroof of the car most likely already shot and injured slumped inside

I sadly do not have the original video, though I tried very hard to get it. A source was in direct contact with the cameraman who actually shot the video and later uploaded the screen captures to show that he means serious business. He claimed to be in the security detail with Benazir Bhutto was riding on her car barely five minutes earlier but had to jump off as she exited the Liaquat Bagh venue. He was finding it difficult to upload the 56MB video file online so was ready to allow someone to help him get it readily available. Today morning he said that his cell phone was ringing off the hook with people clambering in the hunt for the video, hence forth he turned his cell phone off and had even removed the images from his Orkut profile.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to head PPP

(Courtesy Geo News)
NAUDERO: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the party of Pakistan's murdered opposition leader Benazir Bhutto named her 19-year-old son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as its new leader Sunday and announced it would contest upcoming general elections.

Bilawal Bhutto, a student at Britain's Oxford University, was named party chairman at an emergency meeting, taking the reins of the party formerly led by his mother and grandfather, both of whom met violent deaths.

The party also appointed Bhutto's husband Asif Ali Zardari as co-chairman, and called for a United Nations probe into the circumstances of her slaying in a gun and suicide bomb attack Thursday. "Democracy is the best revenge," Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told a chaotic news conference in the Bhutto family's ancestral home here, vowing the party's "long and historic struggle for democracy will continue with a new vigour."

Asif Zardari said the Pakistan People's Party would take part in the scheduled January 8 parliamentary elections, seen as a key step in Pakistan's transition to civilian democracy. "We will go to elections," he told reporters. The decisions came just three days after Bhutto's assassination at a rally stunned the nuclear-armed nation and left a void at the head of the PPP, the country's largest political party.

Taking part in the election has the potential to restore some much-needed stability after the street violence triggered by her slaying that has left at least 38 people dead. The PPP meeting in the Bhutto family's ancestral home in Naudero, deep in southern Pakistan, began amid emotional scenes as thousands of mourners beat their chests in grief and denounced President Pervez Musharraf. "

Bilawal is the new chairman of the party and Asif Ali Zardari will assist him as co-chairman," a party official said. It means the party leadership follows the bloodline for a third generation, some four decades after it was founded by Bilawal's grandfather Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a prime minister who was ousted and later hanged by the military.

Political commentator Najam Sethi said Zardari would "run the show to keep the place warm" for Bilawal, much like India's Sonia Gandhi for her son Rahul. PPP vice president Makhdoom Amin Fahim and its Punjab provincial president Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi will sit on a "advisory council" for their young leader, party officials said.

State's claims regarding assassination denied

Pakistan 's interior ministry said intelligence intercepts showed that al-Qaeda were behind the killing [AFP]

The commander of a pro-Taliban group in Pakistan has told news agencies by phone that Baitullah Mehsud, another pro-Taliban figure, denies any involvement in Benazir Bhutto's death.

Maulana Omar said on Saturday: "He [Mehsud] had no involvement in this attack. This is a conspiracy of the government, army and intelligence agencies."

A Pakistani official had said on Friday it had evidence that Mehsud was responsible for the death of Bhutto, a former prime minister. Javed Cheema, an interior ministry spokesman, said: "We have intelligence intercepts indicating that al-Qaeda leader Baitullah Mehsud is behind her assassination."

The claim was made as Bhutto was buried in her ancestral village in the province of Sindh against a backdrop of continued violence, with the death toll from disturbances rising to 31.

Cheema also said Bhutto died from injuries caused by hitting her head on her car's sunroof as she came under fire, rather than from bullet wounds or shrapnel.

Contradicting the official account, a close Bhutto aide told the media on Saturday that she saw a bullet wound in the head when she bathed Bhutto's body after her assassination. "I was actually part of the party which bathed her body before the funeral," said Sherry Rehman, who served as Bhutto's spokeswoman and who was in the motorcade at the time of the attack. "There was a bullet wound I saw that went in from the back of her head and came out the other side. "We could not even wash her properly because the wound was still seeping. She lost a huge amount of blood."

Rehman said: "The hospital was made to change its statement. They never gave a proper report. ... "This is ridiculous, dangerous nonsense because it is a cover-up of what actually happened." Earlier reports said Bhutto was gunned down by an assassin. The assassin then blew himself up in an attack that killed a total of 16 people at the end of an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi on Thursday. While pointing the finger at al-Qaeda, Cheema said Mehsud was also behind a suicide attack on a Bhutto rally in October that left 140 dead.

Pakistani authorities say Mehsud is based in the tribal region of South Waziristan.

Cheema's claim that Bhutto's death was not caused by bullet wounds but by head injuries was described as "a pack of lies" by an aide of the slain politician. Farooq Naik, a senior official in Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), said: "Two bullets hit her, one in the abdomen and one in the head. "It is an irreparable loss and they are turning it into a joke with such claims. The country is heading towards civil war."

Farhatullah Babar, a another PPP spokesman, said on Saturday: "The story that al-Qaeda or Baitullah Mehsud did it appears to us to be a planted story, an incorrect story, because they want to divert the attention." He said Bhutto had earlier told the government of "elements" other than al-Qaeda that she thought could be a threat to her, but officials never investigated. Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's Pakistan correspondent, said people were asking why the car in which Bhutto was travelling was not damaged by the fatal attack. "A lot of people in Pakistan believe there may be some kind of conspiracy behind the assassination," he said.

Questions have also been raised as to why the scene of the attack that killed Bhutto was hosed down by the authorities soon after the blast, a move that may have destroyed valuable evidence.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Tragedy born of military despotism and anarchy

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto heaps despair upon Pakistan. Now her party must be democratically rebuilt

Tariq Ali
Friday December 28, 2007
The Guardian

Even those of us sharply critical of Benazir Bhutto's behaviour and policies - both while she was in office and more recently - are stunned and angered by her death. Indignation and fear stalk the country once again.

An odd coexistence of military despotism and anarchy created the conditions leading to her assassination in Rawalpindi yesterday. In the past, military rule was designed to preserve order - and did so for a few years. No longer. Today it creates disorder and promotes lawlessness. How else can one explain the sacking of the chief justice and eight other judges of the country's supreme court for attempting to hold the government's intelligence agencies and the police accountable to courts of law? Their replacements lack the backbone to do anything, let alone conduct a proper inquest into the misdeeds of the agencies to uncover the truth behind the carefully organised killing of a major political leader.

How can Pakistan today be anything but a conflagration of despair? It is assumed that the killers were jihadi fanatics. This may well be true, but were they acting on their own?

Benazir, according to those close to her, had been tempted to boycott the fake elections, but she lacked the political courage to defy Washington. She had plenty of physical courage, and refused to be cowed by threats from local opponents. She had been addressing an election rally in Liaquat Bagh. This is a popular space named after the country's first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, who was killed by an assassin in 1953. The killer, Said Akbar, was immediately shot dead on the orders of a police officer involved in the plot. Not far from here, there once stood a colonial structure where nationalists were imprisoned. This was Rawalpindi jail. It was here that Benazir's father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was hanged in April 1979. The military tyrant responsible for his judicial murder made sure the site of the tragedy was destroyed as well.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's death poisoned relations between his Pakistan People's party and the army. Party activists, particularly in the province of Sind, were brutally tortured, humiliated and, sometimes, disappeared or killed.

Pakistan's turbulent history, a result of continuous military rule and unpopular global alliances, confronts the ruling elite now with serious choices. They appear to have no positive aims. The overwhelming majority of the country disapproves of the government's foreign policy. They are angered by its lack of a serious domestic policy except for further enriching a callous and greedy elite that includes a swollen, parasitic military. Now they watch helplessly as politicians are shot dead in front of them.

Benazir had survived the bomb blast yesterday but was felled by bullets fired at her car. The assassins, mindful of their failure in Karachi a month ago, had taken out a double insurance this time. They wanted her dead. It is impossible for even a rigged election to take place now. It will have to be postponed, and the military high command is no doubt contemplating another dose of army rule if the situation gets worse, which could easily happen.

What has happened is a multilayered tragedy. It's a tragedy for a country on a road to more disasters. Torrents and foaming cataracts lie ahead. And it is a personal tragedy. The house of Bhutto has lost another member. Father, two sons and now a daughter have all died unnatural deaths.

