CIVIL SOCIETY PAKISTAN

June 30, 2007

PAKISTAN ARMY DEMANDS RESPECT FROM THE PEOPLE

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 6:58 pm

On June 2, 2007, Pakistani Corps Commanders granted support to General Musharraf for his undemocratic and brutal rule. The conflict is between the people of Pakistan and few corrupt and greedy army generals. It is not against the institution of the Army.

Remarks:

Pakistan Civil Society agree that Pakistani armed forces should be respected as they, under the constitution of the country are responsible for the security of the people. However a problem arises when the generals drag the military in politics and occupy important civilian positions. A myth created by the generals is that the institution of military is most efficient and forthright, while other institutions suffer from corruption and decay. This myth has been proved wrong time and again. The military has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its history and nothing seems to get better. In fact, the military itself has become corrupt and inefficient, even in its professional capabilities. Justice Hamood ur Rehman Commission warned the army generals that they were loosing their professionalism, which is due to the greediness, land grabbing and favoritism, just to mention few vices. The commission’s report and its recommendations were ignored. The generals are disliked by the people at large and are seen as non-professional land grabbers and corrupt. People have also lost faith in their capacity to defend Pakistan. The lack of military professionalism was witnessed during the 1970 war against India, Kargil and now in Waziristan areas. In the tribal areas the army’s professional performance was highly disappointing and because of that was forced to enter into an agreement with the tribes of the area.

In short the Pakistan Army is seen not as defenders of the country but a political party filled with greed, corruption and lust. On top of it the civil society is being suppressed to prolong Mr. Musharraf’s rule. In these circumstances, how can anyone respect the present day military of Pakistan, especially its generals. Pakistan Army will only be respected if they remain within the confine of the constitution and restrict themselves to be professional soldiers, confined to their barracks.

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SHAMELESS MUSHARRAF FAILS TO DEFEND PAKISTAN -ONCE AGAIN

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 6:49 pm

On June 23, 2007 the NATO and the American military machine attacked the tribal areas of Pakistan and killed many women and children. This was a repeat of what they had done a few days ago. In January of the same year more than 60 innocent children were killed in a missile attack by the American drone.

Mr. Musharraf in a most criminal conduct kept mum. In fact he owned the January murders of innocent by saying that the Pakistan Army performed this criminal act. By doing this he defamed the Army, as well. Is this man fit to be the chief of the armed forces or even a phony President? These tribals are as much Pakistanis as any one else. On the contrary Musharraf fully supports a terrorist group MQM. Mr. Musharraf has failed to defend the sovereignty and independence of the country.

Civilsocietypakistan believes that Pakistan should be saved from Talabinisation, as a dogma. But see what is happening in Lal Masjid!! On the other hand the tribals, who are as much Pakistanies as we are, being killed without any justification. They are not members of Al-Quida nor are they Talban. Innocent children and women along with civilians have been killed on regular basis with no sensitivity from Mr. Musharraf.

June 29, 2007

President offered accommodation if I resigned’

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 12:47 am



Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Justice Chaudhry says he was detained at Army House — Intelligence chiefs were present during his visit

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on Tuesday that President General Pervez Musharraf told him on March 9 that he would be “accommodated” if he resigned.

In the affidavit, Justice Chaudhry revealed the inside story of his March 9 ‘forced stay’ at Army House in Rawalpindi, where he was left with intelligence chiefs for five hours after he refused to resign. He said that he was allowed to go home unceremoniously only after he was stripped of his judicial powers and his official vehicle was stripped of the national flag and official insignia.

In the affidavit under oath, filed in the Supreme Court through his counsel Aitzaz Ahsan, the CJP gives details of events he faced from March 9 to 13. He gives details about his visit to Army House, the pressure he was put under to resign, forced detention, verbal suspension orders, his being prevented from visiting the Supreme Court, forced diversion of his car towards his residence, takeover of his residence by intelligence personnel, his incommunicado detention at home and mental, physical and emotional agony and embarrassment he and his family faced.

In the affidavit, which has been submitted to the SC to supplement his constitutional petition against the presidential reference against him, the CJP said that his chamber was sealed by intelligence agencies and that the newly appointed SC registrar gave some important files to the ISI.

The CJP said that he reached Army House at 11:30 am on March 9 with his protocol staff. Five minutes later, President Musharraf came into the room in his military uniform along with his military secretary and ADC. A number of TV cameramen and photographers were also called in. The president told him about a complaint against him by a Peshawar High Court judge and some other complaints. Then he directed his staff to call other persons including his chief of staff (COS), the prime minister, chiefs of the Military Intelligence (MI), Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) and another official. All officials, except the IB chief and the COS, were in uniform, the CJP said.

Justice Chaudhry said that the president read out the allegations against him from small pieces of paper, as there was no consolidated document, and the allegations were based on a “notorious letter” written by lawyer Naeem Bukhari. He said that he strongly denied the allegations, including misuse of official cars by his family. The CJP was accused of being driven in a Mercedes, to which he replied: “Here is the prime minister, ask him, he has sent the car himself.” On this, the PM did not reply even by gesture, the CJP said.

Text of chief justice’s affidavit


MAY 29, 2007

ISLAMABAD: Following is the text of affidavit filed by the Chief Justice Mr Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Text begins:

“IN THE SUPREME COURT OF PAKISTAN (Original Jurisdiction)

In Re: Constitutional Original Petition No: __________ /2007

Chief Justice of Pakistan,

Mr Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry,

Chief Justice House,

Islamabad

——————————————————————Petitioner

VERSUS

The President of Pakistan,

The Referring Authority,

Presidency,

Islamabad.

AND OTHERS

————————————————————-Respondents

AFFIDAVIT OF THE PETITIONER,

MR Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry,

Chief Justice of Pakistan,

I, Mr Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, The Chief Justice of Pakistan (hereinafter referred to as the “deponent”) do hereby solemnly affirm and state on oath as follows:

That the deponent has filed the titled petition in this Hon’ble Court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973, inter alia, assailing the Reference No.43/2007 dated March 09, 2007;Notification No F.1 (2)/2005.A.II dated 09-03-2007, whereby the deponent was illegally and unlawfully restrained to perform his constitutional functions as a judge of this Hon’ble Court and as Chief Justice of Pakistan; Order dated March 09, 2007 passed by the Supreme Judicial Council; Notification No F.1(2)2005.A.II dated 15-03-2007 whereby the deponent was sent on compulsory leave with retrospective effect and the constitution and competence of the Supreme Judicial Council as well as the mode and manner of the proceedings before the Council.

This affidavit is being filed in support of the contentions, assertions and pleas raised in the above titled petition. The deponent verifies that the contents of the titled affidavit are true and correct to the best of his knowledge, information and belief and nothing has been concealed. In addition to the facts narrated in the titled petition; the deponent states that:

On March 09, 2007, the deponent headed Bench No 1 of this Hon’ble Court as Chief Justice of Pakistan and heard several cases till about 10.30 a.m. The Bench rose briefly and had to reassemble for the day except the deponent who left for the Army House, Rawalpindi to meet the President of Pakistan (hereinafter referred to as “Respondent”)

The deponent arrived at Army House, Rawalpindi at about 11-30 a.m. along with his staff/protocol staff. The deponent was shown to a waiting room/visitors room. After five minutes of his arrival, the Respondent, wearing his Military Uniform came into the room along with his MS and ADC. As soon as the Respondent took his seat, a number of TV cameramen and photographers were also ushered into the room. They took several pictures and made movie footage.

While discussing the SAARC Law Conference, SAARC Chief Justices Conference and the concluding session of the Golden Jubilee ceremony of the Supreme Court, the Respondent said that a compliant against the deponent had been received by him (Respondent) from a Judge of the Peshawar High Court. The deponent replied that it was not based on true facts as his case had been decided by a two-member bench and that attempts were being made to maliciously involve the other member of the Bench as well. On this the Respondent said that there are a few more complaints against the deponent as well. After saying so, he directed his staff to call the other persons.

On the direction of the Respondent, the ‘other persons’ entered the room. They included the Prime Minster, DG MI, DG ISI, DG IB, COS and another official. All officials (except DG, IB and COS) were in uniform.

The Respondent started reading from small pieces of paper with notes on them which he had in his hand. There was no single consolidated document. The allegations, which were being put to the deponent had been taken from the contents of a notorious letter written by Mr Naeem Bukhari with absolutely no substance in them. The deponent strongly refuted these allegations as being baseless and engineered to defame him personally and the judiciary as a whole. The deponent promptly denied the veracity and credibility of these allegations as well.

On this the Respondent said that the deponent had obtained cars from the Supreme Court for his family. The allegation was vehemently denied by the deponent. The Respondent went on to say that the deponent was being driven in a Mercedes, to which the deponent promptly replied ‘here is the Prime Minister, ask him, he has sent the Car himself’. The PM did not reply to this answer even by gesture. Surprisingly the Respondent went on to say that the deponent had interfered in the affairs of Lahore High Court and had not accepted and taken heed of most of the recommendations of the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court.

The Respondent insisted that the deponent should resign. The Respondent also said that in case of deponent’s resignation, he (the Respondent) would ‘accommodate’ him (the deponent). He also said in case of refusal to resign, the deponent will have to face the reference which could be a bigger embarrassment for the deponent. The deponent finally and more resolutely said ‘I wouldn’t resign and would face any reference since I am innocent; I have not violated any code of conduct or any law, rule or regulation; I believe that I am myself the guardian of law. I strongly believe in God who will help me’. This ignited the fury of the Respondent; he stood up angrily and left the room along with his MS, COS and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, saying that others would show evidence to the deponent. (This has now been admitted by the Respondent in his interview given to Aaj TV). The meeting continued for not more than 30 minutes.

The DG MI, DG ISI and DG IB remained behind and continued to sit with the deponent. They did not show the deponent a single piece of evidence. In fact, no official except DG ISI had some documents with him but he also did not show any thing to the deponent. They, however, said that the deponent had secured a seat for his son in Bolan Medical College when the deponent was serving as a Judge of Balochistan High Court. They (except DG, IB) insisted that deponent resign while the deponent continued to assert strongly that the allegations were baseless and for a collateral purpose.

During the subsequent hours, the deponent was forced to stay in that room. Sometimes, all the persons would leave the deponent alone in that room but would not allow the deponent to leave it. It was obvious that the deponent was being watched by a close circuit camera because whenever he tried to open the door to go out, he was confronted by an officer who prevented the exit of the deponent; several times the deponent expressed the desire to leave but was told by military officials to stay/wait. Once the deponent was even told that respondent would be seeing him again. At one point, the deponent requested that at least his staff/protocol officer be called inside the room as the deponent wanted to talk to him but was told that he could not come inside. The deponent then requested that his staff/protocol officer be told to pass on the message to the deponent’s family that he was at Army House, Rawalpindi and that his programme to go to Lahore had been cancelled.

