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]

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Samad turns down award from US Ambassador on stage

When our spineless generals are busy throwing aid money into their own accounts and conquering their own people over and over again, and our defence minister says that we have to let them kill our people, civillians and soldiers alike, because we are not powerful enough after having fed all our resources to the imperialist army, this is certainly a welcome protest.

Maybe some day we will be able to consider our lives worthy of more but for now this protest at least shows that all of us are not dead!

Thank you Samad.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The black coat movement

IN a stagnant society where moral values and traditions decline, where intellectuals fail to create new ideas in order to inspire the people, where political parties take no interest in mobilising the masses for a change in the system and where leaders, instead of resisting, are ready to compromise with the powers that be in order to retain their privileges and status, the emergence of a new movement with fresh ideas and a vision for change inspires the entire society to actively participate in the struggle.

Historically speaking, a socio-economic and political movement always makes a dynamic impact on society. It awakens the dormant forces and creates a new kind of consciousness of political and social issues. It initiates debates and discussions on the ongoing problems of society.

It generates new energy and vitality among different groups and individuals and prompts them to contribute their share in making a movement a success. In short, it provides new life and fresh blood to a decadent society.

Historians may also ask as to who should be responsible for such a movement — individuals or socio-economic and political forces? I think both factors help each other in creating and expanding a movement far and wide. Sometimes the social forces bide their time and wait for individuals to exploit the situation on the ground and lead the movement. Sometimes an individual initiates spontaneously a movement and the social forces then facilitate his work and make the movement popular.

Keeping in view this historian’s perspective, when we study the lawyers’ movement in Pakistan, we easily reach the conclusion that though the defiance by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was spontaneous, the spark soon turned into a flame enveloping the entire society. The reason is obvious. People had suffered under eight long years of dictatorship. They were suffocated and were enduring much hardship. Public anger against the dictatorship was pent up as there was no avenue of expressing it.

President Pervez Musharraf’s arrogance was at its height. He had refused to let the exiled leaders return to Pakistan. He had planned to extend his dictatorial powers with the help of his cronies. There was no political party which was capable of launching a movement against the regime. There was no opposition to challenge the general’s authority. There were no intellectuals to inspire people to struggle against an oppressive regime. Poverty, unemployment, disparity between the rich and poor were haunting the masses.

On the other hand, the government was touting its miracle of overall successes in every aspect of life.

But Musharraf was safe as there was no threat to his authority and he successfully overran his opponents, never expecting that anybody would ever defy him. But the movement led by Iftikhar Chaudhry unleashed an indomitable force against the military regime.

Soon enough the black coat movement became a popular expression of the people’s expectations that had reached a new high. As a result of the movement, all the exiled leaders were able to return home. Elections were held and popular votes changed the structure of the government.

As soon as political parties came to power and formed a government, a change occurred in their thinking too. A change, unfortunately, for the worse! First, they started by discrediting the black coat movement as the catalyst of this political change. The PPP led the campaign by announcing that it won the majority of seats not because of the struggle for the restoration of the judiciary but on the slogan of roti, kapra aur makan.

Then the PPP started denigrating the whole movement by saying that the lawyers were struggling for the jobs of the judges and not for any higher purpose i.e. not for an independent judiciary.

It is sad that the political parties, instead of recognising the sacrifices, the tribulations, the sufferings of the legal profession for the cause of an independent judiciary, launched a campaign against the judges and created hurdles in their restoration.

History tells us that it is not necessary that a movement should succeed and achieve its object. It could be crushed by strong authoritarian forces not only physically but also intellectually through publicity and propaganda. It could be divided by the creation of different groups and it could be corrupted financially. It has happened before that a dissident movement, once broken and crushed, disappeared from the scene leaving behind a negative image created by the ruling classes in order to mislead the people.

But times are changing. We are living in a democratic and global world. There exist alternative media that can keep the popular image of a movement alive despite negative propaganda from a hostile regime.

