Friday, November 30, 2007

Nationwide Student Protest Today!!!

Pakistani students at home and abroad have risen up to fight for their rights. From now on they will be taking their movement outside of their universities, computers, cellphones and into the streets. The statement is attached below. WE STRONGLY URGE LAWYERS, NGOs AND ALL SECTION OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY TO JOIN IN THESE PROTESTS TO SUPPORT THE STUDENTS! Please forward this email to everyone who might be willing to come!


These are only a build up for MASSIVE WORLD WIDE PROTESTS to be held until the country goes back to pre-Nov 2 position (restoration of judges, freedom of media, release of political prisoners, etc). Please contact emergencyinpakistan@gmail.com if you want to hold protest in your cities and want them to be included in the next newsletter!

You are advised to participate in the events and to distribute this to as many people as possible.
Media coverage has been asked for but please do not forget to bring your own cameras. In addition feel free to inform about these events to any media personnel.

Here are the details of the events:

FRIDAY NOV 30th
[Updated]

Islamabad: 3pm, Infront of Holiday Inn (opp Press Club) for Capital talk then join judges and lawyers at 4 30 in front of Marriot to march to CJs house.

Lahore: 2pm, Liberty Chowk Lahore

Karachi: 3pm, Mazar-e-Quaid

Waiting confirmation from other cities in Pakistan.


INTERNATIONAL VENUES:

Nov 30th:

Toronto
3 pm, Queen's Park,Toronto, ON Contact:416.879.7246
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=5935509669

Chicago contact Shahzad ,
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=588342233 or (773) - 817-1689.

Geneva, 3 pm, infront of the UN building. contact Ayesha
http://www.facebook.com/s.php?k=100000080&id=501392142

Oslo, contact Oslo: farukh_qureshi@hotmail.com phone # 004747391608

Boston, contact Saad Rizvi, saadmustafa.rizvi@gmail.com, 857-334-8012

Dec 1:
Orlando, 1 pm, Lake Eola Park, Downtown, Orlando

London,
1 pm , parliament avenue , contact Mutahir--07943005302

New York, 12pm, Infront of UN in Manhattan, NY. 42nd street, and 1st Avenue

Dublin, 1 pm, outside PARLIAMENT HOUSE Marion House,

APDM announces election boycott

The APDM has announced that it will boycott the upcoming elections, in a meeting held in Lahore on Thursday. The Chief of the alliance and leader of the PML-N, Nawaz Sharif said they had decided to stay away as the elections would not be transparent under President Musharraf. He also rejected his televised address in which the lifting of the emergency on Dec 16th was announced.
The alliance has formed two committees for the purpose of persuading Benazir Bhutto and Maulana Fazlur Rehman to join the boycott. Both of the leaders have expressed their willingness to participate in the elections.

(This decision of the APDM must be applauded as a monumental and principled one. The same amount of pressure must be put on the rest of the political parties to join the boycott of these sham elections. Unless and until the judiciary is restored, there must be no compromise.)

In Complete Unity

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry urges nation to boycott elections

[Courtesty JURIST - jurist.law.pitt.edu] Ousted Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] Tuesday urged Pakistan's political parties and people to boycott parliamentary elections scheduled for January 8, saying that they were comprised by being held under unconstitutional emergency rule and should not proceed because Pakistan was in unusual circumstances with the rights of its judges, lawyers and people restricted or suspended. Lahore High Court Bar Association Secretary Sarfraz Cheema Chaudhry said the chief justice talked to him by telephone from his official residence, which he has not been allowed to leave. Chaudhry's boycott call was echoed by retired Supreme Court Justice Wajihuddin Ahmed [Wikipedia profile], an anti-Musharraf candidate in the presidential election in October and one of 17 retired Pakistani judges who Tuesday issued a joint declaration calling for the reinstatement of the constitution and for an end to emergency rule. Pakistan's Dawn has more. The News has additional coverage.

On the President's Oath-taking

Umer

The snake may slough its skin, but it DOES NOT lost its venom. The man with a stick still has a job to do - an unfinished job that he can ignore only at his peril. You know what I mean. Strike the snake dead.

He has changed his skin. No doubt.

But look at the venom – the threat posed to sustainable foundations of good governance in this country. Look at the language: "Kiyani and I will take good care of this country…

The judges, and the ex-Chief Justice were involved in a conspiracy to derail the third phase of democracy… I am honoured by the nation which has put its trust in me"

Not in our name, please. Someone is saying, in the name of the nation, that, after all, it was the judges who were conspiring. Wasn't someone an army officer in his 45 th year of service trying to grab the chief civilian post of power. When the case went to the highest court of the land, and it looked as they wouldn't be able to provide constitutional disguise to this blatant mockery of justice, someone put more than half of all the serving higher judiciary of the country in illegal detention, stormed the court premises to pick up thousands of lawyers from within court premises (I saw this with my own eyes in Lahore), filled up the courts with the choicest amongst incompetent imposters. And then the imposters spoke in Law's name what someone had always wanted them to speak, and even though an overwhelming majority of the people spoke against them. And to crown this 'process of justice' someone just shouted his oath taking cue from the whisperings of the chief of puppets, who sounded just so ashamed of himself.

The snake of course, is never ashamed. It knows no course of action other than what it does. It has a nature that cannot be helped. If there is anyone to blame it is the man with the stick, who scares the snake but then backs off taking heart from the snake's new skin leaving his job undone.

Woe to him who thinks that the snake in new skin is safe and even worth honour and appreciation. By the Lord of Heaven and Hell full of smakes, as long as a snake is up and beating, viciously willing to spew venom at innocent victims, no one is safe. The nation is not safe. A job half-done demands completion. Where is the man with the stick? Don't back out now, please.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Student Action Committee Lahore urges boycott of elections

The following is a letter from the Student Action Committee Lahore to the country’s political parties on participation in the upcoming elections:


To the leadership of the APDM, PML-N, PPP and PTI,

The students of over 15 universities and institutes of Lahore have united to form the Student Action Committee, Lahore. We are also collaborating with the Student Action Committees of Islamabad and Peshawar. Together, we call to you at a time when the nation is required to unite. The institutions of the state have been maligned again and we, the students, have united to oppose their blatant subversion. In the absence of organized structures, it has taken us a while to unite, but united we stand to ensure that our country has a future. Our voices were raised and, then, attempted to be muffled from the first day following the emergency but we have remained steadfast in the face of mounting pressures and we request you to do the same.


Collectively, we have demanded the lifting of Martial Law, the reinstatement of the judiciary, the restoration of the constitution, the freedom of the media and the release of protest prisoners before we can even consider the upcoming election to be free and fair. Therefore, we have collectively agreed that unless the aforementioned are undertaken, we shall advocate a complete boycott of the elections and attempt to mount a movement for the fulfillment of this struggle.


This letter is a call to you with a single agenda – a boycott of the scheduled elections – for we must lend no legitimacy to any course that the present executive takes to justify the imposition of martial law against the judiciary and the citizenry of
Pakistan. Therefore, in this appeal to your party leadership, we call upon you to stand by your own manifest cause – the restoration of democratic rule to Pakistan.


What is vital today is that we stand together for the judiciary, who had begun to take the first steps to uphold our constitution. The restoration of the judiciary to its position as of
the 2nd of November 2007 must be a pre-condition before extending any degree of participation in the electoral process. These elections are a slight to democracy and all its advocates.


Therefore, we make this call to your alliance to stand steadfast for once: for we have oft seen you waver since your creation. We need our political leaders to stand together for the cause that they have oft championed. If you do stand steadfast and withdraw from the upcoming mockery (the elections) then we do promise that we will do our utmost to stand by you in protest and, perhaps, even, stand ahead of you for this country, in our united struggle for the institution of true democracy in the country.


