You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of democracy, social justice and the equality of mankind in your own native soil. [Mohammed Ali Jinnah]

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Pakistani view of U.S. nuclear weapons

[I found following column very interesting and decided to share it, it was published at TheBulletinOnline, i was quiet amazed to see the publish date because it was published on 5th Feb 2008 but the incident was not well publicised through the media]

"The [U.S.] Air Force has made substantial changes in its handling of nuclear weapons in the wake of a B-52 flight last August during which the pilots and crew were unaware they were carrying six air-launched cruise missiles with nuclear warheads."

-- "Air Force Alters Rules for Handling of Nuclear Arms," Washington Post January 25, 2008.

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN, JANUARY 25--At a press conference in Islamabad today, Pakistani Brig. Gen. Atta M. Iqhman expressed concern about U.S. procedures for handling nuclear weapons. Iqhman, who oversees the safety and security of the Pakistani nuclear force, said that U.S. protocols for storing and handling nuclear weapons are inadequate. "In Pakistan, we store nuclear warheads separately from their delivery systems, and a nuclear warhead can only be activated if three separate officers agree," Iqhman said. "In the United States, almost 20 years after the end of the Cold War, nuclear weapons still sit atop missiles, on hair-trigger alert, and it only takes two launch-control officers to activate a nuclear weapon. The U.S. government has persistently ignored arms control experts around the world who have said they should at least de-alert their weapons."

Iqhman also questioned the adequacy of U.S. procedures for handling nuclear weapons. He expressed particular concern about the August 29, 2007, incident in which six nuclear weapons were accidentally loaded under the wing of a B-52 by workers who did not observe routine inspection procedures and thought they were attaching conventional weapons to the B-52. The flight navigator should have caught their mistake, but he neglected to inspect the weapons as required. For several hours the nuclear weapons were in the air without anyone's knowledge. "The United States needs to develop new protocols for storing and loading nuclear weapons, and it needs to do a better job of recruiting and training the personnel who handle them," Iqhman said.

Iqhman added the Pakistani government would be willing to offer technical advice and assistance to the United States on improving its nuclear weapons handling procedures. Speaking anonymously because of the issue's sensitivity, senior Pentagon officials said it is Washington's role to give, not receive, advice on nuclear weapons safety and surety issues.

Iqhman pointed out that the August 29 event was not an isolated incident; there have been at least 24 accidents involving nuclear weapons on U.S. planes. He mentioned a 1966 incident in which four nuclear weapons fell to the ground when two planes collided over Spain, as well as a 1968 fire that caused a plane to crash in Greenland with four hydrogen bombs aboard. In 1980, a Titan II missile in Arkansas exploded during maintenance, sending a nuclear warhead flying 600 feet through the air. In a remark that visibly annoyed a U.S. official present at the briefing, Iqhman described the U.S. nuclear arsenal as "an accident waiting to happen."

Jay Keuse of MSNBC News asked Iqhman if Pakistan was in any position to be lecturing other countries given Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan's record of selling nuclear technology to other countries. "All nuclear weapons states profess to oppose proliferation while helping select allies acquire nuclear weapons technology," Iqhman replied. "The United States helped Britain and France obtain the bomb; France helped the Israelis; and Russia helped China. And China," he added coyly, "is said by Western media sources to have helped Pakistan. So why can't Pakistan behave like everyone else?"

Iqhman's deputy, Col. Bom Zhalot also expressed concern about the temperament of the U.S. public, asking whether they had the maturity and self-restraint to be trusted with the ultimate weapon. "Their leaders lecture us on the sanctity of life, and their president believes that every embryo is sacred, but they are the only country to have used these terrible weapons--not just once, but twice. Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the plane that bombed Hiroshima, said he never lost a night's sleep over killing 100,000 people, many of them women and children. That's scarcely human."

While Iqhman glared reproachfully at Zhalot for this rhetorical outburst, Zhalot continued: "We also worry that the U.S. commander-in-chief has confessed to having been an alcoholic. Here in Pakistan, alcohol is 'haram,' so this isn't a problem for us. Studies have also found that one-fifth of U.S. military personnel are heavy drinkers. How many of those have responsibility for nuclear weapons?"

John G. Libb of the Washington Times asked if Americans were wrong to be concerned about Pakistan's nuclear stockpile given the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan. Colonel Zhalot replied: "Millions of Americans believe that these are the last days and that they will be raptured to heaven at the end of the world. You have a president who describes Jesus as his favorite philosopher, and one of the last remaining candidates in your presidential primaries is a preacher who doesn't believe in evolution. Many Pakistanis worry that the United States is being taken over by religious extremists who believe that a nuclear holocaust will just put the true believers on a fast track to heaven. We worry about a nutcase U.S. president destroying the world to save it."

U.S. diplomats in Pakistan declined comment.

Untitled

Pakistan election dictates a new day...by Asif Ali Zardari


Despite massive pre-election and election-day rigging, the people of Pakistan voted their confidence in democracy and rejected the forces of dictatorship. The Pakistan People's Party won a convincing victory, along with the democratic Pakistan Muslim League led by my friend, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The party cobbled together a few years ago by the security services of President Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q Party, often dubbed the King's Party by Pakistanis, was so decimated that their party president and several ministers in Musharraf's government lost their seats in parliament. Monday's election was a clear vote of no-confidence in Musharraf's regime, and a vote of hope for Pakistan's democratic and terror-free future.

My wife, Benazir Bhutto, came back to Pakistan in October last year to lead this fight for freedom, and she gave her life for democracy. We fought this battle empowered by her spirit and we achieved her goal.

We were terribly troubled by the level of rigging and violence. Indeed, 29 of our party officials and activists were killed, more than 200 were injured and 150 of our polling agents were kidnapped. Violence during the days preceding the election exclusively targeted Musharraf's secular opposition; there were no terrorist attacks on the offices or rallies of the ruling party. Despite all of this, and despite the intimidation of the government for people not to turn out, Pakistanis defied the forces of authoritarianism and voted for change.

Let there be no ambiguity to the message of the people of Pakistan: They repudiated the status quo. They rose, almost as one, and said "enough" to dictatorship which has exacerbated terrorism in Pakistan.

Under the constitution of Pakistan, it is now required that Musharraf allow the leaders of the winning parties to form the next government. This will be the first indication of Musharraf's good faith in accepting the mandate of the people.

It is the intent of the Pakistan People's Party to form a broad-based, democratic, liberal government -- an umbrella of reconciliation and consensus.

We have suffered from the politics of personal destruction; we have been battered by dictatorship; we have seen civil society taken apart and a free and independent judiciary destroyed. We have seen religious extremists empowered to justify continuation of dictatorship. We have seen the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We have seen progress on education, health and women's rights stopped and reversed.

Now is the time for miracles in Pakistan.

I see a Pakistan that leads 1.5 billion Muslims all around the world into a new era of peace, reconciliation, progress and innovation, a Pakistan that leads an Islamic renaissance. In other words, I see the Pakistan that my wife lived and died for.

The international community, especially the United States, must support us in this endeavor instead of continuing with the erroneous belief that alliance with a strongman is its best bet to bring stability to Pakistan.

The task ahead will not be easy, but the Pakistan People's Party is prepared to work in good faith with our fellow democratic parties to restore the constitution to its original state, without the distortions introduced by a dictator's diktat.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Pervez Musharraf 'will exit in days, not months'

By Massoud Ansari

Pervez Musharraf is considering stepping down as president of Pakistan rather than waiting to be forced out by his victorious opponents, aides have told The Sunday Telegraph.
 
President Pervez Musharraf is considering stepping down as president of Pakistan

One close confidante said that the president believed he had run out of options after three of the main parties who triumphed in last week's poll announced they would form a coalition government together, and also pledged to reinstate the country's chief justice and 60 other judges sacked by Mr Musharraf in November.

"He has already started discussing the exit strategy for himself," a close friend said. "I think it is now just a matter of days and not months because he would like to make a graceful exit on a high."

According to senior aides, Mr Musharraf wants to avoid a power struggle with the newly elected parliament, in which his opponents will be close to the two-thirds majority needed to impeach him and remove him from office.

"He may have made many mistakes, but he genuinely tried to build the country and he doesn't want to destroy it just for the sake of his personal office," said an official close to the president.

Mr Musharraf, who stepped down as head of the army late last year, had called for a harmonious coalition after the defeat of his party - which won just 38 out of 272 national assembly seats in last Sunday's elections - but his political rivals have demanded he go.

