Bring the deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan back

Here is another story of the farcical de facto chief justice (CJ) who has occupied the highest seat of Judiciary unconstitutionally in Pakistan and the collusion of the PPP government to manipulate the education board (an independent institution) to get CJ’s daughter a higher grade …..   read on!

what a shame!!!

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The PPP government on Thursday aggressively blocked the parliamentary probe into the chief justice’s daughter case amid an uproar in the National Assembly committee meeting that witnessed a walkout by the government members, including the minister of state for education.

The chairman of the NA Standing Committee on Education, Abid Sher Ali, of the PML-N was not allowed to proceed as the state minister consistently pressed that the inclusion of the CJ’s daughter case in the meeting’s agenda was a violation of the rules. The State Minister, Ghulam Farid Kathia, also strongly objected to the presence of not only media persons covering the event but also that of Ansar Abbasi, Editor Investigations, The News, who was invited by the committee as a special guest to take part in the proceedings.

The whole proceedings, which included the suspension of the noisy sitting for 15 minutes and followed by walkout of the government members and even the Education Ministry mandarins, turned out to be a joke when the chairperson of the Federal Board for Intermediate and Secondary Education, Ms. Shaheen Khan, refused to brief the committee on the issue despite repeated requests by the committee chairman.

Every time she was given the floor, she said that she would not utter a word unless allowed by her secretary and the minister, who kept on pressing that the issue could not be included in the agenda of the meeting without his consultation. At her response to the committee, the chairman told her: “You are answerable to the committee and if you do not talk on the issue, then you may leave.”

The angry chairman even once announced to postpone the meeting against what he said the negative attitude of the government side but the members intervened and requested him to continue the meeting. He again asked the FBISE chairperson to tell the committee about the issue but time and again the minister interrupted him and did not let him proceed.

Chairman Abid conducted short census among the eight members of the committee out of whom four said the proceedings on this issue of public interest be maintained. The chairman, while using his discretionary power, resumed the proceedings.

State Minister for Education Ghulam Farid Kathia refused to brief the committee, saying it was not on the agenda of the committee’s meeting. However, he was of the view that the issue should be discussed in camera, not in the presence of newsmen. This irritated the chairman who observed that the issue was of immense public interest and must be discussed in the presence of the press.

The committee witnessed some rowdy scenes and exchange of harsh words between Abid Sher Ali and Ghulam Farid Kathia as well as the FBISE Chairperson Shaheen Khan, who also declined to speak without the minister’s permission.

“You are trying to sabotage this meeting by interrupting me again and again … you may leave,” Ali repeatedly told the state minister for education who argued that the issue of CJ’s daughter could not be discussed, as it was not on the committee’s agenda.

The situation remained tense, as the government side insisted that the issue be taken up some other day. Kathia was of the view that the committee chairman had not consulted him on the issue and, therefore, he was going against the rules and regulations. However, Abid Sher Ali said he had written letters to all the concerned officials, including the FBISE chairperson, to appear before the committee with all the required record.

He said the issue was of serious nature in which the top government officials were involved in misuse of powers. “But nobody is ready on this issue,” Kathia argued followed by Abid Sher Ali’s remarks: “If you are not ready, then you can leave.” However, the minister refused to do so.

The chairman of the committee said: “You are trying to block the committee to proceed in the case of high public importance and defending the corrupt. You and the government are against the voiceless students who are tens of thousands in number.” Abid Sher Ali also said that the minister was defending those who indulged in abuse of power.

On the minister’s signal, four MNAs left the proceedings and staged a walkout. One of the National Assembly’s senior officials told the minister that under such rules, the committee could not discuss the issue.

Meanwhile, sources told The News that the meeting of the committee, scheduled to continue on Friday, was postponed by the speaker National Assembly. The sources said it was an attempt to strangulate the voice of truth.

Source: http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=18652

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Denying the undeniable

A sad state of affairs indeed… and a long journey to a true democratic and welfare state..