Our task is simple and needs no elaboration: the restoration of people’s rule to the citizens of
Pakistan. If, indeed, you be ready to stand by the people of this nation, then, we shall commend you and respect you and struggle alongside you for the sake of our future. However, if you too give in to the imperatives of short term power then unfortunately, you too shall stand as an affront to our cause.


We, the humble students of the universities and institutions of
Lahore, hereby, call upon you to boycott the upcoming election as candidates and as political parties. We shall call upon the people to do so in our capacity as (inshallah) the next generation of Pakistan. We hope that in doing so we can collectively mount a campaign that may change the currently teetering course of our nation.

In anticipation of principles,

The Student Action Committee, Lahore

Retired Senior Officers urge Musharraf to step down as President

A group of retired senior officers from the armed forces, including several Lt -Generals and Major Generals urged General Musharraf on Tuesday, to step down, not only as the Army Chief but as the President of Pakistan as well. They called on him to restore the constitution, revoke the PCO, withdraw media curbs, reinstate the pre-emergency judiciary and release political detainees. In their joint statement, they also said that since the President had admitted in an interview to performing an illegal act on the 3rd of November, he had lost all moral and legal authority to retain his position. They further stated that he was responsible for bringing the Armed Forces into disrepute. The statement contained the signatures of Air Marshall (Retd) Noor Khan, Admiral Fasih Bokhari, Air Chief Marshall Pervez Mehdi, Air Vice-Marshall Abbas Mirza, Lt-Gen Talat Masood, Lt-Gen Asad Durrani, Lt-Gen Ali Kuli Khan, Lt-Gen Naeem Akbar, Lt-Gen Jamshed Gulzar Kiani, Lt-Gen Ghulam Mustafa, Maj-Gen Saeed Ahmed, Maj-Gen Rizwan Qureshi, Maj-Gen Pervez Akmal, Maj-Gen Ziaullah Khan, Air Commodore Aurangzeb Azim, Brig Shaukat Qadir, Col Ahsan Siddiqui, Capt Naeem Sarfaraz, Capt Safir Mallal and Commander Mumtaz Fazal Naqshbandi.

Students welcome removal of uniform but stress restoration of the judiciary

Members of the LUMS Student Movement welcome President Musharraf's long-awaited move of removing his military uniform. However, they stress that this does not detract from the main issue which has mobilised such a storm of opposition to the regime's actions in recent weeks; the primary issue continues to be the restoration of the legitimate judiciary as it was before November 3rd, 2007. The Judiciary's independence and soveriegnty is the fundamental right and demand of the people of Pakistan. The students express the hope that the removal of President Musharraf's uniform is not merely a cosmetic overture and marks a real change of attitude in the government towards beginning a genuine process of lessening the degree to which the military is entrenched within the affairs of the executive and affecting a real seperation between the judicial, executive and military institutions of the regime. Students' protests in defence of the judiciary will continue unabated.

Is there a safe passage?

By Javed Hussain

IN 1933, Hitler was nominated the chancellor of Germany by President Hindenberg. But before he could take office he was required to get his appointment approved by a new Reichstag (parliament).

Afraid that his Nazi party would not win an absolute majority in the elections, Hitler decided to create a situation which would necessitate the imposition of an emergency. He engineered the burning of the Reichstag. Following this he got the president to issue an emergency decree for the ‘Protection of the people and the state’, which enabled him to suspend fundamental rights and imprison anyone without trial.

The Reichstag elections were held in November 1933 in which the Nazi party got 43.9 per cent of the votes, not an absolute majority. Therefore, in order to free himself of any parliamentary restraint, he sought the passage of the ‘Enabling Act’, which would give him the power to make laws without the approval of the Reichstag.

Since the Act deviated from the constitution, it needed a two-thirds majority to be adopted. Using subterfuge, intimidation and violence, he managed to get the Act passed by 444 votes to 94.

He thus became a legal dictator and promptly brought all political and social institutions, including the press and the courts, under his control. But he made sure that the privileged position of the army was secured.

Seventy-four years later Hitler’s extremist political credo is being replicated in Pakistan. In 1999, people had welcomed the Musharraf coup. Many thought that the saviour had finally arrived. They had great expectations for their country’s and their own future. Yet on Mar 9, their hopes came crashing down as he showed his true colours.
He thought that by intimidating the Chief Justice he would force him to resign; he was surprised. He then filed a reference; he was surprised again.
... But his scheme could fail if the political parties get their act together and spearhead the movement launched by the lawyers, journalists and civil society. If the movement reaches a crescendo before the elections, it could force a rethink on his western and local sponsors about the wisdom of supporting a person who has become a liability.

One of Hitler’s cronies had thundered that “the government will brutally beat down everyone who opposes it. We do not say an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; no, he who knocks out one of our eyes will get his head cut off, and he who knocks out one of our teeth will get his jaw smashed in.”

From the stage at the carnival in Islamabad [May 12], while the dead and the dying were lying in the streets of Karachi, the president had thundered in similar style.

While the dissenters were “brutally beaten down”, they continue to resist. The courage, honour and sacrifice of people like Asma Jehangir, Aitzaz Ahsan, Munir Malik, Ali Ahmad Kurd, Tariq Mahmood, Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhry and his colleagues, and Imran Khan, have not only turned them into national heroes, but also inspired the tormented people of Pakistan to rise from their slumber. He will be surprised yet again.

Like Field Marshal Paulus and his 6th German Army at Stalingrad, he has been encircled. But unlike Paulus, a safe passage may yet be made available to him.

The writer is a retired brigadier of the SSG of the Pakistan Army.
( The above piece was posted on "Dawn" newspapers' opinion page, of the Nov. 28th circulation.)

For many Pakistanis, an Economic Emergency

(Courtesy The LA Times, Nov 28, 2007)
Henry Chu
MUSTAFABAD, PAKISTAN -- Mohammed Rafiq has only to look at his dinner table to find reasons to hate President Pervez Musharraf.

What would a meal be without chapati, the flatbread that is a staple of Pakistani cuisine? But flour, when you can get it, costs a third more than it did just a few months ago. How can anybody drink unsweetened tea? But the price of sugar has shot up by half.

"These are basic necessities," said Rafiq, 50. "The maximum wage for a laborer is 200 rupees a day [about $3.30]. How can he manage everything on that?"

Pakistanis' anger with Musharraf's military-backed government has hit a new high since Nov. 3, when he imposed de facto martial law. Civil liberties have been withdrawn, and images of bloodied protesters getting hustled away by police have sparked outrage here and abroad.

But the president's deepening unpopularity at home has as much to do with economic as political grievances. Conversations with ordinary Pakistanis quickly turn from the state of emergency of their national polity to the state of emergency afflicting their household budgets. Price hikes are routinely cited as one of the biggest problems, if not the biggest, facing the nation.

In Islamabad, the capital, Musharraf and his ministers frequently boast about Pakistan's robust annual economic growth rate of 8%. But on the ground in towns such as Mustafabad, outside the eastern city of Lahore, people complain of hard times.

Workers like Rafiq, who serves tea from a roadside stand, have watched in alarm as the cost of such staples as rice, tomatoes, onions and cooking oil seems to increase weekly.

For that alone -- never mind emergency rule, to which they also vociferously object -- Musharraf ought to go, many Pakistanis say.

"I'm 40 years old, and I've never seen a ruler like him," farmer Sajid Khan said in disgust. "The government has [lost] control over prices. Shopkeepers are raising prices however much they want, and there's no authority to check that."

"All of Pakistan is suffering," said Mohammed Aftab, a dark-bearded young driver. "It's all because of Musharraf."

Economists say the blame for steep inflation cannot be laid entirely at the government's door. Like other countries, Pakistan is a victim of the relentless climb of oil prices. Getting goods to the market, especially on the woefully inadequate roads, is a more expensive proposition than before. The rise in the price of crude also has boosted the cost of utilities such as electricity.

