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June 7, 2016

Free Pakistan Newsletter #90


01 June 2008

ShareThisCONTENTS:

0 Announcements
0 One and half ray of hope
By Masud Mufti
0 Pakistan’s futile constitutional amendment image
By Ali Khan
0 Only Justice Chowdhry can provide me justice: Munoo Bheel
By Abbas Kassar
0 Issues of the Month: Strengthening the establishment PPP
style; and, Ditching the people’s mandate US style
0 From the National Press
0 CSR Views & News
0 Humor Wise
0 Letters to FreePakistan
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Quotes of the Month:

In Mexico an air conditioner is called a politician because it makes a lot of noise but doesn’t work very well.
[-]

A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.
[Winston Churchill]

If you can’t convince them, confuse them.
[Harry S Truman]

Politics: “Poli” a Latin word meaning “many”; and “tics” meaning “bloodsucking creatures.”
[Robin Williams]
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Free Pakistan, a monthly newsletter, exists for the promotion of limited government, rule of law, protection of property rights, market economy, individual freedom, and private initiative. Its vision is a free and prosperous Pakistan; for only such a Pakistan can contribute positively to the creation of a free and prosperous world.

The Newsletter is an affiliate of Alternate Solutions Institute, Lahore, Pakistan,http://asinstitute.org, the first free market think tank of Pakistan.

The Alternate Solutions Institute is a registered, non-profit, non-political, non-governmental, educational and research organization. Its mission is to promote a limited responsible government in Pakistan under the rule of law protecting life, liberty, and property of all of its individual citizens without any discrimination.

For more information, comments and contributions, contact the institute atinfo@asinstitute.org
Website: http://asinstitute.org

Free Pakistan URL: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FreePakistan
Subscribe: FreePakistan-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
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DISCOVER YOUR POLITICAL LEANINGS! World’s Smallest Political Quiz

Take the Quiz now and find out where you fit on the political map!
http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html
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PHILOSOPHY OF LIBERTY

What is Philosophy of Liberty? A screensaver by Lux Lucre and Ken Schoolland explains it.

Download and install it. http://www.free-market.net/rd/321907219.html ;http://www.jonathangullible.com
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Announcements

Article: PACKAGING IT MALICIOUSLY

The article, Packaging it maliciously, argues that the constitutional package brought in by the Pakistan Peoples Party at best seems to be a ploy to fizzle out the rule of law movement by creating uncertainties, confusion and useless debates hovering around the real issue, dragging the issue to an ad infinitum where it loses its force. The package is an attempt at amending the constitution maliciously. Supposedly if this package goes through the parliament in its original form, what will it achieve? Nothing of the sorts needed at this time. Will it resolve the issue of judges’ restoration to the satisfaction of the lawyers’ associations and civil society? More importantly, will it resolve the judicial crisis to the dictates of the constitution? Also, it is just unintelligible how reducing the term of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry will help reform the judiciary!

The article further argues that it must be known to the PPP that it is not all free to do whatever it likes. If it goes against the spirit of the constitution, it will lose the support of the people. If it exhausts the internal mechanisms through manipulation, external mechanisms will by themselves come into force. Under such circumstances, the authority reverts to the people. This is what is described as the breakdown of a system. To avoid this, the PPP ought not to amend the constitution maliciously. It should follow the constitution strictly to undo the November 3, 2007, acts of General Musharraf. Verbal bickering against him cannot salvage its image; it must be seen parting ways with him to be really a party of the people of Pakistan.

Here is the original article:
http://asinstitute.org/page.php?instructions=page&page_id=784&nav_id=93

The article was carried by The Frontier Post on May 28, 2008. Here is the link:
http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News.aspx?ncat=ar&nid=168

On May 30, 2008, it was carried by The Post. Here is the link:
http://thepost.com.pk/Arc_OpinionNews.aspx?dtlid=164108&catid=11&date=05…

Article: POLITICAL SENSE OF DIRECTION

The article, Political sense of direction, dwells on fundamental issues defining a constitution especially in the context of Pakistan. It argues that constitution is never like a political document. At best, it is a theory of conduct both for individuals and institutions. In this sense, it is a moral document.

That the immoral conduct of political parties is going to decide the fate of the lawyers’ moralist movement is a misreading. Instead, it is this moralist movement which is going to decide their fate. They will have to take to the constitution as a moral document to compass their sense of direction. Their politics should have to be subservient to the theory of conduct the constitution represents. The last three decades, especially, of trampling the constitution by the civilian or military usurpers prove that politics without a theory of conduct and without a moral code is worse than robbery and murder, and more than what is being condoned under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). Hence, in order to prove their worth, political parties must check with their political sense of direction. Otherwise, they are in a moral vacuum and will strengthen the cause of the opportunist elites.

Here is the original article:
http://asinstitute.org/page.php?instructions=page&page_id=783&nav_id=

The article was carried by The Post on May 23, 2008. Here is the link:
http://thepost.com.pk/Arc_OpinionNews.aspx?dtlid=162778&catid=11&date=05…

It was also carried by The Frontier Post on the same date. Here is the link:
http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News.aspx?ncat=ar&nid=166

Pakistan Observer Islamabad also carried it on the same date:
http://www.pakobserver.net/200805/23/Articles01.asp

Article: RESTORE THE FOOD MARKET

The article, Restore the food market, argues that the food crisis, i.e. food shortages and food price hikes, is a phenomena of nationally closed and protected markets.

The article further argues that it is ridiculous that now in the 21st century, and in a world where so much food is produced and where so many growers and traders are just ready to sell their produce to others, people in Pakistan are facing the shortages? They are not receiving the due market price of their money and are being supplied over-priced food items only because the central planner, the government of Pakistan, is coercively stopping them from purchasing the required food items from producers in other countries and from selling their produce in foreign markets.

In a world where political boundaries and the mismanagement of the managers/planners of these boundaries are causing famine-like food shortages, is it a matter of argument that one district or province is facing shortage of wheat/flour, and other provinces or districts are imposing ban on the free movement of the item? Is it a matter of argument that in a world where abundant food is available, we are facing its shortage?

The article suggests that what is urgently required of government is that it should not manage, or better say mismanage, the food supply chain. It should lose the controls and let the food market work freely. This will help the growers receive the true signals from the market, i.e. they will see that what is it that is in high demand in the market and will fetch higher prices. This will spur the production of food grains and food items. In addition, the government should open the borders for food items’ import and export; but this should not create another form of “License Raj.” Instead, an open and transparent policy of issuing import and export licenses should be adopted and practiced. No doubt, this restoring of the food market to its original natural form will have Pakistan get fed. Also, this will in a short span of time stabilize the supply of food items and their prices as well.

Here is the link to the original article:
http://asinstitute.org/page.php?instructions=page&page_id=781&nav_id=

The article was published by The News on Sunday (The News on Sunday) as part of its TNS Special Report, For Bread or for Worse, on May 18, 2008.

Here is the link to the Special Report: For Bread or for Worse
http://jang.com.pk/thenews/may2008-weekly/nos-18-05-2008/spr.htm

Here is the link to the published article: Serving up scarcity
http://jang.com.pk/thenews/may2008-weekly/nos-18-05-2008/spr.htm#5

Article: NO QUALMS AGAINST AMERICA

The article, No qualms against America, argues that we the ordinary people are not able to see how it concerns the US that we should not reinstate our Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and his fellow judges to their due position. However, we have no qualms against the US and its officials who are behaving like international goons. We want to know what roles our leaders are playing in this game. We want to be told what it is that they are negotiating with Negropontes and Bouchers behind closed doors and why do they not tell us anything while all the things get leaked to the media in the form of rumours and/or hearsay. Why do they not take us into confidence? Or, otherwise we are justified in believing that they have their own concerns and interests to vouchsafe. Our concern must confine to our leaders alone. Why should we blame others, outsiders and foreign powers like those mothers who never see any fault in their child? If I lie to myself, deceive myself, harm myself, I am an enemy of myself. If our leaders cheat us, fool us, tell us white lies, and harm us, they are our enemies. Those local or foreign masters are not our enemies whose ‘orders’ these extraordinary souls are always prepared to follow. I always argue if someone advises me to jump into a well, and if I act upon his advice, it is me who is responsible, not the one who advised me.

If the US advises our leaders and elected representatives not to restore Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and they accept this ‘advice’, we must not blame the US. It is our local leaders and representatives who are to blame for betraying us. It is they who are our enemies. But if they prove they are truly loyal to us and are always honest to us, no power on earth can conquer the will of us people. As a goodwill gesture towards this ‘homecoming’, they must first restore the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and his fellow judges with full grace and honour. Then, they must restore the Constitution to its original state of October 12, 1999. Also, it must be seen that they have due regard for the Constitution and our fundamental rights ensured in it. The choice is up to them to make. It will determine their destiny. However, if they continue to pay heed to their local or foreign masters’ advice, and act against the will of the people of Pakistan, they are the doomed enemies of the nation. They have no future in a new Pakistan.

Here is the link to the original article:
http://asinstitute.org/page.php?instructions=page&page_id=778&nav_id=93

The article was carried by The Frontier Post in full on May 16, 2008. Here is the link:
http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News.aspx?ncat=ar&nid=166

Then, it was carried by The Post in two installments on May 16, and May 18, 2008. Here are the links:

No qualms against America-I
http://thepost.com.pk/Arc_OpinionNews.aspx?dtlid=161484&catid=11&date=05…

No qualms against America-II
http://thepost.com.pk/OpinionNews.aspx?dtlid=161751&catid=11

BASTIAT PRIZE WORTH $15,000 FOR JOURNALISTS

May 14, 2008: For the seventh year, International Policy Network (IPN), a London-based think tank, is accepting submissions for its annual Bastiat Prize for Journalism.

The $15,000 prize fund will be divided among First, Second and Third placed authors. The Prize is open to writers anywhere in the world whose published articles eloquently and wittily explain, promote and defend the principles of the free society, including property rights, free markets, sound science, limited government and the rule of law.

Since 2002, the Prize has been inspired by the 19th-century French philosopher Frédéric Bastiat and his compelling defence of liberty. Bastiat’s brilliant use of satire and allegory enabled him to relate complex economic issues to a general audience. In keeping with his legacy, Bastiat Prize entries are judged on the intellectual content of each article, the wit, eloquence and persuasiveness of the language used, the type of publication in which it appeared and the location of the author.

Last year, the competition attracted over 280 entrants from more than 60 different countries.

Previous judges have included Lady Thatcher, James Buchanan and Milton Friedman. This year’s panel includes the former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Lawson of Blaby, and Amity Shlaes, syndicated Bloomberg columnist, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a previous Bastiat Prize winner.

Submissions – in English – will be accepted from 1 April until 30 June 2008. (Postal entries must be postmarked 30 June or before). Submissions must be in the form of up to three articles totaling no more than 4,500 words, published between 1 July 2007 and 30 June 2008 in recognized news publications. Finalists will be invited to a ceremony in New York in October 2008, where winners will be announced.

Last year’s Bastiat Prize winner was Amit Varma, an editorial columnist for Mint (a joint venture between the Wall Street Journal and India’s Hindustan Times). Second and third prizes went to Clive Crook, senior editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and Jonah Goldberg, Contributing Editor to National Review and a syndicated columnist. Previous winners include Robert Guest of The Economist, Brian Carney of The Wall Street Journal and Sauvik Chakraverti of the Economic Times (India).

An online submission form, rules, judging criteria, and articles written by previous winners can be found at IPN’s Bastiat Prize website: www.bastiatprize.org.

Queries to Marc Sidwell, Bastiat Prize Administrator:

Telephone: +44 207 836 0750
Email: info // at // bastiatprize.org
Website http://bastiatprize.org

Article: PRICE OF THE PML (N) COMPROMISE

The article, Price of the PML (N) compromise, argues that if Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Sharif) agrees to the restoration of all the judges regardless of their actions and integrity, isn’t that what we call in Urdu mixing up horses with donkeys. This wipes out the boundaries between what is wrong and what is right, what is worth not a penny and what is worth everything precious. This is how PML (N) is going to compromise the constitutional values at the altar of dictatorial and personal values. Further, the article exhorts Nawaz Sharif, leader of the PML (N) that he must not strengthen those who do not want to restore the judiciary as it was on November 2, 2007. They are doomed. They know if they restore the judiciary, their end and accountability will be hastened. If they do not restore the deposed judiciary, it is delayed a bit. In both cases, their downfall has already begun.

The article was carried by The Post on May 07, 2008. Here is the link:
http://thepost.com.pk/Arc_OpinionNews.aspx?dtlid=159778&catid=11&date=05…

The article was carried by The Frontier Post on May 11, 2008.
(Link not available)

Here is the link to the original article:
http://asinstitute.org/page.php?instructions=page&page_id=774&nav_id=93
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ONE AND HALF RAY OF HOPE
By Masud Mufti

[This article first appeared in Dawn http://www.dawn.com on May 03, 2008.]

People are aghast at the dramatic turns regarding the restoration of the judges. But I am not. They are seeing for the first time what I am for the second.

In 1971, I first saw, on the soil of East Pakistan, a confrontation between the same protagonists with the same mindset over the same issue that the residual Pakistan is seeing today.

It was a clash between the people and rulers in a remote part. At that time, West Pakistanis could not see across distance or censor but, unfortunately, even today they do not see that 2008 is another inning of the same old pre-1971 game.

What is this game? In simple words, it is a reckless gamble for power by vested interests, forced on innocent people with a loaded dice. It is the naked exploitation of the weak by overwhelmingly strong desperados.

Their strength lies in the gun (military dictators), religion (mullah) and feudalism (person-centric political parties). Still greater strength lies in their three-in-one system, which believes in its ‘divine’ right to rule by crushing the people’s rights. Their anti-people mindset does not tolerate pro-people actions, voices, thoughts or even short-lived bubbles. Instead of nation-building, they believe in nation-thrashing.

This wicked game has been uninterruptedly played by the mighty on the soil of Pakistan for 60 years. The nation lost East Pakistan in this game, and as an over-confident winner, the system is now bent on total control of the residual Pakistan by manipulating all people-oriented institutions. The Constitution, the legislature, bureaucracy and education were the earlier casualties, while the media and the judiciary are the latest victims. The system insists on continuing the game even after the Feb 18 polls, with total contempt for the people’s loud and clear refusal to play.

Let us be clear about one thing. As profit-sharing partners of the system our political parties have always played a double game, pretending to be with the people but working every minute for the perpetuation of the system.

They appear to be doing the same even today. The happenings of today are not the logical outcome of the people’s will expressed on Feb 18, but forced twists being fuelled by the three engines of the system. It is the gradual unfolding of pre-election secret deals struck among the partners to keep the nefarious game going. Much more will be revealed later.

The two-month old coalition already stands exposed by (a) the tardy pace of the committees, (b) the sudden adjournment of parliament on April 25 without passing a resolution for the restoration of the judges, and (c) the cat-and-mouse game of PPP and PML-N leaders in Dubai. There are many indications that efforts are afoot to safeguard Musharraf’s interest, instead of implementing the people’s mandate. The age-old collaborative loyalty of political parties to the military dictator and his system ranks much higher than their feigned loyalty to the people.

The parties would prefer that Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is not restored (minus-one formula), or if restored, his wings, and those of the judiciary, are clipped to save Gen Musharraf and his strings. The previous Assembly was made a rubber stamp by guile; this one is volunteering to be the same.

Why are they doing so? Because they are (a) equally allergic to the rule of law and an independent judiciary, and (b) are bound by pre-election deals to serve the system, which has cleared sky-high heaps of their past corruption under the National Reconciliation Ordinance and has given them the licence to do much more in the future.

Any deviation is punishable by devious means (remember ZAB and BB). Tactical delays on flimsy pretexts will allow the system to strike at the opportune time (Article 58-[2][b], other diversionary moves, political assassinations, kidnappings, floor-crossing, violence, deliberate push towards anarchy — recall the referendum, the LFO and the Seventeenth Amendment). The people should, therefore, be mentally prepared for another betrayal by the politicians, as has repeatedly happened in our history.

The PPP rhetoric since the elections of “taking everybody on board” appears to be a cover for a compromise with Musharraf. Prime Minister Gilani’s ill-timed dinner for the army brass, ill-advised speech to revive the “ideological role of the army” and ill-defined invitation to “work together” means the same. They want to steer our future towards our past. The PPP might have made a new deal in 2007, but has been a comrade since 1971.

The same applies to the other political parties, including the PML-N. Mr Nawaz Sharif is not only the creation of the core establishment of the system, but has also been a beneficiary of more than one deal with it. We welcome his new talk and tone, but he will remain suspect until he proves his credentials with regard to a break with the past and showing sincerity in the future.

It is a continuing blunder for the people to put their trust in the current set of parties, but it cannot be helped. Our 60-year-old political culture (personality cult, corrupt pragmatism, crushed idealism and money politics) has transformed the Pakistani individual into a self-seeking opportunist. As of now, it is beyond his comprehension to form a new political party from the grassroots along democratic lines. Until the dawn of that awareness our people will be condemned to follow, elect and be jilted again and again by the existing politicians.

For the first time this mental block is showing hairline cracks inflicted by the lawyers’ movement. But these fall short of the critical mass needed for initiating a new thinking process. At present, neither the lawyers nor the supporting layers of civil society are prepared to raise the democratic pyramid of such a new party from the bottom. But sooner or later, they will discover that this is the only way out of the vicious circle of the mullah-military-wadera collusion.

Until then, let us pray for the success of the one and a half rays of hope in the ever-thickening darkness. The lawyers’ movement is the first complete ray, and Nawaz Sharif, with his proven past and unproven future, is the incomplete half. The source of both is the inner light of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and the Nov 2, 2007, judiciary. We should all fight for their complete restoration to avoid a repeat of 1971. [Courtesy Dawn]
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PAKISTAN’S FUTILE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT IMAGE
By Ali Khan

[Professor Ali Khan, a contibuting editor of MWC (Media with Conscience) Newshttp://mwcnews.net, is a professor of law at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas, USA.]

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) will soon propose to the Parliament the 18th amendment to the 1973 Constitution. The proposed amendment would reportedly abolish Article 58 (2)(b) of the Constitution, which empowers the President, in his sole discretion, to dissolve the National Assembly. The amendment would also strengthen Article 6 of the Constitution to punish judges who would in future support military coups and constitutional subversions.

This essay argues that the proposed 18th amendment is an exercise in futility. Unfortunately, no constitutional amendment will prevent future military adventurism unless the political and military leadership is committed to honor the Constitution. As discussed below, however, the culture of the ruling elites has no respect for the rule of law.

Historical Seesawing of Article 58(2)(B)

The proposal of abolishing Article 58(2)(b) is neither new, nor effective. The Article has been abolished once before only to be reinstated in the Constitution. Furthermore, military coups respect no provision of the Constitution. In fact, the disrespect for the Constitution runs deep among ruling elites. Even the judiciary and the National Parliament are quick to reform the Constitution for short-term interests.

Historically, Article 58(2)(b) is the invention of a military general. Exercising the non-existent powers of the Army Chief, General Zia ul Haq, who toppled a democratically elected government in 1977, ordered the addition of Article 58(2)(b) to the Constitution. In 1985, a pro-military Parliament, using the constitutional procedure of two-thirds majority, ratified Zia’s Article 58(2)(b) as a constitutional amendment, called the 8th Amendment.

Note, however, that the highly discretionary power built into Article 58(b)(2) is vested in a duly elected President. It is not vested in the Army Chief. Abolishing Article 58(2)(b) disables the President—not the Army Chief—from deposing an elected government.

In 1996, a civilian President invoked Article 58(2)(b), dissolved the National Assembly, and dismissed Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s democratically elected government. The President justified dissolution on several grounds, including the Bhutto government’s corruption, incompetence, and disrespect for the Supreme Court. In his book, constitutional attorney Hamid Khan accuses Nawaz Sharif, the then opposition leader, for encouraging the President to dissolve the National Assembly and hold new elections.

Nawaz Sharif benefitted from the Article 58(2)(b) dissolution of the Bhutto government. In the 1997 general elections, Sharif won a two-thirds majority in the Parliament. Soon after assuming the office of the Prime Minister, Sharif turned on the President, and hurriedly processed a constitutional amendment to abolish Article 58(2)(b). The sole purpose of abolition was to weaken the office of the President and bestow all powers on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The abolition of 58(2)(b), however, did not safeguard parliamentary democracy. Nor did it restore any respect for political governments. In a short time, the Sharif government lost its popularity. The nation did not know what to do with the autocratic Sharif family, which showed little respect for the rule of law. The Sharif government even sent ruffians to assault the Supreme Court. The civilian President was unable to dissolve the National Assembly, since Article 58(2)(b) had been abolished. Image

Hotheaded political forces and restive media were openly inviting the armed forces to remove the Sharif government. Hearing the clarion call, Army Chief Pervez Musharraf overthrew the Sharif government. This deposition had nothing to do with Article 58(2)(b). Nor could the crime of high treason embodied in Article 6 deter the Army Chief from subverting the Constitution. Following the habit of subservience, the Supreme Court upheld the coup and took a new oath to obey the laws of the Army Chief.

Exercising the non-existent powers of the Army Chief, Musharraf issued an order to reintroduce Article 58(2)(b) back into the Constitution. In 2003, a pro-military Parliament elected by the people passed the 17th Amendment to rehabilitate Article 58(2)(b).

Now, the proposed 18th Amendment aims at abolishing Article 58(2)(b) again. This time, the proposal stems from the fear that “President” Musharraf will dissolve the National Assembly if the judges are reinstated without his consent or in the presence of Article 58(2)(b). The proposed amendment may protect some short term benefit. However, it will not solve Pakistan’s constitutional woes.

The Underlying Problem

Article 58(2)(b) is not Pakistan’s underlying problem. The problem lies deep in the Pakistani culture of power. Granted, most political and military rulers are patriotic men and women who want to do good for the nation. However, the power culture sees the rule of law as an inefficient barrier to make and execute policies. The rule of law has always been the slogan of the opposition and rarely that of the government.

Right now, for example, the power has gravitated toward Asif Zardari, the PPP Chief, who is not even an elected member of the Parliament. Exercising dynastic powers that he inherited from his wife Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated before the general elections, Zardari is calling the shots from the Zardari House. The Prime Minister, supposedly the head of the government, is serving as a loyalist subordinate. The Law Minister, responsible for the drafting of the 18th amendment, is not even an elected member of the National Assembly. Most important, the National Assembly, where Zardari and Sharif’s parties have a solid majority, is waiting for party bosses to issue orders, from outside the Parliament, on what needs to be done in the Parliament.

This subservience to party bosses explains why in the past the Parliament has mindlessly ratified both the constitutional inclusion and exclusion of Article 58(2)(b). Rarely do members of the Parliament think independently. And those who think rebel against the party and form another group. Each course of action is contrary to the democratic process.

In a respectable parliamentary democracy, party discipline is a cherished value. However, each elected member of the Parliament represents the constituency and the nation, in addition to towing the party line. Likewise, party bosses are democratic both within the party and the Parliament. They do not establish personal fiefdoms to rule their “tribes” in the party or the Parliament and demand mindless subservience.

Between mindless subservience and open rebellion lies the precious space for democracy where ideas are openly exchanged with respect and dignity and where the rule of law is not traded for narrow interests. To preempt future constitutional disruptions, Pakistan needs to develop this precious space.
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ONLY JUSTICE CHOWDHRY CAN PROVIDE ME JUSTICE: MUNOO BHEEL
By Abbas Kassar

[Abbas Kassar Senior Journalist based in Hyderabad.]

