Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shame on You Talat Hussain!!

Syed Talat Hussain 'was' an esteemed columnist, television host and journalist of Pakistan, until today when he targeted someone for following their own harmless cultural norms. In his column in the Urdu daily Express News, he targets the famous Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie in his shameful effort to target the current civilian government of Pakistan. The article reproduced below gives an insight in to the way of thinking that is standard of Pakistan's new found pseudo intellectuals. The article is titled 'Jolie ka thhapparh' or 'Jolie's slap' referring to her criticism of inconvenience and lack of empathy in maintaining the security protocols of politicians while they visit the flood affectees.

The article instead of taking the valid approach taken by many bloggers, whereby they portray Jolie as an objective outsider, who has more sympathy than those who hold positions of power chooses to takes a shocking alternative route. He chooses to portray Angelina Jolie as a characterless, good-for-nothing and sham actress, who had her acting career propelled by the casting couch in the wake of her lack of appeal and her publicly confessed bi-sexual orientation. He further declares her adoption of kids as a cover up for her past life and concludes the article by pointing out that even such a lowly person had more sense than our politicians.

For those who cannot comprehend Urdu, a summarized translation follows each paragraph.

The opening paragraph introduces Angelina Jolie as a Hollywood actress, hints at her scandalous life and comments on her ever present contempt for social norms. She had (sexually) matured early (read slut), however, being ugly was a complete failure in the acting world.

She took to political-marriages to advance her career, fully utilizing each opportunity that came her way. Her thirst for success was devoid of any limitations so much so that she has contravened every value that forms the basis of a society's morality. The highlight of her continuous social experimenting is her self-professed stint at sapphism.

To blackout her 'past' Angelina Jolie has taken to adopting an 'assortment' of kids. This was publicized by her PR managers so effectively that despite want of ethics in general and Eastern values in particular she was made the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. If you doubt my stance open up the Constitution of Pakistan and turn to Article 62 and 63 which dictates the need for people to be good character, to not violate Islamic values, avoid sinfulness, be sagacious etc. Our notion is based on the principle that be they Muslims or Non-Muslims, people with lack of (good) qualities as Angelina Jolie should remain disgraced at all times. Had she been in Pakistan she would have been (rightfully) stoned to death multiple times.

But even a movie star, drenched in westernism had the decency to realize that inconveniencing flood affected people with protocol is inhumane. She recounts in her UN report that in such dire times the house of the Prime Minister had a lavish feast followed by a private in-flight by the PM's family. The report is a slap in the face (of Pakistani leadership). For what reason?! This Hollywood actress would be feeling more honored than her Honorable hosts.

After reading the article apart from the fact that I fail to see the purpose of the same, I am appalled at the writer's way of thinking. His obsession to impose Eastern values on Ms Jolie is beyond me and so is his persistence in alleging that she continually contravenes Western values, known only to Mr Talat Hussain himself. He does not find Ms Jolie attractive (for that I can only pity you Sir), makes an evil vicious witch out of her for being an actress and having scandals probably every person in Hollywood has.

He also has problems with her adoption of kids and more than anything her being selected as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Goodwill Ambassador. He is so spiteful of the superstar's appointment (due to her having no feathers in her cap bar some acting), that he did not even bother to look up the purpose of such appointments, which is to 'use their talent and fame' to advocate the cause of refugees.

One can understand Mr Hussain's compassion for Islamic values but the same values dictate him to refrain from thrusting them on non-Muslims let alone giving fatwas against them for not obeying the Islamic code. However, what is not understandable is the disappearance of this compassion when Taliban are going on a rampage bombing mosques, men and boys go missing in Balochistan and barbershops are forcefully shut down in the tribal areas and when the Lal Masjid's moulvis issue threats of suicide bombings and kidnap police personnel.

The article takes the thanklessness and paranoia that permeate certain sections of our society to a whole new level. Saner voices should prevail if the society is to prosper, therefore it is imperative to condemn Mr Talat Hussain's slanderous article against a person who came to help the people of Pakistan in their time of need. Thank you Angelina Jolie and walk away Talat Hussain with your head hung in shame.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Foot in Mouth Award 2010: Justice Ad-hoc Khalil ul Rehman Ramday

The Foot in Mouth award is awarded each year by the Plain English Campaign for a baffling comment in English language by a prominent figure. The comment can be inappropriate for being queer in grammar or content or both. The English proverb after which the award is named, 'foot in the mouth', simply means a distasteful or foul oration. The proverb I believe is self explanatory. It further goes without saying that if similar award was to be given in Pakistan, despite tough competition from Chief Justice Lahore High Court Khwaja Sharif, the outright winner would be Justice Khalil ul Rehman Ramday. While all of his golden quotes can fill volumes, some select few and their apparent fallacy or foolishness have been reproduced here to impress his exemplary personality upon the readers.

Not few days ago,
Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday said in his remarks, " the courts had been left with no task but to pocket insults." October 2010
So sir, you do finally realise your public standing? Had you paid a bit more attention to serving the people of Pakistan than focusing on lynching their elected representatives day and night, you would be receiving some accolades, but since you are not doing so, enjoying your well deserved share of insults.

He also observed,
“CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was held by hair and dragged, but we did not take any action. Whenever such an incident takes place, a strategy is adopted with wisdom. We did not take revenge on anyone for what happened with us after March 9, 2007,” October 2010
Are you suggesting that in following the course of law you did me or the people of Pakistan a favor? The fact that why the Chief Justice of Pakistan did not get a FIR registered is another matter.

Another member of the bench, Justice Ramday said that wherever judges try to raise their heads, they are immediately showered with hammers. September 28, 2010.
When did they raise their heads? Can you quote one incident other than 9th March? Also, may I suggest that you refrain from basking in CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudry's glory, using it to put yourself on a pedestal.

Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday said: “We judges cannot sit as silent onlookers if someone is committing suicide before us.” 30 September, 2010
What?! Didn't you guys do exactly that during the eight year Mush rule? Yes, before your sudden awakening! When all the banks, flour, sugar and rice mills, stocks in power plants, PTCL, KESC and many other institutions had been given away in shady privatisation deals and stock market had crashed twice.

These two quotes both part of the 18th amendment case proceedings, in response to different arguments pertaining to the amendment with respect to appointment of judges.
Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday remarked that the judiciary was separated and detached from the executive, but now the latter’s role was being enhanced while in the UK, the executive’s role was minimised in appointments.

“Judge is appointed by the Senate in US. But here in Pakistan ground realities will have to be looked into,” Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday remarked.

So sir, do you think people of Pakistan are stupid? We are not ignorant fools, heads-I-win, tails-you-lose is not going work. Be ethical and pick a side.

Justice Ramday cited in a judgment that Article 248 came up for interpretation in Ch Zahur Ilahi’s case (PLD 1975 SC 383), which stated the scope and the operational area of the said provision as “...the immunity provisions must, in accordance with the accepted principles of interpretation, be construed strictly and unless persons claiming the immunity comes strictly within the terms of the provisions granting the immunity, the immunity cannot be extended. The immunity is in the nature of an exception to the general rule that no one is above the law.”

The matter was further explained thus: “Hence, since neither the Constitution nor any law can possibly authorise him to commit a criminal act or do anything which is contrary to law, the immunity cannot extend to illegal or unconstitutional acts.”
Okay, so the immunity extends only when you convict people for actions permissible under law, got it!