But policies directly within the government's purview have contributed to the problem, said economics professor Qais Aslam. The state price-support program for farmers, rather than benefiting them and consumers, has enriched middlemen and owners of flour and sugar mills -- many of them politically well-connected. They have hoarded their commodities and artificially pushed up prices.

And sectors that have shown impressive growth, such as services and real estate, have proved most profitable for the educated, landed Pakistanis who already occupy the upper stratum of society and shop at designer stores in big cities, not the millions who eke out hard lives in the villages. Annual per capita income in Pakistan is only $720, according to the World Bank.

"The government's policies have helped the rich make more money rather than helped the poor settle their budgets," said Aslam, who teaches at the University of Central Punjab in Lahore. "The economic gains have not been translated into social gains."

When Waseem Abbas peers out from behind the counter of his corner store here in dusty Mustafabad, he sees nothing for the government to brag about.

One of Musharraf's allies, the chief minister of Punjab province, came to the area recently for a pomp-filled ceremony marking the supposed completion of a road in front of Abbas' shop. Abbas just laughs, because the road is still in sorry shape, like so much else here, despite official self-congratulation over Pakistan's economic growth.

"How can you say that when you don't have electricity in this country, when you have load-shedding for five hours a day? How can you say there's prosperity?" said Abbas, who turned his anger on Musharraf. "He's a liar."

Customers sometimes quarrel with Abbas and his business partner, Abdul Razzaq, over the prices in their store. But the owners say they feel as hammered as anybody by an acute shortage of flour and by price hikes, since last year, of nearly 100% for rice and 100% for ghee, or clarified butter.

The simmering economic discontent has not translated directly into protests. The demonstrations that rocked Pakistan's streets after Musharraf's Nov. 3 edict were political, and were led by lawyers, human rights activists and other professionals.

Lower-income Pakistanis have shied away, out of grim economic reality. "We don't have time to go and protest," said Aftab, the driver. "If we do that, who will earn our money for us?"

But the significance of political change is not lost on them. Musharraf must step down as president, they say, because of his autocratic ways and the lack of improvement in their lives. An elected leader would at least feel a sense of obligation to voters and could be called to account for failing to deliver, they say.

"Democracy should come," Razzaq said. "Democracy is the only solution."

(Original version on www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-pakecon28nov28,1,3970417.story?coll=la-headlines-world)

Important: Pressure PML-N

Thank you for your help in putting pressure on PPP. The campaign turned out to be great and inside sources suggest that they party leaders had an overwhelming number of people contacting them.

PML-N is in a meeting right now which will decide their position on the elections. EVERYONE START SMSING/CALLING ASAP! If they get enough calls/msgs/ etc we can perhaps convince them to boycott these sham elections under a puppet judiciary.

Please also forward this to as many lists as possible.

Thanks
EM


Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq
051-2823475

Makhdoom Javed Hashmi
0300-9630740
92-61511553

Muhammad Ali Khan Hoti
0937-862049 (off)
0937-863159 (R)

Mr. Saranjam Zamindar
0300-9591094
091-824444-824222
051-2280033
0303-6902811
0931-66666-63333
0931-64444

Begum Tehmina
042-5725894-5721780
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Syed Zafar Ali Shah
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Ahsan Iqbal
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Muhammad Pervez Malik
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Iqbal Zafar Jhagra
091-262675-263336
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Ch. Mohammad Jafar Iqbal
051-2856501 ®
051-2651000 (O)
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Khawaja Muhammad Asif
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042-5720478
0432-261478-262478
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Sardar Rahim
0333-2200696
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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
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Raja Ashfaq Sarwar
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Khurram Dastgir Khan
055-257935
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Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan
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Ch. Nisar Ali Khan
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Ghulam Dastgir Khan
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0300/8641479
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Ch. Abdul Ghafoor
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Begum Najma Hameed
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Khawaja Saad Rafique
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Syed Ghous Ali Shah
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Pir Sabir Shah
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Iqbal Zafar Jhagra
091-262675-263336
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Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasir
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Syed Zafar Ali Shah
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Begum Ishrat Ashraf
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Raja Nadir Pervez Khan
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Khawaja Saad Rafique
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Video of Student, Journalist Protest at Lahore Press Club, Tuesday


Students Action Committee - Tester Protest - GEO Stall Davis Road, Lahore from formanite10 on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Student Action Committee Lahore stages first protest

Students Action Committee, Lahore staged their first protest today. This was termed as a 'tester' before the mega protest they have announced on coming Friday, to analyze the reaction of cops and the students.Around 70 members of the Students Action Committee, Lahore gathered at Lahore Press Club building around 2 PM. Students representatives from FAST, NCA, PU, LUMS, LGS, BNU, UCL and a few other institutes were welcomed by the Lahore Press Club Management where they first started designing placards. The students then started chanting slogans 'Go Musharraf Go !' , 'Laathi Goli ki Sarkay, Nahe Chalay ge Nahe Chalay ge' and 'Adlia' Azaad Karo'. The members of Lahore Press Club and lawyers joined them soon and media guys shot the action. 'Chillars' (Police) ? Obviously they were there, even before the students were there. The cops assembled at the gate of the Lahore Press Club building to monitor the situation. Later, the students decided to move out of the building, quite daring and bold step, knowing that the cops were ready for action. But quite surprisingly they did not interfere. The students, holding the placards moved out and queued up at the foot-path around the Press Club building. The cops told the students not to come forward on the road. The sloganeering continued even there for 15-20 minutes and pamphlets were distributed to the pass-byers, motorists and those in cars. It was encouraging to see people passing by showing victory sign (with fingers) to the protesters - at least people support the cause if can not participate.The students, forming a human hand-chain moved to the GEO Stall, opposite to Jung building at Davis Road to sow solidarity and support to the media guys and to raise their voice against the curb on media. Team GEO warmly welcomed the students and handed over the mic to the students for sloganeering, which continued with a few new ones added as per the environment, like, 'GEO ko jeenay do' , 'Media ko azaad karo' etc. One of the students then recited a couple of revolutionary poems from Jalib and Faiz.

(Courtesy ALE Expressed: http://ale-xpressed.blogspot.com)

Between Despair and Hope

Rasul Bakhsh Rais

What would define chaos better than a swift reconstitution of the judiciary, imposition of Emergency rule and holding the Constitution in abeyance? This institutional chaos has pushed the elections as an issue to the margins of political debate. Why would anyone consider elections under the conditions described above as sincere, credible, free and fair?

After eight years of Musharraf- centred politics, we see some signs of change in the politics of Pakistan. The first major change that will redefine politics issues, alignments and the political process in the coming weeks and months is the announcement that General Musharraf is going to take off his military uniform on November 29 and get himself sworn in as a civilian president. Many a times before, pledges, declarations and commitments were not honoured. Therefore, there should be a bit of caution while accepting that the final episode of General Musharraf's career is about to begin.

The moment it happens, the dynamics of Pakistani politics will greatly change, and that will be a very positive development for the country. It would mark the beginning of a major political transition. The indications of such a transition are apparent: Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, two leaders the General despised the most and kept out of the country for nearly a decade, have returned.

What made General Musharraf and the ruling clique rethink their position on the leaders of the two major political parties? Not a sudden change of heart about democracy and constitutional rule, but a sudden loss of moral authority, because otherwise, Musharraf was and is Chief of the Army Staff and the 'elected president' who has the support of three major political groups that were ready to follow his political direction.

The General has come to realise that between March 9 and November 3, he placed his own ambitions above Pakistan, its vital institutions and norms of governance. While this inversion of priorities was apparent to even the dullest of political minds, the General was adamant that all his thoughts and actions were guided only by considerations for Pakistan's security, stability and prosperity.

The people of Pakistan accepted him without questioning the legitimacy of his military takeover and all institutions, including the Supreme Court of Pakistan, extended him whatever support he needed to fulfil his pledge of guiding Pakistan to genuine democracy and improving the economy. Contrary to popular expectations, his politics was based on the familiar thought that politicians can be bought for a bargain. Musharraf's every political move, including allying with some of the most corrupt politicians in the country and rigging elections, proved beyond any doubt that he did not represent the forces of social and political change but was quite comfortable with the herd as long as he was the shepherd.

