On October 1st I was invited by Fasial Qureshi on his show Bang-e-Dara on TVOne to discuss the earlier annoucnoment by Pervaiz Musharrraf to re-enter Pakistani politics. I believe we had a field day, watch the show
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is on trial this last week in New York on charges of her attempting to kill an FBI officer in Afghanistan. It interesting to note that none of the assault charges are seemingly holding up against her, the M-4 rifle which she allegedly used to fire four shots at the officers has not produced a single finger print of her, while other items presented as evidence in are trial are also not standing up in court. What one must remember that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was abducted from Karachi and held in some US custody from 2003 for allegedly supporting terrorism, only to re-emerge as a Prisoner 650 charged with assaulting FBI officers in 2008, her trial is not about her terrorism but instead an assault charge made against her in 2008.
Sounds like someone in Pakistan must answer the tough question as to why they felt the need to hand over her and many like her over to the US without a proper investigation and trial ensuring that they were actually guilty of the alleged crime or terrorist activity. Musharraf or for that matter should not have bartered with her life to pick up and let the Americans smuggle her out of Pakistan merely on the basis of a hunch?
A good summary of the progress of the trial can be heard in this short 10-minute interview of Tina Foster, Executive Director of International Justice Network who has been monitoring Dr. Aafia Siddiqi trial in New York on Letters to Washington telecasted on KPFA Washington Radio
Guest blog by Agha Haider Raza
Politics in Pakistan mesmerize me. Not only does one enjoy the daily dose of rhetoric that is spewed from the mouths of our beloved politicians, but the one track mind of those in and out of government baffles the mind. Politics in Pakistan, much like the political parties themselves seem to be more inclined towards a personality than an ideology. Nawaz Sharif, Altaf Hussain and Asif Zardari seem to be controlling the present and future of 170 million Pakistanis. What is ironic of these three distinguished gentlemen is the immense power they control. Nawaz Sharif, already a two-time Prime Minister – failed miserably on both occasions, Altaf Hussain – a self exiled leader living in London and Asif Zardari – the current President of Pakistan seems to be holding on to his seat with every bit of strength his party can muster. But why has it lead to a power struggle amongst these political leaders when thousands of Pakistani civilians and soldiers have died over the last few years? Why are we still playing the dirty political games of the past, when history has taught us to do better?
It is highly unfortunate that the two largest political parties in Pakistan are currently vying for the federal government, while the very nation they wish to govern is in flames. Do not for a second believe that I am being melodramatic with the word “flame”. From power outages to inflation and from the target killings in Karachi to the drone strikes in the North; we are on a path of destruction. But here I am – the eternal optimist – believing that a country which was born out of a long and hard fought struggle can make it through the difficult times again. However, we will only be able to walk through it all with our heads held high, if we review our past and yearn not to repeat them again.
After a lapse of over two years, today a full bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan came through with a historic judgment declaring the 2007 National Reconciliatory Ordinance null and void. It must be recalled that the NRO was the mastermind of the then President of Pakistan General Pervaiz Musharraf who in October 2007 orchestrated this pact with the exiled PPP leader Benazir Bhutto in an attempt to negotiate his own extended stay on the Presidential seat of power and in this process pardoned most of the corrupt criminals whom he himself detested so vehemently in his autobiography a few months earlier all in the name of political compromise. Since then history stands witness to have watched the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the people of Pakistan stood embarrassingly dumbfounded as one of the most corrupt politician Mr. Asif Ali Zardari snuck through the back doors of diplomacy to land into the Presidency of Pakistan.
Today the year-old restored judiciary stood strong to declare the NRO null and void, a short order issued outlined some important aspect of this new judgment but the exact specification and its affect on the Presidency remains to be ironed out. But it might be in the interest of Pakistan to not embarrass and ridicule Asif Ali Zardari and the Presidency any further and it might serve us all well to settle for a negotiated compromise, possibly having him to hand over most of the illegally amassed wealth back into the national treasury in lieu of his respect and freedom
By: Amjad Malik, MA, LLM
I have been vehemently advocating the need to erect a system of accountability by invoking a new commission and an Act of Parliament to curb mal practice, plundering and looting whilst one is holding a public office. This new Commission can truly ensure compliance with the Clauses of Article 62 and 63 of the constitution too. We are witnessing many names in the list of beneficiaries of National Reconciliation Ordinance, and many names which are not in it, are either praying to be in it or cursing the said redemption order of the former military dictator who came to rid corruption on 12 October 99, and left giving this strange gift of ‘hypocrisy’ to the nation.