Munoo Bheel one of millions of unfortunate peasants who work as forced/bonded labour on farm lands of landlords in Sindh, is still waiting for justice to be done with him for recovery of his family of 8 kidnapped allegedly by landlord of Jhol district Sanghar since a decade ago. Bheel belongs to minority Hindu community considered as “untouchable” not only by Muslims but also by upper caste Hindus. Munoo Bheel believes that there is only one man in Pakistan that is Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chowdhry who can provide him justice and get his kidnapped family recovered.

Justice Chwodhry was hearing this case and on his orders the main accused landlord Abdul Rehman Mari was arrested in July 2006 and is still in Hyderabad central jail. It was on orders of Justice Chwodhry that former deputy inspector general police Mirpurkhas Rana Saleemullah Khan had tightened noose of kidnappers and had reached close to them but on a sudden he was transferred and later suspended by the then Arbab government because main accused landlord belonged to ruling clique. And Justice Chowdhry was also removed on 9 March 2007 by President General Mushraf.

Munoo Bheel’s 8 family members, old mother and father, brother Jalal, wife Motan, one and half year old daugher Dheeli, 8 years old another daughter Moomal, two sons Chaman of 15 years and Kanji of 12 years along with one guest were kidnapped on 2 May 1998 from village Waryam Memon near Jhuddo town of Mirpurkhas district. 8 persons of landlord of Jhol district Sanghar Abdul Rehman Mari, landlord of Jhudo Chowdhry Bashir, Kazi Jabbar Punjabi and 5 servants/farm managers/drivers of landlord Mari namely Sher Khan Mari, Hashsim Leghari, Sheral Chandio, Nathoo Bheel and Azam Khaskheli were nominated as accused kidnappers in FIR No.35/98 of Jhudo police station.

Munoo Bheel family had worked on lands of Abdul Rehman Mari and was liberated by HRCP Sindh Task Force led by late Shakeel Pathan in early 1998 but then landlord and his armed men kidnapped whole family few months later from village near Jhudo. For more than 5 years peasant Munoo Bheel kept running from pillar to post to recover his kidnapped family but all in vain. It was 19 January, 2003 that he started hunger strike in front of Hyderabad press club to invite attention of the authorities concerned to get help for recovery of his kidnapped family. Plight of Munoo Bheel was that the kidnapper was an influential landlord and front man of politically powerful Pir of Sindh as such no authority could provide help to Bheel.

It was at the end of year 2005 that Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chwodhry took suo moto notice of hunger strike of Munoo Bheel and directed Inspector General Police Sindh to recover the kidnapped peasant family. Then IG Sindh Asad Jehangir visited Hyderabad on Friday 25 November, 2005 where he met with Munoo Bheel and after taking his statement also visited Mirpurkhas and Sangher where he chaired meetings of police officers and issued directions to gear up efforts to recover Munoo’s family. He allowed police to raid any place/village for the purpose. Before he could report back to chief justice, he was retired before year end. New IG Sindh Jehangir Mirza continued efforts for recovery of kidnapped peasant family.

Meanwhile Sanghar police arrested one accused of case Nathoo Bheel, Kamdar (farm manager) of landlord who confessed in civil court Sanghar that he had accompanied landlord Mari along with other accused shown in FIR and kidnapped family of Munoo Bheel from village Waryam Memon near Jhuddo and then brought them to Garang Bunglow near Sanghar where they were handed over to armed men Sher Khan and others. (This is the same
Garang Bunglow which was the headquarter of resistance movement of Hur Jamat against Britishers led by Soorhia Badshah illustrious father of present Pir Pagaro).

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chowdhry continued to hold hearings of case and issued fresh directions on every hearing about recovery of kidnapped family and arrest of main accused landlord Abdul Rehman Mari who had got bail before arrest from district and sessions court Mirpurkhas. Lawyers of Peace and Human Rights Trust including Justice (retired) Rashid Rizvi, Aslam Rana, Taj Qaimkhani filed application for cancellation of bail of Mari in Sindh High Court and got the same cancelled by Justice Muneeb of Sindh High Court Hyderabad on 25 April, 2006.

Mari had first fled to Saudi Arabia and later his lawyers told Justice Chowdhry that he was in Balochistan. However when DIG Mirpurkhas Rana Saleemullah Khan tightened the noose around Mari he surrendered to Karachi police on 23 July 2006 through an influential person and since then he was first kept in Karachi central jail and nowadays he is in Hyderabad central jail. His lawyers had again tried for his bail on health grounds but the same was again rejected by SHC Hyderabad. CJP had held hearing of Munoo Bheel case at the end of
February 2007. It was last hearing as immediately after it Cheif Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chowdhry was removed by President General Mushraf who forwarded a reference against him to Supreme Judicial Council.

Though he was cleared of charges in reference by full court of supreme court headed by Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday on 20 July, 2007 yet he could hardly sort out pending cases, President Mushraf then army chief also issued emergency rule on 3 November, 2007 under which the judges not taking oath under PCO including CJP and 45 other judges of supreme and high courts were deposed. They were also detained under house arrest and released after 5 months by newly inducted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani on 31 March, 2008 after taking vote of confidence from the national assembly.

Events of judicial crisis were keenly watched by human rights bodies as well as peasant Munoo Bheel who has pinned all hopes of recovery of his kidnapped family with CJP’s restoration. He is also watching developments on Bhurban Declaration under which both the big parties of ruling coalition that are PPP and ML(N) have pledged to restore CJP and other deposed judges. On May 2, 2008, 10 years (a decade) completed and he is yet to see his the kidnapped family recovered. If Judges are not restored or restored minus Justice Iftikhar or restored for few months under new formula of reduced age, all hopes of Munoo Bheel for justice will evaporate and he could never be able to meet his family again. The non recovery of kidnapped family of Munoo Bheel would also cause set back to movement of human rights bodies who are working on liberation of more than 2 million bonded peasants presently languishing in private jails of landlords in Sindh.

Various HR bodies had liberated about 30,000 bonded peasants who are living in unhygienic and inhuman conditions in 7 Hari Camps in and around Hyderabad yet hundreds of thousands more are to be liberated. Though two big coalition partners have signed an agreement at Bhurban, Murree, reaffirming the restoration of judges including CJP, but the events leading thereafter show that though PML (N) is keen to see judges reinstated, PPP leader Asif Zardari is not interested in restoration of judges for his personal annoyance that the same judges had not given him relief during his 8 years of jail under harsh Mushraf rule.

The developments show that Zardari is following line of Musharraf more than Shaheed Benazir Bhutto perhaps feeling himself bound with the agreement of reconciliation under which he along with BB were allowed to return to the country. If policies of Musharraf are followed and judges not restored this may also be the last mandate of people for PPP. Now when no agreement has been reached between Zardari and Nawaz Sharif for the restoration of judges at their talks in London before 12 May 2008 the deadline for presenting resolution in national assembly, perhaps this was because of intervention of US minister Richard Boucher who met with both at London on final the day of talks, it appears that CJP Justice Chowdhy may not take his seat back at SC, it will prove final blow to the fate of Munoo Bheel whose family, according to him, could never be recovered without Justice Chowdhry.
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Issue of the Month: Strengthening the Establishment PPP Style

WHETTING THE HEAT OF THE MOVEMENT
[Muhammad Waqar Aslam, Quetta]

What began with ‘minus-one formula’ and then came to be known as ‘fixation of CJ’s term for three years’ has finally assumed the shape of ‘retention of PCO judges’. Fallacy is the visible thread of continuity within these three manifestations. That is why each one has backfired. The ‘minus-one’ idea was brought out on the premise that the noble cause of strengthening the independence of the judiciary should not be linked to (chief) justice Iftikhar. However, the wizards coming out with this idea were not aware of the historically proven fact that certain human beings and the movements they create eventually become inseparable. Can we de-link Che Guevara from Bolivian identity or Nelson Mandela from South African history?

There can be many examples of this phenomenon. Likewise, it is (chief) justice Iftikhar who symbolises rather personifies the independence of the judiciary in this country. The second idea of fixation of the CJ’s term for three years is even more fallacious. Nowhere in the world, the term of the CJ is fixed for any duration. It is so because the CJ is not an elected office. It is true that non-elected chief election commissioner got a fixed term of three years as per Article 215 of the Constitution but that is only because of the specific nature of his job, which is all about elections. A permanent chief election commissioner might be frowned upon by other parties whenever the term of an in-power party is over. Nevertheless, Article 168 about the auditor-general of Pakistan is silent with regard to his term because term fixation is done for the elected office only.

The third idea about retention of the PCO judges even borders on absurdity. Why did lawyers and civil society take to the streets everywhere on March 9 2007, and continue to do so by now, if the PCO judges were to be retained ultimately? Lawyers see raising of the number of judges from 17 to 27 as an attempt to usurp the apex court. They believe that PCO judges are renegades and their retention would be identical to our acceptance of ‘atoot-ang’ stance of India on Kashmir. That is how none of the above ideas have worked.

Indeed, every snare has happened to be too short to entangle the lawyers’ movement. In our history, this singles out to be the first-ever indigenous, spontaneous, middle class-driven, intellectually-equipped and emotionally-charged movement. Unlike other movements, the leaders and the led ones in it ply on one and the same intellectual plane. Hence, hoodwinking of the led by the leaders is simply unthinkable here. That is why all Iftikharophobic moves are found not wetting but whetting the heat of this movement. [Dawn]

ON ISSUES JUDICIAL
[Wasim Arif, Birmingham, UK]

Few people doubt that for the PPP the god of the NRO reigns supreme. It is within this context that the recent graduation judgement and the multiple Asif Ali Zardari acquittals from the Dogar Supreme Court should be viewed, especially since the pre-Nov 3 Supreme Court had stayed the NRO. Thus the PPP’s reticence to restore the chief justice and his brother judges in the Supreme Court and high courts is obvious. The minus-one formula as well as the planned reduction of the power and tenure of the chief justice is a part of a constitutional package that will bring about the so-called independence of the judiciary. However there is a greater game in play here and it is this.

A constitutional package that clips the powers and tenure of the chief justice will lead to Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s retiring either almost straightaway or by 2009 at the latest. Part two of the plan will implement the minus-two formula thereby restricting Justice Javed Iqbal from becoming chief justice since some quarters in the government feel that he should not return to the Supreme Court at all.

Next, part three comes into play. It is that in due course of time Justice Dogar would again assume charge as chief justice of the Supreme Court. By 2010, the situation will be that both Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday (both of whom were sent packing on November 3 and who would then be the two next senior-most Supreme Court judges) are set to retire leaving Justice Nawaz Abbasi, who did take oath under the Nov 3 PCO, as the next chief justice of Pakistan.

Clearly, such a scheme would help those judges who took oath under the Nov 3 PCO and it would in effect, by 2010, retire six of the ten judges of the Supreme Court who were sent packing on Nov 3. Also, by 2010, the senior-most judges, after the chief justice, will be Justices Khokhar and Buttar, both of whom took oath under the PCO. This could possibly mean that the achievements and efforts of the lawyers’ movements will have more or less come to naught by 2010, that is, if this plan succeeds. [The News]

VOICE OF THE MASSES
[Rizwan Akhtar, University of Punjab, Lahore]

As the time or the deadline for the restoration of the deposed judges is passing, tension is also mounting among the ruling coalition. The successive meetings between the coalition parties’ heads is a sign of the gravity of the impending matter. The PPP seems to be showing extra caution which is but inexplicable after they have signed an accord in black and white. It seems quite obvious that not much homework is done and no modalities were either enshrined in the Murree accord. But again these dithering attitudes on the part of the PPP raise certain questions. Isn’t that a masked establishment still has some reserves to hit back the democratic alliance or there are some hidden elements which are not interested in the independence of the judiciary?

People are committing suicides for poverty and some are compelled to sell their anatomy; the system in which we are living for decades may be breathing its last but the clouds of uncertainty and gloom are again gathering. It is time our politicians struck a clear note and restored the deposed judges before it gets too late. Pakistan can only survive with a fair and impartial judiciary and it is hoped that the present coalition will acknowledge the voice of the masses. [Dawn]

WHERE ARE OUR PRINCIPLES?
[Raheela Durrani, Islamabad]

In Pakistan what dominate politics are pragmatism, compromise and expedience. Is there any politician who believes in principles? Are any of them committed to their proclaimed ideals? Do they have moral courage? The restoration of the sacked judges, a matter of honour, justice and truth, has been enmeshed in pragmatism, compromise and expedience. This is so because the political leadership thinks only about its interests, not about its duties towards the people. We need to follow the footsteps of Hazrat Hussain (RA) who followed his conscience, remained committed and showed moral courage to the point of no return.
[The News]

PROVING PROMISES
[Saadat Yar Khan, Karachi]

If those who are at the helm of affairs care for national interest and mandate given on Feb 18, then the judiciary should be reinstated as it was on Nov 2 and, thereafter, introduce reform package through a constitutional change. [Dawn]

PPP TRANSFORMED
[Ayesha Ahmed, Karachi]

According to the PPP’s manifesto, it is a ‘socialist’ party. The manifesto described its labour policy in detail and after coming into power the party nationalized major industries, introduced land reforms, strengthened labour unions and did pro-poor politics. Three decades down the line, the PPP’s manifesto of the 2008 elections — which was prepared by Benazir Bhutto herself — surprisingly doesn’t have a single mention of the word ‘labour’. Far from pursuing a nationalization policy, it is all for privatization now. The ‘party of the labour’ (as claimed by Ms Bhutto) doesn’t talk about repealing the 2002 Industrial Relations Ordinance (IRO) in which the additional curbs imposed on the right to unionize and the right to collective bargaining were compounded by neo-liberal policies pursued relentlessly by the past government.

Those who say that the PPP is an anti-establishment and left-oriented party need to consider the fact that its leader came to Pakistan only after the promulgation of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). Probably that’s the reason the party is backtracking from the Murree declaration and is now openly against the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. In fact, the PPP has become a typical neo-liberal, bourgeois party with short-sighted aims and vision. [The News]

ASIF ZARDARI — BRAVE BUT NAÏVE
[Muhammad Waqar Aslam, Quetta]

“You are controlled by the one to whom you are obliged”. If this old adage still holds true, then Asif Ali Zardari having been freed by the NRO is Musharraf’s man. However, it is really enigmatic as to how such a brave man has been lured in by the NRO. Is it befitting for the leader of a party as popular with peasants and labourers as the PPP to use crutches of the NRO? Perhaps, he is naive for the implications of his volte face. That is why he had to part ways with the PML (N) on the issue of restoration of deposed judges. Having no other rationale, he pretends to act under compulsion that the rescuing NRO would be rescinded if the judges are restored. Presuming the worst, cancellation of the NRO simply means that cases against him will be decided by a court of law.

Given the recent National Assembly resolution on ‘political murder’ of Z. A. Bhutto, no court can afford to take the risk of getting labelled as political victimiser. Moreover, such a situation is simply out of question if courts are independent. Gone are the days when courts used to get dictations. Mr Zardari should be mindful of the fact that getting acquitted by a court of law is more dignifying than becoming clean by the NRO.

Besides, he should not ignore those points by which a leader moves downscale on the charismatic count. In order to move upward in charisma, one finds no option but to be attuned to Zeitgeist. Can any popular leader be oblivious of 81 per cent yes votes in a recent opinion poll for reinstatement of the chief justice, Justice Chaudhry Iftikhar? It is not difficult to decipher that the NRO has not freed Asif Zardari but entrapped him as he is no more free to act at his own. To Get rid of all politically-motivated false cases is his inherent right. But, the way he fulfilled his right is justifiable by none. Let me recall a Polish proverb: “if you can marry a damsel, don’t abduct her.” [Dawn]

PPP TRANSFORMED
[Muhammed Idris, Stockholm]

Anyone who has followed Pakistan’s politics over the last three decades will not fail to notice the radical transformation that the PPP has undergone in the last few years. It is sad to see Pakistan’s largest anti-establishment party that once had massive support among the people become another Q-League. As a life-long supporter of the PPP, I am disappointed and disgusted. [The News]

THE GRAVE CRISIS
[Inayat Qaumi, Karachi]

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” – James Madison

Our army is the only institution that crossed its barracks and practised tyranny and plunged our country into the depth of darkness. The army has been governing this country directly or indirectly with different faces since the inception of this country. This rule of tyranny and dictatorship has brought nothing but misery, lawlessness, even institutions of state, such as the judiciary, were seriously weakened, to the extent that the citizens experienced a breakdown in law and order, the business community was hit by a slump in sales and confidence, leading to reduced earnings and loss of jobs.

In short, nothing has escaped the wrath of this dictatorial rule. The historic black-coat revolution that stood guard between this tyrannical rule and the Constitution since March 9 last year has so far emerged successful and achieved a landmark public support. The current judicial entanglement has been so craftily devised in the presidential camp that there seems hardly any smooth solution of this grave national problem. The only solution (planned in the presidential camp) is to adjust both the sitting and the would-be reinstated judges in the Supreme Court. The aim is to negate any case that goes against Mr President and its allies by the Dogar-led team that would be present in the Supreme Court.

Although the lawyers’ movement is in the larger interest of the public, there are more serious public issues that need to be addressed. It is hoped that the judges’ issue will be resolved in an amicable manner where all concerned need to show flexibility in the larger interest of this country. This nation can no more stomach such great gamblings of leaders that only serve their vested interest and does no good to the hapless nation except awarding backbone twisting prices. [Dawn]

ZARDARI AND JUDICIAL CRISIS
[Ayesha Ahmed, Karachi]

This is in reference to a news report titled “Zardari, Musharraf are cast in the same mould” by Ansar Abbasi in your newspaper published on April 30. As things have taken shape after the February 18 general election, it is widely believed that Zardari is not different from Musharraf. Both have an aversion to an independent chief justice. The president removed the chief justice twice because he feared that the latter might strike down his re-election as president from a retiring assembly.

Mr Zardari has backtracked from the Murree declaration because the chief justice can declare the National Reconciliation Ordinance (which was promulgated by President Musharraf to specifically benefit Mr Zardari and his spouse), thus jeopardizing his smooth sailing as a wheeler-dealer of Pakistani politics. Mr Zardari says the deposed chief justice did not take him out of a jail for years — so is it all personal then?

If the sacked chief justice failed to come to Mr Zardari’s rescue does it mean that his removal by an army general and the proposed cut in his tenure by a political party is justified? The nation will, at no cost, let this happen and take to streets if any opportunist group of politicians try to deceive people in the name of democracy. What Mr Zardari wants is, just like President Musharraf, unrestricted power and full authority without checks. I congratulate the writer for showing courage to speak up against another dictator in civvies. [The News]

GIVING UP VIP CULTURE
[Amir Khurrum Rashid, Singapore]

In his very first speech in the parliament, the prime minister announced his resolve to eradicate VIP culture to every possible extent. The move was welcomed and appreciated, especially in the backdrop of recent hike of food prices, and whereby the government needs to cut down expenditure, and offer subsidy on food items. We understand that the process is slow and might take some ‘trickledown’ time, but hope for the sincerity of the present government was broken when news items reported rather an increase in VIP culture.

Using the taxpayers money, now Mr Zardari shall be provided with a security cover equivalent to those of the prime minister and the president. It is highly disappointing and frustrating to know of this unnecessary spending. It seems the ‘change’ has not been really brought in, and we are witnessing the repetition of the previous government’s policies where Chaudhry Shujaat and many other non-entitled individuals spent hugely in the name of security.

One, however, is inclined to praise the Punjab government for going beyond the mere slogans, and coming up with some solid steps on cutting down unnecessary spending of the VIP culture. Mr Zardari should follow the example of Nawaz Sharif who had recently declined the government offer of an increased security for him. [Dawn]

PARTY ON TRIAL
[Anwar Jalal, Peshawar]

The PPP has been an anti-establishment party since its inception. It was one of the main causes of its popularity among the progressive people. However, in the current situation its changing policies and irresolute priorities are causing a great damage to its traditional image as an anti-establishment party. Particularly, its somersault regarding the Murree declaration (which the party co-chairman recently termed ‘just a political statement’) and its increasingly soft policy towards the president — in spite of its commitment to the Charter of Democracy — suggest that power, not principles, has become the PPP’s top priority. If the PPP acts like a pro-establishment party in the next few weeks, it will be too disappointing for the progressive sections of society. [The News]

SEEKING WISDOM
[Mir Tabassum Mairaj, Islamabad]

Ayn Rand (1905–1982), born Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum, was a Russian-born American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is widely known for her best-selling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she called objectivism. She was an uncompromising advocate of rational individualism and laissez-faire capitalism, and vociferously opposed socialism, altruism, and other contemporary philosophical trends, as well as religion. Her influential and often controversial ideas have attracted both enthusiastic admiration and scathing denunciation.

Once she said: “In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.” Being a common citizen who has nothing in his power except vote in a while and without taking any side with the group who had done wrong to the justice system of Pakistan, or the group who is trying to reinstate the judges with their sincere efforts, which look 180 degrees apart, I cross my fingers and pray to Almighty God to provide our ‘leaders’ with wisdom to arrive at a right decision so that evil forces should not profit. [Dawn]

PPP ON RESTORATION ISSUE
[Imtiaz Akhter, Rawalpindi]

I don’t know the wisdom behind the ‘judicial reforms package’ that is going to follow the reinstatement of the deposed judges. Some statements by PPP leaders indicate that the party will fulfil its ‘understanding’ with the president and keep him in his de facto position by working along him like the Q League. There could have been a deal or understanding between the PPP and the president, but the people of Pakistan are not a party to it. If the PPP does not pay attention to the will of the people, it will ultimately have to face the wrath of the people in the next general election. [The News]

TIME FOR A DECISION
[Siddique Malik, USA]

President Musharraf’s supporters say that the ousted judges cannot be restored without a constitutional amendment. This amounts to a claim that a dictator can whimsically oust the country’s top judges but an elected prime minister cannot issue an executive order to restore them. Also, I don’t see the problem over what to do with the so-called PCO judges. The prime ministerial order would bring the judiciary back to the state in which it existed on Nov 2. This would automatically mean that the so-called PCO judges would go back to their positions as they existed on Nov 2, too.

When Y. R. Gilani, within minutes of being elected as leader of the house in the National Assembly, ordered the release of sacked judges from detention, I wondered about his executive authority, because at that time, he could only be called PM-elect. Nonetheless, his action filled my heart with joy. If the prime minister could release the detained judges even before taking the oath of his office, what is stopping him from restoring them, now that he is fully installed as the country’s chief executive?

I hope the date of May 12 for restoring that judiciary to its lawful status is not yet another ruse by the parties constituting the current coalition government to buy time for Mr Musharraf to devise yet another conspiracy against the rule of law. The government must not allow suspicion to take root, let alone even emerge in people’s minds that it is in cahoots with the president. [Dawn]

A MATTER OF PRIORITY
[Tariq Nazir Syed, Rawalpindi]

At a critical point in Pakistan’s history, Mr Zardari gave priority to his domestic issues over the most urgent national issue and flew to Dubai. Had Nawaz Sharif not followed him, the restoration of judges would still be in limbo. Why a critical issue like this had to be discussed abroad is a point of concern for everyone. The casual attitude of Mr Zardari has cast doubts on the future of the government and its ability to deliver relief to the people. [The News]

JUDGES AND CONSTITUTIONAL PACKAGE
[Jehanzeb Khan, Peshawar]

The final act in the drama has started and the likelihood is that both Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari will have their point of view accepted, implying that there will be a resolution and a package to have the superior court judges reinstated. What boggles the mind is the insistence of Mr Zardari on linking the reinstatement of the judges with the package he has in mind. If President Musharraf himself admits that his action of Nov 3 was illegal, it is not a part of the Constitution and perhaps an executive order would have it sufficed.