Officials said he had considered resigning immediately after the election results were known, but had been persuaded by party loyalists that his sudden departure could precipitate a crisis.

In an article published last week he insisted that he would serve out his five-year presidential term.

Behind the scenes, his staff attempted to broker an agreement with Asif Zardari, who became leader of the main Pakistan People's Party (PPP) following the assassination of his wife, Benazir Bhutto.

Yet despite pressure from America, which has relied on Mr Musharraf's support for its war on terror, Mr Zardari refused to strike a deal.

He declined despite also claiming to have been threatened by Mr Musharraf's allies that the government would revive long-standing corruption charges against him.

"I have seen these jails and this is not something new to me," said Mr Zardari. "I fought all these fake cases instituted against me with courage and never disappointed anyone by asking for a pardon.

"I'm ready to fight it out again, and will never disappoint anyone."

PPP officials said that any deal with Mr Musharraf would have dented the party's public support and it was better to try to govern with the help of the other main parties.

"It doesn't make any sense for us to sink with the dying man," said Nisar Khuhro, a senior PPP leader, referring to Mr Musharraf.

Jamil Soomro, a PPP spokesman, said: "He has betrayed everyone since the very outset and we have no guarantee that he would not betray us once he stabilised his position."

Mr Musharraf's popular support drained away over the past year as he interfered with the independence of the courts, imposed a state of emergency, restricted the media and postponed ­elections.

Shortages of basic foodstuffs and unreliable gas and electricity supplies have left him more vulnerable now than at any time since he seized power in a bloodless coup in October 1999.

A coalition of the anti-Musharraf parties - the PPP, PML(N) and ANP - would govern with 211 MPs, just short of the 228 needed for the two thirds majority that would allow them to launch impeachment proceedings against the president. They could, however, win support from other smaller parties and independent members, which would leave the former general in a precarious position.

If Mr Musharraf decides to dig his heels in, the opposition parties plan to remove his constitutional powers to dissolve the assembly.

"I think his game is over but if he was able to survive for any reason, he would be like a dead fish, sitting and rotting the presidency," said Khwaja Asif, a senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League.

The frontrunner to take over as prime minister in the new administration is Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the widely respected vice-president of the PPP.

میں بالکل جِت گیا سی

وسعت اللہ خان

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Confession of Bravo CM

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Aitzaz Warns new parliament


Dawn Report

Some excerpts follow here, full story at Dawn website
LAHORE / HYDERABAD, Feb 23: The legal community kept up the momentum in their ongoing campaign for the reinstatement of deposed judges by using different events of their bar associations held on Saturday to spotlight their demands. At one such event Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Aitzaz Ahsan warned the leaderships of the PPP and PML-N to get the deposed judges reinstated quickly or face a movement themselves.

“The lawyers are providing a chance to the new parliament to reinstate the judges, otherwise they are all set to hold a rally in Islamabad on March 9,” Mr Ahsan said.

The SCBA leader’s detention was relaxed for a short period to allow him to cast his vote in the LHCBA election on Saturday.

Mr Ahsan said the PCO, which led to removal of over 60 judges, including the deposed chief justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, would obstruct the functioning of the new parliament.

Referring to the Supreme Court verdict on the reinstatement of the chief justice, Mr Ahsan said the decision had held out that no judge of the superior judiciary could be removed unless the Supreme Judicial Council decided to do so under Article 209 of the Constitution.

He said if the Nov 3 PCO was not discarded, it would provide legitimacy to future army chiefs to impose emergency, usurp the basic rights of the people and amend the Constitution, forcing the future governments to follow it.

The center of ‘power gravity’ would remain with the parliament if the judges were restored, otherwise it would shift to streets because the lawyers would not abandon their principled demands at any cost, he said.

“If the leadership of both the parties want the parliament to take a decision on judges’ restoration, we give them a chance,” he said. However, he warned, the tide of the lawyers’ movement would turn against them if they did not reinstate the deposed judges. Mr Ahsan said Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and his three children had been confined to the four walls of their house over the past three and a half months. During this period the children had not only been denied access to their schools, the whole family was without electricity, water and gas.

He condemned a caretaker minister for asking the deposed chief justice to vacate his residence. “If he is interested in getting the official residences vacated, he should get the Army House vacated from Gen (retd) Musharraf first,” Mr Ahsan said.

Former Supreme Court Bar Association (SBCA) president Munir A. Malik said that only an executive order was sufficient to enable deposed judges to assume charge of their offices, but a resolution adopted by newly elected parliament would certainly strengthen the position of judges.

“We believe that judges stood reinstated after the lifting of emergency and only an executive order is sufficient to restore them to the pre-Nov 3 position.

“However, a resolution from parliament will be needed to strengthen this position,” he said.

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Interim govt. trying to make the SC 'validated' amendments a part of constituition


By Nasir Iqbal and Ashraf Mumtaz



ISLAMABAD / LAHORE, Feb 23: Controversy lies in store for the opening session of the new National Assembly as the interim government’s legal experts have decided to get printed a fresh edition of the Constitution, incorporating all amendments introduced by President Pervez Musharraf during the emergency rule.

The question haunting the PML-N and PPP’s legislators-elect alike is: will they take oath under the amended Constitution, which has been ‘validated’ by the Supreme Court?

Both parties have already rejected these amendments and termed them “unconstitutional and invalid”. They contend that the amendments have been made by an individual instead of the parliament.

The government insists the imposition of emergency (on Nov 3), the enforcement of the Provisional Constitution Order, sacking of judges and other steps taken by the president during emergency had been validated by the apex court and made part of the Constitution.

It also asserts that the legislators-elect taking oath under the amended Constitution would, by implication, be endorsing all these steps.

The PPP has said that it would not give a blanket cover to all steps taken by President Musharraf during emergency.

A PML-N leader said on Saturday that the matter was under consideration and some solution would be found by the time the National Assembly holds its inaugural session.

“Obviously (the new version of) the Constitution would contain Article 270AAA under which amendments made before and during the … emergency rule were given perpetual legal cover,” said a senior government official.
Full Story


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Saturday, February 23, 2008

A LUMS Alumni who lives in Charsadda, on the day of yet another suicide attack in his hometown.

It was a sad day for me, like many of my country men. The mayhem has now become order of the day. Unfortunately, such incidents have become just another news item for many people. I am not blaming anyone, but down country, people have not realized the full gravity of the situation prevalent in here. The undercurrents of fear, tension, perplexity that have inflicted the general population over here can only be realized when one lives here. Many sane and educated people are presently more concerened with only one person, whereas, the fact of the matter is that, the situation will not change whether he is there or not. The situation has come to a point that it does not matter who is at the helm of affairs at Islamabad. The War has just begun!

There were two suicide attacks against Awami National Party (1 in charsadda and another in Miranshah). ANP is one of the most liberal, anti-army rule and anti-taliban party in Pakistan. It was specifically targeted after a series of statements by ANP leadership against Talibans. In such a scenario, which party will dare challenge Talibanization. I am afraid that next target of Talibans will be Punjab, which the Taliban see as the hegemon against Pushtoon rights.

Sorry for the lengthy gibberish, but forgive me for that. Anyhow, I hope you are doing good and have a good time.

Friday, February 22, 2008

PPP's Stance on the Judiciary...