Despite several attempts to leave the room and the Army House, the deponent was made to stay there on one pretext or the other. His request to bring his car to the porch for departure was also denied. After the first meeting with the Respondent which lasted for not more than 30 minutes, the deponent was kept there ‘absolutely against his will’ till past 5p.m.

After 5pm, DG MI came in again and told the deponent that his car was outside to drive him ‘home’. DG MI came out of the room and once outside told the deponent, ‘this is a bad day, now you are taking a separate way and you are informed that you have been “restrained to work as a judge of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice of Pakistan”

When the deponent saw the car of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, he discovered that his car had been stripped of both the flag of Pakistan and the emblem flag. The staff officer of the deponent informed him that Mr Justice Javed Iqbal had taken oath as Acting Chief Justice and it had been shown on TV. The driver also informed the deponent that he had been instructed not to take the deponent to the Supreme Court while on way to the residence of the deponent.

While on the way, the deponent directed the driver to go to Supreme Court but an Army official prevented the deponent’s car near the Sports Complex from proceeding further. In the meanwhile, Mr Tariq Masood Yasin, SP, also appeared; He ordered the driver to come out of car so that he could drive the deponent and also asked the deponent’s gunman to come out of the car as well. The deponent said ‘okay, I will not go to the Supreme Court but my driver will drive my car and my gunman will escort me home’. Only then, did Mr Tariq Masood Yasin, SP agree to let the car be driven by deponent’s driver.

The deponent got home at about 5.45 p.m. and was shocked to see police officials and agencies personnel without uniform all over his residence. The deponent also discovered that landline phones had already been disconnected; Cell Phones, TV, Cables and DSL had been jammed or disconnected. The deponent and his family were completely cut off for several days from the outside world.

By 9 p.m., March 09, 2007, the vehicles which were in official use of the deponent including a Mercedes had been taken away by means of a lifter. Latter on, the same night, one vehicle was brought back but the key was not handed over to the deponent or someone on his behalf.

On March 10, 2007, the deponent received a ‘Notice’ from Supreme Judicial Council (“Council”) whereby the deponent came to know that a Reference (No 43/2007) had been filed by the Respondent before the Council. There was also a copy of the Order passed by the Council whereby deponent had been restrained to function as a Judge of the Supreme Court and or Chief Justice of Pakistan. The copy of the aforesaid Reference had also been appended with the Notice with without any annexure or supporting documents for perusal of the deponent.

It was also surprising for the deponent to note that the aforesaid reference came up for hearing on March 9, 2007 after 6 p.m. in indecent haste. Two members of the Council as was evident from news published in daily Nawa-i-Waqt dated March 10, 2007, had been flown to Islamabad in special flights, from Lahore and Karachi simply to participate in a meeting of the Council. In fact, no meeting had been called by the Secretary of the Council namely Mr Faqir Hussain. No one had issued either agenda for the meeting or notice thereof.

The Council, rather than merely scrutinising the material, if at all and serving notice on the deponent (without prejudice to the rights and interest of the deponent as averred in the titled petition), went ahead and passed an order very detrimental to the interests of the deponent as well as the interests of the institution. The deponent was restrained to perform his functions as a Judge of the Supreme Court Judge and or Chief Justice of Pakistan.

The deponent further states that he had been detained along with his family members including his infant child of seven years from the evening of March 9, 2007 till March 13, 2007. The personal and private life of the deponent and his family suffered a great shock and the concept of privacy appeared as if it was an impotent word. The deponent could not use any vehicle since there was none. The deponent had to walk till the other end of the road when the police officer confronted him and manhandled him as has now been established by a judicial enquiry.

The Supreme Court staff attached to the deponent was reportedly missing and had been kept at an unknown place. An attempt was being made to fabricate the evidence through them by coercive means against the deponent. Even other employees working at the residence of the deponent were taken and made to appear before some agency officials. They were released after 2/3 days. The grocery man was not allowed to go to collect grocery; he was made to wait till an agency official accompanied him to the market and back.

The chamber of the deponent was sealed and certain files lying therein were removed and some of them had been handed over to the ISI under the supervision of the newly appointed Registrar. Such an act was contrary to all norms and practices of judiciary. The deponent being the CJP was entitled to occupy his chamber along with his staff.

On account of deployment of heavy contingents, no one was allowed to meet the deponent freely, in as much as his colleagues were not allowed access to meet him. Even a retired judge of this Hon’ble Court Mr Justice (Retd) Munir A Sheikh was not allowed to meet the deponent.

The deponent was not all alone to suffer this agony. Even his children were not allowed to go to school, college and university. The deponent and his family members were deprived of basic amenities of life, i.e. medicines and doctors, etc.

Even when ordered by the Council, the deponent was deprived of the assistance of his counsels to seek legal assistance regarding legal and factual issues involved in the reference. The deponent and his family have been made to go through a lot of mental, physical and emotional agony, torture and embarrassment and words could never be enough to properly and adequately express that.

All these tactics were used to put pressure on the deponent so that he may tender his resignation from the office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. But after March 13, 2007 when the deponent succeeded in establishing at least some contact with his lawyers team during a brief appearance before the Council and after March 16, 2007, the on going pressure to ‘resign the office’ was released to some extent.

The deponent now believes that his entire house has been bugged and at the Sindh House which is located right opposite the residence of the deponent, the officials of the agencies other than police have established a place therein to keep an eye on those who come and visit me, etc.

On account of the facts stated hereinabove, the children of the deponents are so scared that they could not go to school or university. As a result thereof, one of my daughters failed to appear in her exams (1st year, Federal Board) whereas my other daughter who is a student of Bahria university is not being allowed to take her examination (1st semester) due to lack of attendance in internal studies. My younger son is also not in a position to attend his school because of circumstances through which I am passing.

Deponent

Verification:

Verified on oath this ___________day of ______________2007 at Islamabad that the contents of the above affidavit are true and correct to the best of my knowledge, belief and information and nothing has been concealed therein from this Hon’ble Court.”

Musharraf – It’s Time To Quit!

May 24th, 2007

Syed Farooq Hasnat

Even the most well-versed pundits of Pakistani politics did not expect the turmoil currently plaguing the country.

General Pervez Musharraf, who has ruled Pakistan for nearly eight years without much resistance, has suddenly found himself in the middle of a crisis. The government mishandled an otherwise routine judicial matter right from the start. First, the chief justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, was suspended. Next, the order was hurriedly withdrawn since it contradicted the spirit of Pakistan’s constitution. Then, the chief justice and his family were virtually put under house arrest, which provoked sharp condemnations from across the country.

Chaudhry has become a symbol of resistance against Musharraf’s dictatorial rule. A mass movement supporting Justice Chaudhry is spearheaded by lawyers and supported by opposition political parties and civil rights groups.

When the army staged a coup in October 1999, the major political parties led by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif had lost public support because of rampant corruption and misrule during their administrations. General Musharraf took advantage of public apathy and exiled both leaders – although for different reasons.

In recent months the high court under Chief Justice Chaudhry showed its strength when it dealt with habeas corpus issues and other matters that linked the government to corruption. In the past, the military governments easily intimidated Pakistan’s high courts. Notable among the court decisions that went against the regime was the issue of missing persons. At the time, it was feared that many Pakistani citizens were being handed over to the US intelligence agencies without providing valid evidence that they were involved in any unlawful acts. The second matter, which irked the military government, was the court’s nullification of the sale of the Pakistan Steel Mill, which was to be sold to a private party known to the Prime Minister, at a much cheaper price than its market value.

The Supreme Court’s new attitude is putting Musharraf on edge ahead of the 2007 elections, which are important for his survival as Pakistan’s leader. The court still has a number of contentious issues to decide that also make the military leadership nervous: Can the president be elected twice by the same assembly? Could the president remain in military uniform and still be president? Should the two exiled leaders Bhutto and Sharif be allowed to take part in the elections? There are also questions about the transparency of the elections and the dual nationality of the prime minister.

With the threat of an independent judiciary, Musharraf removed the chief justice, but he miscalculated the resilience of the judge who refused to resign. Musharraf also miscalculated the level of widespread public support for the opponent of his military rule. Street protests also exposed the vulnerability of his ruling Q League (the Pakistan Muslim League).

This is the first time in Pakistan’s 60-year history that a mass movement has been launched without the leadership of political parties. Now it’s the politicians who are following the dictates of the public mood and the legal community. This is also the first time that the army as an institution has been the target of public resentment. Previously, it was individual military personalities who were singled out for criticism.

Pakistan is not, however, politically “fragmented” along the lines of moderates and fundamentalists, as Musharraf has claimed. Recent events illustrate that the real contention is between those pushing for democratic reforms and those who support continued military rule.

Initially, the Musharraf regime thought public resentment would fizzle, mainly because of the summer heat and the political apathy that has prevailed for the last eight years. Instead, with every passing day the situation has worsened for Musharraf. Unprecedented public support for the judge and opposition to the government was apparent on May 5 when Justice Chaudhry was showered with rose petals by supporters as he journeyed from Islamabad to Lahore. The trip, which usually takes about five hours, took more than 26 hours as he greeted supporters along the way. Many had waited overnight to greet their new “symbol of resistance.”

On May 12, when the Chief Justice visited Karachi at the invitation of Sindh High Court Bar Association, an ethnic group, MQM — a staunch supporter of General Musharraf — blocked the judge from addressing the lawyers gathered there. Karachi erupted. After three days of riots, 42 people had died and more than 150 were injured. On May 16, General Musharraf gave his full backing to the MQM and showed no sympathy for the killings. The Karachi carnage has further weakened his military rule.

The general is left with few options for survival. He and his ministers have hinted at imposing a state of emergency or even Martial Law. He specifically stated that he is ready for extra constitutional measures to enhance his stay in power. But the mood of the people shows that such tactics will face widespread and stiff public resistance.

The only option left for General Musharraf is to form a neutral interim government and to hold free and open parliamentary elections. It’s time for him to quit – the army and the presidency.

TIME TO GO – MUSHARRAF

Khaleej Times
3 May 2007

BY IRFAN HUSAIN

THERE are times when one suspects our leaders inhabit a bubble that is completely insulated from the realities the rest of us contend with every day. Consider the recent assassination attempt on the Pakistani Interior Minister, Aftab Sherpao. This was the latest reminder of what a dangerous country Pakistan has become. But wherever they go, senior members of the government keep extolling the country’s ‘ideal investment climate’.

The prime minister repeated this mantra recently in Beijing, but fortunately for him, the Chinese are a polite people, especially towards guests. Had they been a more crass nation, somebody might have laughed in his face when he recently told his hosts in Beijing that Pakistan had – yes, you guessed it — the ideal investment climate. Considering that several Chinese engineers have been killed by terrorists while working on various projects in Pakistan, we can hardly blame their government for taking Shaukat Aziz’s words with a large pinch of salt. Surely by now somebody should have told him how ridiculous he sounds in view of what’s happening back home.

