Friday, December 14, 2007

SAC Islamabad issues call for the 17th

SAC I7 th December Protest
Student Action Committee

Will the general taking off his uniform benefit the people of Pakistan?

After the lifting of the emergency will our rights be guaranteed?

Can there be free and fair elections in the absence of the real judiciary?

Our protest continues:

 For the restoration of the Chief Justice and his fellow judges

 For the lifting of all curbs on the media

 For the withdrawal of the army from the politics once and for all

 For the restoration of student unions

 For an end to the class system of education

Monday, 17th December 2007
3pm, Aab Para Chowk, Islamabad

If not us, then who?

If not now, then when?

(The SAC Lahore will respond to the call of their brethren in Islamabad by staging a protest on the same day. The time and venue for the Lahore protest will be decided today.)

Discussion with reknowned economist Kaiser Bengali

(We encourage you to RSVP so we can make adequate seating arrangements! details below)
What will be discussed:
Has there been significant economic development during the Musharraf Regime ?

How much of it is a myth and how much of it is true economic development?

What does the much hyped growth rate mean for us Pakistanis?

Is the economic growth sustainable ?

Date: Sunday, 16th December, 2007 Time: 4:00- 7:00 PM

Venue: Shirkatgah Offfice , Meeting Room ( 1st Floor) , 2 Bath Island Road, Parin Lodge, Bath Island, Karachi.

We encourage you to RSVP so we can make adequate seating arrangements ! For more information feel free to call us at 0334-3028811 or email to

Guilty as Charged

By Farhat Haq: Dawn, December 14, 2007

UNTIL Nov 3, when President Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan, I was living the life of an academic in the safety and comfort of a small Midwestern college town in the US where my biggest worry was that my sixteen-year-old son now had a driver’s licence. The declaration of emergency pulled me into the peculiar emotional state inhabited by those of us who experience the turmoil of their native lands while living in the safety and comfort of their adopted homelands.I watched on the television screen as Pakistani protesters were beaten by plain-clothed security personnel and hauled away to prison. It made me want to join the street demonstrations. Instead I tried to go about my daily routine, almost bursting into tears once as the checkout person at the grocery store asked innocently, “How’s everything?”

Then the emergency came to find me. “They have issued an FIR [first information report] for you along with three other faculty and two students,” a Pakistani colleague from a university in Lahore, where I sometimes teach, informed me. To my colleague the fact that I was accused of disturbing the peace by “chalking on the wall … writing inappropriate things about the government” when I was not even in the country was just one more indication of the Kafkaesque world Pakistan has entered since the declaration of the state of emergency.

The government is supposedly fighting Islamic radicals and bringing on what is alleged to be the ‘third stage’ of democracy. Oddly enough, it seeks to accomplish these goals by suspending the Constitution, shutting off the independent media, manipulating the January election, packing the courts with compliant judges willing to take an oath of office under whatever President Musharraf says is the law and, finally, imprisoning secular and progressive figures who dare to voice truly democratic aspirations for their country. Add to this last strategy the issuing of arrest warrants for troublesome scholars (including yours truly) who are not even residing in Pakistan.

Of course I am very proud of this FIR. It makes me feel as if I am actually doing something. But my husband is not amused. He has experienced imprisonment and interrogation at the hands of Pakistani police, during another dark time in Pakistani history, when another general hung the first popularly elected prime minister and arrested student leaders in order to keep ‘peace’ in the streets. “You do not know what kind of trouble they can make for you when you go back to Pakistan,” he told me as I cheerfully showed him the email. “This is not a laughing matter.”

Growing up in Pakistan, I knew FIRs were nothing but trouble. My extended small-town and rural Punjabi family mostly kept on the right side of the law, but there was a maternal uncle of mine, a rabble-rouser who had eloped with another man’s wife, who was familiar with FIRs, thanas (jails) and police. Such involvement was no picnic. Nor was the process particularly fair.Successfully lodging an FIR against one’s adversary was a sure sign of one’s connections and ability to humiliate the enemy. With FIRs in hand the police could raid your house and arrest all the males. If they really wanted to humiliate the family, they would haul the female members to the thana too.

For a middle-class Pakistani, no encounter with the law could possibly be very good. For working-class and poor Pakistanis, encounters with the law are likely to be ruinous. One does not turn to law to get justice; the powerful use the law to keep others under their control. Equality under the law, a rudimentary principle of modern citizenship, remains elusive for Pakistanis. FIRs, along with other legal instruments — the detritus of British colonial rule — has continued to subjugate the Pakistani public.

A few months before the current state of emergency was declared came a glimmer of hope. For the first time in Pakistan’s history, the judges of the Supreme Court resisted arbitrary rule and asserted supremacy of the law. Sitting here in the US and looking at the unfolding political drama in Pakistan, I saw the first act as being ho-hum. A chief justice was told that he should resign or he would be charged with misusing his office and thus dismissed anyway. There were rumours of sweetening the deal further by promising sweet real-estate deals and cash.

The chief justice refused and insisted on facing the charges against him. The accused chief justice became a lightning rod for a movement for an independent judiciary. The chief justice got reinstated. The ordinary people rejoiced and looked to the Supreme Court to get justice. People started urging the courts to take suo motu action on all kinds of grievances: traffic jams, graft and corruption, kidnapping, disappearances, unfair selection for the national cricket team. Could it possibly be that, for ordinary people, the law would no longer be their enemy; that they could finally look to the legal system to get justice?

Unfortunately, this first act concluded with the imposition of the current ‘emergency’. We are now in the middle of the second act. How it will turn out, nobody really knows. But I am part of it. A warrant has been issued for my arrest, despite the fact that I am thousands of miles away from the trouble. I accept this warrant proudly. In a way, it is no mistake. If it is criminal for a daughter of Pakistan to long for freedom and justice, then I plead guilty.