In Pakistan's cyclical history, there is a strange pattern where every military ruler undermines his position by committing blunder upon blunder even before the opposition forces do anything to him. Mr Sharif's return to Pakistan, despite regular threats that he would not be allowed into the country before completing the term of his exile and last ditch efforts by the regime to stop him, tells a great deal about how much the Musharraf's government has weakened. Emergency rule is the only armour protecting his dangerously exposed political flanks. But even that has hardly served its purpose. Everything that Musharraf has attempted since March 9 has backfired badly.

Pakistan is in serious trouble today with a lot of uncertain, unstable and even chaotic situations. What would define chaos better than a swift reconstitution of the judiciary, imposition of Emergency rule and holding the Constitution in abeyance? This institutional chaos has pushed the elections as an issue to the margins of political debate. Why would anyone consider elections under the conditions described above as sincere, credible, free and fair?

There is now an increased possibility of more political parties boycotting the elections with the return of Sharif, who considers Musharraf to be the mother and father of all of Pakistan's problems. He has presented a charter of demands that will be difficult for the Musharraf government to accept, including the General's removal from power. If Sharif decides to stay out of the elections, even if Bhutto participates, the polls will have no integrity at all.

Also, the return of the two old political rivals is not a precursor of a major change in the politics of Pakistan, other than perhaps ousting Musharraf, and even that has serious question marks attached to it. While there are ample reasons for the lack of trust and confidence in mainstream political parties whose leaders have little regard for democracy within their own parties, in the objective conditions of the country, they can be the only medium of political transition in the traditional sense of politics. It is not clear whether their ascendancy in the post-Musharraf era will be the beginning of a major political transition in the structural sense. It could be more of the same old wine in new bottles.

The real indications of change and hope are in the new social movement of the students, media, lawyers and intelligentsia. It is not about conventional politics and leaders with their ambitions and deals. It is about the basics of Pakistani politics and society that need to be defined in the vastly changed national and global climate. There is a realisation that simply changing political horses who have been tried before will not help Pakistani society modernise and progress. Structural change with respect to the independence of judiciary, constitutionalism, rule of law and fundamental freedoms including, most importantly, the media, will gradually move society in that direction.

The sentiment and capacity of the new social forces, and their willingness to accept suffering for the cause of true democracy and civility in politics is as mesmerising as its courage and youthfulness. Musharraf, despite a good start, lost moral power and influence because he failed to go with the forces of change and elected to rely on politicians of questionable integrity. The fate of two other leaders, each tried twice in the past, may be no different if they don't embrace the ideal of the new social movement, which wants real change and is willing to fight for as long as it takes. This is the true sign of hope.

The author is a professor of Political Science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. He can be reached at rasul@lums.edu.pk

Details of Justice Tariq Mahmood's condition

(Courtesy The News)
ISLAMABAD: The moving ordeal of an ailing but defiant Justice (retd) Tariq Mahmood lodged in the Sahiwal jail for the last 23 days, as narrated by his struggling wife, brought tears to the eyes of hundreds of members of the civil society and political workers who watched the 'Capital Talk' show of Geo TV live on the footpath of Islamabad on Monday.
Justice Tariq, once the top judge of the Balochistan High Court, who had resigned after refusing to conduct the controversial presidential referendum of 2002, was now being made to sleep on the cold floor of the Sahiwal jail to break his nerves and punish him for his acts of defiance since he quit the judiciary to register his protest.
As his health condition deteriorated in the Sahiwal jail, Tariq Mahmood who is said to have developed severe back pain has now been rushed to a Lahore hospital for his medical tests. To acknowledge his act of defiance, lawyers' community had elevated him to the prestigious office of president of Supreme Court Bar Association. He again earned respect after he became member of the legal team which successfully defended the deposed chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
She told the shocked audience of the show amid moving scenes how her husband was being ill treated in the jail and taught a brutal lesson for his commitment to the forces of truth and justice.
Justice Tariq was arrested on November 3 along with Munir A Malik, Aitzaz Ahsan and Ali Ahmed Kurd, the dream team which fought the case of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
Hundreds of participants stood up to show their respect to the wife of Justice Tariq and to show their support and admiration. Mrs Tariq asked in a very emotional tone what was her husband's fault who had only tried to stand with the people who were struggling for freedom.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Student Protestors barred from reaching Parliament

(Courtesy The Nation)
ISLAMABAD-Dozens of students of different universities and colleges of Capital City tried to march towards the Parliament House on Monday to protest against the imposition of emergency but they were stopped by police personnel to reach the destined value.The students, however, said that they managed to register their protest peacefully against the ongoing state of emergency and suspension of fundamental rights despite the use of police force to stop them from marching towards the parliament. Representing different universities and colleges of the federal capital including Quaid-e-Azam University, International Islamic University Islamabad, Bahria University and West Minister’s College, the students gathered near the Saudi Pak Tower. They started marching on the Service Road and tried to go to the Parliament House. But the security officials reached there on time and stopped them forcing them to disperse peacefully. Later, the students, without raising any anti-government or anti- Musharraf slogans staged a sit-in in front of Mohammed Ali Jinnah University located in the Blue Area. They were holding placards inscribed with slogans like “Bol kay Lab Azaad Hain Taray” and “we want democracy”.The students demanded of the political parties to boycott the upcoming elections that according to them should not be held under the state of emergency. They said the society has been intentionally depoliticised and students have no unions or any other platform at their educational institutions to express themselves. “We want democracy in the country, we want media to be freed. We believe that the media is a great source of knowledge and information for us” said a charged student, Tariq. He said, “We don’t want to create any mess, we just want to show the world that we can register our protest peacefully.” The students said they were being threatened by the administration to expel from the universities and the colleges and would not be able to get admission further in any educational institution forever.“Our phones are being tapped by the authorities. But it could not deter our struggle, which we are planning to launch on a grand scale. We have formed a Student Action Committee in which the students will represent all the educational institutions. This committee will start a massive protest across the country,” another student, Ahsan told TheNation.

Missing in Pakistan - Documentary

The following is an extremely touching film about the Missing People at the heart of the controversies that led to the Chief Justice's initial dismissal. It was set to be released on Nov 21st in a viewing at FAST-NU Lahore but the authorities clamped down on this and prevented the viewing. Since then, it has moved on to the digital world, originally uploaded at [The Critique Aggregator ] while simultaneously uploaded on the Missing in Pakistan blog. Watch the video and spread the word, if you want to download a full screen version then download from RapidShare 103MB.

Justice Tariq Mahmood in critical condition

It has just been reported on a mailing list that another political prisoner Justice (retd) Tariq Mahmood is also in critical condition and has been shifted from the Kot Lakhpat prison to Service Hospital, more updates to follow.
Muneer A Malik's condition is still deemed to be serious. There has been no word on Ali Ahmed Kurdas of yet.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Student Action Committee Lahore issues Call

YOUR SILENCE; THE DEATH OF OUR COUNTRY

· Under the guise of emergency, on the 3rd of November a brutal attack was launched against the civil society of Pakistan which recently mobilized in unison with the judiciary and the lawyers.
· All the judges who stood by their oath to protect the constitution were removed and placed under house arrest. Moreover, the two judges blamed for releasing terrorists have taken oath under the PCO. There is no excuse for the treatment meted out to the judiciary.
· The media has effectively been silenced as have all opposing voices to the totalitarian regime.
· Fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression and assembly, right to association and right to life, liberty and property, have been taken away.
· A direct assault on the students has been made: talks and debates on academic campuses have been banned. Students are being threatened with expulsions and are being pressurized by a pseudo-student’s (non-democratic) organization. Threats have been made against the students’ future careers and job acquisitions.
· Thousands of people are in jail to date without any legal basis.
· Our industries and businesses have suffered immense losses in millions of rupees due to the aforementioned governmental policies.