Nevertheless, there is little doubt that the intention is to overcome the crisis but let us hope the judiciary is not weakened instead of being strengthened. If the powers of the chief justice in taking suo motu action and, particularly, his authority to constitute benches are curbed, then there will be little difference between him and other judges. What will happen to other judges? What will happen to senior judges who had a greater right to be elevated to the Supreme Court than some of those already there is another problem? Perhaps Mr Zardari has a solution which we will soon hear of.

The coalition partners need to take steps expeditiously to ensure that the powers of the president are what they should in a parliamentary democracy. It is the prime minister who should be carrying out the duties of the chief executive. The president (de facto) is already overstepping his powers and this must end if the present government is to survive. As Imran Khan and others say, the people have given their verdict and the better course would be for the president to be sent packing the day the pre-Nov 3 judges are back.

While bringing about constitutional reforms the coalition must seriously consider bringing in constitutional package (after this one) to ensure:

a. Greater provincial autonomy.
b. Proper share of federating units in what they produce.
c. Laying down specific strength for ministers and advisers of provincial and federal governments (one of your learned columnists has very wisely proposed a maximum of 15 cabinet members at the centre and 10 in each of the provinces. A maximum of two advisers can also be mentioned )
d. Better functioning of the local government system or its replacement by a better system or reversion to the old system. [Dawn]

A CONTRADICTION?
[Anwar Jalal, Peshawar]

Recently in an interview with a private television channel, Asif Ali Zardari said that whenever the government had a two-thirds majority in parliament, it would consider the option of impeaching the president. On the contrary, his party is about to present a constitutional package in parliament to reform the judiciary as well as clip presidential powers. One wonders how the government will pass the constitutional package if it does not have a two-thirds majority in parliament which is a must to amend the constitution.
[The News]

NOT ENOUGH VISION
[Talat Fayyaz Mansoor, Canada]

Dinner parties at the Prime Minister’s House show that still the same lavish lifestyles are carried on by the government machinery. My heart bleeds for my poor country folk who can not even afford simple necessities. Is there any hope for a better Pakistan for all and not just for the ‘rich’? There are too many issues and not enough vision. [Dawn]

UNDOING A WRONG
[Najeebullah, Swat]

Why is taking an illegal action in Pakistan so easy for a powerful individual? On the one hand a person deprived the nation of an independent judiciary with a single stroke of pen and on the other, parliament is still dillydallying about the reinstatement of the sacked judges — something which is absolutely legal and lawful. [The News]

MAKING PARLIAMENT SOVEREIGN
[Syed A. Mateen, Karachi]

In our democratic system we call parliament sovereign, but there are a number of decisions that have been taken unilaterally by the federal or provincial government departments, corporations, autonomous and local government departments without referring the matter to parliament or the respective provincial assemblies.

For example, the PTCL, which works under the federal government, revised its tariff from time to time without referring the matter to parliament. Similarly, prices of oil and CNG have been revised by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority from time to time without referring the matter to parliament. Prices of wheat, rice, milk, vegetables and other commodities of daily use are also increased from time to time without any reference to the National Assembly or the respective provincial assemblies.

If the federal or provincial government departments can take unilateral decisions and raise the prices of various consumer products or services, then is there any need for federal government or provincial governments to give subsidy to these federal or provincial government departments which are responsible for the price hike in the country? People elect assemblies so that their elected representatives should be able to legislate laws for the benefit of the common man. But in the light of unilateral decisions taken by federal government and provincial government departments and various trade associations, which work under the umbrella of federal or provincial governments, it seems that these government departments and trade associations are more authoritative and sovereign than the national and provincial assemblies.

If commodities and services go on costing more and more while people’s income/salaries do not increase in proportion to the inflation, then there is no other alternative left for the common man but to earn money through illegal means or commit suicide. So, what is the role left for the National Assembly or provincial assemblies if they cannot legislate laws to control the price hike? People want that the price hike issue should invariably be referred to the assemblies before any government department or trade association decides to increase the price of a commodity or the cost of a service. All this to uphold the welfare of the common man. [Dawn]

PCO JUDGES
[Maham Khan, Rawalpindi]

All the judges who took oath under martial law/emergency imposed by a general should be tried by the Supreme Judicial Council under Article 6 of the constitution of Pakistan. Their second offence was the violation of a Supreme Court order passed by a seven-member bench on November 2, 2007. If no action is taken against these PCO judges, then we should forget about independence of the judiciary. Their recognition by the PPP-led government as rightful judges clearly shows that it wants to keep the superior judiciary under its thumb. [The News]

CARRYING THE LEGACY OF DICTATORS
[Abdul Khalique Junejo, Karachi]

Your editorial, ‘Harking back to Zia days’ (April 26), is a timely reminder for those who desire democracy, and those who talk democracy in this country. Quoting Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s speech at the reception he gave for the army commanders where he said that the “army has to defend the ideological boundaries along with the geographical boundaries,” you have rightly said that “.. the Feb 18 vote was clearly in favour of moderate parties, none of which garnered votes on the forgotten ideology issue”.

The only addition needed is that Feb 18 was not the only time when the people of this country have expressed their will clearly and candidly. Whenever got chance, they have voted/supported moderate, liberal and democrat-looking parties and politicians with a clear message for change. But alas! whenever got chance (to come to power), these politicians have turned their back on people’s mandate for change and, instead, aligned themselves with the forces of status quo.

Out of political expediency and in pursuit of absolute power, they have compromised with, indeed invited, the religious elements and the military men and have strengthened and enhanced the role of these two powerful forces of status quo into the state affairs. While going for Pakistan, the Muslims of the subcontinent gathered around the moderate leadership of the Muslim League like M. A. Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan. But immediately after the creation of Pakistan, the military force was used to settle political problems and the ‘Objective Resolution’ was passed by the moderate parliament wherein it was said that “.. the sovereignty lies with God” while all over the world in democratic, as well as in socialist, countries it was recognised that “the sovereignty lies with people”.

Since this Objective Resolution has been ‘thankfully’ used (and abused) by the dictators to their advantage, Ayub Khan, Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf, all are on record having said that “since the sovereignty lies with God, so He has chosen me to rule over you.” In the first general election of 1970, the people of (current) Pakistan voted for another moderate and even progressive-looking politician, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Once in power, he strengthened military institutions and used them to weaken, and even destroy, political institutions. Also he was the first to take credit for amending the Constitution to declare a section of the Muslims of Pakistan (Qadianis) as non-Muslims and for bringing many laws of ‘religious’ nature onto the statute book.

Benazir Bhutto came to power at the head of a hard-fought ‘movement for restoration of democracy’ against the military dictatorship of Gen Zia. She conferred ‘award of democracy’ on the military and made ‘maulvi’ Fazlur Rahman chairman of foreign relations committee. In her first tenure ‘the Mujahideen’ were facilitated to form their government-in-exile at Islamabad while during her second stint ‘the Taliban’ were helped in capturing Kandhar. Then came Nawaz Sharif’s turn. Taking full advantage of two-thirds majority in parliament, he tried to make ‘Islamic Shariah’ the law of the land and declare himself ‘the Ameer’. Also it was he who handed over, one by one, civilian departments of the state to the army-men. Only time will tell who does what this time but, as mentioned in your editorial, the initial signs are not encouraging. [Dawn]

CIVIL SUPREMACY?
[Muhammed Islam, Lahore]

The PPP co-chairman is hesitant to reverse Pervez Musharraf’s illegal acts of November 3. The PPP prime minister invites the services chiefs to a lavish dinner and musical evening and urges the generals to defend the ‘ideological frontiers of Pakistan’. The PPP defence minister calls Pervez Musharraf an ‘asset’ for the country. Yet, the PPP spokesperson, Farhatullah Babar, has the cheek to write in newspapers about the need to establish civil supremacy over the armed forces. [The News]

PEOPLE ARE WAITING
[Rabail Nazeer, Karachi]

Apropos of Ghazala Minallah’s article, ‘Open letter to Mr Asif Ali Zardari’ (May 1), I would like to start off by applauding the writer for presenting a very relevant yet touching piece of writing. The writer has adequately summed up the present situation and has correctly put forward the wishes of the majority of the population. We, as a nation, are not ready to undergo military rule any longer for the past has already been more than enough to bear. I would advise the president to take a minute and look back at the nine years he has been in power before labelling Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the truly great civilian leader in Pakistan’s history, as the worst thing that happened to Pakistan.

Another point that I would like to elaborate is that Malik Qayyum is still serving as attorney-general. Ms Minallah has rightly pointed out how Mr Qayyum’s father had a great role in the judicial murder of Mr Bhutto, whose party is in power today. Moreover, I’m sure it cannot be forgotten that how major a role Mr Qayyum has played in causing the judicial havoc in Pakistan. I would take a moment of my own to request the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party to appoint a new attorney-general who is a man of noble abilities.

Benazir Bhutto was a ray of hope for millions of Pakistanis and her presence will be truly missed. However, the point of the matter is that the people of Pakisatan have given their verdict and, be it the youth or elderly, eagerly wait for positive changes. Hundred and sixty million eyes look towards Mr Zardari with hope and one can only but pray that this hope sees what it waits for. [Dawn]

SAVING MR MUSHARRAF
[Kamran Kiani, Rawalpindi]

It seems as if Mr Zardari has not learnt from his past mistakes. He is still trying to save President Musharraf, knowing well that his (Musharraf’s) ship will soon sink. His party won the Feb18 elections due to its anti-Musharraf and pro-judiciary stance. If he deviates from his earlier stance, the PPP will lose its votebank. Mr Zardari should realize the fact that the whole nation is on the side of the deposed judges and wants to see them back to their jobs without any further delay. The pre-November 3 judiciary can be restored easily through a simple resolution in parliament. Why is Mr Zardari shying away from reinstating the independent judges? [The News]

HOPE FOR CALM ENVIRONMENT
[Nida Saeed, Faisalabad]

The present situation of Pakistan is at odds: all ongoing incidents are still not revealed, whether negative or positive, and every one of us is waiting to see how things will unfold. Restoration of judges is equally a matter of life and death, because of the appalling mess that can take the form of gory distress. A perfect and sensible decision is warranted. The trenchant reality of still an unbalanced system and administration blockade, which is not being able to work smoothly, is a sad episode. Every political episode passes away, either good or bad. We hope for calm and moderate environment to be able breathe in a free country. [Dawn]

THE NEW KING’S PARTY?
[Saeeda Buksh, Quetta]

This is in response to an article titled “Why Zardari should be helped, not attacked” by Shaheen Sehbai published in your newspaper on May 5. The writer seems to have put up a naive defence for Mr Zardari. The latter is not a teenaged boy like his party co-chairman but a 54-year-old politician who knows all the tricks of the game. For instance this can be seen in the fact that so far the PPP seems to have no problem with Pervez Musharraf continuing as president. Also, for the writer to ask readers to look at Mr Zardari sympathetically is perhaps asking for too much because one cannot take chances when the destiny of a country is involved.

Besides, how does one justify tolerating a dictator like Musharraf who ruined our body politic and whose handpicked prime minister more or less destroyed the economy. Furthermore, he has mortgaged our national sovereignty to the UK-US cabal, only to perpetuate his illegal rule. The writer should suggest to the PPP to ask Musharraf to resign for all his acts of the past nine years. From the look of things, it seems that the role played hitherto by the PML-Q will now be played by the PPP. [The News]

AUSTERITY BEGINS AT HOME
[Mohammad Sulaiman Amin, Lahore]

Surprisingly it seemed a little silly, and unrealistic I might add, when the newly-elected prime minister, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, showed his austere inclination by announcing that government officials, including himself I assume, would not travel in vehicles above 1600cc and would not be flaunted by any VIP protocol. However, this Sunday while protesting for the restoration for the judiciary on The Mall, I witnessed the PM travelling in an unregistered BMW 7 series, which is at least a 4000cc vehicle, flaunted with a protocol with at least 15 vehicles, including police vehicles, ambulances and other cars, some of which had only one passenger (who incidentally was the driver).

Not to mention the constant nuisance this protocol causes, as the residents of the Defence Housing Authority in which he resides get caught on his ‘route’. Further, his sons are seen driving around the city in unregistered Land Cruisers with the protocol of two police vehicles. It seems this democratically-elected government is not very different from those before, and hasn’t learnt from mistakes made in the past as is evident from their behaviour. Why make promises that you can’t fulfil, like the Murree Declaration, and mentioning a timeframe and then later announcing not being restricted to it. I urge the media to cover such incidences, report them to the public and remind the elected representatives who they are, and what their role is and that (hopefully) they wish to contest elections the next time around too. [Dawn]

A PRINCIPLED STAND
[Aziz Narejo, Houston, US]

One must appreciate the stand taken by Justice Fakhruddin G Ebrahim on the judges’ restoration issue. He is among the few judges who had refused to take oath under a PCO. Recently he dissociated himself from the legal committee which was tasked with preparing proposals for the reinstatement of the deposed judges, saying that it was more interested in retaining the judges inducted after the November 3 emergency than in the reinstating the deposed judges.

His stand that he could not be a party to any formula which attempted to reward those judges who have taken oath under the PCO and acted in violation of the Supreme Court order of Nov 3, 2007 should be appreciated. The newly established civilian government seems to be under tremendous pressure on the judges’ issue from the military dictator, his allies and collaborators inside and outside the government and some foreign powers. Now the responsibility lies with the bodies like the Pakistan Bar Council, the Supreme Court Bar Association, high court bar associations, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and political workers and human rights activists. They should take a firm stand on the judges’ issue and make it clear that they want the judiciary as of November 2, 2007.

They must state it clearly that the judges unconstitutionally appointed after November 3 should not be retained, the tenure of the Supreme Court chief justice should not be revised and no constitutional amendments should be made to take away powers of the judiciary. They must pledge that they will not let the sacrifices of the superior courts’ judges, lawyers and others go in vain. [The News]

REINSTATEMENT OF JUDGES
[Saifuddin E. Contractor, Karachi]

The legal committee constituted under the chairmanship of Law Minister Farooq H. Naik for reinstatement of the deposed judges has deliberated long enough and, as reported, has reached some kind of conclusion (not made known yet), which is not with consensus. One of its members, Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, a constitutional expert, has preferred to sequester himself. In a telephonic talk with him, piercing questions were put forth as to his withdrawal, to which he prudently brushed aside and was very circumspect.

However, he opined that more than 20 retired judges, including a former chief justice of Pakistan, Ajmal Mian, have conceded to his postulations that a simple executive order nullifying the president’s order of Nov 3, when he (the president) himself has admitted to be extra-constitutional and illegal, deposing the judges would be tantamount to reinstating the judges to the pre-Nov 3 status. The president of the Sindh High Court Bar Association, Rashid A. Razvi, when contacted almost concurred with it.

Asif Ali Zardari’s observation that chief justice (deposed) Iftikhar Chaudhry and the judiciary did not consider his bail application when he was in prison reflects vindictiveness. To carry the resolution in this regard to parliament is not necessary. It is claimed that parliament has no authority either to depose a judge or reinstate him. The so-called constitutional package, it is felt in many quarters, is purported to manipulate, for it may seek to reduce the tenure of the judges, targeting possibly the deposed chief justice of Pakistan, and is seen as malice.

Therefore, this package, negating the wishes of the people who have given their mandate to their representatives in parliament, is uncalled-for. Although it is within the purview of parliament, it would be expedient if a referendum is held instead to allay fears of civil commotion. There was a strong speculation prevailing that Abdul Hafiz Pirzada, one of the members of the committee, was holding brief for the president which he emphatically denied on a TV channel. Mr Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim has desisted from giving his view on this count.

Now the fact that the PML (N) has parted ways and has decided that its ministers in the federal cabinet will resign is viewed with scepticism as to the macadamised running of the government with splinter groups as the PML(N) is the second largest party in the National Assembly. Therefore, in any case, the restoration of judges to its pre-Nov 3 position is a far-fetched mirth. In Punjab the PML(N) is the largest group with the PPP being the second in run. It cannot be ruled out that the chief minister there may advise the governor to dissolve the assemblies to which he is constitutionally bound to do so.

In this case re-election would be held and it is apprehended that the PML(N) would sweep the election, and the PPP may not be able to muster a single seat. There could be a violent collision between the federal and the Punjab government, which would be unfortunate for the stability of the region. [Dawn]

CHANGED POLITICAL REALITIES
[M Salim Chaudhry, San Jose, US]

One year has passed and the May 12 case is still unresolved. The judiciary which took up the case has been shown the door by the perpetrators (and their protectors) of the mayhem. The people widely accused of the mass killings have joined the new Sindh government. The PPP is in favour of “grand reconciliation” and that’s the reason its central information secretary — who held a press conference to show video clips of hooliganism of the workers of a Karachi-based party after May 12 last year — now calls the same a “political reality”. Political realities have indeed changed after the February 18 general election because it’s one thing to talk about principles and another to follow them once one comes into power. [The News]

FADING COALITION
[Abdul Rauf, Fateh Jang]

The infant coalition of the PPP and the PML (N) faces life threat as the former could not agree to reinstate the illegally deposed judges. Although it is sad news for the nation, especially for the lawyers who are on the streets since March 9 last year, I also see a window of opportunity in this whole mess. The difference between vested interests and public demands is diminishing.

People understand who is honouring their verdict of the Feb 18 election, and this is actually educating the people of Pakistan the value of their vote. It was actually the first test for the PPP minus Benazir Bhutto to prove that they are following the path of the great Bhutto and his daughter, i.e. to serve the masses, and in my opinion they have so far failed miserably.

Be it the judges’ issue or day-to-day governance, the PPP-led coalition has so far disappointed the masses at large and unless they revise their commitment, I don’t see the PPP as the single largest party in coming years. The PML (N) deserves a big hand as they have taken a principled stand in the line of national aspirations. They will have to be very careful in the coming days as ‘some vested interests’ want them to be out of power. They should stay in the coalition and should voice the public concerns at their best.

If, by any chance, all this system comes to square one, as it looks now, I think the stance of Qazi Hussain Ahmad, Mahmood Achakzai and Imran Khan will be proved correct. The lawyers should be rest assured that people of Pakistan are with them and see their contribution as a major factor in the post-March 9 struggle. The struggle should not be hampered now onwards and I am sure we all shall see a day when all the wrongdoings of Nov 3 shall be trashed to dustbin. Ham daikhein gein, laazim ha k ham bhi daikhein gein …… Insha Allah….. [Dawn]

APPEAL TO THE PPP
[Jahanzeb Memon, Thatta]

It will be absolutely wrong to say that PPP candidates didn’t vow to restore the independent judiciary in their election campaign. I attended a number of PPP rallies in my constituency as well as those held in other districts of Sindh and everywhere the PPP-nominated candidates for the National and Sindh assemblies said that their party was committed to restoring the pre-November 3 judiciary. Moreover, the slain chairperson of the PPP, Benazir Bhutto, said in categorical terms outside the chief justice’s residence that the PPP would hoist the national flag once again at the residence of Justice Chaudhry.

For a diehard PPP worker like me, it is extremely disturbing why the new PPP leadership is supporting the Musharraf-backed judges who took oath under a Constitutional Provisional Order promulgated by the then army chief. The PPP co-chairman should announce in the clearest terms that the deposed judiciary, including Justice Chaudhry, will be restored on May 12 unconditionally. [The News]

JUDGES’ REINSTATEMENT & PPP’S ROLE
[Syed Iqbal Ahmad, Barrister-at-Law, Karachi]

Asif Ali Zardari, PPP co-chairman, recently said “reinstatement of judges was not the focus of his election campaign” and that “we were not given a mandate for restoration of judges. People voted for us to save Pakistan and to change the system” (April 29). The people of this country may ask Mr Zardari a simple question: if the restoration of the deposed judges was not in the agenda of the PPP’s election campaign, why the PPP leaders and workers used to join the lawyers and leaders and workers of other political parties and also used to be part of processions when the chief justice used to go to address different bar associations.

Now coming to the PPP’s belief in an independent judiciary and not in individuals (i.e. judges) it is manifestly vague and meaningless. I need not emphasise that the pre-requisites for an independent judiciary are the competent, credible and independent judges. There is a time-tested principle that it is not a particular system or institution, which is important and significant but the human elements behind the running of that system or the institution. What could be a better example than that of the deposed chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who laid down the basic foundation of an independent judiciary by saying ‘no’, for the first time in the 60 years’ history of the judiciary, to a military dictator on March 9 last year.

This was yet followed by another shinning example, when the same military dictator struck the judiciary again on Nov 3 last year, packing the entire judiciary in a military coup but Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary and over 60 other judges of superior courts again stood like a wall and demonstrated to the nation the supremacy of the Constitution and the oath taken by them to keep the Constitution supreme. Those few judges of the Supreme Court and high courts, who, in violation of their oath under the Constitution, took the fresh oath of office under the PCO were, of course, rewarded but with humiliation, for declaring the usurper president in sheer violation of the Constitution.

The judges’ issue has been made complicated by the PPP’s top leadership, notwithstanding the Murree declaration. The issue, unfortunately, remained confined only between the top PPP and PML (N) leadership. The lawyers’ stand and that of the PML(N) and its leader, Nawaz Sharif, on the judges’ issue are, no doubt, clear and positive but the PPP’s tactics are not understandable, particularly in view of the heavy mandate received from the people.

”Why are they doing so? Because they are (a) equally allergic to the rule of law and independent judiciary and (b) are bound by pre-election deals to serve the system (presently being led by Pervez Musharraf), which has cleared skyhigh heaps of their past corruption under the National Reconstruction Ordinance and has given them the licence to do much more in the future”, so rightly concluded by Masood Mufti in his article under the caption, ‘One and half ray of hope’ (May 3). [Dawn]

END OF COALITION
[Sheeba Ajmal, Peshawar]

I don’t have words to express my anger and frustration over PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s recent actions. I believe that he is responsible for breaking the coalition and by his decisions he has proved himself a president’s man. Many people have come to believe that by parting ways with the PML-N, he has served president’s interests better than the PML-Q. His newfound love for the presidency is perhaps because the latter benefited him greatly by promulgating the NRO. By signing a declaration in Murre on March 9 to cajole the PML-N into joining the federal cabinet, he fooled Nawaz Sharif and tried to damage his reputation he had earned by taking a principled stance on the restoration of the sacked judges.

The sudden importance Rehman Malik, Farooq Naek and Hussain Haqqani have gained in party (and national) affairs shows that Mr Zardari wants to sideline all PPP stalwarts to bring forward his henchmen. He did not even remove the attorney general of pakistan after coming into power, so what change can we expect from him? He wants to retain the post-November 3 judiciary because he doesn’t want the NRO case reopened. His politics will ruin not only the PPP but also the country and harm its integrity. [The News]

STANDING BY PROMISES
[Nauman Qaiser, Lahore]

This is apropos of a series of salvos by some PPP jiyalas, including Farhatullah Babar, aimed at ‘cleaning’ the mess created by Mr Zardari and company on the judges’ issue, which has skillfully been unravelled by Anwar Syed in his article ‘Mr Zardari’s politics’ (May 11). Mr Babar states that his party strongly believes in the restoration of the sacked judges and is “bound by the Murree Declaration of March 30 that called for the restoration of judges through a resolution of parliament”.