I first met Benazir at her father's house in Karachi when she was a fun-loving teenager, and later at Oxford. She was not a natural politician and had always wanted to be a diplomat, but history and personal tragedy pushed in the other direction. Her father's death transformed her. She had become a new person, determined to take on the military dictator of that time. She had moved to a tiny flat in London, where we would endlessly discuss the future of the country. She would agree that land reforms, mass education programmes, a health service and an independent foreign policy were positive constructive aims and crucial if the country was to be saved from the vultures in and out of uniform. Her constituency was the poor, and she was proud of the fact.

She changed again after becoming prime minister. In the early days, we would argue and in response to my numerous complaints - all she would say was that the world had changed. She couldn't be on the "wrong side" of history. And so, like many others, she made her peace with Washington. It was this that finally led to the deal with Musharraf and her return home after more than a decade in exile. On a number of occasions she told me that she did not fear death. It was one of the dangers of playing politics in Pakistan.

It is difficult to imagine any good coming out of this tragedy, but there is one possibility. Pakistan desperately needs a political party that can speak for the social needs of a bulk of the people. The People's party founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was built by the activists of the only popular mass movement the country has known: students, peasants and workers who fought for three months in 1968-69 to topple the country's first military dictator. They saw it as their party, and that feeling persists in some parts of the country to this day, despite everything.

Benazir's horrific death should give her colleagues pause for reflection. To be dependent on a person or a family may be necessary at certain times, but it is a structural weakness, not a strength for a political organisation. The People's party needs to be refounded as a modern and democratic organisation, open to honest debate and discussion, defending social and human rights, uniting the many disparate groups and individuals in Pakistan desperate for any halfway decent alternative, and coming forward with concrete proposals to stabilise occupied and war-torn Afghanistan. This can and should be done. The Bhutto family should not be asked for any more sacrifices.

Student Action Committee calls for independent inquiry

After multiple contradictory statements by the establishment, the local and international media and the PPP spokespersons, the Student Action Committee (Lahore) denounces the methodology adopted by the authorities to investigate Benazir Bhutto's assassination The latest statement by the Interior Ministry which, claims Benazir Bhutto lost her life due to a head injury sustained by hitting the sunroof lies in direct contradiction to Sherry Rehman's (who was with the deceased leader at the time) chronology of events. This glaring discrepancy highlights the need of a thorough independent investigation committee which SAC (Lahore) demands. Premature statements regarding the cause of her demise or the identification of those who choreographed the assassination should be avoided and are reflecting the establishment's haste to purge its self of any responsibility of the tragic events that transpired. SAC (Lahore) would like to remind the authorities that alongside the PPP leader, 20 other lives were lost and all deserve to be laid to rest with the knowledge the efficient and legal steps will be taken to bring to light what exactly transpired at LiaqatBagh, Rawalpindi. The establishment did not honor those who lost their lives when Benazir Bhutto's convoy was bombed earlier in Karachi by a thorough investigation: this assassination should not follow the same trend. The Student Action Committee will make every effort to help this country go through these dark uncertain times. The SAC (Lahore) continues to stand firm on principles and remains unaligned with any political party.

Turmoil following the assassination

38 people killed
53 people injured
173 banks torched completely
26 banks damaged
158 offices torched and burnt completely
23 offices damaged
24 petrol pumps burnt
2 petrol pumps damaged
370 cars completely burnt
61 cars damaged
72 trains coaches torched completely
18 railway station burnt completely
4 station damaged
765 shops burnt completely
19 offices/shops damaged partially

Friday, December 28, 2007

Chaos in the streets of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Angry supporters of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto took to the streets of Pakistani cities on Thursday, from the Himalayas to the southern coast. The unrest was predictably fiercest in Bhutto's native Sindh province and its capital, Karachi. “Police in Sindh have been put on red alert,” said a senior police official. “We have increased deployment and are patrolling in all the towns and cities, as there is trouble almost everywhere,” he said.

Reports said security was deteriorating in Karachi, where thousands poured on to the streets to protest. At least three banks, a government office and a post office were set on fire, a witness said. Tyres were set on fire on many roads, and shooting and stone-throwing was reported in many places. Most shops and markets in the city shut down. At least 20 vehicles were torched in Sindh’s second biggest town of Hyderabad.

There were also small protests in Rawalpindi and the nearby capital, Islamabad. Protesters blocked roads with burning tyres and chanted anti-Musharraf slogans in Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Kashmir. Police said they had been ordered to block the main road between Punjab province and Sindh province, apparently to stop the movement of protesters. Disturbances were also reported in the southeastern city of Multan, although details were sketchy. In Lahore, capital of Punjab province, Bhutto party workers burnt three buses and damaged several other vehicles, police said.

Nawaz announces poll boycott in wake of assassination

ISLAMABAD, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Pakistani opposition leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday his party would boycott a Jan. 8 general election because of the assassination of another opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto. “The PML (N) is boycotting the election after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto,” Sharif told a news conference in Islamabad. “Free elections are not possible in the presence of Musharraf,” he said. “Musharraf is the root cause of all problems.” Old rivals Bhutto, also a former prime minister, and Sharif had recently cooperated in their opposition to Musharraf.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mobs take to streets in cities of Pakistan

Angry supporters of Benazir Bhutto have taken to the streets in Rawalpindi and Lahore, and other cities, setting fire to public transport vehicles, cars and shops. There are reports of intense rioting in Firdaus Market and Model Town in Lahore and Murree Road in Rawalpindi. Many banners and posters of PML-Q candidates have been set on fire. Similar reports are coming in from all parts of the country, including Sukkur, Larkana, Hyderabad, Jacobabad, Peshawar.

Karachi engulfed in chaos following assassination

Karachiites experienced chaos as angry mobs set ablaze scores of public and private vehicles, and set fires to all major roads after the news of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's assasination. PPP supporters also fired shots in the air which created panic, resulting in severe traffic jams. Korangi Road, Shahra-e-Faisal, University Road, M.A..Jinnah Road, Shahra-e-Pakistan, Shaheed-e-Millat Road were worst affected.

LUMS Students strongly condemn Benazir's assassination


The students of the Lahore University of Management Sciences strongly condemned the assassination of former Prime Minister benazir Bhutto in an on-campus sit in today (Thursday), as soon as news was recieved about her tragic demise . Fateha was offered by about 150 students and some faculty members who gathered outside the dining centre upon hearing the news. The students deplored the senseless murder and demanded that the culprits be brought to justice and stressed upon the need for calm and stability in the country.

Student Action Committee condemns assassination

The Student Action Committee Lahore condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the mindless murder of Benazir Bhutto and the other innocent victims of this tragic incident. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and mourners; we grieve alongside them in this hour of catastrophe. The state has once again proved criminally inept in providing for the security and safety of the citizens and leaders of this country. However, we ask the people to show restraint and not turn against each other. This is a moment where the nation must stand together. We must not let the perpetrators of this horrendous act succeed in dividing us. The SAC ( Lahore) calls upon the country to unite in the condemnation of this assassination and realize that now is the time to take our country back from those who have brought it to the brink of failure.

Benazir Bhutto assasinated

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AFP) — Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a suicide attack on Thursday, just two months after the former premier returned from exile for a political comeback.Bhutto, a two-time former prime minister, had just addressed a campaign rally for next month's parliamentary elections when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the venue, killing her and at least 10 other people. There were unconfirmed reports that the attacker had also opened fire on her with a weapon before the explosion."

It may have been pellets packed into the suicide bomber's vest that hit her," interior ministry spokesman Javed Cheema told AFP.

It was the second suicide attack at a Bhutto event since she had returned from exile in October, aiming to contest the elections, and comes amid an unprecedented wave of violence in the country.

The deadliest terror attack in Pakistan's history targetted her homecoming rally just hours after her return, leaving 139 people dead.After that attack, authorities repeatedly warned her they had information that Islamic militants were trying to killer her.

Government officials said President Pervez Musharraf had been privately told of her death.

(At this tragic moment in the history of Pakistan, we at the Emergency Times are shocked beyond words at this intolerable and brutal act of the murder, along with others, of possibly the most popular leader of our country. No words can adequately condemn this barbaric act, which can only lead to more death and destruction for this tortured land. Her death will leave a gaping chasm in our country's leadership. One can only hope, beyond hope, that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
May God help us all.)