The writer teaches political science at Monmouth College in Illinois, US.

Teleconference with Bar Association of San Francisco

Last night (6 pm to 7:40 pm, Pacific Standard Time), the Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) hosted a teleconferece with lawyers in Pakistan to discuss the suspension of Pakistan's Constitution and the arrest of Supreme Court and High Court Judges, lawyers and activists. The event was recorded so that you can listen, first-hand, to the reports from lawyers who were arrested. There is link to the audio recording below that you can click on to listen to the teleconference.

For lawyers, and those who believe that democracy is based on an independent judiciary that enforces the rule of law, it will be shocking to hear about Supreme Court and High court judges still under house arrest. This is a teleconference well worth your time to listen to.

On November 3, 2007, the Constitution of Pakistan was unilaterally suspended by the President, General Musharaff. By evening the majority of the Supreme Court Judges and other Judges were under house arrest. All Pakistani and international news channels were forced off the air. In order to curb criticism of the suspension of the Constitution, the government cracked down hardest on the lawyers. More than 5,700 lawyers, judges, activists and journals were imprisoned for voicing their opposition and demonstrating peaceably.

The real reason for suspending the Constitution and purging the judiciary was that Pakistani law did not allow General Musharaff to continue in power. His election for another five-year term was under challenge in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court was expected to announce its ruling on November 8, but Musharaff's actions effectively dismantled the judiciary.
On December 12, 2007, The Bar Association of San Francisco held a teleconference with prominent Pakistani Lawyers, all of whom were previously arrested and incarcerated without bail. They are:

a. Zahid F. Ebrahim, Supreme Court of Pakistan Advocate, Partner of Ebrahim Hosain
b. Khwaja Ahmed Hosain, Barrister at Law, Partner of Ebrahim Hosain
c. Salahuddin Ahmed, Barrister at Law, Partner of Malik, Chaudhry, Ahmed and Siddiqi

The teleconference was moderated by Nanci Clarence, of Clarence & Dyer LLP and 2007 BASF President, Naomi Rustomjee, of Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP, and Kurshid Khoja, of Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP. The Pakistani Lawyers commented not only on the situation in Pakistan, but also on the implications for the safety and security of the United States.

To listen to the teleconference, click on the link below.

Note: Recording playback requires Flash. If you do not have Flash installed, you will be prompted to install it before playback begins.

For additional instructions on playback, click here:

Note: This live recording was made by:
David Bennett Major, Lindsey & Africa
Managing Director
500 Washington Street, Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111

Massive rally in support of Aitzaz

As you know, Aitzaz Ahsan has withdrawn from the election. In the process, he has restored hope in all of us and proven himself to be a leader in the truest sense.

AITZAZ'S ATTORNEYS ARE WITHDRAWING HIS PAPERS ON HIS BEHALF ON SATURDAY, December 15, at 11 am at AIWAN-E-ADAL, backed up by a MASSIVE show of support from the legal community and civil society.

It is up to all of us now _ Students, Doctors, Professionals - ALL of civil society - to join the movement and rally for the sake of our principles. COME, BRING YOUR FRIENDS, TELL THEM TO BRING THEIR FRIENDS. The venue again is Aiwan-e-Adal (adjacent to Town Hall), Lower Mall at 11 am on Saturday.

In Unity there is Strength.

In Strength, Victory.

In Complete Unity

Details of IRI Poll - Musharraf's popularity at rock-bottom

Recently Musharraf challenged the media to ask the real people of Pakistan and asserted that he is popular in Pakistan.

The following video shows more:

The complete results of an IRI poll are available onlineat the following link:

Here is a summary:

* Most respondents (52%) belonged to middle class and earn between Rs.3,000 to Rs.10,000 per month.

* 76% oppose crackdown on lawyers & TV stations, and house arrest of Supreme Court judges

* 70% oppose state of emergency & ban on political rallies

* 66% feel emergency was imposed to save Musharraf's neck, instead of fighting terrorism


* 68% people worry about inflation & unemployment

* 68% feel Musharraf govt's performance has been poor

* 72% oppose Musharraf's re-election as President


* Overall, Benazir is most popular (31% support),followed by Nawaz Sharif (26% support).

* Benazir is widely popular in SINDH & BALUCHISTAN.

* Nawaz Sharif is leading popularity ratings in PUNJAB

* Nawaz Sharif also leads popularity ratings in NWFP, followed by Imran Khan.

Zafar Ali Shah also opts out of election

(Courtesy The Daily Times)
Senior PML-N leader Zafar Ali Shah on Thursday announced to boycott the January 8 polls to protest the judges’ deposition.

Talking to Daily Times, Shah said that he was a lawyer and chose not to contest elections under current circumstances when the constitution was suspended and the judges were detained.

“I can’t disassociate myself from the lawyers’ struggle for restoration of judiciary,” he said.

PPP leader and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Aitzaz Ahsan had also pulled himself out of the election race in protest against the November 3 extra constitutional steps by the president. He has been under house arrest in Lahore.

Shah said that he had filed nomination papers for NA-49 of Islamabad and NA-55 and NA-56 of Rawalpindi but would withdraw the same from all three constituencies in a day or two.When asked about the PML-N’s decision to contest elections, he said that he had violated no party policy and was left with no choice but to follow the legal fraternity’s decision of election boycott as a lawyer. He said he would fear expulsion from his party for the decision. “PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has been demanding restoration of pre-Nov 3 judiciary. Therefore, I see no reason that my party would expel me,” he said.