I am afraid I may be too cynical, but I saw Zardari's press conference and it wasn't exactly confidence inspiring.
When asked about restoration of judges, he dodged the issue by talking about a larger systemic change that would be brought about by the Parliament.
When asked about working with Musharraf, he dodged the issue by leaving it to the Parliament to decide.
When asked about forming an alliance with PML (Q), he dodged the issue by denying the existence of PML (Q) as a party without clarifying whether he'd ally himself with the group of 39 individuals who were elected on the PML (Q) ticket.
In a party-based parliamentary system, parties are expected to define their position on issues and members of parliament who have been elected on the party ticket are expected to follow the party line on those issues. Zardari knows that full well.
For instance, he didn't leave it for 'the Parliament to decide' whether there should be a UN enquiry into Benazir's assassination. He didn't leave it for the Parliament to decide whether the freedom of media should be protected by repealing the draconian provisions of the PEMRA Ordinance. He clearly stated his party's position on these issues and said that any coalition partners would have to agree on these pre-conditions.
Quite frankly, this talk of a long-term strengthening of the judicial institution rather than a short-term focus on the restoration of individuals merely seems to be a ploy to gain time and somehow brush the travesty of 3rd November under the carpet.
We didn't take to the streets clamouring for restoration because Iftikhar Chaudhry was a nice guy. We did it because we believe that if today the executive is allowed to get away with kicking out undesirable judges, we shall never in future have an independent judiciary in Pakistan. Assuring judges of security of tenure is possibly the most important single step you can take to ensure their independence.
To my rather plodding mind, if you want to strengthen the judicial institution and ensure its independence, you start out by reversing the damage caused on 3rd November. There can be no ifs and buts about that. Sure, if you want take further measures to reform and improve the institution, go ahead and publicly float your specific proposals - discuss it with your coalition allies and the other stakeholders including the Bar and the Bench - and pass a law. But there is no call for linking the former to the latter (particularly when you haven't even formulated any of your radical 'reformative' ideas).
It seems that PPP is creating this linkage simply to win time and eventually side-step the issue of restoration. As we saw even back when BB was alive, what Aitzaz says and what PPP says are frequently two different things. A couple of days before the election, Makhdoom Amin Fahim was asked on Geo to explain what the PPP actually meant when it talked about focusing upon the 'independence of the judiciary' rather than 'restoring individuals'. He didn't seem to have a clue. First he asked why everybody is focused on the restoration of judges removed in last November and not on the judges earlier removed by Ayub, Yahya, Zia and Musharraf (in 2001).
Well - actually Ayub and Yahya didn't remove any judges. The judges removed by Zia are either dead or over 80 years in age. Likewise, all except 2 judges (Rasheed Razvi and Mushtaq Memon) removed by Musharraf in 2001 have long passed their retirement ages. If the PPP wants to restore those 2 as well, we would be more than happy.
Also, the crucial difference between then and now is that the removal of the earlier judges through the PCO only became final once it was (unfortunately) ratified through a constitutional amendment passed by a 2/3rd majority of parliament. There has been no such ratification in the present case. Without this ratification, the deposed judges legally continue to be judges. What is stopping PPP from recognising them as such?
Fahim also said that the PPP is more interested in introducing constitutional safeguards that will prevent the arbitary removal of judges as happened on 3rd November. It seems that he was simply oblivious to the whole 9th March ruckus. Those safeguards are already part of our constitution. A judge simply cannot be removed without a enquiry before the Supreme Judicial Council. The problem was that a military dictator used brute force to simply brush aside all the constitutional restraints. What we need is the political will to, firstly, resist and secondly, reverse the desecration of the constitution. Future improvements to the constitution, while welcome, come third.
As far as Zardari's ideas about forming parliamentary committees to sift good judges from bad are concerned, I don't think I've heard a worse idea. If he means to use these committees to oversee the restoration process - decide on a case to case basis whether to restore or not - it is simply unacceptable. Musharraf had also offered to restore the judges on a case to case basis but the judges and lawyers refused to accept this pick and choose policy.
Even if he means to use this process only for future appointments, it's still a terrible idea. Our judiciary does not need further politicisation. Political involvement in the appointment of judges will only harm the long-term stability and impartiality of the institution. Even in a country like the U.S., the fact that Supreme Court judges are appointed by the President and approved by the Senate has led to a situation where judges are defined by their political affiliations and judicial decisions become dependent on whether there are more Democratic or Republican nominees on the bench. I am sure everyone remembers the 5-4 Republican-Democrat split in the US Supreme Court that allowed Bush to become President.
Our current constitutional system of appointments is not too bad. The President appoint HC and SC judges in consultation with the Chief Justice of the SC and the Governor and Chief Justice of the province concerned. The problem starts when the CJs and the Governor/President start disagreeing. In BB's second stint, matters came to a head when the PPP forced through numerous political appointees to the Bench over the objections of the CJs. Incidentally, Dogar is a product of the same period. In another famous example, a non-practising lawyer with strong PPP links was asked to take oath as a judge but needed directions to get to the High Court. Eventually, the SC resolved the issue in the Al-Jehad case by holding that the President did not enjoy discretionary powers to appoint whom he pleased but was bound to ordinarily abide by the advice/recommendation tendered by the CJs and, in case he disagreed with their recommendations, he was required to assign concrete reasons for doing so.
If the guidelines laid down in Al-Jehad are strictly followed, appointment of judges becomes a relatively merit-based and politics-free affair. However, there is one important improvement that can be made to the system which is to make this whole process of consultations/appointments/assignment of reasons between the CJs and the executive branch more transparent and visible to the public so that everyone can be satisfied that the constitutional provisions and the Al-Jehad guidelines have been followed. Once again, this would not require any constitutional amendment. A simple law passed by a parliamentary majority would be enough.
The next 2-3 weeks are absolutely crucial. Its make or break time. The lawyers put a very good show in Lahore and Karachi today. We need to raise the level of pressure all round to make it clear to all political parties that this issue will not die down.

Interesting

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Rigging was not successful despite all efforts !!!

What happened at President House Polling ?



Kings Party Q-League was not even able to win at the polling station of 'President House' where the employees of the President House cast their votes on 18th February. Pakistan Muslim League (N) got 172, PPPP got 160 and Q-League candidate got only 65 votes.

This is enough for Mushy to understand the 'fact' that how much 'ordinary' people 'Love' him. But as we know that he is tough guy who has no morals to accept the 'ground realities'


Source: Daily Jang

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Hero Speaks!


Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary, says he would assume job when freed from illegal detention.

Full of resolve and determination, like always, Justice Iftikhar said that nothing constitutional and legal but only his illegal house arrest had barred him from attending his office. As soon as I am free, I will go to my office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan.�

He further added:
If today I, being the Chief Justice of Pakistan, bound myself to the unconstitutional orders of the chief of the Army staff, then tomorrow an inspector general of police might come up with his own constitutional amendments and order the arrest of any future chief justice of Pakistan.�



You make this Nation proud!
Chief tere Jan Nisar, Bay shumar Bay shumar

Is Musharraf a legitimate president ?



Students Action Committee (SAC), Lahore organized a mock poll on Mall Road Lahore on February, 18th 2008, the very day elections were being conducted in the country. Keeping in view the security concerns and the sensitivity of the day, the organizers were not expecting a good response. However, they were determined at executing the idea on this day for its symbolic importance. The idea was to have a referendum on the legitimacy of Musharraf as the President of Pakistan where the voters had to be general public.









The public announced their decision !

So, Mr. Musharraf, aap kya kehtay hain ?

It was rigged, right ?


More on ale-xpressed

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Two third majority not needed for restoration of judges: Aitezaz

LAHORE: President, Supreme Court Bar Association Aitezaz Ahsan Wednesday demanded all the judges be released and restored; two third majority is not requisite for the reinstatement of judges, as only executive orders can restore them.

Addressing a press conference, Ahsan said if the deposed judges are restored, then the apex court will decide about the subsequent judges, adding Supreme Court can do so in the light of Al-Jihad Trust case.

'The present judges were not entitled to deliver the verdict in favour of President Pervez Musharraf; as, the judges related with this verdict were the beneficiaries of this decision, accordingly, they cannot pass the judgement on President Musharraf case,' he maintained.

How can the apex court entitle someone to introduce amendment in the constitution, when the apex court in itself is devoid of amending the constitution, he observed.

Aitezaz Ahsan demanded President Musharraf to quit his office.

He said Benazir Bhutto declared in front of the whole world that Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry is the actual chief justice of Pakistan and PPP cannot back down on this.

Vowing to arrive in Islamabad at the earliest to work for the restoration of the judiciary, Ahsan said PPP stance regarding independence of judiciary is very clear cut, adding, 'If the judges are free to act, then resultantly, judiciary would be independent.'

Ahsan said he would go somewhere to relax for two to three months following the freedom of judiciary.

Commenting on elections results, he maintained the coalition governments will be formed except in Sindh and anti-Musharraf forces will make alliance.

'No minister from the former government won the elections, if anyone from the coterie came, it was due to PML-N ticket,' he said.

Aitezaz said there was only one condition in which PPP could have worked with President Musharraf, if the candidates backed by Musharraf had won the elections; however, the people rejected the Pro-Musharraf candidates.

Aitezaz clarified that he was not aspirant of any office in case Musharraf is brought to impeachment.

