Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Emergency Times - A Farewell Note

Dear all,

It is with great consternation and sorrow that I announce the temporary closure of The Emergency Times blog until such time as its services are required and can be fulfilled with the dilegence required, again. Due to a combination of my personal difficulties and the evolving nature of our country's political scenario, The Emergency Times no longer serves the exemplar purpose it did following its birth on the 5th of November, 2007. I find I can no longer maintain the quality and regularity that used to be the cornerstone of our guiding principles.

The days and months following the the 5th of November were, in addition to other things, an unbelievable example of how committed citizen journalism can mould the shape of society in a significant way. Beginning from a merely informative on-campus handout, to this date, The Emergency Times has reached an audience of around 150,000 people in around 100 countries. It served, for a long time, as one of the most reliable and regular sources of information and material on the post-Nov 3 people's struggles against the injustices being perpetrated in our country (though, I will readily and unapologetically admit, with a significant editorial bent :). All of this, of course, was made possible by all of you, our committed contributors and readership.

And of course, my editorial team...Madiha, who started it with me, helping me come up with the idea (though she was unable to continue for very long), Moulvi, my ever-reliable assistant-ed, helping me keep the exhaustive schedules, Omer. G, for his powerful, moving articles and accounts, and Samad Khurram (now a national hero :-), in particular, for contributing and distributing from day one and keeping it alive when I had become encumbered with personal dilemmas..

All the thousands of people who distributed and forwarded our issues on their campuses, the streets, their mailing lists..thank you all..this wouldn't have been possible without you.

I hope (as our disclaimer used to state) that The Emergency Times was truly able to make a difference in these troubled times by 'inspiring and making aware'. If the need shall arise, we will be there to report, inform and inspire once again. But for now, I feel it is time to call it a day.

Our archives and back-issues remain on the site for perusal and records. Our email contact remains theemergencytimes@gmail.com.

May Allah guide our country and its people through these rigorous times unscathed.

As always, In Complete Unity..

Ammar Rashid

Editor-in-Chief

The Emergency Times

Monday, June 16, 2008

Islamabad falls to the people

- Thoughts on the magnificant rally in Islamabad at the conclusion of long march..


Of the many rallies and conventions that I have been to, during the course of the Movement for the Restoration of Judiciary and Rule of Law, last night’s rally was the most impressive. The magic was not in the numbers, although they were the highest ever; it wasn’t because of the fervor or valour because the records set on Nov 5 at Lahore High Court remain unbeaten. Yesterday’s rally stood apart from all the earlier protests t because of its sheer awami nature. It wasn’t a lawyer’s, or student’s rally or civil society’s rally; it was a people’s rally.

Of late, the movement has been drawing increasing criticism from political pundits for being elitist in its genesis and structure. Critics have been saying that, amidst worsening food and electricity shortage, the movement has lost popular support. If anything, last night, standing amidst tens if not hundreds of thousands of ordinary Pakistanis of various classes and political and religious backgrounds, I saw the critics fall and their wisdom go down with them. I thought about all that I have missed in a few months of inaction. Amidst the milling crowds, I felt my old hope and strength return to and it made me happy.


For some reason, I have come to loathe the hyperbolic and frenzied( almost barbaric) sloganeering that is common on rallies, particularly among students. Yesterday, when I found myself standing once again amidst boys and girls shouting rhythmic slogan and looking as though engaged in a psychotic trance or some frenzied African dance, I felt sick. I felt that I didn’t belong there. And it wasn’t the first time I was feeling that way.

This time, however, I had an option.


I quietly slipped out of this small excited clique into the people. Out there, amidst a sea of ordinary Pakistanis, who sat listening to the speeches delivered from the stage, I felt at ease once again. Ordinary, modest, down-to-earth, anonymous Pakistanis, out in the open to decently sending a political message – I loved being amongst them. I loved knowing that I was one of them and was nothing less and nothing more. I loved the fact that now, at last, they were in charge of the movement.

The sober optimism of the lawyer leaders and politicians was appealing. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif told the mass of protesters that history was being written in Islamabad. He said that they were there at 4am in such large numbers and that this would never have happened if history were not to be written. I felt that even though Mr. Sharif had not been too articulate, I knew exactly what was meant. It was logic of destiny - an infectious, appealing, ecstatic logic. The hand of destiny had brought us there and it was not without purpose. Throughout the evening, there had been much talk on similar lines. Somebody else had said “One history was written in 1947; another we write today.”


Those words, I felt, ringed with truth. A new Pakistan was indeed taking shape amidst this congregation. A Pakistan for the people, I hoped. A Pakistan for everyone, I wished.
I have seen the roads in Islamabad expand. Now they look more like fields than passageways. Black bitumen fields where despotism grows. That night, however, the dreary bitumen fields in front of the Parliament swelled with so many people that the place actually looked like ‘Parliament Square’ buzzing with public. I had never thought of that oft-picturized part of Islamabad in these terms. Now the people provoked me to think of it that way. They set the terms.

I don’t know whether it was or was not D-day for Musharraf. But I feel that it was the day Islamabad fell. The day a country’s capital fell to its own people. That day, a new Pakistan was born.

*********


The last part of the night is always its most powerful. It is a time when God descends into the lowest of the heavens and implores human beings to call upon him. It is a time when destinies are written and rewritten. It was then that I experienced the most emotionally charged moment of the night. During his speech, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif recalled that many months ago, in this great, green city, young girls, students of the Qur’an had begged a man for a safe passage. They had begged for mercy but the man who felt that he could play God and get away with it showed none. Instead, he had them bombed and charred to the bones. Does he deserve a safe passage now when he denied it to them, not so long ago?

This mention of the tragedy of Jamia Hafsa had a great impact. I felt tears well up in my eyes. It must have been a very hard night. No one should have ever been burnt to death. Looking around, I thought about how long it had taken my city before it could mourn its dead. I recollected all the rationalizations of this tragedy that were, and to some extents still are, fashionable amongst the English-educated intellectual elite of the country. They would even let us mourn for dead kids. Yet, in that last hour of the night, not all those rationalizations could stop the tears falling. There are crimes that you just cannot forget. There are crimes that someone will have to pay for. And there are times when you just cannot forget that the God above is all-seeing and all-hearing.

That moment you could see it and know it. At long last, the people had come. They were so many. They had come to conquer the critics. They had come to revive the dying. They had come to mourn the city’s dead. And by the will of God, before the end, they will be back to finish the job.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Support the Students of Pakistan in their efforts

We're here, the last battle for the restoration of the independent judiciary and the first one in the long war for overturning the old regime whose strings are pulled by domestic and foreign behind curtains. The struggle is long and the journey will not be easy but I am glad all of you been resolute for over 200 days now.

It were students who got led the movement in the streets in the late 60s for the ouster of Ayub Khan and the nation waits for the students again to get rid of Musharraf has killed and sold thousands of his own country men, destroyed Pakistani economy, created absence of law and order, destroyed institutions and was involved in mega scams such as Steel Mills (which thankfully got reversed), Islamabad farm houses or the property worth billions illegally distributed. Naturally not all should be blamed on one man but he was directly and indirectly involved in many of those.

Students have risen and have vowed to make the Long March HISTORIC. Please support them by donating to the cause generously.

The funds will be used for providing transport to underprivileged students who want to be part of the march to remove Musharraf and restore the judiciary but do not have financial means to do so. They will also be used to subsidize transport for all students as well.

You can donate through credit card (by clicking the donate button), cheques, wire-transfer or cash. The process is on the website. Permalink : http://saclahore.blogspot.com/2008/06/donate.html


To Donate Via Wire Transfer:

In Pakistan:
Beneficiary Name: Sundas Hurain
Bank name: Bank al-falah

Branch: 0033 defence branch lahore
Account number: 02018531

Make Checks payable to the above account

To Donate in person:


Contact:

Karachi:
Moneeza : 0333- 03082288572

Lahore:
Syed Ali Natiq : 0
321-4572707

Islamabad:
Kamil : 0345-5104892

All donations will be confidential and will be used for Long March.

Your money will be put to use and you will be informed:
Accounts will be maintained and all activity will be made public for scrutiny. The process to be as transparent and accountable as possible. The students want to bring a system of checks and balances and will show by example how this is not only possible.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or Tabinda Khan <tmk2107@columbia.edu>, We will respond to all your queries ASAP.

Please do contribute generously for the student initiative for rule of law and justice in Pakistan.

In total solidarity,

The Emergency Times Eds

Long March Schedule

Lawyer's Coordination Committee and Lahore Bar Association announced the schedule of the long march for the restoration of Judiciary.

June 5 : Joint rally from Aiwan-e-Adal, Lahore to Faisal Chowk

June 6: Joint protest rally by doctors, professionals, teachers/professors, students, civil society, lawyers, scholars and the political parties to start at Data Darbar after the Jumma prayers and head to Nasir Bagh, Lahore.