It is a strange phenomenon that the black coat movement in Pakistan is refusing to surrender despite all the difficulties it is facing and its vigour and vitality appears to be undiminished.It will not be far-fetched to believe that this movement may succeed in forcing the political leaders to mend their ways.

It will be in the interest too of the politicians themselves if they share the struggle for an independent judiciary in Pakistan.
DAWN - Editorial; June 08, 2008
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Sunday, June 8, 2008

The flea of inanity and the ‘PPP-Q’

By Saira Minto

IN ‘A plea for sanity’ (May 28), Murtaza Razvi focused on trashing the lawyers’ movement by indicating that it lacks vision and is isolated, a movement that was being carried on “in [a] vacuum … from day one”. He also alleged that lawyers and their representatives were acting with a “tunnel vision” without any assurance of light at the end and that their one-point agenda of restoration of the judiciary was making them miss “the only window of opportunity”, that is an agreement with Mr Zardari.

One can admire the writer’s boldness in loyally advocating participation in pro-establishment mainstream Pakistani politics and the brazenness with which the PPP is promoted as the only saviour of the current imbroglio. The PPP? A party that has always jumped at the slightest opportunity to strike deals with the establishment and which may just be renamed ‘PPP-Q’ in due course!

The lawyers confronted Musharraf and his establishment when it attempted to remove the chief justice in March 2007 by force, coercion and several manipulative devices including the pretence to act under Article 209 of the constitution. The lawyers, the public and the media thwarted that attempt by exposing it and by supporting the Supreme Court to provide it with the confidence needed to stand up to Musharraf. Political parties (especially mainstream) supported it marginally and cautiously.

The lawyers’ community is representative of a wide-ranging socio-cultural spectrum of Pakistani society and within itself it adheres to democratic norms. Estimated to be 100,000 in number and spread all over the country from grassroots tehsils and subdivisions to provincial and federal metropolises, the lawyers do not belong to any one political persuasion. They are a diverse lot.

What brings them together is their profession which is dependent on the existence of an independent judiciary and the prevalence of a system of governance based on the constitution. Their bar associations and councils are professional bodies duly elected from top to bottom. They act in unison whenever there is a threat to the constitution, to the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. This is not the first time that they have done so.

In the time of Ziaul Haq, leading lawyers suffered harassment and long terms of imprisonment for raising their voices. The political parties did not unite with the lawyers even then but taking their cue from them established their own Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in Feb 1981. After the lawyers had held their conventions in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Rawalpindi and resorted to street protests, the MRD undertook an anti-martial law campaign independently. The two movements were separate but complemented each other in working for the same objective.

Today, when the lawyers’ movement, aided by the people’s approval, the media and the real judges, has already pushed back the establishment a few steps, the political parties, especially the ‘PPP-Q’, only seem to want to enter into deals and bargains with the junta purely for personal benefits, shamelessly disregarding their commitment given in the Charter of Democracy.

Musharraf’s Nov 2007 martial law (aka emergency) which was imposed against the backdrop of the lawyers’ movement should have been a time to consolidate political forces, speed up agitation against the regime and wrap up matters effectively and finally. Nothing of the sort, however, was forthcoming from the mainstream parties, and it was again the lawyers supported by civil society and the media who agitated against the president and his coteries. The complicity of the ‘PPP-Q’ was the most glaring when the party failed to launch a movement against this group even after Ms Bhutto’s ghastly murder.

The Feb 18 elections were held under grave circumstances. The election result is now widely acknowledged to be the people’s pronouncement against Musharraf, the establishment and the emergency/martial law. While all elected representatives agreed that the Nov 3 actions were unconstitutional and that Musharraf’s continuation in power would hamper the transition to democracy, the new Assembly delayed asserting its sovereign authority to overturn the acts of Nov 3 which could have been done by restoring the judiciary to its Nov 2 position.

The drafting and development of ‘constitutional packages’ were offered as justification for the delay and even now a partial and limited restoration is being proposed — while paying lip service to the formulations in the Bhurban Declaration and the independence of the judiciary.