He held Makhdoom Amin Fahim the most suitable candidate for the premiership, adding the next prime minister of Pakistan should be chosen from Sindh after martyrdom of Mohatarma Benazir Bhutto, as she always reposed confidence in him.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

THE SUN ALSO RISES

- reflections, a night before elections

Tomorrow’s parliamentary elections deserve a mention at this forum. Don’t they? Hundreds of miles away from LUMS, back at home, I find myself quite excited about tomorrow. Despite some doubts (so much about these elections remains overcast with doubt), I do sense a moment of reckoning approaching. Slowly, almost silently, the armies of change are marching. You can smell its heady aroma from afar.

This night of hope contrasts so sharply with another that I spent back home, not so long ago. That evening we met Maulana Fazl ur Rehman and Qazi Hussain Ahmad to convince them about the need to support the movement of rule of law, restoration of judiciary and end of Emergency rule. While Qazi sahib was both polite and supportive, Fazl ur Rehman was brusque and dismissive. While one seemed ready to take on the establishment, the other seemed hopelessly sold out to the promise of comprise and acquiescence. One could sense the rift between the two men, already too vast to be gulfed.
As he sat on the sofa, looking somewhere between his feet and speaking a lot of sense, stroking his imposing white beard every now and then, he evoked in me (not a JI-voter) a lot of sympathy. Left in the lurch by his erstwhile companions, he was still standing for his principles, even at the cost of his party’s electoral fortunes. No compromise with dictatorship, nothing less than systemic reform, he vowed. It was normal for me and my fellow students to display such unflinching idealism - we are young, and new to this game. But the same coming from a seasoned leader of one of Pakistan’s major political parties… it took us by surprise. All the same, we could see a somber tinge, or even sadness in his eyes – the somber look of a man about to sacrifice much, a man who knowingly and willing fights a losing battle because he believes in it, a man about to be wiped out by the massive forces he has taken on.

That night, as I put my head to the pillow, I felt terribly depressed by the same thought. I thought then that we too were fighting a losing battle. It looked as though the likes of Fazlur Rehman and Chaudhary Shujaat would outvote everyone and buffet Musharraf’s repressive regime, which we had tried so hard to topple. Nothing will change. No power to the people. No systemic reform. Just status quo. The pessimism that batons and tear gas couldn’t infuse into us was infused into us by one smug look from an establishment politician, and the dejectedness of his erstwhile colleague. That night I thought it was all lost, gone to waste.

Tonight is different altogether. I stand convinced, just like a vast majority of Pakistanis, that tomorrow by the power of our vote, we will bring a lot of change in the system. The system which we shook up by standing before palpable state oppression will be given one final fatal blow by the collective power of our votes. What a magical thing that piece of paper is: thin, small, almost as weightless as air, yet as powerful as a bludgeon; dumb and silent, but sharper than the sharpest of tongues. Tomorrow, inshaAllah, I will see it for the first time in my life, and I will put it to good use.

Tonight also reminds me of the night before November 5, 2007. Back then, I was trying to muster up whatever courage I had, to prepare myself for the next morning when I would go and protest the imposition of martial law, out at the High Court, knowing full well that at that moment, there was no battlefield more dangerous than that, anywhere in the country. Out there, on the first week day after Nov 3, the state’s forces would gather to quell all resistance at its nationwide focal point – the Lahore High Court. That night, we knew that nothing less would get the message across. It was hard a night.

Tonight is so much easier. I am convinced that tomorrow all it would take to get the message across is to cast a vote. There is still a fear of poll-day violence and bombings, but then that fear has almost become a part of our every-day lives. Even that might change in the aftermath of the elections. At least, let’s hope so.

Somehow, I feel another chapter in our history coming to an end – the eight-and-a-half years of dictatorship. To whom should we dedicate this chapter? My first thought, perhaps surprisingly, is Aasim Sajjad, our erstwhile professor. Mention of Asim Sajjad sparks another memory. Almost a year-and-a-half ago, there was news of Musharraf coming to preside over LUMS graduation. Feeling incensed, we held a meeting to sign a petition urging the administration to cancel their invitation. We didn’t want the dictator to be given this gesture of support and respect.

In those days, we had much less hope. So many people lingered under so many illusions and there was so much apathy. Peope would say: Pakistan’s unfit for democracy; Musharraf’s so benevolent and enlightened; Pakistan’s developing so fast, who cares for human rights; we don’t care because our future remains essentially unaffected by whateve happens in politics; Musharraf will always be there and the army’s here to stay in politics, and things of this sort. Tonight, hardly any of those myths survive and there’s much less apathy.

So perhaps we should dedicate this epoch to activists like Aasim Sajjad, and to judges like Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary and lawyers like Ali Ahmed Kurd and Aitzaz Ahsan who stood firm telling Pakistan that no matter how screwed the system was, if you were firm enough and honest enough and brave enough, you could still bring about change. Tonight that change seems so imminent, although it would only be the beginning of a series of changes that need to be brought about. Credit should also go to Imran Khan, who may never become a major player in our politics, but has already managed to transform it deeply. While his party could never get its slogans to the halls of power, those policies and slogans – justice and rights - have been adopted by a major political force, who just might make it into the halls of power. If politics is about ideas, then Imran Khan’s politics, in a strange and indirect way, is flourishing today like never before.

Last but not the least, we might dedicate this era to the ordinary common man who will come out to vote Musharraf and his cronies out. The ordinary voter, the common man, the man on the street also has other reasons to feel avenged. The elections campaign simply destroyed the silence observed by Pakistan’s westernized English-educated elite over the massacre at Lal Masjid and the continuing human rights abuses in the Waziristan war. When the politicians went to the voter on ground, many of them were surprised about how close and alive these issues are to the people’s hearts, particularly my part of the country. In many ways, the ordinary Pakistani was way more touched by the sight of charred bodies and a demolished mosque than the ‘enlightened moderate’ elite that dominates the media. Democracy and its processes like mass campaigning avenged the greater public sentiment, as every politician had to talk about those momentous events, no matter how ‘politically incorrect’ it sounded. The forgotten blood of innocent young girls, the debris of a mosque destroyed, the amputated limbs of Pakhtun civilians in Waziristan, they are all back on the list. Ordinary people have brought them there, showing that while they do care about bread and butter, they also care about more.

I pray for tomorrow and for all the days that follow. May it be that by Allah’s blessing, every coming day lives out its true promise. Ameen.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Former AG Questions ‘SC haste’

LAHORE, Feb 15: Former law minister and attorney-general Syed Iqbal Haider has expressed surprise over the way the Supreme Court issued its judgment in favour of the Nov 3 emergency rule on Thursday and disposed of a review petition against it the next day although the matter was not of urgent nature.

In a statement on Friday, he said the review petitions had been filed by people with dubious credentials who belonged to Gen Musharraf’s camp.

He said Friday was the last working day before the elections and the judges hurriedly completed all proceedings, possibly because they thought that after the polls they would not be there to give their judgment. More on Random Thoughts

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Pakistan's Tehalka!

Malik Qayyum exposed, once again

Audio: http://hrw.org/audio/2008/urdu/pakistan0208.htm

Pakistan: Attorney General Aware of ‘Massive’ Election-Rigging Plans; Audio Recording Calls Into Question Government’s Commitment to Fair Elections(New York, February 15, 2008) –

In an audio recording obtained by Human Rights Watch, Pakistan’s Attorney General Malik Qayyum stated that upcoming parliamentary elections will be “massively rigged,” Human Rights Watch said today.

In the recording, Qayyum appears to be advising an unidentified person on what political party the person should approach to become a candidate in the upcoming parliamentary election, now scheduled for February 18, 2008. Human Rights Watch said that the recording was made during a phone interview with a member of the media on November 21, 2007. Qayyum, while still on the phone interview, took a call on another telephone and his side of that conversation was recorded. The recording was made the day after Pakistan’s Election Commission announced the schedule for polls.

The election was originally planned for January 8 but was postponed after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, returned to Pakistan on November 25. An English translation of the recording, which is in Urdu and Punjabi, follows: “Leave Nawaz Sharif (PAUSE).... I think Nawaz Sharif will not take part in the election (PAUSE).... If he does take part, he will be in trouble. If Benazir takes part she too will be in trouble (PAUSE).... They will massively rig to get their own people to win. If you can get a ticket from these guys, take it (PAUSE).... If Nawaz Sharif does not return himself, then Nawaz Sharif has some advantage. If he comes himself, even if after the elections rather than before (PAUSE)…. Yes….”