On the formation of a judicial commission Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday said, during a hearing

‘Thank God that our ministers and bureaucrats are honest and angels. The sheer fault lies only with the judges; hence, they must be set right.’
No sir they aren't but the bureaucracy is not (directly) governed by the Constitution, hence their appointment was not covered in the eighteenth amendment. Seems you missed out on some crucial lessons at law school. As for the ministers, why do you question their eligibility, did you yourself not say in Court that it was up to nation to decide to whom they wanted to see as judge or otherwise. So why do you not honour their decision when it is not in your favour.

At a different date he further remarked,
The judiciary had rendered sacrifices, judges faced detention and hunger along with their children and had to let go numerous competent brother judges by way of the July 31 verdict (for taking oath under the PCO) only to save the democratic system. But, he said, the hands of the same judiciary were being tied.
Honourable sir, you with your fellow lordships suffered four months of detention in your house with your families. This was done at the hands of a dictator whom you strengthened and served unconditionally for eight years. For such support you deserve a minimum of life imprisonment. Moreover, while you walked hand in hand with the dictator, hundreds of politicians and political workers were tortured until they changed loyalties.

Should your logic be accepted why don't you give the political leadership of the country a free pass they have earned as per your logic? Each one of them has sacrificed more than the entire judiciary put together.

But above all his quote for which he truly deserves an award is his outright admission in the Court, ten days before the 3rd November emergency, while Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan was pleading the case of Justice Retired Wajihuddin.

“I am not ashamed if I had taken the oath under the PCO,” Justice Ramday observed. “We have made our country, its institutions and the Constitution a matter of laughing stock in the world.” He said that whatever ‘burble and verbal jugglery’ might be behind the changes made since 1977 in the Constitution, the country had been ruled under the Constitution.“But we sit here and waste days and weeks trying to understand (interpreting things).”
Sir, this was at the peak of the historic lawyers movement. You had the audacity to not only defend your oath under the PCO but also question why should you be ashamed. One is forced to wonder that had you been offered an oath by Musharraf again, would you have stood by Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry?

While, his lack of shame on committing treason deserves recognition, it is for his persistent shamelessness two years on that we award him Foot in Mouth.

Justice Ramday recalled that, "all the validations accorded by the judiciary were temporary in nature, but asked why the one who committed treason by abrogating the Constitution and the institution (parliament) which indemnified such actions had not been touched, but the judiciary was being singled out unnecessarily."

“All the subsequent abrogation and martial laws were not only accepted by the people but also given permanency by political leaders,” the judge regretted.

He said the 8th Amendment was one such example when the 1985 parliament indemnified all extra-constitutional actions taken by Gen Ziaul Haq.

“Why did the parliamentarians not stand up by refusing to validate Ziaul Haq’s martial law if the judiciary had given a wrong decision in the Nusrat Bhutto case?” Justice Ramday asked. He also cited the Zafar Ali Shah case in which the judiciary had given three years’ time to Gen Pervez Musharraf to hold elections.

Mr Ramday in his desperation has forgotten that the eighth amendment ratification by the sham parliament was challenged by Benazir Bhutto in Courts as it was un-Constitutional for being even the house so elected was unicameral in nature. He has also forgotten the non-partisan elections of Zia, the low voter turnout and the suppression of people by the dictator. Both the eighth amendment and the seventeenth amendments were carried out by parliaments which were a result of heavily rigged elections, yet you would go to any length to deny any blame on your part.

For all the above comments and your lack of shame in putting such thoughts into words, you deserve Pakistan's first Foot in Mouth Award. Congratulations!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

LHC Justice: Bail for Sohail Zia Butt, conviction for Rehman Malik!

The honourable judges of the Lahore High Court continue to leave no stone unturned in disgracing the institution of judiciary in Pakistan. On 11th October 2010 the court granted bail to the PML-N leader Sohail Zia Butt and suspended his three year sentence given in absentia.

The verdict is in line with every verdict given in Pakistan and worldwide. Verdicts pronounced in absentia are procedurally rescinded and sentences suspended pending appeals and retrials, the verdict follows all precedents except one.

Not six months ago, due to the ‘increasingly deteriorating situation in the country’ the LHC took a novel step by upholding the conviction of interior minister Rehman Malik. His bail was terminated and an arrest warrant issued. This was done by the independent judiciary in the name of setting an example, certainly it wanted to set examples it had no intention of following.

The fact that the conviction of Rehman Malik was done in absentia was ignored. The bench observed in its order while dismissing the minister’s appeals that, “after conviction, if a person is not taken into custody or not admitted to bail, such a person is deemed to be fugitive of law and would not be entitled to any relief.” It was in this scenario that President Zardari was forced to pardon Mr Rehman Malik, him being denied a fair trial in broad daylight.

The news published in Dawn News:

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday released PML-N leader Sohail Zia Butt on bail. The court also suspended the three-year-long prison sentence given to him by an accountability court.

The Accountability Court in Lahore had sentenced former MPA of the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz to prison.

He had been arrested by the National Accountability Bureau on September 1 over his alleged involvement in a National Industrial Cooperative Corporation scam.

The PML-N had termed the arrest of Butt, who is Nawaz Sharif’s brother-in-law, as “politically motivated and illegal”.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

President’s Immunity!!

THE endless discussion about the Supreme Court’s authority to interpret the constitutional clauses pertaining to presidential immunity is mind-boggling. Interpretation is required where ambiguity exists.

However, the concept of presidential immunity which we have adopted from English law by virtue of article 248 of the Constitution of 1973 is unambiguous and clear.

Attempts by certain analysts and experts to limit its application to acts done in capacity of the president are also shocking.

The presidential immunity, which is the reflection of sovereign immunity granted to heads of state has always extended to all acts as long as the person remains in office.

The French courts do not take action against Sarkozy for acts like his alleged involvement in the submarine scandal, allegedly done while he was not the president and the Sudanese president is not arrested anywhere around the world despite an International Criminal Court warrant due to his sovereign immunity, for violations he did while in office, as long as he is the president.

President Zardari is the lawfully elected president and is as such immune from any legal action.

While the general public would love the dramatics of conviction of a sitting president, such pleasure at the cost of virtual suspension of an article in the Constitution is a heavy price.

The repeated swearing of allegiances by various socio-political figures to the government or the Supreme Court is self evident of the travesty of the situation since there is only one side in this supposed battle, the Constitution.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Taliban: Victorious

Tomorrow on eleventh of September 2010, when Eid-ul-Fitr coincides with the 9/11 anniversary it will be decided whether America surrenders to Taliban. The way I see it, it is simple.

Taliban is an ideology, they believe in enforcement of their religious beliefs on others and usurping human rights. It does not matter if Afghanistan or Somalia where Taliban hold considerable power stand or fall. The troops can stay as long as Western powers can afford to but if the West gets infected with the same virus there will be little point in continuing the war.

In 2001, the Taliban announced their plans to destroy the landmark Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. The decision caused outrage among the global community. United Arab Emirates and Pakistan two of the three countries that recognized the Taliban regime requested that they are willing host the statues. But Taliban leader, Mullah Umar's stance was clear, that destruction of idols is the law and law must be implemented at all costs (the shariah law as interpreted by Taliban).

Today, history is on the verge of repeating it self. A pastor in Florida has announced a Quran burning event, though he is said to have called off and then reinstated the event the reaction of the West is not much different. Freedom of speech is the law, law must be implemented. At best we can use an anti pollution law to make them stop, but they can still go to the neighboring state where the law is lax.

In 2001, the international efforts went in vain, the Buddhas statues were desecrated and destroyed and the matter faded into oblivion. And while there is whole lot of tantrum about the event in Western press the only reason the pastor is being pressured into changing his plans is the fear of backlash globally and the director threat it may pose to US soldiers in Afghanistan.

