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Posts tagged with: Long March

Why PTI is the Biggest Winner after Qadri’s Long March

Imran Khan and Tahir QadriTahir-ul-Qadri’s Long March ended with an anti-climax. The revolutionary zeal of the protestors was rewarded with a compromise. As the dust settles on another vital episode in Pakistan’s foremost soap opera, the character who will come out strongest is Imran Khan.

When PTI decided to boycott the 2008 elections it was subjected to endless abuse by supporters sick and tired of the incumbent regime. These people saw the party as a ray of hope amidst a horizon laced with crooks and criminals. They felt betrayed by the party’s stubborn refusal to budge. It was conveniently forgotten that these “elections” would be held under the aegis of a PCO judiciary unlawfully appointed by a military dictator. Furthermore, this judiciary was responsible for the passing of the NRO, granting amnesty to the biggest criminals of Pakistan. This leads us to a wider malaise infecting the nation: the addiction to quick fixes and fleeting pleasures. The commonly held notion implied that simply getting rid of PML-Q and Pervez Musharraf would somehow solve our problems.

What followed was extremely predictable yet scarcely believable. Musharraf was ousted to wild celebrations, just 9 years after being greeted in the same manner. He was replaced by Asif Ali Zardari, otherwise known as Pakistan’s biggest thief. Since then the journey has been increasingly downhill, towards hell itself. How could we expect anything else from the products of NRO? We lament the presence of tax evaders and hardened criminals in our parliament but after the sham elections of 2008 expecting anything else is absurd.
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Judicial Taliban

Lawyers have emerged as a great force in Pakistan who carries weight in the future law making and day to day running of the judiciary as well as executive in the country. Pakistan’s short history is full of lawyer’s contributions and in particular judges who never bow before a dictator to take oath under any PCO and preferred to go home honourably.

In any adversarial system, there is a lawyer for and against and a judge hears the case, decides on facts and law giving confidence to both parties on the ‘judgement’ he is about to give on its merits. On the day, a judge has to dispense justice, and of course justice needs to be seen to be done, and if judgement is known in advance, it does not meet the norms of justice. Recent events in Pakistan post liberation of judiciary has given an impression as if lawyers have a carte blanche and as if they are not willing to tolerate the other side view, I hope I am wrong. That is, and it will be dangerous for the promotion of tolerance, rule of law and good governance leading to true democracy as there is always the other side view and the story.

I have picked up two issues where there is a risk of miscarriage of justice and potential threat of the other party loosing chance of ever having a fair trial. In the case of 4 May 2007 lawyers procession in Sahiwal, in Punjab, which was intercepted by Police on orders of its superiors. A case has been registered against district police officer and others, but open alarming statements are being made by top judicial leadership for accelerating the process by doing a quick justice with warnings that someone else will do the job suo moto. No lawyer is willing to represent the said officer in the whole of District Multan before Anti terrorist court judge, which is an undesirable development for the profession as any accused is ‘innocent until proven guilty.
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The Twitter Revolution for Activism

Moldova RevolutionThe twitter revolution is being seen as a tool to help gear up for country changing activism – recently Foreign Policy magazine published an article on how twitter is helping young Moldavian fight for their rights,

Foreign Policy: Ever since yesterday’s announcement that Moldova’s communists have won enough votes to form a government in Sunday’s elections, Moldova’s progressive youth took to the streets in angry protests. As behooves any political protest by young people today, they also turned to Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness about the planned protests and flashmobs. Led by youth NGOs like HydePark and ThinkMoldova, the protests began very peacefully – as a flashmob, where young people were simply supposed to hold lit candles in the vicinity of the square.

However, things got out of hand – and, with or without Twitter’s help, the crowd got much larger, reaching as many as 10,000 people, who first picketed Election Commission headquarters, the president’s residence (windows are reported to be broken – and there are also reports that this building has been stormed), and other government buildings before storming the building of the Moldovan Parliament, which happens to be just across the road.

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23rd March Parade, went Missing, so what!