“For us relief is only when our loved one is safe and sound standing freed before us. […] I believe that my husband Masood is held only three kilometres from my home, yet he continues to suffer unknown ill-treatment and we, his wife, his children and his very old parents cannot even see him. They [the new government] must act now to bring them back immediately.”

– Amina Masood Janjua, July 2008

The last time Amina Masood Janjua saw her husband, Masood Janjua, was on 30 July 2005 when he left home to meet his friend Faisal Faraz. Pakistani security forces apprehended both men on that day while on a bus journey to another city.

Since then, Pakistan’s government has been holding them in secret without charge or trial, repeatedly denying any knowledge of their whereabouts despite eyewitness testimony as to their detention.

Masood Janjua and Faisal Faraz are among hundreds of victims of enforced disappearance in Pakistan, including children as young as nine and ten years old. Many of them were detained after the attacks in the USA on 11 September 2001, their detentions justified in the name of the US-led “war on terror”.

The practice, rare before 2001, then spread to activists involved in pushing for greater ethnic or regional rights, including Baloch and Sindhis.

Despite undeniable evidence, the government of President Pervez Musharraf consistently denied subjecting anyone to enforced disappearances.

In the report Denying the undeniable, enforced disappearances in Pakistan, Amnesty International uses official court records and affidavits of victims and witnesses of enforced disappearances to confront the Pakistani authorities with evidence of how government officials obstructed attempts to trace those who have “disappeared.”

New government brings opportunity for change

The report urges the newly elected government of Pakistan – which has pledged to improve Pakistan’s human rights record – to end the policy of denial, investigate all cases of enforced disappearance and hold those responsible to account.

“By holding people in secret detention the government of Pakistan has not only violated their rights, but also failed in its duty to charge and try those suspected of involvement in attacks on civilians”, said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific director.

Crucially, Pakistan’s new government must reinstate deposed judges who had previously been investigating disappearance cases and were deposed by President Pervez Musharraf when he imposed a state of emergency in the country in November 2007.

Complicity of other governments

The report also calls on other governments – most notably the USA – to ensure that they are not complicit in and do not contribute to or tolerate the practice of enforced disappearance in Pakistan.

Many of those unlawfully held at the US detention centre in Guantánamo Bay, and those who have been held in secret CIA custody were arrested in Pakistan. Others were unlawfully transferred from Pakistan to countries where they faced torture and other ill treatment.

Many people who have been secretly held in detention centres in Pakistan say they were interrogated by Pakistani intelligence agencies, but also by foreign intelligence agents.

See the full report by Amnesty International on http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/denying-the-undeniable-enforced-disappearances-in-pakistan-20080723

“His” moment of truth

Of course, the Presidency has confirmed the Wednesday night meeting between President Musharraf and Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani, but insists that it was of routine nature. There was not much in terms of elaboration from the army side as well, perhaps in keeping with the tradition that militaries do not talk much.

But that nonchalance about a meeting, which was reportedly a one-on-one lasting more than three hours till midnight, followed the day-long consultations between the army chief and his commanders, and had come about amidst a welter of speculation that the President may call it day anytime, is beyond one’s comprehension.

Only a day before, the rumour that he was quitting had plunged the stock market below a psychological barrier of 12000. And the man in the street asks: has the day arrived when President Musharraf would pack up and go? The reported meeting of Wednesday night brings back to one’s memory the saga of resignations of Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Nawaz Sharif that the then army Chief General Abdul Waheed Kakar had secured as a neutral arbitrator between the two squabbling centres of power.

A few years later, Farooq Leghari had to leave facing the threat of his impeachment in the backdrop of a situation not very different from the one President Musharraf faces today. A sense of deja vu surrounds.

Ever since March 9 last year, when he filed a reference against the then Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the President at the eye of a storm. All of his moves ranging from the ill-advised and motivated reference against Justice Chaudhry, to his dubious election in uniform, to his November 3, 2007 mini-martial law, had received public opprobrium.