The fact that it is an act of religious intolerance and similar to that done by the Taliban is not really what forces the leaders of Western world to deplore the act. The Taliban has indeed truly emerged victorious.

That said, a word to my fellow Muslim and especially Pakistani Muslims. You were over joyed at the Taliban's destruction of the statues and the saner voices though scarce had to lay low. So kindly, stop saying that you respect other peoples religion when clearly your history (and mine) is to the contrary.

Two wrongs do not make a right, and when the pastor commits the horrific act he shall join the ranks of Taliban but in the end its their country just like Taliban was yours. So record your protest peacefully and shut up! Come what may, violence is not justifiable.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Flood Tales!!

The floods have caused devastation and despair, yet they do not deprive humans of their ability to find solace and joy. Most mundane of things bring a smile to our faces in these times of national distress and here are two such incidents.

Bhoori the Swimming Cow:

When flash floods hit Kot Addu in the eastern Pakistan, it swept away many homes and among them it swept away the home of 70 year old Zainab Bibi. Thirty members of Zainab's family consisting her children and grandchildren were swept away while they were sleeping on roof tops to escape Pakistan's scorching summers.

Though the 70-year-old widow is optimistic about reuniting with them soon. For now, she only has the company of her cow, Bhoori.

“Allah Saeen Karam Karaisy na Bhoori?” (Allah Almighty will bless our Bhoori) says the woman in her native Seraiki as she addresses the cow which shakes its head in response.

“I was sleeping in the courtyard near the cattle pen while my sons and their families were present on the roof-top when a gush of water threw me up. Moments later Bhoori came from nowhere and I clung to her neck. We floated around for many hours and it was around Fajr (morning) that I finally felt ground under my feet. It was Bhoori that brought me to a dry spot from where our neighbours brought us here,” Zainab told Dawn near a relief camp on the outskirts of Muzaffargarh.

Residents of Kot Addu, Mahmood Kot, Sanawan and Gurmani where Zainab’s daughters lived had also taken refuge in the deserted residential colony which has several rooms without roofs and doors. None had a word about the missing daughters or sons of Zainab whose “heart says all her children are safe and would soon be with her”.

“I have made a pledge that once all of us have been reunited, I will first go to the shrine of Baba Pir Mitha with my children before returning to my village.” Ghulam Qadir, Lateef and four others of Khooh Keemaywala and Basti Chakkarwali too were away from their families when the floods hit but have since re-established contact with them.They shifted their cattle along an elevated portion of G.T. Road near Chenab Bridge some 10 days ago when flood water started surrounding their settlements on the small hills some eight kilometers away.

Source: Dawn News

The Two Brothers of Rajanpur:

This is the story of two brothers in Rajanpur, southern Pakistan. While the loss of lives, livelihoods, homes and businesses has been the main tragedy for most, the loss of their buffalo has been heartbreaking for these two kids.

The floods ruined homes and shelters, farms and livestock, however, the loss of their buffalo is the greatest for them which was the source of their daily ten liters dose of milk.

The house of Wali Muhammad, resident of Murghai village of Rajanpur district was swept away in the recent floods and with them the flood waters also took away the cow providing milk to his two children.

According to him, his seven year old son Sadaaqat Ali drinks 5 liters of milk daily and weighs 75 kg or 165 pounds. His other son, nine year old Bakht Ali drinks the same amount of milk and weighs 90 kg or 200 pounds.

Taking note of the event, the provincial home minister, Zulfiqar Mirza has ordered two cows from his personal stock to be delivered immediately to the affected family.

Source: Geo News

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sialkot's Entry on the Walk of Shame!!

Pakistani nation is in shock!!

Two boys rounded up in broad daylight and literary being beaten to death, pleading for mercy amongst a crowd of people who were getting amused and occasionally throwing stones to spice up the low scale reenactment of holocaust. This was not 1st century BC Rome, it is 21st century AD Pakistan.

As the nation's bloggers and facebook users express outrage, they sink to a new level of hypocrisy. The incident in Sialkot was neither new nor first. Nor it was contradictory to what is being advocated in every mosque in this nation. One would have thought that the advent of private television channels would be a harbinger of some pleasant change but in vain. Most of these channels continue to promote televangelists and anchors who all advocate one think,

'ibratnaak saza'!

People like Zaid Hamid, Aamir Liaquat Hussain and Shahid Masood continue to spread hatred, and are instantly rehired by another television channel when they quit the first one. They are popular but again so were the murderous games in Rome, slavery in Southern states of US and female circumcision in Egypt. Yet today, not one of these countries has a persona so devoid of conscience, to allow these acts to be legalized or even hear out some one advocating them. Courts would send the perpetrators of such acts and their promoters to jail if not gallows.

But sadly this is Pakistan. We talk about stoning people to death, killing them in cold blood or cutting of their hands in the name of religion. We forget quite conveniently while imparting Islamic teachings that this and any punishment if they are indeed set out in Islam, will be meted out by Courts. At best the presence of a government form a post script in our mosques if they are mentioned at all. O, yeah they are indeed always mentioned as puppet of the West etc but their legitimacy is not to be acknowleged.

Sadly the chronic disease has also affected the judges of the nation many of whom often give statements, that 'punishment will be meted out', instead of what the jurists world over would say that is, 'justice shall be done'.

The social fabric of this nation has withered and at the core of the problem is abandonment of a principles based set of values for a rule based set of religious teachings. President of Pakistan and Chief Justice of Pakistan may have taken notice of the incident but unless we change our course books, remodel our schools, ban our madrassas and dishonor the honor killers, it falls well short of progress.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pakistani Media: Of Floods, facts and fiction!!

If the floods that wreaked havoc in the country were of Biblical proportions, they compare nothing to the propaganda unleashed upon the political ruling class of the current setup by the media.

To the average urban Pakistani, now it is high time that we do away with this 'incompetent regime' which has failed to deliver the masses. The civilian leaders are a paradigm of corruption and worse, simply disinterested.

Their conviction is only strengthened when their ever so sincere media relays pictures of their even braver saviors who have come around to rescue those caught in the calamity. How shall we ever repay them (may I suggest some more plots in DHA), bellow anchors invoking the guilt of the educated middle class, not unlike in manner to a chain message which predicts bad fortune and God's wrath upon those who will not pass them along to at least ten people.

The media, print and electronic alike have plunged into a 24/7 mission to tarnish the image of the present government led by the Pakistan Peoples Party and as always feign ignorance and surprise when someone points it out. Obviously if you give arguments for your case the media would either censor it altogether or go into a mad uproar. All the channels would instantaneously come to the rescue of their fraternity despite their utter yellow journalistic attitudes and sensationalizing of issues.

President Zardari went on a trip to Europe and media had a blast criticizing him for ten days. The visit's coverage clearly exceeded that of the floods on most channels and it was condemned across the board. But then, he came back and started visiting the flood affected areas. The opposition and anger started subsiding and soon the establishment had realized the folly of its campaign against Asif Ali Zardari. As it dawned on it that the real beneficiary of the event had become the Sharif brothers and even PM Gilani who were visiting the flood affected areas and taking personal part in the rescue efforts. Thus a new set of instructions were evidently dispatched to all the news channels.