June 7: Caravan for Restoration of Judiciary, consisting of 40 cars will tour around the Lahore city for mobilization and awareness.

June 8: Protest for restoration of Judiciary by the civil society at Governor House, Lahore. Judicial camp in front of RaceCourse Park from 3-10 PM for mobilization by SAC, FASTRising and YPL.

June 9: Mash'al bardar (torch-bearing) rally

June 10: Caravan for Restoration of Judiciary by all organizations of the mobilization committee of lawyers. Caravans from south Punjab and Sindh reach Multan for a long March from Multan to Lahore. Judicial camp at Nasir Bagh from 12-7 PM for mobilization by SAC, FASTRising and YPL.

June 11: Address of the CJP, Iftikhar Chaudry at the LHCBA

June 12: Long March from Lahore to Islamabad

June 13/14: Rally to reach at the Liaqat Bagh, Rawalpindi

June 13/14:
Dharna at the Parliament

Pro-Judiciary and Long March posters in high resolution available here.

(Courtesy ALE Expressed)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

President should quit or face impeachment: Zardari

ISLAMABAD: Co-chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari Saturday said the President Pervez Musharraf should step down voluntarily if he (President) wants to avert impeachment.Addressing a press conference after the PPP’s Central Executive Committee here, Asif Zardari said his party never accepted General Musharraf as the constitutional President of the country.
He said consultations will be held with all the stakeholders on the draft constitutional package which the CEC meeting approved today.
He said the draft package also includes proposal regarding the tenure of judges but a final decision has not yet been made. The Parliament will be given the authority to deal with all the issues, he added.
To a question regarding the date of return of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain, he said MQM Chief did not say anything about this and “neither did I ask him as to when he plans to return home.”
Earlier, Federal Minister for Law, Farooq H Naek announced the significant points/ proposals contained in the 62-point draft constitutional package.
According to him the package proposes:
renaming NWFP as “Pukhtunkhwa”; anyone violating his oath to be declared to have committed treason; restriction on becoming President more than two times; barring government employees’ participation in elections; empowerment of Parliament; increasing minorities seats; restored judges to take fresh oath; National Finance Commission to meet in three years instead of five and; Prime Minister to appoint governors not the President.
(Courtesy GEO)

Dancing on broken glass

By Beena Sarwar
(Courtesy DAWN)

PRESIDENT Pervez Musharraf’s appointment of businessman and media tycoon Salman Taseer — his friend and a former PPP parliamentarian — as governor, Punjab, set off howls of protest from the PPP’s chief coalition partner, PML-N, as well as from what some arbitrarily call ‘civil society’ and others term the ‘chattering classes’.

The controversial appointment followed the PML-N announcement that its federal ministers were resigning because the pre-Nov 3, 2007, judiciary had not been restored by the May 12 deadline announced after the Murree Declaration.More important than this deadline though, was the PML-N and PPP’s agreement that the judiciary must be restored. This is a goal that the two parties agree upon and it is significant for their continuing coalition. Their differences arise in the modalities. Nawaz Sharif wants a dramatic political gesture, an executive order that underscores his stated commitment to the cause while Asif Ali Zardari, embittered by his own experiences at the hands of some of these judges, wants a constitutional package that strengthens the institution — as envisaged by the proposed 18th Constitution Amendment Bill.

The Murree Declaration itself was greeted with the incredulity reminiscent of the amazement that followed an earlier pact between the PPP and PML-N: the Charter of Democracy of May 14, 2006, signed in London by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, envisaging a joint struggle to rid the country of military rule. The second significant point for the coalition is that the two major parties realise the importance of ending the military’s interference in politics.

There are powerful forces at work playing up their differences and trying to drive a wedge between them. These include western powers like the US and the UK who are more comfortable with their man Musharraf and the PML-Q, than the wild card PML-N. Also ranged against the coalition are the Pakistani ‘establishment’ and its allies in the media where speculation is often presented as news. Together, these forces keep pushing the PPP towards the president and his ‘Q’ League.Zardari appears to be merrily playing into their hands, letting two deadlines lapse without restoring the judges and appointing non-elected persons to positions of power. And then he showed Sharif the proverbial stick with the Taseer appointment (the president reportedly rejected the other nominees).

The PML-N had until now been riding high, feasting on carrots in the high-stakes Punjab province where it remains in government as the senior coalition partner and has made thousands of transfers and postings. But the coalition remains intact as the PML-N remains on the treasury benches rather than the opposition in the National Assembly.The game of politics continues with Zardari requesting the prime minister not to accept the federal minister resignations and asking Taseer to curb his anti-Nawaz rhetoric. The third significant point about the coalition is that the PML-N needs it as much as the PPP does.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, reiterating that the deposed judges will be restored as soon as the modalities are worked out, termed the Pakistani people as ‘mature, intelligent and patient’, wanting ‘to give the government time’. He may well be correct but for most people, sky-rocketing prices are the most pressing issues and the description sounds like wishful thinking when it comes to ‘civil society’ and the lawyers.Certainly, pressure must be maintained on the government to fulfil its promises but grand rhetoric, dramatic gestures and street agitations will only endanger the coalition. This will make the PML-Q very happy as well as the foreign and domestic powers who want Zardari to join hands with Musharraf and the Q League.

In this situation, the All Pakistan Democratic Movement’s announcement of a national moot on June 1 to strategise about the government’s ‘failure to restore the deposed judiciary’ appears provocative and premature. What is needed at this juncture is a little more patience. It is unrealistic to expect that a mess which was in the making for years will be satisfactorily resolved within a couple of months.

Had the PPP not agreed to a deadline the PML-N would not have joined the federal cabinet to share its burden. The PML-N may privately hope for mid-term polls, but has commendably taken the public position of supporting the government and saying it should complete its tenure. After all, going along with the PPP pressure has proved beneficial before, since Benazir Bhutto convinced Nawaz Sharif to contest the elections instead of boycotting them.

Zardari has a tough act to follow. Thrown into the deep end by Benazir Bhutto’s murder, he does not have her experience, stature or statesmanship (her detractors maintain that she herself lacked the last two). He demonstrated flexibility and sagacity after her assassination, countering the slogans of ‘Pakistan na khapey’ and keeping the party together. He proved central in cobbling together a coalition government, countering the establishment’s old machinations of dividing the politicians and confounding critics who couldn’t even envisage a Sharif-Zardari alliance.

Persistent rumours about Zardari’s prime ministerial or presidential ambitions are still unfounded. Perceptions that the National Reconciliation Ordinance provides a cover to corruption persist even in cases that have nothing to do with the NRO. In any case, with the PPP in power, the Ordinance is irrelevant since the cases it waived were instituted by the government of the time.In the current fraught political atmosphere, a bit of breathing space to the main coalition partners may have long-term benefits. It is worth bearing in mind a plea Zardari made to a group of journalists, lawyers, artists and writers visiting Naudero to condole with him soon after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. “If we slip up and make mistakes, please be patient with us,” he said. “We are dancing on broken glass.”

Monday, May 19, 2008

Why Zardari's logic about constitutional reform of judiciary is flawed

Why Zardari's logic about constitutional reform of judiciary is flawed

Allen Hafman

PPP head honcho Asif Ali Zardari says he has been a victim of politicized judiciary, that politically motivated judges kept him behind bars on baseless charges. Zardari claims he wants to reform judiciary through a constitutional amendment, so that others would not have to suffer like he did. Not sure who Zardari is trying to fool with such convoluted logic. Zardari was a victim of a subservient judiciary, judges who acted under the duress of the ruler of the land. Contrary to his stated logic, an independent judiciary would have been more fair to him. That is why Zardari should be doing his part in making Pakistani judiciary independent, free of any executive pressure. But Zardari will not do that. And there is a good reason why he won’t. Zardari has rows after rows of skeletons hidden in his closet. He does not want to put independent-minded judges in the Supreme Court who may decide to open suo moto cases against him, a judiciary that may ask Zardari to explain how he, from being a co-owner of a small family business in Karachi in 1987, became a multi-millionaire during a short span of 3 years--coincidentally his wife was the Prime Minister of Pakistan during that time.

And who does not remember November 1997 when Nawaz Sharif being in power sent hoodlums to raid the Supreme Court and deal with an independent-minded judge? Presently Sharif appears to be the wise man who has a high regard for an independent judiciary. In reality Nawaz Sharif is only driven by a strong desire for revenge; he wants to get even with Pervez Musharraf, the evil man who removed Sharif from his advantageous position of pilferage.

Pakistanis must also ask why in January 2000 Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry took oath under the provisional constitutional order of General Pervez Musharraf, but not in 2007? The answer is, the oath in 2000 was to Chaudhry’s benefit—he was getting promoted because his seniors being more principled than Chaudhry had refused to accept the legality of the military coup. In 2007 Chaudhry was already the top man in the Supreme Court and taking a fresh oath did not make any sense; moreover, his friend Aitzaz Ahsan had told him how much glory Chaudhry would earn by challenging Pervez Musharraf.