But that did not discourage President Musharraf who soon after his party PML (Q)’s defeat in the elections perceptibly set about conspiring to steal the PPP-led coalition’s electoral victory. That has added fuel to the fire already raging against him in the wake of the judicial crisis.

If he does not suffer from some kind of megalomania, his failure to see the reality of the situation can be certainly attributed to his total insulation from the public opinion, apparently thanks to the barriers raised by his cronies and the flawed intelligence available to him.

He conceded his November 3 action was unconstitutional but made it part of the constitution. He made a promise before the entire nation that he would doff his uniform by the end of 2004, but he did not, caring two hoots about the public opinion, rule of law and constitutionalism. Now the birds are coming home to roost as demands range from his resignation to his impeachment and trial.

Irrespective of the truth in the matter as well as the statements made by his office and the ISPR, the general public tends to view the Army Chief, General Kiyani, counselling President Musharraf against any action that may further add to the ubiquitous uncertainty which is already taking a heavy toll of the national economy and political stability.

It is generally believed that the general asked him to banish the thought of exercising his power under Article 58-2(b) to dissolve the National Assembly and dismiss the government. He has been probably told that he has failed to act as the President who is expected to be apolitical after his election and equally accessible to all manner of people and politicians.

General Kiyani’s advice should sink with President Musharraf because the latter’s options are now extremely limited. His nemesis, Sharif brothers, want his head; his former military seniors want his trial; and PPP leadership will not hesitate to impeach him. In these circumstances, it would not be entirely unrealistic to think that for President Musharraf the moment of truth has arrived.

Source: http://www.brecorder.com/index.php?id=748886

Chief Justice – will he get justice?

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which has so far been a great champion of the restoration of the judiciary through parliament, is considering the option of a Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry-specific constitutional amendment, slashing his tenure from June 2013 to 2010.

Though no decision has been taken by the party leadership as yet on this highly controversial issue, there are certain PML-N leaders arguing that this compromise solution is being deliberated upon to save the PPP-PML-N coalition. The PPP leadership is adamant that it would not allow Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry to continue till June 2013.

The PML-N finds itself in a tight corner as it is being made to concede to slashing the tenure of the deposed chief justice in exchange for the PPP’s willingness to table the resolution in the National Assembly for the restoration of the deposed judges to their Nov 2, 2007 position.

Interestingly tenures of judges of the superior judiciary are not fixed either in Britain or India whereas in the United States the judges of the Supreme Court and those of the federal courts are appointed for life. However, there is a tradition in the United States where superior judiciary judges get voluntary retirement when they reach the age of 70-75.

If finally approved and agreed between the two parties, the PML-N might consider this formula a “compromise” to achieve the greater goal of the judges’ restoration and to save the PPP-PML-N-ANP coalition from possible demise. However, it is believed that such a solution might not be acceptable to the lawyers’ fraternity and the civil society, which had struggled relentlessly after March 9, 2007 for the cause of the independence of the judiciary.

While Asif Ali Zardari is also facing a great fall in his overall popularity among these quarters after dithering on his commitment to restore the judges within 30 days of the formation of the federal government, there is a realisation within the PML-N that the fate of Nawaz Sharif and his party could also be no different if such a compromise solution is reached. Perhaps, it would be more damaging in the case of the PML-N.

A party source believed that getting the PML-N to back off from its clear stance on the judges’ issue might be a trap set by the PPP to politically damage the Nawaz-League, which has so far been attaining more and more popularity for speaking out on the judges’ issue. The PML-N was the only political party which had contested the Feb 18 elections on the slogan of getting the deposed judges restored.

As in the world’s leading democracies, Pakistan has traditionally been setting the maximum age limit for the retirement of the superior judiciary judges without fixing any tenure for the chief justices of the Supreme Court or high courts. However, it was only during the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto when, in 1976, a constitutional amendment was passed to fix the tenure of the high court chief justices to four years and that of the chief justice of Pakistan to five years.