Repeated attempts by Human Rights Watch to contact Qayyum by phone were unsuccessful.
Fears of rigging have been a major issue in the current election campaign. Human Rights Watch said that since the official election period commenced in November 2007, there have been numerous allegations of irregularities, including arrests and harassment of opposition candidates and party members. There are also allegations that state resources, administration and state machinery are being used to the advantage of candidates backed by President Pervez Musharraf. Human Rights Watch expressed concern that the Election Commission, which is monitoring the polls, was not acting impartially.

Background: Malik Qayyum is a former judge who resigned from the bench in 2001 amid charges of misconduct. On April 15, 1999, a two-judge panel of the Lahore High Court headed by Qayyum convicted Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari in a corruption case. They were sentenced to five years in prison, fined US$8.6 million dollars each, disqualified as members of parliament for five years, and forced to forfeit their property. The impending verdict led Bhutto to go into exile in March 1999.

In February 2001, the Sunday Times, a British newspaper, published a report based on transcripts of 32 audio tapes, which revealed that Qayyum convicted Bhutto and Zardari for political reasons. The transcripts of the recordings reproduced by the newspaper showed that Qayyum asked then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s anti-corruption chief, Saifur Rehman, for advice on the sentence: “Now you tell me how much punishment do you want me to give her?”
In April 2001, on the basis of this evidence, a seven-member bench of Pakistan’s Supreme Court upheld an appeal by the couple, overturning the conviction. In its ruling, the Supreme Court contended that Qayyum had been politically motivated in handing down the sentence. Faced with a trial for professional misconduct before Pakistan’s Supreme Judicial Council, the constitutional body authorized to impeach senior judges, Qayyum opted to resign his post in June 2001.

A close associate of Musharraf, Qayyum was appointed as the lead counsel on behalf of Pakistan’s federal government in the presidential reference against Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, instituted after Chaudhry was first illegally deposed by Musharraf on March 9, 2007. A full bench of Pakistan’s Supreme Court reinstated Chief Justice Chaudhry on July 20, 2007. Qayyum was appointed attorney general of Pakistan by Musharraf in August 2007.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The health of the federation

By: Haris Gazdar,
Dawn February 13th 2008

CAN election results tell us something about the health of the federation? Two distinct questions need answering.
First, are there parties that win support across the federating units? It would be a sign of good health if there were many parties that contested and won elections in all or most provinces. Second, how fragmented are federating units in terms of their political preferences? If some federating units consistently and overwhelmingly voted for parties that did not have wider support bases in other provinces, there would be the danger of political fragmentation.

Continue to the article ...

A very learned account of the hazards of agencies' involvement in the national politics. But who listens? The Khakis are too busy ruling the country to care for the health of the nation!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Army officers recalled from civil departments



By Syed Irfan Raza

Source: Dawn

ISLAMABAD, Feb 11: Pakistan Army on Monday called back all its serving officers from 23 civil departments, in what is being termed here as part of a plan to improve the image of the armed forces.

“More than 300 army officers are presently working in various civil departments and majority of them have been asked to report to the General Headquarters (GHQ) immediately,” Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj-Gen Athar Abbas told Dawn here on Monday.

He said the army authorities had written a letter to the federal government asking it to relieve all serving military officers from civil departments.

The move is in line with a decision taken by the 106th Corps Commanders’ Conference on Feb 7. The conference was presided over by Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who had in an earlier statement, directed army officers to “stay away from political activities.”

The army chief’s decisions about reversal of officers from civil departments and restrictions on meeting politicians have been lauded by the civil society and all major political parties.

The induction of army officers in civil organisations has always been a controversial issue and has been questioned on different forums, including parliament.

The ISPR director general said army officers would be withdrawn in phases over a period of two to six months. “We have asked the federal government to relieve those army officials immediately who can be replaced easily,” he said. “Those who cannot be replaced at once will be called back in two to six months.”

Maj-Gen Abbas said some of the officers who were serving on sensitive posts in civil departments would continue in their present positions as the government required their services for some more time. He said such officials would return to their parent department as and when the federal government relieved them.

He said the process of army officers’ induction into the civilian departments had started under a decision taken in 1981 by former president and army chief Gen Ziaul Haq. With the passage of time, he said, the number of military officers in civil departments kept rising.

Replying to a question, he said the army officers would not be inducted into the civil departments in future.

Sources told Dawn that army officers were being called back from 23 civil departments. The highest number of 61 army officers being called back is presently working in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) which was set up by Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf soon after taking over the power on October 12, 1999. Later, the NAB became a controversial organisation, and many opposition parties openly criticised its performance and termed it a tool in the hands of the military rulers to gain political advantage.

Similarly, the sources said, 21 army officers working in the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) and 18 in the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) had also been asked to report back to the GHQ.

Other departments from where army officers are being called back include the National Highways Authority, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Accountability Bureau, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Crisis Management Cell, Intelligence Bureau (IB), National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB), education departments, provincial governments, National Institute of Science, Technology and Engineering (NISTE), Customs Intelligence, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Pakistan Steel Mills, Establishment Division and AJK PM Secretariat.

It may be mentioned that at the Corps Commanders’ Conference, Gen Kayani had stated that holding free and fair election was the sole responsibility of the Election Commission and that the “army will meet only its constitutional obligations and help the civil administration maintain law and order, as and when required”.

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The French Government's hypocrisy, Islam and Holocaust revisionism

A nice article revealing France's double standards. Here's an excerpt:

"..........Clearly, as the cases of Redeker and Faurisson show, one has the right to attack and violate the sacred beliefs of Muslims, but one has no right whatsoever to question and repudiate the Holocaust doctrine, one of the most sacred beliefs of Jewish-Zionism. The sacred belief and taboo of the Jewish people is enshrined in law in France. If you contest the Holocaust, you are prosecuted and persecuted.

However, the sacred beliefs of Muslims are not enshrined in law. If you attack Muslim beliefs, this is depicted as an expression of "freedom of speech." Once again, this is evidence of a hypocritical double
standard. I have come across another case which further bolsters my point........"
junyDada: The French Government's hypocrisy, Islam and Holocaust revisionism

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It's just a rock! It's just a bruise

Sundas Hurain, SAC Lahore


"It's just a rock, I'm fine. Don't worry." I said to my friend standing next to me, blinking from the pain, as a broken piece of a brick hit me square in my shin. We were at the capital of our country, trying to reach the house of our Chief Justice held captive by a brutal dictator. The extent of his brutality, we were just beginning to get a taste of.


This was a procession of over 1500 lawyers, students, civil society members, gathered to protest against the blatant usurpation of our judicial institution, our media, as well as our fundamental rights. There were around 150 of us who had come from Lahore to join in today's protest. Marching on to the judge's enclave, we were chanting slogans, singing songs "na mera Pakistan hay, na tera Pakistan hay; yeh uska Pakistan hay jo sadr-e-pakistan hay…" [This not my Pakistan, this is not your Pakistan; this is that person's Pakistan, who calls himself the president of Pakistan…] followed by proclamations of our struggle to get our country back. "Freedom is ours, if you don't give it to us upon asking we will take it..." Wherever you looked, you saw people who had come together, united to fight for the collective good. Stating it was enough, we will no longer be silenced. We will no longer hold back, or bow our heads low.


What for many in Islamabad had become common at protests, for us from Lahore was a first. Treatment meted to us from the police in our city is worlds apart. The recognition that the police itself is oppressed and exploited is adamant amongst the students of Lahore. A suo moto notice had to be issued by a pco-judge in Lahore to get the police to arrest us-the students. The police here was something else.

I was towards the front of the procession, when we saw smoke, and ran backwards thinking it was tear gas. Soon we realized it was fire trucks positioned to hose down protestors with cold water in this chilly weather. They kept hitting us with cold, high pressure water in vain. When it became evident that we would keep going nevertheless, the police started shelling us with tear gas. Most of us smelled CS gas for the first time as we ran backwards experiencing its excruciating effects. A friend had held my hand and almost dragged me along as we ran backwards. Don't breathe. Don't fall. Don't stop. I kept repeating to myself as my throat, eyes, and nose lit on fire. I ran as far back as possible. The spoiled, protected and sheltered girl that I was, nothing even close to this viciousness had touched me before.