A fortnight ago, in its leading article on Pakistan, the Economist wrote:
“If sending the army into the tribal areas has failed, and if goading one bunch of Islamists into slaughtering another is hardly a long-term option, what should Pakistan do? First, it needs to own up to the real problem. Swathes of the tribal areas are largely ungoverned, constituting less a failed state than a place where the state, from British colonial days to the present, has hardly even tried…
“His [General Musharraf’s] difficulties are compounded because like military regimes throughout Pakistan’s history, he finds Islamic extremists easier to deal with than secular opposition parties. There are also suspicions that some elements in Pakistan still hope for a friendly regime in Kabul, and still think Pakistan’s best Afghan friends remain the Taliban…”

In the same issue of the weekly, the weekly’s correspondent writes in an article on Pakistan:

“…A less obscure struggle was launched in Islamabad on April 6th by a mullah named Abdul Aziz. He gave the government a month to close the capital’s brothels and music shops, and tear down advertisements depicting women. He also declared Sharia law within the high walls of his mosque and the adjoining madressah. If the government were to respond with force, he promised it suicide bombings…”
So apart from armed uprisings in Balochistan and the tribal areas, we have an insurrection in the capital itself. Given this complete disregard for the writ of the state that seems to be spreading across the country, Mr Shaukat Aziz should not be too disappointed if his appeal for foreign direct investment does not result in a flood of projects and funds. Being a banker himself, he should understand that the first thing investors look for is security for their staff and their capital.
The fear of creeping Talebanisation in Pakistan raised by the Economist was echoed in a TV programme called ‘Between the Military and Mullahs’ last week. Aired by Channel 4 in the UK and written and narrated by Ziauddin Sardar, it takes viewers on an extensive tour of Pakistan, and shows them how the army and the mullahs are tearing the country apart. Mr Sardar is a well-known writer and commentator, and the hour-long programme was shown at primetime.

One of the points the narrator makes is that after 9/11, the army has been forced by the Americans to take on the religious extremists, and this has created a rift in the traditional partnership between the military and the mullahs, posing a grave threat to the fabric of the state. He also explores the extent to which the army has exploited the country for the sake of its officer corps. In one sequence, he empties a shopping bag before the camera, itemising the objects he has bought. All of them were manufactured in factories tied in one way or another to the military. He also points to an army-run bank in the background. Had our army been capable of shame, it would have divested itself of these embarrassing clues to its greed.

We in Pakistan do not need foreigners to tell us what the military-mullah nexus has done to our country. However, it is true that we have gradually become so accustomed to the present dismal state of affairs that we often forget that it is not the norm for armies to colonise their own countries. Or, indeed, for the clergy to tell us how to live our lives.

In my book, perhaps the only justification for the army to intervene in the running of a state is the complete collapse of the rule of law. But if anything, our army has contributed to this breakdown by its policies and actions. When Musharraf seized power in 1999, Pakistan might not have been entirely peaceful, but things were certainly not as bad as they are today.

In 1964, Nelson Mandela and several other African National Congress members were put on trial for leading an underground campaign against the apartheid South African state. In one of the great speeches of the 20th century, Mandela admitted taking recourse to violence, saying: “… Each [government-inspired] disturbance pointed to the inevitable growth among Africans of the belief that violence was the only way out – it showed that a government which uses force to maintain its rule teaches the oppressed to use force to oppose it.”

And this is the heart of the matter. When a government has no legitimacy – as Musharraf’s does not – it uses force to enforce its edict. But when people cannot get a hearing through the democratic process, they have no option but to take to the streets, and, when the state still refuses to pay heed, resort to violence. This is not a justification for taking up arms, only an explanation. Musharraf needs to understand that consensus-building, while often a slow and tedious process, works better in the long run than the gruff, gung-ho mannerisms of the sergeant-major in boot camp.

As the debate about Musharraf’s uniform continues, perhaps it is time he thought seriously about retirement from both politics and the army. For all his energy and enthusiasm, the fact is that he lacks the flexibility to make the compromises necessary in the political arena. This October, he will have spent eight years in the presidency. This is about equal to the combined stints Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto have served as prime minister. And he has been army chief for a decade now. High time fresh blood was inducted in both the positions he currently holds.
After all, nobody is indispensable. More and more, Musharraf is seen as a part of the problem, so he can’t be part of the solution.

Irfan Husain is an eminent Pakistani writer based in London.

Friday, May 18, 2007

THE FALLOUT FROM KARACHI

Dawn
May 19, 2007

By

Irfan Husain

JUDGING from reports emanating from Islamabad and Karachi, there is no remorse or regret from those responsible for the bloody events in the Sindh capital over the weekend. On the contrary, all we can sense is obstinacy and truculence.

The day after the bloodbath in Karachi, I spoke to a senior member of the MQM, expecting some acknowledgment that his party had completely misjudged and mishandled the situation. Not a bit of it. He was adamant that the MQM had the right to hold a rally whenever it chose to, even if it was as plain as day that it would trigger a confrontation. I tried to explain that while we all have a number of rights, we often choose not to exercise them.

A bit later, I had a long chat with a close adviser to General Musharraf. When I asked him what had been achieved by holding the official rally in Islamabad the same day as the Karachi killings, he also spoke of the ruling party’s ‘right’ to hold it. So clearly, it’s all about rights, and not responsibilities. I put it to both that whatever their complaints about Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s insistence on addressing the Sindh High Court bar association on May 12 in the face of warning signals, surely law and order was the government’s responsibility. But both were adamant that the whole bloody mess was caused by the Chief Justice’s obdurate stance.

A couple of days later, General Musharraf repeated this message to a group of uneasy parliamentarians. He urged them to ‘close ranks’, reminding them that they were all on his team. He also directed the Muslim League members ‘not to isolate the MQM’, saying he would ‘see’ to the media that had held the MQM largely responsible for the fiasco.

But as the blame game goes on in the Presidency and in Parliament, we are in danger of losing sight of the bigger picture. Apart from the tragic and unnecessary loss of so many lives, what do the recent events in Karachi mean for the country? For clearly, it can no longer be business as usual for the government or the opposition.

For Musharraf, the options are limited, and he has been forced into a situation where he can only react to events. For a general, this is not a comfortable spot to be. Basically, he has to await the outcome of the reference against the Chief Justice currently being heard by a full bench of the Supreme Court. Should his nemesis, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, be reinstated, Musharraf will effectively lose his moral authority to rule. He may struggle on, but he will be a lame duck president. His crowd of opportunistic Muslim League supporters will desert the sinking ship in droves.

If the Supreme Court decides in the government’s favour, the agitation will continue, with the legal fraternity and the opposition claiming that official pressure was brought to bear on the judiciary. The recent murder of Hammad Raza, the additional registrar of the Supreme Court, is something that will give weight to their argument. In any case, with the Chief Justice acting as a lightning rod, the anti-Musharraf bandwagon will only gain strength over time. Musharraf will be beleaguered, depending on the isolated and discredited MQM and a shaky Muslim League for support.

The endgame might take longer, but the outcome would be the same: a politically wounded president clinging on for as long as he can.
There is (still) a third option, but one unlikely to be explored. When I suggested to Musharraf’s advisor that the only way out was for his boss to withdraw the mischievous reference to the Supreme Court, he was clear that this was not a route the government was prepared to take. Indeed, army generals in Pakistan are not in the habit of apologising for their mistakes, or indeed, learning from them.
And what of the MQM? Until recently, there had been signs that this ethnic party was reaching out to the rest of the country, and trying to achieve a bigger profile. By organising a huge rally against the rapid Talibanisation of Pakistan last month, it fell in line with the national mood.

On a number of issues, it seemed to strike an independent, secular position that was out of sync with the reactionary stance adopted by its coalition partner, the PML-Q. A number of us had come to hope that the MQM’s earlier violence was a thing of the past, and that a reformed party was poised to move beyond Karachi and Hyderabad. But its role in precipitating last Saturday’s mayhem has proved that nothing has changed, and that it is as ready to use force to further its short-term agenda as it was in the past. Anybody who heard Altaf Hussain’s bizarre address to the party faithful on May 12 will realise how out of touch with reality he is.
Another outcome of recent events is to forever close the door to the possibility of a deal between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto. She is too canny a politician to throw a wounded President a lifeline, and inflicting irreparable harm to the PPP at the same time. There is thus a better chance for the opposition to unite than ever before during the Musharraf era. Indeed, by launching this ill-advised pre-emptive strike against the Chief Justice to ensure his re-election, Musharraf has given the opposition a perfect platform.

As he tries to douse the domestic fires he lit in the first place, he is facing threats on a number of other fronts. The rising tide of violence along the Afghan border is an indication of things to come. In Balochistan, despite his threats to crush the insurgency, lowlevel violence continues unabated. Clearly, his American supporters must be getting nervous as they see their favourite regional ally facing the toughest test of his long stint in power.

Probably the most crucial element in this complex equation is the role of the army. Thus far, it has stood solidly behind its chief. The corps commanders form the ruling junta’s sinews as well as its board of directors. Normally, the seniority gap between them and the chief can be measured in months. Now, due to Musharraf’s decade-long stint as chief of army staff, a wide gap has opened up.

These officers are too junior to talk to Musharraf as nearequals. But they might have to remind him that the national interest and his personal interest have diverged too much for him to stay. And that time might come if the troops have to be called out in Punjab to maintain law and order.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

KARACHI BLEEDS, NATION WEEPS

EDITORIAL
May 13, 2007

Yesterday Karachi saw the worst political violence in Pakistan in many years; over thirty people were confirmed killed and scores injured in clashes and gunfights between pro-government and opposition groups. Was this unexpected? No.

The arrival in Karachi of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, was not taken lightly by President General Pervez Musharraf after the great show of force of the anti-Musharraf forces in Lahore. Until that point the government was only uncomfortable with the CJP’s outings to Rawalpindi and the NWFP. But the Lahore show was unique. It indicated that the movement against General Musharraf was gathering momentum. The reaction of the PMLQ government in Punjab was low-profile, possibly because the Punjab chief minister wanted to avoid a confrontation. Not so, however, with the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) which decided to show its muscle and announced counter rallies against the chief justice.

Some factors are easily discernible and they should inform us of where responsibility for the tragedy lies in Karachi. Reports were already circulating that General Musharraf was girding up to take on the CJP. This was confirmed when the MQM announced its rally on the same day and near the CJP’s venue before the Karachi bar. Up in Islamabad also the government announced to take out a “mammoth rally”. It was clear that the government was trying to counter the movement that has taken hold of the country following the action against the CJP on March 9. The fear of the government was that all the opposition parties would flock to the occasion and make it look like a massive no-confidence vote of the people against the president. The measure of its paranoia could be had from the fact that all approaches to the Sindh High Court were blocked with large containers, a red rag to the charged-up supporters of the CJP. But General Musharraf’s ally, the MQM, had other plans too. The commitment the MQM made to General Musharraf in his “hour of need” can be gauged from the fact that the MQM rally was to be addressed by Mr Altaf Hussain after its climax at Tibet Centre.