Bhutto got this amendment through because he was not happy with the then chief justices of the Lahore High Court Justice Sardar Muhammad Iqbal and the Peshawar High Court Justice Justice Safdar Shah. In the case of Justice Safdar Shah, Bhutto got annoyed after this highly respected judge had dismissed from service political appointees in the police department besides accepting bail of some workers of the then National Awami Party, now Awami National Party.

These constitutional amendments were undone by the martial law of General Ziaul Haq, who reverted to the system of getting the judges, including the chief justices, retired on their set age of retirement.

The retirement age for high court judges remained 62 years whereas in the case of the Supreme Court it has been 65. In his legal framework order, Musharraf had enhanced the retirement age of SC judges to 68 and that of the HC judges to 65 but the 17th Constitutional Amendment reverted to the original retirement age.

In a strange coincidence, it is almost after 32 years of not so appreciable 6th Amendment of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that his son-in-law, Asif Zardari, is determined to introduce a person-specific constitutional amendment targeting Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. Pakistan’s irony is that the Constitution has been repeatedly amended to the advantage or disadvantage of personalities instead of strengthening the system and institutions.

Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has given a new hope for the independence of the judiciary in the country. Because of what he did on March 9 and later on Nov 3 and for the kind of decisions the Supreme Court handed down during his tenure as chief justice, he has become a symbol of the independence of the judiciary. Cutting his tenure only because a powerful soul is allergic to him would mean making a mockery of the dreams of the people of Pakistan.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=14282

End note: It is clear from the outset that the PPP has been ambiguous on this issue since time immemorial. The people of Pakistan must take a clear stand whether they want an independent proactive judiciary, a key founding pillar of a strong and progressive democracy which is ready to deliver speedy justice and keep the executive in check or a mock judiciary as we have seen in the past. It is all about do we still want to live in the regressive past or move ahead towards a brighter and progressive future.

A strange country indeed!

After much effort and hassle, the caretaker Human Rights minister, Ansar Barni got released a poor Indian chap who was accused of spying, on a death sentence and kept languishing in a jail for two and a half decades – well done!

This chap, Kashmir Singh was indeed a spy and claimed he had done the duty to his nation.

http://www.hindu.com/2008/03/08/stories/2008030850020100.htm

Again.. we would say fair he was doing his duty…. and also can’t question the endless efforts by the Human Rights minister Ansar Barni to obtain his release including requesting personally a presidential pardon of death sentence… all well and good.

… But stop.. isn’t he oblivious of what is happening to Pakistani citizens…. doesn’t he know that the Chief Justice of the country is confined to his home since November. His whole family is confined. Recently there was a news items that one of his daughters annual school examination was conducted in their house (which was declared the Examination center by the Education Board)…. what a joke!….

This minister does not have the decency and courage to visit the Chief Justice.

So, in short, this is a country where a declared spy is pardoned and sent home with full protocol and the country’s Chief Justice and his family are confined to their house indefinitely…

🙂

Care-taker Prime Minister takes care of himself and family for Life …

So, we have elections now done and dusted in Pakistan… and as international observers generally say pretty fair as well.

.. Well done!

So what did our care-taker Prime Minister Mr Soomro (Mohammadmian Soomro) do to treat himself  —

Okay let’s first dig the background who he is and how he came about to be the care-taker PM. Well.. he was chairman of the Senate (upper house in Pakistan) and Mr President (yes.. the ex-military man and our only hope!) appointed him as the caretaker PM to supervise the elections.

As per the general etiquette, any caretaker government does not pass any legislation, starts new important projects, interfere in the budgeting process etc because it is left to the incoming government and rightly so.

This caretaker government has done everything… including transfers and appointments of key administrative posts. (actually it is happening at such a lightening speed across the country.,.. people may be pardoned to believe that these are the acts of the new elected government… do you smell something fishy?)

So coming back to the topic; Our innocent PM authorised the following law:

(i) Exemption from taking out licenses for possessing up to three prohibited bore and six non-prohibited bore weapons.