If not Now, WHEN? If not Us, Who?
There is no neutrality anymore; SILENCE IS CONSENT. SPEAK!
Do not strengthen the forces of repression which plunder the life and liberties of innocent citizens. SPEAK!
“I will not remember the words of my enemies but the silence of my friends.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Raise your voice with ours for the restoration of the constitution and the judiciary; freedom of the media and release of protest prisoners to enable a democratic process to take root through free and fair election.
Join us to peacefully PROTEST on 30th of November near Salt & Pepper (Liberty) at 2:30 (after the Jumma prayers)
Student Action Committee

Students of Lahore Universities and Colleges form Student Action Committee

After intensive negotiations, the students of 15 universities and institutes of Lahore have come together to establish a unified stance with regard to the recent political upheavals in Pakistan. The statement issued by the students is as follows.

Press Release:

We - students of universities in Lahore – raise our collective voice against the current state of emergency rule and unite on a common agenda. Our demands in sum are aimed to ensure that the people of Pakistan are empowered through a free and fair election process, in order to move national development and progress forward.

We unite to condemn the coercive actions of the government that have moved Pakistan away from the path of peoples' rule towards internal chaos, through extreme restrictions of constitutional freedoms.

We call upon youth all over Pakistan to unite in order to denounce the state of emergency cum martial law imposed against the country's judicial organ and the people of Pakistan. We declare our intent to remain in steadfast opposition to these actions of the regime and to boycott the upcoming elections if the government does not accept the following demands:
1. Lifting of Martial Law
2. Restoration of the Judiciary to its pre-3rd Nov state
3. Restoration of the Constitution to its pre-3rd Nov state
4. Removal of curbs on Media Freedom
5. Release of Protest Prisoners and dropping of charges against them

We declare our unified decision of refusing to recognize as legitimate any government formed under an election process that precludes the acceptance of these demands. We call upon all political parties of Pakistan – that have repeatedly stated that they stand for democracy and justice – to stand by their declarations and boycott any such election held before these basic demands have been satisfied.

We, students of universities in Lahore, hereby declare that we consider any such election to be both unconstitutional and an affront to the very name of democratic rule in the country.

Convince PPP to boycott elections

We would strongly urge everyone to contribute in anyway possible in regards to pressurizing PPP to boycott the upcoming election drama. Participation by 3 major parties (PPP, JUI-F and MQM) can give a semblance of legitimacy to these sham elections.

1) Contact the main leaders of PPP and show them your dissent. Below is their information. Please write/call/email/txt/ meet them in person to show your dissent with elections under emergency. Even if they don't pick up your call, THEY WILL READ YOUR SMSes! The main people to contact are:

Ms Sherry Rehman
Information Secretary
49-Old Clifton, Karachi051-9224129, 021-5834663-4, 0300-8222881, Personal Mobile: 0300-5001420 E-mail: centralinformationsecretary@gmail.com

Mr. Babar Awan
Treasurer
27-E, Ali Plaza, Blue Area, Islamabad. 051-2823778, 2276540,0320-4265000, Personal Mobile: 0300-5000161 E-mail: drbabarawan@hotmail.com

Mr. Farhatullah Babar
Assistant to Mohtarma
Personal Mobile 0300-8552543

Senator Mohammad Enver Baig
House No. 5, Street 55, F-7/4, Islamabad Tel: 2206778, Mobile: 0300-8542308; Fax: 2201107
E-mail: manpower@isb.apollo.net.pkmebaig@hotmail.com

Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto
Chairperson
H. No. 8, St. 19, F-8/2, Islamabad. 051-2282781, 2255264, Fax 2282741Personal Mobile (old number) 0300-5000001 (might not be available onthis but her secretary Awan will probably be.)E-mail: ppp@comsats.net.pk

Makhdoom Amin Fahim
Vice Chairman
11-A, 2nd Sun Set Street, DHA, Karachi, 021-5842140, 0228-31199, 051-2840588,0300-9221234 E-mail: csppp@comsats.net.pk

Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani
Vice Chairman
Gilani House, Ghaus-al-Azam Road, Multan, 155-B, Phase-I, Defence, Lahore061-542424, 0300-8448141, 8730662; 042-5723234.E-mail : makhdoomyrgillani@hotmail.com

Mr. Jehangir Bader
Secretary General
140/107 Karim Block, Allama Iqbal Town, Lahore. 042-5414990-1,0300-8470402; 051-2276014, Fax 051-2276016. E-mail: bader@brain.net.pk

Mian Raza Rabbani
Deputy Secretary General
H. No. 14/II, St. 31, Phase-V, Ext. DHA, Karachi:021-5865841-2, 0300-9291624, 051-9223854. E-mail: rrabbani@cyber.net.pk

Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi
Deputy Secretary General and President PPP Punjab
H. No.445, Bab-ul-Quresh, Muhallah Daulat Gate, Multan061-4514666, 042-5712289, 0300-8634453, E-mail: smhq148@hotmail.com

Mr. Sajjad Bokhari
Deputy Information Secretary
8 - Davis Road, LahoreTele: 042-63714559, 0300-8446754, E-mail: pppintl@lhr.paknet.com.pk

Mr. Babar Awan
Treasurer
27-E, Ali Plaza, Blue Area, Islamabad. 051-2823778, 2276540,0320-4265000 Personal Mobile: 0300-5000141E-mail: drbabarawan@hotmail.com

Central Secretariat Pakistan Peoples Party
House No. 1, Street 85, Sector G-6/4, IslamabadE-mail: csppp@comsats.net.pkTel: (92-51) 2276014-5
In addition if you know who the PPP person for your relevant area is you can find his/her number at: http://www.ppp.org.pk/party.html

2) Student Council's of various universities, lawyers' associations, journalist associations' and other relevant groups should send press releases boycotting the elections under emergency and under the the puppet supreme court and that all parties which take part in the elections without the restoration of the judges will be condemned, boycotted and unjoined, etc. If you want your university's press release to be sent to newspapers, email them to emergencymedia@gmail.com or emergencyinpakistan@gmail.com

3) Forward this message to as many mailing lists.When you forward this email please remove all previous information of the sender.

Make your voices heard!

Update on Muneer A Malik

B.S
The update is that yesterday the government withdrew detention orders against Muneer A Malik. However, we hold the government directly responsible for the criminal negligence and for any consequences to Mr Malik. His condition is stable now, although obviously the delay has caused damage, say friends who are there. They emphasise that people should not panic, but that we should keep the pressure on the Govt to withdraw detention orders on all political prisoners, and please keep them in our thoughts and prayers. To recap, as Salahuddin pointed out, the government did not allow or provide timely medical help to Muneer A. Malik. When his condition deteriorated they panicked and transported him to PIMS on Nov 23 at 6pm. He suffered acute renal failure and was placed on dialysis in the ICU.
There is news that Aitzaz Ahsan is being shifted to Lahore where his house will be declared a sub-jail and he will be placed under house arrest.