The plan of a counter rally by the government in Karachi was a recipe for disaster. The way things were planned could be seen from the way the government leaders, including the Sindh governor, tried to put the blame for the violence on the arrival in Karachi of the CJP. Governor Ishrat-ul Ibad told TV channels that the provincial government had clearly informed the CJP in writing that his arrival could create a law and order situation. “We thought he is a supposedly non-political person and would appreciate our concern.” This is interesting. Why was the provincial government “fearing” a law and order situation and simultaneously eager to go through the exercise of a counter rally? Governor Ibad also said, repeatedly, that the CJP’s legal advisors were politically aligned and were using the CJP to advance political objectives. He indicated that the government was planning to take strict action against those responsible for the current situation. The same line was used by Dr Farooq Sattar and various MQM leaders interviewed on camera. And the same line was taken by General Musharraf when he addressed his lacklustre rally in Islamabad.

But the problem with this line is that the potential for mischief was created by the government which first announced a “political” rally to counter the CJP’s address to the bar and then tried to put the blame on the CJP for having come to Karachi. Nothing happened during any of the CJP’s outings across the country. Why wasn’t he allowed to do the same in Karachi? Clearly, the message was that the government would not give him a free hand to rouse the masses after Lahore.

None of this bodes well for the country. In Islamabad, even as people were dying in Karachi, the government’s rally was being convened through a lot of fanfare and folk dances. As former premier Nawaz Sharif noted from exile correctly: the conflict is being given an ethnic colouring and that is poisonous for the solidarity of the country. It is ironic that the rally in Karachi was titled “In Defence of the Integrity and Honour of the Judiciary” and the one up in Islamabad was called “Istehkam-e Pakistan” rally. Both were in fact indicative of the vertical fault-line that now separates Pakistan and divides it between anti- and pro-Musharraf forces.

The question now is: what course of action is General Musharraf planning to take? The possibility of any compromise to correct the original mistake of removing the CJP has vanished now. The ante has been upped by the government.

Where does General Musharraf go from here? One thing is clear. General Musharraf must realise that his own fortune is linked intrinsically with the solidarity of the country he rules. It would be naïve to think that he could personally survive while the country slides into perdition. There are more cracks and fissures in it today than when he took power in 1999. *

MUSHARRAF AND HIS MQM ALLY MAKES KARACHI BLEED




Musharraf Holds Official Rally


Friday, May 11, 2007


Pakistan’s Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has become a symbol of popular defiance to military rule due to his vocal support for judicial independence after his suspension by President Pervez Musharraf,

Jamali fears ‘civil war’ if Opp, MQM clash on 12th

Daily Times
Friday, May 11, 2007

* Says public support for CJP spontaneous

By Irfan Ghauri and Naveed Siddiqui

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Mir Zafarullah Jamali has urged the government to postpone the MQM rally in support of President General Pervez Musharraf in Karachi on May 12 to avoid clashes with supporters of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who is to visit the city on the same date.

Taking part in a debate in the National Assembly on Thursday, Mr Jamali urged the government not to create a “civil war like situation” and exhibit “courage and wisdom” and change the date of the MQM rally. “It is amazing that the MQM has selected the same day for the rally when the CJP is going to Karachi to address the SHCBA. Take it to the 11th or 13th. But you want public confrontation and the third party can take full advantage of the situation,” he said.

“Are we heading towards another civil war? A similar effort was made in 1977 but it was averted when a huge cache of lethal weapons was thrown in the River Ravi,” he said.

Mr Jamali also questioned government actions, saying that it had first filed a reference against the CJP and was now holding rallies to “malign” him. “The CJP did not invite people to come on the roads on the occasion of his appearance before the apex court or when he addressed bar associations. It is a natural response of the masses. If the people show love for the CJP, nobody should have any objection to it,” he said. He strongly condemned the firing at the house of Munir A Malik, one of the CJP’s lawyers, in Karachi.

Tehmina Daultana of the PML-N claimed that Rs 500 million from the national exchequer would be spent on the government rallies in Karachi and Islamabad. Mohammad Hussain Mehnati of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal alleged that the MQM was behind the firing incident at Malik’s house, and its purpose was to scare Karachi’s residents so they don’t participate in the CJP’s rally. Haider Abbas Rizvi of the MQM rejected the allegation, saying his party had condemned the incident. Liaquat Baloch of the MMA raised this issue when the NA session resumed on Thursday morning, and surprisingly Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sher Afgan did not oppose it. The debate had not ended when Speaker Amir Hussain adjourned the house till Friday morning.

109 senior army officers re-employed in 2 years

Daily Times

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has reemployed 109 senior armed forces officers on contract-basis in different ministries and divisions during the past two years to serve in senior positions despite claims of a merit policy, transparency and good governance, it was learnt on Friday.

Sher Afgan Niazi, minister in-charge of the Establishment Division, provided this information to the National Assembly in a written reply to a question by Beelum Husnain of the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians.

These appointments are in addition to the hundreds of serving armed forces officers posted in different government departments in different capacities. The officers, who were reemployed in the Ministry of Water and Power, have not been included in the list.

According to details provided to the National Assembly, also available with Daily Times, five officers have been appointed in MP-I scale, four in MP-II, one in MP-III, two in M-I, four in BPS-22, nine in BPS-21, 23 in BPS-20, 12 in BPS-19 and three in BPS-18. The remaining 46 officers have been appointed on lump sum salary basis without any designated pay scale.

Following are the details of these appointments:

MP-I: Lt Gen (r) Zulfiqar Ali Khan, chairman Evacuee Trust Property Board; Lt Col (r) Syed Akbar Hussain, chairman Pakistan Automobile Corporation and managing director Sindh Engineering Limited; Air Marshal (r) Shahid Hamid, chairman Alternative Energy Board; Maj Gen. (r) Muhammad Javed, chairman Pakistan Steel Mills; Lt Gen (r) Muhammad Zubair, deputy chairman Planning Commission advisor.

MP-II: Air Commodore (r) Shehzad Khalid, Alternative Energy Developer Board; Maj Gen Masood Anwer, National Institute of Health; Brig Syed Ghulam Akbar Bukhari, MD Pakistan Environment Planning and Architecture consultant; Brig (r) Maqbul Ahmed Khan, project director monument under Ministry of Culture.

MP-III: Lt Col Naseem Anwer Khan, project developer Alternative Energy Development Board.

M-I: Vice-Admiral (r) Ahmad Hayat, chairman Karachi Port Trust; Air Marshal (r) Pervez Akhtar Nawaz, DG Civil Aviation Authority.

BPS-22: Lt Gen (r) Tariq Waseem Ghazi, defence secretary; Lt Gen (r) Shahid Aziz, chairman National Accountability Bureau; Lt Gen (r) Shahid Siddiq Tirmizey, secretary Defence Production; Lt Gen (r) Syed Shujaat Hussain, rector National University of Science.

BPS-21: Maj Gen (r) Sikandar Shami, DG Civil Services Academy Lahore; Maj Gen (r) Khalid Naeem, DG National Institute of Public Administration Karachi; Maj Gen (r) Akbar Saeed, NIPA Peshawar; Maj Gen (r) Shaida Malik, DG Ministry of Health; AVM (r) Muhammad Ateeb Siddiqui, MD Federal Employees Benevolent and Group Insurance Funds; Maj Gen (r) Fahim Akhtar Khan, DG Intelligence and Investigation Central Board of Revenue; Syed Shuja-ul-Qamar, chairman National Telecommunication Cooperation (NTC); Rear Admiral Syed Afzal, DG Port and Shipping Wing.

BPS-20: Brig (r) Shahid Akram Kardar, Pakistan Administrative Staff College Lahore; Brig (r) Mian Khalid Habib, DG Immigration and Passports; Brig (r) Akhtar Zamin, chairman Employees Old-age Benefits Institution; Brig (r) Muhammad Munir Akbar, DG Management Services Wing Establishment Division; Brig (r) Shafiq-ur-Rehman, DG Interior Ministry; Brig (r) Muhammad Aslam Khan, JS Office of Political Affairs Minister; Brig (r) Tariq Mehmood, director Monitoring and Evaluation Cell, Ministry of Education; Brig (r) Hashim Khan, MD Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation; Brig (r) Syed Jamshed Zaidi, GM Karachi Port Trust; Commander (r) Muhammad Sharif Shamshad, chairman FBISE and chairman Regularity Authority for Private Educational Institutes in Islamabad and Capital Territory; Wing Commander (r) Sohail Ali Khan, secretary Indus River System Authority; Brig (r) Rashid Siddiqui, ED Pakistan Shipping Corporation; Brig (r) Maqsood-ul-Hassan DG Federal Directorate of Education; Brig (r) Safdar Hussain Awan, Evacuee Trust Property Board; Commodore (r) Muhammad Naeem, deputy GM Port Qasim Authority; Brig (r) Maqsood Hussain, directing staff, National School of Public Policy Lahore; Brig (r) Khan Ahmed, director staff, National School of Public Policy Lahore; Lt Col (r) Sala-ud-din, DG Pakistan Support Board; Brig (r) Zafar Iqbal, Advisor Ministry of Education; Commodore (r) Muhammad Abid Saleem, principal Cadet College Petaro; Brig (r) Tariq Hameed Khan DG National Security Council Secretariat; Brig (r) Zahid Zaman, secretary Pakistan and Armed Services Board Ministry of Defence; Brig (r) Muhammad Anwar Khan, DG Foreign Affairs Ministry.

BPS-19: Lt Col (r) Manzoor Hussain, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation; Maj (r) M Jehangir Khan, GM Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation; Col (r) Ihsan-ur-Rehman, director Planning NHA and Motorway Police; Lt Col (r) Zahid Rashid, AD National Institute of Public Administration Lahore; Group Capt (r) Chaudhry Faryad Ali, Defence Ministry; Col (r) Anjum Shikoh Qazi, Interior Ministry; Lt Col (r) Noor Khan, director Vigilance, Federal Bureau of Statistics Division; Col (r) Abdul Rauf, Interior Ministry; Lt Col (r) Zahid Pervez , State Frontier Region Ministry; Group Capt (r) Shabbir Ahmed Siddiqui, deputy secretary Education Ministry; Lt Col (r) Muhammad Akram Bhatti, DS SAFRON; Group Capt (r) Awal Nawaz Khattak, DS Science Ministry.

BPS 18: Maj (r) Amin Mukhtar, DD Vigilance Federal Bureau of Statistics; Maj (r) Fayyaz Habib, DD Vigilance, Federal Bureau of Statistics; Maj (r) Khalid Mehmood, Social Welfare and Special Education Ministry.