It is strange, indeed, in this scenario for any serious and mature commentator to propose that the lawyers, civil society and the media simply shut up and fall in line with those who have not only once again reneged on their word but are also looking for excuses to hang on to the remains of a dictatorship for their own benefit and protection.

The lawyers’ approach has been focused and to call their integrity in pursuing it ‘tunnel vision’ qualifies as either an inane and ignorant joke or cruelty or both. Lawyers have not only acted wisely but exactly according to Jinnah’s principles of unity, faith and discipline. They have kept themselves away from political manipulators and self-seekers — something that helps them stay united and strong.

It should also be pointed out, for the record, that it is wholly incorrect that the lawyers’ movement is restricted to Punjab. The huge number of people that turned out for Chief Justice Chaudhry on his visit to Peshawar on May 31 is sufficient to refute that baseless assertion.

All over the world, movements are led by trade unions under one red flag, unpolluted by political vested interests. Lawyers are doing something similar in that sense through the common bond of their profession. Their movement is neither isolated nor apolitical. It is a movement of professionals who are themselves the mainstream and their politics comprises a campaign for true democracy, not hobnobbing with the establishment. To a lot of people, there seems to be a more real and brighter light at the end of this tunnel than there is at the end of the one that the ‘PPP-Q’ wishes to drag this country through.

The long march of June 10 is well timed. If they happen, and hopefully they will, both Musharraf’s exit and the restoration of judiciary will be events that will come about as a result of the lawyers’ movement, and not because of this or that ‘constitutional package’ and the mass deception that accompanies it.
DAWN - Editorial; June 06, 2008
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Friday, June 6, 2008

Aziz blames caretakers for most economic woes

Nawaz Sharif will soon pull the plug on Asif Ali Zardari and force a fresh election which he will sweep, paving the way for a two-party system to emerge with the PML-N in the government and the PPP in the opposition, predicted former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, sounding more like an ordinary bystander to the current goings on in Pakistan rather than one who only a few months back had served as a military dictator’s ‘democratic’ face.

In any case, he said while talking to Dawn on a range of subjects that President Pervez Musharraf was the glue that was keeping Sharif and Zardari together and “as soon as the fastener comes off loose, the two will go their separate ways”.

He looked visibly disappointed when told that he had got it all wrong as according to sources close to the two parties, Zardari and Sharif were sticking together because they did not want to face another elections so soon with all the major players opposed to them still in power.

He did not agree with the suggestion that the two parties would bend over backwards to complete the tenure and use the time first to get power transferred from the presidency to parliament and then to strengthen the constitution.

He implied that the two governments, the federal and the Punjab, have started indulging in what the two parties used to do by way of financial shenanigans when they were taking turns in Islamabad in the decade of 1990s.

He also implied with innuendoes that during his recent visits to the US he had found the administration there to be wary of both Asif and Nawaz and that the stock of Musharraf and the new COAS, General Kayani, very high, “especially that of General Kayani.”


Mr Aziz described the post-election Pakistan as a rudderless ship which he said needed a firm hand to steer it clear of troubled waters.

He blamed the interim government of Mohammedmian Soomro for most of the economic problems that the elected government was facing today.

When asked how could the new government cope with the high world fuel and food prices, he had no ready answers.

As usual he took callous credit for the power shortages, claiming that the shortages reflected the ‘economic boom’ that he as the finance minister had brought about.

When asked for his response to former law minister Wasi Zafar’s claim that he was not taken into confidence about the reference against the chief justice, Mr Aziz dismissed his former cabinet colleague as someone not worth wasting his breath on. He, however, claimed that it was he and General Hamid Javed who had warned Musharraf that CJ Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry would not take his dismissal lying down.

When reminded about Musharraf’s claim that he had only forwarded the reference sent to him by the prime minister, Mr Aziz sidestepped the question but said rather meaningfully that the president was known for standing by his friends.

Giving a self-serving spin to the allegations levelled against him by General Qayyum of the Pakistan Steel Mills and General Jamshed Kyani of the Federal Public Service Commission, Mr Aziz said he had put these two generals, who were trying to browbeat him with their army connections, in their place.