Mal practice, corruption and mal governance is a common phenomenon of the third world countries as wealth is confined to the elite and institutions are so weak that they do not get roots and are run on the dictat of personalities. Pakistan is amongst those few unfortunate countries where despite abundance of natural resources, talent, passion, capacity of self dependency in edible food products, the country is still rating higher in corruption, suffering from food, electricity, gas, sugar shortages. Who is to be blamed is a long short, and to me, all bear the collective responsibility to bring this country to a stage where each person of any possible public stature is not free from corruption charges, which I will call allegations.
The NRO mudslinging competition continues to go on, each party/individual boldly underplaying his/her own association with the controversial bill. What seriously amazes me, is that we still do not have access to the full and complete list of beneficiaries and are at the receiving end of confusing reports where the totals have seemingly fluctuated from a mere initial 600 to a now whopping 8000, seriously that’s one hell’uva discrepancy. While our two-timing politicians undermine their own headcount to say its between 34 to 300 victims, probably they hope to rely on the confusing mess to numb out the issue from the minds of the people of Pakistan. Such rampant corruption which as literally debilitated this nation, it is probably their right to know was eligible for this executive presidential pardon issued by Pervaiz Musharraf and its all the more important to know who cashed it in and what precisely was waived off, in the name of politically reconciliation.
The mudslinging is for now centered on some kingpins from the PPP but in the confusion it seems MQM is trying its damnedest to sneak under the media-frenzy hoping to walk away with mere statements like “National Accountability Bureau has no case against any MQM worker“. Karachi is a witness to the anarchy of the good ‘ol terror-filled days courtesy of the MQM. The time frame for pardoning of all criminal cases charged against them ironically range from 1986 and onwards.
Amjad Malik specially writes on post NRO scenario on corruption
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) presented to the government on Thursday a list of 248 politicians and bureaucrats, who were alleged to have plundered hundreds of billions of rupees but were cleared by the NAB under the National Reconciliation Ordinance 2007. Luckily, the presidential order could not be enacted by Parliament and averted national and international embarrassment though the order was initially styed by the top judge of the land, however, public pressure is mounting to bring those to books and a debate has ensued to have a national mechanism to rid, curb and deter corruption once for all in the country. Public demand is ever growing for imposition of a death sentence for corrupt across the board nationally in order to hold those on public position(s) accountable in order to recover public money, disqualify them from public offices and award those culprits exemplary sentences including that of a death sentence (if needed). The message is clear that nobody is above the law, and no one is immune when the matter is of dishonesty and corruption especially in public purse.
Islamic history and jurisprudence is full of incidents where the head of state remained sub judice to Qazi and answerable to public. Caliph Omer freely appeared before a Qazi so as Hazrat Ali who appeared in a case of dispute with a Jewish businessman, and off course nothing can be legislated against the Quran and Sunnah in Pakistan but critics will argue that its 21st century, law, constitution etc.
Guest Post by Ahmad Nadeem Gehla
I have no experience of dealing with dictators or even their sons. Our generation however witnessed the brutality of former dictator Zia ul Haq against media, civil society, poets, writers and political workers. It has been two decades since former dictator burned in skies and things have changed drastically. Media and information technology has not only made information easily available but also developed a culture of civilized debate. The civil society has reorganized itself and has shown that it can stand firm against dictators during lawyer’s movement.