Contract Basis: Col (r) Iftikhar Ahmed Jovandah and Maj (r) Syed Abdul Waheed, Bait-ul-Mal; Air Commander (r) Zafar Iqbal Mir and Maj (r) Raja Saadat Ali Asad, Women Development Ministry; Lt Col (r) Isamul Haq, Science and Technology Ministry; Brig (r) Obedullah Khan Niazi, Narcotics Control Minitry; Lt Gen (r) Shahid Siddique Tirmzi, Defence Production Ministry; Brig (r) Dilber Hasnaian Naqvi; Lt-Com (r) Mansoor-ur-Rehman Raja; CWO (r) Rana Anwewr Zia, Lt-Col (r) Muhammad Hafeez, Lt-Col Muhammad Sagheer, Lt-Col (r) Ghulam Rasool, Lt-Col (r) Mian Ghiasuddin Zaka, Maj (r) Qammar Abbas Rizvi, Maj (r) Muhammad Riaz, Ministry of Housing and Works; Maj (r) Muhammad Mazhar, Utility Stores Corporation; Brig (r) Farogh Anjum, Overseas Pakistanis Foundation; Col (r) Liaquat Ali, resigned; Group Capt (r) Buland Iqbal, AVM Iftikhar Gul, Brig Sajid Imitiaz, Lt-Col Mansoor Akram, Air Commander Najeeb Khan, Air Commander Saeed Khan, Air Commander Nayyar Farooqi, Group Capt Amjad Ahmed, Group Capt Farrulkh Jamal, Group Capt Sajjad Raza Shah, Maj Khurram Mushtaq, PIA; Brig (r) Iftikhar Ali, Brig (r) Masood Aslam, Brig (r) Pervez Akhtar, Group Capt Umer Ali Khan, Squadron Leader (r) Farhat Abbas, Squadron Leader (r) Javed Iqbal, Squadron Leader (r) Azhar Fakharuddin, Squadron Leader (r) Azad Khan, Flight Lt (r) Zahid Hussain Khan, Squadron Leader (r) Saif-ur-Rehman, Wing Commander (r) Khawar Ikram Khan, Civil Aviation Authority; Lt-Col (r) MA Rehman, Commander (r) Muhammad Ashraf, Karachi Port Trust and Commander (r) Muhammad Naim, Commander (r) Sher Muhammad Malik, Port Qasim Authority.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Stop the harassment



THE NEWS

Friday, May 11, 2007, Rabi-us-sani 23, 1428 A.H.

EDITORIAL

The continuing harassment of one of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s main lawyers representing him before the Supreme Judicial Council, and who also happens to be the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Muneer Malik, needs to be looked into by the government which should do something to stop it. Failure to do so presents the government itself in poor light, especially since the lawyer in question has been playing a key role in the protest by the lawyers’ community on the issue of filing a presidential reference against Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry as well. In recent days, there had been reports that he had been harassed by unknown people, purported to be officials of intelligence agencies, and that even his sister, who happens to be a minister in the Sindh government had been told to ask her brother to desist from organising protest rallies and speaking out against the government.

Now with May 12 around the corner, a day that could possibly lead to considerable tension — and perhaps much more — given that the chief justice is scheduled to visit Karachi and the MQM has also decided to stage a rally, the harassment of Mr Malik has been raised to a higher level. On Wednesday his office, which had been operating for several years, was sealed by the Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA) for a code violation, but re-opened thanks to an order by the Sindh High Court. The SCBA president is right in questioning that if the office was illegal then why did the KBCA act now, two days before the CJ’s trip to Karachi. The KBCA comes under the control of the Sindh government and particularly the MQM, which also controls the city government. The harassment did not end there. On Thursday morning, fifteen shots were fired at his house, apparently to scare him off the case and possibly to throw a spanner in the works as far as the CJ’s rally is concerned. The federal as well as the provincial government need to look into this harassment and act against those behind it. If, as some may suspect, some elements within the government are involved, they should be told to desist from indulging in such shenanigans because they end up showing the government in very poor light — that it is now resorting to openly intimidate its opponents on the CJ issue.

Creating an illusion of popularity

THE NATION
Friday, May 11, 2007

AFZAL KHAN

ISLAMABAD – On March 25 last, President Musharraf told a select gathering of PML leaders and senior cabinet ministers at the PM House that they had left him on his own to fend for himself in the ongoing judicial crisis. He urged them to hold counter rallies and bring out pro-government lawyers.

Though people like Manzoor Wattoo, Kabir Wasti and others cautioned him that such a course was fraught with potential threat to push the country into a civil strife, the President apparently was set to go ahead with it. The Chaudhry cousins picked up the gauntlet and organised first counter rally by bringing a couple of thousand people from hometown Gujrat and other places late last month. The PML chief led the crowd carrying spear-like dandas to the brink of a clash opposite the Supreme Court building that was mercifully averted at the last moment.

The second attempt was made on May 5 in Lahore where the Chief Minister boasted he would lead a mass rally to eclipse the massive outpouring of public sentiments in anticipation of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s arrival. The gathering at Lakshmi Chowk, mostly of local government employees, was dismally poor and the CM did well to stay out of this sham. Instead he was engaged in playing down the CJ’s rally as comprising of a few hundred people. All this time he questioned the propriety of a chief justice leading a public rally saying it was unheard of history. No media persons listening to his caustic remarks dared tell him that just that very moment the army chief of the country was addressing a political rally.

The failure to rival the Opposition rallies in Punjab has seriously undermined the political standing and image of Chaudhry cousins whose hold on the province and ability to extend political support to General Musharraf has been put on the line. In contrast, their inveterate foe, Altaf Hussain was able to organise a huge rally, ostensibly to denounce fundamentalism, in Karachi last month. He continues to taunt the Chaudhrys in order to undercut their position in Musharraf’s eyes. Stung by these jibes and reversals, the Punjab Chief Minister has come out.
The idea of May 12 rally in Islamabad, the first ever to be allowed and officially sponsored in the history of the capital.

Again the President will lead it because the PML does not have a crowd-puller of its own. Last year in New York at the time of launching of his book, President Musharraf claimed that the people would never come on the streets against him. Now that they have proved him wrong, the President is wreathing to prove to the world that he is still popular. For this he is not bothered by the fact that stage-managed public meetings held by spending immense state resources, machinery and even civil and military manpower does not break much ice.

The President seems to have reverted to what has always been regarded as his real political support bastion – the MQM. The MQM perhaps has greater muscular prowess than any other entity. Its workers can make or break rallies. This time it manifested itself when the transmission of three main private TV channels were blocked in Karachi and Sindh just while the rest of the country was watching live an unprecedented spectacle of milling crowds in Punjab’s hinterland according Justice Ifitikhar an ecstatic, spontaneous and tumultuous welcome.

In the 25-hour road journey the people of Punjab, like the rest of the country had emphatically spoken like they had never done before except in 1968 against Ayub’s dictatorship and then against another military usurper in April 1986 on the occasion of Ms. Benazir Bhutto’s return- something she squandered in less than 100 days during ‘doves of democracy’ campaign. Those in authority have rested their fortunes on the MQM which has announced a counter rally on the occasion of Justice Iftikhar’s Karachi visit that also coincides with the show of force in Islamabad.
The timing and the route is the same as of the CJP. That promises a serious clash. Ironically, the Sindh Government has extended a preposterous advice to the Chief Justice that in deference to the MQM plans, he should postpone his visit that was planned long ago. This replicates a similar gesture by Punjab government last week. In the meantime the Karachi police have unearthed a “conspiracy” to subvert CJ’s rally with acts of terrorism and moved swiftly to arrest “terrorists”. To further scare the people to stay indoor, unknown attackers sprayed bullets on the residence of president Supreme Court Bar Association and Justice Iftikhar’s attorney, Munir A Malik in wee hours of Thursday.

The beauty of Justice Iftikhar’s campaign for supremacy of Constitution and rule of law is its unmistakable national character that transcends all political, religious, provincial, ethnic or ideological affiliations.

It knit the entire nation that wanted radical change from present oppressive status quo imposed by a uniformed ruler. This can be gauged by its intensity in Karachi among lawyers, eminent retired and present judges, intelligentsia, independent journalists, writers, civil society activists and common citizens.



Thursday, May 03, 2007

Friday, April 27, 2007

Reinforcing failure

Right here in Punjab, home of the army and hitherto immune from such stirrings, things are being said about institutions we all hold dear which were unthinkable just a short time ago. Is the Army High Command unaware of the language of the streets, the unprintable slogans being shouted? Or have sound-proof barriers been raised around General Headquarters?

Amongst a litany of charges two stand out: (1) the cushy lifestyle of the senior-most ranks, symbolised most of all by the lavish defence colonies which have sprung up in ‘Pindi, Lahore and Karachi; and (2) the meddling in politics.

By Ayaz Amir

CALL this a government? This is not even funny any more. It is more like an embarrassment, both for itself and for the nation. The only wonder is that those supposedly at the helm of affairs seem not to realise it, still convinced they can bluff their way out of the hole they have dug for themselves.

If only it was that simple. Seven and a half years (getting to be eight) is a long time, equal to two presidential terms in the United States. Such is the human longing for change that after some time people get tired even of angels and other gifts from heaven. Considering that the people of Pakistan have scarcely received gifts from heaven during this period their yearning for change should be easy to understand.

That they are tired is to put the matter lightly. They are simply fed up, which is what the popular response to the judicial crisis shows. Enough of self-appointed saviours: that’s what their growing discontent signifies.

As an ex-soldier, I find all of this hard to take. Forget the past when we branded the people of East Pakistan as traitors and tried to crush them. The present is alarming enough. There are no holy cows any more. Right here in Punjab, home of the army and hitherto immune from such stirrings, things are being said about institutions we all hold dear which were unthinkable just a short time ago. Is the Army High Command unaware of the language of the streets, the unprintable slogans being shouted? Or have sound-proof barriers been raised around General Headquarters?

Amongst a litany of charges two stand out: (1) the cushy lifestyle of the senior-most ranks, symbolised most of all by the lavish defence colonies which have sprung up in ‘Pindi, Lahore and Karachi; and (2) the meddling in politics.

The army is a national institution, our second line of defence — the first of course being the people of Pakistan. Gen Musharraf, important in his own way, is no national institution. Like most coup-makers, he is an accident of history, propelled to power by circumstances. If he comes in the line of popular fire, there is nothing strange about it. In politics, and he is in politics, such things happen all the time. But if because of him, or his personal agenda, the army becomes an object of popular anger, there’s no pity greater than that. The army deserves better than this.

In Iran the military and people are one, which is why Iran can defy the US. In Lebanon Hezbollah and the people were one, which is why Hezbollah could take on the might of the Israeli army.

We have an army bigger than Iran’s, more weapons than Hezbollah’s. We are the only nuclear power in the Islamic world. But we can defy no one, least of all our own nightmares, because ours gives every appearance of being a house divided, army and people traversing different trajectories, marching to different tunes?What strange windmills are we preparing to charge? The captains on deck still think that the most important issue facing the country is the president’s ‘reelection’ from the present soon-to-be-dead assemblies. What thunderclap will make them realise that this issue stands overtaken by events? As things heat up and the lawyers’ rev up their agitation, this proposition looks more and more doubtful.