Guest Blog by Omar Javaid

23rd-march-pakistanThe Parade on 23rd march was canceled by the prime minister out of austerity. The cancellation was announced a couple of week back. Then 23rd march came and went without the grand event which was considered the hallmark of this day. It was astonishing to see the legacy getting broken and the reason that was cited, but most startling was the inaction, it didn’t bothered anybody, never sparked any uproar, never ignited any heated debate, there wasn’t any criticism, it almost went unnoticed.

The parade of 23rd March use to be morale booster, a blatant exhibit of Pakistan’s military strength, cultural diversity, and national integrity; for the masses it was an annual dose of self esteem and a sense of identity. This dose went missing this time, and didn’t bother anybody. It is unlikely that masses are stuffed or overdosed with self respect, confidence and esteem, rather the contrary seems more true, they are starved, their energies evaporated by continuous bombardment of negativity (there is hardly a good news in media), they are exhausted, disappointed, frustrated, contempt on present state of affair, politics, judiciary (though just been revitalized … ?), role of military in northern areas, extremism, and most importantly the threat of unemployment for employed, torture of unemployment for unemployed, and all of this multiplied by crippling inflation.
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Teeth Maestro on Wired and Active

wired-and-active-dawn-news-tvIn the past few weeks I had been invited by Dawn TV to be interviewed for their show Wired and Active. I have been interviewed by the host Rabia Garib thrice, first was basically in light of my activism since 2005, the second show immediately after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team while the latest was after our Long March effort. For those who missed the telecast can watch it online on PkPolitics. I am hopeful that the online activism will help lead Pakistan into better days ahead since citizen powered accountability is far better then a dormant and sleeping society. Truly there is no stopping us now.

Zardaris upcoming Joint Session speech – 58-2(b) & the 17th?

zardari-speech-to-parliamentPresident Asif Ali Zardari is scheduled to grace and address the Joint Session of the two houses, in preparation Mr. Asif Zardari made a swift preparatory powder and puff exit to Dubai while his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has in turn made his way to Pakistan and will most likely expected to grace the visitors gallery along with his sisters on Saturday whilst his father carefullyplaces the picture of their slain mother on the dais to address the nation.

Typically the speech was expected to have been a garlanding speech for the PPP to have fulfilled Benazir Bhuttos’s promise, he would generally have returned the cordial pat on the back to Nawaz Sharif [returning the favor where Nawaz Sharif gentle tapped the shoulders of Yousuf Raza Gilani on his visit to Raiwind a few days back]. it would have followed through with some simple announcements regarding the Governor rule in Punjab and even maybe a few cordial cabinet seats handouts to PML-N in a show of friendship and support – BUT
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The Politics of Containers

Guest Blog by Naeem Sadiq
Published in Dawn, Sunday, 22 Mar, 2009

Containers outside the Pakistan ParliamentContainers were originally used for the transportation of goods. Today they still carry goods but only when not being utilised in the service of the state. In the absence of a more rational argument, the weight, size and shape of a container provides an ideal piece of equipment to impose one’s political agenda.

Placed at the two ends of a road, containers provide weighty assurance that the life and liberty of one’s opponents are confined within these two extremes.

The credit must go to the MQM for inventing a usage that the original designers had not quite envisaged. The May 12, 2007 prototype launched in Karachi was successfully replicated on March 15, 2009 when some 2,000 containers were used to cordon off large swathes of area. It was a shameful, illegal act and it brought the government immense misery and losses to individuals.
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The Lawyers’ win is only Partially Legal

Guest blog by Abira Ashfaq via her Note on Facebook

I just returned from a wedding and I got an icky feeling about the lawyer leaders. I saw some there. I caught a glimpse of Aitzaz, but before I could get my glamor shot with him, he had shot off to another function. I support the movement and its leadership. I support the support they got from the roots, and the movement’s progressive thrust. But there is an ickiness, and I know these leaders aren’t the radical, or even the clean hearted hippies I wish them to be. In fact some of them have only recently reignited that radical spark form the students’ movement of the 60s after years of real estate work. Some of them have vested interests. But I already knew that, and its not naivety that you accept flawed individuals, but pragmatism that you suspend your judgment as they invigorate a movement — as leaders. And learn. Hence, CJ as a symbol, as a trigger, as a mascot, as an illustration of resistance is fine – an impeccable judge or fashion model he may not be – but I’ll take the missing persons cases and applaud him anyway.