Get Real and Engage

M.K
Cynicism is the opium of the elite. This is the main thing that I would like to say to Mr. Nadeem Farooq Paracha, in response to his article called "Air Bag" that was published in DAWN magazine on November 18th.
NFP argues that the ongoing civil society protests against the emergency reek of "hypocrisy" and "pretension", and that he does not want to be part of a "crusade" in which the lawyers, democrats, extremists, and liberals are hurled together in the same boat. If aunties protest, they are too elitist and it is convenient for them to rally "on a full stomach." If students protest, they are misguided. I want to ask NFP: who would you rather have, your highness? Perfect socialists who grow their own food? Or laborers on an empty stomach? A while back, mullahs all over the country were protesting against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Does that mean that I should not have protested against the war?
NFP apparently wants a perfect civil society, but does not want to do anything constructive towards its creation. He seems to think that his resistance to Zia's regime was the only valid cause to uphold, because he was involved in it. Wake up, Mr. NFP, please shake yourself out of your bubble. We are living through a more insidious Zia these days, which makes the challenge much more critical and daunting. Politics – like life – is messy, confusing, and full of contradictions. "Civil society" anywhere is ridden with ironies, exclusions, and axes of difference such as class and ethnicity, and these need to be negotiated for bringing about progressive change, not escaped through use of self-aggrandizing wit and cynicism.
It is too easy to believe in economic and social justice, and then sit back and comment on how no one is getting it right. And when in times of brutal repression, people finally find the need and courage to stand up, the threatened arm-chair cynics like NFP love to run them down even more: why did they not stand up for a,b,c cause before? Only if they stand up against x,y,z now, will I – the self-proclaimed sage of the age – deem their cause worthy enough.
One can criticize any stance – which, by the way, is only a convenient way for not taking any stance at all. It is always convenient to be cynical and contradictory, as if that makes us all intellectual. This is the surest way to escape ever standing up for anything, and for masking one's own ignorance, and unwillingness to engage. It is simply an excuse to stay in our elite comfort zones. But silence is a form of political action, and it has strong consequences especially in these severe times. By not standing up and vocalizing our discontent with this kind of exceptional repression, we are implicitly telling the regime – and all subsequent regimes – that it is ok for them to do whatever they please, and we will sit idle like innocent bystanders. Our fatalistic ("whatever will be will be"), over-critical ("I don't agree with anything"), and cynical ("this is such a crazy farce") postures are not only unfair to those who are willing to struggle and sacrifice, but they in effect help to sustain the status quo.
I am obviously not against humor, wit, or critique. We would not get anywhere without these. Indeed, there are many shortcomings of the current resistance that I have experienced myself. Amongst other things, it is not broad-based enough and will perhaps flounder in the absence of a viable leadership. The situation, though, demands more minds and more engagement, not an offensive use of witty cynicism.
The "decked up supermarket aunty" who NFP so condescendingly rebukes might be shopping at Agha's, but at least she has the decency to stand up for the cause of democracy and justice. With the kind of elite apathy, non-seriousness, and fear that I see around me, even one elite woman taking part in a flash protest is refreshing, and makes a difference. The daughter of Murtaza Bhutto – who to NFP's displeasure is also part of the anti-emergency struggle – published a moving and timely article on the tremendous suffering of missing peoples' families in Baluchistan, on the same day as NFP was putting down the protestors who are trying to protect the rights of these families to due process of law. NFP loves to mock Imran Khan as well -- will he recognize that the latter accomplished almost revolutionary change in the culture of Punjab University by enabling students to challenge IJT oppression? Salman Ahmad is NFP's favorite target, yet the rock singer wrote a more real and insightful article for the Washington Post in which he took a clear stance against martial law.
It's all too easy to disparage protesting students as well by saying that they are immature, trying to act cool and pseudo-revolutionary, or just joining the bandwagon. Why are we so bent on dismissing them instead of giving them credit? They are not impulsive fools who love Benazir or Nawaz Sharif – they are as disillusioned with "democratic" regimes as anyone else. Does this mean that they should now give up all hope and respect for political process? Do we simply accept the kingdom of a military dictator? The students are genuinely frustrated, and refuse to watch tyranny take root. They are a heterogeneous bunch, do not have all the answers, and are also uncertain about what the future will bring – as in any struggle. Yet, not standing up to current atrocities is a graver concern for them. Despite enormous fears in these times of repression, they have the integrity and courage to take a stance.
This is the time to make distinctions. We need to recognize that the current struggle is about resisting the wholesale annihilation of the rule of law, and the freedom of expression. I, too, cannot stand talk shows on certain channels, and in fact, loved NFP's spoof on them that was published recently. Does that mean that a high-handed closure of channels and silencing of critique under PEMRA is acceptable? The Supreme Court might be corrupt, brash, and naïve, but it showed an unprecedented sense of social and political responsibility by taking up cases against forced disappearances, shady privatizations, and illegal building practices. Unlike the shameless legislature, executive, and most of the citizenry, the lawyers and judges who have been hounded for months are still bravely refusing to accept an elitist and military-dominated status quo. What power are they getting by risking their lives and the security of their families? Why, for once, can we not think about their struggle with the seriousness that it demands? What amount of violence and human rights abuse will it take to move us into action? Is the decimation of the highest judicial institution not enough? Are over 5,000 indiscriminate and unlawful arrests not enough? What about the anti-terrorism and sedition cases against innocent people? Are the laws for court-marshalling citizens also acceptable, so that the military-intelligence establishment can simply press "delete" on citizens like it did on the Supreme Court?
Democracy is something you achieve through citizens' engagement, not through self-serving apathy and through blaming the judiciary, politicians, and just about every one else. Indeed, as a friend recently said to me, "those who have spent their lives struggling for freedom and democracy and have seen their efforts go to waste time and time again are actually the least likely to develop this perverse form of cynicism." If we do not have the courage to protest the ever-increasing despotism that is shredding our country, at least we should not trivialize and ridicule the efforts of those who do. Better still, we should express our solidarity, lend support, and actively shape this defining historic moment.
I request NFP to shed his holier-than-thou, "I'm too well-informed to take a stance" posture because that is what really reeks of elitism, hypocrisy, and pretension

Sunday, November 25, 2007

APDM to boycott elections

ISLAMABAD, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- A major opposition alliance in Pakistan Saturday decided it would boycott parliamentary elections if the constitution and sacked judges were not restored in four days.
At a meeting held here on Saturday, the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) also demanded withdrawal of the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) and restrictions on media in four days, according to the private NNI news agency.

(We welcome this decision by the APDM. One hopes the PPP and other parties will follow suit. These sham elections cannot be legitimized by participating in them. We encourage everyone to contact leaders from the political parties (especially the PPP) and relay to them this concern.)

the tide continues to turn..

What are we fighting for?

Battleground High Court: hundreds upon hundreds of lawyers, young and old, men and women are dragged by their foreheads into dark and narrow police vans and no one knows where they are being taken. Court property is smashed, innocents are beaten up. On November the fifth, a false hope which had long bred inaction is killed, a nation is shocked to its senses. Someone up in the echelons of power is counting upon our silence but makes a fatal mistake and drags into the fight a force that should have been there all along: the students. Perhaps by another mistake, the students are allowed to leave battleground High Court.

We have been asked if we were there to observe as the country’s institutional foundations were set ablaze. Somehow, people manage to be surprised when we tell them that we were there to join the fight – the fight that lawyers and other civil society groups were, and still are, putting up for constitutional governance in Pakistan. More than two weeks down the lane, we are still fighting. We have rallied and protested, spoken and assembled countless times and in countless places. We have reached out to the halls of power, inside and outside this country. Above, all we are reaching out to the people. Let there be no mistake: we are not here to quit. No ruler should even count on our silence again. We cannot stay out of it any more because the nation has called. We will overthrow absolutist and arbitrary government and we will stay to safeguard democracy once we usher it in.

We do not fight at the behest of any political party or any political figure. We fight, just like the lawyers, as an independent, peaceful and organized group of citizens – the students. Our objectives are: the restoration of the constitution and the judiciary to what they were before November 3; release of martial law prisoners; revocation of curbs on the media; and revival of representative government by free and fair elections. These are rights that we are entitled to as humans and citizens. If we are denied these, we will not wait and observe, because half a century of waiting and observing by us and our parents has landed us nowhere. We will not beg for a ruler’s mercy because we, the people, are above that. We must fight until we get them. It is true that the re-emergence of students in politics is a complex phenomenon. But the bottom-line is that simple.

In this fight, we refuse to use or condone violence. Violence is the oppressors’ weapon; we shall win the hearts and minds. We stand on a higher moral ground and ultimately the moral force of our struggle will melt all that confronts it. We know who it is that we are up against. But there is no power on God’s earth greater than the power of the people, if they stand together.