Pakistanis must understand that each player they are currently dealing with has his own flaws, but these characters must be made, nay FORCED to go through the motions, to act on principled stands that are universal. With free press, independent judiciary, and strong democratic institutions, Pakistanis would ultimately be able to reform their system.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Is the judges issue impeding progress on the economy?

It is being said by some people that the present economic crisis is a result of the uncertainty created by the lawyers movement. Some other people are saying that the judges issue is diverting attention from more pressing national issues. Such arguments are being given for ignoreing the judges issue so that the economy can be put back on track. Below, I will try to address these arguments.
A closer scrutiny of the economy shows that the present economic crisis has nothing to do with the lawyers movement that started on March 9.
Load shedding due to power shortage started in 2006 and any well informed person knew that it was only going to get worse since the Musharraf government had made no serious attempt to address the problem. For example, we can check this news report from 2006:
(Pakistan needs to tackle energy crisis)
or this one from Jan 9, 2007:
(Pakistan's Energy Crisis to Worsen in Next Two Years)
Similarly, the pressure on the foreign reserves and the rupee was also very much expected due to the record trade deficit. This again, had nothing to do with the lawyers struggle, as we can see from the following report dated Jan 2007:
(Pakistan Trade Deficit Widens as Imports Rise)
and the following from March 9, 2007 (the day Musharraf sacked the CJ):
(Trade gap widens to record $8.89bn)
Likewise, many analysts were saying well before March 9, 2007 that the economic growth momentum was not sustainable. For example, check the following piece dated May 1, 2006 from daily times (now more appropriately called chamcha times for overtly supporting Musharraf's Nov 3 martial law and running an editorial campaign against the judges who have refused to accept the Nov 3 PCO):
(Is GDP growth sustainable?)
In light of the above, it should be clear that our present economic crisis is a result of gross mismanagement by the Musharraf govt, and it could be clearly seen coming well before March 9, even when Musharraf was comfortably entrenched in power. The lawyers movement and the related political uncertainty is definitely not an important contributing factor in this crisis.
Is the judges issue delaying a resolution to the economic crisis? Should the civil society give up its demand for the restoration of the judiciary? Again, I believe the answer is clearly in the negative for the following reasons:
1. The PPP can simply restore the deposed judges while removing those who have taken oath under the Nov 3 PCO and then we would not have this political uncertainty. The blame for any political uncertainty therefore lies on the shoulders of the Musharraf-Zardari-Rehman trio and their foreign backers.
2. The judges issue does not stop the government from working on the other issues.
3. A solid institutional basis is needed to put the country on a sustainable path of progress. We keep on having these political crises because we do not have sound institutions. Ignoring the judges issue in the name of the economy will therefore only bring temporary relief if at all. But if the judiciary does get restored, then we might have a better institution which should help the country in the long-run.
4. An independent and credible judiciary is also needed to keep the excesses of the government under check. We all know how large scale corruption and nepotism seriously damages the economy. In the steel mills case alone, the government was giving away billions of rupees to the buyer by selling this national asset well below its value. The supreme court headed by honourable Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry prevented this big loss to the nation by stopping the loot sail. It would therefore be totally ridiculous to argue that the civil society's emphasis on the restoration of the judiciary is a hurdle in improving our economy. Those who care about eliminating corruption so that our resources can be directed towards the development of Pakistan and the well-being of the people must come out strongly on the side of the legitimate judiciary. They should not side with those who are only trying to protect their power and loot through the NRO.
5. Our governments are usually unresponsive to the needs and demands of the people. This is because they face very limited pressure from the electorate and the civil society. Zardari and co are also thinking that they can get away without restoring the judges and the people will not be able to do anything about it.
If the civil society backs down on this issue for any reason, it will only make people like Musharraf and Zardari feel bolder. On the other hand, if the civil society wins this battle, it might allow the people of Pakistan to assert themselves more strongly on other issues too. Whether it's food security, inflation, law and order, education, healthcare, or any other such issue, our leaders will feel that they can not totally ignore the wishes of the people and get away with it. For this reason, even if one is not sure whether the judges issue ought to be the no 1 priority, one should put one's full weight behind it. Such a national consensus on an issue provides a rare opportunity for establishing the power of the people which might not come again in our entire life time. We must not lose such a golden opportunity by getting into petty squabbles over whether issue x is more urgent than issue y.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Govt makes offer to 'reappoint' deposed judges

Wednesday, May 14, 2008
By Ansar Abbasi
(Courtesy The News)

ISLAMABAD: In yet another controversial move, the government has contacted several deposed judges of the provincial high courts with an offer to reappoint them as judges of their respective high courts but at the cost of compromising their pre-Nov 3 seniority.
This new initiative, if implemented, would make those judges of the provincial high courts who had refused to take oath under General Musharraf's PCO on Nov 3, 2007, junior to their colleagues who preferred to work with a military strongman under the PCO. Almost all those deposed judges, approached with this new recipe for their restoration, have reportedly refused to accept this bizarre offer.
Sources said that through this move the government would be rewarding the judges who had taken oath under the PCO on Nov 3, and punishing those who had refused to show allegiance to the military dictator in violation of the Constitution.
These sources said that the PPP government, which has repeatedly reversed its stand on the judges issue despite public commitments, wanted to retain the incumbent chief justices of the provincial high courts even if the deposed judges were restored.
Sources said that some senior government functionaries, including a federal minister and a top official of the prime minister's secretariat, held a marathon meeting with a few "important persons" in the vicinity of Punjab House last night to finalise the plan. According to sources,†the plan has been authored by the presidency.
The meeting, which started late at night, continued till 4:00 a.m. Some provincial governors, the sources said, were also consulted while a few pre-Nov 3 colleagues of the judges were assigned the task of contacting the deposed judges of the high courts with this unusual offer.
A source lamented that the PPP, which is a signatory to the Charter of Democracy, whose article 3(b) clearly reads that no judge shall take oath under the PCO, will be seriously deviatiing from the document if the plan goes ahead.
The PPP has already decided that it would retain the PCO judges and even those who were appointed in the post-Nov 3 situation and were not part of the Nov 2 judiciary. The latest move goes a step further. It was the judges restoration issue that forced the PML(N) to quit the cabinet after the PPP backtracked from the Murree Declaration and insisted that all the judges of the present superior judiciary would be retained as regular judges. The PML(N) had compromised to the extent that the PCO judges, appointed after Nov 3 in the Supreme Court, would be made ad hoc judges.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Restoration of the Judges in line with Charter of Democracy

Today Asif Zardari claimed on GEO TV that those who had taken oath under the PCO once could not be restored under the Charter of Democracy. I would like to point out that this statement is blatantly incorrect and comes across as a deliberate attempt to derail the restoration of the judges. The restoration of the deposed judges is directly in line with the Charter of Democracy and it is a legal, moral and political responsibility on the current government to reinstate them as soon as possible.

Please forward this to all media persons so that they can expose this latest lie being propagated to impede the restoration of the deposed judges.


  1. Thankfully this time the people of Pakistan are well informed on the Charter of Democracy. According to Article 3 (b) of the said document:

    "No judge shall take oath under any Provisional Constitutional Order or any other oath that is contradictory to the exact language of the original oath prescribed in the Constitution of 1973."

    I would like to point out two things in this:

    1.1) Please note that that the wording makes it clear that judges were not to take oath under PCO AFTER the signing of the Charter of Democracy in 2006. "Shall" clearly talks only about the future. All those who did take oath on 3rd Nov, including PPP's favorite Mr. Dogar, have violated the charter of democracy.

    1.2) It does not mention the removal of any judges who had taken oath under the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2000 (No. 1 of 2000).

    1.3) Article 3(a) and all its sub-articles discuss future appointments and not current ones. These are the articles which deal with the constitutional committee on judges and deals with future appointments only. Current judges are not affected by this committee.



  2. Under the Amendments to Article 270-AA through the 17th Amendment, oaths taken under the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2000 (No. 1 of 2000) would be treated as if they had been taken under the Constitution of Pakistan.

    2.1) The Supremacy of the Constitution binds us to accept an act passed by 2/3rd majority, irrespective of our opinion on it.

    2.2) The oath of the judges taken under the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2000 (No. 1 of 2000) after passing of the 17th Amendment is not in conflict with the Charter of Democracy. This was well understood by both the PPP and PML-N as they specifically talked about events from the signing of the Charter of Democracy.

    2.3) No such indemnity has been given to Musharraf's actions of Nov 3rd and all PCO judges are unacceptable according to the Charter of Democracy.

    2.4) Like the PPP accepts Musharraf having 58-2(b) which was included in the 17th Amendment, the PPP must also accept that the Oath taken in under Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2000 (No. 1 of 2000) of the 2000 PCO is to be treated as it were taken under the Constitution. It can not selectively choose to accept or reject parts of amendments the way it pleases.