It was a surreal feeling as I stood on the very periphery, panting through my scratched throat and rubbing my burning eyes. This was only the beginning. I saw people coming back, drenched. Saw an Auntie who had fallen in a puddle. Saw a girl about my age screaming at the top of her lungs at the police meant to protect us, the people. I found myself craving to be up there, at the front, with my fellows, facing the onslaught. I did not come here as an audience to watch the show from the sidelines, a voice from deep within asserted. And I advanced. Whilst screaming GO MUSHARRAF GO at the top of my lungs. Who was where, who was who; nothing mattered.

While everyone was trying to regroup, some other girls and I started chanting louder than we had ever known our voices to reach, "LATHI GOLI KI SARKAAR, NAHI CHALAY GI NAHI CHALAY GI; YEH DEHSHET GARDI KI SARKAAR, NAHI CHALAY GI NAHI CHALAY GI" [this government of brute force and coercion, we do not accept we do not accept; this terrorist government, we do not accept we do not accept] and we marched. Amidst tear gas, amidst burning and itching throats, amidst pelting stones; nothing was going to stop us.


It was a battle field. It was us the people against them the colonizers—our military state. A broken piece of a brick hit me, I shrugged it off. A much bigger brick hit the girl next to me on her hip and left her limping for a while, she didn't stop. There were lawyers who would come in front of us whenever stones would be thrown our way. Yes, many of our serving police specifically targeted the women. We went on. There were students who would pick up the falling gas bombs spewing the poisonous gas, run to the police as close as possible and drop it back on them. Many would come back staggering almost falling from the effects of the gases, whom we would have to hold up and give salt to, and back they would go to do more.


The police would retreat as tear gas bombs hit them, and the people would cheer and dance. Then many more would be thrown at us, and back to work for all of us. For over two hours the police could not advance on us.

As the situation intensified, so did our chants. "Musharraf ka jo yaar hay, ghaddar hay ghaddar hay; biknay ke liye jo tayyar hay, ghaddar hay ghaddar hay. YEH POLICE BHI GHADDAR HAY, YEH POLICE BHI GHADDAR HAY, YEH POLICE BHI GHADDAR HAY" [Whoever is a friend to Musharraf, is a traitor, is a traitor; whoever is a willing to sell out, is a traitor, is a traitor. This Police is traitor, this police is a traitor, this police is a traitor]. Ultimately the police stormed us. A certain police officer who was especially targeting women ran after me full force. I took cover inside a house to save myself. Never have I run so fast in my life. Many were beaten up, some had to be hospitalized.


Today was more than just another protest. In the midst of raw emotions, hurt limbs and hoarse throats, the only thing that mattered was the wrong being done to us. Indignant, and offended at this treatment; our protest very much was for human dignity. And more than anything else, the sensitivity that this now offended dignity of ours cannot even compare to the years of torment and subhuman treatment that most of our people in this country have endured. Well no more. Passivity that translates into consent and complicity, never again!

Invasion of terror

By Babar Sattar
The debate on Pakistan's security policy that lists the country's available options as refusing to function as America's foot soldier in the war on terror versus willingly fighting America's war in our tribal areas is simplistic and misleading. There is no gainsaying that Pakistan needs to fight its own fight against extremism. But that must be distinguished from the US war on terror in Afghanistan, the paramount objective of which is to attack and decapitate Al-Qaeda and Taliban in a manner that they are unable to execute attack on western soil. And if the war strategy results in destabilizing Pakistan or delaying the possibility of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, that could be acceptable damage for the United States. Pakistan's war on extremism, on the contrary, needs to focus on curbing the drift of portions of its own population to extremist ideologies that manifest themselves in the form of indiscriminate violence, undermine the life and liberties of moderate citizens and threaten the writ of the state.
The Bush Administration's war strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan's tribal areas is not working. The Musharraf regime has been a loyal ally to the Bush Administration, but the alliance has had a deleterious impact on Pakistan's internal security situation. The actions of the militants against the state and the citizens of Pakistan are immoral and completely unjustifiable. But in allying itself closely with the US, the Pakistani state and the armed forces have come to be seen as stooges of the west, which have cost them their credibility and moral authority as agents and representatives of the people of Pakistan. Pakistan must realize that its slavish pursuit of the US diktat vis-à-vis the war on terror has become an obstacle in the way of waging an effective war against extremism within Pakistan.
As a matter of foreign policy, Pakistan needs to distance itself from the US war on terror. So long as the Pakistani state, its armed forces and law enforcing agencies are fighting what is largely perceived as an alien war, there will be no popular support for such an effort. But redefining the foreign policy will have to be accompanied with (i) de-legitimization of the role played by jihadi outfits in our security policy and military strategy, (ii) reform of the decision-making mechanisms that produce such policies, (iii) overhaul of the state political structure that supports vital policies that have no popular mandate and denies minority groups a stake in the system, and (iv) addressing the brand of thinking and ideology that justifies violence and suicide attacks against fellow Muslims in the name of Islam.
Ashley Tellis -- senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace -- recently made a statement before a US congressional subcommittee wherein Pakistan's current approach toward extremist groups was elaborated, among other things. In our present context, at least this portion of the statement merits to be quoted at length: "As things stand today, it is possible to identify five distinct extremist groups that ought to be the legitimate target of Pakistani law enforcement and military operations: (i) sectarian groups, such as the Sunni Sipah-e-Sahaba and the Shia Tehrik-e-Jafria, which are engaged in violence within Pakistan; (ii) anti-Indian terrorist groups that operate with Pakistani military and ISI support, such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Jaish-e-Mohammed, and the Harkat ul-Mujahideen; (iii) the Pakistani 'Taliban' groups, consisting of the extremist outfits in the FATA, led by individuals such as Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan, Maulana Faqir Muhammad and Maulana Qazi Fazlullah of the Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammad, and Mangal Bagh Afridi of the Lashkar-e-Islami in the Khyber Agency; (iv) the original Taliban movement and especially its Kandahari leadership centred around Mullah Mohammad Omar and believed to be now resident in Quetta; and, finally, (v) Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, meaning the non-South Asian terrorists currently ensconced in the FATA region.
"Since September 2001, President Musharraf has pursued a highly differentiated counterterrorism policy that has involved treating each of these targets differently. He systematically suppressed mainly those domestic terrorist groups like the Sunni Sipah-e- Sahaba and the Shia Tehrik-e-Jafria that had engaged in bloody internal sectarian violence but, more importantly, had subverted critical state objectives. By contrast, he largely ignored the terrorist outfits operating against India in Kashmir and elsewhere: although he has controlled their infiltration into Kashmir in recent years, this restraint has not extended to either abandoning or eliminating them in the manner witnessed, for example, in the case of the more virulent anti-national sectarian entities operating within Pakistan. Fearful of Washington's disfavour, Musharraf has attacked Al-Qaeda resolutely, if not always effectively. Although the Pakistani Taliban did not exist as realistic threats in 2001, Musharraf has also combated them vigorously and as best he can. Musharraf has approached the original Taliban in a manner more akin to the Kashmiri terrorists and has avoided targeting them comprehensively; he has especially overlooked their leadership now resident in and around Quetta."
If this information and analysis is accurate, it identifies a crucial flaw in our security planning: the patrons of our security policy continue to believe that militant groups can be recruited and relied upon to realize the state's strategic goals and further that they can be clustered in neat compartments and accorded disparate treatment. There are at least three fatal flaws in this mode of thinking. One, experience suggests that the jihadi project was misconceived since its inception: non-state actors harnessed in the name of religion might function as effective tools for a while, but they eventually acquire a mind of their own and cannot be decommissioned or reprogrammed when the goals or the strategy of the state change.
Two, in the contemporary world there is zero tolerance for non-state actors. Thus in theory it might make sense to keep the possibility of our erstwhile foreign policy vis-à-vis Kashmir and Afghanistan (with a role of 'mujahideen') alive, nurturing or tolerating any dormant jihadi cells can only have disastrous consequences for the country. Three, the possibility of connections between various militant groups cannot be ruled out even when they are pursuing different goals. For the underlying narrow-minded religious ideology used to induct and brainwash these zealots, that preaches violence and relies on hate mongering, is a shared heritage of all such groups.
While Pakistan has been the frontline state in the war on terror, there is not one popular political entity in the country that backs this war, not even the king's league. We have had a parliament for the past five years, that has had no role in devising Pakistan's policy vis-à-vis the biggest strategic and internal security challenge facing the country. In 2006 the whole world was debating whether reconciliation and peace deals with the local tribes was a good idea, except Pakistan's 'sovereign' parliament. The consequence of a one-man decision-making arrangement is that our armed forces are fighting a war that is neither supported by the nation nor regarded as just. There is no political party that has had to publicly defend this war and thus there is not even an informed debate in the country regarding its pros and cons and the alternatives that Pakistan could pursue.
Winning the war against extremism is not going to be easy. Once we begin to think about our problem of extremism in isolation from the war on terror, there are some tough decisions we must make: we must abandon our jihadi enterprise; we must undertake madressah reform boldly and deliberately; and we must provide security, freedom and public space to the intellectuals and scholars who are capable of challenging bigoted ideologies pandered in the name of religion and confront the ideological roots of violence. But none of this can happen so long as our security policy continues to be made by a handful of individuals who are neither representative of the popular will nor accountable to it. We thus need to start by ensuring that the country pursues a security and foreign policy that is backed by popular mandate. And to that end we need to make our parliament relevant once again.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bomb found in Beaconhouse school, Defence, Lahore

Geo News (News Alert) and a personal source confirmed that there was a bomb found and defused at Beaconhouse school Y block DHA Lahore.  The bomb disposal squad has defused the bomb and cleared the school building.

