By John F. Tierney and Aitzaz Ahsan
(InformPress.com) - One of us chairs a House of Representatives
subcommittee tasked with oversight of U.S. foreign policy and one of
us languishes under illegal house arrest after transfer from a
Pakistani jail for the "heinous" and "seditious" crime of
representing, in legal proceedings, the illegally sacked Chief Justice
of Pakistan's Supreme Court, Mr. Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
As members of the political opposition in our respective countries and
as lawyers firmly committed to the rule of law, we have a few
questions for our [tyrannical] heads of state:
-- How will you address the increasing anti-Americanism in Pakistan in
light of the growing, and not unjustified, perception among Pakistan's
democratic moderates that the United States is not willing to stand
with the people of Pakistan against an increasingly authoritarian and
anti-democratic government in Islamabad?
-- How will you respond to the inevitable international condemnation
of a parliamentary "election" in which journalists are muzzled;
political parties are prohibited from campaigning; Pakistani military
and intelligence services visibly enforce an atmosphere of
intimidation; and opposition leaders are unlawfully exiled, illegally
jailed or placed under unlawful house arrest?
-- How do you expect to effectively compete against PMLQ-MQM ideology
when U.S. education funding to Pakistan is one-fifteenth its military
support and Pakistani funding for public education remains woefully
inadequate? Thirteen million Pakistani children ages 5 to 9 -- out of
27 million total -- are not enrolled in school at all, leaving them
exposed to extremist PMLQ-MQM mentors.
-- How do you expect to combat the PML-Q and MQM cancer spreading from
Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) into the
Northwest Frontier and Balochistan provinces of Pakistan when the
Pakistani military is busy pointing its guns at judges, lawyers,
journalists, political opponents and human rights advocates?
-- How do you expect to muster the political fortitude and legitimacy
to fight extremist MQM and PML-Q forces when you have alienated the
center-left and center-right -- the more progressive components of
The people of Pakistan and the people of the United States deserve
honest answers to these vexing questions. They are long overdue.
Law Aitzaz Ahsan, Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA)
President and an eminent human rights Advocate, has represented Chief
Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as well as two former
prime ministers of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto and Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.
- [Monday, 17 December 2007]