REPORT URGES U.S. LAWMAKERS TO DEMAND RESTORATION OF THE JUDICIARY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - WEDNESDAY, 23 JANUARY, 2008
CONTACT: Devin Theriot-Orr, LUMS Rule of Law Project, (0334)428-9694,
Washington, D.C. - The Rule of Law Project at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) is issuing a report today entitled "Defending Dictatorship: U.S. Foreign Policy and Pakistan's Struggle for Democracy." The report is co-authored by members of a delegation from the United States National Lawyers Guild and is the result of a ten-day fact-finding visit to Pakistan to assess the status of the judiciary and the prospect for fair elections in light of recent attacks on judicial independence. The report criticizes U.S. foreign policy in Pakistan, concluding that U.S. support for resident Musharaff and its failure to demand restoration of the deposed judges will have long-term negative impacts on the judiciary and the rule of law in Pakistan and damage regional safety and security.
The report also concludes that the upcoming elections are unlikely to meet international standards due to widespread systemic and structural problems, including pre-poll abuses and the failure to enforce existing election regulations. Additionally, the report addresses press freedom in Pakistan, noting that severe restrictions faced by all media, in particular the Urdu-language press, constitute a "serious threat" to Pakistan's democratic development.
"The independence of the judiciary is a cornerstone of a functioning democracy. The United States' support for a dictator and its failure to demand the reinstatement of the deposed judges is critically damaging demcratic development and threatening regional safety and security," stated Rule of Law Project Director Devin Theriot-Orr.
David Gespass, the Vice President of the National Lawyers Guild and the leader of the delegation, stated that "We intend to share the report with the American people and place it before our elected representatives to help effect a drastic change in U.S. policy towards Pakistan that emphasizes human rights and democracy as the only real means of reducing the threat of terrorism."
Professors Roger Normand and Justice (ret'd) Jawwad Khawaja of LUMS established the Rule of Law Project to serve as an academic clearinghouse for documentation and research regarding constitutionalism and the rule of law in Pakistan. The Project is developing a comprehensive report on the impacts of the PCO and seeking information from all lawyers and members of civil society who were arrested, detained, or mistreated following the PCO.