  3. The inductees after PCO can not be accepted if the Charter of Democracy is followed. PPP is going against the Charter of Democracy by including their retention in its demands.


  4. To overturn Musharraf's illegal actions of 3rd Nov, a simple executive order is needed. This is the opinion of 22 former judges of the Supreme Court and 5 former Chief Justices (including many of those who did not take oath under any PCO).

    4.1) The only reason why a 2/3rd majority would be needed is if Musharraf's actions of Nov 3rd were considered legal, which he himself has confessed were illegal many a times.

    4.2) The argument for needing 2/3rd majority for overturning illegal actions of Musharraf is in conflict with the Charter of Democracy.

    4.3) The PPP already has overdone some of Musharraf's illegal actions through executive orders. For instance the incarceration of the deposed judges was illegal and was overturned with an executive order. In the very same way the deposed judges can be restored through a simple executive order.



  5. Public sentiment is strongly supportive of this. According to the IRI statistics:

    • 73 % of Pakistanis oppose the PCO judges.
    • 81 % of Pakistanis want the CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry back to his rightful office.
    • 72 % want IMMEDIATE removal of Musharraf.
    • 66 % of Pakistanis support lawyers, students and civil society in their protests.


  6. There are many PPP leaders who are on record for promising to restore the judges if elected to power. There are many more who had promised removal of Musharraf. Even Benazir Bhutto also promised to reinstate Chief Justice and the deposed judges, a statement that has not been retracted and stays on the record. By going eating its own words, the PPP has undermined its credibility in the eyes of the people. IRI polls suggested that the PPP would get more than 50% of the votes but ended up getting only 31% because it did not take a stance on the restoration of the judges.



  7. PPP was actively involved in the restoration of the Chief Justice after March 9th, 2007. They had organized rallies, protests, hunger strikes and welcome receptions for him. The first major demonstration demanding immediate restoration of the Chief Justice was held in Islamabad on Friday, March 16th and was attended by Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Raza Rabbani, Yousaf Raza Gillani, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Jehangir Badar, Nisar Khoro, Naheed Khan, Sherry Rehman, Safdar Abbasi, Latif Khosa, Fauzia Wahab, Fehmida Mirza, Azra Fazal, Nayyar Bokhari and Enver Baig of the PPP. When it was not in power the PPP actively engaged in public pressure against Musharraf for the reinstatement of one person. After coming in power it has categorically said that it will not reinstate "personalities" which tarnishes its credibility further and desecrates the blood of 40 of its workers who gave their live in Karachi for the restoration of one person, the Chief Justice.

    If the PPP is ditching the movement after coming to power should we believe that the PPP merely hijacked the movement for its own political gains?



  8. Civil society all across Pakistan is unanimous in their position. They have been silent to give PPP more time as had requested by Mr. Asif Zardari. However we will return to the streets very soon now.

    Our position:

    • Our struggle is for complete restitution of the Pre-Nov 3rd judiciary with all its powers and members. There will be no compromise on that.

    • We believe a simple executive order is enough to overrule the illegal actions of Musharraf.

    • For moral backing a parliamentary resolution may be called for to show the will of the people of Pakistan. Once a resolution is passed, the executive will be bound under article 5 and 190 of the Constitution to take immediate measures restoring all chief justices and judges removed on 3 November 2007 and issue necessary directions to concerned law enforcement agencies enabling the deposed judges to resume their judicial duties.

    • All the deposed judges are still the real judges of Pakistan. Honorable Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is still the real Chief Justice of Pakistan.

    • We do not accept those who were inducted after the PCO (commonly known as PCO judges but it is really a disgrace to call them judges). Accepting the PCO judges will also be against the Charter of Democracy. The PPP must not go against the Charter of Democracy.

    • Our stance is in line with the opinion of all of the lawyers and bar councils of Pakistan, 21 former judges of the Supreme Court, 5 former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and the vast majority of Pakistanis.

    • We do not accept Musharraf as a legal ruler of Pakistan and all his actions of 3rd Nov are acts of high treason to be punished by the strictest possible punishment under article 6 of the Constitution.

    • We will always work for rule of law and democracy in Pakistan. We believe this can not be done without the restoration of the judiciary.

    • Supremacy of the Constitution and the Parliament must always be respected. However we deserve the right to criticize and expose any elected or unelected member for any undemocratic or inappropriate actions.
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References:

Text of Charter of Democracy: http://www.dawn.com/2006/05/16/local23.htm

IRI Polls of November 2007: http://www.iri.org/mena/pakistan/2007-12-13-pakistan.asp

IRI Polls of January 2008: http://www.iri.org/mena/pakistan/2008-02-11-pakistan.asp

People's Party Workers Preparing for Welcome of CJP: http://www.dawn.com/2007/05/06/nat4.htm

PPP's MNAs and other key figures at rally demanding reinstatement of a personality: http://www.dawn.com/2007/03/17/top1.htm

PPP demanding to include PCO judges: http://www.dawn.com/2008/05/12/top6.htm
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In Solidarity,
Samad
--
**^**^**^**^**^**^**^**^**^**^**^**^**^
Samad Khurram
Harvard College
394 Winthrop House Mail Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
E-Mail: skhurram@fas.harvard.edu
Cell(US): +1-(617)960-7289
Cell(PK): +92-300-5599085

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Nationwide Protests for the immediate restoration of the deposed judges

Friends,

One more day to go for the deadline and it does not seem like the judges are going to be restored. Hence there will be protests in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad on Sunday, May 11th 2008 for the immediate restoration of the deposed judges and for purging the judiciary free from the PCO inductees and conspirators of the Nov 3rd coup. Please come to the protest in whichever city you are based in and also inform all your friends in Pakistan.

The battle for the judiciary will go on. AZAAD ADLIYA KO BAHAAL KERO!

Karachi
Parking area in front of Rahat Milk Corner, Khadda Market
6:15 - 7: 30 pm
Walk to the legal CJ of SHC, Justice Sabiuddin's house

Lahore
Governor House, Lahore
6:00 - 7:30 pm
CCP Rally


Islamabad
Outside the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Constitution Avenue
5:30 - 6: 30 pm
Candlelight vigil and peaceful protest.


OUR DEMANDS

1. We demand the complete restitution of the pre-Nov. 3rd judiciary with all its powers and members.
2. We believe a simple executive order is enough to overrule the illegal actions of Musharraf. The delay is becoming unbearable.
3. We do not accept those judges who were inducted after the PCO.

Our stance is in line with the opinion of all of the lawyers and bar councils of Pakistan, 21 former judges of the Supreme Court, 5 former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and the vast majority of Pakistanis.


Looking forward to your wholehearted participation:
People's Resistance
Student Action Committee
Awami Jamhoori Itehad
Insani Haqooq Itehad
FAST Rising
Young Professionals Lahore
Concerned Citizens of Pakistan
and many other groups of concerned Pakistanis across the country.

"Aisay dastoor ko, subh-e baynoor ko, mai nahin manta, mai nahin janta" - Habib Jalib

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Establishment's B team: The PPP

By Samad Khurram and Aqil Sajjad

PPP sympathisers complain about the mysterious "Establishment" and their alleged role in destroying democracy in Pakistan for decades now. The Establishment, as defined by them, is a collection of dark, mystifying hands that apparently have many vested interests in upholding the status quo. This inexplicable group comprises rich army officers, the intelligence agencies and foreign hands who scheme together for their own economic and geo-strategic interests. To support this argument, examples of the Mullah-Military Alliance from the 1980s are repeated. The Establishment supposedly destroys institutions, murders politicians, blackmails judges and leaders, and sustains the Military Inc.

One major threat to the Establishment's hold would be an independent judiciary – a judiciary that will not bow down to pressure, sticks or carrots. Historically, many verdicts of our courts were not independent but extorted by threats and intimidation. Judges had regularly fallen victim to blackmail and "sex tapes" and received dictations from the Establishment. Judges who were bold enough not to obey the whims of the Establishment were conveniently removed.

Things changed considerably when Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry took charge and reoriented the judiciary's direction in favour of the people. He was becoming increasingly independent and was beginning to check the excesses of the establishment. Among the most noted examples in this regard were the attempted loot privatisation of the Steel Mills well below their real worth and the case of the missing people illegally abducted and detained by the intelligence agencies.

As he became a growing threat to the Establishment, Iftikhar Chaudhry was summoned to General Musharraf's camp office in the presence of serving military officers and the infamous Brig (r) Ejaz Shah on March 9, 2007. When he refused to resign, the nation stood up in his defence. This was unprecedented in the history of Pakistan and soon Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry became a national hero, arguably the most popular Pakistani alive today.

After his reinstatement with the support of lawyers, students and civil society the judiciary was able to exercise its powers with increasing independence. Naturally, the Establishment could not allow such a judiciary to flourish, as their dirty games could now be brought to justice before an independent tribunal.