What has not changed is the mind set of dictator’s sons and their cronies. We are witnessing the retired generals and brigadiers coming to electronic media with revelations and defending their unconstitutional acts. Similarly, the ‘general’s sons’ turned politicians are not behind retired officers. They leave no opportunity to arrogantly defend their much hated fathers terming them martyrs and holy warriors. In a similar effort Ijaz ul Haq, a former parliamentarian and son of a former dictator Zia ul Haq tried to proved ZA Bhutto an executed leader and his own father a holy warrior and ‘Shaheed in an article published in ‘Daily News”.
General Musharraf , no doubt is counting on the follies of the signatories of ‘Charter of democracy’ which is the core reason of his re launch from UK. He could not successfully achieve any one item of his 7 points agenda when he came in power on 12 October 1999 and he is now coming out as an expert on Pakistan or a statesman which is ironic to many. I think story is not that simple as it seems. People quickly forgets that he is the one who detained judges with their children, but what his successors did was unforgiveable. However they must be ready to face the music as they themselves saw him off with a ‘guard of honour’ and now his return is ringing an alarm bell to their ears as his claims may not be hollow.
First of all his statements on important national and political issues are creating embarrassment for the Executive which is struggling with its internal management issues. They some time are achieving some mileage and Musharraf issues a statement which is an attempt to say, ‘he was doing better on this front’. Well of course, he caved in meagrely before Richard Armitage and no politician can beat that record, hence Gilani seems not doing enough. He is a lone guarantor with western friends of the notorious ‘Nation Reconciliation Order’ which is a sigh of relief to the Presidential camp who is surrounded by many of the beneficiaries of that ‘NRO’ which is sub judice so far. It is ironic th at a little fish is threatened of exemplary punishment by superior court and big fish is laughing out loud as no one can do anything about it. Musharraf’s return is a solace to ruling party too. As long as he aspires to acquire the top slot of ‘Q’ league, he will keep the Muslim league vote divided and any unity attempt will remain in jeopardy hence no threat to current administration. Unless a miracle happens and a new elections are called which will dissolve the ‘Q’ like salt in water.
In a recent news report in The News it has been reported that Ansar Abassi and the Jang Group helped apprehend a person spreading Blasphemy on the Internet. Allegedly a certain Dr. Omar Zia using a yahoo account emailed Ansar Abassi with Blasphemous material on June 29th, following it up again on the 30th of June. Ansar Abassi and the Jang Group reported the emails to FIA and after carefully stalking the person arrested a certain Mr. Murad, a father of four from Karachi.
What does intrigue me, is that Blasphemy is not covered under the Cyber Crime Ordinance [also known as Prevention of Electronic Crime Ordinance (PECO) of 2007] which was the basis on which the FIA responded to the case, after Ansar Abassi filed a report under the PECO the report was later was modified to a crime committed under the Section 5 of the FIA Act. Im not debating or justifying the blasphemy accusation but I believe that since the PECO is originally an Ordinance which was signed into effect by Pervaiz Musharraf on 31st December 2007 it has long since lapsed as it never got presented to the Parliament within the stipulated 4 months as per the Article 89 of the Constitution of Pakistan.
Long term military dictatorships, shorter civilian rules, where accountability of politicians takes place on the name of corruption with the nexus of judges with civil & military establishment, is the destiny of Pakistan’. Thanks to our rulers as this notion is well supported by their inefficiencies. People came whenever the true leadership called. They came in 1947 on Quaid’s call. They came for Bhuttoo senior. They came for Be Nazir when she landed at Lahore from exile. In near history they came for Chief Justice when he said ‘no’ to Gen. Musharraf. They again came on 18 Feb on joint call of political parties and rejected the dictator. Finally they came on the call of Sharif’s when Zardari was adamant that justice is no more desired under Iftikhar Chowdhary. On 16 March 08, they came like a flood and made an impression, so we can never under estimate the people’s power.