Gunmen open fire on Nawaz Rally

ISLAMABAD (Courtesy Reuters) - Gunmen opened fire on supporters of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday while he was campaigning for a January election, wounding several of them, Sharif said.
Sharif blamed supporters of the party that supports President Pervez Musharraf for the violence near the city of Rawalpindi. Police confirmed several people had been hurt in shooting.
"Some Q League workers fired at our people," Sharif told Reuters, referring to the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League (Q).
"We have reports that several people were wounded," he said.
Sharif was several kilometers away from the scene of the shooting at the time, on his way to Rawalpindi.
Officials of the pro-Musharraf party were not immediately available for comment.

The New Face of Controlled Media in Pakistan


Quaid's vision forgotten: Chief Justice Iftikhar

By Nasir Iqbal (Courtesy DAWN)

ISLAMABAD, Dec 25: The deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, has said that after 60 years of its existence the country has drifted away from the ideals, principles and vision of the Quaid-i-Azam.“Today as a nation, we find ourselves at a crossroads. It is a defining moment,” he said in a statement released by Advocate Athar Minallah here on Tuesday on the birth anniversary of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Christmas.

Justice Iftikhar said the vision of the Quaid was to see Pakistan prosper as a democratic state embodying principles of the rule of law, freedom of speech and expression, equality, tolerance, justice and fair play for all, protection of human rights and civil liberties.He said it was the Quaid’s dream to see all citizens freely practising their religious beliefs and achieving political and economic independence.The statement quoted the Quaid as having said: “Minorities to whichever community they may belong will be safeguarded. Their religion or faith or belief will be secure. There will be no interference of any kind with their freedom of worship. They will have their protection with regard to their religion, faith, their life, their culture. They will be, in all respects, the citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste or creed.”Justice Iftikhar said the Quaid envisaged for Pakistan an independent judiciary which would protect the fundamental rights of all citizens, uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.

“Today I join the Pakistani nation in their prayers and struggle to achieve the ideals of the Quaid’s vision for bringing back the country under the rule of law and the Constitution and to reverse the effects of this current darkest period of our constitutional and political history. It is our resolve and commitment to make the country, the Quaid’s Pakistan where there is supremacy of the constitution and rule of law rather than one-man rule,” the statement said.

The NAB Diaries - Part Two

Courtesy Teeth Maestro (www.teeth.com.pk)