Pervez Musharraf struck back with his Nov 3 martial law and 60 judges refused to recognise it as legitimate. New cronies were appointed in the place of those who refused to bow down and the judiciary was tamed once again.

The results of the Feb 18 elections, however, have presented the PPP and PML-N with a golden opportunity to undo the illegal actions of Nov 3 and restore the real judiciary. Unfortunately, while the PML-N has maintained a clear stance in favour of restoring the judiciary, the PPP has been acting as the "B team" of the Establishment.

It is commonly believed that the NRO prevented the PPP from including the widely popular demand for restoration of the judges in its manifesto. The IRI polls of November suggested that an overwhelming majority (73 per cent) of Pakistanis opposed the PCO judges and Musharraf's re-election (72 per cent). In addition, 61 per cent of Pakistanis and more than half of PPP voters opposed a Musharraf-Bhutto deal in November 2007. By going against popular opinion and supporting an unconstitutional and widely hated president, the PPP was starting its political decline.

Public sentiment swayed towards the PPP after the tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto. IRI's January polls suggested that 50 per cent of Pakistan would vote for the PPP in the elections, up from 30 per cent in November. When the PPP refused to take a clear position for the restoration of the judiciary, its success was reduced to 31 per cent of the total votes in the country and 35 per cent of National Assembly seats. Many people still voted for the PPP in the hope that the absence of an unequivocal stance was only a reflection of different priorities and not as part of the Musharraf-Bhutto deal. The PML-N, on the other hand, gained 5 per cent more seats than earlier calculated -- a reward from the people of Pakistan for clearly declaring a no-compromise policy on the restoration of the heroes of Pakistan.

The stance for the restoration of the judges is not only popular but also in the greater interests of Pakistan. By restoring all judges who refused to take oath under the Nov 3 PCO, the judiciary would be cleared of those who could be bought or blackmailed. The judges would only be those who had refused to obey the Establishment's instructions and stood for principles over positions or money. If the PPP plans to bring to justice the killers of Benazir Bhutto, this independent judiciary will be its best hope for the punishment of the culprits.

Unfortunately, instead of standing up for such a judiciary, the PPP is deliberately confusing a straightforward issue when all that is needed is to provide administrative support to Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and the other deposed judges so that they can go to their chambers and resume their duties. Legally, they are still the real judges since the Nov 3 action was a clear violation of the Constitution.

In the same way, the judges who agreed to collaborate with Pervez Musharraf in this conspiracy can and should be made dysfunctional and tried by a supreme judicial council in light of the last order by the real Supreme Court on Nov 3 barring any judge from taking oath under the new PCO. This is the constitutional position and there is no need to deliberately find excuses for retaining these PCO judges, as the PPP is doing.

The PPP's delaying tactics and the minus-one, minus-two formulas are seriously undermining its credibility among the people of Pakistan. This is not only threatening its vote bank and creating rifts within the party, it also suggests that the PPP of today is no longer the party of Zulfikar Bhutto – a party that promised justice to all. And worse, by not purging the Nov 3 conspirators from the courts, it is implicitly welcoming similar future takeovers. If an act of the Establishment were to be taken to a court dominated by PCO-powered scions we can easily tell in whose favour they would vote.

We firmly believe that the only way for the PPP to put Pakistan on a sustainable path of democracy is to strengthen institutions and submit to the will of the real rulers -- the people of Pakistan. As we had pointed out earlier, an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis not only wants an immediate restoration of the deposed judges but also the dismissal of the Nov 3 PCO judges. By not doing so and aligning itself with the Establishment, the PPP is committing political suicide which, as well as affecting its votes, will leave open the way for future coups by the military establishment.



The writers are students at Harvard University and members of the Student Action Committees (SAC) of Islamabad and the US. Emails: skhurram@fas.harvard.edu & aqil_sajjad@yahoo.ca

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Nationwide Protests for the immediate restoration of the deposed judges

Friends,

There will be protests in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad on Thursday, May 8th 2008 for the immediate restoration of the deposed judges and for purging the judiciary free from the PCO inductees and conspirators of the Nov 3rd coup. Please come to the protest in whichever city you are based in and also inform all your friends in Pakistan.

The battle for the judiciary will go on. AZAAD ADLIYA KO BAHAAL KERO!

Karachi
Parking area in front of Rahat Milk Corner, Khadda Market
6:15 - 7: 30 pm
Walk to the legal CJ of SHC, Justice Sabiuddin's house

Lahore
Outside the PPP Secretariat, 25-A, Faisal Town (near FAST)
6:30 - 7:30 pm
Candlelight vigil and peaceful protest.

Islamabad
Outside the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Constitution Avenue
5:30 - 6: 30 pm
Candlelight vigil and peaceful protest.


OUR DEMANDS

1. We demand the complete restitution of the pre-Nov. 3rd judiciary with all its powers and members.
2. We believe a simple executive order is enough to overrule the illegal actions of Musharraf. The delay is becoming unbearable.
3. We do not accept those judges who were inducted after the PCO.

Our stance is in line with the opinion of all of the lawyers and bar councils of Pakistan, 21 former judges of the Supreme Court, 5 former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and the vast majority of Pakistanis.


Looking forward to your wholehearted participation:
People's Resistance
Student Action Committee
Awami Jamhoori Itehad
Insani Haqooq Itehad
FAST Rising
Young Professionals Lahore
Concerned Citizens of Pakistan
and many other groups of concerned Pakistanis across the country.

"Aisay dastoor ko, subh-e baynoor ko, mai nahin manta, mai nahin janta" - Habib Jalib

______________________________

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Zardari's Great Game ? ? ? ?

Not a big fan of speculative politics but events have been really worrying. Zardari does not seem reliable. If you look at the track of events, it does seem like Zardari is only buying time so that he is able to replace PML-N in the center. The establishment has been rewarding him as well with swift disposal of cases. The last time this happened, PML-Q emerged. I am listing down all the works of Zardari and the establishment and trying to see if other people I trust find it to be suspicious and thinking about exposing this all formally.

The works of the establishment:

  • Zardari's murder cases dropped
  • Zardari's corruption cases dropped
  • BA requirement dropped
  • By-elections delayed
  • Attacks on lawyers, another massacre in Karachi and attack on Sher Afgan to divert attention
  • Petition put in SC when the count down is nearing its end to stop the restoration
  • Food, electricity, Oil crises (might not be intentional but do divert focus from the movement).
  • Supporting Negotiations between MQM and PPP; PML-Q and PPP (http://www.pakistanlink.com/Headlines/May08/02/09.htm)

The works of Zardari:

  • No question of impeachment raised by Zardari (and his wife in an email to CNN said she would blame Musharraf for her murder!)
  • PPP members have even called Musharraf "an asset" for Pakistan
  • Needless delay over the judges. Creation of a issue out of a non issue.
  • Active hostility towards the judiciary and lawyers (the only lucky ones to have been issued a charge sheet)
  • Telling Aitzaz to shut up and go on with his agitation; as if he cared. Also ridiculing the whole deadline with "yeh ulti ginti walay baaz aa jayain."
  • Creation of confusion by offering indecent offers such as minus one, minus two and offering to make CJ the governor of Balochistan
  • Deliberate confusion over the date of countdown, by Zardari, Sherry Rehman, etc
  • Trying to find replacement for pro-judiciary PML-N through MQM and others in the guise of "national reconciliation".
  • Constitutional Package.
  • Backdoor meetings between PPP and Musharraf
  • Retention of Malik Qayyum as AG and his clear shift to becoming pro-Zardari and also supporting many court decisions that were pro-Zardari.
  • Delaying the issue of restoration from the first parliament session to 30 days.
  • Then creation of a committee which leads to deadlock.
  • Deadline about to pass and Zardari mysteriously runs out of the country.
  • Another deadline set. 12 more days bought.
  • Zardari says this deadline not binding either (http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/000200805031521.htm)
  • Media bashing by the PPP (http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=110426)
  • Forward bloc of PML-Q formed, will support PPP
  • MQM who was responsible for 40 odd deaths of PPP workers on 12the May alone. joins PPP govt. (However it is also true that its hard to rule Sindh without MQM).
  • Zardari willing to accept PML-Q if Shujaat and Elahi are removed.
  • Today's news: Musharraf meets with Shujaat and discusses new leadership for PML-United, all cronies under one banner.
  • Pir Pagaro most likely candidate to lead the party. Pir Pagaro will be acceptable to PPP workers who jootafied Arbab Ghulam Rahim.
  • Zardari trying to include PCO-judges as well as later appointments, which neither takes the judiciary to pre-Nov 3rd position nor will be acceptable by any of us or the lawyers or PML-N

    Foreign Influence:
  • US Still supporting Musharraf.
  • Peterson meeting Zardari Nawaz every other day
  • EU foreign policy chief claims Mush to stay till his end of tenure!