According to him, General Qayyum wanted the PM to allow him to open the L/C for taking in hand the expansion process of the Pakistan Steel Mills. “You know what that means,” he said, alleging corruption on the part of the former Pakistan Steel Mills chairman without actually levelling the charge in so many words.

“We had already decided to privatise the mills so there was no logic in starting the process of expansion before privatisation,” he said reinforcing his argument.

He said the Federal Public Service Commission was only a recommending agency and the prime minister was not constitutionally obliged to accept all its recommendations.

He disassociated himself from the Lal Masjid bloodbath saying: “It was completely a military operation.

He agreed that the PML-Q was not a political party but a group of opportunists and said that he had to be on guard all the time because his own party was out to pull the rug from under his feet at the slightest of excuse, “and there were as many as 12 potential prime ministers all jostling all the time to push me over”.
Aziz blames caretakers for most economic woes -DAWN - Top Stories; June 05, 2008
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Monday, June 2, 2008

Aitzaz denies the statements associated to him - زرداری پر الزامات: اعتزاز کی تردید

زرداری پر الزامات: اعتزاز کی تردید
سپریم کورٹ بارایسوسی ایشن کے صدر اعتزاز احسن نے کہا ہے کہ انہوں نے بے نظیر بھٹو اور آصف علی زرداری پر کرپشن کے الزامات کو درست قرار دیا اور نہ یہ کہا کہ آصف زرداری آزاد جج اس لیے نہیں چاہتے کہ انہیں خوف ہے کہ ان کے خلاف وہ مقدمے دوبارہ چلائے جائیں گے جن میں انہیں ریلیف مل چکاہے۔
Details on BBC Urdu
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New article in PPP amendment bill

The PPP’s constitution amendment package inserts a new article after Article 270AA in the Constitution.

The proposed new article reads as follows: “270AAA Validation of Ordinances etc: (I) The Islamabad High Court (Establishment) Order, 2007 (P.O.No. 7 of 2007) and the Ordinances, except those specified in the Sixth Schedule, made between the 12th day of July, 2007 and the 15th day of December, 2007 (both days inclusive) and actions taken there under shall be deemed to have been validly made and taken by the competent authority notwithstanding the expiry of period of four months specified in Article 89 and notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution shall not be called in question in any court or forum on any ground whatsoever.

“(II). The Islamabad High Court (Establishment ) Order, 2007 (P.O No. 7 of 2007) and the Ordinances, except those specified in the Sixth Schedule, in force between the 12th day of July, 2007 and the 15th day of December, 2007 (both days inclusive) shall continue in force until altered, repealed or amended by the appropriate legislature.
New article in PPP amendment bill -DAWN - Top Stories; June 02, 2008

'Long live PPP' who is running musharraf's govt. on his wills and is betraying the ppl of pakistan... It makes evident tht PPP is not sincere in restoring the pre nov 3 2007 judiciary... lets see how PML-N plays its cards now... will they leave the coalition n join the ppl on june 10??? lets hope!

One can now easily hate PPP for obvious reasons
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PPP on 'Save Mush Harm Pakistan' mission

Selective indemnity proposed in expanded PPP package

By Syed Irfan Raza

Pakistan people’s Party’s constitution amendment package contains insertion of Article 270AAA to give indemnity to certain actions of President Pervez Musharraf, including ordinances issued between July 12 and Dec 15 last year, but is vague on the issue of proclamation of emergency and Provisional Constitution Order (PCO).

The package, containing about 80 amendments, if approved, will make drastic changes in the Constitution to restore the sovereignty of parliament and curtail the powers of the president.

But perhaps the most significant of all the measures suggested is an amendment to reinstate all the judges who were sacked under the emergency order and to reinstate them to the position that existed on Nov 2, 2007.

The package suggests amendments regarding reinstatement of the superior court judges, a new form for members of the armed forces, validity of general elections of 2008, renaming of the NWFP and changes to the article dealing with high treason.

A copy of the package was handed over to Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Mian Mohmmad Nawaz Sharif by Law Minister Farooq Naek in Lahore on Sunday.