By Amer Nazir

Part One has already been published by Teeth Maestro last week – and which was subsequent to a letter written by me to the Chairman NAB requesting for either his resignation or else for him to justify NAB’s actions by making the details of this case public. A continued silence from him can only confirm that integrity is not a requirement in Pakistan for the role of Chairman NAB. And that NAB does not have any right to hold accountability since it is corrupt itself…
The other objectives of these diaries are also straight forward. One only needs to read the local and International press to realize that the army is yet being made to seem as a better option. Corruption by the politicians is cited as the reason. The third and the most important consideration, the common man, is never brought into the equation. The debate remains between the army and the politicians – almost as if the thought of such a comparison was appropriate… The issues most under discussion are nuclear weapons and terrorism, the common man still does not figure as much…
In a civilized society a single miscarriage of justice that concerns a common man is highlighted as much as the news of a celebrity. Prime Ministers are made accountable, systems are changed, it does not matter whether it is Labour which is in power or the conservatives, the fundamental principles of governance reign supreme. It is not the manifesto of the political parties that alone will change Pakistan. The common stories by common Pakistanis can also force whoever is in power to take notice. As it is, the most damaging legacy of the last eight years is that the world has been made to believe that the general Pakistani public is irresponsible, illiterate, corrupt and almost inhuman and therefore needs special treatment. The concept of Human Rights is out rightly rejected… It is therefore now time to tell the world the actual state of affairs – that, which Benazir, Nawaz and the Chaudhrys may not be able to tell… Musharaff will definitely not…
It is hoped that similar stories will appear more and more to force the world to re-think – to take the most important party in Pakistan into consideration… Failing this, governments will come and go but nothing will change. We will always remain at the mercy of whoever may be ruling us…
They seem strange. The NAB offices. I was repeatedly summoned to the ones at Karachi and Lahore. Both share an ambience, the charade is same as well, only buildings and cities differ.
A NAB setup is incomparable. It is unique. If the spirit underlying a court of law is justice for instance – this is not what NAB proposes. There is a vast difference between Justice and Accountability. One boasts the number of reliefs it grants, the other the number of convictions. The first bases its outlook on the rule of law, the other on self-righteousness. One is focused on the means towards an end, the other solely on the end itself.
Both the Karachi and the Lahore NAB offices are housed in large complexes. The one at Lahore was a palace once and takes lead in terms of grandeur, its rightful owners having abandoned it to cross over to India at the time of partition, and it seems as if it is ill-fated to this day. However, irrespective of the architectural arrangements the procedure to receive an accused is standard at every NAB location. They are told at the main entrance to deposit their identity cards, mobile phones and other personal effects in boxes placed at the reception. In return one is given a slip that has to be signed by the summoning officers. Failing which there is no way to leave the NAB premises. In other words, an unsigned visitor slip is nothing short of an arrest warrant that does not care for any legal formalities. The best place to locate an accused nay to imagine him otherwise would then be in the prison that each NAB office has within its compound… The procedure speaks for itself. It is a cruel design. No one entering a NAB office can be sure whether he will return within the hour or after months or even years and that too if he is lucky.
And if this is not overwhelming enough, before entering the main office block, an unavoidable glance at the prisoners taking their daily walk in the veranda of the adjacent block achieves the rest – the sight being only a bit less spectacular than the image of an orange suit at Guantanamo Bay which we are now so much used to seeing that it has stopped having an impact.
On entering the office block, the scene however changes dramatically. One can see serving and retired defence officers going about their business, darting in and out of corridors as if in a normal office. All have an executive smile on their lips, and certain gentleness in their manner. A game of make-belief seems to be the best way to describe the atmosphere. Each officer behaves as if he is a cross between an International corporate attorney from whom no anomaly has ever slipped unnoticed and a Wall Street broker that can unravel the most crooked balance sheet that may exist – and yet they are a different lot altogether once behind closed doors, during interrogations, this is when they reveal their full glory and are most brave.
One can imagine some of the more distinguished accused to have even found it amusing. The behind-doors behaviour of the officers is predictable and is becoming of them but the acquired demeanour of cool corporate executives is too artificial and surreal. In my case, the officers somehow reminded me of my House Master at Hasanabdal who was bad news even when he smiled. One could not be sure. There could follow either a congratulatory pat on the back or a resounding slap on the face – each being as predictable as the other. Though, the smile would remain undisturbed. The logic behind either of the two actions could not be challenged either. Each was backed by authority.
To add to the atmosphere, a yet another distinctive characteristic of a NAB office is the presence of a chart on each officer’s desk which states both the latest number of cases taken up so far and the latest number of convictions. Designed like a desk calendar, the chart stands upright and glares at each and every visitor. NAB’s declared objective is hundred percent results – a conviction for each case. The two numbers are therefore brought close at the slightest pretext. A conviction spreads a feeling of relief amongst the staff whose careers might be on line… A stinker is issued if a case does not result in conviction.
Colonel Abbasi (retd) was the officer assigned to my case. I was to learn later that it was a special privilege since apart from his other qualifications he was also the first cousin of Brigadier Abbasi the over all in charge of the investigation department.
It was common for Colonel Abbasi to summon me and interrogate me for hours. He had actually stopped asking questions after the first interrogation that had lasted for nine hours. Now, he only threatened. ‘I will put you through so much mental and physical torture that you will not survive,’ he would say. ‘Even if the alphabets N.A.B are carved on a tree this means that that particular tree is destined to whither and die…’
During the first interrogation he had asked where I had hidden the money and I had demanded to be told how much was missing in the first place. On this he had advised me not to act smart if I wanted to avoid spending the rest of my life in a dark cell… ‘I have audits reports from several auditors,’ I had added. His prompt reply was that he will soon get the auditors as well… After nine hours, once it was time for the Colonel to go home he asked me if there was a solution to this… Imagine an accused being asked for a solution… I quietly said that I will leave the country forever if the PIA Captains returned my assets… and equally surprising was the fact that the Colonel also quietly said that he will communicate this to his superiors…
‘I am going to the civil court,’ I told him once. ‘That may only happen if you ever survive NAB’s tentacles,’ was the answer. ‘The chances of your surviving NAB do not seem very bright…they never are…’
‘I am going to the civil court,’ I told him once. ‘That may only happen if you ever survive NAB’s tentacles,’ was the answer.By this time, I could not afford to pay the house rent and had shifted to my sister’s flat. My cars were also taken away by the leasing company, the Managing Director of which was my friend and neighbour. I had offered him a solution but confiscating the cars by sending armed men at my sister’s place to add to the eighty percent already paid on the cars was more feasible. It meant more profit for his company. Through out, my name remained on the Exit Control List of course. And all this time, my wife and daughters were alone in London, they would have been totally forsaken had it not been for the support of the British government.
They were yet better off. In Pakistan, my telephone was taped, and there was every day a new rumour that the PIA captains had arranged for me to be picked up any day. The propaganda was relentless. It continued for the next three years. All my staff was also summoned to the NAB offices and asked to furnish my weak points… Did I drink? Was I ever seen with a woman other than my wife…? Am I known to gamble at the tables? The auditors were also summoned and offered a leeway if they were to disown their audits… Instructions were sent to each and every bank and housing authority within the country to furnish details of assets that I may own – whether there was anything undisclosed. In the meantime I was made to sign on documents which stated that if any discrepancy in my statements was ever discovered it would automatically mean five years imprisonment without the possibility of bail or appeal – and which is according to NAB laws ratified through an ordinance. It is a standard term for providing misleading information to NAB…
I managed somehow. I believed in Divine Justice. Yet there were times when the pressure would be overbearing and I would escape to Lahore although I was told not to travel without prior permission. Sleeping every night with the thought that they could come anytime, more so at the time of dawn, does get to a person after some time.
During one of the visits to Lahore, through a civilian friend who was working in NAB, I was approached by a certain Colonel Asif. He seemed to be a nice man who informed me that he was the head of NAB’s counter-intelligence. According to him, both Brigadier and Colonel Abbasi were doing this at the behest of the PIA Captains although my case was not within NAB’s jurisdiction. To me, this did not come as great surprise since Brigadier Abbasi belonged to the Aviation corps.
Colonel Asif promised me relief if I was brave enough to go through his plan. He took me to an ISI safe house in Garden Town where I was met by a civilian ISI officer named Zohair. A recording device was then attached to the phone, and I was made to call Colonel Abbasi in Karachi. I asked Abbasi if there was any way for me to get off the hook. I said that I could not take the punishment anymore. Colonel Abbasi’s reply was recorded. He said that this was only possible if I were to seek forgiveness from the PALPA board and to not make any demands for my assets. Moreover, it was also expected of me to leave Pakistan for good once my name was taken off the ECL. The last demand was easy to understand. PALPA would not have been able to justify my being a free man. On the other hand, telling its community that I had absconded from the country was the best possible solution.
Both Colonel Asif and Zohair were excited. Asif congratulated me and asked me to await his next instruction. He said that before taking the next step he had to at first brief his chief and acquire his blessing… The next morning however, Asif sent me a message from Islamabad. He said that he had seen my file only now and that my case was much more serious than he had thought… and perhaps it was out of sympathy that he also disclosed the information that Colonel Abbasi was already in knowledge of the taping…
I think what saved me from being picked-up, whether judicially or extra-judicially, was the fact that my wife and daughters were British. Another reason could be the internal politics within NAB. Some officers did not agree with what was going on…
The companies during this time were in doldrums. I was still the Chief Executive and fifty percent share holder. It was because of this that I was now summoned to the NAB offices in Karachi. The Vigilante captains were there. And then right there, at the NAB offices, I was given an offer. I was to sell my equity at a price of 10 million. Earlier the captains had offered me more than 45 million for fifty percent of my share holding to which I had reluctantly agreed. As per PriceWaterHouseCoopers the value of my shares was four times more. But subsequently the Captains had refused to honour their commitment although we had put our signatures to it…
However, the stance of the vigilante captains was the same as before. I was to either take the now decreased offer and that too in 12 instalments or else face dire consequences. In reply, I told the captains to stuff their offer and turning towards Colonel Abbasi I asked if I was allowed to go home. He said that I could leave but that only God can now save me from a terrible fate…
The next day I filed cases of recovery and defamation in the courts of Lahore and Karachi against the PIA captains… Colonel Abbasi was furious. He made it a point to summon me to NAB each time there was a court hearing…
Up to then, I was averse to approaching the high and mighty that I personally knew. I was still under the illusion that NAB would be forced to do justice once it would realize that I could not be scared into submission. But now I approached Lt General Qadir Baluch who was Governor Baluchistan at the time and with whom I had played golf at the Karachi Defence Golf Club in the past.
Sitting in his bedroom at the Baluchistan House, General Qadir only looked up once I had finished telling my story. ‘Why did you not come to me earlier?’ He said. ‘You had a lovely home, a nice family, why did you let them destroy everything, why did you take one full year to reach me?’
General Qadir then asked the operator to get Brigadier Abbasi on the phone and once connected he patiently heard the Brigadier’s side of the story. ‘Only one question Abbasi,’ the General spoke half an hour later,’ Why did you offer to drop the cases against him if he were to sell his shares cheaply. What was the reason? And what has stopped you from putting him in the jail if he is such a big crook…?’
And this was when Brigadier Abbasi started to stammer. In response the General became abusive. ‘Abbasi, have some fear of God,’ he said. ‘How much more are you guys going to compromise the uniform…?’ And before slamming the phone the General said that he will talk to the President next day.
However, a few minutes later, there was a call from DG NAB, Major General Ijaz Bukshi. General Qadir took the call in the other room but seemed very angry when he returned. ‘Bukshi will see you in a few days,’ he said to me. And then after a few minutes silence the General remarked that all this was being done on the instruction of Chairman NAB Lt General Munir Hafeez…
Major General Bukshi came from around his desk to shake my hand a few days later. An ashen faced Brigadier Abbasi sat in front of the General’s desk. General Bukshi seemed more like an English Man. ‘English medium type’ as we used to call them in our younger days…
The General came to the point at once. He profusely apologized for all that had happened to me and enquired if I wanted to have my business back. I replied that all I wanted now was to get my share of the money and leave the country for some time at least. At that Bukshi looked at Abbasi and came near to swearing. Addressing him he said, ‘If people ever find out how NAB is being used to settle personal scores they will even refuse to spit on us…’
Bukshi then gave instructions for 15 million to be transferred in my account within the next few days – he said that this was the best he could do for me at the moment. Surprisingly however, Brigadier Abbasi still had the courage to object. ‘The captains managing the PALPA board will never agree to pay him anything,’ he said. ‘In case they were to pay him even a dime their community will take them to task. Now that the business has been closed down the community will demand to know why the PALPA office bearers had lied to them and had allowed Two hundred million to go down the drain…’ PALPA has got to have some face saving,’ he continued. ‘Up to now, they are promising their community that the entire investment will be recovered once the properties of the accused have been confiscated.’
And then suddenly, for the second time that week, I heard Brigadier Abbasi being mercilessly abused. The expletives having ended, General Bukshi told Brigadier Abbasi to deposit the money in my account no matter how and to strike my name off the ECL…
That day, I came out of NAB and started my packing. I also rang up my daughters in London and told them I was on my way.
Three days later, General Qadir was asked to resign by President Musharaff for some political reasons.
General Bukshi refused to see me again. Brigadier Abbasi denied that there ever was any settlement when contacted on my behalf by an army officer. ‘Who will believe his words against that of a General and a Brigadier?’ was his famous reply.
A few weeks later, I and my wife, as she was also a Director in the group, were both named as accused in the forex fraud cases that had recently taken the country by storm. A warrant for arrest was issued in my name by the Security Commission of Pakistan. The state bank and the FIA were also actively involved in this case although the main lead was retained by NAB.
I or my wife had never traded in Forex. The only possible connection we had with Forex was that the forex cases were also being headed by Brigadier Abbasi…

People’s Resistance Outreach Program - Street Theater at SeaView





Courtesy Teeth Maestro (www.teeth.com.pk)


A few members of People’s Resistance organized a Street Theater on the Beach at SeaView for the general public. The short street play titled JADUGAR was conceived by Husna and Ambereen of People’s Resistance, the skit was about a Jadugar (magician) who lodges himself indefinitely in the house of a poor family, promising to bring khushali (well being) and health, prosperity and jobs. But these promises are hollow and he becomes a burden to the family, by using their space, and eating most of their food .


When asked about his promises, he demands that the family keeps dogs and build higher walls to secure the riches that are to miraculously fall upon them in the future. After months of enduring his “dictatorship”, the family decide to evict the jadugar. Not much has changed for them - the young son is still unemployed, and his grandmother has passed away. The skit ends with the actors engaging in the audience in a discussion about what is to be done with the jadugar. Most keenly responded that he must be thrown out with force. The skit was an allegorical reference to Musharaff’s dictatorship and his usurpation of resources and wealth that has contributed to poverty and class disparity in Pakistan.