I don't know how you guys see it but it seems pretty clear to me that Zardari is only trying to buy time to be able to replace PML-N. The PCO judges and the later appointments will lead to another deadlock and the coalition will end up breaking.

-SK

Restitution of judges: A case for constitutional survival

Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq

After lapse of mutually-agreed and self-imposed condition of 30 days on April 30, 2008 for the restitution of judges announced in Bhurban on March 9, 2008, a new deadline of May 12, 2008 has been announced by Mian Nawaz Sharif in Lahore on May 2, 2008. This delay once again proved the lack of political commitment on the part of majority party. Their leadership may have many pretexts, valid or invalid, for not following the deadline or deviating from the original declaration promising the restoration of status quo ante of November 2, 2007 without any conditionality.

The long-drawn parleys between Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari for implementation of Murree Declaration of March 9, 2008 on restitution of judges has serious implication for determining whether 8-year-long dictatorial rule in Pakistan will end or not. The issue of restitution of judges (reinstatement is wrong notion as they are still judges) is in fact a question of great important vis-à-vis constitutional rule in Pakistan. In parleys between leaders of coalition partners in Karachi, Dubai and elsewhere, the issue reportedly was to devise a “correct legal methodology” to counter the strategy of Musharraf camp to block the move through a stay order from apex court. One wonder why the political forces are not uprooting the root-cause by impeaching the unconstitutionally-imposed President, rather than waiting for his purported further illegal actions.

Illegally removed judge, in fact, never ceased as judges. The question is not that of their reinstatement but ordering of status quo ante existing on November 2, 2007. The Parliament unquestionably and unambiguously under the Constitution has full authority to do so. Unfortunately, the Musharraf camp, with the connivance of certain elements in judiciary and political parties, has managed to create confusion in this regard. The Musharraf’s propaganda machine using certain quarters, including some members of legal fraternity, started a debate that in the presence of judgements, namely, Tika Iqbal Muhammad Khan v General Pervez Musharraf and 2 others (PLD 2008 Supreme Court 6) and Tika Iqbal Muhammad Khan v General Pervez Musharraf and others (PLD 2008 Supreme Court 178), it is not possible to restore the judges through passing of a resolution in the Parliament and/or an executive order.

These quarters conveniently ignore the fact that these judgements are coram non judice, issued after seven-member bench declared action of November 3, 2007 illegal. These judgements also have no binding force as reached per incuriam in view of ratio decided by the apex court in PLD 1997 SC 351. On the one hand, it has been recorded that “Prime Minister apprised the President of the situation through the letter of 3rd November 2007” for imposition of emergency, and on the other order passed by the Chief of Army Staff is approved, which is self-contradictory. The decision does not elaborate under what authority of law Chief of Army Staff could impose emergency on the advice of Prime Minister. It is held that judges “who have not been given, and who have not made, oath under the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2007, have ceased to hold their offices on the 3rd day of November, 2007.” Since the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2007 is void ab initio, any proceedings taken in pursuance of the same are nullity in the eye of law. No judge can be removed except the method provided in Article 209 of the Constitution.

Since the judgements of apex court, issued after seven-member bench declaring action of November 3, 2007, are untenable, the restitution of judges, deposed through a law violative of express provisions of the Constitution, poses no problem. The newly-elected parliament by refusing to validate Article 270AAA and passing an Act nullifying the judgement of Supreme Court can restitute the pre-November 3, 2007 judiciary. The matter is of simple legal nature and should be solved through a legal procedure rather than entering into political polemics and undue controversies. This will not be the first time that the Parliament will nullify a judgement of apex court; it was done in the past by passing a law through simple majority. Numerous precedents are available to this effect, which Mr. Farooq H Naik certainly knows. The act of Parliament will restore the rule of law in its real sense in the country and all the deposed judges will be restituted without any interference on the part of executive. If done through an executive order, it will set as bad an example as by the Musharraf on November 3, 2007. In future, any Chief of Army Staff or government can resort to such an illegality.
There, however, is no need for any constitutional amendment, for which two-third majority is required, as propounded by Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, Rashid Quershi, Malik Qayyum, Waseem Sajjad, Khalid Ranjha, and Ahmad Raza Kasuri et al. The Supreme Court after restitution of pre-November 3, 2007 judiciary will certainly take cognizance of the matter suo moto or on the initiation of aggrieved party [which is public at large] to correct the mistakes committed by their learned colleagues. It will restore the rule of law in its real sense in the country. All the judges [illegally removed] are still judges as action of November 3, 2007 was declared void ab initio by seven-member bench. The illegally removed judges must assume their offices immediately an Act is passed by the parliament nullifying the above-referred judgements. In addition, in terms of Article 190 of Constitution, all executive and judicial authorities throughout Pakistan are legally required to act in the aid of Supreme Court. Thus, the new government is duty bound to implement the order of seven-member bench of apex court of November 3, 2007.

However, the issue of ousting of judges, their house arrests, denying them right of free speech and movement and now hindrances in their restitution cannot be examined in isolation. This confirms that as a nation even after 61 years of existence, we have miserably failed to abide by rule of law. At the heart of the concept of democracy is the assurance for the citizens that their affairs are going to be managed by a ‘Responsible Government’ and rule of law will be ensured. If we analyse the Pakistani scenario in the light of the above basic principle, there will be utter disappointment and frustration. The conduct of each government after the death of Father of the Nation was to waste or plunder public money, force the people into international debt enslavement and mercilessly flout all rules and laws. Therefore, if we have failed to establish independent judiciary, true democracy or a responsible Government, it is not surprising. Dispensation of justice is the main pillar of democracy, which is not possible without ensuring independence of judiciary.
The Parliament, irrespective of allegiance of individual members, must rise to the occasion—which is their historic challenge—to take the following steps for the restitution of illegally deposed judges, which also take care of Mr. Zardari’s concern (sic) for “real change” and “truly independent judiciary”:

In its resolution, newly-elected parliament denounces all the acts taken on November 3, 2007 and resolves that for a true democratic and constitutional rule, a strong and independent judiciary is a sine qua non. Thereafter, the following bills should be tabled and passed:
Bill for ‘High Treason Act 1973 (Amendment Act 2008).
This Act amending High Treason Act, 1973 should provide that that in case of violation of Article 6 of Constitution, it will be incumbent upon the apex court to take immediate cognizance and direct the Attorney General of Pakistan to initiate trial of offender. Thus in future, the apex court instead of validating any violation of Article 6 will be legally obliged to punish the offender(s). It will send clear message to imposer of emergency on November 3, 2007 to step down voluntarily or face trial for his admitted extra-constitutional acts.
Bill for ‘Oath of Judges, Act, 2008’ (invalidating Oath of Office (Judges) Order 2007).
By Passing this Act, the National Assembly will pave the way for reinstatement of November 2, 2007 Judiciary and nullify the judgements of apex court, namely, Tika Iqbal Muhammad Khan v General Pervez Musharraf and others (PLD 2008 Supreme Court 178) and Tika Iqbal Muhammad Khan v General Pervez Musharraf and 2 others (PLD 2008 Supreme Court 6). With the passing of this Act, in future no judge will be removed through any executive order or through any law related to oath of judges.
Bill for National Reconciliation Act 2008 (NRA)
In National Reconciliation Ordinance 2007, Musharraf intentionally excluded cases registered after 12 October 1999 for ulterior motives to exclude Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif. In order to create a genuine atmosphere of national reconciliation and put an end to political victimization, this new Act should be passed immediately removing all the time-specific and person-specific provisions in NRO, 2007, which are in direct conflict with Constitution, and extending its scope to all the persons affected.

The above measures will pave the way for a new beginning in this country ensuring the rule of law, constitutionalism, democracy and justice through an independent judiciary.
_______________________________________________________

The writers (ikram@huzaimaikram.com), tax advisers, legal historians and authors, are visiting Professors of
DR. IKRAMUL HAQLLD, MA, LLBInternational Tax Counsel

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Open letter to Asif Zardari- By Ghazala Minallah

Open letter to Asif Zardari


By Ghazala Minallah

Dear Mr Asif Ali Zardari,

THE election result was an answer to the prayers of the nation. However, the forces of evil forces have been bending over backwards trying to sabotage the democratic process and incite the lawyers into entering into a confrontation with the new government.

They need to be told that we are not the gullible sheep of the past. I am a born optimist, and while writing this, a part of me tells me not to be silly. I want to believe that the Bhurban accord will be honoured and that the tenure will be as it was on Nov 2.

The nation is absolutely not prepared to consider such a humiliating option. It is humiliating for the deposed judges, who for the sake of this ravaged country, put their families at risk. You must have experienced that fear too when Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan last October.

It will be an insult to her memory because she risked her life for democracy, and she, above all, knew what an independent judge meant.

It is trivialising the sacrifices of the lawyers, who, despite all odds, have stood their ground for over a year. The world has already accepted Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and the 60 honourable judges as icons of the struggle for an independent judiciary. Theirs and the names of thousands of brave lawyers have already gone down in history for all times.