Is this the start of a brand new episode?

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Marsia of Our Time: The Story of Pakistan’s Missing


February 9th, 2008, by Muhammad


The most tragic part of Saud Memon’s story is the fact that he never told it. He never could. Not because of any curtailment of the freedom of speech, not because of political pressure, not because he didn’t want to. He could not tell the world about what goes on in Guantanamo or in ISI’s torture cells in Pakistan. He died before that.


In its 60-year history, the Supreme Court of Pakistan could not have witnessed a more tragic scene than what it saw on May 4, 2007: A 44-years-old emaciated man, reduced to 80-pounds, was produced before the Court, lying on a stretcher. Abducted by the security agencies in 2003, he had been kept in detention in Guantanamo Bay, then in Afghanistan and finally in ISI’s torture cells in Pakistan. He had survived Guantanamo. He survived Afghanistan. But ISI took him. Finally, as a result of a nationwide campaign by families of the missing people, and the Supreme Court’s suo mote intervention, the government was forced to release him. They dumped him in garbage heap near his house, after beating him to pulp. Some neighbors recognized him and brought him home. He could neither walk nor hold his head.
A week later he was presented before the country’s Supreme Court which had managed to make the ISI capitulate. As many in his audience were brought to tears, advocate Shaukat Akhtar Siddiqui proclaimed, “This skeleton of a man has a reward of Rs3 million on his head in the Red Book of our Interior Ministry,” pointing to the emaciated body of Saud Memon.The FBI had arrested Mr Memon, 44, on March 7, 2003, because Daniel Pearl’s body had been found on a plot of land owned by him. But there was so little evidence to link him with that crime that he could never even be indicted before any court, in Pakistan or the US. The governments in Pakistan and the United States, though, couldn’t care less. Daniel Pearl was dead and someone or another had to be framed. Saud Memon was unlucky enough.


On Saturday, May 18, 2007 only 20 days after his was finally released from illegal detention, he died of meningitis and brain TB - all that he had gone through in the US’s and Pakistan’s torture cells simply killed him.

As Muharram wanes, the victims of Karbala must not wither from our memories. We must also remember that here in the our midst, quite bemoaned remains a son of the nation, Saud Memon – one of the most tragic victims in Pakistan’s history - and hundreds of other missing people who still languish in torture cells. If the text-books that we teach our kids are to bear the names of martyrs and victims, then shoulder to shoulder with all those soldiers must stand (or lie down) this victim of the government’s brutality, and, perhaps, our own insensitivity. Indeed, the true marsia of our times is the story of Pakistan’s missing – a story that we must sit in majalis to weep over, in the hope that by this public admission of guilt and expression of remorse, a nation that has so brutally wronged so many of its sons and daughter may be forgiven. May it be that in this weeping, we find atonement for our sins.


This was essentially the message of an event arranged today by the Rule of Law Project and LUMS Law & Politics Society. Amina Masood Janjua and Zainab Bibi spoke to students and professors about the ‘disappearance’ of their loved ones, at the hands of Pakistan’s security agencies.

The Movie: Missing in Pakistan


The event started with a brief speech by law professor Roger Normand, which connected the travails of the Missing People and their families with the general trend of human rights abuses resulting out of the War on Terror, both in the USA and in other states which help the US in this war. Then followed the very famous documentary by Ziad Zaffar titled “Missing in Pakistan”, which shows a lot shocking footage. The documentary focuses on the ordeals of the hundred of disappeared people and also sheds light on rampant human rights abuses in the country. Amnesty International reports that more than 2/3rd of the people locked up in Guantanamo Bay were provided by the Pakistani state. Human rights experts agree that the current spree of disappearances in Pakistan and elsewhere are sponsored by the US, as it wages its ‘War on Terror, in defense of liberty’. The documentary also showed the oppression against media people, including the murder of Hayatullah Khan from Waziristan who was murdered by the Army because his pictures of wreckage of an American plane exposed the government false claim that no such planes has ever entered Pakistan’s airspace. Some of the pictures, including beating of women by policeman and their removal of a 15-year-old protesting boy’s shalwar by were so disturbing that they brought many in the audience to tears.


Faisal Faraz: The Aitchison/GIKI graduate

After the movie, Zainab bibi shared the story of her son, Faisal Faraz, a graduate of Aitchison College and GIKI, an engineer who was picked up by the security agencies for no reason and remains missing to date. She said they were fighting this battle all alone. They had knocked the rulers’ doors again and again but to no effect. She said that her husband had died when Faisal was still young and that like all parents, she had invested her life in her son. Now when she is 60 years old, the forces of evil have deprived her of her hope – her son. She said that we had destroyed the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where even a 60-year-old widower could get no justice, no matter how loud she cried and how many doors she knocked. She appealed to the audience to join them in their struggle on the streets and stand up against the government’s injustice.


Amina Masood Janjua: An abducted philanthropist’s wife, Pakistan’s Truly Brave Daughter


Amina Janjua, a school teacher from Islamabad, who has been leading the struggle for the release of the missing people, ever since her husband went missing, more than two and a half years, also shared her own story of the evolution of this struggle.
30 July, 2005 was one fine day, when she bade farewell to her kind and loving husband, an engineer and philanthropist. While he was religious, used to pray and had a beard, he was not connected with any political or militant party. He was going to Peshawar with tablighi friends and promised to be back in 3 days. He never got back. He was picked up. Her father-in-law, a retired army man, tried to contact people in the army who had the audacity to tell a whole series of lies in such desperate times. The family knocked every door in the government and the army but to no avail.

Eventually Amina had no resort but to turn to the streets. She started to collect information about the families of other missing people through various means, including advertising her phone number in press. Eventually, they staged small protests in Islamabad. As news of the protests spread through the media, hundreds of families started contacting her. It turned out that while the nation slept, and General Musharraf proudly boasted selling people for bounty, disappearances had become a nation-wide phenomenon. Her list crossed a hundred, then two hundred… it only keeps increasing. By now, more than 500 such cases have been documented.


She said that back when the judiciary was free under the leadership of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, the Supreme Court took suo moto notice of the case of the disappeared and, eventually, more than one hundred people were freed from illegal detention. As the judiciary made senior ISI and IB officials accountable, they was still some hope for her. But, since the imposition of Emergency Plus on Nov 3 and the subsequent dismantling of the judiciary, all hope has been lost. She said that it was a pity that we had a President who had nothing better to boast of in his autobiography than the fact that he sold hundreds of people for the sake of bounty Both the aggrieved ladies appealed to LUMS community and to Pakistani civil society at large to come out of their apathy and to help them in any way possible.. They also urged people to vote only for leaders who were talking about human rights and judicial independence.
Twice in the event, people stood up in the hounour of Amina Janjua, I felt that she was someone all Pakistanis, in fact people all over the Muslim world, need to look up to. In times of immense personal tragedy, this devout Muslim woman rose above herself, allied with similarly aggrieved people and turned that constellation of oppressed into a potent protesting force. Despite the odd, in their struggle they made many strides ahead. Today, she comes to seek our support. Her struggle is truly a people’s struggle – the struggle of people around the Muslim world, being constantly brutalized by the War against Terror. Among other things, she is the icon of Muslim women’s resistance – in that sense too, she represents the hope of a lot of people.