Later while interacting with the audience after the play they asked, if they could personally relate to this play, there was a overwhelming response sharing with us stories of how the present circumstance in the country have made their life miserable and were quite open to state that the entire play resembled the eight year tenure of Musharraf and his long list of fake and broken promises. In unison they all agreed that its about time to also throw him out. The basic goal of the PR’s outreach program was to share with the people the present dilapidated condition of our country and urge them to stand up and say NO to these looters and plunderers who care for themselves while the people of Pakistan can literally go to hell.


A standing ovation to the team of actors Ambereen, Husna, Saad, Abira and Monezza who did a fabulous job in the spot light The Beach theater was conducted at three different locations on Sea View so as to maximize its exposure and as usual tons of pictures (60+) were taken, courtesy of a trigger-happy photographer [hopefully a mobile video to soon follow once its uploaded]

(Original article and more pictures on http://www.teeth.com.pk/blog/2007/12/26/peoples-resistance-outreach-program-street-theater-at-seaview/)

The Comedian of Pakistan; Musharraf's punchlines

By Ahmad Faruqui

TIME magazine has declared Vladimir Putin as Man of the Year, even though he has severely restricted civil liberties in Russia and slowed its march toward democracy. The argument is that he has brought stability to the country and restored its status as a great power. What must also have weighed heavily in the magazine's choice is that Putin remains very popular in Russia. He can even count Mikhail Gorbachev among his supporters.
Being a dictator and restricting civil liberties is of course not a sufficient condition for making it to Man of the Year. No one knows this better than Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf. Like Putin he has been in power for eight years. And like Putin he is trying his best to extend his tenure. But unlike Putin, his popularity has tanked. Events have gone downhill since he declared an emergency on the 3rd of November. Things did not improve much when he lifted it on the 15th of December. All of this is a self-inflicted wound which began when he decided to "suspend" the Chief Justice of Pakistan on the 9th of March. That event set in motion a country-wide protest by the attorneys the like of which the country had never seen. This protest threatened the army's dominant role in society since it was designed to institute the law in the country. It brought out the worst in Musharraf.
That is why he was not on the short list released by TIME for its Man of the Year competition. This is ironical, since the general was featured extensively in the magazine just a few years ago as having "the world's most difficult job." His picture in uniform, taken as he stood overlooking a panoramic view of the white government buildings in Islamabad, spanned two pages.
This year, as a consolation prize, perhaps the magazine should have created a special category and declared him "Comedian of the Year."
On the global stage, Musharraf is the undisputed king of dark comedy. But mind you, Musharraf's humor is very different from the slapstick humor you might see on the Monty Python show, the kind that would leave you in stitches.
Musharraf's comedic device is the utterance of non sequiturs with a stern demeanor. And it is this austere visage almost bordering on anger that imbues his acts with an inimitable touch.
Who else would say the following? "Against my will, as a last resort, I had to impose the emergency in order to save Pakistan." You see, he is a man of many wills. The president in him did not want to impose it while the Chief of Army Staff in him did. Hah!
And what does it mean when he says, "As a last resort?" This is an admission, albeit a very indirect one, that without the emergency, he would no longer have remained president. Just the thought of Pakistan without him as president is enough to bring a smile to most people's face.
The script continues, "The conspiracy was hatched to destabilize the country." But the conspirators were never named. Dame Agatha Christie would not have approved of such an incomplete story but it is funny in an old fashioned way.
He goes on to say, "I cannot tell how much pain the nation and I suffered." Alice would have said, "Goodness gracious, general, you had complete freedom of movement, you could go visit relatives, stop by your office if you were in the mood for working and, come to think of it, you could even go shopping. So what caused you to suffer?"
Maybe he felt the police would pick up him up because he was openly expressing his opinions on TV, which was contrary to his own diktats.
But wait. Maybe the suffering was moral. As he went to bed every night, he lay awake thinking of the people that he had put in jail that were lying awake in rotten surroundings. To relieve his suffering, all he had to do was release them.
But did he? Of course not! He had declared an emergency precisely to make them suffer. How dare they rise against him on the streets, agitate against military rule and file petitions in the Supreme Court. He was going to fix them once and for all.
The emergency was not entirely unexpected. For a while, he had been dropping hints that he might impose an emergency if (a) the senior judges of the country joined in a "conspiracy" to end his eight-year rule and (b) if street riots caused political chaos that would hobble the fight against Islamic extremism.
Musharraf went on to say that the Supreme Court, which had been poised to rule on the legality of his October re-election, was acting beyond the constitution. Now that calls for a good round of applause.
The person who suspended the constitution was acting constitutionally and staying within its boundaries but the apex court that was seeking to prevent the abuse of power by that individual were acting beyond the constitution. Says who? Perhaps the Mad Hatter at his tea party.
He concluded his 20-minute address triumphantly by saying that "Now [that] the conspiracy has been foiled [i]t is my commitment to the entire nation and the world that the election on January 8 will be on time and will be absolutely free and transparent."
He threw the gauntlet at those political parties that plan to boycott the polls because they feared that the polls would be rigged. Musharraf warned, "This is all baseless and they must desist from it." To alleviate any doubt, he said the government would invite "any number" of foreign observers to come and watch the fairness of the polls. Whether the invitations have been sent out is an open issue. Whether they have been accepted is another open issue. And whether they will show up to monitor the polls is the $64 million question.
The dictator's comments beg the question of what is free and fair. Pakistanis have had a few elections under military governments. Perhaps the fairest was held by Yahya in 1970 and the most unfair election by Musharraf 32 years later. In both cases, the results were disastrous because the military was not prepared to share power with the elected representatives of the people.
Yahya refused to hand over power to the Awami League and plunged the country into a disastrous civil war that ultimately dismembered the republic. Musharraf pretended to hand over power to parliament but never did.
In his speech during the presidential inauguration, he took a swipe at the West and lambasted it for seeking to impose democracy on Pakistan. He said it had taken the West centuries to get there and they should not expect a poor nation like Pakistan to get there in just a few decades.
So why was he now proceeding to hold free and fair elections? Pakistan is either fit for democracy or not fit for it. Perhaps he was telling us that he likes to hunt with the hound and run with the hare. That is Musharrafian humor for you.
Like the three dictators before him, Musharraf is exploiting the fact that Pakistanis have not had much success with democracy. When he says that he intends to bring "the essence of democracy" to Pakistan with the next elections, he forgets that India has been a successful democracy for the past 60 years and that it has achieved this result without a single army intervention.
It is true that India under a single prime minister (Nehru) had better luck with democracy than did Pakistan under seven prime ministers in the 1950s. But the army has been in power in Pakistan since 1958 for all but a single decade. If feudalism was the barrier to introducing democratic traditions in Pakistan, the army could have eliminated it. Surely, the generals with their big guns had more power in the country than the civilian Nehru did in India.
But that presumes that the army wanted to eliminate feudalism. The truth is that the army had no interest in bringing democracy into the country because it would threaten its prima donna status in the country. Moreover, in Pakistan, the feudal lords and the army are two of the country's leading oligarchs.
Musharraf concluded a fairly difficult interview with the Washington Post's Lally Weymouth recently by lashing out at Weymouth at the end, saying that the interviewer was implying that Pakistan was either "small" or "a banana republic." The irony is that because of the army, it has become both.


Denial won't change the reality. But repeated denial will evoke a good laugh. That is why the man who was trained as a commando, the retired general who attacked Indian in Kargil and the former army chief who seized power illegally deserves to be declared "Comedian of the Year."

Dr. Ahmad Faruqui is author of "Rethinking the National Security of Pakistan," available from Ashgate. He can be reached at Faruqui@pacbell.net.

Pictures, Account of Hunger Strike at Karachi Press Club




The Karachi press club hunger strike ended at 4.00 p.m on the 26th of December. The event was started at 10:00 p.m and included activists from civil organizations, like the Aurat foundation, Labour party leaders, Nasir Mansoor and Abdussalam , National Worker Party, APDM leader Yousaf Masti Khan, Dr. Azra and Wali from Roots, Uzma Noorani , Usman Baloch, HRCP Representatives Asad butt, Abdul Hai, Ejaz, Nadeem from PILAR, and social activists Afiya Zia, Sophia and Saleha. Many Trade Union leaders and Fisher folk representatives also visited and expressed sympathy with lawyers and media. The overall response from people was great and many felt it was an overall success.


