Friday, December 21, 2007

Protest outside Aitzaz's house - Eyewitness account

Ahmed Saleemi

Out of all the protests I went to, i think this was the best one. It had everything we needed: a crowd full of enthusiasm, media brimming with fervor and a spirit never seen before. Aitzaz was picked up from the motorway on his way to Islamabad. He was beaten and manhandled as his son was brought back to Lahore at gun point by the police. Even though it was Eid-Ul-Adha, we, as responsible members of the society, didn't hesitate to gather outside his residence at 6pm today for a vigil. In a matter of minutes, multitudes of people started joining us outside his residence and in a little while, they were chanting with us. Senior journalist Hamid mir and Faryal Gohar took an active part in the protest by chanting slogans. The protest was covered by several media representatives.

The protestors kept increasing and rose to at least 500 in number. Often pedestrians and vehicles would stop next to us and express their solidarity to the cause. This not only increased our confidence, but also instilled a hope for future protests!

We started walking towards the mall road while holding candles in our hands and chanting slogans against the government. The protestors, actively distributed flyers to the public even if we had to run on the main road in the midst of heavy traffic. We walked on the mall road gathered at the mall road chowk (infront of the big mosque). The enthusiasm of the society, which included children, students, adults, lawyers and a large number of women, was one of a kind. Apart from the large participation of women, the city also witnessed little children rasing their voices against the government. That is when we knew it was just the beginning of a massive reform. Hamid mir and a few other people addressed the protestors too.I talked to one of the police inspectors on duty there and he said " humein pata hai aap sachay hain jo kar rahe hain sahee kar rahe hain, hum bhi bus majboor hai rozi roti ke liye ye kaam karna parta hai". This congregation continued for more than 1.5 hour. Protests like “ tor raha hai Pakistan, naye daur ka naya khan”, “tor raha hai Pakistan, aaj k daur ka yahya khan”, “Pakistan ka bais e tabahi, pervez musharaf aur pervaiz elahi”, “Aitzaz tere jaan-e-nisar beshumar beshumar” were prevalent during the protest.

The protests resolved peacefully as most of the crowd made their way back to the residence of Aitzaz Ahsan.

A Macro-Analysis of Barrister Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan’s Open Letter

(The Letter is accessible at

Hassan Baig

Barrister Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan is a leader in his own right. A populist leader even. Moreover, his read of the political spectrum and all developing eventualities is sensible and practical.

But perhaps not practical enough.

Ms. Benazir Bhutto is widely believed to be averse to the idea of the reinstatement of the deposed judges. In fact, she has gone as far as publicly chiding the lawyer community (and probably Barrister Ahsan in particular) to form their own political party if they so wish. This stand is understandable when seen under the light of the economics of it: the political and self-preservation costs to Ms. Bhutto of a reopening of her files by independent-minded judges are far greater than the costs of loss (if any) of the PPP's public appeal as a result of her endorsement of the establishment's agenda. Ms. Bhutto would never underwrite an option which pays dividends only in moral rectitude and not in monetary and/or realpolitik terms.

For someone so ethically-decided, it is abnormal how PPP loyalists endure in their support for Ms. Bhutto. It is almost as if her metamorphosis from her debut in 1988 to the skilful opportunism management she practices today has been completely lost on these supporters. Some quarters insist that Ms. Bhutto's support is a product of her hereditary right – that many support her with blind conviction borne of the psychological guilt of inaction engendered among the loyalists when her father was hanged till death without much ado. This is perhaps a major ingredient for Ms. Bhutto's political adhesiveness, but probably not the only one. There's also that promise – only to political heavyweights albeit – of garnering a high Internal Rate of Return[i] via backing the PPP project. And on some level, there's probably ideological mesmerism involved too - at least for those few who are still motivated by overarching principles instead of material agencies.

Somewhere in there exists the esoteric reason for Barrister Ahsan's continued support of Ms. Bhutto. And compelling as it may be, it is no illusion that his reason is not sustainable any longer.

I am of the view that among all lawyers, Barrister Ahsan commands the most clout; the biggest people constituency. Hon'ble Chief Justice (Ex.) Chaudhry may have been the face of the judicial movement for quite some time now; it is Barrister Ahsan who is the real mover and shaker – for he is intellectually well-endowed, politically well-resourced and publicly well-spoken. He may not be perfect, yet he possesses all the seminal elements.

So then is it not tragic that the judiciary's biggest asset is being so ruthlessly blunted?

And no this rhetorical question does not hint at his incarceration, for such incarceration does not debilitate, it politically hones. By incapacitating his mobility President Musharraf had made the same tactical mistake many-an-autocrat is prone to making – birthing increased public effervescence via applying the fundamentally flawed paradigm that populists are less trouble in jail than they are when free. For Barrister Ahsan, the opportunity was there for the taking.