The folly they realized was that it was imperative that people should lose faith in the entire political leadership. The campaign against PPP, was presenting PML-N as an alternative, hence more democracy and a sentiment to oust the government through the ballot box, be it mid-term or full term elections. This was unacceptable, as democratic traditions must be prevented from taking roots at all costs. The consistently held by-polls have done enough damage an ouster of government through election would have pulled the curtain of Martial Law Take 5 before it has been raised.

As if on cue, all footage of the Sharif brothers was taken off air. The pictures of Shahbaz Sharif touring the affected areas, suspending DCOs and admonishing officers while the senior Sharif made his way down the country were given a thumbs down. The PML-N joined PPP in being blamed for unpreparedness, lack of coordination and corruption previously unmatched. The media started questioning the credibility of government day and night, and than expressed amusement why the present government lacks credibility.

To them the present government is corrupt, but no proof is provided, except that international institutions say so. Transparency International's ranking for the level of perceived corruption in Pakistan for years 2007,2008 and 2009 are 138, 134 and 139. The score hovering between 2.4 and 2.5 thus practically same as the previous regime, so what international organization is media getting its statistics from? Columnists and shamefully a few very esteemed ones have joined in calling for the appropriated national wealth to be returned by the politicians like Nawaz and Zardari who have assets of $ 1.4 and $1.8 billion respectively. No one knows where did the figures come from? They are certainly not on the list of Forbes billionaires, and their wealth statement does not say so, yet media slips in these figures continuously.

Through out the day private television channels are out on a crusade to malign the political setup. The first page of most newspapers talks about government's lack of efforts. They blame the government for being unable to provide people with relief. The inadequacy of relief is a fact, what is fiction is that the reason for the inadequacy of relief is government's slackness and ill-will. When the deputy speaker of the National Assembly spoke on a talk show that they had ten thousand tents in Dera Ismail Khan and require 37,000 more; the anchor delved into the usual drone about incapability of government.

The inadequacy of tents, food items and other amenities is that no country in the world has resources tied up in stocking tents for sheltering 20 million people. Hence, D.I.Khan got only 20% of tents it required because the tents in stock have to be distributed evenly across the affected areas.

Media fails to see any government efforts in the casualties in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa being over thousand, where as the death toll in more densely populated Punjab and Sindh being 105 and 44. Obviously the credit for that goes to the saviors of the nation not the politicians. Their eagerness to avoid any pictures of the elected representatives means that apart from talk shows and the advertisements the government officials can be barely seen in news. What good would Salman Taseer ensuring relief efforts in Punjab do? Or the pictures of Qaim Ali Shah convincing hundreds of farmers that their land would be safe and it has been ensured that the records are safe with the thappedars? Or Faisal Karim Kundi, Hina Rabbani Khar, Khursheed Shah, Zulfikar Mirza, Pervaiz Rasheed, Zulfikar Khosa and hundreds of other office bearers who are personally present in the flood hit areas.

Deprived of any footage of laid back ministers or partying political elites, a new round of allegations was launched. Reports that various dikes had been broken purposefully for saving the lands of eminent few. With the land of Bhuttos and Zardaris ie Larkano and Nawabshah inundated by floods they continue to report such stories.

The new darling of the channels to support their argument is the former Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Jamali. While his docility may have earned him a few nods of respect, his appearance on various talk shows and brutal distortion of facts could not be further from truth. He alleged and the media advocated how certain specific dikes were systematically cut so the farmlands of the Jhakranis and their corruption in the construction of Shahbaz Air Base can be can be saved. Obviously he was not asked that what did he do to curb such corruption when he became Prime Minister during the course of such construction, which please note was carried by the Americans themselves. Despite lack of proof or sense, Jamali sahab continues to appear on air disseminating false information among the general public.

The impact of media's biased and falsified reporting of events is evident in the low local response to the PM Gilani as well as CM Shahbaz Sharif's fund for flood victims. While the media continues to mold opinions in the living rooms of urban cadre, the distressed and affected can see for themselves who is present around them. An analyst once commented that the biggest problem of a dictator is that he does not have a constituency, sorry for the future aspirants the people of Muzaffargarh would vote for Jamshed Dasti again because he was with them in their time of need, so were Ijaz Jhakrani, Khursheed Shah and Faisal Karim Kundi.

While the politicians of the nation are beleaguered by the media, judiciary and establishment, they have done well to stay in their constituencies for all to see them present in person. The meeting of political leaders at all levels, the end to hostile statements in general and convening of the National Disaster Management Commission are all steps in the right direction. By declaring its allegiances openly the media has only imitated the Japanese at the Pearl Harbour, "they have won a great tactical victory and thereby lost a war."

Tail piece: In yet another talk show a caller lamented the construction quality of bridges and roads destroyed (22 of 25 bridges in Swat were washed away), calling upon the Army to oversee the rebuilding and quality control. If only the poor soul knew that most of these bridges were in fact build by the NLC and FWO in the first place.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

United for yellow journalism!

It becomes clearer by each passing day that the calls for accountability, fairness and sense of social responsibility by media, judiciary and the so-called civil society of Pakistan are nothing but a sham. It became all too clear when media launched an attack on a very carefully worded resolution passed by the Punjab Assembly against the yellow journalism permeating our fourth pillar of state.

One hoped that media would react positively to the criticism, resulting in soul searching to any degree, however, any such possibility as it turned out was wishful thinking. Nonetheless while our media remains in denial, here our some examples of yellow journalism and blatant slanting of information by the honourable print and electronic media, that have effectively ruined the public confidence in the elected system.

Most recently on 29th of June the electronic media burst into a story of over 10,000 containers going missing, translating into duties worth Rs 200 billion. The anchors launched into a tirade about bad governance and corruption that plagues the presents set-up. Ministers and government representatives caught unaware promised to look into the matter, only to be met with a disdainful smirk by the anchors. The print media joined in the attack by the next morning and the Supreme Court of Pakistan, obviously took a suo moto notice. Within 36 hours the credibility of government was effectively ruined.

By the evening next day the inquiry had been completed and as it turned out 43 containers of liquor had gone missing. Bear in mind that liquor is not taxed in Pakistan and no duty was lost to the country.

Another such news made headlines when the most watched news channel of this country cried wolf about Asif Ali Zardari’s men taking over a staggering USD 72 Billion property in Karachi belonging to Karachi Port Trust. The show aired in January 2010 kept blaring ‘72 arab dollar’ before it realized that it was a bit too much and switched to ‘72 arab rupay’. Realistically the land would not fetch two, three or at max ten billion rupees, the fact that the land grabbers it turned out were the cronies of one of many holy cows of Pakistan and the incident had to be hushed up is besides the point.

Similarly media played to its advantage to smother the repute of the elected government in the case of the so-called LNG scandal. It was reported that government had deliberately preferred a more expensive bid by a European firm over the bid by Fauji Foundation. Needless to say the Supreme Court jumped into the matter once more and newspapers reported that the Chief Justice of Pakistan had ‘mercifully’ allowed the government to revisit the process. The fact that it was bureaucracy in the petroleum ministry that was responsible for the alleged mishap was conveniently ignored. The ministries send proposals and bids to Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet which then takes a decision was not addressed in the media as the aim was clearly anything but accountability.

Then right in the middle of last month, the most read English language newspaper of this country wrote a full page investigative report maligning the interior minister of the present regime Rehman Malik on the front page. In the alleged scam, the government has supposedly lost rupees 30 Billion in revenue due to the reason that government raised the tariffs on certain phone calls terminating in Pakistan resulting in increased traffic on alternate Voice over Internet Protocol, of whom a company allegedly owned by the minister was a direct beneficiary. The entire report like always was based on ’sources’.