But if, God forbid, the president and his team, discounting all the signals of popular discontent, manage to bulldoze the president’s ‘reelection’ by these assemblies, a huge blow will be struck against the spirit of the nation. For it will spread gloom and it will strengthen the feeling, already deeply ingrained, that the people of Pakistan will never be masters of their destiny.

As it is, the spirit of the Pakistani nation stands crippled at the altar of military rule. Which is why people ask whether it was for third-rate Bonapartism that this country was created? No country is without problems but in few countries do people constantly talk about survival and break-up. In Pakistan we do all the time which is a measure of our uncertainty and insecurity.

And our self-appointed guides and philosophers feel no compunction in saying, “Pakistan First”, when all that they mean by this meaningless phrase is, ‘we first’. If they were so bothered about Pakistan, half our problems would disappear.

What is the true significance of the judicial crisis? The outrage it has sparked gives rise to the hope that this may be an opportunity to finally settle the question whether we are to be a democracy or a permanent racetrack for riders on horseback.Maybe lawyers, journalists and other activists are overestimating the odds in favour of democracy. Maybe they are under-estimating the strength and tunnel vision of the forces of reaction which may be in no mood to give up their privileges. The last refuge of beleaguered saviours, let us remember, is always recourse to some form of arbitrariness. Ayub invited the army to take over. Zia delivered a body blow to his own political system. That option is always there for Musharraf to exercise (although if he does so he stands to lose the most).

Still, whatever the future holds, this much is certain that Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s defiance and the lawyers’ struggle which grew out of it have transformed the national landscape and infused a new spirit in the nation.

For Musharraf this has been a cruel spring in which he stands guilty of many miscalculations, the gravest being his inability to understand that by his actions he has diminished himself and turned this into a confrontation between himself and Chief Justice Chaudhry. He has reduced his own level. Justice Chaudhry, now very much the darling of the agitating classes, has elevated his.

Already the judicial crisis has spread wider than anyone could have foreseen. Justice Chaudhry has received a rousing reception in Hyderabad and Peshawar, with high court judges turning out to receive him. Now he goes to Lahore travelling along the GT Road. This is a confrontation which is doing Musharraf no good. In fact, carried out in these terms, this is a confrontation he is bound to lose.

Every army officer, however illiterate, knows at least one military maxim: never reinforce failure. Yet here Musharraf, like a bad staff officer, is doing precisely this. And who are his advisers in this crisis? The likes of Shujaat who has not one axe to grind but several hundred, Durrani and Wasi Zafar who, because of the facility with which they deny reality, have already become national jokes. These jokers now guard the generalissimo. This seems to be the season for grim jokes in Pakistan.

The generalissimo can still regain the initiative if he casts aside his fears and for once in his life acts as the commando he claims to be. If he can bring himself to withdraw the reference against Chief Justice Chaudhry, if he can summon up the courage to declare that he will take off his uniform (now more liability than asset) and if he says that general elections will be held first and his own election thereafter, like the eagle he soars above the storm and becomes master of the situation.

But does he have it in him to become like the eagle, daring, swift and sharp-sighted. At this late hour, when the shadows grow longer, can he transform himself? The signs are not auspicious. He is surrounded by too many small men with vested interests to protect and he is hemmed in by his own fears.

If Kargil proved his military incompetence, this judicial Kargil is providing daily proof of his political incompetence. A man with so many cards still to play but unable to play them and so doing what beleaguered commanders who have lost the capacity of clear thinking do: reinforcing failure.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Living in exciting times

April 06, 2007 Friday Rabi-ul-Awwal 17, 1428

By Ayaz Amir

PAKISTAN’S foremost problem almost since its birth has been incompetent leadership. Its people may not be without their share of talent but its leaders, with the exception of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, have been some of the biggest disasters the Third World has produced.

Bhutto was brilliant but his follies were brilliant too, no mediocre capable of digging the pit he did from which emerged that king of all things serpentine, General Ziaul Haq.

But if the requirements of statehood most of our leaders have not understood, in small things they have tended to be over-clever, over-reaching themselves in the process.

Bhutto thought he was being smart in picking Zia as army chief although six generals were senior to him. Zia was so humble, unctuous and eager to please that it seemed the smart thing to choose him. Bhutto was fooled and lived to rue his decision.

The Sharifs thought they were being smart when they picked Musharraf as army chief, assuming that a man without a native constituency (forgetting that the MQM too was a constituency) would be easy to handle. Anwar Kidwai of Mehran Bank (now dead) – the bank which funded a rich cast of political characters and also gave money to the ISI to fix the 1990 election – is said to have been the go-between who brought Musharraf and the Sharifs together.

Kidwai has been a permanent ambassador of sorts throughout Musharraf’s stay at the helm. The Sharifs of course must have long ruminated where they went wrong.

That Pakistan hasn’t gone under completely is a tribute to the toughness of its people. Otherwise, any other country with such Napoleons at its head would have invited the fate of Tito’s Yugoslavia or Lenin’s Soviet Union – their parts scattered to the four winds.

This set-up has been lucky. But incompetence and hubris (a fatal combination) have finally caught up with it, the Chief Justice case almost a textbook study in how to create a self-inflicted disaster.

From the televised picture of the Chief Justice sitting before a uniformed Musharraf, to the photo beamed worldwide of the Chief Justice held by the hair by a zealous guardian of the state (the identity of this hero still a mystery), everything seemed geared towards setting off a crisis. Musharraf has one now on his hands and he only has himself, or his close advisers, to blame.

He is not the man he was or was supposed to be. The air seems to have gone out of the performance of the characters around him. A few of his ministers continue to speak but not with the old assurance. The majority are strangely silent. Even fetching Sumaira Malik, high priestess of ‘enlightened moderation’ (the reigning mantra of which, sadly, we are not hearing much these days), seems to have slipped into the shadows. (Et tu, Cleopatra?)

Information Minister Mohammad Ali Durrani has lost some of his panache. Law Minister Wasi Zafar, never one for squeamishness, is learning some manners. What is the world coming to?

The idea of bringing in storm-troopers from Gujrat dressed as lawyers to the Supreme Court on April 3 when the Chief Justice was to appear before the Supreme Judicial Council was an act of pure genius. For when these worthies shouted pro-Musharraf slogans, they were set upon by the crowd and given a sound thrashing. Such are the emotions this affair has engendered.

Gujrat is the power base of Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Ellahi and of his cousin Shujaat Hussain, president of Musharraf’s Q League. Thank you, Chaudhry Sahib, for invariably adding fuel to fire.

In the past, top lawyers took pride in appearing for military or otherwise authoritarian governments. This time, because of the unprecedented unity of the legal community, even those lawyers whose hearts are with the government are afraid to show their true colours. For many of them discretion is proving to be the better part of valour. The legal community is in no mood to stand any nonsense. Lawyers appearing for the government – Wasim Sajjad, Khalid Ranjha, etc – have had to face their wrath.

Even Sharifuddin Pirzada, the legal guru of military regimes past and present, has shied away from the reference against the Chief Justice, his lifelong devotion to military causes balanced by this one act of forbearance. Who knows when the last bugles sound, and the mountains come down to the seas, this one act takes him past the pearly gates.

In the midst of all this creative confusion – creative in the sense that something good may yet come of it – comes word of a vital Musharraf concession to the PPP’s reigning combo, Daughter of the East Benazir Bhutto and Prince of Enlightenment Asif Ali Zardari: the winding up of the department looking into their alleged deeds of money-laundering and corruption.

Their nemesis, Hasan Wasim Afzal, who was heading this department has been put out to pasture in the lush green lawns of the Punjab Governor’s House where he will be secretary to Punjab governor Lt Gen ® Khalid Maqbool, a luminary whose looks suggest that time hangs heavy on his hands.

Wasim can regale the governor with his detective stories. Maqbool can tell him about the highpoint of his career: raising his arms and shouting slogans during Musharraf’s 2002 referendum, an all too sacred affair in which not mortals but angels voted.

Wasim Afzal’s other claim to lasting fame is having his daughter wedded in Lahore’s historic Badshahi Mosque (slight damage to the mosque being a small price to pay for the privilege of having the function there).

Does this concession presage a deal between an embattled Musharraf and a politically born-again Benazir? Astrologers and pundits tend to agree, pointing out that back-channel contacts between the two sides have been going on for some time.

But the pace of the contacts may have picked up as a result of the current crisis. With different options closing for him, Musharraf may be reaching out to the one branch still within his reach.

There would be poetic justice in this deal if it comes through because Musharraf and the PPP deserve each other. It would mean the coming together of two bankruptcies, one old, that of Benazir, who had two terms as prime minister to prove her bankruptcy; the other new, Musharraf’s, who has had seven and a half years to prove his ineptitude.

Benazir was angling for a deal with Musharraf right from the beginning. After all, Musharraf’s enemy and her enemy were one and the same, Nawaz Sharif. But swept by hubris, Musharraf trained his guns equally at Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto. He was left with no alternative but to fall back into the fatal embrace of the Chaudries and, with the help of his intelligence agencies, form a new political party, the Q League, a house of cards which is proving no different during the present crisis.

It is not a little ironical that one of Musharraf’s key aides, Tariq Aziz, who was instrumental in bringing the Chaudries close to Musharraf is now involved in the efforts to bring the PPP in from the cold. The PPP was then reviled. Today Musharraf’s external patrons think it vital for shoring up his increasingly threatened position.

If this arrangement works out several things will follow. (1) The PPP will be tarred with the brush of collaborating with an unpopular regime. (2) The Q League will be shaken and the Chaudries, sworn enemies of the PPP, will have to learn to live the difficult art of co-existing with the PPP. (3) A more cohesive anti-Musharraf alliance can be expected to emerge.

A crowded political calendar awaits Pakistan in 2007: presidential election, decision about Musharraf’s uniform, general elections. Before the Chief Justice saga everything seemed within Musharraf’s grasp. Not any more. For this we must thank the legal community whose principled steadfastness has altered a frozen political landscape.

Friday, January 19, 2007

So the game plan is out

January 19, 2007 Friday Zilhaj 28, 1427

DAWN
Editorial

THE nation’s worst fears have come true, for the cabinet finally decided on Wednesday what had long been talked about — Gen Pervez Musharraf will be re-elected president for another five-year term by the existing assemblies. The decision should not come as a surprise, for let it be said to the dubious credit of some of the ruling party’s bigwigs that they want to prepare the nation in advance for what by any standards is a joke with democracy. The irony of the situation is highlighted by Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani’s assertion that the decision was in conformity with the Constitution. The assemblies’ term expires on Nov 16. This means that the decision about who will be the head of state for the next five years will be taken by the assemblies which were elected for the five-year period ending in 2007. According to Mr Durrani, the cabinet was briefed on the legal and constitutional aspects of the presidential election (another version of the ‘Doctrine of Necessity’?) by a team of experts headed by Mr Sharifuddin Pirzada. Might we suggest to the experts that, if the mode of presidential election as announced on Wednesday is in conformity with the Constitution, the powers that be might as well take a step further and have the prime minister, too, elected the same way for another five years?