Analysts said the indemnity to be provided in the proposed package to President Musharraf would pave way for him to step down because most of his actions that had become controversial would get constitutional cover and, therefore, might not be challenged in a court.

The latest version of the Constitution contains new articles 270AAA, 270B and 270C providing indemnity to the acts of the president, including the sacking of about 60 judges, under his controversial decision to proclaim emergency. The 17th Amendment had introduced Article 270AA validating earlier acts of the president.

My Comment: Shame on PPP acts... it is not goin to help pakistan in any way. How can they add this indemnity to such an act in their package??? they certainly are not sincere in restoring teh judges... r they nuts????

The insertion of Article 270AAA (point 73) might have been included in the package at a later stage because it has not been reported in the media.

Earlier, the media had been told that the package contained 62 amendments but the draft given to the PML-N chief has about 80 points.

It may be mentioned here that President Musharraf had already inserted an article in the Constitution and its clause-I validates the proclamation of the state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007.

However, the Article 270AAA proposed in the package does not mention specifically the proclamation of emergency and the National Reconciliation Ordinance.
Selective indemnity proposed in expanded PPP package -DAWN - Top Stories; June 02, 2008
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Article inserted by Musharraf

The following is the text of Article 270AAA inserted in the Constitution by President Pervez Musharraf last year.

In the Constitution, after Article 270AA, the following new Article shall be added, namely:- “270AAA. Validation and affirmation of laws etc. (1) The proclamation of Emergency of 3rd November, 2007, all President’s Orders, Ordinances, Chief of Army Staff Orders, including the Provisional Constitution order No.1 2007, the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2007, the amendments made in the constitution through the Constitution (Amendment) Order, 2007 and all other laws made between the 3rd day of November, 2007 and the date on which the Proclamation of Emergency of the 3rd Day of November, 2007, is revoked (both days inclusive), are accordingly affirmed, adopted and declared to have been validly made by the competent authority and notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution shall not be called in question in any court or forum on any ground whatsoever.

“(2) All orders made, proceedings taken, appointments made, including secondments and deputations, and acts done by any authority, or by any person, which were made, taken or done, or purported to have been made, taken or done, on or after the 3rd day of November, 2007 in exercise of the powers derived from any Proclamation, Provisional Constitution Order No. 1 of 2007, President’s orders, ordinances, enactments, including amendments in the Constitution, notifications, rules, orders, bye-laws, or in execution of or in compliance with any orders made or sentences passed by any authority in the exercise or purported exercise of powers as aforesaid, shall, notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution or any judgment of any court, be deemed to be and always to have been validly made, taken or done and shall not be called in question in any court or forum on any ground whatsoever.

“(3) All proclamations, President’s orders, ordinances, Chief of Army Staff Orders, laws, regulations, enactments, including amendments in the Constitution, notifications, rules, orders or bye-laws in force immediately before the date on which the Proclamation of Emergency of the 3rd day of November, 2007 is revoked, shall continue in force until altered, repealed or amended by the competent authority.

“Explanation.- In this clause, “competent authority” means,- (a) in respect of President’s orders, ordinances, Chief of Army Staff Orders and enactments, including amendments in the Constitution, the appropriate Legislature; and (b) in respect of notifications, rules, orders and bye- laws, the authority in which the power to make, alter, repeal or amend the same vests under the law.

“(4) No prosecution or any other legal proceedings, including but not limited to suits, constitutional petitions or complaints, shall, notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution or any other law for the time being in force, lie in any court, forum or authority against any person or authority on account of or in respect of issuance of the legal instruments referred to in clause (1) and on account of or in respect of any action taken by the Chief of Army Staff, the President or any other in exercise or purported exercise of the powers referred to in clause (2).