So I reserve my judgment, and hope that institutional changes are made, and the good decisions keep us afloat. The movement won, and the people are happy. But not really.

The judges were restored, but there is a constitutional problem that’ll make your head spin. As a friend in the movement tells me, there are 4 categories of possibly illegal judges – the level of their illegality depends on when the took the jinxed oath. 1) those who were judges on Nov 2 and accepted the PCO on Nov 3; 2) the new appointees under Mush; 3) the new appointees under Zardari; 4)those amongst the 43 judges of the Nov 2 who held out for months, and then when the movement waned, they took a cynical fresh oath.
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The GPO 150 and the spirit of March 15

Email posted on the Socialist Pakistan Network by Ammar Ali Jan

GPO-150I happened to be part of that “GPO 150” when the police started using tear-gas. This is a picture of us throwing stones at the police (I’m in a red shirt on the right)

We had left Zaman park where Aitzaz had been placed under house arrest. Lahore gave the look of a deserted ghost town in the morning with the Mall road completely blocked. I was with the Labour party Pakistan, Student Action Committee and civil society members. We decided to walk our way towards the High court in pairs so that the police fails to notice us. Some of us succeeded while others, like Nauman Qaiser and Jalees Hazir were arrested at the checkpoints [addendum: Jalees Hazir made it to the High Court].

I have been to many protests in the past but I have never seen anything like the passion visible in front of the High Court. There was a consensus that if the Lahore High Court falls, the movement will fizzle out. We also had Feryal Gauhar and Hina jilani with us in the crowd and they also thought that resistance in front of the High Court is the key for a victory. As the police started shelling tear-gas indiscriminately, many started falling unconscious. All of us panicked and started fleeing the scene to evade arrests. A man who must in his 70s, started yelling to the fleeing crowd (which included me as I could no longer breath) that this was not a time to run but to fight. Eventually, the baba ji fainted as well but he encouraged all of us to come back and continue the fight.
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The Beginnings’ End

Guest blog by Kamil Hamid

While celebration is in order, the civil society movement and Pakistanis in general must understand that it is crucial this be used as a beginning for a new era of activism and the drive for justice. Sitting back at this point, and allowing “appropriate parties” to handle matters would be nothing short of disastrous.

As I write this, the general atmosphere among many of us is one of jubilance, celebrating our victory. After a two-year struggle, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry has finally been restored. Over the course of these years, Pakistan has faced some of its darkest times, the circumstances of which have still not changed greatly. We face a growing religiously motivated insurgency, not confined to the North but breaking out like an epidemic across the country. We also face a severe energy and food crisis, as well an economy that has nearly imploded; thanks largely to the reckless and irresponsible way it was handled for the past decade. Our largest city, the hub of our economy, is ruled by ethno-fascist thugs who have garnered genuine support among some of its citizens due to their frustration with the government’s lackadaisical attitude. The continual pounding of American drones on our Northwestern borders, as well as a bristling India to the East only makes matters worse.

Yet it would be incorrect to say that we have not come a long way: Musharraf has been forced out of power, and the military has been forced back into the barracks (hopefully, for the last time). A vibrant and energetic civil society has formed and proven to the world that Pakistan is not the nation of sleepers that it has often been mockingly called.
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The morning after the revolution or was it?

Guest Blog by Zermeen Amira

long-march-2009-pakistanI have to admit I started the day on a fairly jubilant note having woken up after receiving an SMS from an overseas friend that the Chief has been restored (I had gone to bed by mid night having watched the political drama incessantly for the past few days and as a result getting reprimanded by my spouse). Today back to work, I have had enough of sweets to put on a few pounds in the next few days as it all metabolizes. As evening has progressed and the adrenaline rush has subsided I have started to ponder the events of the last 24 hours and all doesn’t seem to add up. Perhaps the merry making and jubilation is premature.