That the experts approve of this kind of presidential election does not hide the political and ethical negativity of the move. To be technically correct does not necessarily mean being morally irreproachable; in fact, the people of Pakistan and the world will be justified if they regard Wednesday’s decision as a morally bankrupt and ill-advised one which will destroy all hope of Pakistan’s return to democracy — democracy, as it is understood and practised the world over. The tough line taken by the president against the two mainstream parties — the PPP and the PML-N — can now be understood: the election that is to follow the presidential drama has lost all meaning. It does not really matter which party gets most votes and has a majority or a plurality in the National Assembly. President Musharraf — who in all probability will be the sole candidate — will rule and reign, with the prime minister’s principal duty being to cut inauguration tapes. Already, the Constitution stands seriously disfigured. It is no more the parliamentary type that was enacted by the National Assembly in 1973. Instead, it has become a presidential type in all but name — made still more odious by the fact that the president also happens to be the army chief. Then there is the National Security Council, the nation’s highest policy-making body, which is headed by the president, and then there is Article 58-2b. Introduced in the Constitution by Gen Ziaul Haq and later abolished by the political government, it was revived under the Legal Framework Order and made part of the Constitution. This Clause authorises the president to sack an elected government and dissolve the National Assembly.

Perhaps the nation could have put up with the amended Constitution and a strong president if the generals had not made a mockery of the rudimentary concepts of democracy by finally opting for the president’s re-election by the present assemblies. Democracy, it seems, will continue to elude the people of Pakistan. The cabinet decision deserves to be condemned by all those who want to see Pakistan emerge out of the dark shadows of long military rule and constitutional disfigurement.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Relatives of the missing beaten up





DAWN

By Bakhtawar Mian

ISLAMABAD, Dec 28: Police broke up a protest demonstration organised by family members and relatives of missing persons, badly beating and arresting several of them after they tried to march to the GHQ to present a memorandum to the Vice-Chief of the Army Staff.

More than a hundred people, mostly women and children belonging to the families of the disappeared, arrived in groups to the square in front of the Flashman’s Hotel. According to the organisers of the protest, the participants had planned to peacefully march to the GHQ to register their concern over the detention of their loved-ones, who they say, have been in the custody of the army and secret agencies for the last several years.

Eyewitnesses said the trouble began when a heavy contingent of police, led by SP Yasin Farooq, SP Muhammad Azam and DSP Rana Shahid, pushed some of the protesters inside the hotel’s boundary wall, shoving and manhandling them badly.

After some time more protesters arrived and started shouting slogans against the police. Those who had been detained inside the hotel also came out to join them.

This led to skirmishes between police and the protesters. According to the eyewitnesses, the protest took a turn for the worse when the police stripped a young man, Mohammad bin Masood, the son of missing Masood Janjua. The witnesses said even then the police continued to drag him, finally throwing him into a police van.

The incident enraged other protesters, especially the man’s young sister, who started crying and flagellating herself.

The police also shoved aside the father of a missing man and later arrested him.

After having failed to march to the GHQ, the protesters blocked the Mall Road for about three hours. Police and protesters fought running battles for some time.

Scared by police highhandedness and arrests, a young girl and a small child lost consciousness and fell on the road, the eyewitnesses said.

Unbowed and determined, the protesters refused to leave the place, end the protest and open the road until the arrested men were released. Later, on an assurance from SP Azam that the detained men would be released, the protesters dispersed peacefully.

However, the younger brother of detained Mohammad bin Masood told Dawn by telephone that his brother had not been released by the police.

The eyewitnesses said that besides an old man and Mohammad bin Masood, several women had been detained and not released till late in the evening.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Nawaz accuses generals of ruining country

DAWN

December 15, 2006
Friday
Ziqa’ad 23, 1427

By Our Special Correspondent

LONDON, Dec 14: A seemingly bitter and perhaps even desperate Nawaz Sharif on Thursday castigated Pakistan Army generals in the harshest ever terms, accusing them of destroying their institution by using it to promote their political ambitions.He even went to the extent of comparing the Pakistani Army with its arch rival the Indian Army and declared that the latter was much superior in professionalism to the former.He said the Indian Army did not harm Pakistan as much as the Pakistani generals, “and that is why we have to continuously face the ignominy of being called a failed state”.

 

He was speaking at the PML-N election strategy meeting at the party’s international secretariat here today.According to a statement issued by the secretariat, the PML-N chief, comparing the armies of India and Pakistan, said while the Indian army and its intelligence arms remained focused on defending their country, the Pakistani army was undermining its professionalism by wasting its time and energy playing political games.

 

Mr Sharif said India proudly claimed to be the ‘world’s largest democracy’ and the world accepted it as such because it certainly was a functioning democracy whereas in Pakistan, it was a one-man show “and nobody knows where this gentleman is taking our country”.He said in Pakistan one individual has taken upon himself to offer all kinds of options on Kashmir without consulting parliament or any political party whereas in India the entire parliament is briefed and consulted on the subject all the time.

 

Mr Sharif said that the generals had used the Pak army in the province of NWFP for killing innocent people at the behest of US President Bush and asked “Where is Pakistan’s interest in this?”He said Musharraf has been carrying out the commands and orders of President Bush without any regard to national interests and “the tragedies of Bajaur and Dargai had become wounds on the national conscience and would not heal quickly.”

 

 

 

Sunday, December 03, 2006

No to real estate

The News

By Farhatullah Babar

The News deserves to be complimented for calling into question the military’s growing involvement in the real estate business (re: its editorial, ‘No to real estate’, published on November 26). The editorial was in response to General Musharraf’s remarks a day before in Lahore claiming that the military was not involved in property business and that it was the biggest tax payers’ institution of the country.

Over two years ago in August 2004 while speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of a power and desalination plant for the Defence Housing Authority Karachi, General Musharraf had lashed out at the critics as being ‘pseudo-intellectuals’ who were ‘jealous of the good work’ being done by the DHAs. In Lahore now he rejected the apprehensions but refrained from denouncing harshly the critics. There is hope.

To give plots to military officers for building their own houses is a genuine welfare activity and no one would grudge it. But is the building of multi-billion integrated luxury homes with golf course townships in a posh locality in Lahore or the multi-billion dollar development of Karachi beach in association with foreign partnership also a legitimate welfare activity that should be undertaken by the military?

It is claimed that the DHAs are private bodies and they purchase land in the open market and after development sell them to all. But are the DHAs really private bodies competing with other private bodies in a level playing field? Is there any other private housing society that is headed by a serving corps commander and whose executive functionaries such as the administrator are serving senior army officers drawing salaries from the public exchequer?

During question hour in the parliament it has transpired that military officers get one after 15 years of service, a second one after 25, a third one after 28 years and a fourth one after 33 years of service each worth more than 15 million rupees in the open market. To call it welfare is stretching the meaning of the word a bit too far.

It is also said that both military officers and civilians benefit from these schemes. In reply to a Senate question on September 16, 2005 about the quota in DHA Islamabad it transpired that serving army officers with over 15 years of service had 52 per cent quota and another 10 per cent reserved for retired army officers. Serving PAF and Naval officers had 5 per cent. Civilian employees of all grades, members of parliament and the journalists were allotted 5 per cent. But the ads inviting applications do not disclose the quota of each category of applicants so everyone is lured to apply and pay a sum of five thousand rupees as ‘processing fee’ that is eventually forfeited to the DHA.

Welfare activity should also not be undertaken in a manner that raises questions of legality and propriety. During question hour in the Senate we learnt that the military had transformed six agricultural and dairy farms spread over several hundred acres of land into golf courses and army housing schemes thus raising many questions.

The inability to address issues of propriety unfortunately has attracted widespread criticism even from eminent international figures. In an article with reference to Pakistan in the Wall Street Journal recently, Lord Patten, former EU Commissioner for external relations made some very hurting comments. “Pro-dictatorship voices regularly argue that those parties were highly corrupt.

But they refuse to condemn or even acknowledge the military’s large-scale, institutionalised corruption. So much has been grabbed by the military that it will take years just to catalogue it. The military has acquired vast tracts of state-owned land at nominal rates; its leaders dominate businesses and industries, ranging from banking to cereal factories”.

On the eve of launching of the Country Assistance Plan (CAP) of UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) in March last year the British High Commissioner Lyall Grant remarked that during the last 28 years the military’s corporate business interests had increased manifold. It was hampering poverty reduction efforts and the effectiveness of the bureaucracy and judiciary in the country, the CAP report had said.

The military may be the largest taxpayer as is claimed but what we know from the proceedings in the parliament is that its business and commercial activities have received the largest preferential treatment. On December 30 last year the Senate was informed that out of a total of 94 contracts awarded to the FWO (another military outfit in the business of roads and infrastructure building) 57 projects costing over 25 billion had been awarded without bids. In some cases the private toll collectors’ contracts were cancelled and given to the FWO and the NLC.

In February this year the Senate was informed that by November 30, 2001 over 13 billion rupees of loans owed by the Fauji Fertilizer Company Jordan had been paid by the government of Pakistan — out of taxpayers’ money.

“Yes. The outstanding non-official development assistance loan in respect of the FFC, rescheduled under the Paris Club Agreement, was accepted by the government of Pakistan in December 2001. The total liability of US dollars 221.96 million as of November 30, 2001 was picked up by the government of Pakistan”, said minister of state for finance Omar Ayub in reply to the question.

Welfare of some must not be seen as dispossession of others. In a December 2003 case titled Brigadier Bashir versus Abdul Karim, the Supreme Court while declaring the allotment and lease of the state’s agricultural lands as illegal also quoted a paragraph from John Steinbeck’s novel Grapes of Wrath that aptly put matters in perspective.

“The great owners (of land) with access to history must know: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. When a majority of the people is hungry they will take away by force what they need. Repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored three cries of history.

The land fell in few hands, the number of dispossessed increased and every effort of great owners was directed at repression. Means to destroy revolt were considered while the causes of revolt went on”.

The apex court then went on to give a chilling advice to the appellant asking him to be satisfied with a “few hundred acres of land allotted to him” and spare the few acres allotted to a landless tenant.

Faiz once lamented:

“Baney hain ahlehawas mudai bhi aur munsif bhi

Kisey wakil karein kis sey munsifi chahein”.

When greed becomes the prosecutor and also the judge,

Where to find the pleader and from whom to seek justice?

Email: drkhshan@isb.comsats.net.pk

Monday, November 27, 2006

Winning hearts and minds

 

Sunday, November 19, 2006

VIEW: — Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi

School-level education must emphasise the notions of humanity, equal citizenship and civic obligations, which lost salience during the Zia years. The young people should learn to identify with these notions. In his address to the nation on November 15 President General Pervez Musharraf called upon the people to reject ‘fundamentalists and extremists’ and elect ‘progressive people’ in the next general elections. While this was not the first time he criticised the Islamic hard-line and extremist elements, including the Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Musharraf has of late become more vocal in his criticism, making several comments on the issue during the last two months.