The post was promptly condemned by the minister who also threatened to sue the paper while the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority issued a clarification that the information published by the newspaper was erroneous. The tariff readjustment had actually ‘impacted positively on USF, LDI operators and hence the economy.’ The condemnation nor the clarification by the PTA could find its way to the most newspapers.

The endless list of media’s ‘yellow journalism” or maybe the general level of incompetence includes disproportionate reporting, unconfirmed news alerts, heavy reliance on ’sources’ which must not be named and the lack of interest or the need of any other section of society’s accountability apart from the politicians.

Each day the media plays havoc with investors’ and more importantly the confidence of common citizens of Pakistan. Sensationalizing of issues is now taking its toll, the rupee is on the decline, the stock market struggles but fails to reach out to the 10,000 psychological limit and a general sense of despair engulfs the common citizens despite the record high remittances and reserves, positive reports by financial institutions like the World Bank and IMF (once again conveniently ignored by the media) and a general strengthening of writ of the government over the country.

Be it the matter of fake degrees or a judges scathing remarks ridiculing the political set-up, launching a war to reclaim Swat or the passing of eighteenth amendment the chunk of media seems determined to find a fault to help awash any possibility of a positive image of the democratic system of government and demonize the present setup. Media may have coerced the leader of the second biggest party of this country into apologizing and humiliating the voice of his own province’s elected representatives but should it not mend its ways, it is only a matter of time that media would get burned by the fire it is trying hard to play with.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Tale of Two Visits!

Badalta Hai Rung Aasmaan Kaisay Kaisay is a famous verse of Aatish's couplet that has become a cliche in Urdu political writings. Yet I found out today that cliches are cliches for a reason.

The full couplet goes as follows,

zameen-e-chamn gul khilati hai kia kia,
badalta hai rang aasmaan kaise kaise!

A rough translation would be

Of kinds, flowers in the gardens bloom Of kinds, the sky changes colors

In response to this are presented another couplet by Amir Minai which is likewise now a cliche,

hoay naam war be-nishaan kaise kaise,
zameen kha gayee aasmaan kaise kaise

A rough translation would be,

Became fabled, the unknown, unnamed, The earth swallowed the skies so famed.

The couplets are timeless as we witnessed recently once again. The unknown and unnamed have gained thrones, became kings and then suffered humiliation at the behest of those who so eagerly cheered their coronation. The most recent example of this was the recent visit by the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to Quetta.

This was not his first visit, he had visited Quetta before, Quetta being his hometown. He had also visited Quetta about two years back on 31st March 2008. He was deposed at the time and came on the invitation of Balochistan Bar Association. Upon arrival he was welcomed by thousands of citizens, lawyers and women and children who had their fathers, brothers and sons taken away by the intelligence agencies. The Chief Justice was their only hope, he was their hero and had fought and lost his office for their cause the missing persons case. He had stood up against the establishment and summoned the all powerful representatives of Military Intelligence and ISI to the Supreme Court. The slogan of 'Chief tere jaN nisar, beshumar beshumar' echoed the main Quetta road as his caravan took hours to reach the Balochistan High Court. But this was two years ago!

On 12th June 2010, more than two years after his previous visit and more than one year after his reinstatement he visited his hometown again. This time there were no crowds, no hoards of lawyers jumping over each other to shake his hand but I guess that is understandable. You cannot expect a sitting Chief Justice to be acting like a political leader, indeed his office is above politics. The only place he can make an address is the bar associations. The Chief Justice was joined in by the Chief Justices of all four provinces. The electronic media dutifully aired his speech at the convention. What they did not air was the pictures of the audience. Why?

Because the audience was limited. A news which the media at large conveniently forgot to relay is the strike call by Balochistan Bar Association to protest his visit to the city. The sparsely populated convention venue, lack of attendance by lawyers and lack of enthusiasm was not a mere coincidence. It was a protest!

The same lawyers who were boycotting courts for his reinstatement are doing so to protest his arrival in the city. They are angered at his lack of interest in the missing persons case, the courts comments that the evidence against intelligence forces will not be examined and his indifference to the plight of people of Balochistan. This is not what they fought for. They had no corporate clients like the lawyers of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad with hefty fees to pay for their living but they did not appear in front of courts which they deemed unconstitutional. They did not violate the directives of their leaders of Lawyers' Movement at the cost of personal suffering to themselves and their families. All for what?! They ask themselves today as the man who sits in the white marble mausoleum of justice has abandoned them.

The Chief Justice in his visit hoped that the lawyers community of Pakistan and Balochistan stood once for the rule of law and Constitutionalism and he expected them to do it again if need be. We salute the lawyers of Balochistan Bar Association, who have today made it clear that they will stand for rule of law, no matter the who leads the opposing forces. So Honourable sir, be careful what you wish for, lest it come true!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The return of the Doctrine of Necessity!!

After the democratically elected parliament that represents the wishes of people of Pakistan passed the eighteenth amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan unanimously. It was hoped that it would bring peace, stability and normalcy in the functioning of this Federation that is desperately needed. With the Constitution back into its original state and most of the short-comings removed the nation took a breath of sigh.

Their peace, it seems was short-lived as the guardians of Constitution it looks, have after all not mend their old ways.

What is going on in the Supreme Court of Pakistan is tremendous. The basic law of the country is under threat! Of course this is not the first time this will happen therein, the courts have done it plenty of times to validate the martial laws of military dictators, when they suspended the Constitution they were sworn to protect.

But today there is no military dictator on who's behest this is being done (at least not openly). The independent judges are doing it on their own. They are deciding whether the Constitution is Constitutional or not? In the absence of their old cheat code aka doctrine of necessity they have found refuge in a new doctrine called the doctrine of basic structure. Since they had no Constitutional ground they seek refuge in a doctrine that has been rejected by the courts of Pakistan over and over again but obviously those courts were not as 'azaad' or independent as these ones.

Yet they did reject it over and over again, during democracies and dictatorships. Because those men, traitors some of them may have been, established a line, in ignorance or consciousness I know not. But every act was to be validated by the parliament to gain legality. No matter how many days had gone by, eighth and then seventeenth amendment were passed to legalize everything. To make it Constitutional, since Constitution of Pakistan can only be changed by the parliament of Pakistan and no other institution.

In exercise of its powers the Constitution was changed by the parliament once again in April 2010. It was challenged in the Supreme Court, but instead of dismissing the petitions the Court accepted them and officially disposed the shield of sanctity that surrounds the Constitution. But the question that baffles me is that if indeed the court decides that a single section of the Constitution is to be suspended, will the Supreme Court be committing high treason?

Did we not agree that be it Musharraf or Dogar or any other judge or general, the Constitution cannot be amended by anyone save the parliament? The article 175A is now part of the Constitution and no matter how many judges or lawyers or media anchors want, can it be altered, suspended or deleted, save by the parliament of Pakistan. Any attempt to do so would be high treason under the article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan and the government would be duty bound to protect it and act against those who tried to subvert it.

So will Chief Justice Iftikhar commit high treason once again and become the first civilian to suspend(in whole or in part) the Constitution of Pakistan? Will he join the ranks of Ayub, Yahya, Zia and Musharraf, it seems unlikely in any other country but lest we forget this is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan!!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Mosques or Places of Worship?!

There was a mosque in Medina built by hypocrites or the munafiqeen. It is one of the five mosques mentioned in the Quran and was ordered to be demolished in the verses of Surah Tauba.

107 And those who built a masjid to cause harm and for unbelief and to cause disunion among the believers and an ambush to him who made war against Allah and His Apostle before; and they will certainly swear: We did not desire aught but good; and Allah bears witness that they are most surely liars.