(ii) Access to state/government guest houses, rest houses and circuit houses in the country free of charge for self, spouse and dependent children (accompanied and unaccompanied).

(iii) Pick-up and drop facilities at all Airports in the country for self, spouse and dependent children (accompanied and unaccompanied) with protocol coverage by the provincial govts/Northern Areas/AJK in their respective areas and by the Cabinet Division/Senate Secretariat at Islamabad/Rawalpindi. Protocol coverage/Staff Car to be provided also during travel by road outside Headquarters, if required.

(iv) Detailment of a staff car by the respective governments for self, spouse and dependent children during their visit outside Headquarters throughout Pakistan
(accompanied and unaccompanied) and by Cabinet Division/Senate Secretariat if chairman and his family visit the federal capital, if they reside outside Islamabad.

(v) Services of Private Secretary, security guard, driver and a cook for life time.

(vi) Free medical aid for life time in Pakistan and abroad subject to approval by the Medical Board for self, spouse and dependent children.

(vii) Diplomatic passport to self, spouse and dependent children.

(viii) Special security arrangements for chairman and his family either on his request or by the federal government on its own accord taking into account the circumstances past and present.

(ix) Free installation of telephone at residence and payment of charges for its use up to Rs 5,000 per month or such higher amount as the federal government may determine from time to time.

(x) Issuance of ASF passes for self, spouse and dependent children with endorsement of Apron at all Airports in the country and two Apron passes for staff.

So guess who is it for………….. innocently it is for all current and ex-Chairman of the Senate, their spouses and dependent children and yes it is for their life … yes for life..

Excellent…work… keep it up! You are an example for the Prime Ministers to come…. hell with the country being poor… hell with the people wanting justice and basic provisions like clean water, health, education… hell with the electricity crisis which speaks loudly of the total incompetence of the past government… hell with the country…

All hail Mr Soomro – our ideal …

Endnote: Well to be fair to Mr. Soomro, he just following example of the former PM, Shaukat Aziz who left the country and now resides in a posh London area ..  Anyone can make some money after playing with the stock market, trying to privatise the Steel Mills for partly sums, hoarding sugar and wheat etc… Yes Mr Aziz was involved in all of this!

UPDATE: It is reported in the media that the PM has withdrawn this package for himself….. shouldn ‘t he resign now 😉 .. anyway his days are numbered.. 🙂 the new PM is going to be elected in the coming week with the inauguration of the new Parliament.

Tyrant’s party eats the dust – a resounding defeat!

In what political pundits can term as pure revolutionary, the people of Pakistan have rejected the King’s party across the country with important puppet leaders ending up licking their wounds and some trying to flee to hypocritic West.

Even the threat of violence did not stop people show their full and total rejection of the despicable tyranny that ruled? this nation.

The demand to reinstate the nation’s independent judiciary is louder than ever!  The demand that the nation’s servants go back to serve it … not rules it!

So here goes the prediction!…

PML-Q or the King’s party is wiped out off history…….. full stop!

Punjab: PML-N i.e. Nawaz Sharif’s (the ex-Prime Minister who was shown the exit door by the will of might rather than the will of vote) party wins the largest province and takes the provincial assembly

Sind: PPP i.e. Benazir Bhutto’s party (Late ex-Prime Minister) wins most seats and forms majority

NWFP: ANP i.e. the socialist party rules the day and will probably form the government

Baluchistan: The only province in the country where the turnout was so low that the will of the people could not prevail (they really did not accept the farce elections under Tyranny) hence the King’s party PML-Q may take the majority with their ghost voters.

And what about the big prize… The National Assembly (Parliament)

The trend shows King’s party is almost wiped out to oblivion. PPP (Benazir’s party) and PML-N (Nawaz Sharif’s party) will split the vote and probably will be in a position to form a coalition government. There is also a possibility that alongwith ANP they’d take 2/3rd majority  ……… enough to impeach the Tyrant.