Who is Mr Babar trying to fool? The Murree Declaration categorically asked the PPP and the PML(N) to fulfil three promises related to the restoration of the deposed judges: that the deposed judges would be restored to the Nov 2 position; within 30 days of the formation of the federal government; through a parliamentary resolution. All these promises have, unfortunately, remained unfulfilled so far owing mainly to the intransigence of Mr Zardari and his associates. First, the April 30 deadline fixed by the declaration has passed since long. Second, Mr Zardari and associates have time and again disapproved of the restoration through a parliamentary resolution, citing untenable reasons beyond comprehension of even the best of the legal minds.

The talk of restoration through a constitutional package, and now the resolution through a joint session of the parliament are only meant to further confound the situation. Third, the PPP has made its reservations clear on many occasions, though impliedly, that it wants the judiciary to be reinstated most preferably without the deposed chief justice, or with him but devoid of his bench-forming and suo motu powers, along with reducing his tenure. What this means is that the PPP does not want to fulfil its promise of reinstating the whole judiciary to the Nov 2 position.

Mr Babar further clarifies, though unsuccessfully, that the PPP is antithetical to all that is associated with Mr Musharraf and his ideology, implying thereby that there was no such thing as a power-sharing deal between the PPP and Mr Musharraf. Well sir, even an illiterate citizen of Pakistan would endorse Anwar Syed’s and other intellectuals’ analysis that the pre-election deal, in which America and Britain were playing the guarantors, culminated in an unholy alliance between Mr Musharraf and the PPP, whereby the latter was to be given a share in the power in lieu of its promise to accommodate the former as president of Pakistan for at least another five years.

All these overtures and clandestine meetings resulted in what is called NRO, which was basically aimed at giving indemnity to the PPP leaders, who could now go to hustings with a clean slate. As a quid pro quo, the PPP was to pave the way for Mr Musharraf’s re-election as president for at least another five years, along with giving indemnity to all the post-Nov 3 actions of Musharraf. The PPP has so far fulfilled the first half of the promise by assisting in Musharraf’s re-election, but a lot more has to be done on its part. After coming to power, therefore, it did not interfere with the working of the presidency, as is evident from non-removal from office of a number of Musharraf’s favourites like Attorney General Malik Qayyum.

However, the PPP must stop puzzling the nation anymore, and make its stance unambiguous on the judges’ issue once for all. Until and unless it does that, we cannot think of a powerful and progressive democracy free of any outside influence in Pakistan. [Dawn]

IRRATIONAL AND ILLOGICAL
[Noorudin, Bahawalpur]

Mr Zardari considers himself more prudent than all the jurists of Pakistan. A large number of former judges of the Supreme Court and chief justices of the high courts have said that Justice Chaudhry’s removal on November 3 was extra-constitutional. Still Mr Zardari considered it appropriate to say in a BBC interview that he couldn’t do another wrong to undo an extra-constitutional measure taken by President Musharraf. It is extremely strange that he sees Justice Chaudhry’s restoration as an illegal act. After the collapse of the coalition, it has become abundantly clear that he wants to retain President Musharraf to appease the Bush administration and is ready to float irrational and illogical ‘packages’ to further complicate the judges’ issue. [The News]

CONSTITUTIONAL ROLE OF PUNJAB GOVERNOR
[Shahbaz Munir, Lahore]

Punjab Governor Salman Taseer had a very emotionally charged oath-taking ceremony. He proclaimed to get majority seats for the PPP and get Bilawal Bhutto Zardari elected from Punjab. This is not clear whether he plans to convert the PPP minority into majority or he is talking of future election. Mr Bilawal is a young boy from a leading landlord and political family and he has every constitutional right to contest election from any part of Pakistan, including Lahore. Keeping in view the objectives and goals of Mr Taseer, I think Asif Ali Zardari and Pervez Musharraf should have appointed him president of the Punjab PPP instead of governor. For Mr Taseer’s objectives are contrary to the constitutional role of the governor as stipulated in the 1973 Constitution. [Dawn]

‘B’ TEAM OF DICTATOR
[Naila Siddiqui, Karachi]

The nation wants to know why the PPP has become a ‘B team’ of a dictator after the February 18 election victory. Negotiations are good for the democratic process but why these are kept confidential. And if this does not matter in democracy, why was Makhdoom Amin Fahim not made prime minister after he was alleged to have connections in the presidency? [The News]

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS
[Shafique Ansari, Dubai]

After going through the draft of the amendments proposed to be made to the Constitution through the 18th Amendment, I am persuaded to believe that the initiators of the ‘proposed amendments’ are not interested in the restoration of pre-Nov 3 judiciary. The proposed changes supposedly are to be tabled in the National Assembly next month after consultations with the coalition partners, lawyers’ representatives and the president. Besides clipping the wings of the presidency to use draconian 58-2(b) and withdrawing powers to appoint service chiefs and restricting him from contesting more than two terms, changes are also proposed to rename the NWFP to ‘Pakhtoonkhawa’, and allowing representation to minorities in the upper house, appointment of the speaker and the chairman of the Senate. The NFC and the CCI are to be made more effective and banning the person to have more government offices.

For the judiciary, the CJ’s will be three years’ tenure, ridiculing the judiciary and armed forces will make the contestant ineligible for election and the judges who take the oath under a PCO and validate will be tried as traitor under Article Six. A plethora of amendments prepared by the attorney-general of Pakistan with the help of his ministry officials (admitted by him in a TV interview) may be good but do not ensure the perception required for making changes to the basic law of the state: a law framed by the combined wisdom of legislature which then includes a constitutionalist with a deep sense of history like Zulifkar Ali Bhutto, Mian Mahmood Ali Qasuri et al and which has been ravished by minions at will starting from Ziaul Haq.

Isn’t it an irony that it is now left with one man’s perception to make further changes to the already disfigured sacred book of the basic law? The proposed amendments to the judiciary in no way empower the courts as has been claimed. They have rather demeaned its position; especially the three-year term of the CJ, which clearly smacks of prejudice against an individual. The judiciary is the most venerated institution of the state and if only the executive starts respecting it, there is no need of inserting any article in the Constitution. If PCO oath-taking judges are required to be dealt with under Article Six, then amendment should also include action against the assemblies indemnifying takeovers as it also falls within the ambit of high treason.

Notwithstanding the most constentious issues, the stark dissention prevailing in society, composition of lower and upper houses, the role of sitting president in creating these abrasions, proactive civil society and gaining momentum of lawyers’ movement, who are not prepared to accept less than restoration of pre-Nov 3 judiciary, there is hardly any scope of passage of proposed amendments. If at all, this can be the recipe for ‘five-year plan’. Given the present crisis, it is advisable for the government to come out seriously on the issue of restoration of the judiciary first, as the other amendments can be debated in the legislature and passed in due course. At present people are gravely concerned with problems, i.e. restoration of the judiciary and sky-rocketing rise in the prices of commodities of daily consumption, which has made the life of every citizen unbearable.

Those at the helm of affairs are requested to have mercy on the masses and instead of insisting on the so-called ‘reform package’, they should resolve these two most portentous and imminent problems which have destroyed the peace and tranquillity of every household of the country. [Dawn]

PRO-PEOPLE POLITICS?
[Prof M Ismail, Peshawar]

When the PPP is out of power, it poses to be very democratic, pro-people and even leftist. It develops contacts with pro-people movements and expresses its solidarity with the political movements of the land. As soon as it enters the corridors of power, it becomes an ally of the establishment and implements the establishment’s agenda. If we look back in history, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto attacked the NAP and crushed Balochistan with the army, used the judiciary against his political rivals and pushed leftist and secular forces into a corner. He did not learn any lesson from the 1971 debacle but continued the policies of the establishment.

Similarly, the two governments of Benazir Bhutto were characterised more for corruption – particularly of the alleged acts of her husband — than anything else. Even after signing the Charter of Democracy, Benazir Bhutto kept Nawaz Sharif in the dark about her purported deal with General Musharraf. Ms Bhutto benefited from the movement led by lawyers and civil society and struck a deal with a weakened general. After her death, however, her husband seems to be facilitating the establishment to retain power. All this proves that the PPP is not sincere in its claim to be a pro-poor party. [The News]

A NEUTERED JUDICIARY?
[Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]

The PPP seems to have placed conditions on the restoration of the judiciary whereas the tenure of the chief justice will be reduced and he will not be allowed to take suo moto action or constitute benches. In addition, the number of judges of the superior judiciary will be increased to make the reinstated judges a minority in the face of the new judges brought in after the November 3, 2007, Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO). What a shame for a party that speaks endlessly about the independence of the judiciary. [Daily Times]

CRUMBLING COALITION
[Taimur Rahman, Lahore]

It seems that in exchange for the National Reconciliation Ordinance Asif Ali Zardari has agreed not to restore the pre-November 3 judiciary and has accepted Pervez Musharraf as president of Pakistan. This is a betrayal of the struggle against military rule that so many people, including workers of the PPP itself, have fought for so valiantly. Given the promises made by the government, people were willing to wait for the 30-day period. Following that period, people still waited till May 12. However, it has now become absolutely clear that the current government does not wish to commit itself to a serious struggle against the military establishment. Every passing day plunges our country deeper into the crisis created by military rule. Every passing day brings only new resentment and disappointments.

Under these unfortunate circumstances, the collapse of the coalition has benefited Musharraf. Neither the cause of the judiciary nor democracy has advanced as a consequence of the recent actions of mainstream parties. It is my understanding that Pakistan requires a mass-based left party that upholds the interests of workers and peasants with complete integrity. The current political leadership has proven to be opportunistic and has failed the people. I unequivocally condemn the failure of the current government to restore the judiciary and realize the nation’s clear aspirations for democracy besides fully supporting the lawyers’ movement led by Aitzaz Ahsan, Ali Ahmed Kurd, Munir A Malik and Asma Jehangir.
[The News]

INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY
[Riaz Jafri, Rawalpindi]

Never have been the judges and the judiciary subjected to such a trial and tribulation in the annals of history of a nation as they have been in a short span of a year only in Pakistan. Not a day passes that they are not discussed in the media — print and electronic — and the treatment meted out to them by all and sundry leaves much to be desired. Ostensibly, the politicians and the intellectuals, the writers and the panellists all seem to be advocating the independence of the judiciary but from their tone one can sense that they are talking of some hapless dependants. That is rather disturbing. ‘Judges will be restored by April 30’. ‘They will be restored by May 12’. ‘We and the sixteen crore awam will not accept the PCO Judges’. ‘The committee for the restoration of the judges will draft the resolution by May 6’. ‘It will do it before May 12’. ‘A few additional days do not matter’. ‘We will not allow any dictator to alter their terms of service or tenure’. ‘We will restore them by a simple executive order’. ‘Individuals do not matter, it is the institutions that we want to be strengthened’. The list could go on.

One just wonders if such political statement will really pave the way for an independent judiciary. Will such a restored judiciary be able to function independently, firmly and without fear of the overlords in the government in times to come? We have a case in point of the ‘independence’ of the Election Commission being ‘ordered’ to revise the date for the by-elections yet again. Some independent Election Commission. [Daily Times]

LIP SERVICE
[K Leghari, Quetta]

The London talks have ended with what was an expected result. It is interesting to note that PPP leaders paid lip-service to the judicial cause, made false promises, kept asking for more time to resolve the issue and finally buried it completely, citing irrational reasons. In the meantime, PPP first asked the PML-N not to boycott the polls, then invited it to join the federal government and then eventually ditched it on the judges’ issue. [The News]

WHY THE JUDGES SHOULD BE RESTORED
[Yousaf Amanat, Islamabad]

Nawaz Sharif finally stated categorically what he should have stated a long time back, i.e. that the restoration of judges is critical to the survival of Pakistan. However, he has not elaborated on this point. Why is the restoration of the judiciary critical to the survival of Pakistan? Why is the issue of restoring the judiciary more important than addressing the issue of the power shortage and food shortage? Do we really understand why we want the judiciary to be restored? I have pondered over this question for a while now and it was only when I aired the question out aloud did I get the answer from Mr Tahir, an architect. “We are not asking for the restoration of the judiciary i) because it’s the right thing to do, ii) because what Musharraf did was wrong and we need to correct this great injustice, iii) because Iftikhar Chaudhry is our messiah.”

We need to restore the judiciary as unless there is a supervisory mechanism of checks and balances, we will always be destined to be doomed. We need a system which can question Wapda on the power shortage. We need a system which can summon the secretary in charge of the ministry of food and agriculture and question him on the shortfall of wheat. We need a system, the fear of which will cause any government that comes in power, any businessman, any athlete to never let even the thought of doing any wrong to this country come to their mind. The restored deposed judges will start the ball rolling. Judges to come will be empowered because of this action which will have started. A system will have been put in place, a system which will only need to be maintained in the years to come.

A fundamental aspect of training of all judges to come will be to be well versed in this system of checks and balances. They will from an early start keep a vigil on the welfare of their country so that when they reach the superior judiciary, a constitutional empowerment to keep a check and balance will come naturally to them. This in essence is why the judiciary should be restored to their pre-Nov 3 position. [Dawn]

ESTABLISHMENT’S PUPPETS
[Khawar Mehmood Gul, Murree]

The people of Pakistan expected the PPP leadership to bring some positive change but they did not. Why do our politicians who call themselves ‘leaders’ become mere puppets in the hands of the establishment after coming into power? After the February 18 election, it was expected that there would be a revolutionary change in Pakistani politics, but the situation has become worse. Keeping in view its dillydallying on the judicial question, it seems that the PPP doesn’t really want the rule of law and the empowerment of the people. Asif Zardari is behaving like a self-seeking politician and is trying to complicate the judges’ reinstatement. Nothing has been changed after the general polls except faces. The PPP should accept the people’s demand and restore the judges. [The News]

MATTER OF CONCERN
[T N Syed, Rawalpindi]

At a critical point in Pakistan’s history, Mr Zardari gave priority to his domestic issues over the most urgent national issue and flew to Dubai. Had Nawaz Sharif not followed him, the restoration of judges would still be in limbo. Why a critical issue like this had to be discussed abroad is a point of concern for everyone. The casual attitude of Mr Zardari has cast doubts on the future of the government and its ability to deliver relief to the people.
[Pakistan Observer]

PCO JUDGES
[Kanza Khan, Rawalpindi]

The Charter of Democracy signed by the PPP and the PML-N categorically said that the PCO judges would not be accommodated to ensure the independence of the judiciary. Why does the PPP now want to accept the PCO judges along with the non-PCO ones? Is it not the negation of the earlier stand of the PPP as stated in the Charter of Democracy? Will the judiciary be truly independent if the PCO judges stay in their present position? This way the PPP would accept those people as judges who had not only violated their original constitutional oath but also the seven-member Supreme Court decision which nullified the emergency order of General Pervez Musharraf on November 3.

Will it not create two groups in the superior judiciary, which will be opposed to each other, and thus create a judicial crisis? Mr Zardari has been insisting that the decision regarding the judges’ restoration should not be individual-specific. If Justice Chaudhry’s tenure is reduced to accommodate the current chief justice, who is a PCO judge, will the same not be an individual-specific act? Any thing less than the full restoration of the judiciary as of November 2 will not be acceptable to the people. Otherwise the country will plunge into yet another judicial crisis. [The News]

ZARDARI’S U-TURN
[Dr Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]

Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari went back on his word about judges’ restoration in 30 days as agreed in the Murree Declaration and went on to say that what was announced in Murree was just a political statement and it could be interpreted in different ways. “I am not upset that you lied to me, I am upset that from now on I can’t believe you” (Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, German Philosopher). [Pakistan Observer]

PPP’S COMMITMENT
[Najeebullah, Swat]

At last, the anti-democratic forces succeeded against the coalition government. The coalition collapsed mainly because of Mr Zardari’s reluctance to implement the Bhurban declaration. It is indeed sad that the coalition split within 50 days of its formation. I believe that the PPP has lost people’s sympathies by not taking seriously the judges’ restoration issue. People want the reinstatement of the sacked judges, but the PPP didn’t fulfil its commitment. [The News]

ENDLESS EXPLOITATION
[Abu Abdul Muez, Islamabad]

Despite the passage of almost three months, the newly elected government has not taken any solid measures for the resolution of problems like poverty, price hike and law and order. However, it has increased the miseries of the common man by raising petroleum prices and withholding subsidies from edibles like cooking oil, rice etc at utility stores. The only concern of the government, that too for media coverage only, is the restoration of judges. However, it appears that it is not sincere in resolving even this issue and is attempting to divert public attention by exploiting it. The government is requested to resolve the judges’ issue without further postponement besides paying due heed to other pressing matters. [Pakistan Observer]

ANOTHER MAY 12
[Samad Khurram, Cambridge, US]

Our leaders have delivered us another May 12. Last year, it was a Karachi-based group which on Musharraf’s orders had over 50 innocent people killed in Karachi. This time, it is the PPP which is dancing to the tune of Musharraf instead of restoring the judges and trying to work for the people. Mr Zardari also met Altaf Hussain on the anniversary of May 12 and declared himself a brother-in-arms of Mr Hussain. He should remember the sacrifices these martyrs made for the independence of judiciary and the rule of law in Pakistan. Those responsible for the May 12 mayhem should be brought to justice and given punishment according to the law. [The News]

PCO AND NON-PCO JUDGES
[Khaled Ahmed, Islamabad]

I believe that Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and other judges who did not take oath under the November 3 unconstitutional PCO should not be called ‘deposed’ judges because they have been forcefully prevented from discharging their duties as superior courts’ judges. In fact, the post-November 3 judges of the Supreme Court, since they took oath under an extra-constitutional PCO, have little justification for being in the judiciary. I don’t understand why president’s assent is necessary for bringing back the real judges to an office which they still legally hold. [Pakistan Observer]

THE ISSUE OF RESTORATION
[Babar A Siddiqi, Karachi]

One day we hear that two parallel Supreme Courts are being established to retain the current judiciary and on the next day news comes that high court judges will be asked to take oath of office afresh. Earlier, a minus-one formula was doing the rounds to keep Justice Chaudhry away from the Supreme Court. Besides, word has it that the forthcoming ‘constitutional package’ will not only clip the suo motu power of the chief justice but also cut his tenure in a way that upon taking office, Justice Chaudhry will automatically be retired. On the one hand the PPP spokesperson says that the November 3 emergency declared by the army chief was unconstitutional and his acts thereafter illegal but on the other he hastens to add that the same illegal acts can’t be undone by an administrative order. This betrays plain logic.

I have a feeling that the PPP is being dominated by a small group of politicians these days. For instance, if we have look at the names which have become too prominent in the PPP after the February 18 election, besides Asif Ali Zardari we find in the top tier people like Rehman Malik, Farooq Naek and Babar Awan. It is interesting to note that none of the above-mentioned names have been elected directly. Another thing common to them is that all of them joined the PPP quite recently and became part of the central party command without contesting a single election throughout their lives. On the contrary, a number of senior party members who endured long periods of victimization and political suppression due to their honesty, integrity and commitment to the PPP have been sidelined by the new party leadership. In this regard, names of Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Aitzaz Ahsan and Raza Rabbani can be cited. I urge the PPP co-chairman not to destroy the party which is perhaps one of the few secular parties of Pakistan just to secure short-term ends. [The News]

JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE
[S M Cheenaby, Gujrat]

The issue of restoration of judiciary is just being prolonged to appease Musharraf, his lackeys and Mr Bush. The USA ambassador direct interference in our national politics explains it though denied by government. Never a party fell from national grace in just 45 days as PPP due to betraying sincere friends, taking them for granted in all arrogance. This was done for the sake of those who perpetrated bloodbaths of 20007,9th April, 08,and wickedly insinuated their leadership of the murder of Benazir Sahiba whose forensic evidences they hozed off under all mysterious circumstances which has been ignored for power sake and sham reconciliation called NRO.

Such moves have put to doubt all claims of PPP workers sacrifices for judicial movement, Benazir Sahiba great ‘shahadat ‘ for democracy: threatening double-speak of its leaders, ministers as if nation is fool. PPP actions have suited Mushraff-MQM whose behind the scene conspiracies were aimed to compel ML-N to leave cabinet. ANP- PDA partners should also condemn PPP for backtracking on pledges, ruining poor unprecedently in 45 days, forcing ML-N to resign and backing out on Judiciary issue daring not to undo all illegal, constitutional wrongs of Musharraf just because of NRO and Bush. PML-N, lawyers, judges and civil society must hold firm and achieve the great mission. The nation is proud of them. [Pakistan Observer]

PPP LEADERSHIP
[Muhammad Afzal Sadiq, Attock]

After the 2008 election there was a feeling that democracy would be strengthened and positive changes would be brought about in politics. However, the PPP leadership has backed off on the issue of the restoration of judges. Its indecision has resulted in a feeling of despair among the public at large. The matter is being further complicated by foreign intervention which is against our national interests. [The News]

DECEIVING THE NATION
[J P Mousevie, New York, USA]

The judicial impasse was not as complicated to resolve as made up by PPP-Zardari.If only they would have searched their souls and conscience to find a simple answer. Were Mushraff actions of 3-11-08 legal, constitutional, which he himself admitted as extra constitution? Despite such dastardly, gory, unconstitutional acts Zardari very conveniently condoned its perpetrators under the cover of ‘reconciliation’ and infamous NRO. But point to ponder-wonder here is. He could condone himself, others of every wrong under’ NRO’ yet not illegally ousted Judges, CJP and often tarnish their image.

He would cite personal instances of CJP to have not heard his case etc some years back, taking oath on old PCO, which was ratified by Parliament, his party was part of it and its reaching ‘NRO’ arrangements with Musharraf. Besides discussing legal aspects of judicial impasse his personal biases ,prejudices against judges make his case-position on judges: void and redundant. [Pakistan Observer]

MURREE DECLARATION
[Mahabat Khan Bangash, Peshawar]

Just within a month of forming the government, the PPP co-chairperson is seemingly scared of the media, the judiciary and the agitating civil society. According to a report published in your newspaper, the federal adviser to the prime minister on interior affairs has been threatening the print and electronic media persons to remain within their limits. The PPP government has not yet fulfilled its promise to restore the deposed judges in accordance with the Murree declaration. Why should Mr Zardari be afraid of the presidency? I don’t see any plausibility for this since the people will stand by him in case President Musharraf takes any measure to destabilize an elected government. I also believe that the PPP co-chairman will be uncomfortable with a free media and an independent judiciary because he is a beneficiary of the National Reconciliation Ordinance. [The News]

A STORY OF TWO HOUSES
[Adnan Gill]

Pakistan maybe short on food, water, literacy and electricity, but remains surplus in sagacity. Look right to President’s House, look left to Zardari House; you will see peremptoriness oozing out of the powerhouses. The source of their lordliness is much debated; however the similarities between the two cant be blanketed. One grabbed power to (allegedly) save the federation; the other to (allegedly) save the nation. Both suffer from the messiah-complex, hence landed in the power-complex. Both kneel to the House that is White, but not the one that is right. Both love to lecture endlessly, but can’t listen even momentarily. Both believe in the freedom of unrestrained power for self; moreover believe in freedom of restrained speech for the rest. Both swore their allegiance to the ‘establishment’, which never ceases to implement their commandments. Both defend the hand that penned the PCO and NRO.

