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]

Friday, March 7, 2008

Judiciary row Pakistan’s internal matter: US (as if all other matters are not)

Judiciary row Pakistan’s internal matter: US: Amnesty announces awards for lawyers, judges

Source: Dawn

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON, March 5: The White House has said that it will not get involved in the judiciary-executive dispute in Pakistan because it views this as an internal matter of that country.

“That will be a topic that the Pakistanis need to address, not the United States,” said White House Press Secretary Dana Perino when asked if President Bush will use his influence to get the former chief justice released and the judiciary restored to its pre-Nov 3 status.

Ms Perino told a news briefing in Washington that Pakistan already has a parliament elected on Feb 18 and the newly elected leaders “are working on the changes that need to take place” to settle such disputes.

However, at a short distance from the White House, leaders of Pakistan’s lawyers’ movement received a rare honour from Amnesty International for their struggle to restore the rule of law in their country.

Amnesty International gave two awards – one for judges and another for lawyers – at a ceremony also attended by a delegation of lawyers from Pakistan.

“Amnesty International, USA, salutes the judges and lawyers of Pakistan who stood up during the recent state of emergency in defence of an independent judiciary,” said a citation etched on the plaques.

Hamid Khan, former President of the Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association, told the gathering that the US should use its influence to get the sacked judges reinstated.

The judges, he said, were sacked because they attempted to restore the independence of judiciary and not because they were releasing terror suspects, as some in the United States believe.

Mr Khan said if the US wanted to stay neutral, it should also stop supporting the Musharraf government.

He noted that while the Bush administration never shies away from expressing its support to the Musharraf government, it refuses to back the cause of the judiciary whenever this issue is raised.
Mr Khan claimed that the Musharraf government was using its influence to break up the PPP-PML-N alliance and bring a government that would agree to work with President Musharraf for the next five years.

“But the Feb 18 elections have shown that the people do not want him,” Mr Khan said. “He should step down in the greater interest of the country.”

The US administration, he said, should not try to prolong President Musharraf’s stay in power and “instead of supporting an individual, it should support the people of Pakistan”.

Sahibzada Anwar Hamid, former vice president of the Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association, advised the US administration not to allow the fear of terrorism to prevent it from seeing the changes sweeping through Pakistan.

“If you look closely, you will see that people not only voted against the ruling party; they also voted for an independent judiciary,” he said. He argued that at least in Punjab, political parties benefited from the pro-judiciary sentiments stoked by the lawyers’ movement and if the new government fails to restore the judiciary, they too will become unpopular.

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PPP, PML-N ‘poles apart’ on judges issue -As expected from PPP :(

Source: Dawn

By Ashraf Mumtaz

LAHORE, March 5: The PPP and the PML-N remain “poles apart” on the issue of reinstatement of the deposed judges of superior courts and ties with President Pervez Musharraf, notwithstanding their resolve to form a coalition, with the Awami National Party as their third partner.

“We are poles apart. The PML-N just wants that all existing judges should be sent home and those deposed on Nov 3 should be reinstated,” said a PPP leader who attended talks between the two sides.

Sources close to Mian Nawaz Sharif and privy to the discussions held by the two sides on Tuesday night said that the PPP team had asked the PML-N to soften its stand on the question of judges and not to make it priority item on its agenda.

“Nothing is common (between the two sides) and nothing is likely to be common,” said the source, indicating that the two sides would continue their deliberations in an attempt to find some common ground for cooperation.

PPP leader Asif Zardari and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif are expected to meet in Islamabad on Friday to discuss matters concerning formation of the government.

The PML-N sources said their party could not afford to change its stance on the deposed judges and President Musharraf.

A PPP leader said that President Musharraf was under no obligation to seek a confidence vote from the new parliament. “There is no such provision in the Constitution. However, if he wants to show his following in the new house there is no harm in taking such an initiative,” the leader said, adding that the PPP was not calling on the president to prove that he enjoyed majority’s support.

“Let the new system take off. We want all matters in accordance with the Constitution. If the president stays non-partisan and doesn’t convert the Presidency into a hub of political conspiracies, we will have no problem working with him.”

Some reports say that the PML-N wants Musharraf to either step down or take confidence vote from the new assemblies.

The PML-Q has not lost hope that it would be able to form a government with the PPP because of the latter’s differences with the PML-N.

PML-Q sources say that knowing well that they were hated by the PPP the Chaudhrys have given Hamid Nasir Chattha a mandate to try to persuade the PPP leaders to agree to forming a coalition with them.

Mr Chattha had been close to Benazir Bhutto when the PPP and the then PML-Junejo were coalition partners during 1993-96.

One source said that Chaudhry Shujaat Husain may step down as party chief to pave the way for Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, the PML-Q’s new parliamentary party leader in the National assembly. Once he quits, some other office-bearers may also follow suit.

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Prime Minister approves facilities/privileges for the former Chairperson of the Senate :)

That used to be a cry in Parliaments when there were still politicians who could feel some shame! What does one shout out now that we have blatantly shameless caretakers in power? Does the interim PM (the former Chairperson of the Senate) believe that the epithet meant he could use the office to 'take care' of himself for life (and beyond)?

Issued by the Prime Minister’s Secretariat (public) wing and addressed to the Senate Secretariat secretary: “Reference Senate Secretariat’s u.o. No.F.9(13)/2007-Estt., dated 26 December 2007 on the subject.

1. The prime minister has been pleased to approve the facilities/privileges for the former Chairperson of the Senate (elected), as per following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. The above privileges/facilities mutates mutandis shall apply to the widow/dependent children of the former chairperson.”