In all its different forms and manifestations, the struggle continues.

Honour among thieves, while starving people for profit

Ministry declines to share names with other departments

by ARIF RANA (Courtesy The Business Recorder)

Islamabad: The Ministry of Food and Agriculture is not willing to share the list comprising the names of wheat hoarders with other ministries, thus undermining the government efforts aimed at taking the hoarder mafia to task. According to well-placed official sources, the denial by Ministry of Food to share the names of alleged hoarders with other government departments is said to protect some leading lights of major political party, whose mills reportedly have huge storage facility in Punjab.

Sources told Business Recorder that Ministry of Finance (MoF) and Planning Commission (PC) had approached the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for the list of the mills involved in massive hoarding of wheat. They said the ministry of Food and Agriculture shrugged off the pleas of MoF and PC. They said both the MoF and Planning Commission repeatedly asked for the name of hoarders but each time their requests were turned down by the ministry. Sources said secretary MoF, Ziaur Rehman, read out a few names from the list of the alleged hoarders during a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet in October and then suddenly closed his folder, saying the details would be provided to the concerned departments after the meeting, but it never happened.

Sources said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture is protecting some senior leaders of a major political party who have huge storage facilities in Punjab. Some very influential politicians from NWFP were also involved in export of atta to Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs) for years and they make billions from their 'business' every year. The atta businessmen-cum-political leaders are so powerful that they can easily manage atta smuggling into Afghanistan and other CARs as much as they want. An atta businessman told Business Recorder that a difference of Rs 500 per 40kg atta in Afghanistan is a great attraction for powerful Pakistani mafia. He asserted the mafia is making huge money through this illegal business.

Re-inventing the Sharif Brothers

By Dr. Haider Mehdi

“Like piano players,” wrote a distinguished scholar, “leaders also need to be adept improvisers, willing to set aside their scripts and listen for signals, follow their instincts, and imagine a future that has not yet arrived.”

Imagining a future that has not yet arrived is what Pakistan’s contemporary politics is all about. Our future demands revolutionary changes from the political status-quo that has prevailed in this country for the past 6 decades – and from the anticipated political future, where the present political dispensation will continue after elections should the Musharraf-Benazir team be at the helm of political affairs. In a coalition government, the Sharif brothers’ role as leaders of a major political party (not as members of Parliament) will have to be defined as outrightly revolutionary.

This is how they will politically survive and contribute to the nation’s well-being in the volcanic future that awaits Pakistan, starting post-elections. Failing to reinvent themselves as such, the Sharif brothers will become lame ducks, as good as dead, politically. Musharraf’s 8-year rule, resulting in deformed political institutions in the country, has put the Sharif brothers in the spotlight. Being the leaders of the most powerful political party in Punjab, and with a reasonable following throughout the country, the burden of responsibility for revolutionary democratic change in the political landscape of Pakistan and its power structure rests squarely on the Sharif brothers now.

But the question is: Can they handle it? Are they capable of doing the needful and save Pakistan and its people from another impending future political atrocity? Are they aware of the historical role that has been entrusted upon them by the turn of events in the country? Can they honor their own commitments? Do they understand the demands of civil society? Can they comprehend the lawyers movement? Do they follow in earnest the constitutional damage that has been inflicted by removing the Chief Justice of Pakistan and other judges of the apex courts? Can the Sharif brothers deliver to the masses what they demand? Can they conceptualize the difference between minor changes in the status-quo and revolutionary change? Are they politically competent to enact ground-breaking changes in Pakistan’s polity? Are they politically proficient enough to take on the challenges and constructively confront grave dangers that confront Pakistan now and after the elections, should the present political structure prevail? Are they able to differentiate between political managers and political leaders? Can the Sharif brothers re-invent themselves and transform their political role into revolutionary leadership?

In the historical and evolutionarily political context, the Sharif brothers can be best described as political managers. During their stance of power, they worked to preserve the political status-quo, pursued business-friendly economic policies, maintained the traditional rhetoric of promoting political and economical stability, enfranchised military with more economic and institutional power, remained faithful to the historical foreign policy linkage to the US and the West, and did not do much to enact fundamental changes in the power-structure and in the decision-making processes of the country.

In addition, many close associates of the Sharif brothers saw their main faults as being remote, dictatorial and disinclined to listen to the concerns of the party and its allies. There was a common perception that a “Kitchen Cabinet” invariably prevailed in all national and provincial political decision-making. It was in this context that decisions were made to appoint Rafiq Tarrar as president and General Pervez Musharraf as the COAS – in a unilateral decision-making anti-democratic mind-set.

In re-inventing themselves, the Sharif brothers will be required to transform themselves from political managers (which they have been so far) into political leaders (which they need to be to survive politically in future Pakistan).

Political management is a process that gets the work done through others. It involves planning, organizing, leading and controlling, which are critical steps in the process of getting the national agenda accepted. It is an essential component of an efficient state organization, but it is not a substitute for political leadership.

Political leadership, on the other hand, is fundamentally a different notion and involves a different set of dynamics. It involves developing a vision, an ability to influence others, creating willing followers, an appreciation of situational appropriateness, and consistent and constant communication with all levels of society (examine the present political regime in Islamabad in this context to understand the lack of political leadership in Pakistan).

“Perhaps… the distinction between the two perspectives is that managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right things.” Leadership involves strategic and tactical skills in innovation and change, and constructive and productive dealings with national political turbulence. Political managers rely on authority and positional power to maintain so-called economic and political stability and pursue the status-quo. (Progressive democratic regimes do not impose a state of emergency or martial law. -- Again examine the incumbent administration in Islamabad in this context and see its recent failures.)

Political leadership, on the other hand, is the art of influencing others, adapting to the situational circumstances, effectively energizing followers, listening and using feedback, creating multiple channels of communication and recognizing public opinion in the making of national policies (it is evident that the present political establishment has failed on all of these accounts). An effective political leadership, in absolute essence, alters the political status-quo.

Can the Sharif brothers alter the decades-old political status-quo in Pakistan now? Can they stop relentlessly harping on the need for so-called economic and political stability as a cover-up for the reactionary and regressive politics of successive military dictators, civilian regimes and traditional right-wing politicians? Can they suspend the politics of fear imposed on the nation in the so-called “war on extremism and terror”? Can they terminate the nature of the contemporary American connection with Pakistan? Can they put the military back in the barracks? Can they restore the judiciary to pre-November status? Can they influence the followers and invigorate the voters? Can they heal the sufferings of Pakistani masses? Can they give an alternate model of economic development? Can they provide a new VISION? Can they engineer a White Revolution in Pakistan -- symbolizing a part of the nation’s flag and the metaphorical purity implicit in the name of the country (just as the Yellow Revolution signifies peaceful revolutionary democratic transformation in Kyrgyzstan by people’s power)?

These are the million dollar questions that only the Sharif brothers can answer. Due to the fact that the elections have not been boycotted (which they had pledged to), the task of national reconstruction and re-habilitation will become far more difficult and problematic.

And yet, the Sharif brothers can re-invent themselves to meet the challenges – but it needs imaginative vision and a departure from the politics of status-quo.

Will they do it? Time will be the judge.

“…leaders are like contributing members of an improvisational jazz group. The musicians carefully listen to each other and use the interplay to create new directions.” The nation awaits the Sharif brothers re-inventing themselves!

But will they? That is the real question…!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

APDM Boycott campaign started

Thousands of people attend today on 24th December, the first national rally held at Pesheen in Baluchistan. Mehmood Achakzai convener APDM declared that there are only two camps in Pakistan one of those who are contesting elections and those who are appealing for boycott. Those contesting the elections are in the camp of General Musharaf who is eager to legitimize all his dictatorial actions through elections. People will boycott and side with the lawyers movement which has become a symbol of struggle, he declared.

More such national public meetings are planned at Quetta, Hyderabad, Karachi Lahore and Islamabad during the next 10 days. The Punjab APDM met here today in Lahore to finalize the arrangements of the public meeting of 5 th January that is to held at Minar_I-Pakistan. The Karachi meeting will be held on 30th December at Nishter Park.

The Punjab APDM decided to set up boycott camps at all divisional headquarters of Punjab and public meetings at all the cities of Punjab till 5 th of January. It has also planned several corner public meetings in Lahore.