Most importantly, both share antipathy for the judiciary. Collapse of ‘London Talks’ confirms, what everyone predicted for months; President’s House and Zardari House are the same and one. What shocked even the most seasoned political analysts is how brazenly and how daringly, Asif Ali Zardari sabotaged every chance of restoration of judiciary. If entered a dead-end street, reverse out of it with speed. Reverse the dead-end PCO hurriedly, and then worry about the NRO’s legality.

Considering Zardari’s wisdom, naturally one wonders about the conundrum: 1. For how long the public will live in a state of uncertainty, before the parliament would deliberate with certainty? 2. How many minutes Zardari deliberated on the Constitutionality of NRO? Doesn’t the same principal apply on the PCO? 3. Which law covers the disputed NRO, which was mothered by the prohibited PCO? In paramount interest of national integrity, Musharraf bestowed NRO on his fraternity. Reciprocating Musharraf’s generosity, Zardari crossed the party lines to be comradely. Cognizant of spirit of national reconciliation, would the NRO be given to the plebeians? Would they extend the NRO to the deposed judiciary too, so the masses could move on without a worry too? [Pakistan Observer]

IT’S THE JUDGES, STUPID
[Aqil Sajjad, Boston, US]

It is being said by some people that the present economic crisis is a result of the uncertainty created by the lawyers’ movement. Some people even say that the judges’ issue is diverting government’s attention from more pressing national issues. Such arguments are being given for ignoring the judges’ issue so that the economy can be put back on track. However, a closer scrutiny of the economy shows that the present economic crisis has nothing to do with the lawyers’ movement that started on March 9.

Loadshedding due to power shortage started in 2006 and any well informed person knew at that time that it was only going to get worse since the Musharraf government had made no serious attempt to address the problem. Similarly, the pressure on foreign reserves and the rupee was also very much expected due to the record trade deficit. This again had nothing to do with the lawyers’ movement. Likewise, many analysts were saying well before March 9, 2007, that the economic growth momentum was not sustainable. In the light of the above points, it should be clear that our present economic crisis is a result of gross mismanagement by the Musharraf government and it could be anticipated. The lawyers’ movement and the related political uncertainty is definitely not an important contributing factor in this crisis.

Is the judges’ issue delaying a resolution to the economic crisis? Should civil society give up its demand for the restoration of the judiciary? Again, I believe the answer is clearly in the negative for the following reasons:

1. The judges’ issue does not stop the government from working on the other issues.

2. A solid institutional basis is needed to put the country on a sustainable path of progress. We keep on having these political crises because we do not have sound institutions. Ignoring the judges’ issue in the name of economy will therefore only bring temporary relief, if at all. But if the judiciary does get restored, then we might have a better institution which should help the country in the long run.

3. An independent and credible judiciary is also needed to keep the excesses of the government under check. We all know how large-scale corruption and nepotism damage the economy. In the Steel Mills case alone, the government was giving away billions of rupees to the buyer by selling this national asset well below its value. The Supreme Court headed by honourable Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry prevented this big loss to the nation by stopping its privatization. It would therefore be totally ridiculous to argue that civil society’s emphasis on the restoration of the judiciary is a hurdle in improving our economy. Those who care about eliminating corruption so that our resources can be directed towards the development of Pakistan and the well-being of the people must come out strongly on the side of the legitimate judiciary. They should not side with those who are only trying to protect their power and loot through the NRO.

If civil society backs down on this issue for any reason, it will only make self-seeking politicians feel bolder. On the other hand, if civil society wins this battle, it might allow the people of Pakistan to assert themselves more strongly on other issues too. Whether it’s food crisis, inflation, law and order, education, healthcare, or any other such issue, our leaders will feel that they can not totally ignore the wishes of the people and get away with it. For this reason, even if one is not sure whether the judges’ issue ought to be the No 1 priority, one should put one’s full weight behind it. Such a national consensus on an issue provides a rare opportunity for establishing the power of the people which might not come again in our entire life time. [The News]

REAL RULER?
[Maryam Habib, Mirpur khas]

Who rules Pakistan? It is complete confusion. Is it US Ambassador, obviously yes with high frequency of contacts with government ministers who are so compliant to Bush agenda. P.M is hardly making major decision impacting national politics and made into a glorified assistant of Zardari who owns every good thing to himself with strange explanation,least impressive, justifying as one giving legal explanations while contradictory in practice. But it is certainly Mushraff, Zardari and MQM.

Now a corporate mega tycoon is made governor of Punjab to destabilize PML-N in Punjab. While PPP Zardari has given minority MQM their Governor and brought peace to them: Zardari –PPP kitchen cabinet aims shattering peace of Punjab by first betraying ML-N on restoring judges and now conniving dividing them to weaken its position in Punjab while giving false assurance of brotherhood. PPP-Zardari has exposed itself as completely untrustworthy and only loyal to Bush and Mushraff. [Pakistan Observer]

POLITICAL SUICIDE
[Abdul Basit Khawaja, Islamabad]

The PPP could not keep its promise about reinstating the pre-November 3 judiciary. If the deposed judges are not restored, for the PPP it will be tantamount to committing political suicide. Benazir Bhutto had stated categorically that “our chief justice is Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and we will hoist the Pakistani flag once again at his home”. But today, every Pakistani is confused due to the incomprehensible hesitation of Mr Zardari vis-à-vis the restoration issue. The forced retirement of the judges was an illegal move by a dictator who wanted to destroy the judiciary. How can his illegal actions be considered a part of the constitution? President Musharraf suspended the constitution twice, still Mr Zardari is trying to protect him. Mr Zardari should restore the judges immediately or else the nation will come on streets to protest against his policy. [The News]

BETRAYING PEOPLE’S MANDATE
[Syed Shahid Ali, London]

It has come out true that PPP-Zardari is intrinsically cast in political mould of deceit and double speak as practiced by benefactor Mushraff whose hatred, constitutional treachery to MLN government 1999 is known to everyone. PPP -Z has betrayed the voters of Pakistan by joing hands with Mushraff to damage first MLQ by creating a forward block and now betrayed ML-N by appointing. Salman Taseer, a buddy of Musharraf as Governor of Punjab is a clear indication.

It is now for ML-Q to fathom how, deceitful and power mad PPP-Z is all about like their benefactor Mushraff and, MQM. Mushraff has already proven his disloyalty to MLQ and they should never trust him again and should pay him in same coin. If he can connive forward block first in MLQ and now in ML-N,they should now create forward block in PPP-Z whose majority leaders are fed up with conspiratorial polices of Zardari and his kitchen cabinet. It is imperative in the interest of Punjab and Pakistan for MLQ and ML-N to forget their differences and join hands to frustrate Mushraff-PPP-Z-MQM design to subjugate judiciary, rule of law and fundamental rights. [Pakistan Observer]

PERSONS OR INSTITUTIONS
[Anwar Jalal, Peshawar]

In the ongoing debate over the restoration of deposed judges, some people say that institutions are more important than individuals. By such statements, probably they mean that the reinstatement of the deposed judges should not take place to save the institution of the judiciary. No doubt insinuations are more important than individuals but one should also keep in mind that it is individuals who make and develop institutions. If individuals working in an institution are people of integrity, principles and honesty, then institutions will follow a same pattern. On the other hand if individuals are merely ‘yes men’ then institutions will also be devoid of strength and vigour. Therefore the importance of individuals in building an institution cannot be ignored. This is particularly more important in case of the judiciary as it is the most important institution of state. The deposed judges are not a few individuals rather they have become a symbol of principles and integrity and thus are of great worth and importance. [The News]

FELICITATIONS TO MR ZADARI
[K B Laghari, Quetta]

I congratulate Mr Asif Ali Zardari on being acquitted from all criminal cases of past years. Certainly he owes his debt and gratitude to Mushrraf’s NRO and he paid it well. He accepted his illegal rule,confused and diffused judicial movement (though unsuccessfully), conceitedly distanced himself from ML-N against national pledge to restore ‘Judges’ in 30 days to pay back Musharraf. Another confused man is Aitzaz Hasan.He files nomination papers for election and next day withdraws it to avoid embarrassing PPP-Z.

Yet the most overjoyed MQM walas who seem to be so true of them. Nonetheless the nation starves with unpredendented ‘ mehangi’, no water,no electricity but all for richest looters.For poor the empty slogans of ‘roti,kapra,makan, are now the most hated sounds and talk of ‘humari sab se ziada qurbanien’. Lies and deciet is all about for poor! [Pakistan Observer]

PPP AND JUDGES ISSUE
[Maryam Habib, Mirpurkhas]

The PPP spokespersons are a source of disgust for party’s diehard loyalists since the former try to staunchly defend the party’s deceptive, unprincipled and vacillating stand on the judicial issue just to appease the presidency. Why did the PPP pretend that its leadership was not in the know of the by-elections’ postponement even we know that the move was aimed at keeping the PML-N top two leaders away from the assemblies. Also, before that the PPP prorogued the National Assembly session to delay a proposed resolution on the judges’ reinstatement. The new PPP leadership is reconciling with the MQM, the president and the reportedly with the forward bloc of the PML-Q, but is unwilling to extend an olive branch to the lawyers’ community and the sacked judges despite the fact they have stood their ground on principles. [The News]

HEROES & VILLAINS
[Muzammil H Jafri, Quetta

The Nov 3 unconstitutional removal of Chief Justice Iftikhar and 61 other judges of superior judiciary jolted the people of Pakistan, who view the Chief Justice as a symbol who defied a military ruler, while others bowed. For the people of Pakistan Chief Justice Iftikhar, Justice Baghwandas, Justice Ramday, Justice Sharrif, Justice Sabihuddin, Justice Osmani and 35 other honourable judges who refused to submit, alongwith lawyers like Aitzaz, Munir Malik, Tariq Mahmud, Ali Ahmed Kurd, Anwar Kamal etc are heroes, who have won the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan.

The villains are Musharraf, Shariffudin Pirzada, Qayum Malik, Hafeez Pirzada, Makhdoom Ali Khan and the judges who took PCO oath on Nov 3, 2007. Those who now choose to eliminate the People’s Chief Justice by Minus One Formula, are likely to become villains, if they opt to defy the wishes of those who voted them to power. [Pakistan Observer]

WHITHER PRINCIPLED POLITICS?
[Kamran Kiani, Rawalpindi]

Was boycotting the election a right decision on the part of the APDM? I think yes because we still see power politics around in which only faces have changed but the agenda is the same i.e. to cling on to power, to get maximum ministries and protocol, to use public money for one’s own luxuries and to accommodate self-seeking people in the ruling setup. This can’t be truer as far as the PPP is concerned. The party should read the writing on the wall. Before the election, the PPP had always been on the forefront of the judges’ restoration movement. A number of precious lives of its workers were also lost during the lawyers’ struggle.

Many bigwigs and outspoken leaders of the PPP were enthusiastic about the restoration of the deposed judges as well as the removal of Mr Musharraf from the presidency. They always denied backdoor contacts with Musharraf in television shows and didn’t shy away from committing themselves to the reinstatement of the deposed judges before the Feb 18 elections. Its workers accompanied Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s caravans, especially the one from Rawalpindi to Lahore. They set up stalls at every rally of the chief justice. The PPP got rewarded in the form of a heavy mandate that the people of the country gave it in the recent general elections.

Now all of a sudden, the PPP has changed its stance over the deposed judges’ issue. Also Mr Zardari has proved time and again that he is not a man of words. It is because of his political wrangling that the PPP-PML-N coalition in the government has collapsed. The PML-N ministers have already resigned from their respective ministries and this is the first step towards PML-N’s complete break with the federal government. The end of coalition must be good news for Musharraf but the whole nation is disturbed because the two parties have so far failed to restore the deposed judges for which they were voted into parliament.

Meanwhile, prices of daily commodities continue to increase, people bear long hours of loadshedding besides enduring an acute flour shortage. But the whole government machinery is focusing on the issue of judiciary. This important issue should have been resolved within the first week of the new government. The PPP has not only betrayed the PML-N but also the whole nation. It should not forget that its heavy mandate was because of its pro-judiciary and anti-Musharraf stance.

I fear the PPP would meet a fate similar to that of the PML-Q. If Mr Zardari doesn’t part ways with the dictator and the US administration, then on the one hand it will be disastrous for his party and on the other Pakistan’s sovereignty will be at stake once again. Consequently, the PML-N will emerge as the single largest party with a two-thirds majority in the next general election. [The News]

ADIEU PPP!
[Fawad Ali Shah, Rawalpindi]

It is high time that Aitzaz Ahsan also rendered some sacrifice and quit the PPP. Musharraf is no more the biggest hurdle in the restoration of pre-November judiciary. It is now PPP, or to be more specific, Zardari. PML (N) has a much more principled stance and they need our support. Aitzaz Ahsan can bolster that support by joining their party. [The Nation]

WHY TWO SUPREME COURTS?
[Malik Abdur Rahim Khan, Peshawar]

A proposal by a section of the ruling establishment has appeared in the press, suggesting that two parallel Supreme Courts should be established in the country to ‘solve’ the judicial crisis. The proposal is meant to remove the reservations of a major player in the judges’ issue. This reveals the mindset of some of our politicians who are acting like puppets in the hands of a dictator who wants to stay on in power at every cost. If a powerful lobby in the establishment demands tomorrow that there should be two presidents, two prime ministers and two parliaments, will these politicians agree with the proposal?

The PPP does not seem to be willing to reinstate the pre-November 3 judiciary unconditionally. Under such a circumstance, the PML-N should quit the government and allow the PPP to run the government uninterruptedly and wait till the next general election. The PML-N should not waste time on trying to keep intact a coalition whose aims and objectives aren’t clear. [The News]

JUDICIARY
[Muhammad Tahir Mazari, Islamabad]

The deadline for the restoration of the judiciary has ended. It seems that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which had quite an ambiguous stance over the issue till now, has clearly come out with its views in this regard. Sherry Rehman’s statement that the deposed judges cannot be restored through a parliamentary resolution is in clear violation of the Murree Accord. Yousuf Raza Gillani’s assurance to the president that there wont be any clash ‘for the sake of democracy’ can be interpreted in one way only.

The government has failed the litmus test which would have proven the efficacy of the democratic process launched on February 18. The PPP has shown its true colours in less than one month and there is no chance of it ever absolving itself of the sin of going back on its words. The inherent hypocrisy of the PPP leadership is quite clear for everyone to see, where it has chosen to express its antagonism for the honourable judges and yet opted to accept the dictator in charge. The politicians of this country have always let the people down, and this time it is no different. [The Post]

END OF COALITION
[Ishfaque Rustamani, Dadu]

The nation has been passing through critical times for the past several months. With the formation of a new government, people had hoped that they would experience betterment in their lives and that the living standard and employment opportunities would increase. They had thought that peace would be restored and tyrannies and traumas would come to an end after the establishment of the democratic government. Instead, what they witness is even worse conditions.

Soaring prices of daily-use items have badly affected the downtrodden and the marginalized sections of society and there appears to be no signs of improvement in their lives as more and more people find it difficult to make both ends meet. The prime minister’s hundred-day programme has still not benefited the nation despite the passage of over 45 days. The government should not play with the sentiments of the nation. It should rather take practical measures and make earnest efforts to fulfil its commitments.

It is time the government thought sincerely about the reinstatement of the deposed judges because justice is a basic pillar of democracy. A unilateral decision of the government regarding the judges’ issue will not be fruitful. All political parties of the country should unite and make collective efforts for national progress. Political schism, prejudice and biased thinking will never result in real progress. [The News]

JUSTICE FOR ALL
[Shaheryar Khan, Rawalpindi]

It is said with out justice, no society can survive. Justice is the key to bringing a nation on together. No socio-political and economic development can be done without dispensing justice. Justice demands that personal likes and dislikes should be kept aside and decisions be taken according to law of the land, with out political and national pressures. Justice lays down similar laws for every one in the country from poor to richer and richer to richest. As Muslims, we have to see around and ask ourselves; is the justice being provided to all in our society? The answer from our common man is no. The rich are getting justice on demand in our society while the poor have to grovel for years for justice. The new government has decided to bring a judicial package to restore independence of the judiciary. That is a step in the right direction. [The Nation]

CONSTITUTIONAL PACKAGE
[Naeem Malik, Birmingham, UK]

I think those who are welcoming the PPP’s constitutional package are forgetting some key elements of the current struggle for the restoration of the judiciary. They are also ignoring the key characteristics of the current phase of the struggle for democracy in Pakistan. The key aspect of restoring the judiciary through a constitutional change as proposed by Asif Ali Zardari gives President Musharraf indemnity for his illegal acts of November 3. This will be tantamount to sending a wrong message to the future generals.

The people of Pakistan need to fight against dictatorship. The judiciary, parliament, the army and the presidency are part of the state apparatus. We need to ensure that these state institutions perform their duties as defined by the constitution. For this purpose, it is very important that those elements of the state that have operated outside their jurisdiction and contrary to the constitution are dealt with accordingly before any new constitutional changes are even considered. The key problem is not the constitution itself, however inadequate it may be. The key issue is that one particular state institution does whatever it deems necessary, irrespective of the constitution, to impose its will on the people of Pakistan. It then cajoles politicians into indemnifying its acts. We need to break this cycle and we are in a position to do that now.

The judiciary that existed on November 2 tried to do away with the doctrine of necessity. Let us hope that the new assemblies have the vision to bury this doctrine once and for all by restoring the illegally sacked judiciary through an executive order. This will ensure that no future general imposes martial law again in the country. President Musharraf has admitted that he acted against the constitution on November 3. The government should restore the pre-November 3 judiciary at the earliest. After that, parliament can establish its supremacy over other state institutions through a constitutional package. After restoring the judiciary, parliament will be strengthened and can then proceed to impeach the president. A constitutional package at this juncture will do nothing to bring democracy, end dictatorship or bring justice to the people of Pakistan.

Mr Zardari and the current administration are doing their best to divert people’s attention away from the judiciary issue. Those who think that Mr Zardari’s attempt to contain the movement for the restoration of the judiciary should be supported because of some nice-sounding constitutional amendments are making a grave mistake. [The News]

PCO JUDGES
[Barrister Nazar Mohammad]

One does not understand how the issue of the PCO judges has risen to become an entity in the process of restoring the Pre-3rd November judiciary. The appointment of the PCO judges was ultra -vires and therefore not in accord with law, this axiom is accepted, yet still the politicians talk about retaining these Judges. Their retention in their current posts, without sacking them first, and the if needs be simultaneously re-appointing them, would be direct approval of the actions of the Army Chief’s – it would legitimize all the Emergency. My advice is if a compromise is needed then by resolution of the assembly, the PCO judges should be dismissed from their PCO posts, and then simultaneously re-appointed.

This avoids the legitimizing the Emergency – as step has been introduced, making the retention a separate and discrete measure. This is a pragmatic step. The Pre-3rd November judiciary can be restored by resolution authorizing the Prime Minister to issue an executive order -ordering the Pre-3rd November judiciary back to their posts – they must not be “re-instated” as re-instating implies acceptance of the Emergency- the Pre-3rd November Judiciary never lost their posts – if the actions of the Army Chief were ultra – vires. This adds a veneer of legality to an otherwise unacceptable position. [The Frontier Post]

AUTOCRATIC ZARDARI
[G Omar, Peshawar]

Mr Zardari’s recent press statements have left the nation in a state of bewilderment. Perhaps it would have been better had he refrained from issuing these controversial statements because they endorsed Musharraf’s take on the judiciary and other issues. Mr Zardari’s criticism of the deposed chief justice was egocentric and myopic. His oft-repeated argument that two wrongs don’t make a right shows that Mr Zardari is more autocratic than President Musharraf. His statements suggest that the Musharraf-PML-Q-MQM alliance suits him better than the one with the PML-N which has a principled stand on the constitution and judiciary.

President Musharraf will never let the deposed chief justice come back to the Supreme Court. Similarly the Zardari-led PPP is scared of the chief justice because of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) which was promulgated by none other than the president to largely benefit Mr Zardari. [The News]

SALUTE TO IFTIKHAR
[Dr Anwar Ul Haque Islamabad]

To Establish Justice is the Order of Allah in Quran You can see this in Surah Ar-Rehman Allah has created perfect balance in the Universe So that we may not transgress the balance Said Ali: Without Justice a Society can’t survive It is the duty of all of us to keep Pakistan alive Respect the independence and be on the right path Honor the judiciary and walk on the just path We salute Justice Iftikhar on his just stand The nation is behind him, world must understand There would be no bowing, no compromise As Pakistan is set to stand and rise Justice Iftikhar and righteous Judges: The Crown Glittering light of truth and Jewell of the Nation About to emerge from the utter darkness is new Dawn The Sun rise will chase out gloom of dictator; the Clown! Who can forget 12th May Karachi bloodshed? Truth of massacre of innocent can’t be suppressed! We want a life for life and an eye for an eye In this there is human life protection and sanctity We salute our Great Judges, lawyers and Civil Society We will crush false gods with help of Allah All Mighty Insha Allah there will be Justice, peace and true moderation Real Enlightenment with beams of humanity and education. [The Frontier Post]

PARTNERS IN TREASON
[Aziz Narejo, Houston, US]

Hats off to a PPP lady MNA who, according to a recent news story published in your newspaper, told the truth to Asif Ali Zardari on the judges’ issue as Aitzaz Ahsan sheepishly and politically expediently looked on — silently. Also, one should have a look at the hypocrisy of another PPP federal minister when he said that the constitutional amendment package contained an amendment to the Treason Act that would make judges taking oath from a dictator liable to prosecution and punishment.

What about working under a dictator, becoming his partners , sabotaging democracy and subverting the restoration of judiciary to pre-emergency position? Does the PPP leadership really think the common men and women are so unintelligent or brainless that they don’t understand what is going on? [The News]

SALARIES OF DEPOSED JUDGES
[Saleh Usmani, Jakarta, Indonesia]

It has been reported in the press that Asif Ali Zardari has directed the law ministry to pay the deposed judges their salaries for the last five months. Is the payment of salaries to the deposed judges not an acceptance of the fact that, constitutionally, they are still judges? Then why does the PPP government continue to stop them from performing their constitutional duties? [The News]

THE CAP IS TOO BIG
[Syed Shahid, London, Uk]

The cap is too big for Zardari who betrayed the great cause of Benazir’s martyrdom by breaking away from the judicial movement. Compared to her, he is a Class-III leader who has attained the PPP crown through dubious means of NRO and is running the party now through his handpicked lackeys. He now believes himself to be a political Plato.
His malafide intentions on the judges’ issue was clear as daylight from day one. He is with the Musharraf-MQM-PML (Q)-Bush combine. The rest is all hoax, lies and fooling the nation. He is stabbing PML (N) in the back. [The Nation]

OUR RIGHT TO PROTEST
[Samad Khurram, Cambridge, US]

Peaceful protesters have been demonstrating outside the Supreme Court daily. The PCO judges were naturally not happy with the ‘adliya ki azadi’ slogans that the protesters chanted and as a result the police filed FIRs against all the protesters. Let us remind the those currently occupying Army House and the NRO-blessed new government that Pakistan’s constitution has been restored and protesting peacefully is an inalienable right. We will continue to exercise our right for peaceful protest no matter what the self-proclaimed president and judges do. I request everyone to show support for the protesters and prevent them from being arrested. [The News]

THE NRO BENEFICIARY
[Farooq Zaman, Lahore]

With the help of NRO, PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari has manoeuvred the withdrawal of practically all the cases pending against him in the courts at home and abroad. His abundant wealth now stands purged of all the stigmas earlier attached to it. Due to a cruel twist of fortune, he has become the kingpin of PPP and is ruling the roost as the kingmaker of the country as well. Having reaped such huge benefits from NRO, it would be rather naïve to hope that he will suddenly turn on his great benefactor, President Musharraf who had promulgated the NRO.