18 February 2008 election of change could not be translated in its true sense as PPP preferred to hold on to government of up to 2 years than a full scale democratic practice. ‘charter of democracy’ was compromised to feed the empty bellies of the workers who had been shouting slogans of ‘change’ for last 12 years. First 6 months of PPP reign was crucial where establishment was divided, but a little chance given to them and they tear both top political leaders apart and the rest is history. First President Zardari lost sanctity of his words on ‘Chief Judge’ and ‘COD’ and later drowned the dream of democracy by imposing governor rule and disqualifying the ‘N’ leadership. The rest is all a damage control exercise. Who is to be blamed for the failure of inept politicians who never are trained to take the reign of Pakistan post 1971 lost war as sovereignty of the state has been assumed by the troika as mentioned above. President Zardari though retained power, but despite taking the PPP to the heights it could never imagine, has damaged the party to an extent which was a dream for the military led establishment. He saw the PPP ship sinking whilst sitting on the chair of head of state.
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.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has published a very comprehensive report on the IDP situation in NWFP titled A tragedy of errors and Cover-ups:The IDPs and outcome of military actions in FATA and Malakand Division its quite a comprehensive report. I have taken the liberty to extract some critical sections which caught my attention, but I would strongly suggest people to read the entire report at the HRCP Blog
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) is convinced that the cost of the insurgency in the Malakand Division has been increased manifold by the shortsightedness and indecisiveness of the non-representative institutions and their policy of appeasing the militants and cohorting with them. While the ongoing military operation had become unavoidable, it was not adopted as a measure of the last resort. Further, the plight of the internally displaced people has been aggravated by lack of planning and coordination by the agencies concerned, and the methods of evacuation of towns/villages and the arrangements for the stranded people have left much to be desired.
In due recognition of our government and military’s efficiency in reducing the spread of Talibanization over the years, it is recommended that land be allotted to each official in scenic locations in Swat, Bajaur and Waziristan. Please note that this is a partial list only – the contributions are endless and further nominations are welcome.
Each official can be given land commensurate with their contribution to providing citizens with liberty, education, health care and security.
A special allocation for former General Musharraf equal to 50 times the size of his Chak Shahzad farm house is proposed. This should provide ample space for him to fulfill his dream of ideal education for lesser privileged by opening a “model madrassah” as he always wished. Actually, like most people, we too are not sure if he’s already achieved his dream, but, to give him benefit of doubt, we’ll still offer this choice land to him. And we assure him, he’ll not be asked to sell vegetables like he was by the CJ in Islamabad. Matta is a nice place, we hear.
Guest Blog by Insocuient
Much has been already written criticizing the performance of the government in FATA areas as Pakistan fights as the ‘major non-NATO ally’ of the U.S. in this so-called ‘war on terror’. Discussions have largely been focused on the growing resentment against collateral damage and the increasing extremism that is now engulfing other major cities in the country elsewhere. While one section of the society has been vocal against Talebanization condemning all the peace deals, the other segment is criticizing the policy of drones and for toeing the line of Washington by waging a war against ‘own people’. Very few have come up with a comprehensive solution to the problem that is now a direct threat to the viability of the state. The world is pointing fingers, and our adversaries are pushing to isolate us further. State of denial is not an option and the status quo is not working. It is imperative that we come with our own policy with a consensus and address the problem with an approach that is state-centric even if we have to make a few sacrifices abroad. Framing the policy
It has been 7 years now since Pakistan jumped on the U.S. bandwagon but no serious effort has been made to chalk out a popular transparent policy. The 3 D’s of Gillani is a nebulously farce notion. A lackadaisical effort was made last year when a resolution was passed by consensus in a joint in-camera session of the Parliament. Even though the Parliamentarians got sensitive briefing from the agencies, the resolution that came out of the Assembly hall was vague to say the least. Everybody enjoyed the privilege of their own interpretation which they exercised. Owais Ghani, the NWFP governor, recently revealed in a Private television interview, “the government has a FATA policy on paper but it is not a public document”. One wonders, what is the rationale behind keeping the population aloof from the policies of the government especially about those issues on which their survival is at stake. How do we know which think-tank was consulted for this policy? How much input from the intelligentsia was included in it? The Obama’s AfPak policy, even if it is largely criticized in the local sections, is something that clearly defines the goals and the means through which they will be pursued. We know the people like Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst, who supervised the policy formulation.