It also decided to participate in all the rallies of the advocates and civil society organizations whenever it is been called by them. It also announced to join the advocates call on 3 rd January as a day of action for the boycott campaign.

Labour Party Pakistan is producing its own literature for the boycott campaign alongside with APDM. Posters, stickers and leaflets are being printed to be distributed all over Pakistan during the campaign.

SAC boycott leaflet


Black day rally at Aiwan-e-Aadal

Tomorrow, 26th December 2007, there is a black day procession at the Aiwan e Aadal at 10 30 am.

This call has been made by the lawyers.
Students and other civil society groups should display solidarity by taking part in this procession. The situation is Pakistan has taken such a turn that with urgency, with thought and with clarity, we need to proceed at a pace that should not be stopped, cannot be stopped.

Veto the ballot box; Vote in the judiciary

Asma Qadir
Just a month and a half earlier, a few days after the proclamation of emergency, standing in front of the Vice chancellor in lieu of sporting the black band for just those three days, I proclaimed that there was no way that we would miss out on our very first chance to vote as he challenged the maturity of our political consciousness, consistently trying to associate us with those who squander their chance to express even their misgivings while busy sniveling and complaining about the political situation of the country in the comfort of their drawing rooms. That was before the election schedule had been announced; before the emergency and PCO and the dismissal of judges had settled down as a reality.

Today the excitement of that first vote has been replaced by a genuine gloom. Who do we vote for? The NRO-bequeathed, the deal-acquitted, the “anti establishment” establishment party, for BB? Or for the billi of a sher who kept lying about this deal with the Saudi Messiahs after having fled in fear of a death sentence (which was never to be-once being enough for every nation) or worse, a life sentence-a LIFE SENTENCE??? Pity the nation whose leaders bask in the illusions of invincibility-theirs or their detractors’. And now having dumped the civil society movement and the judges and the lawyers for the expedient of all expediencies, should we be trusting this Kashmiri/Lahori “tiger” to stand up to the uniformed lords? Or more interestingly restore the judges who stand much taller than his dwarfed esteem? Not to forget, the orange clad sage of all political turn arounds, Fazlur Rehman. Should we be voting for his cheekiness or his sickly smart no-confidence motion take-on or the delayed resignations that he can splash around to adorn himself with some cheap imitation of the martyr’s halo? Mention of the Surrey Palace and the Swiss accounts and the Ittefaq Mills and the Diesel of a Maulana being too repetitive for any piece on today’s politics, I’d spare the readers of the effort which brings me to the abandoned Kings’ party. Hah, who’s interested, anyways? Snubbed! High time we learnt that art, of bringing sycophants to their actual fit, of ignoring the inconsequential-courtesy Kamran Shafi from Centre Point, Dawn News.

And then, should we be voting at all? The above mentioned reasons alone should not deter people from voting in the polls-alas, if it were just a genuine democracy with some prospect of the choice between the bad and the worse improving to one between good and the better. But when the judiciary stands deposed, when civil society leaders like Munir A. malik are mistreated into Kidney failures or the likes of Aitzaz Ahsan and Iftikhar Chaudhry denied a hearty eid celebration, when lawyers are forced to test all their guts on the streets? When the last guarantee to a just dispensation in this country, the transformed judiciary is treated like trash, should we be going to the polls? All that as one individual twists and distorts the law of the land on his own dictates, eying longevity in mortality-when one man becomes the nation and the nation becomes one man. The elections would just be a distraction, another dead end, pretend-to-be-merry, time pass activity as the usurper runs away with this country and its actual interests, another jewel besides the presidential referendum, the 2002 elections, 17th amendment and the 2007 presidential elections, in his crown. No one will talk about the sacked judiciary once the air gets thick with the political wrangling of a hung parliament which it will be as of elections 2008. One visit by Negroponte was enough to turn Benazir on her heels, to realize the importance of institutions versus personalities, the institution obviously being just the judiciary, as she continues insisting on an amendment to the third time premiership legislation which also happened to be one of the major bargaining chips in the NRO deal talks.

Though still holding on to the restoration-of-judiciary card, Nawaz Sharif did switch sides just recently when he said that the first casualty of a military coup is the Parliament. Like Duh! As if that’s not apparent enough. The simpletons may fall for just another expression of the obvious. For the keen eyed, the politics-honed it should have been the judiciary to be politically correct/sincere. And no wonder, we have politicians taking turns to remind us of the dirty linen of the sacked judiciary, their first time oaths under the PCO, forgetting that their defiance in front of a military dictator is far more real than the stifle of a sacrifice of self exiles and pretended banishments and en-masse resignations at the end of full five years in power. And as Maulana Fazlur Rehman keeps citing the inevitable participation of the people in the polls as a reason for his parties’ whenever he is cornered into spilling out the beans, a boycott would serve to discredit the deservedly discredited, those who have always used our name to justify their petty politics.

Numerous elections have passed in the tarnished history of this country, most held to pass dictatorships, one-man reigns as the most liberal of democracies, as most inclusive of all governments. All have led back to square one, to leave us bemoaning in vain our unconscious role in the perpetuation of the worst of traditions, those which sprang from Justice Munir’s judgment. That small stint with an independent judiciary has raised our standard of expectations. The lawyers’ movement showed us the possibility of a conscientious judiciary in our country. It raised hopes, it empowered people triggering the civil society movement. For the first time in our history, a movement is aiming at a change of system and not just of the faces. The jargon of ideological divides used to rally people into electioneering, the Benazir-Nawaz divide, the nationalist-religious tussle is not the issue today. Justice is our ideology; independent judiciary being the only hope to securing that right to choose, of heralding an era of constitutionalism.

A boycott would keep alive the hopes of the restoration of an independent judiciary. The boycott will afford us some high ground to shoot off our demands from. Elections are a clowns’ play meant to pull away supporters of this movement. They are just another addition to the morsels thrown our way by the ruling elite and which we are expected to accept graciously only because similar or worse circumstances have existed in this country. But yet another dictator cannot be allowed to get away with the vandalism of the highest order of this land. If at all this movement withers away without any apparent results, it would have at least set some positive precedents for tomorrow.

Vacancies are still available in the ranks of Iftikhar Chaudry and Bhagwandas and Ramday, Munir A. Maliks, Aitzazs and the Kurds. The vote will not settle their cause; a veto may.

Iftikhar, Aitzaz to sue Musharraf for defamation

Deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Supreme Court Bar Association President Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan are suing President Pervez Musharraf to claim damages worth two billion rupees through a defamation suit.

Talking to The Nation on Thursday, Aitzaz made his intentions known when asked to comment on a statement of President Musharraf in which he charged former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Aitzaz Ahsan, senior deposed judge Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday and PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif for hatching a conspiracy to throw him out of the presidency. “A time has come when he will see a controversy behind every curtain”, said Barrister Aitzaz while playing down the allegations levelled by President Musharraf. “We are consulting our lawyers and will soon file a defamation suit of two billion rupees against Musharraf for leveling false allegation and bringing our name into disrepute without any substantial evidence”, said Aitzaz, who was released earlier in the morning for three days.

Defending the credibility of deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Aitzaz said the ‘misconduct’ charges against his client were thrown out of the box by a full court. “Any such impression is not only false but also absurd,” he added. “We will sue him for two billion damages through a defamation suit”, he reiterated. Former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is also reported to have said the charges of President Musharraf are actually “his self-created fears”. Athar Minullah, a civil society activist-cum-lawyer, who has a frequent access to the deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, informed The Nation that Justice Iftikhar has absolutely dispelled the impression that he, along with Aitzaz and Justice Ramday, were hatching a conspiracy to overthrow the rule of President Musharraf.

“He (Musharraf) was all praise for Supreme Court on September 28 when it dismissed petitions against his qualification to contest presidential polls but now he is talking about conspiracies”, Athar quoted deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, as saying during his latest interaction the other evening with the latter after the statement of President Musharraf was carried by media. “Chief Justice has also said the government lawyers not only had to withdraw corruption charges against him but also sought apologies, besides paying one hundred thousand rupees fine when they brought the corruption charges to the apex court”, Athar Minullah also quoted the former CJP as saying.

Meanwhile, commenting on Pervez Musharraf’s statement that Aitzaz and some judges had plotted a conspiracy against him (Musharraf), Aitzaz said these are the emotions of a ‘defeated gambler’. He said that after consultation with the lawyers he would file a damages suit of Rs 2 billion against Musharraf and the amount will be recovered after selling out his national and international assets.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Who will lead the New Pakistan Freedom Movement of Jinnah?