The recent unfolding political scenario generally and the deadlocked Dubai and London parleys in particular show his loyalty to his mentor. Thus, the judges’ issue is likely to be dragged on furtively with a possibility that it might create permanent rift between the ruling coalition partners. If that happens, it will be a national tragedy. Zardari may eventually give in on the issue for better gains in future but only after he has received the Presidential nod. [The Nation]

WHY THE DELAY?
[Z Ali, Sahiwal]

The people are losing trust in the PPP due to its unclear politics which is only supporting the dictator. The party’s leadership should know that there are many others who have made unprecedented sacrifices for the lawyers’ movement by standing up to the dictator. PPP workers have made their contribution but it is also a reality that after coming into power the party has only contributed to the delay. [The News]

TRUE COLOURS
[Abdul Basit Khawaja, Islamabad]

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has shown its true colours. Sadly, the party members have shown that they are the ones who cannot keep their word. Moreover, if the judges are not restored, it is a definite political suicide for the party. Before the elections, the party had pledged that they would restore the judges with dignity. Even late Benazir Bhutto stated that, Our Chief Justice is Chaudhry Iftikhar and we will hoist the Pakistani flag once again at his home. But today the hearts of Pakistanis are heavy because it is carrying the burden of sorrow, a sorrow caused due to the behaviour of Mr Zardari.

Zardari seems to support the establishment, which desires to rule over Pakistan illegally by denying the people their basic human rights. The deposing of the judges was an illegal move by a dictator who wanted to evade justice. This cannot be allowed as it is the duty of everyone to obey the Constitution. Pakistan is ours and not the property of a few who do not fear the wrath of God. It knows how to stand for its right, and with the grace of God, now the people would take the matters in their hands. I sincerely hope that our politicians wake up from their slumber and realise that our nation is at the edge of destruction. [The Post]

TWO CHIEF JUSTICES?
[Sohaib Ali, Rawalpindi]

This is in reference to the recent statement of the prime minister at a press conference in Egypt about the constitutional crisis engulfing the office of Supreme Court chief justice. If given a choice, will the nation accept the chief justice who said ‘no’ to a dictator and upheld his oath of office or the one who violated his oath and acted against the order passed by a seven-member Supreme Court bench on November 3? I think that the answer to this question, which is obvious, should remove the ambiguity, if any, with regard to the overplayed ‘constitutional crisis’ since the whole matter can be decided within a few hours. [The News]

VERDICT OF HISTORY
[Hashim Khan, London, UK]

History is full of examples where small men squandered great opportunities for their own selfish benefit. In Pakistan’s case the historians, of the future will record how the first popular movement for the rule of law was sabotaged by an unholy alliance between Pervez Musharraf and Asif Zardari. Given the track record of both these gentleman, neither seems to be concerned about the verdict of history. [The Nation]

ROLE OF JUDICIARY
[Anwar Jalal, Peshawar]

Aitzaz Ahsan at a press conference the other day aptly remarked that without an independent judiciary there couldn’t be true democracy and without true democracy, there could be no real national progress. He also asked different sections of society to support the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of the judges in the larger interest of the nation. Mr Ahsan must be encouraged and supported because the ongoing struggle for the restoration of judges is not meant for a few individuals. Rather it is a struggle between democracy and autocratic rule, between the rule of law and the rule of jungle. So, it is the moral duty of a citizen, who wants to see an independent judiciary, the rule of law, real democracy and the supremacy of the constitution in Pakistan, to come forward and play their role in this struggle. [The News]

WHY LAME EXCUSES?
[Mahabat Khan Bangash, Peshawar]

Every leader of the PPP is skipping from answering as to why they are reluctant to the restoration of Judges Issue. Every leader comes up with the same excuse that first they have to solve the Atta and power problem first. The question is that who is stopping you from that problem? That is the responsibility of the ministers concern to go ahead. More than one and a half month has lapsed that the Govt. has been formed but we cannot see any progress in that area, when it is very easy to overcome the crises by importing wheat or purchasing from the new crop in the country? It is a shame that the PPP are becoming the part of the very dictator who has put the country and its affairs in sham during last 8 years and the country is at the verge of disaster only for the sake of a single individual. Then the PPP came into Govt. with the peoples mandate only against Musharaf and his policies and not on the outdated slogan of Roti, Kaprra Aur Makaan, because the present slogan is Atta, Bijli Aur Menhgayee, and how they would be able to answer the people in the public court? [The Frontier Post]

AGE LIMIT FOR JUDGES
[Malik Abdur Rahim Khan, Peshawar]

The proposed 18th constitutional amendment will reportedly be person-specific because it will enhance the retirement age of the Supreme Court chief justice to 68 years. All parliamentarians should reject this proposal. The government should rather adopt a uniform age-limit for all the superior courts judges. Otherwise the amendment will make a mockery of the constitutional reforms package. [The News]

POLITICAL FUTURE
[Haroon Paracha, Karachi]

As of today the following scenario best fits our political future: Pervez Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari cannot afford to reinstate Iftikhar Chaudhary. The May 12 deadline passes without event. The Pakistan Muslim League (N) is forced to quit the coalition. The lawyers, the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (Qazi group), the PML(N), the TI, society as a whole take to the streets. Everything comes to a standstill and there is chaos. Mr Musharraf is happy, the Americans are delighted, Mr Zardari goes away to enjoy his billions and Mr Kayani takes over to bring peace and prosperity to the nation and promises elections in 60 days. [Dawn]
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Issue of the Month: Ditching the People’s Mandate US Style

A WORD OF COUNSEL TO US ENVOY
[Amna Piracha, Islamabad]

In an address to corporate leaders, Anne Patterson, ambassador of the United States of America, is reported as having said: “. . . . . those opposed to American engagement in Pakistan have a limited understanding of how our partnerships — economic assistance and financial interactions — changed the lives of everyday Pakistanis in real and positive ways”. Perhaps this should read the “everyday lives of Pakistanis.” Whatever the exact wordings, given that the everyday lives of most Pakistanis are miserable, the statement shows the ambassador’s limited understanding of latent anti-Americanism in Pakistan. Perhaps the ambassador is referring to the Pakistanis who have found a home in the US and hence bettered their standard of living.

However, what is clear to the average Pakistani living in Pakistan is that whatever assistance the Americans have given and continue to give to Pakistan has added to the fortunes and lifestyles of Pakistan’s military brass and consequent suppression of the people of Pakistan. Whether they were the intended recipients of the largesse or they misappropriated the largesse is for the Americans to determine as they are the donors. I do not believe that the average Pakistani is in anyway ignorant of the might of the Americans or their largesse, only they do not see how it has benefited them and it would be of interest if the ambassador could give some examples.

The ambassador goes on to state that “people who come up with the most fanciful conspiracy theories do so in an attempt to distract the public from the true causes of extremism and poverty”. The fact that the Americans are interfering in the translation of the anti-Musharraf verdict of the people of Pakistan is to my mind not a conspiracy theory but a hard fact. Pakistanis, even the ‘uneducated’ Pakistanis are fully cognizant of the threat of extremism, and the result of the Feb 18 election is a witness and response to that. As for poverty, we are also fully cognizant of the reasons for poverty as also of the fact that those whom the Americans support have in fact instead of alleviating poverty added to it manifold by their irresponsible mismanagement, lack of management and loot and plunder.

Facts and figures released by the finance minister on the floor of the parliament would have put anybody to shame but, according to the ambassador, instead of despising these looters and plunderers, we should accept the American verdict that they are good for us. Also I may remind the ambassador that a survey of the ‘public’ will show the degree to which anti-Americanism has pervaded the Pakistani people. Nobody needs to distract the ‘public’. If the Ambassador were to, even for a moment, step out of her security cordon and meet the ‘public’, she may be surprised to find how enlightened (not of the ‘enlightened moderation’ kind though) the ‘public’ are and how reasoned their anti-Americanism is.

The ambassador also expressed the desire “to dispel rumours that the United States only works with your military … this is not true.” Historical facts would belie the Ambassador’s statement. There are no rumours here. The US fully backed and supported the military dictator and hangman Ziaul Haq who is now generally accepted as the root cause for the rise of ‘terrorism’ in Pakistan. During Zia’s tyrannical rule of over a decade the US turned a blind eye to human rights violations of the worst kind. It has shown and continues to show blind loyalty to Mr Musharraf who has exhibited a total disregard for the sanctity of the Constitution, has used the exchequer for his personal aggrandisement (imagine that a head of state and that too an unconstitutional and illegal one should put up at the Dorchester on a personal visit and spend 17,000 pounds a night!) and has given nothing to the country.

In the face of all this, what is the Pakistani public expected to believe? I think the US ambassador needs to revisit her understanding of our people and to credit them with some little awareness and, yes, intelligence. [Dawn]

HYPOCRISY OF THE WEST
[Daud Durrani, Charsadda]

It is very interesting rather sad that most of the western countries who claim them self as the champions of democracy always support dictatorship in the third world countries Pakistan is the typical example. So called lovers and defenders of democracy like America and Great Briton always backed military dictator ships in Pakistan only because it was and is in there own interest. Journal Zaiulhaq was the ruthless military dictator of Pakistan he had destroyed democratic institutions, civil society and human rights in the country but he became allay of the western countries in the war against Russia in 80s so he became darling of America and Britain and both the countries gave him full support and he ruled the country for 11 years and these so called supporters of democracy had no reservations about his military dictatorship because in those days military rule in Pakistan was suit them. And now once again history is repeating itself and these champions of the civil rights and lovers of democracy are supporting dictatorship in Pakistan because in the so-called fight against terrorism they need man like General Musharraf as the head of the country with all the powers in his hands.

Britain is the oldest democracy in the world and there parliament is called the mother of parliaments but from the last seven years Britain is backing military rule Musharraf in Pakistan because he is obeying there orders and fulfilling there demands in the so-called war against terrorism. Pakistan is in the grip of terrorism. bomb blasts and suicidal attacks are the part of our every day life and every one knows it that solution of our problem is a true democracy and free and fare elections but Musharraf is the biggest hurdle in this process and all the western democratic countries know it better then us but they have nothing to do with democracy in Pakistan because they just want to get there goals in the so-called war against terrorism if the people of Pakistan are suffering from the dictatorship let them suffer because the super power America and his crony Britain want military ruler in Pakistan so how can the poor and weak nation of Pakistan can challenge them let the Pakistani people sleep because every thing looks OK when we close our eyes. [The Frontier Post]

US ENVOY’S UPSET
[Arif M., Karachi]

A report says that the American ambassador has been upset by the anti-Americanism in Pakistan (May 9). She remarked: “I suspect that those who oppose American engagement in Pakistan have a limited understanding of how our partnerships — economic assistance and financial interactions —changed the lives of everyday Pakistanis in real and positive ways.”

One would like to tell Anne Patterson that we understand a lot about American aid. We have seen what it has done in Iraq and Afghanistan and in our tribal areas. What it does in the Israeli context and in Lebanon. She is reminded of what the Bible says: “Man shall not live by bread alone.” In our context it may be rephrased as, “Pakistanis shall not live by dollar alone.” The US should devote thought to what else it has been doing, apart from trying to buy people’s loyalties. Samuel Wesley had written: “The poet’s fate is here in emblem shown,/He asked for bread and received a stone.” It may be rewritten as, “The Muslims’ fate is here in emblem shown,/They asked for justice and received dictatorship, bombs, occupation.” [Dawn]

NO QUALMS AGAINST AMERICA?
[S Wasty]

A fool does the same thing as does a wise, but the fool does it after incurring very heavy losses. I will be a fool to ever lay my trust on those who are called politicians and expect them to deliver what they promise. Oh’ people I have been giving you all what I have learned by observing as to how foolishly people behave universally. Oh’ people, you have got utterly no other option than to come forward to organize a peoples’ lobby so strong through peoples’ unity that no one would dare to betray the responsibility people entrust on such person or persons. Oh’ people, I mean all the educated urban people, who can read, write and understand you have no other option than to work to organize peoples’ solidarity made up of the people, by the people and working for the total benefit of all people. Can you organize yourself into a strong solidarity of people? If you can, then you will achieve your goal. If you cannot, then you will remain content to put up with the slavery that you have been enduring. There is no other way. Either come out to come to organize your solidarity or remain salves to whosoever can take you his slave. [The Frontier Post]

US ENVOY’S UPSET
[Shiraz Sachedina, Karachi]

The US envoy is unhappy to see an increasing trend in anti-American feelings amongst Pakistani middle class society. If she looks at the overall trend in US policies over the years, she should not be surprised at the unhappy feelings not only amongst average Pakistani and Muslims generally but also in a number of European nations against American arrogance. An unprovoked attack on Iraq based on faulty and manufactured evidence, going out of its way in supporting Israel against the rights of Palestinians, would make any individual of any nation very unhappy at such a direction in the foreign policy of the sole superpower.

Within Pakistan it is the undignified way in which Pakistanis are dealt with when applying for the US visa in Islamabad. Looking at Dawn editorial of May 9 in the context of statement made by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson in which she stated that Mr Nawaz Sharif has to be watched closely over his conduct amounts to a very visible and crude way of interfering in the internal affairs of the country. I fully support Dawn editorial in this context. Ambassador Anne Patterson needs to focus on these things and rather than draw her own conclusion. As presidential hopeful, Barack Obama keeps on saying, since joining the presidential race, we need to change Washington’s ways of doing things. A change in style and a change in approach is long overdue before America can regain the stature and dignity it had in the comity of nations during the days of President Eisenhower. [Dawn]

US AGAINST DEMOCRACY
[Khalid Mustafa, Islamabad]

We do not know what are the internal intentions of United States in sending US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher to UK to meet Pakistan top political leaders but it has been felt by the people in Pakistan that Richard visited London-UK to chop down the political coalition at the Federal level to meet US interests. It looks that job has been done and hope people will remember Richard as US Butcher, who have proven his skills in chopping down the coalition. People were hoping to see Democracy flourishing in Pakistan in coming days but this will not be possible if Richard succeeds in his mission. Apparently, US does not wish to see the honorable judges back to their seats who were sent home in last year as US is favoring very much to President Pervez Musharraf. I personally think that if the coalition is no more then it will be a set back to the democracy. This is time to pray for Democracy. [The Frontier Post]

EASY MONEY
[K. B. Kale, Jakarta]

I refer to Arif M’s letter, ‘US envoy’s upset’ (May 16), quoting US Ambassador Anne Patterson (partly or fully): “I suspect that those who oppose American engagement in Pakistan have a limited understanding of how our partnerships — economic assistance and financial interactions —changed the lives of everyday Pakistanis in real and positive ways.” The real damage America did to Pakistan and many such countries is to make available to them the easy money that they did not have to earn but could spend.

Thanks to such aid that came under various disguises like fighting communism, containing China, liberating Afghanistan from Russian occupation etc., Pakistan as a nation and Pakistanis as people never faced scarcity or poverty making them soft and complacent. As against this, India faced scarcity and poverty including non-availability of foreign currency. But it stood up to such challenges including the economic sanctions it had to face following its nuclear tests. But finally all this struggle made it a resilient and self-sufficient country and today it has really taken off economically while still remaining a genuine (and at times chaotic) democracy.

It is high time Pakistan as a nation took the oath not to accept dole. It can borrow money for development activity, but it must repay these loans. It should be prepared for an uphill struggle for a few years, and it will eventually emerge as a much stronger nation. Easy money never made anyone strong, be it an indolent son or an indolent nation. A country which does not generate its own wealth to cover its need always goes down in the final account. I hope the democratically- elected government of Nawaz Sharif and Zardari takes cognizance of this and decides the course they wish to chart out for their nation. [Dawn]

THE AMERICANS AND ZARDARI
[Asif Ali Shah Lahore]

The Americans can no longer rely on Pervez Musharraf, but they have acquired a new stooge. His name is Asif Zardari. Zardari has insisted on keeping the PCO judges, and indemnifying Musharraf. Why? I think the Americans have evidence of Zardari’s wrong-doing to blackmail him, and to keep him in line. [The Frontier Post]

THE BARREN EIGHT YEARS
[Jafar Wafa, Karachi]

The worst thing that could happen to Pakistan during the eight – year autocratic rule was the import of a Pakistani – born American from Wall Street to be the prime minister of this country. This could have happened only in the country where chaudhrys and their ilk could keep the ‘sword arm’ in thrall. As for the establishment, it was the limit of subservience to American dictation. It is only now, when democratic rule has been restored to the country, that all kinds of accusations are being freely aired in the absence of Shaukat Aziz who was wise enough to flee the country soon after Feb 18 when tables were turned completely upside down.

I call this period “the barren eight years of Pakistan” as one cannot recall anything of consequence and lasting value, apart from something in the sphere of so – called ‘defence’ when one can hardly notice any possibility of ‘offence’ from across our borders. Perhaps, Mr Musharraf may be remembered by the residents of Karachi alone for his gifts in the form of Lyari Expressway and Northern Bypass when the projects are completed in the near future. [Dawn]
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From the National Press

ROLE OF MULTINATIONALS
[Sana Sabir, Karachi]

Multinationals, though regarded as a threat to local competing firms, have a role to play in countries like Pakistan. First, they bring in investments which add to our foreign currency and if the output from the plant is exported, further foreign exchange can be earned. The major important benefit that Pakistan’s economy will enjoy due to the operations of multinationals is that such businesses will create more employment opportunities. As a result, the demand for other commodities will increase the GDP. Similarly, the standard of living will also improve.

As multinationals are usually large firms, they arrange training programmes for their employees that improve the quality and efficiency of our labour force. Management expertise in Pakistan is also improving as compared to the past because of these multinationals, who also create competitiveness in the market as local firms have to bring their quality and productivity to international standards, as is witnessed in the telecommunications market. Tax revenue to the government also goes up with the sales or profits made by these firms. [Dawn]

PAK STEEL PRIVATISATION
[Dr Ali Akbar M Dhakan, Karachi]

The ex-Chairman Pakistan Steel recently appeared in a private TV channel and spoke about the privatization of Pakistan Steel thank God deal was timely struck down by the nine-member bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan, as illegal and fraudulent. The apex court unanimously found the process of privatization ‘vitiated by legal violations by the state functionaries, including act of omissions and commissions’.

The facts ex-Chairman uncovered being the person most relevant during the interview, were so revealing that any Pakistani could not but accept his opinion that for collusion FIR may be lodged against Shaukat Aziz then Prime Minster for such a blatantly underhand deal. He openly charged the ex-Prime Minster of his complicity of impropriety by insisting him not to intervene in the process of privatization despite of colossal loss nation was to suffer in the shape of extra benefits to be enjoyed by the successful bidders. He also resisted privatization on account of the fact that during the last two years alone PS earned huge profit of Rs 17 billion.

According to him against the sale price of Rs 12 billion, the bidders were getting land worth Rs 40 billion, spare and stocks worth Rs 12 billion and Rs 9b liquidity available in the banks. Over and above government had also accepted to pay the golden handshake liability to the employees for Rs 18 billion. Besides for this pittance the government had to tradeoff, the strategic importance steel project has acquired for the national economy and defense production of the country.

I think it was mainly the prayer of 20 thousand employees of the PS (and their families) who were to be made redundant that help came in shape the Supreme Court of Pakistan and privatization was cancelled. Had this deal materialized, country would, in addition to having suffered insurmountable loss of billion, have also faced crises such as created by KESC and PTCL, privatizations of which were also materialized by the previous regime hastily and surreptitiously. [Pakistan Observer]

INCREASE IN INTEREST RATE
[Shakeel Nizamani, Alberta]

The recent increase in interest rate by the SBP defies common sense. The increase will only help when there is demand-pull inflation and economy is performing on its full potential. Pakistan’s economy is far from its full potential, rather there is scarcity of almost everything. Oil prices and widening gap of deficit are culprits, which are beyond the scope the SBP’s control and such shortsighted monetary policy will rather create more problems. There are steps to be taken on the fiscal side like increasing the taxation on the rich and brining underground economy into the tax net. Moreover, corruption, which is the main factor responsible for waste of government resources, must be curtailed. [Dawn]

REMEMBERING MAY 12
[Aziz Narejo, Houston, US]

One year ago, a Karachi-based political group blocked Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s visit to Karachi at the bidding of a military dictator. That day saw violence unleashed on people and resulted in many deaths and considerable damage to private property. It was a brutal attack on lawyers, journalists, political activists and the general public to stop them from welcoming the chief justice and to hamper their struggle for independence of the judiciary, freedom of the media, democracy and rule of law. It is imperative that all those behind the carnage of May 12, 2007, be brought to justice and there should be no compromise on this. Furthermore, the military dictator and his new and old allies and collaborators must not be allowed to succeed in their efforts. They have to be defeated. The lawyers and the people have to rise again. [The News]

MAY 12
[Editorial The Nation]

ON May 12 last year, the industrial hub of Pakistan, Karachi, was nothing less than a war zone. Two rallies had been organized; one by the MQM and the other one by members of civil society in support of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. It appears that the historic reception accorded to the Chief Justice’s rally from Islamabad to Lahore was too much for the Musharraf government to digest and thus a replay had to be avoided in Karachi. An ally of the then ruling regime had gone public in declaring that it would not allow any other political force to display its strength. On the fateful day, armed men attacked the peaceful rallies. Live footage of a young man firing indiscriminately at the people was just the tip of the iceberg as the violence continued throughout the day. A private TV channel was attacked for its impartial coverage of the events.

More distressing was the fact that the orders given by the higher judiciary to facilitate the way of the Chief Justice’s rally were flouted. Also the orders to remove hindrances and barricades on the roads were not carried out, which resulted in a tragedy as the ambulances carrying the wounded could not reach hospital. Armed groups took advantage of this situation, torching vehicles and spraying bullets on the peaceful crowds. It is a pity that all this happened while the law enforcement agencies looked on. At least 50 people were killed and over 100 others injured.

Not to mince words, the bloodbath that occurred on the day, could have been avoided. There is a big question mark on the role of the law enforcement agencies who stood by as onlookers. Also the government at the centre could have asked its ally MQM to take out the rally some other day. Or the Chief Justice’s could have changed its schedule, for that matter. A New York-based human rights watchdog has held the Musharraf government and the Sindh government responsible for the mayhem. However to separate the chaff from the wheat, a probe needs to be conducted. The government must understand it is events like these that shatter the people’s confidence and therefore they must be avoided.

THE JUDGE AND THE PROSECUTOR
[Badar Jatoi, Port Coquitlam, BC]

I was shocked when news was broken by a friend of mine from Pakistan that a police officer a few days before his retirement from service has been appointed to head the office of the Sindh ombudsman. The office of the ombudsman was enshrined in the most revered and the most abused Constitution of 1973. However, practically through the Presidential Order 1983 it was introduced and the offices were established at federal and at provincial levels. The main purpose of the ombudsman is to diagnose, investigate, redress and rectify any injustice done to a person through maladministration on the part of federal or provincial government officials. The primary objective of the office is to institutionalise a system for enforcing administrative accountability.