108. Never stand in it; certainly a masjid founded on piety from the very first day is more deserving that you should stand in it; in it are men who love that they should be purified; and Allah loves those who purify themselves.

Yet even the God Almighty called it a Masjid that is a place of performing sajda. Through out history Islamic historians refer to it as the infamous Masjid e Zarar but Pakistani lawmakers and clergy have assumed powers that they were never given to by God.

The Pakistani law forbids the Ahmaddiya Community to call their places of worships mosques and the act is punishable by fine and up to three years imprisonment. The Ahmadi community has responded to the injustice remarkable tact by changing the names of all their places of worships from Masjid to Bait. Bait or house used abundantly in Quran for the Holiest site of Islam, the mosque in Makkah in context to it being called Bait-ullah or house of God. Thus even though the attacks in Lahore on Bait-uz-Zikr and Bait-ul-Noor were attacks on places of worships, today Western Europe's biggest mosque belongs to the non-Muslims of Pakistan, called simply Bait-ul-Futuh or The House of Victories!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Attacks in Lahore: Wajib-ul-qatal!!

95 people killed and hundreds wounded but what I failed to understand was that what was the fuss about? My family and friends were truly horrified, in fact saddened, disgusted and many other things, but I remain confused, why?! Were not those who died Ahmedis? Correction; Qadiyanis? Were those not Ahmedi Mosques? Correction: Qadiyani places of worship? Didn't the maulvi sahab say these people were wajib-ul-qatl?

Not long ago I was in a debate with someone at my workplace who advocated how and why ahmedis are wajib-ul-qatl i.e. those whom a Muslim is duty bound to kill. The fact that the term was never present in the days of Prophet Muhammad pbuh or the four succeeding righteous caliphs aside, the term is accepted by almost all the clerics of Pakistan who rely on jurisprudence of the clergy of medieval age of Islam when religion was abundantly used to crush any dissenting voices against the Ummayad, Abbasid and Ottoman caliphs.

The point?! Point of the matter is that all these clerics like Mufti Muneeb and religo-political leaders like Munawar Hasan, Fazal-ur-Rahman and others firmly believe that Ahmedis should be killed. They are not alone, they are joined in the fray by almost the entire educated middle class of Pakistan who firmly believed until a year back that Taliban are good and their version of shariat will prevail, as Islam will emerge victorious over the West.

They also believe that, tazeers that is man made punishments like killing the apostates and the blasphemer, flogging the alcoholics and the unveiled and stoning the adulterer are necessities without which our faith would be incomplete.

They believe that Taliban are on the right path, in fact many women among this 'educated' middle class of ours firmly believe that Taliban's prohibition of female education was entirely justified. Obviously a major chunk of these women remain in denial and would have us believe that it was all media propaganda and not Taliban but Indian agents destroyed these schools in disguise.

The media, staffed by this exact middle class, sympathizes with Taliban. It is the same media who was madly criticizing the government when it was reluctant in signing the Swat Nizam-e-Adal pact and when it was conducting an operation. But today it was a new low altogether, the shameless display of yellow journalism in their relentless effort to link this event with India, the US and Israel was unbelievable.

Today every deobandi, salafi, ahl-e-hadis and ahl-e-tashee madrassa in Pakistan tells its pupils that Ahmedis are wajib-ul-qatal. Every imam of every mosque believes that Ahmedis are to be killed on sight. Our media refuses to call those killed 'jaan bahaq' i.e. lost their lives-the proper Urdu term but prefer to use halaak i.e. died and maaray gaye i.e. got killed for the victims of terrorism. And the biggest media group runs a television show where by the faithful are told to take matters into their own hands unhindered by any threats of suo moto notices.

So my point is, what is the fuss about? Is this not what we belief in? Did we finally realize that the mutant in the mirror is us?

The term crocodile tears is not befitting here because there are no tears, just a lot of noise about whether we should be using the words mosques and sect of Islam for the victims. A lot of complains but not a lot of condemnations, be it media, clerics, politicians or the educated workforce every eye is dry. Pakistan committed murder today!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cricket at the Courthouse!!

What happened in the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the 24th and 25th May 2010 was some brilliant politics by President Zardari, which despite my avid support of PPP I had never expected of him. It was cunning yet simple. In fact what he did was a nine year old's trick that resulted in the judges and media getting caught in public unaware, with their pants down. Here is what happened, in full view:


A couple of weeks before 24th, the judges coincidently decide to hear the following cases one after another,

1: NRO review petion
2: Review of 18th amendment
3: NRO implementation case

What a mighty display of strength would it be?! The judges will set an example and show these crooks their rightful place, they will be mocked about in broad daylight. We will ridicule their arguments, which shall make headlines. On rhetoric not reason we shall decide but decisions will be made, it matters not who is being punished as long as some one is being punished. So what if our blatant disregard for law in convicting Rehman Malik was spoiled by Zardari, we will show them who's the boss.

Statements are made, from the two towers of Lahore and Islamabad under the shadow casted from the heart of Pindi. "If heavens fall, so be it; justice shall be served," roars Islamabad, "we are with you, your soldiers! united under your command" retorts Lahore (right now on some brief excursion to another of those petty bar associations). Enough fodder is provided to the media, armor is strapped on, judges assembled and orders from the pit of doom in Pindi in hand, countdown to May 24th begins!


"Hail thou mighty, thee is our only saviour." I am not praying to God but that is what is going on or rather was going on until a few days back in the media. Every statement of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and LHC is the first headline. All the six major Urdu channels go into a trance, not unlike that of Shoaib and Sania's wedding (duh don't you get it?! It is the eighteenth amendment, yes, happening for the eighteenth time where as Shoaib-Sania's wedding is a first). So yes it will be the first headline on the news, on the newspapers and the most frequented piece on the newsticker that runs on the bottom of your screen.

All columnists write about the magnamity of the Chief Justice and his pure intentions. How the Pakistan Peoples Party under Zardari is being stubborn and if BB was alive she would have done things differently (that is why we were talking ill about her until the day she died)? How Zardari is mistaken in trusting Babar Awan and Rehman Malik when he should be trusting maybe Hamid Mir and Shaheen Sehbai? The daily batch of two dozen programs start airing war chants, predicting an impending clash which shall finally call it a day for the current setup. With dearth of people with integrity available to support their cause, non-representatives like Qazi Anwar, Imran Khan and a long list of the PML-Q members are invited to comment on the government's unacceptable attitude towards the judiciary. The matters pertaining to ordinary citizens are forgotten, this jive by judges is what matters, or so the boss said.


To the annoyance of many, PPP personnel on talkshows remain a mood kill. There are sporadic accusations against the obvious bias by that Abidi guy and Ms Wahab but nothing concrete, nothing tangible. Then what? Media prays hard and their prayers are answered, Babar Awan delivers a defiant speech in support of the President lambasting his critics with Maula Bakhsh Chandio joining in the frenzy to defend the Presdient. Everything makes headlines and the discourse of talk shows that air eight o'clock onwards. PPP though keeps playing dumb and it starts getting annoying for all including many in their own ranks I'm certain.

As the day nears, Prime minister calls up Chief Justice, to assure him of full cooperation. The media is immediately divided, half the channels consider his inappropriate behaviour on the part of the PM and the other half resort to the old rebellion against Zardari mantra.