As oppressors quiver, our loved ones’ hearts also quake. But in their heart of hearts they, and the whole nation, are proud of us. They know that the time has come for the youth to inherit the earth with all its bounties and all its struggles. We strive for constitutional and representative governance because it is worth our while and because we are convinced that somewhere, somehow, victory is just around the corner.

- Student Action Comittee at LUMS

LUMS faculty condemns arrest of PU faculty members

Appeal by teachers of the Lahore University of Management Sciences against the Intimidation and Harassment of faculty members of Punjab University.

23 November 2007

As a continuation of the attack on all civil institutions, and in line with Extra-Constitutional Rule, Gen. Musharraf and the interim Government of Punjab have instituted sedition charges against 14 members of the academic staff of Punjab University.

The FIR against them, under sections 124-A, 188, 143/149 and 16-MPO, was registered at the Muslim Town Police station. They have been charged with sedition and provoking the masses against the government for its action of imposing emergency and promulgating the PCO. The FIR was registered after the above teachers had taken part in demonstrations against the suspension of the constitution, the promulgation of emergency and for the restoration of the constitution and the judiciary. These were peaceful protests held inside the campus.

The academic staff of Punjab University is continuing its protest against the government and the Chancellor of the university and is demanding the withdrawal of FIRs against all 14 members of faculty.

The undersigned faculty members of the Lahore University of Management Sciences condemn the attempt, through harassment and intimidation, to silence voices of reason whose only fault is their desire to restore democracy and the rule of law in Pakistan. We also condemn extra Constitutional Rule that suspends academia’s and the wider citizenries’ constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and association.

We demand the withdrawal of the charges against the faculty members of Punjab University. We express solidarity with our colleagues at Punjab University and all citizens engaged in the just struggle to end the state of emergency, restore the constitution and the rule of law, the lifting of the ban on the press and the restoration of the Supreme Court and the Judiciary.

Signatories to appeal:


Syed Aun Abbas
Asad Abidi
Nasir Afghan
Khurram Afridi
Shazia Afzal
Zeeshan Ahmed
Asad Alam
Syed Mubashir Ali
Syed Zahid Ali
Naveed Arshad
Hassan Azad
Sadaf Aziz
Shahab Baqai
Faisal Bari
Mohammad Basharullah
Faqir Bhatti
Shaukat Brah
Abid Burki
Aslam Butt
Ali Cheema
Saeed Ghazi
Syed Nomanul Haq
Ehsan ul Haque
Omair Haroon
Syed Zahoor Hassan
Faheem Hussain
Turab Hussain
Wasiq Hussain
Jahangir Ikram
M. Ashraf Iqbal
Faheem ul Islam
Tariq M. Jadoon
Zaeem Jafri
Asim Karim
Furrukh Khan
Jamshed H. Khan
Maryam Khan
Jawwad S. Khawaja
Miguel Loureiro
Shahid Masud
Shandana Mohmand
Khalid Mir
Nabil Mustafa
Shehreen Najam
M. Farooq Naseer
Anjum Nasim
Roger Normand
Manasa Patnam
Taimur Rahman
Rasul Baksh Rais
Hassna Ramay
Khalid Rasheed
Imran Rashid
Reehana Raza
Masood H. Shah
Sultan Sial
Osama Siddique
Sarah Zaidi
Tasneem Zehra
Nouman Zubair

Witness account of the arrest of Advocate Athar Minallah

21st November 2007

Athar Minallah was arrested on the 21st of Nov. 2007 at approx. 1.30pm .He had been accompanying Retd. Justice Wajiuddin Ahmad the whole of that morning. After the arrival of the judge from Karachi Athar took him to the District courts of Islamabad in the F-8 sector where the Hon . Retd. Judge delivered a speech to the lawyers.While still at the dist. Courts ,someone conveyed a message that the Chief Justice, Justice Iftikhar Mohd Chaudhry had left his house and was trying to go to the Supreme Court, but was being prevented by the police.That very day a govt. spokesperson had announced in the newspapers that the judges "WERE NOT DETAINED '' .It was due to this news that the Chief Justice and Justice Bhagwandas decided to go to the SC.

When Justice Wajiuddin and an entourage of lawyers arrived at the scene the place was crawling with police carrying batons and shields and wearing helmets.When Jus. Wajiuddin wanted to go and visit the CJ, he was denied access to the road leading to the detained judges houses , and when he demanded an explanation as to why he being prevented ,the reply was "HOW COULD HE BE ALLOWED TO GO TO THE SUPREME COURT.There were some clashes between the police and the lawyers ,and a lot of loud and angry slogans were being chanted After the chaos died down, Athar and Justice Wajiuddin headed towards the Islamabad Club, where they were to meet a group of foreign media persons.

They had not gone very far when 2 police mobile vans forced them to stop, one of them in front and the other behind.Around six or seven PLAINCLOTHES INTELLIGENCE persons got out of the vans and walked towards the car.They opened the door on Athar's side and started pulling him out of the car, saying that they had a WARRANT for his arrest.Jus Waji called out to them to stop pulling and to show them the document.The men DRAGGED Athar out of the car and took him to their vehicle and SHOVED him inside.These details were given by Retd. Jus. Waji himself. He was very shaken and extremely upset . He made his way to the club and informed the journalists about what had happened. From there he went to the Dist. Courts in Rawalpindi and addressed the lawyers , informing them of the incident.Then he addressed a huge gathering of people from all walks of life and narrated the same again at a seminar held in the Holiday Inn, Islamabad.

In the mean time I was informed by my driver , who had been driving their car, that both of them had been arrested. I immediately started calling all the journalists whose numbers I had in my mobile phone. Since the arrest was made near the Marriot hotel ,the Secretariat Police Station would be the right one. I went there at approx 2pm with some friends but the place had a deserted look.The duty officer said he had no knowledge of the incident and neither could he help us.

ATHAR INFORMED ME IN MY MEETING WITH HIM TODAY AT ADIALA JAIL THAT WHEN WE WENT TO THE POLICE STATION LOOKING FOR HIM , HE COULD HEAR OUR VOICES SINCE HE WAS IN A ROOM NEXT DOOR AND HAD BEEN THREATENED TO KEEP QUIET. THE MOMENT WE LEFT HE WAS BUNDLED INTO A PRIVATE CAR WHICH SPED TOWARDS PINDI. ATHAR KEPT ASKING WHERE THEY WERE TAKING HIM BUT THERE WAS NO REPLY, HE WAS TAKEN TO THE SIHALA POLICE STATION AND FORCED TO WAIT FOR HOURS.ATHAR KEPT ASKING THEM WHERE THEY WOULD BE TAKING HIM AND THEY KEPT SAYING THEY WERE AWAITING ORDERS.HE WAS KEPT THERE TILL APROX 6PM AND THEN TAKEN TO ADIALA JAIL.

In the mean time I had been going to the Police Stations all over Islamabad trying to find him but we had no luck. I started getting very worried and my biggest fear was that since plainclothes men had arrested him they might take him to some unknown destination. At approx 4pm I decided to attend the seminar which was being held in the Holiday Inn. I was desperate and wanted to meet Retd.Justice Wajiuddin regarding some advice as to the next step. It was there that I received a phonecall from a reliable source that Athar was being shifted to Adiala.
I went the next day to meet Athar but after waiting outside the prison for 4 hrs I was informed that I needed the permission of the Home Secy.The next day I was able to get permission .

Inside the prison I followed a policeman through several corridors and several locked gates till we got to the room where I was to meet him. There were policemen constantly sitting in the room with us .Athar looked fine but he said that those few hours of urcertainty had been very taxing on his nerves , not to mention my agony. He is in a cell with other prisoners and they sleep on the floor. Matresses , pillows or quilts are not allowed .We were told that the max capacity of the prison was 2000 wheres the number of prisoners at the moment 6000.