A compromised restoration will be an insult to the memory of Hammad Raza, the first precious life lost after March 9, 2007. What about the massacre on May 12, the carnage the day Benazir landed in Karachi, the brutality unleashed on lawyers and civil society, the inhuman act of burning lawyers alive in Karachi? It will be insulting the memory of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, whose mission was to restore democracy, and who better than her knew the value of an independent judge. The nation lost a great leader on that tragic day.

Too much water has flowed under the bridge, and it is unthinkable that after getting this far, there can be talk about actually penalising the judges. Because that's exactly what this act would be.

Mr Zardari, I am fully aware of your sufferings, the brutal act of cutting your tongue, your long years in prison, and the fact that you did not have a pleasant experience with the judiciary at the time. We condemned it then and we condemn it now. But, sir, it was a different Pakistan then, which I say with regret. As I said earlier, we were a nation of sheep. Why am I not writing to President Musharraf? Because one pleads before someone who you have faith will relate to you — and that's the beauty of democracy.

My late father, Justice Safdar Shah, was a victim of an amendment in the Constitution by Mr Z.A. Bhutto when he was chief justice of the Peshawar High Court, identical to the one I am writing about. An ideal person to be appointed judge of the Supreme Court by Gen Zia and to be party to the judicial murder of the very same man. Fortunately, he refused to sell his soul, and the rest is history. At least today I can hold my head up high.

Many other honourable judges have stood up for the independence of the judiciary in the past, but they were not supported the way these judges were.

The nation has suffered long enough. The president has ravaged the country for nine years and wants five more. Yet time is being wasted on whether the deposed judges (real for me) should have their wings clipped. The president uses words such as 'scum of the earth' for a man whom the world has honoured, and gets away with it. We are stuck with an attorney-general whose father was party to the judicial murder of Mr Bhutto. Certain ministers are visiting the man who wrote in his book that the worst thing that happened to this country was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Why is there intrigue and jealousy against the likes of Aitzaz Ahsan? Should we forget how Muneer Malik was tortured? Men of principle like Ali Ahmad Kurd, Justice Tariq Mehmood and so many others who led this movement are a rare commodity. Why are people like Sharifuddin Pirzada and Maulvi Iqbal Haider allowed to assist the Supreme Court in mutilating the Constitution?

Yet priceless assets like the honourable Justices Wajihuddin and Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim are ignored. Mr Zardari, I recall clearly the conversation between late Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and my late father just before she returned to Pakistan in 1986. Amongst other things, he repeatedly told her not to surround herself with sycophants, and that Mr Bhutto's fate was because of such elements.

Mr Zardari, do you realise the importance of the opportunity God has given you? In the past we have had independent judges but never an independent judiciary.

The hearts of the nation are with you in the torment you must feel for your children since the loss of their mother. You can either prove yourself to be a selfless, pragmatic leader, rising above personal grudges, or you can go down in history as the man who deprived this nation of an opportunity that can come only once in a lifetime.

Sir, I have confidence that inshallah you will do the right thing, and that you will put the wishes of the people and the salvation of Pakistan first.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thirty nine persons recorded disappeared during the first quarter of 2008


Thirty nine (39) persons, mostly young people, remain missing after arrest during the first quarter of 2008; their whereabouts are unknown to their families. The state intelligence agencies are still operative in arbitrarily arresting people, keeping them in custody for several months and torturing them to confess their involvement in crimes against the state. After the general elections of February 2008, about 27 persons disappeared after arrests by the Elite Force, a state intelligence agency working under the Pakistan Army. According to the reports collected by the Defence of Human Rights, an organization working on the recovery of disappeared persons, and Baloch Rights Council, an umbrella organization of several Baloch nationalist organizations, more than 65 persons have been disappeared after the imposition of the state of emergency by President Musharraf, (who was then General Musharraf) on November 3, 2007.

The latest disappearance is that of Mr. Asad Ali Shah, a 24 year old teacher of Saint Paul, Rawalpindi, who was arrested on March 22, 2008, just two days before the new elected assembly took oaths. Mr. Shah's mother and father who were interviewed by the BBC said he was arrested by the Elite Force. He was taken from his home in the early hours of the morning by personnel from the Elite Force who told his parents that they would return him within 15 minutes as they wanted him to support a statement. However, until now there is no news about him. His family is afraid that wherever he is, he is being severely tortured. The Baloch Rights Council claims that 23 persons are missing from districts of Dera Bugti and Sui, Balochistan province after their arrest by plain clothes men driving in police vans since the start of March 2008, just weeks after the general elections of February 18.

Since 2001, when the war on terror began, it is reported by the several nationalists and religious groups that about 5000 persons remain disappeared after arrests. In the southern province of Balochistan, nationalist groups and political parties are claiming that about 4000 persons are missing since the military operation began in the province in year 2001 and that the Pakistan Army has killed several hundred persons in aerial bombardments. In the North Western Frontier Province, where the Pakistani military and foreign forces are carrying out operations against militants, the media and political parties are claiming that more than 1000 persons are missing and that their whereabouts remain unknown. The nationalist forces of Sindh province claim that about 100 persons have been disappeared but that some of them were released after the intervention of the Supreme Court and Sindh High Court. In Punjab province most of those arrested were from some religious groups working in southern and north western areas of the Punjab province. The figure goes to more than 100 persons.

The newly formed civilian government of Pakistan particularly, the Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani have still not mentioned about the fate of disappeared persons after their arrests by the state intelligence agencies. The issue of the disappearances was one of the main issues which caused the dismissal of the deposed Chief Justice and whole higher judiciary by the military rulers. The state agencies are still operating freely to arrest any one with out any legal authority and keeping persons incommunicado for several months during which time they are tortured. The new government must realise that their indifferent attitude towards the issue of disappearances will only strengthened the resolve of the intelligence agencies of the army to run a parallel rule of law contrary to constitution and civilian laws.

This is the time for the newly formed coalition government to take the issue of disappeared person as one of the priority issue for their government's 100 days task, which was announced by the prime minister after formation of his government. The government of Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani should announce policy statement about the fate of disappeared persons and their release and make a committee of parliamentarians to record statement from all those persons who were released from the captivity of intelligence agencies. The government should also seriously take the notice of the testimonies of the released persons about the military torture camps in all big cities of the country and immediately start a probe of them.

The Changing Face of the PPP

Ayaz

At this juncture, we, the members of the civil society, must not be disheartened. Looking back over the last year, it would have been unthinkable to foresee that democratic forces would be in power and the much-maligned political parties, who also were responsible for their demise, would be provided with one more opportunity to undo the blunders of the past and to provide this nation of ours a bright future.
The struggle has been marked with uphill battles yet slowly but surely, the status quo is crumbling. With this respect, the Pakistan People's Party and the Muslim league Nawaz benefited considerably. We may recall that prior to the Feb 18 elections, Mr Zardari's criticism of Musharraf and the Q league was as harsh as that coming out of the Nawaz camp. Since the elections, the PPP's public statements and private conducts have been in complete odds with each other. PPP continuously stated in the media that the roomers of linking the restoration with a minus 1 formula or the reduction in the tenure of the CJ are unfounded and are a conspiracy. When it was repeatedly reported that senior PPP leaders were holding late night meetings with the establishment, including secret meetings with the present illegal judges, the party dismissed these also. Everything is crystal clear now, isn't it? The unprecedented speed with which the cases has been finalized in Zardari's favor are secret to no one. The recent attack on the CJ, specifically in reference to Mr Zardari's case from 2004 supposedly in his court. We must also remember that justice Iftikhar Chaudhry assumed the office of the CJ on July 1, 2005 and was just one of 17 judges prior to that date.
As seen in Mr Zardari's interview with Dr. Shahid, he discredited the lawyers and the civil society's movement. It appeared as if Musharraf is speaking and not the leader of Pakistan People's party. Many honest Pakistanis admired Zulfikar Bhutto and his sacrifices. However, do you think Mr Bhutto would at any point side with the dictator? His movement was driven by the people of this country. Can, the son in law, who never perhaps met Bhutto, blackmail the nation by citing the sacrifices of the party leaders whenever any substantive issue comes up? Maybe we should ask this question of Ms Fatima Bhutto, the daughter of Mir Martaza Bhutto.
It certainly is a decision for the party about what role is given to Mr Zardari according to some will. However, can the struggle of this nation be held hostage to one man's tittering one it comes to the issues that matter? PPP is suggesting that there is a conspiracy against them. Let us be clear-
The PPP's stance of diluting the powers of the independent judges is perfectly aligned with that of Musharraf and the USA.
So, on one hand are the forces that want a significantly weakened judiciary and on the other hand are the students and the lawyers. And despite the enormous might of the powerful, Musharraf and the United States are crumbling in the eyes of the nation. A sincere request to all the pro PPP persons, whose side are you on?