The organisation of ombudsman was quasi-judicial, therefore it was deemed proper to appoint retired judges of the Supreme and High Courts. However, subsequently some reputed retired senior civil servants were also posted to head the exalted office. However, employing a man in uniform, though subsequently superannuated after putting 35/40 years of service in the police department as prosecutor, is extremely distressing. But unfortunately strange things do happen in this land of pure. I hope the present provincial setup mandated by the people for five years should re-evaluate the thing. In case the position of the ombudsman is not restored to its pristine place, the people will obviously lose faith in the organisation, which hitherto has established its credential as an effective deterrence against departmental highhandedness. [Dawn]

THE JUDGE AND THE PROSECUTOR
[Rafique Ahmed Siddiqui, Karachi]

Thanks to Dawn that illegalities like re-employment of a superannuated police officer on an exalted post of the provincial ombudsman has been exposed, reference Badar Jatoi’s letter ‘The judge and the prosecutor’ (May 12). Surprisingly he is not only enjoying this quasi-judicial apex position thanks to right connection in the corridor of power but against the expressed directives of the prime minister which he gave on the oath-taking day, he is allowed Prado 3,500cc, a brand new luxury vehicle.

However before questioning the use of 3,500cc vehicle by the ombudsman, one may have asked first the prime minster for violating his own decision by using BMW 7 series 4,000cc with protocol of 15 vehicle on The Mall, Lahore, as reported by Mohammad Suleiman Amin vide his letter, ‘Austerity begins at home’ (May 13). I agree with Mr Amin that it is time such improprieties were exposed in the media regularly so that the masses should know what their ‘servants’ and ‘representatives’ are doing with the hard-earned money they contribute in the exchequer. [Dawn]

STRATEGIC DEFIANCE OF PEOPLE
[Muhammad Waqar Aslam, Quetta]

This refers to your editorial, ‘Justice of the mob’ (May 20). Everyone would agree with your observation that ‘the country today is a tinder-box baking under a particularly hot sun’. However, opinions may differ as to how did we reach here. Two factors, I believe, principally account for the present state of affairs. The immediate one is, of course, the ongoing judicial crisis. No one can expect to get a fair deal there where the chief justice of Pakistan himself is subjected to injustice.

The other factor is the conducive environment set in by the uncalled-for replacement of deputy commissioners with nazims in 2001. The district nazim did not happen to be the exact substitute of the deputy commissioner and that is the biggest lacuna in ‘devolution’ (as they named it). The voids thus created in the time-tested administrative paradigm were filled by those elements which ultimately produced novel oddities as crimes-infested streets, ‘free-for-all’ prices of grocery items, rain becoming deluge, hiding of wheat harvest by hoarders, etc, etc. The districts which hitherto, under deputy commissioners, looked as the nuclei of state authority turned with the onset of nazims into hubs of socio-political instability. A real paradigm shift?

Nevertheless, the way Karachiites are now dealing with bandits also demonstrates a positive moral for the decision-makers of this country. Gen Mirza Aslam Beg used to propound a new theory, strategic defiance as he called it, when, as COAS, he addressed officers in Staff College, Quetta, and National Defence College (now NDU), Rawalpindi. He would also call it the nation-at-arms approach. Strategic defiance, as envisioned by Gen Beg, means letting the people take themselves care of their security needs. The consequent scenario would be a security cohort of the people, by the people and for the people. That is exactly what may be dubbed as popular defiance in the face of external security threats.

The difference between security by a state-employed regular force and security by the people themselves can be somewhat likened to that between public and private enterprisers. He used to argue that Islam experienced a tremendous territorial expansion but that all without any regular mercenary army. These days he exhorts that Lebanese Hezbullah and Iranian Pasdaran are doing wonders but those are not regular mercenary armies. With charred corpses of bandits in the streets of Karachi, crime rate suddenly nose-dived there. I think the vision of Gen Beg stands vindicated as the people achieved that at their own what the police could not do despite their enormous paraphernalia. ‘Justice of the mob’ is rather strategic defiance of civil society. National Volunteers Movement was a good initiative in this direction but that too has been shelved. [Dawn]

A MATTER OF SELF-INTEREST
[A Pakistani, Rawalpindi]

According to a recent press report, in a rare show of unanimity, senators belonging to both sides of the upper house of parliament joined hands to force their colleague, Senator Kamran Murtaza, to withdraw his bill to place restrictions on parliamentarians’ foreign tours. The reason given to the Senate for moving this bill was that in a country where most of its population was deprived of clean drinking water and one third of the population was living below the poverty line, millions of rupees are being spent on foreign tours of the parliamentarians, which is not reasonable.

Obviously, most parliamentarians with feudal or similar background will never sacrifice their luxuries, pleasures and comforts funded from the public money paid even by the poorest of the poor through indirect taxes. Worthy readers may please keep this topic of public interest alive through the readers’ column. [Dawn]

PM’S COSTLY UMRA
[Engr S T Hussain, Lahore]

According to a recent press report, former caretaker prime minister Muhammadmian Soomro performed umra at a cost of $2.8 million. Earlier the press had reported that President Musharraf spent Rs1.5 billion on foreign trips during the last five years. These foreign tours were made while 70 million people lived without even a square meal in Pakistan. In any developed, western country, no president or prime minister could dare spend this huge amount of public money on religious/personal visits. Still there is no remorse or embarrassment on the part of our rulers who have literally become immune to people’s woes. [The News]

LOAN WRITE-OFFS
[Mir Ali, Chicago, US]

Recently, national newspapers reported that loans of billions of rupees were written off by national banks in 2002. One such report stated that commercial loans of about Rs54 billion owed by businesses run by top political leaders and other influential people were quietly written off in October 2002 under a scheme to ‘clean up non-performing loans’ that had surpassed Rs231 billion. One-third of the poor masses of this country cannot even afford a square meal. On average four people commit suicide everyday and many reports have appeared in the press about poor people selling their children because of abject poverty. On the contrary, loans of Rs231 billion are written off just to facilitate corrupt politicians. The names of individuals and businesses whose loans were written off should be made public and their assets should be sold to recover the amount. [The News]

NOT EQUAL BEFORE LAW
[Jawaid Raja, Rawalpindi]

The manner in which over 3,000 residential units were illegally distributed in Karachi by a member of the previous federal cabinet is shocking. Had it been a country with the rule of law and due respect for the constitution, all crooks involved in the scam would have been behind bars by now. Unfortunately, this has not happened because our laws are not the same for everyone. Usually the approach in Pakistan is that the law is strictly applied when it comes to be petty crimes and fraudsters while those who have influence and/or hold positions of authority are exempt from its application. [The News]

PTCL’S ‘DAYLIGHT ROBBERY’
[Brig (retd) M Sher Khan, Rawalpindi]

PTCL recently thrust an unasked Pakistan package on its millions of subscribers without their consent. Public outcry forced it to give subscribers the right to opt out of this package. Recent media reports say that PTCL has arbitrarily reduced the duration of a local call from five minutes to two minutes. It means that now for a five-minute duration local call, subscribers will have to pay five rupees instead of the previous two, i.e. a 150 per cent increase overnight. What is the Pakistan Telecom Authority doing about this broad daylight robbery? The chairmen of these two organizations must answer to the public for sleeping on the job. [The News]

CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE LEFT
[Taimur Rahman, Lahore]

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or ‘civil society’ do not reflect the left. In political science, supporters of civil society are not considered to be leftwing. For instance the Wikipedia defines the left in the following terms: “In politics, the left refers to those who prioritize social equality as a political end, whereas the rightwing seeks to uphold traditional authorities and/or the liberties of a civil society.”

In other words, according to mainstream political science, supporters of civil society are not defined as ‘the left’ (although that does not mean that certain leftists do not support certain notions of civil society in certain contexts). Instead supporters of ‘civil society’ are understood to be part of the rightwing. That is why, if one reads any political science journal/literature one will very quickly discover that the promotion of civil society is not only supported by the rightwing (such as the National Endowment for Democracy, US), in fact, the right considers it to be a central plank of their philosophical premises (whether liberalism, conservatism or neo-liberalism).

The central plank of civil society is the preservation of private property (i.e. capitalism). The central plank of the left, on the other hand, is social equality that militates against monopoly of the means of production by the small ruling class. Hence, it cannot be said that civil society is part of the left. Instead it is an integral part of the philosophy of right-conservative thinking. Some people in Pakistan are under the illusion that they should be regarded as leftists because they are promoting ‘civil society’. It is their own ignorance of the differences between the theoretical foundations of ‘civil society’ and those of the left. It is only an example of the ideological hegemony of imperialism’s re-marketing of essentially rightwing notions. [The News]

DEADLY NOISE
[Sahira Rana, Karachi]

The residents of large cities in Pakistan, especially Karachi, are regularly exposed to very high noise levels, well in excess of safe limits. This constant bombardment of dangerously loud sounds can cause permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. Yet this issue is ignored by those managing the city. There are laws in place that require vehicles to be inspected regularly so that they do not pollute the air. A well-maintained car would also not make a lot of noise. Therefore the implementation of this law would help lower noise levels as well. And at the level of the citizen, we must take individual responsibility and not use our car horns unnecessarily. If we can lower these noise levels, life in our cities will improve by a great degree. [Daily Times]

HORNS – CIVIC NECESSITY OR NUISANCE?
[Hasan Adil Malik, Karachi]

Unnecessarily speaking loudly bearing music at high volume pressing the accelerator in vehicles to purposely create noise and above all the habitual use of obtrusive horns, are considered to be a public nuisance in all civilised countries. However, in Pakistan especially in Karachi, different kinds of horns are being used in vehicles as a ‘Necessity of Life’ at each nick and corner of the main road, street and service lane, regardless of commercial, residential, educational or hospital side areas.

It is not only that the uneducated/illiterate drivers, but also the educated and civilised class of people driving personally that are habitually accustomed to pressing horn till such time that the obstruction is cleared for their un-hindered driving, regardless of the red signal. At times, most people, not necessarily, but as a habit, keep on pressing the horn of their vehicle throughout their path even if there is no hindrance within meters around them. The drivers of some vehicles, queued-up on the road at a red signal, start pressing the horn impatiently ignorant of the vehicles ahead to fly over them at the green light.

Horns used vary and are of different kinds. In Karachi, motorcycle riders use horns meant for cars or trucks, while car drivers use the loud horns of trucks. Most of public vehicles use high volume horns, designed for use for locomotive engines on the railway track. Large buses, wagons and water tankers are fearlessly using high-volume pressure horns to scare away human beings on the road in the heart of city, while these horns are especially made for use of locomotive engines to disperse animals from the railway tracks by fast moving trains, through the jungles. All these horns used in Karachi, create an ear-piercing sound, which intimidate people driving patiently, create irritability and generate a wave of terror.

The majority of drivers, whether illiterate or educated, do not show patience. They drive either way or on the wrong side, over-take from any side, pressing the horn continuously to force their way at high-speed, ignoring the disciplined drivers, pedestrians and even ambulances. Most of the pedestrians walk on the service roads or cross the main roads from the prohibited side, in ignorance of traffic regulations. One motor mechanic says, “it is possible to drive a vehicle without proper breaks but it is not, at all, possible to drive without a horn in Karachi”.

The habitual selfishness, ignorance of traffic regulations and the violent attitude of drivers have turned the un-warranted use of horns ‘a public nuisance,’ into an uncivilised necessity’; but why can’t the ‘Traffic Police’ control such traffic violations in Karachi. The Chief Secretary of Sindh, DIG (traffic) Karachi and all concerned authorities should take immediate notice of the uncalled use of horns in Karachi and take positive remedial measures. [Business Recorder]

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF BOOKS
[Mubaraka Ahmed, Rabwah]

As a student of English literature, I like reading and good reading at that. What I have noticed over the years is that reading is becoming out of fashion or even if people do read, it’s either out of compulsion because of course syllabus or what they read can easily be called ‘trash’. The so-called fast ‘best sellers’ actually do nothing to improve either the language or sensibilities. They neither provide knowledge nor perhaps good entertainment. They can never be called gentle reading, as I phrase it.

English literature is filled with books that are enlightening as well as good entertainment. In the bygone days, education of a woman could never be considered complete without reading Pride and Prejudice, Little Women and Jane Eyre. Nowadays hardly anyone knows the name of Elizabeth Bennet or the lovely March girls or anyone who has explored the Treasure Island or the Coral Islands, read David Copperfield or Prisoner of Zenda, Moby Dick, Huckleberry Fin and Tom Sawyer are virtually unknown. And perhaps on a more literary note, Shakespeare, Thackeray and Somerset Maugham, which open to a whole new world of stories to be explored, both for children and adults.

Now due to the television, parents hardly know what their children are watching. What kind of trash they are filling their minds with. Television literally deadens imagination and it takes away any family time that people might have to offer. In a normal household you will see basically everyone glued to the television, especially children. Take away the television or at least cut down the time, and fill your home with good books; stories and amazing adventure, there is something for everyone. Keep away from the trash, you will see the difference. The amazing intelligence that comes from reading leads to a stretched imagination and the avid interest in the world. Have a story time. Read aloud. Enter the amazing world of stories, there is no end to it. Welcome to the world of books. I hope that everyone of you has a great trip. [Dawn]
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CSR Views & News

PDI FORM NETWORK ON OIL FIRMS ISSUE

The Sindh Network on Corporate Social Responsibilities established by the PDI (Participatory Development Initiatives www.pdi.org.pk) and Oxfam, non-governmental organisations, would press the oil and gas exploration companies in the province for abiding by their agreement with the federal government.

Speaking at a news conference at the press club, PDI programme officer Ishaque Soomro, Ilyas Khokhar, Tasleem Pasha and others said that there were 96 reserves of crude oil in the country of which 69 were located in Sindh, 23 in Punjab, three in the NWFP and one in Balochistan, making Sindh major oil producer with a share of 56 per cent of total production, they said. Sindh was in a better position in gas production as out of 140 reservoirs of gas 107 productive reservoirs were in Sindh, 22 in Punjab, four in the NWFP and seven in Balochistan, they said and claimed Sindh was producing 71.01 per cent of total gas produce. That was the reason that the national and multinational companies were investing more and more in Sindh and accordingly the province was paying more taxes to the federation.

The network leaders said that the federal government had also started oil and gas exploration in the ocean and work was going on in the coastal belt of Thatta and Badin, which would further increase production. The companies engaged in oil and gas exploration worked under a license from the federal government called “petroleum concession agreement”, they said. Under this agreement, the companies were required to ensure environmental protection and social development of the concerned areas including jobs provision, payment of royalty and production bonus. They said that the exploration companies in this regard had not only to fulfill their obligations under the Environment Protection Act 1997 but also the international social responsibilities. Under the law, the companies were legally bound to spend $25,000 at the outset and raise it up to $500,000 phase-wise on the welfare of local people, they informed.

The other laws, which applied to these companies included “safety in drilling and production regulations 1974” as well as mining act 1923, they said. In addition, the companies had to pay 12.5 per cent royalty to the government as well as production bonus, which had to be spent on the development of the concerned areas, they said.

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY VERSUS PHILANTHROPY
By Dr Mahnaz Fatima

[This article first appeared in Dawn on May 12, 2008.]

Generally, corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility are used interchangeably when the two concepts are not synonymous. A firm may be philanthropic without actually being socially responsible in the strictest sense of the term. Social responsibility does not mean responsibility to the distant society to the neglect of those segments of the society that are its immediate stakeholders. That is, the customers, employees, creditors, suppliers, government, competitors, environment, and the community. The society follows next. While it is great for a business organisation to contribute to the wider society, fuller appreciation comes only against the backdrop of the quality of its relationships with its immediate stakeholders.

The organisation should first be providing quality products/ services at affordable prices with full disclosure to its customers. This will be possible only if it enters into a mutually beneficial exchange relationship with its other stakeholders. Its practices should not be anti-competitive. For, if they are anti-competitive, the customers will have a narrower range of products to choose from. Since the choice and supplies will be restricted, the price charged will be higher and the firm will actually be engaged in rent-seeking or in making monopoly profits. The firm would then be gaining at the expense of the interest of consumers. Such a firm may donate heavily for education, healthcare, and community services but will not be socially responsible if its business practices are at odds with the interest of consumers. Such a firm would be philanthropic but not socially responsible.

A whole bunch of companies in the petroleum sector determined their own product prices in consultation with each other for too long. These pricing decisions benefited themselves but were found onerous by the commercial, industrial, and individual consumers. Such firms have a lot of surplus. On the basis of their generous community programmes, they may be called philanthropic only. Their social responsibility is suspect due to consumer surplus extraction. In addition, there are issues of adulteration and tampered meters that also need to be addressed if a firm wants to score high on the social responsibility scale.

Also, an energy firm may care for the community and, therefore, be philanthropic but it may not be allocating adequate resources for exploration to ensure energy supplies in the future. This is not social responsibility either if the country has to run from pillar to post, from Iran to Turkmenistan in search of gas supplies. Also, firms may be doing very well financially as well as in the marketplace by providing superior quality products and services but if their size is big enough to go public and they do not fulfil this requirement, they do not score as high on the front of social responsibility as they would have if they were duly listed.

Business organisations may be running charity hospitals, schools, orphanages, and community centres. Such organisations are only philanthropic if they do not pay their taxes honestly and do not return their loans. Parmalat of Italy is well-known for food products but the owners were hauled to prison due to fraudulent book keeping. Like Enron, Parmalat had developed reputation for being a good corporate citizen which did not bear out in any one of these cases as both these organisations were also engaging in corporate fraud at the same time.

So, to be a good corporate citizen on some scores and engaging in corporate fraud in some other cases, is a sure recipe for disaster. Arthur Anderson, World Com, and a South Korean conglomerate met the same fate. The outlook in our country is, “….see they do it too….” That is, ‘…if they do it, why cannot we?….’ This view can be strongly disputed on more counts than one. If they, in the West, do something unacceptable, it certainly does not mean that we must follow suit. For, socially responsible behaviour on all counts alone leads to accumulation of “reputational capital” that can be turned over into sustainable and respectable business growth.

There is a tendency to build social image either on the basis of social services and/or on being environment-friendly. While the sphere of consumer interest has been discussed, responsibility to other stakeholders in general and the employees in particular must also be fulfilled. Fair compensation, safe and decent work environment, opportunity for growth and realisation of potential are all obligations towards the employees that business organisations must fulfil. Employees must also have an opportunity to contribute by way of ideas. This would help align the organisational direction that directly impacts the employees’ own future prospects as well. Employees would then feel effective in steering the course of the organisation in an agreed upon direction.

Unless empowered, employees would feel like cogs engaged in work that is least stimulating and engaging. In short, employees should be given a sense of ownership that would enable an organisation to be steered effectively in dynamic external environment. Socially responsible organisations are also equal opportunity employers regardless of race, gender, and ethnicity. Developed organisations conduct social audits to determine how they are faring on these sensitive issues and what progress needs to be made further.

Cause-based partnerships between business organisations and NGOs are coming up to address social issues and organisational needs simultaneously. The UN struck a Global Compact with the MNCs to promote social responsibility at the organisational level. This is an effort towards harmonious existence of businesses with the civil society as some of its segments also interact directly and closely with business. In the absence of mutually beneficially exchange relationships, businesses are not likely to have sustainable growth. These relationships must, however, be struck with not just the society at large but first and foremost with those members of the society who are receiving business outputs and providing inputs directly to businesses. Then only will a business be viewed as socially responsible. [Courtesy Dawn]

BUSINESSES MUST FOCUS ON CSR

Founder of Helpline Trust, Hamid Maker has said that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a growing need in today’s complex business environment as prudent corporations have realised that their role is not only to make profits for their companies and shareholders, but also to be recognised as socially responsible enterprises. He was speaking at a workshop on “Civil Society Capacity Building on Corporate Social Responsibility and OECD Guidelines” was organised by Shehri-Citizens and Sustainable Initiatives at Goethe Institute, Karachi.

Maker further said that CSR is a long term investment that is very lucrative in the long term as it pays very high dividends in terms of customer satisfaction and brand loyalty, adding that social groups and public opinion then support plant expansions, introduction of new brands, products, industrialisation, etc. He continued to say that unfortunately in Pakistan, there is a general lack of corporate citizenship and most of them just believe in “lip service and cosmetic contributions” which project their organisations or their products. In order to combat this menace, Maker said, an aggressive campaign must be launched against manufacturers who are deliberately cheating the consumers with sub-standard and counterfeit products in order to gain ill-gotten profits.

Trainer on environmental, health, safety and quality issues, Samir Ahmed, gave a presentation highlighting that Pakistan’s legislative laws contain clear clauses stating that a free life and a clean environment are the basic constitutional rights of an individual. Explaining several laws such as Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997, National Environmental Quality Standards, Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1972, he stated that most multinationals and large companies in Pakistan were violating these laws. Executive Director, Sustainable Initiatives, Farhan Anwar gave a detailed presentation on Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and their guidelines for multinational enterprises, which are recommendations addressed by the government for the latter.

He said that the guidelines aim to ensure that the operations of their member countries’ enterprises are in harmony with government policies to strengthen the basis of mutual confidence between enterprises and societies in which they operate. He informed that Pakistan is amongst the “non-adhering” countries for these OECD guidelines and the government should sit up and take notice now and pass strict laws which would protect consumer rights and protect the environment at the same time, whereas the people should also realise and participate alongside in CSR activities.
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HumourWise

NO PERMISSION
[Mir Tabassum Mairaj Islamabad]

Statements made by the top leaders, regarding reinstatement of judges by legal means to undo an unconstitutional and illegal action reminds me a joke. With your permission I would like to share with the readers. A thief was being chased by a policeman and as he was close to catch him, the thief entered a building, where a board was hanging with a message,” No entry without permission”. The policeman stopped because he did not want to do an act which was not permissible. [The Frontier Post]

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Letters to FreePakistan

Thanks for the latest newsletter in which I found a polite rebuttal of my article you so kindly printed in your previous Newsletter # 88. I could not identify the letter writer’s name, however?

Mohammad Mossadegh had become a dictator, shut down the Iranian Majlis (Parliament of Iran), etc. so his continuance in power was less desirable than was that of the Shah, who had been in office concurrently with Mossadegh.

You will recall I wrote factually that the Shah fled Iran fearing for his life, whereas once Mosadeque was overthrown the Shah let him live out his natural life on his suburban Tehran estate in a rather comfortable style. This was one in the same Shah, not a new or different Shah. There is a great deal of false misinformation on the Internet about all this currently.

Of course I agree with the letter writer’s comments on my article (letter) that all this was happening during the earliest days of the Cold War, which greatly influenced both US and UK actions at that time in history. The old Soviet Union as I wrote previously tried to seize northern Iranian oil fields during and immediately after the end of WW II. Etc.

As the letter writer notes Mossadegh’s party was allied with and supported by the Iranian Communist Party.

Nothing either then nor now is perfect in world affairs. We are dealing with what happened, why, and under what circumstances. Nationalization of Iran’s oil industry in the early 1950s was upsetting not just to the UK who had much of the oil concessions in Iran, but to the entire free world economy. Tough as that fact is it then, and now, drives much of the free world’s international relations.
Game, set, match!
Thanks,

[GEORGE SINGLETON, USA]

[Editor’s note: Thank you! It was written by the writer of the article herself, Malou Innocent. The name is verily there before the citations.]