(Courtesy Information Press -www.informpress.wordpress.com)

By Ayesha Khan

At his book launch in New York, Pervez Musharraf mocked a definition of democracy which was fixated on elections, praising himself instead for initiating a free press and stressing the importance of institution-building. Yet, barely a year later, there has been a merciless attack on the vital organs of the Pakistani state that could nurture a sustainable democracy, as the Mush regime desperately seeks an electoral exercise to validate its illegal actions.

Few have pinned hopes on the January 2008 parliamentary elections as a means to enhance participatory governance. To the contrary, the will of the people is perhaps best represented by those who have opted for a boycott. As the two sides emerge, on the one hand, the high and mighty bullet-proof elite deciding to contest, and on the other hand, the lawyers, accessible to the masses, jailed with the masses and boycotting for the masses. It is an interesting phenomenon and one that deserves our further attention.

In 1986 - the year that a single, young Benazir had come to Pakistan to stand for change and battle the harsh General Zia-ul-Haq - I was a schoolgirl in Islamabad fascinated by the prospect of a woman becoming Prime Minister in a Pakistan where PTV newscasters were fired for a mere slip of the dupatta and the late Nazia Hassan was banned from television for swaying to a rhythmic number she sang.

In November of that year, I could not believe my luck when I reached Islamabad Airport and discovered that Benazir Bhutto was on my Lahore-bound flight. In the departure lounge, she was surrounded by a crowd of burly men, so I, desperate for her autograph, planned to dodge the PIA stewardess in-flight and trespass from economy into business so that I could obtain the much-desired inscription. But once I boarded the aircraft, I realised that Ms. Bhutto, like me, was flying economy and was seated just a few rows from me.

There was a feeling of resurgence in the economy cabin of the airplane that day, a notion of people power, of a leader travelling with the public for a common cause. A sensation that we in economy class were better off than those up front, in the wider business seat with greater leg room and better food, because Benazir Bhutto had chosen us over them.

How much has changed since then. How many hopes dashed. On short-hop trips to Dubai, Ms. Bhutto is whisked away in Bentleys from the tarmac. Luxury bullet-proof vehicles are imported or gifted into Pakistan from elitist sheikhdoms ahead of the Bhuttos and Sharifs. Not surprisingly, they are contesting elections. They have much to gain from the status quo, not to mention the alluring prospect of chartered state airplanes for Hajj and Umrah visits.

Contrast that with the lawyers’ movement. A beleaguered Aitzaz Ahsan carries the dual burden of not just lead counsel but also chauffeur to the Chief Justice of Pakistan. They travel in a 1994 Pajero with no fanfare, no motorcade, certainly no VIP movement inconveniences. Only common folks line the streets, in solidarity, for commonality of purpose, dancing to the beat of independence.

On the day that they advance to the Election Commission to file nomination papers for Justice (R) Wajihuddin Ahmed and contest those of Pervez Musharraf, the collective leadership of the lawyers’ movement marches in unison with civil rights advocates. The esteemed Muneer A. Malik, Tariq Mehmood, Ali Ahmad Kurd and others, who have protested on principle, make no attempt to distinguish themselves from the masses that follow them. They bear batons, bricks and police brutality, humbly, for the greater good of the Pakistani nation. They display to us that public service is an honour and privilege, but not a birthright.

Not far from them, are the ministers in a fleet of tinted-glass Mercedes. They travel speedily, restricting the movement of all other lesser humans in their wake. As they approach, doors to the Election Commission fling open, and hastily, they dash in, from one air-conditioner to another. Their purpose is to show solidarity with the ruling General. As they exit, a sit-in of angry media persons victimised by the police blocks their way. But how can unarmed civil society compete with the powerful Mercedes tires willing to trample over any average citizen standing in its way?

Protests continue but the bullet-proof few remain safely secluded, exclusively comfortable in their bubble. Every now and then, they fashionably offer twisted examples from American history to justify their pitiless treatment of the commoners. The contrast between the two sides is so glaring that even some of the more dubious sympathisers of the lawyers’ movement reluctantly acknowledge its popularity. After a number of undecided editorials and Wall Street Journal pieces that read as if written by a Musharraf loyalist rather than an objective analyst, Najam Sethi, in a recent piece, finally gives Aitzaz Ahsan the credit he deserves. For a change, I find myself in agreement with Mr. Sethi when he makes the point that much of the goodwill Mr. Ahsan has cultivated may be eroded if the necessary steps are not taken to channel this positive energy into an independent political movement.

Aitzaz Ahsan is uniquely placed to lead such a purist political party. That he is one of Pakistan’s best legal minds is without question. But, there is more good news. His decision to boycott is not the first time he has taken a principled stand. He refused to join government service during General Ayub Khan’s military rule, even though he stood first in the CSS exam. Later, he resigned from the PPP under protest when police opened fire on a lawyers’ rally demonstrating against the alleged rigging of elections by the PPP. As a competent and sincere man, he is not insecure, and therefore likely to encourage other great minds to work with him. More importantly, he is also a symbol of unity in a painfully divided Pakistan. With support in all provinces and bar rooms across the country, he appeals to conservative and liberal alike.

Lately, he has been recognised globally, with The Seattle Times reporting in a profile piece, for instance, that the “biggest threat to Musharraf stands 5-foot-7.” It is not just 38 American Senators who have called for Aitzaz Ahsan’s release, but also human rights activists Tighe Barry and Medea Benjamin, heartlessly deported from Pakistan without due process of law. In a recent Washington Post article, Mr. Ahsan teams up with U.S. Congressman John Tierney, asking both Musharraf and Bush critical questions. He is clearly cognisant of the fact that we face a global struggle if we try to bring about a new world order. It appears he will not shy away from that struggle or bow down to influential external actors, but is willing to join with Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis alike to bring about effective and meaningful change.

There is only one problem, however. Aitzaz Ahsan is still officially a member of the PPP. The PPP was once undoubtedly an “anti-status quo” party. It was also once a socialist party that attracted liberal, left-leaning Pakistanis. But failed promises and opportunism have left the people searching for suitable alternatives. The fact that Mr. Ahsan is President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and a member of the PPP did not initially present a problem. After all, Mohammad Ali Jinnah had held joint membership of the Congress and the Muslim League for six years, and between 1916 and 1919, he was President of the Muslim League and still a Congress Party member. But there came a point when the conflict of interest surpassed other conditions. That’s why Mr. Jinnah had to choose and he chose the League and went on to do great things for the Muslims of the South Asian subcontinent.

A boycott call by Aitzaz Ahsan is a step in the right direction. I trust that, like M.A. Jinnah, he too will announce his choice soon and lead Pakistan to a better future.

[Ms. Ayesha Ijaz Khan - a lawyer, author and human rights activist - is a Member of the Pakistan Justice Forum (PJF) - www.JusticeForum.info - of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) based in London, UK.]

Details on Legal Relief Fund

Lawyers' who spoke out to protect our constitution have been hardest hit in this hour of trial since November 3rd. Their crime being making the effort to uphold the rule of law and reminding everyone of their fundamental rights and the way these have been usurped over the years. The lawyers' biggest crime has been to raise a voice against wanton destruction of a pillar of the state, the judiciary.

They have borne the brunt of state repression as a result. Cases are arbitrarily being decided against these lawyers' clients to put further financial pressure on them. There are still many in Sahiwal who have been physically abused with lasting burn and other injuries. Several other stories can be told of lawyers' suffering from almost every city of the country.

An account has been opened to host a relief fund to help members of the legal community who are facing hardships. This account is operated under the supervision of luminaries such as Justice Wajeehuddin Ahmed and Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid among others.

Account details:

Bank: Habib Bank Limited
Branch: Sind High Court Branch (branch code 0606)
City:
Karachi
Country:
Pakistan

Account Title: Legal Relief
Account number: 0606-7900027203

For international funds transfer (wire transfer):

Swift code: H A B B P K K A A 0 0 7

Cash donations in Pakistan:

Simply visit any HBL Branch nearest you and give account details (as above) and send money using the bank's facility. In case of any problems, reply to this email and ask for instructions.

Cash donations outside Pakistan:

Simply collect the money and send wire transfer direct to the fund using swift code given above. No intermediaries required.

Let us know the amount sent so that we can confirm whether it has been received in the account. The reason we will do this is because, occasionally, State Bank of Pakistan stops a few remittances and you will never get to find out unless you ask from your local bank.