I am cautiously optimistic that all will be all right. However, it is still five days before the Chief is actually restored and that is an eternity in politics. Anything still can happen given that President Zardari still hasn’t been seen in public yet. Is he still wincing like a wounded dragon plotting his next move or has the remorse finally taken the better of his bare knuckled political instincts. No one knows. The news that has started filtering out in the evening of the 16th is not that great. Here is some text directly from TV channel ticker tape.
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16 March, a new dawn in Pakistan

Guest Blog by Amjad Malik

Yousaf Raza Gillani’s early in the morning address to the nation restoring the remaining including the Chief justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chowdhary was a sigh of relief to the nation. Alas, President Zardari’s advisors could not foresee the repercussions of his decisions not to restore CJ and imposition of Governor rule and he had to see this day. The same mistake was made of the aide of Gen. Musharraf on 9 march 2007 when they advised him to sack the very judge who was lauded by millions in the country for his fairness and bravery. In any event, in the end common sense prevailed and politics won on the day. PM’s decision to seek review of the decision of Supreme Court of 25 February 2009 is the key to promote tolerance in the state, and harmony amongst provinces. This review will also keep the little left respect of the supreme court intact too, as parliamentary action would have promoted confrontation between both. This is the victory of the whole nation which is alive and conscious of the situation it is in, and the whole nation including all section of society whether political workers, civil society, media, lawyers, and lay men, women, and children deserve to be applauded for their forbearance and free expression of their will by participating in the long march.

One must wonders that due to lack of foresightedness, the rulers provided an opportunity to the slept lion Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to show his bravery and defiance on principles, and popularity which is devastating for the Govt at this early juncture of their 5 years slot. But it will be unjust if we forget the steadfast lawyer leadership, UN intimidated media and robust civil society with thousands of unnamed supporting characters who brought the rulers to their knees and won fruit on the day of long march. They stood on the ground like they did on 3 November 2007 at the time of emergency. Govt of Gillani deserves to be appreciated for listening and meeting public demands, respecting the will of the people as Lawyers and civil society were on streets since 9 March 2007. Army command deserves applause for nipping their lust for power when they bore patiently with the inefficiencies of our today’s rulers who blindfolded threw the nation into a turmoil and flared the hatred when the spirit of reconciliation was in the air. This is the time when Pakistani people have a chance to regroup and make this country a mirror image of the aspirations of millions of those who decided to join this new land at the time of independence in 1947 in a dream come true style by sacrificing nearly 4 million souls. Nation was jubilant in May 1998 after becoming an atomic power and now the nation has a cause to be overjoyed after seeking victory on a principled point of restoration of Chief Justice who defied a military dictator.
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The Most Important Part of a Change is a Change in Perception

Guest Post by Ayesha Mirza

Any change to come at this point has to be sustained

We will win one day, one battle, but not the war against this system, if such a war indeed exists. The monsters we face today are those of our own making, whether through direct contribution or simple indifference, our actions have contributed to pushing this country into the position it is now.

Somewhere along the way we forgot that we are this nation. Now as we sit on the sidelines and criticise perhaps we no longer recognise how those raised fingers point back at ourselves. As the super-structure acts to preserve its own interests it does nothing more than replicate our own actions.

The problems of this nation are more deep-routed than simple corruption and mindless, self-interested pursuit for power. The cancer runs deeper, as a disease in society that feeds upon its moral fabric, a parasitic fiend that feeds upon the humanity of this nation. 
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Judges to be restored, a victory for Pakistan

Almost a year and a half ago on November 3rd 2007 Pakistan was plunged into darkness at the whim of a dictator who believed he was above the law, it was from the that gloomy day hundreds and thousands of Pakistanis rallied for the supremacy of law and constitution. As of the last few hours there is jubilation on the streets of Pakistan. The rule of Law is about to reign supreme over any form of dictatorship.

It has been a dream come true, to have the restoration of our judges upon the shoulders of the people if Pakistan and not based on the mere whims of a political compromise. I congratulate the people if Pakistan.

What remains to be understood is whatever will happen to Dogar and the many other new inductees that Zardari enlisted in very recently. Answers will be provided in the Prime Ministers address in the next 30 minutes and is supposed to be in line of the Charter of Democracy

A standing ovation to the lawyers movement, civil society groups, student groups and the various political parties that have stood up for the restoration of the judiciary.

But more importantly I would like to congratulate fellow activists of the Peoples Resistance in Karachi, the Student Action Committee in Lahore and the digital activists of the Emergency Times – Each and everyone of you made the difference.