You may like to see my letters, published recently in the press, on the restoration of judges and on Messrs Zardari and Geelani:

JUDICIARY AND ANP
[Asaf Ali Shah]

This is with reference to the statement of ANP secretary-general, Ehsan Wyne, that the ANP would not risk deterioration of the situation “just for one person”. He was referring to the demand for the restoration of the deposed Chief Justice, Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry. Who will protect the rights of the smaller provinces in the absence of an independent judiciary? The restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is not just the matter of one person. Let us ask ourselves what will happen if Justice Chaudhry and other deposed judges are not restored. The executive then would always be free to sack judges it does not like, and defy judgments which go against it. Pakistan will never know stability or the rule of law. Like it or not, the politicians have to take a principled stand. There is no room for pragmatic compromises over this issue. (‘The Frontier Post dated 9.3.2008) (‘The Nation’ dated
24.3.2008)

SITTING ATOP A VOLCANO
[Asaf Ali Shah]

Messrs Zardari and Gillani are dilly-dallying and shilly-shallying while sitting on top of a volcano. They have very little time. They must get rid of the hated dictator fast enough, or they will be swept away by the public anger. The recent episodes of violence in Karachi, Lahore and Multan are just a foretaste of coming upheavals. (The Nation dated 23.4.2008)

[ASAF ALI SHAH, LAHORE]

(In response to the lead article of the last newsletter, Why Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry must be restored) He must not as he will be biased.

[JINNAH MOHAMMED ALI]

“THE wise are instructed by reason; men of lesser understanding by observation; fools by mistakes; and beasts by nature.” Thus wrote Marcus Fabius of Rome, otherwise known as Cicero, some 2000 years ago.

Under the present circumstances and in the ‘larger national interest’ we must presume that Nawaz Sharif (no democrat he) and his coterie fall into the first category.

Nawaz Sharif began his first term as Chief Minister of Punjab province on April 9, 1985 under the Martial Law Regime of General Zia-ul-Haq, who was his political mentor. On May 31, 1988 he was appointed caretaker Chief Minister after the dismissal of assemblies by Zia. After the 1988 general elections which followed Zia’s death in a plane crash, he was again elected as Chief Minister of Punjab. He remained in the position until he became prime minister in 1990.

Nawaz Sharif was considered by some to be a man of the establishment. He was elected as the Leader of the Pakistan Muslim League and subsequently the IJI (Islamic Democratic Alliance) by the ISI (Pakistan’s Intelligence Agency) as documented in the testimony of the then Army Chief in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Twice he was elected Prime Minister, twice dismissed for the same reasons (i.e.: Corruption), alternating with Benazir — November 6, 1990, to July 17, 1993, (with a short break between the dismissal of his government on April 18, 1993, and its restoration on May 26, 1993) and from February 17, 1997, to October 12, 1999.

This was Nawaz Sharif government in 1992, who called Pakistan Army in
the urban region of Sind to crack down democratic government.

There is Mian Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother, both now in the limelight and making what they think are the right noises. Nawaz is the prime minister who in 1997 wanted to arrest the Chief Justice of Pakistan merely because he wasn’t toeing the line, and he would have done so had sense not been hammered into him. He is the prime minister who ordered the physical assault upon the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Nov 1997. Now, Mian Sahib is the champion of an ‘independent’ judiciary and is calling for the restoration of the honor of the removed judges.

Nawaz cleaned up the judiciary (he created history when his party men physically attacked the Supreme Court and its judges), parliament, and the Constitution, his aim being to transform the un-Islamic Republic and declare himself Amir-ul-Momineen.

He moved on the army front, and installed as chief a person he thought would be an obedient sort of a chap (shades of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto). Having grossly overstepped the mark, the chief, General Pervez Musharraf, had no alternative but to move on October 12, 1999, and oust Nawaz.

For his own party power agenda Nawaz Sharif established power sharing accord with old enemy party PPP.
But he does not want to see PPP and MQM alliance.
Accord between PPP and MQM will bring harmony and peace in Karachi and Sind.
But probably Nawaz Sharif does not want to see peace in Karachi.

This was Nawaz Sharif who transferred Pak Naval training college from port city Karachi to his birth place city Lahore.

In past Naval Headquarters was shifted to Islamabad from Karachi.

Due to this short sighted approach of Nawaz Sharif PML (N) is only successful in Punjab.
They did not get any seats in Sind and Balochistan.
They got only five seats in NWFP province.

He and his family needs to come out from Chief Minister House of Punjab province. Reagrds,

[DAWAR NAQVI]

“We… anticipate what’s to come, then ignore what’s actually here.” Prior to come into the power current ruling party strongly demanded for the release of Pakistani renowned scientist Doctor Abdul Qadeer Khan and of deposed chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry from the house arrests. On 24th of March 2008, the new prime minister of Pakistan ordered the release of deposed chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry from house arrest. Now Iftikhar Chaudhry is a free man. But Abdul Qadeer khan still under house arrest.

Now days, they are very strong speculation from government site that the Pakistan’s supreme curt will be reinstated soon. Epecially PML (N) is putting all efforts to bring back ex supreme judge into the power but they are ignoring Pakistan national hero Abdul Qadeer Khan house arrest.

Why PML (N) take strong stand only on reinstate of chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry? Why are they ignoring house arrest of Abdul Qadeer Khan?

We are not seeing same handling for both personality’s. We urged government to disclose real facts behind this judicial movement and continuing house arrest of Abdul Qadeer Khan.

[DAWAR NAQVI]

Good attempt at hatchet job! Doctor Sahab – they already have a law minister and a home minister etc. You are making useless effort to promote yourself. There are no takes at this time. Just relax until your “Ganja Gang” has a chances again in your life time! In the meantime get off my back!

[AFTAB ALAM]

We are men of groans and howls, Mystic men who eat boiled owls, Tell us what you wish, oh King, Our magic can break any thing.

History witnessed Nawaz always creates FITNA for his own desires. He always believes in destruction and breaking up the agreements. Today he is with you but tomorrow he could be your enemy or vice versa. Again he is playing a role of Fitna in the current situation.

Nawaz Sharif had repeatedly expressed his ‘reservations’ about PPP’s coalition with the MQM. At last PPP’s coalition with the MQM ended up in a short period of time. It could be very bad for the mini Pakistan “Karachi” or Sind. Does he care? Once he was in the arms of General Zia and started his career under his shadow. And now he is poisoning propaganda against armed forces.

In the late 80’s Mian played a major role in the decision to join the IJI. He had been a prominent Muslim Leaguer and chief minister of Punjab during the Zia period, a position he held until he became prime minister in 1990. He had been a close ally of Zia and defended him even when the general dismissed the Muslim League government in 1988.

Then what happened to IJT? Nawaz insulted Imran Khan publicly; he brought his personal affairs to the public. He is the one who brought Seta White Scandal to the nation. He said many dreadful statements about Imran and his affairs. Last year because of his own desires he put Imran Khan on the front against MQM leadership which caused Imran politically a lot. He walked out from the election. Now he is heating up ANP for his political desires. He is a master mind in spreading propaganda. But he must know that. “Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves.”

In early 1990’s he came to Karachi and addressed to the people of Karachi. He called Altaf Hussain like his brother Shabaz Sharif. He made agreement with MQM. He promised to fulfill many demands brought by MQM. But in less than two years he changed 180 degree. He sent Pakistan Army to crack down elected government of Sind urban areas. He was involved in planning to break up MQM and create MQM Haqiqui. But his dream never became true. After some year the same people of group who tried to break MQM in different factions were divided by them self. And now we have many Muslim leagues. Nation does not know which one is the real one.

Recently he and his party used the same disgraceful tactic to break his coalition party PPP on Prime Minister Issue. They raised baseless concern about Ahmed Fahim, who was the number one candidate for PM position. But every one sees how they put Fahim against the wall. He promised Benazir that after winning seats he will give it to her as a gift and this was an open betrayal with the voters of Muslim League who does not like PPP.
Let us not be deceived by Sharif anymore; we must refuse him. Regards,

[DAWAR NAQVI]

(In response to the lead article of the last newsletter, Why Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry must be restored) I disagree!

[SHAUKAT KHAN]

[Editor’s note: Sure, sir! It’s your right and we respect it.]

Thanks for the continous updates. Regards

[NIAZ MUHAMMAD]

Attached please find my article entitled, “The Poor Uprising Ahead”, that got posted on the web magazine of www.prideofpakistan.com.

The URL Link to the page is:
http://pridenews.co.uk/eng.story.php?b=L2VuZy5uZXdzLmNhdGUucGhwP2NhdGVJR…

Kindly find time to read. Also, I would appreciate if you would also post the same in your esteemed publication Portal, please. Thank you in advance and with best regards always

[FAIZ AL-NAJDI, PRESIDENT: PAKISTAN WRITERS CLUB – RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA]

It is time to look beyond restoring Justice Chaudhry. It is time to give Pakistan a new Constitution that will ensure a few things like: rule of law for the common man, prevent hijacking of democratic rule by military dictators, an independent judiciary that cannot be arbitrarily kicked out, make sure that the politicians of dubious credentials are kept out of power, etc. About India I often write ‘ an Indian is at best a destitute’, do not let that happen in Pakistan. Create a Pakistan where the common man feels proud of who he is. The British gave us the rule of law, let us improve upon that. My interest is a peaceful living with honour for the common man.

[DV SIKKA]

[Editor’s note: Thank you for taking to time to respond. But I think we can not revive that tradition of rule of law that British for the first time set in the Sub-continent without restoring that judiciary and particularly that man who kindled a hope to have the same in Pakistan. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is the greatest hero that Pakistan ever produced.]

Thanks, I fully agree with you. Restoring the supreme court of Justice Chaudhry is the first essential step. Giving Pakistan a constitution that will give the people a rule of law is the ultimate goal. I pray for success of people like you who are striving in this direction.
Remember we were peace loving god fearing people. Restore that. The perception of the world that Pakistan means terrorism must go. We asked the Britsh to go so that we would have a better life. So far we have failed in that. There is no reason to believe that we will not succeed, keep up with your good work. with best wishes.

[DV SIKKA]

[Editor’s note: I love your views. I hold the same views regarding the British rule. There never existed rule of law in the sub-continent before the arrival and after the departure of the British. We completely failed.]

Thank you for putting my name on your mail list. Free News Letter provides us a forum to communicate which every one of us so badly needs. Having too little a knowledge of politics and economics, I maintain my communication with the common man of Pakistan through my articles in Pakistan Gulf Economist. These articles are essentially non-economic, yet find their way to publication by virtue of being the poor-specific.

I would request you to spend some time in the bazars, slum areas, low-middle-class colonies, Kutchi Abadies and interview the people you get in contact with, there. Jot down and report the results in your News Letter; of course without any editting! Out of ten, nine interviewees would come up with answers that will be a blow to your perception, for example:

The present rulers promised to control price hikes immeditaely, then why petrol prices have been increased by Rs.16/- per litre causing a spiral effect. Why flour has been made dearer by Rs.4 to 5 per kg. Why elctricity charges have been increased? Why rice and pulses’ prices are continually on the rise? At the end, and after being prompted by the interviewer, he or she might say, “yes everybody should get justice”. That will only mean that the institution of judiciary should be made strong instead of creating some judicial heroes who may themselves develope a dictatorial mindset.

The deposed CJ never did any thing to provide relief to the poor. Whatever issues he raised, were either relevant to the elitists of the country or were aimed at instigating the executive power (perhaps in line with some domestic or foreign script). The scam of plots was not related to the common man, nor the cancellation of plots brought any relief to him.The sale of steel mills, no doubt had a national touch, but was more aimed at confronting the executive. A number of prior sell-offs were shrouded in mistry as well but were never brought into question. KESC is one such example. Its privitization has added to the miseries of Karachites but no one ever raised any voice.

If you are really interested in the well being of Pakistan and the common man of this country, the solution is here:

– Immediately release the detained judges and retire them forthwith thereby forestalling possibilities of any unnecessary politocal upheavel at this stage.
– Give an excellant financial package to the retired judges to save their families from any hardship.
– The retired judges should be barred from taking part in political activities for at least three years. Any judge interested in knowing his political value may do so in the next elections.

How abou this Dr. sahab?

[SHAMS GHANI]

Thank you indeed for your email, as Iqbal said:

JAHAN MAIN AHEIL IMAAN SURAT KHURSHID JEETE HAIN

IDHAR DOBAI UDHAR NIKLAE, UDHAR DOBAI IDHAR NIKLAE

I shall be proud to be your associate. Best regards

[SHAHEEN MALIK, (MECHANICAL ENGINEER) ASSOCIATE MEMBER HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AND FREE LANCE JOURNALIST, BRUSSELS, BELGIUM]

Thank you for your decision to include my views in the next News Letter. I would like to state further to substantiate my point.

The restoration of judges and strengthening of judiciary are two different things. We can strengthen judiciary by revamping the system both judicial and political. On the other hand, the restoration of judges would only widen the gulf between the executive and the judiciary. One party will feel triumphant at the expense of the other who, out of vindictiveness, might react in a way that could lead to another stand-off – this time more serious and fraught with ominous dimensions. The infinite fallout will bring still more insecurity and misery to the people of this country.

By fuelling the “war of personalities”, we are doing no good to the country. In the heat of personal vendetta and show of one-upmanship, we have been oblivious of the serious implications of the restoration and reactivation of the deposed judges. Just imagine Ch. Aitizaz bringing a case to the court of the restored CJ with a plaint against some real or conceived wrongdoings of his tormentors. Will he be able to decide the case on merit. Perhaps not because, after all, the CJ is a human being. An endless list of such anomalies will keep on shaking the entire judicial and political frameworks of the country.

The only sane way-out is the restoration and immediate retirement of the deposed judges with a note of appreciation, by the present government, for their valiant efforts that are going to pave the way for some positive systemic reforms. These reforms might necessitate creation of a buffer to forestall any head-on collisions between the executive and the judiciary. The lawyers should also be thanked and be advised to go back to the boycotted courts where people are languishing since long. Some of the active judges too might be required to leave the scene allowing a neutral batch of judges to take over. As already mentioned, a decent financial package should be given to the relieved judges.

Now, for the war of personalities. Mr. Nawaz Shariff has been obsessed with the idea of pushing President Musharraf to the gallows. This is a big ask, devoid of any sense and totally in disregard of the ground realities. He, during his last tenure, deposed General Jehangir Karamat and immediately developed a sort of megalomania. He tried to take by the scruff of the neck another General and in the process got a retaliatory punch. He should have been able to shrug off the impact of that blow by now. Having no other alternative, the people of this country have reluctantly given yet another mandate to the two parties whose two previous tenures have nothing to sing about. To this, Mr. Zardari has reacted like a statesman by taking to the reconciliatory course rather than to opt for a hostile political co-existence. The nation is waiting for Mr. Nawaz Shariff, the senior politician, to take the garb of a statesman.

The peoples’ mandate, this time not heavy in any body’s favor, has been mistakenly linked with the restoration of judges. Whatever mandate the people gave, was due to the state of shock and disbelief they were in. This state was caused not by the sacking of judges, emergency or anything of the sort but by the apathy, of the government and subsequently the caretakers, to their economic woes that were out to endanger their very existence. What they have got in return? A speech by the new FM on the financial scams of the outgoing government immediately followed by a new wave of price hikes! This is an era of 50 channels. People know each and every thing about the doings of the previous government, but they have also not forgotten the meager sum of $700 million left in the national kitty by the then and now the present FM. People have now developed an acute sense of watching their rulers. They have lost their butter long ago. Now they find their bread under threat. Don’t try to snatch it away or else there will be no one to clap the return of the judges.

[SHAMSUL GHANI]

Dear Sir,
I am a senior journalist based in Hyderabad, Sindh working as bureau chief of Pakistan Press
International (PPI). I also work as voluntary provincial coordinator of Peace and Human Rights Trust ( registered). (I am the only second journalist in Sindh who was flogged with 10 lashes in 1983 in Nara jail Hyderabad and one year sentence during Zia’s Martial Law.)

PHRT works for liberation of bonded peasants from private jails of landlords in Sindh. More than 90% of bonded peasants belong to minority Hindu community of Bheel, Kolhi, Meghwar and other tribes who are discriminated and considered by majority of Muslims and upper caste Hindus as being low caste Hindus (untouchables).( In India they are called Dalits) So far Trust has been able to liberate about 3000 peasants from private jails of landlords throughout Sindh. There are more than 20,00,000 bonded peasants still working on farm lands of influential landlords in Sindh as bonded labour and treated inhumanly in private jails of landlords like slaves. They are denied free movement, education for
children, health facilities, clean water for drinking, sanitation, electricity etc.

Munoo Bheel is one among such bonded peasants. His family of 8 and one guest was kidnapped by a landlord of Jhol district Sanghar in May 1998. PHRT is fighting his case in Sindh High Court and Supreme Court Pakistan for recovery of his family The lawyers of Trust Justice ( retired) Rashid Rizvi, Aslam Rana (also Pakistan president of PHRT), Taj Qaimkhani and Bhagwandas got the bail of landlord, wanted in kidnapping of family of Munoo Bheel, rejected by Justice Muneeb of Sindh High Court Hyderabad on 25
April 2006. Next day Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chowdhry also held suo moto hearing of Munoo Bheel case and on his orders properties of landlord Abdul Rehman Mari were confiscated. On strict orders of CJP, landlord was arrested in Karachi on 23 July 2008. He is still in Hyderabad central jail (as of today 07 May 2008) Trust lawyers also appeared for Munoo Bheel before CJP in Islamabad. But alas since March 9, 2007 Munoo Bheel case was not being heard in SC because then military ruler general Mushraf suspended CJP and when he was restored by full court of supreme court comprising 13
Judges on 20 July 2008 the general again deposed him and other 45 judges of supreme and hight courts under his emergency rule on 3 November 2007.

Me Abbas Kassar at Hyderabad, our Pakistan president Aslam Rana advocate in Karachi (whose office in Tahir Plaza was burnt on 9th April 2008 by terrorists who had also burnt 6 lawyers alive) our chairman Mukhtar Rana in London and our district coordinators and field workers are also working to liberate millions of bonded peasants still languishing in private jails of landlords in Sindh but our all efforts are hindered by lack of funds. Majority of our field workers belong to Bheel, Kolhi and other minority community. Noted among them are Dr. Sarwan Kumar, Bhooromal Chansi, Soomar Bheel, Dr. Nihal Chand and Munoo Bheel himself. I appreciate your mail and your article on Munoo Bheel. I have also written another article entitled: ONLY JUSTICE CHOWDHRY CAN PROVIDE ME JUSTICE, SAYS
MUNOO BHEEL and if you like I can mail it to you. I also share your ideas on politics and judicial system of Pakistan. In the end I will make appeal to you if you and your friends can help us emancipating millions of slave peasants from jails of landlords. I will feel proud if I am allowed to work for your organisation in Sindh. Sincerely,

[ABBAS KASSAR, HYDERABAD]

If Iftikhar Chaudhry was ever a fit person to be a CJ he certainly is not so any longer. His position has now become highly politicised and cannot be maintained impartial a prerequisite for that position. He campaigned like a political leader when his case ( right or wrong) was being heard by the Supreme Judicial Council. This was not a conduct becoming of a CJ. Generally he is very unimpressive and was part of the bench who legitimised Musharraf’s illegal take over. His actions were all targetted at a commencement of a political career.

The solution to the present problem is to remove all the judges appointed by Musharraf post 3 November all those who legitimised his usurpation in 1999. Pick a new bench from the other 60 or so who refused to take oath and then go ahead with any Constitutional Amendments.

[ARSHED MAHMOOD]

[Editro’s note: This view that targets the person of CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry ultimately serves the purpose of the Establishment. What else they want if CJ is no more on the scene. Why don’t we see the General who defied every value and who made a travesty of the Constitution?]

The issue at present is the Judiciary if the same judiciary had not legitimised the General situation might have been different today. Further the wrong done by the General does not absolve the CJ of his wrong. With establishment you are talking about absolute force as the ultimate option for them and make no mistake they will use it in one form or the other this half wit CJ can only become an excuse for the precipitation of much more serious crisis but can solve nothing even if his own person was above question.

I think if Nawaz Sharif now does anything that jeopardises the establishment’s interests he will be exposing himself to extreme danger too.

[ARSHED MAHMOOD]

[Editor’s note: No, this is no time for compromises, expediencies, or fears. This is time to make radical decisions. Fear of losing something must not stop us from demanding the whole thing.]

It’s a view one can take only when what you are pushing for is flawless in priciple. CJ does not fit that criteria his own position is tenuous. One can pursue ones demand in a tunnel-visioned fashion with total disregard to other attendent issues and serious risks with Afghanistan, India, US and Israel all acting to the cause dismemberment of Pakistan to neutralise their percieved nuslear threat. We have done something similar in 1971. If one thinks that all this worth risking for the sake of a CJ of questionable merit then there is something amiss.
[ARSHED MAHMOOD]

[Editor’s note: It’s not for the person of CJ, it’s a matter of how countries should be run. It is disregard for this approach that so many tragedies happened to Pakistan and Pakistanis. It’s a matter of principles; leave the principles and lose everything.]

If the CJ was person of impeccable integrity and unblemished record it would be a matter of principle like this its comparing one bad apple with the other. If for example he had refused to accept the oath under Musharraf initially or refused to legitimise his usurpation then that would be a matter of principle and a cause worthy of pursuing without compromise. This is a bit like Anwar Ul Haq episode where he served all the purposes of Zia ul Haq to the extent of murdering Mr. Bhutto and then towards the nd of his tenure he had these pangs of conscience and decided to resign under protest! ( infact he was angling for position on ICJ in Hague). This wont do! He is not worth to fight over a new bench from the others who refused to take the oath yes definitely.

[ARSHED MAHMOOD]

[Editor’s note: It’s no angels in Pakistan we are living among . . . ]

True!

[ARSHED MAHMOOD]

Once again, nation is left confused about the authenticity of PML-N’s claim. The PML-N produced an audio tape that allegedly contains a conversation between PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and an unidentified person about a plan to sabotage nomination process of Mian Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif.

As expected, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi counter-alleged the tape to be a fake. In this day and age of digital wizardry, there shouldn’t be any ambiguity about the authenticity of such allegations.

Voice patterns of any given person are as unique as his/her fingerprints. Cheap and more powerful computers have transformed the art of ‘forensic voice identification’ into a science. Such technology had been in use for many years by CIA and the NSA to identify, isolate and track audio signatures of people of interest out of millions of other noises. Some of American police departments are even employing this technology as lie-detectors. If Pakistani agencies are still living in Stone Age, a news outlet should be able to make a small investment in buying software like ‘VoiceVault’. Instead of guessing, such technologies should enable the media to confirm or deny such accusitions. Sincerely,

[Adnan Gill, Los Angeles, USA]
==================================================================

Edited and prepared by
Khalil Ahmad

Email: khalilkf@yahoo.com khalil@asinstitute.org

[FreePakistan Newsletter, among other things, is a compilation of views and news taken from the national newspapers’ print and online editions. It is not possible to mention the source of every piece of news or view made use of herein; but as a matter of policy, where possible the source is mentioned with due thanks. However, no opinion expressed here should necessarily be taken as reflecting the view of Free Pakistan Newsletter.]
==================================================================

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“You are subscribed to the monthly Free Pakistan Newsletter, an affiliate of the Alternate Solutions Institute Lahore, Pakistan. . If you have received this message by mistake or wish to be removed from the mailing list, please send an email tosubscribe@asinstitute.org with the subject “unsubscribe.”

 

پاکستان میں ریاستی اشرفیہ کا عروج


سیاسی پارٹیاں یا سیاسی بندوبست

 



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