Day 1: The beginning

24th of May is here, the government lawyers are not prepared. They request withdrawl of their plea, then eventually ask time to reconsider. Similar proceedings take place in the sitting on Eighteenth Constitutional amendment. The lawyers representing the Federation seek refuge under some article which requires that they be officially informed about the need to file a reply, which according to all legal minds was not required in this case. Either way, the judges are forced to give time to the Federation's lawyers who are now dubbed by all lawyers coming on tv as complete morons for over looking such an obvious legal clause. Still tomorrow is another day, in fact the real showdown, fireworks may still happen.

Day 2: The (anti)climax

The judges are in the courts, the lawyers, the media and anyone else who can be there is there. Cameras roll as the cars pull into the driveway. Babar Awan flanked by a dozen ministers, walks in. The judges are all ready to bat, they jump a couple of times,
stretch out their muscles, the grip is straightened out, gloves are restrained and tightened, helmet is positioned, this ball will be a six, they huddle up to nervous their oppponents, the crowd begins cheering as Awan paces to deliver, the crowds cheer harder, commentators blabber, momentum peaks as the bowler approaches to deliver and when he does, he delivers a wide ball. The climax is an anti-climax, there are more balls to come but these batsmen are no Bradman, with the momentum gone, the media discredited and judiciary effectively disgraced by themselves tomorrow may now be another day but it surely will not be this one!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Die Facebook Die!!

The media, mullahs and many of the educated folk have hailed the Lahore High Court's decision to ban Facebook, Youtube and many other websites in Pakistan. The ban imposed in response to the drawing of blasphemous caricature is however, as unfortunate as the incident it self.

Bans are counter productive and in this instance they have set an extremely dangerous precedent. The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) could have blocked selective links on both these sites but the Court ordered a blanket ban. Cutting the entire youth's social link from each other and rest of the world. Some quarters are now calling for a permanent ban while it is being reported that a further set of 450 sites including Orkut are going to be blocked. See the problem now?

This seemingly innocent act of Lahore High Court allows a ban on any material deemed against Islam. If the act goes unchallenged or uncorrected the precedent paves the way for future blocking of websites which are deemed un-Islamic if not anti-Islamic. Who shall decide what is un-Islamic? Given the state of our Courts, modeling, dance, music, secularism and a whole lot of other topics would make it to the list. Indeed bans and prohibitions are the first step towards a dystopia.

The law, if need be could be extended to include anything anti-Pakistan being banned, and we might soon discover blogs with dissenting opinions being blocked as was done with the Press not to long ago in this country. Comments about the establishment, courts, armed forces and ruling elite being censored and writers being rebuked even punished.

The imposition of blanket ban on websites is a cause for concern. The ban on Facebook needs to be reviewed and revoked. In this Islamic Republic of Pakistan, You Tube is banned, however, lay back and relax mates, why don't you tune into X Tube for a change!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Plenipotent!! Rule of law or rule of judges

The lawyers’ movement beginning on 9th March 2007 and ending after the restoration of judges on 16th March 2009 was a major milestone in the struggle for rule of law by people of Pakistan. However, little that goes on in the corridors of power of our or any nation is as black and white we would like it to be. For it is clear, that the judges that occupy the benches today have an agenda that steers away from justice and rule of law. The consistent disregard for ethical principles, maxims of law, judicial principles have now given way to blatant violations of Constitution itself.

Sensationalizing of issues

The Lords as I shall call them for I fear being charged for contempt of Court that the courts are so eager to convict for, have developed a practice of sensationalizing the issues at hand. The verdicts are delivered on Friday just like the movies were released in the good old days of Lollywood. The NRO verdict was an exception but the date ‘coincidentally’ chosen for that verdict stood out for other reasons. The people of Pakistan remained glued to screens for hours as the judges took a recess, after they had already reached the verdict. After further hours of deliberation and ensuring that every businessman and investor has been panicked to the hilt, confidence of the nation shaken, a verdict which was expected all along was announced but the damage had been done.

Statements by Judges

The Lords have also developed a habit of giving remarks that are unprecedented. The remarks by judges that have been published as head lines over the year outnumber those by the President or the Prime minister. The remarks are not confined to those given during the proceedings of the Court but also in seminars and visits to the bar associations. That the judge shall speak through his verdicts is apparently not applicable on our Lords, who seem to have taken a leaf from the villainous old hags in the stories of Khawaateen Digest.

Disregard for ethical norms

The Lord are devoid any concept of ethics that need to be observed in the workings of judiciary. The blatant disregard for the principle of seniority was observed in the promotion of Justice Saqib Nisar to the Supreme Court. However, more questionable was that the ethical principle of having parity between provinces was also not observed. The most senior judge after Khwaja Sharif was Chief Justice Peshawar High Court Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan. It may have been Khwaja Shairf's prerogative to forgo his right but who made the right transferable? Since, one of the two retiring justices was from Peshawar it made sense that he should be sent to Supreme Court. This was not done, making the court acutely imbalanced in terms of ethnic background.

Soldiers of the Chief Justice

The Lords also have decided that it is about time that they should get rid of the ethics regarding the judicial principles where a judge shall not be influence in any way by any other judge. When the President promoted Justice Khwaja Sharif to Supreme Court, a bench was immediately formed to stall the notification. The formation of bench at such short notice, questionable in itself was none the less constitutional. What was not constitutional was the fact that all Justices of the Supreme Court were summoned to Islamabad, where they reportedly met the very next day. The judges met, chatted and in presence of one of the party to the case Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudary apparently reached a verdict in absence of the other party i.e. the government of Pakistan. The following morning the Constitution was further disgraced by its custodians when the judges of Lahore High Court did not hold courts. Whether they officially applied for a leave that the civil court judges did is unclear. They did not however, perform their Constitutional duties. Other notable violations of judicial principles have been the declaration of Judges being the soldiers of CJ Iftikhar and the more notorious talk of chain of command in judiciary being headed by the Chief Justice himself.

Onus of proof

In any judicial system the onus of proof is on the accuser and only after some evidence has been presented against the accused he would be asked to refute the allegation. This was not to be in the case of Jamshed Dasti. The Lords apparently in the absence of substantial evidence decided to take a pop quiz. Asked to recite a few verses and the tables of two he got confused and announced his resignation there by dismissing the case. The Lords assumed the role of the prosecutor and became party to the case showing little regard for rules of law. Justice was not served.

The act of the Court also bordered on violation of the article 13 (b) of the Constitution of 1973, as per which,

No person
shall, when accused of an offence, be compelled to be a witness against himself.

NRO verdict

The Lords verdict on 16 December 2009 was judiciary sans grace. The verdict was due to be announced but then delayed as is the practice of the current Court. Reports of shutters being pulled down in Sindh and Balochistan started pouring in and eventually after bringing the nation to the brink of a break down the verdict was delivered.

Much has been written about the poor quality of jurisprudence shown in the verdict but that is another matter. The manner how it was all handled is purely dramatic, was there a need to have a full court? Whether it was right for the Supreme Court to answer questions that were not asked in the petitions? When the Supreme Court itself was on a spree to give free judicial cum Islamic advice in its 300 page verdict, was it not the duty of the Court to clarify its position on the Presidential Indemnity? Why was it that thousands of words were written recounting Suharto, Marcos and others, quotations of Maududi and others but not one word regarding the very article 248 of the Constitution that would need to be interpreted should the cases be reopened? The intention was clearly malafide.