Yet here we are, reading an open letter of recommendations from the Barrister. More of a plea than marching orders. Points to consider rather than an agenda to follow. The movement has been effectively sidelined whether we concede it or not. It is slowly waning with time and will be nothing more than a romantic memory in the coming future.

I am confident that Barrister Ahsan knows the real reasons for this sabotage.

He probably realizes how that one political party he had pledged allegiance to betrayed him in one of the darkest hours of Pakistan's history by denying his cause of the political patronage it needed and truly deserved. And perhaps he also realizes how his continuing connection with that party ties his hands behind his back by making him a singular, weak voice of righteous justice amid an assemblage of opportunists intent on getting a chance at Pakistan's now-improved coffers of wealth. And lastly, maybe he also understands that no one will label him a deserter for cutting connections with this party, this Washingtonian charade. And if he doesn't, then now would be a good time. Untie your hands Barrister Ahsan and show some entrepreneurial spirit.

For time is of the essence and open letters alone generally do not alter the course of history.

Hum Ghulam Ibne Ghulam Hain

(Courtesy Rise of Pakistan -

"Hum Ghulam Ibne Ghulam Hain"

(We are slaves, children of slaves)

Free Judges imprisoned at their homes and we debate the technicalities of Judicial activism. Why?
They were giving us a ray of hope!

Media curbed and we think they went too far. Why?
They were showing us our real (shameless) face!

Senior Lawyers arrested, tortured and beaten up with bricks and we condemn their strikes for producing troubles for the judicial system. Why?
They believe in their dignity that we have never enjoyed!

Students arrested, baton charged, tear shelled under the "restored constitution" and we tell them to be productive in their "education". Why?
They don't want to be trained to be slaves like us!

Women beaten up by packs of state terrorists and we debate their dress. Why?
Their courage embarrasses us!

A politician takes a principled stance and we call him a "bad" politician. Why?
We've forgotten what principles mean!

Our own protectors conquer us, enslave us, but we sing their songs, shine their shoes. Why?
We don't want to be free!

Yes. We are slaves. Slavery is our mother and slavery is our father. We belong to the family of cowardice. We belong to the race of men who prefer 100 days of slavery over one day of freedom. There are species in the world who eat their children but we are far worse. We sell our children's freedom for a momentary comfort. We sell our sisters' pride, our mothers' prayers, our brothers' courage, our forefathers' sacrifices, our souls; for the stability of our cage. For the chance to increase our price, to market our product - our cowardice, our criminal silence - so that the next Pharoah will like to buy us. So that the next Satan will like to hire us. We become tools for the Gods of lies and oppression so that they wouldn't hurt us. Their tools to kill people. Their team to enslave life. Their shadow to dim the light. Their soldiers to destroy hope.

But in the process, what do we get? at what price? We get to live another day in the cage? We get to lie another night in the jail? We get to wait for the Messiah?

No, we don't deserve a messiah. For no messiah can heal the people who have sold their souls to the devil. No liberator can set the eternal slaves free. There is no hope for us. There is no future for us. There are no seventy-two virgins waiting for us in the heavens; for the people who are being plundered today will hold us accountable on the day of judgment. For the crime of Cowardice that encourages the Dictators, Silence that helps the Pharoahs and the death of ideals that invites the Vultures.

No, there's no future for us, unless! Unless, we take charge of our destiny. Unless we revive our principles. Unless we learn to sacrifice our bad today for a better tomorrow. Unless we stand up for ourselves. But until that time comes, "Hum Ghulam Ibne Ghulam hain", and our progeny will suffer the same fate!

Jin Ka Deen Perawee-e-Kizb-o-Ria Hay unko
Himmat-e-Kufr milay, Jurr'at-e-Tehqeeq Milay

Jin Kay Sar Muntazir-e-Taigh-e-Jifa Hain unko
Dast-e-Qatil ko jhatak denay ki taufeeq milay

Aitzaz beaten up, arrested on motorway

Aitzaz Ahsan was picked up on the motorway enroute to Islamabad, beaten up, glasses broken and brought back to Lahore in a police bus. Is now suffering from bruises and fever.When he asked for a detention order, they shoved a gun in his face and said - this is your order.

Vigil outside his house at 6 pm TONIGHT (friday). 5 Canal Bank, Zaman Park, Lahore Please come, tell all and pass this on.

Chief Justice, judges, Aitezaz to offer prayers at Faisal Mosque

The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, will offer Eid prayers at the Faisal Mosque, Islamabad, for which he has been granted 'temporary' release from his illegal imprisonment. The other Hon'ble Judges will accompany him as well. Fellow Pakistanis are urged to gather at 7.30am tomorrow at the barricade in front of the Frontier and Baluchistan House to honour our national heroes. Our great leaders Aitizaz Ahsan, Justice Tariq Mehmud and many others will also to accompany the CJP.