Student Action Committee takes to the streets for judiciary again













In light of the fact that the issue of the restoration of the judiciary once again lies in peril, and with the 30 day countdown finally coming to an end. The students organized a rally that proceeded from Fast University to the PPP Secretariat. The protest brought together the students once more to send the message that the youth of the country are still active and will not sit idly by. The slogans chanted were pro-judiciary and anti-musharraf. A new variety of slogans from pre-election days were directed at zardari saying be loyal to us [the people] zardari, do not betray us (ker hum se wafadari, zardari zardai; na ker tu hum se ghuddary, zardari zardari) and musharraf-zardari alliance is not acceptable (musharraf zardari ittehad, na manzoor na manzoor).
The message was loud and clear, as repeated over and over by the various speakers. "You the politicians are the representatives of the people, you are answerable to us. We have elected you. You have come on our mandate, and you must stick to the task entrusted on you. We, the people, elected you to restore our judiciary. A restoration that comes with no strings attached. A minus one formula or the reduction of judicial tenures; no such side policies will be appreciated and will be tantamount to a betrayal of the public's trust."
The students made a human chain around the intersection along the rally's way, followed by a picket line around the PPP secretariat. The rally lasted for about an hour and a half, with the students peacefully dispersing as has become the tradition of these student-led protests.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Walk in Karachi for Judiciary - 30th April

pr-logo-option-02-1.jpgPeoples Resistance shall hold a demonstration for restoration of judiciary on Wednesday April 30, 2008, at 6 pm at Dalton Market DHA, (in front of Rahat milk shop). Participants will walk down to the Legal Chief Justice of SHC, Mr. Sabihuddin Ahmed’s house for a 30 minute protest.

PR expresses its disappointment that this important issue has not been addressed as promised and would like to reiterate the demand for urgent and unconditional restoration of judiciary. April 30th is the last day of 30-day period committed by two major political parties in Bhurban Declaration for the resolution of this issue.

All concerned citizens /groups are requested to join and show solidarity for the cause of restoration of original judges.

People’s Resistance is a coalition of students, teachers, NGOs, journalists and citizens concerned with restoration of judiciary, freedom of media and restoration of constitution.

Bring banners, placards, flags, T-shirts and your friends!
In a rare quirk of fate if the judiciary is restored on that day, we will mark it as a celebration!

All those in Karachi are requested to join. Please inform all your friends in Karachi.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Habib Jalib - Mainay Uss Say Yeh Kaha - Laal

video

A poem by Habib Jalib called “Musheer” (advisor) [lyrics]. Jalib wrote it as a satirical piece against Hafiz Jalandari in the period of Ayub Khan. It is equally valid today.

Credits:

Habib Jalib - Mainay Uss Say Yeh Kaha
Shahram Azhar - Vocals
Taimur Rahman - Music
Mahvash Waqar - Backing Vocals
Taimur Khan - Director Producer
Dita Peskova - Assistant Director
Jamie Mill - Recording Director
Laal & Taimur Khan - Music Producer
WIDEi Films - Production Company

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Zardari ditching the nation on the judges


Please find the transcript of Zardari's interview with BBC below. Alternatively you can listen to it here: Listen 3 mins 35 secs



Summary:

  • Zardari accuses the CJ of playing politics. Mr. Zardari himself is known as 10% before the Nation while the CJ Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry is the Second most popular figure in history of Pakistan after Quaid-e-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah. A renowned convict in courts domestically and abroad should refrain from issuing such statements lest he brings forth the wrath of the people.

  • Zardari also accuses that the CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry refused to grant him bail when the only case pending against him was the BMW case. This is baseless. There were still numerous corruption, murder, narcotics and money laundering cases against him. As an example read this report: http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSISL12558720080417

    Pakistan court acquits Bhutto's widower in second murder case

    HYDERABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) - A Pakistani court acquitted Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, in the murder of a civil servant in 1997, his lawyer said on Thursday, the second such exoneration for Zardari this month.

    Please note that Fatima Bhutto, the daughter of Shaheed Murtaza Bhutto still blames Zardari for the murder. Perhaps we should ask for a UN investigation into the murder of her father as well?
    http://www.despardes.com/articles/2007/20070920-fatima-bhutto.htm

  • Zardari lies that the ball is not in his hand when asked. Anyone with a bit of basic common sense and respect for rule of law would realize that the 7 member bench of the Supreme Court had issued a stay order against the declaration of Emergency and PCO in the country. Hence all actions of Musharraf under the state of emergency and PCO are illegal. The deposed judges are still the real judges of Pakistan. It would require ONE order from the PM for the judges to go back to their offices and PM Gilani has already promised to issue it once the coalition asks him: http://thenews.jang.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=14265
    We know from the news stories that its Zardari who is the hindrance to the restoration not anyone else.

  • He further argues consensus in parliament is needed. LIE! Majority is needed. All acts need simple majority to be approved. If we had to move ahead with 100% consensus in the parliament there would be no need to have an opposition leader. Why was a consensus not sought for asking for UN inquiry in the assassination probe of Mohtarma Shaheed (which we support, by the way). Mr. Zardari you can not be selectively choose different routes on your liking.

  • His overall tone is not encouraging. "Think so" "hope so" are not synonymous with "Yes". I hope the people are aware enough to realize it.

  • Zardari had shown his true moral character earlier by offering to make the CJ Governor of Balochistan:
    http://pakistanmartiallaw.blogspot.com/2008/04/zardari-offers-gubernatorial-post-to.html

    Not everyone is looking for positions, fame or money Mr. Zardari.

  • Complete details of the possible script of Zardari and the Establishment can be seen here:
    http://www.pakspectator.com/zardari-dancing-to-the-tunes-of-the-establishment/


There are 4 more days left in the Bhurban Declaration Deadline that was set by the members of the parliament themselves. If the elected representatives do not get us justice through the parliament people of Pakistan will need to figure out other ways of getting justice even if it includes getting hands on the NAB files and hiring lawyers to re-pursue the cases of Mr. 10% in a court abroad that can give us justice. The current Supreme and High Court of cronies is not a court the people of Pakistan trust.


In solidarity,

Saif Rasheed Khan


Transcript of Part of Owen Bennett-Jones's interview of the co-chairman of the Pakistan People's Party, Asif Zardari

Zardari: All of them have played politics. Iftikhar Chaudhry had played politics before, and he's playing politics even now. And we're going to restore the judiciary.

Interviewer: Will you restore him?

Zardari: Hopefully. It's part of it.

Interviewer: Hopefully?

Zardari: Yeah, it depends on the parliament. Not me, I cannot restore or not restore anybody else.

Interviewer: Well, you said… I mean, Nawaz Sharif, the other big political leader is absolutely committed to the restoration of this man.

Zardari: Why do you think I'm not?

Interviewer: Because you've just told me it's not up to you when it is up to you. If you ask the parliament to do this, it will happen tomorrow. It can happen in half an hour.

Zardari: No it cannot happen in half an hour. Even if Mr. Sharif wants it, it can't happen in half an hour.

Interviewer: Why not?

Zardari: There has to be a consensus in the parliament, right? For that there has to be a bill drafted which is being drafted today and its being looked at. I have come to power, People's Party has come to power, we have lost our leader to politics; the fourth leader we're losing to politics! We intend to change the system. I'm not interested in restoring only the judges, I'm interested in restoring the judiciary, the rule of law, the majesty of law, so that no other Asif Zardari stays in prison under trial for eight years and Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry does not say: "I have not read the case so I cannot hear the case." That was my last case. What was the case? A BMW case. Less duty has been paid. The law of the land is: if duty is unpaid, you take the car, you don't take the man! In that case I was languishing in prison for two years and I went to Chaudhry Iftikhar five times. So we do not allow the judiciary again to do that. The judiciary is on record. They have killed my father-in-law. They admit their judicious murder!

Interviewer: If I can say so, your whole demeanor has just changed in the last minutes. You're angry, and it seems to me that you're angry with this man, this chief justice. (Zardari interrupts: No!) And well, the difficulty of course is that the vast bulk of Pakistan wants this man restored to office.

Zardari: Ok, let me correct you. I'm not angry. If I'm not angry with the people I'm sitting in politics with, who I have marks on my body of.

Interviewer: You're referring to the fact that many of your coalition partners played a role in putting you in prison. I mean, that's true!

Zardari: I was the prisoner of Mr. Musharraf for five years. So if I'm not angry at them, if I haven't asked for the death sentence for the killing of my wife, I don't believe in anger. It's a wasted energy.

Interviewer: Ok, but nonetheless, you've just been very critical of a man who…

Zardari: No no, not a man, but (of) the system.

Interviewer: Would you feel comfortable with this man as Chief Justice again?

Zardari: You will feel comfortable. Pakistan will feel comfortable with the new laws that the parliament brings in, the package that I bring in. It will be to strengthen the judiciary so that they can do justice and not politics.

Interviewer: And as part of that, will Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry be restored?

Zardari: I think so.