My heart goes out to the families of those who are missing, without any charge. For the wives of thousands of lawyers who are arrested after November 3. Unfortunatey we are living in the stone age right now.There are no courts, no judges, no constitution, no law, no fundamental rights. The custodians of law and order have their guns pointed towards the people they are paid to protect.We are cursed with the most despicable dictatorship, the army is busy wiping out their own people, the Chief Justice and judges of the SC are locked in their houses with locks and chains on the gates, the President says FAIR AND FREE ELECTIONS will be held ACCORDING TO THE CONSTITUTION.The prisons are bursting at their seams with people who have stood up for the independence of the judiciary and the corridors of power are also bursting with the most amazing collection of spineless people one could ever imagine.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

HRCP denounces Ballach’s killing

Press Release:

Lahore, November 23: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) is shocked and grieved at the killing of Ballach Marri. Whatever anybody may have had against the slain Baloch leader and whatever the circumstances of his liquidation the incident is likely to increase the Balochistan people’s alienation from the state. What is needed now is not merely a thorough probe to determine the truth about the most regrettable happening, it is time reliance on force as the sole means of securing peace and tranquility in Balochistan was given up.

Reflecting on Khalil Jibran in current times

Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it
does not harvest, and drinks a wine that flows not from its own wine-press.

Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.
Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream, yet submits in its awakening.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice save when it walks in a funeral, boasts not except among its ruins, and will rebel not save when its neck is laid between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.
Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting, and farewells him with hooting, only to welcome another with trumpeting again.

Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years and whose strong men are yet in the cradle.
Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation.

A message from a student worker in the Pakistan Movement

The following is a letter we recieved from Mr.Moizuddin, a student worker in the Pakistan Movement.. His words offer a great deal of perspective for us, as students, to gain strength and inspiration in these dark days..

"Bravo young persons.. You have shown a light at the end of a tunnel ..The tunnel is long and appears to be getting longer .. But the light is there .. Shown by you.. Imagine who is saying so ! An unknown student-worker in the Pakistan Movement I passed my Matriculation in 1945 Saw Hazrat Quaid e Azam RahmatuLlah alaih in 1945, and then from 14th August 1947 onward in Karachi. Had he been alive todayhe would have patted you on the back Patted the way he used to pat the members of All India Muslim Students Federation ... the students of Aligarh Muslim University ... of Islamia College Lahore... of Islamia College Peshawar ... of Bombay University and everywhere. Students were his hope in the fulfillment of his dreams during his life time... The students made him breathe his last peacefully... 76 years old persons like me also wish to die peacefully; they can not come out and be a part of your meetings,demonstrations, protest march .. But there is a big stride intechnology. I can be with you electronically In my youthful days it was impossible to take out a mass message in print ... The Printing Press was under strict surveillance. The cyclostyling-machine(ever seen one?) was available far and wide. Maybe one in miles, often owned by a Hindu. Now you have all the access to dissemination of information, at the click of a finger. You ought to be able to perform much, much more Please keep your Agenda brief In my times the agenda was one point " ley ke rahenge Pakistan" Avoid direct clash with Police Our Quaid was never arrested But when he gave the call of 'Direct Action' for 16th (or 15th) August 1946, thousands laid their life in one day Most of them in Calcutta It was a call for one day onlyI am in no position to give any suggestion to you But In my age I am as convinced of the power in Prayer.. as in the power to demonstrate publicly May I be permitted to please suggest that you find some moments for prayers or public prayers in the open How to pray publicly and jointly? Please find an answer to this by public consensus..The prayers work .. They did in my days too ! ---------------------I wish you all the success in all that you may do.."

Corruption under Musharraf

As all of us know, Transparancy International is the most well known corruption rating agency worldwide. Overthrows of most civilian governments in the 1990's were justified by referring to this agency's findings. They had rated Pakistan the third most corrupt country in the world in 1996. Musharraf regime made wide use of their findings in projecting a negative image of all political parties and leaderships. It is another matter that he included the most corrupt elements among the civilians in his own governments. Using the same methodology, Transparancy International has claimed in their 2006 report that the Musharraf government (2002-2006) is more corrupt (67%) than PPP's second government (48%) and Nawaz Sharif phase II (34%). Unfortunately, for some strange reason, the mainstream political parties and civil society organizations have not used the data presented in this report the way the military regime had used against the civilian governments. It has been the most frequently used weapon by the military regime to malign civilians and justify continuation of military rule in Pakistan in the last eight years and many supporters of Musharraf in the liberal elite hold the same view. This report presents a very dark picture of corruption in Pakistan under Musharraf. It is high time that civil society organizations expose both institutional and common corruption under the military rulers and break the myth of clean government under them.

Delegates throng candle light vigil at LUMS






As LUMS is hosting the model united nations moot, where atleast 1,200 delegates from different schools/colleges and universities are participating, a call by (non-LUMUN) LUMS students for a Vigil was responded overwhelmly from the delegates. Despite their busy schedules, and moot activities parallel to the protest, over 200 delegates showed up at the protest held in front of the PDC. A few faculty members, students and alumni spoke at the occasion. They remarked that at this point in time, the fundamental human rights of people of Pakistan were being suppressed by one-man-rule. The charter of humanity, the traditions of society and most important of all The Constitution of Pakistan guarantees them their rights, which were effectively violated on by proclamation of "Martial Law" on 3rd November. The basic human rights in UN Charter & Constitution were cited out and told that the 160 million Pakistanis do not have their rights at the moment. And it was not the first time in history this has been done so. Out of 60 years of independence, 31 have been spent under military rule & 4 under ad-hoc governments. Even though there were times when people enjoyed democracy, they were less than 4 years in succession at most. As usual it was appealed to students to keep their protests peaceful and apply a non-violent protesting methodology. Teachers of visiting delegates also graced the occassion. In the end as is routine in candle light vigils, a collective prayer was offerred, asking the divine entity for a better leadership of Pakistan in future, and for the integrity of Pakistan. The crowed then dispersed peacefully

Relevance of Iqbal in today's times

kitaab-e-millat-e-bezaa ki phir shiraazaH bandi hai

yeh shaakH-e-haashmi karney ko hai phir barg-o-bar paida

[kitaab-e-millat-bezaa=blank book of the community; shiraazaH bandi=binding or systematize

shaakH-e-haashmi=family of the Prophet Muhammad (saaw); barg-o-bar=leaves and fruits]

The above couplet by Allama Muhammad Iqbal, beautifully describes the past, present and future of Pakistan. It shows that whatever has happened till today is the result of the apathy of the nation in general and the lack of will to change the system. The reason that the book of the community is blank is the acceptance that the people of Pakistan have given to corruption. Since we, as a nation, never really fought against corruption by fighting the corrupt, we deserve to face such a situation. Everyone has developed the most self- destructive belief that he/she cannot change the system. And that is why the book is blank.

However, the ever increasing frequency of protests by every kind of group in the country including politicians, lawyers and now by the most effective group which is students, against the established norms by the undemocratically established government shows an extremely positive picture of the future of this country. As Iqbal said that, this community is now organizing, the consequence of which is much needed and the awaited act shall be witnessing new leaves and fruits in the form of a better future of Pakistan where people will have democracy and welfare instead of a being mislead about prosperity on the basis of an increasing GDP.

Nevertheless, it is of utmost importance that we take up every effort to unite ourselves and forget all the difference of personal, religious, professional, political differences that exist between us etc. There has to be a bigger goal but that should be achieved with small goals and the one of those small goals should be to first unite, no matter how big the differences may be. We must learn to accept each other with these differences if we wish to see new leaves and fruits.

Khuda tujhe kisi toofan sey aashna ker dey

Keh teray behar ki mojon mein iztiraab nahin

We, the people of Pakistan should be thankful to Allama Muhammad Iqbal that he admonished people like us