Selective Justice

The Lords may not be hearing cases selectively but it is certainly one hell of a coincidence that the lucky draw always spits out a PPP name. Be it Rehman Malik, Pervaiz Ashraf, Babar Awan, Latif Khosa or any other PPP member, they always get the summons first. The NRO absolved people accused of crimes that were not under purview of NAB, crimes far more heinous than corruption but why only cases under NAB are being considered? The optimists who sincerely want to believe judiciary to be impartial come up with the logic that corruption needs to be tackled from the top. The logic is acceptable, how can a government headed by a corrupt person deliver? But then it is clear that judiciary is not interested in applying the same criteria when it is dealing with the largest province of Pakistan where 57% of the population resides. The numerous cases pending against Khadim e Aala Punjab Shahbaz Sharif are not in the list of cases to be heard anytime soon.

Whither 1973 Constitution

The gross disregard for and rules remind me of the famous quote that the Chief Justice of Pakistan so fervently misquoted during the movement for restoration of judiciary, “absolute power corrupts absolute.” In its wrath the Lords are starting to think that it is about time that they do away with the Constitution. Constitution today is being violated in letter and spirit, the Lords seek to draw their power in their own twisted understanding of right and wrong and free from any form of judicial restraint.

The right to counsel of choice

The right to defend oneself and choose a lawyer of ones own choice is a fundamental right that the Lords have done away with. The conviction of Additional DG FIA Ahmed Riaz Sheikh left many lawyers awestruck. The accused was served the summons to appear before court in the evening of the preceding day and despite the short notice the accused did manage to do so. However, it was in the court room that the Constitution was trampled. When the counsel of the accused Mr Rasheed A Rizvi started presenting the case before the Lords, if media reports are to believed (and since no denial or clarification has been presented by the court I think they are true) the Lords scolded the esteemed lawyer for defending the accused. It is also reported that he was not allowed to complete his arguments and dismissed. The right to counsel of choice and defend oneself was thrown in the bin. The article 10 subsection 1 of the Constitution reads as follows:

10. Safeguards as to arrest and detention.
(1) No person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed, as soon as may be, of the grounds for such arrest, nor shall he be denied the right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.

Independent mind

The actions of the Lords also demonstrated that they lacked another key requirement of a jurist i.e. independence of mind. For this reason Judges who have had appeared as lawyers for an accused refuse to sit in benches as they may not be unbiased. In this case, however, the Lords dislike for the accused was so visible in their desperate attempt to humiliate him and his counsel that I was reminded of the conviction by the all white jury of a black man in the famous Harper Lee novel, To Kill a Mockingbird whereby the only crime of the black man is the color of his skin.

Double jeopardy

Double jeopardy a Constitutional right in many countries including ours and an accepted norm in most is the reasoning that no person shall be punished for the same crime twice. If media reports that Mr Ahmed Riaz Sheikh was convicted upon appeal are to be believed, the question is that since he has completed his imprisonment term why was he sent back to jail? The Lords again were more interested in making a scene than giving any explanation to reduce public anxiety.

The article 13 (a) of the 1973 Constitution states:

No person:-
shall be prosecuted or punished for the same offence more than once;

Why are legislators legislating?

The Lords are indeed very talkative reminding me of the saying that ‘sayana kawa goo khaata hai’(a close translation would be smart asses, shame themselves), The Lords in their routine streak commented, “have not the parliamentarians got anything else to do that they are after judicial reforms.” Well no sir, they have not got anything else to do. Had you not missed those crucial classes in law school you would have known that legislators legislate. They make laws! While our legislators digress and get funds for development they are none the less the domain of the executive and not legislature. So when they are performing their Constitutional duty you should commend their efforts.

Presidential immunity

The last attack on the Constitution at the behest of the Lords is the consistent ignorance of Article 248 of the Constitution. The desperate attempt to reinterpret it is mind boggling. The Lords now say that when the President has not sought refuge under the immunity, cases be reopened in the first instance. A plain reading of the said article would apprise us that the very judge and prosecutor who orders and indulges in bring a proceeding against the President is violating the Constitution. The President does not need to seek immunity but our Lords who were well aware of the dynamics of the article during the dictatorial rule have now forgotten it. A similar immunity is granted all over the world but the heart believes what it wants to believe.

It is clear that the Lords in their absolute power have misunderstood the people of Pakistan. They forget that the struggle by the people of Pakistan was for the rule of law and Constitution, our beloved dastoor. Should they transgress any further, they should know that the same masses under the guidance of the same leaders and lawyers will be ready flood the streets of Islamabad. And though the cause will remain the same too i.e. rule of law, the target this time will be the rule of judges.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Pachyglossal!! Thy shall not speak

Coming back from work, I tuned into the daily news at nine bulletin. As the shalwar kameez adorning pretty news caster started firing off the headlines, I realized that my first five minutes would consist of yet another narcissitic member of the judiciary boasting about their achievements. Normally I simply ignore their wishful thinking but this time the judge, whose name I shall dare not quote for the fear of being convicted in contempt of court went a bit too far. It would be injustice that his accusations and statements are not rebutted.

The esteemed judge talked about many things, including the Chief Justice of Pakistan's refusal to resign and his own 'feat' of not taking oath on 3rd of November. He quickly moved on to remind the present government that it owed its existence to the Chief Justice of Pakistan and on his part threatened that corruption would no longer be tolerated and can not be concealed. The highlight of quoted by the media was how he pointed finger at all other institutions of the country, specifically mentioning the police and how they have failed to deliver to people of the country.

In your sermon, sir, you violated all norms of a democratic structure and undermined the status befitting a judge of Supreme Court. Moreover, most of your statements were slanted and questionable in their usage and context.

You impressed upon us how you refused to take oath on the 3rd of November. I will like to remind you that you took oath on 9th March as acting Chief Justice of Pakistan while the Chief Justice of Pakistan was being beaten up by the police . You did not take oath on the third because you were not offered to. You sir, however, accepted a lucrative job offer as the Chairman of Press Council of Pakistan only 12 days later.

You reminded us of how we owe the present democracy to the Chief Justice of Pakistan. Your this statement was directed towards the parliament and current government, hence, I use us. These are our representatives and they owe their existence to the people of Pakistan. We the people of Pakistan, are responsible for the re-crowning of the Chief Justice and for creation of this parliament. It was our struggle that you address these people today as a serving judge of this country and not a retired one.

You quote the Steel mills and Haris mills cases which saved this nation billions of rupees. You do not quote, however, the endless privatization and procurement deals that cost this nation billions, transacted before the sudden enlightment of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. His lack of interest, costed Pakistani nation, PTCL, KESC, Habib Bank along with rest of Banks of Pakistan, state-owned sugar, rice and flour mills which the last regime privatized in totality. All while you were sleeping.

Your final jab at the police and other institutions was most distasteful! The reason police and other organs of the state are not delivering are because they have been in decay for the past ten years. With recurring martial laws, the organs of state are falling apart, the prime accused in this tragedy maybe our security establishment but the prime abettor in this crime is and always have been the judiciary.

The police has indulged in chhitraul because you have failed to fulfill your duties. Corruption is rampant because you let it reach to the roots of this society in the past ten years. It was you who was sided with the dictator foremost. Even today you do not call in a member of the previous regime, to hold him accountable. You refuse to examine evidence against the security establishment in the missing persons case.

You recount to us, the order by judiciary on the 3rd of November. I ask you, was that order made forsake of this nation or forsake of thy selves?! Will a similar order be passed again if the civilian government and not the judges themselves are at the other end of the gun? People of Pakistan have given you a chance, show the grace that your exalted position deserves or the people of this country do at least. Use your time hearing the pleas of thousands of cases you impress upon us day and night not making political statements.