What can you do to help


Amina Masood Janjua talked about the various ways in which students and civil society members could help the cause of the missing. One way is to join the protests. From now on, the Emergency Times (pakistanmartiallaw.blogspot.com) will keep you updated about an protests that the Missing People organize. Another is to help financially: many of the families who have lost members are desperately poor. She showed us of a tent which is where one such family is living. Set against the parched, cold loneliness of Balochistan’s deserts, the family and its tent looked extremely unprotected and vulnerable. Those people and many others need your money.
Finally, Amina Janjua told us that this odyssey has exposed her to so many of human rights abuses committed particularly in Pakistan’s jails (both the clandestine torture cells and the regular jails) that she has decided to set up an organization called Defense of Human Rights. The organization will initially focus on the missing people, gather information about them, document it and support remedial actions. She needs hundreds of young arms and some financial assistance to support this cause, but she was hopeful that amidst a general civil awakening in Pakistan, this would be possible.

If you are thinking about what to do this summer, you are unlikely to find any employment more meaningful or valuable than working with Amina Janjua in Defence of Human Rights. Specifice information will be posted soon. Stay tuned.


Further Reading:
1. May 5, 2007, SC seeks traced persons affidavits
http://www.nation.com.pk/daily/may-2007/5/index3.php
2. May 5, 2007, ‘Skeleton of a man’ brought to court on stretcher: SC seeks affidavits on freed people
http://www.dawn.com/2007/05/05/top3.htm
2. May 19, 2007, KARACHI: Key suspect in Daniel Pearl case dies
http://www.dawn.com/2007/05/19/local3.htm

Rise Of Pakistan bloggers being threatened

A contributing member of "Rise of Pakistan" blog is being constantly threatened for previous few days, warned of "harsh" treatment if he doesn't stops contributing to this blog.

Threats are being made in a very periodic fashion from a cell phone number "0321-6147223".

RiseOfPakistan.blogspot.com is maintained by Alumni & current students of LUMS. It has generated much traffic since Nov 3, 2007, for airing views against the imposition of 'Martial Law', deposition of higher judiciary, dictatorship, civil rights abuse and involvement of Military in Pakistan's political affairs.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

FAST faculty member arrested

Umayr Hassan (faculty member, FAST NU, Lahore) gets arrested. He was attending lawyers rally at Islamabad today alongwith some SAC members.
 
SAC and FASTRising members there at Islamabad are trying to locate the thana where detainees have been kept.
 
Police is extremely aggressive today, visiting hospitals and arresting activists from there who are trying to get treatment.
 
Athar Minallah (spokeperson of CJ) has also been arrested.
 
At least one activist has been taken to emergency after police torture.
 
Iqbal Bali (age: 65+), a veteran activist, is still missing.
 
Hassan

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Head Injury Killed Bhutto,Scotland Yard Report - New York Times

WASHINGTON — Investigators from Scotland Yard have concluded that Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani opposition leader, died after hitting her head as she was tossed by the force of a suicide blast, not from an assassin’s bullet, officials who have been briefed on the inquiry said Thursday.The findings support the Pakistani government’s explanation of Ms. Bhutto’s death in December, an account that had been greeted with disbelief by Ms. Bhutto’s supporters, other Pakistanis and medical experts.
Head Injury Killed Bhutto, Report Said to Find - New York Times

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"SHC" disposes of May 12 petitions : Five-member bench declines to ‘interfere’

Daily Times Reports:
**** Says govt has right to block roads to protect life, property
KARACHI: A five-member bench of the "Sindh High Court (SHC)" on Monday disposed of multiple petitions filed in connection with the violence on May 12 here, saying no aggrieved party had filed any cases, and it did not want to “interfere”. The bench, led by SHC Chief Justice Afzal Soomro, and comprising Justices Munib Ahmed Khan, Nadeem Azhar Siddiqui, Abdur Rahman Faruq Pirzada and Rana M Shamim, said a few individuals could materially disrupt a law and order situation. This, it said, was likely to adversely impact the economy, and cause insecurity and unrest among citizens. The bench also discussed a suo motu reference moved by the SHC registrar, which was converted into a constitutional petition. It said the preliminary objections raised by Sindh Advocate General (AG) Dr Muhammad Faroogh Naseem, questioning its maintainability had merit. The bench also discussed the argument of the respondents and the State on the blocking of roads and all exit and entry points leading to the SHC. It noted that Naseem had argued that state functionaries were well within their powers to deny access to roads and premises to avert threats to life and property. The bench also noted that 80 FIRs had been lodged and investigations were underway. The contempt-of-court applications against the Sindh home secretary, IGP, CCPO Karachi, TPO Saddar and others, were also rejected. ar qureshi
RoP Adds: The Sindh High Court was actively persuing this case before Nov 3 and ensuring that the executive remained accountable before to the courts for any gross violations of people's right and liberties. A point came when the Chief Minister of Sindh vowed that no investigation will be done ito the May 12 killings, despite abundant evidence of his government's complicity in the murder of dozens on that day. After Nov 3, a majority of the the SHC judges were sacked and only 9 loyalists were retained out of 27 judges. The dismissal of petitions regarding May 12 incidents by the newly-constituted "Sindh High Court" is condemnible and reiterates the importance of restoring the independant judges, and for upholding the rule of law.

4th Feb: SAC, Punjab College & SP's meeting

Today as a disappointing conclusion to the battle for justice between the Students Action Committee (Lahore) representatives and the Punjab College establishment, a negotiation was held at the Muslim Town police station.

Mediated by SP Mansoor Haq, the two sides had a face off with five on each panel. The victims were represented by Azhar Siddique, Punjab Bar Council Media Advisor; Firdous Butt, Vice President High court Bar; Advocate Irshad, VP Lahore Bar; Saeeda Diep and Usman Gill, the latter two involved with the earlier altercations.

Punjab College had on their panel: Principal Agha Tahir, Vice President Naveed, Prof. Jameel, Prof. Farooq (Advocate), and Prof. Rasheed. According to the SAC representatives who had been assaulted earlier, all five of the Punjab College personnel present in the panel had been present at the time of the beating and some had been physically involved in the assault itself.

Without pushing for the filing of an FIR on the behalf of the teachers and students calculatedly beaten up, the SP focused for a low key, almost negligible result of a verbal apology.

For the SAC, settling for such an trifling recourse is not a matter of few resources but the futility of pursuing the matter in courts where justice is hard to find, where justices are behind bars with the support of the present judicial system.

When District Nazims and caretaker cabinet Ministers have the might to unleash brute directives, the authenticity of the current regime and its components is obviously brought into question.

The question is, if the current judicial system was impartial or non partisan, would SAC representatives, only armed with words, have to walk away with mere apologies instead of just legal recourse?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Students Raise Fund for Jan10 Blast Victims

1st Feb, Friday - Students belonging to LUMS and the Students Action Committee raised over Rs. 190,000 for the vicitims of the Jan 10 bomb blast outside GPO. Today, the money was delivered to Aftab Sultan, AIG Punjab Police, responsible for Finance and Welfare. The money will now be equally disbursed between the families of the 16 servicemen and 3 civilians who lost their lives at the Jan 10 bomb blast. Students expressed grief over the loss of lives of both policemen and civilians and urged all people to stand together in trouble times. Officers of the Punjab police welcomed this gesture and said that they were deeply moved by it.

Background: In the immediate aftermath of the Jan 10 bomb blast, at the initiative of the student action committee, a Fund was set up to help out victims' families and to express solidarity will all victims.. Around Rs. 194,000 were raised, primarily from the LUMS community. This gesture is particularly meaningful when seen in the light of recent events. LUMS community, which remained at the forefront of civil society's resistance to martial law, has recently been subjected to harassment by the state, ranging from unlawful arrest of LUMS professors, siege of the campus on Nov 7, heavy police presence at the LUMS gate throughout November and lodging of a false FIR against LUMS professors and the President of its Student Council.

Despite all this, LUMS students and faculty member chose to express solidarity and sympathy with the deceased, mostly policemen, and to condemn illegal violence

The students reiterated that while they vehemently criticise acts of state oppression (like the assault on the judiciary, besieging their campus and lodging false FIRs), they harbour no enmity against ordinary people compelled to follow orders by their need to earn a living. Also, they condemn all illegal acts of violence against citizens and ask that, in these troubled times, people stand together.

[Courtesy: The Emergency Times]