“(5) For purpose of clauses (1), (2) and (4) all orders made, proceeding taken, appointments made, including secondments and deputation, acts done or purporting to by made, taken or done by any authority or person shall be deemed to have been made, taken in good faith and for the purpose intended to be served thereby.”
Article inserted by Musharraf -DAWN - Top Stories; June 02, 2008
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Aitzaz blasts Asif, says most graft charges justified

By Masood Haider
NEW YORK, June 1: Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, President of Supreme Court Bar Association and a leader of Pakistan People’s Party, has severely criticised his party’s co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari for dragging his feet on restoration of the judiciary because he “doesn’t want independent judges”.

In a highly volatile and extensive interview with the New York Times magazine (Ahsan was on the cover of the magazine), he said that most charges of corruption against Ms Benazir Bhutto and Mr Asif Ali Zardari were justified. It may be mentioned that Barrister Ahsan was the minister of interior in the first government of Benazir Bhutto.

The author of the article, James Traub, writes: “I asked him (Mr Ahsan) how many of the allegations of corruption he believed were justified. “Most of them,” Mr Ahsan said, after a moment’s reflection. “The type of expenses that she had and he has are not from sources of income that can be lawfully explained and accounted for.”

In the interview which was conducted over a week, James Traub said that Mr Ahsan recognised that the PPP was itself a feudal and only marginally democratic body led by a figure accused of corruption and violence.

Mr Ahsan, who defended both Ms Benazir Bhutto and Mr Zardari in 14 cases, told Times that the charges of “corruption against both” and in Mr Zardari’s case also of “kidnapping, ransom and murder”, were justified.

“Ahsan”, said the interviewer, “is almost recklessly outspoken about PPP leaders, even though they are his own political patrons. He speaks admiringly of Benazir Bhutto’s courage and steadfastness but also points out with disdain that she viewed herself as the PPP’s ‘life chairperson’. And he does not bother to conceal his dim view of Zardari.”

Besides, the Times article said, Mr Ahsan believed that in the aftermath of the Lahore incident, wherein he saved former federal minister Sher Afghan from the wrath of the people ‘that he is more famous in the country than at any other time’.

“And I have become much more famous.” The thought tickled both his vanity and his sense of irony. “I’m being treated,” he said, “like the policeman who’s rescued the cat from the tree”.

On Mr Ahsan’s decision not to contest polls, Traub said: “I spoke to Mr Ahsan by phone a few days later. He had decided not to contest a by-election slated for this summer. He had decisively chosen movement politics over party politics, and perhaps he was happiest there. Mr Zardari and the PPP seemed to have increasingly thrown in their lot with Mr Musharraf, appointing allies of the president to key posts. Mr Ahsan wasn’t worried that a new round of protests, this time directed in part at his own party, would divide the country.

“There’s enormous popular support for my position,” he said. And he was, as ever, blithe in the face of confrontation. “I’m comfortable,” he reported from his home in Lahore. “I have no problem.”

On the issues of judges and confrontation between Mr Zardari and Mr Ahsan, Traub relates: “On the morning flight from Karachi to Sukkur, a city in the southern province of Sindh where the Pakistan People’s Party high command was going for an annual pilgrimage to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s grave site — now that of his daughter as well —Ahsan was approached by Farooq Naek, the law minister and a party leader. Naek, according to Ahsan, asked him to mute his harsh criticism of Zardari and the party. Zardari had reached an agreement with Nawaz Sharif to reinstate the judges within 30 days of the formation of the new government, and Naik implored Ahsan to show some faith and trust. Ahsan agreed to act as if he accepted their bona fides, though he didn’t altogether.

He says he believed that Zardari feared that Chaudhry and other apolitical judges might restore some of the cases against him that had been summarily dismissed. Ahsan seemed quite blithe about these concerns.

When I asked if he worried that the lawyers could be blamed for splitting the fragile coalition, he said, “if the party doesn’t act, it will force a debate inside the party, and that would be a good thing.” That night he pushed Zardari hard at the party’s conclave near the Bhutto family grave site; Zardari pushed back, insisting, according to Raja Adil Bashir, a party official, that the lawyers “should not try to threaten the government.”
Aitzaz blasts Asif, says most graft charges justified -DAWN - Top Stories; June 02, 2008
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