On November 13, he said that if the government did not check the ‘scourge of extremism and terrorism’ the country would suffer. He also argued that the ‘extremists and terrorists’ posed a serious threat to Pakistan’s security and internal harmony and were the major obstacle to the government’s efforts to rehabilitate Pakistan’s moderate and enlightened socio-political profile.A large number of people share Musharraf’s perspective on promoting moderation and enlightenment. But they are not willing to join him because they are not convinced about the genuineness of his commitment to change the social and political profile of the Pakistani sate and society. They argue that Musharraf’s desire to hold onto power dominates his efforts to promote religious tolerance and cultural moderation and that his government has often worked in harmony with the MMA and kept the liberal and mainstream political forces under pressure. This means that Musharraf will have to work towards winning the hearts and minds of the people to cultivate support for his policies.

The people have to be convinced of the government’s commitment to promote religious and cultural tolerance.Musharraf’s political agenda and style of governance also limit his options. His government relies heavily on executive orders or administrative measures to contain religious extremism and terrorism. This strategy may address the immediate problems, but fails to generate enough political capital to facilitate enduring solutions. For example, the military action in the tribal areas enabled the Pakistani security authorities to kill and arrest some militants and drive others out of the area. But, the problem of religious extremism and militancy was not tackled in the Waziristan area. This area continues to be dominated by Islamic hardliners who have become more radicalised during the last three years of military operations.An enduring solution to extremism and militancy requires the winning of hearts and minds of the people for a moderate and liberal disposition. This can be achieved through dialogue and participatory political process that provides equal opportunity to all political groups to engage in political mobilisation.

The liberal and the middle-of-the road groups should be allowed to articulate public option on their perspectives. If multiple political discourses are available in the society, not everybody will subscribe to Islamic hard line worldview.Musharraf should have cultivated liberal and moderate political forces to build popular support for his policies. However, his government pushed them to the sidelines because they refused to endorse Musharraf’s centrality to the political process and questioned his legitimacy.The Musharraf government faces another problem. It favours co-option of the political forces on its term rather than cultivating partnerships with them. The liberal and moderate political forces refused to be co-opted and sought a balanced and mutually advantageous relationship with the government, which was not acceptable to the latter.The MMA accommodated Musharraf’s power-interest in return for similar accommodation by the government for the MMA’s power-interests in the NWFP and Balochistan. However, at the same time, the MMA mobilised the people against the Musharraf government’s counter-terrorism policies and it supported the Taliban and other hard-line Islamic elements in the NWFP and Balochistan.

In the absence of a countervailing non-official liberal perspective, the MMA influence extended beyond the two provinces. It penetrated the official circles, including the military.Another contradiction in the disposition of the government is the regular participation of its senior members in the annual congregation of the Tableeghi Jama’at at Raiwind, although the latter advocates a purely fundamentalist, rather than a radical, Islamic perspective. Even so, its annual congregation is said to have become a meeting point of hard-line and militant elements from different countries. This year, several senior PML leaders, including the Punjab and Sindh chief ministers, participated in the annual congregation held earlier this month. Such a high level official presence gives the government’s endorsement to this religious movement whose religious and cultural disposition conflicts with Musharraf’s enlightened moderation.Pakistan’s drift towards extremism and militancy can be traced to the 1980s, when Pakistan’s military government led by General Zia-ul Haq invoked Islamic orthodoxy and militancy for domestic and external reasons. Islamic dogma and classical Islamic perspectives dominated the official discourse on cultural, political and economic issues. The emphasis was on finding religiously correct solutions. The government patronage encouraged Islamic hard-line perspectives and militancy. These elements were allowed to penetrate the bureaucracy, the military, educational institutions and media, increasing their influence manifold and attenuating other perspectives of socio-economic and political affairs. These developments skewed the formulation of policies and solving problems because dogmatic and ideological considerations were given a clear priority over professionalism and merit.

The education system was moulded to socialise the young people into Islamic orthodoxy and militancy. These changes in the education system persisted in the post-Zia period (1988 onwards), socialising one generation into orthodoxy and militancy. This generation, now in government and non-government jobs and professions, is so oriented to Islamic hard-line and militant discourse that they hardly think of alternate perspectives.Musharraf’s government has been talking about revising the academic courses in the regular institutions and Islamic seminaries. However, there is very little change in the course contents.

The school text books in Pakistan Studies and other courses continue to socialise the young ones in Islamic orthodoxy. The current drift between the government and the MMA on the passage of the Women’s Protection Bill is an attempt by the two sides to overawe each other through political brinkmanship. They can pursue this approach because the current political arrangements have entered the last year of their existence. The new elections will be held in 12 to 15 months. If these are held earlier, the MMA’s power interests are not threatened.Irrespective of the outcome of the current confrontation between the government and the MMA, the government is not likely to win the hearts and minds of the people for its policy of moderation and enlightenment without allowing the liberal and centralist political forces to function freely in the society and mobilize people.Musharraf will have to cut back on his extra-constitutional role and restrict the military’s expanded role in non-professional fields. Greater attention will have to given to education and media for inculcating moderate and liberal political and social values among the young people.School-level education must emphasise the notions of humanity, equal citizenship and civic obligations, which lost salience during the Zia years.

The young people should learn to identify with the notions of humankind, human rights, and civic obligations as the citizens of Pakistan. Such a socialisation process will orient their hearts and minds to religious and cultural tolerance and moderation in social disposition. This generation will then be different from the earlier generation that got socialised into orthodoxy and militancy during the Zia years.

Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi is a political and defence analyst

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Bajaur carnage

November 13, 2006

By Dr Syed Farooq Hasnat

On October 3oth, the Pakistan army, as according to its own admission, wittingly killed scores of Pakistanis in the Khar village, located in Bajaur Agency, near the Afghan border. The army spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan, gloating over the “success” claimed that in this operation, gunship helicopters and precision weapons were used. Some eyewitnesses claimed that it was the American Predator Drone that fired missiles at the site, while the Pakistani official said that the Americans only provided intelligence. The Bajaur political officials barred local and representatives of foreign news agencies from entering the vicinity where this massacre took place. A noted newspaper editorial remarked that “the decision to ban journalists’ entry into the Bajaur agency is not prudent. It suggests that the government may have much to hide.”

In a similar attack on January 13 of the same year more than 13 civilians were killed and many more injured in Damadola village of the same Agency. At that occasion the Army totally denied of any involvement in the incident.

In the first week of October, Foreign Minister Kasuri was reported to have said that Pakistan has made clear (to the U.S.) that it would not kill its own people in the tribal areas. He said that “use of military force is not the solution of problems and political matters are resolved through talks.” A CNN interview quoted his saying that “…there’s a time when not just brawn but brains are also needed,” Foreign Minister told CNN’s Late Edition. “Sometimes what happens is that when you have acts of violence you end up alienating the local population.”The attack at Khar came as a surprise and as a tragic incident, for the people of Pakistan. The residents of Bajaur were shocked as they were gearing up for a North Waziristan type peace agreement. The signing ceremony was to take place after few hours.

It should be pointed out that the American officials have been critical of the previous peace deal between the government of Pakistan and the residents of the tribal areas, in North Waziristan. Apparently, the Bush administration demands the Pakistan government to use high handed methods against its own people. Just before the recent attack, General John Abizaid, commander of CENTROM while talking to the defense correspondents on October 20, expressed his reservations about the deal with the tribes. He said that he was “very, very skeptical…..” and that he will “believe that when” he will see for himself. Already, President Bush in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on September 22 had said in absolute terms that he would order U.S. forces to enter the Pakistani territory, i.e., without taking permission from the violated country.

No matter, why and how it happened, there is no excuse for killing more than 80 Pakistanis. The manner in which this attack was conducted and the approach through which the government spokesmen justified it, raises lots of questions and doubts. A renowned Human Rights Organisation Amnesty International issued a statement saying that “if these killings were deliberate and took place without first attempting to arrest suspected offenders, without warning, without the suspects offering armed resistance, and in circumstances in which suspects posed no immediate risk to security forces, the killings are considered extrajudicial executions in violation of international human rights law.”

There is enough evidence by the foreign and Pakistani journalists that there were children at the premises and that the air attack was more than from the Pakistani air force. As mentioned earlier just after few hours a peace treaty was going to be signed with the tribal elders, on the same pattern as that of Waziristan. Part of the North Waziristan deal read, “There will be no target killing and no parallel administration in the agency. The writ of the state will prevail in the area”. Those who carried out December 30 Bajaur killings did so to sabotage peace in the tribal areas and as a consequence the unity of Pakistan is undermined and Army’s image is further tarnished.

Just two days after the massacre, wearing the uniform of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces General Musharraf accepted the responsibility of the attack and showed no remorse for the action or the loss of innocent human lives. Instead, he said that his “holistic strategy” would continue. He further said that “We will crush militancy with force and no one will be allowed to challenge the writ of the government.” The main problem with Musharraf is that his vision about the matters of State is distorted and for him Pakistani lives are of no consequence, as long as his prolonged military rule continues unchallenged, with of course the foreign approval – as he lacks domestic legitimacy.

Some analysts like Hassan Abbas argue that a high percentage of Pashtoon representation in the Army led to the Waziristan agreement. While others agree that in reality the Army suffered a “defeat” at the battle ground. According to government’s own admission more than 700 of its men lost their lives. The Army just fled as they have done before, in East Pakistan and Kargil. This was in spite of the fact that more than 80,000 Pakistani military troops are deployed along the tribal areas of the Afghan border. It was believed at that time that the best option for the establishment was to talk to the tribesmen through their representatives, including members of National Assembly and Senators from FATA. At least, it was projected at that time that instead of killing fellow Pakistanis – a policy of dialogue and persuasion is to be pursued.

Another category of arguments goes that it was a pro Taliban faction with which the government entered into an agreement in Waziristan. The Taliban of the 1990s were prompted and encouraged by the Army and the tribes were made to believe that by supporting the Taliban they were helping the Pakistan Army, if not Pakistan, itself. Then, came that famous somersault in 2001. Any expert on human psychology would agree that it’s not an easy matter for the groups with conviction (instilled or otherwise) to turnaround and change their opinion, overnight. The change in attitudes comes through dialogue and persuasion. The use of force in such circumstances is counter productive and harmful for the unity and strength of the country.

There have been so many blames as well as blunders assigned to the Pakistan Army that it has become indefensible even for a relentless ally of the establishment to validate their performance. It is unfortunate that a national institution has lost its professionalism to a great extent as witnessed in 1971 East Pakistan war, Kargil border war, North Waziristan, Baluchistan and now in Bajaur. The obvious reason being the heavy involvement of the generals in politicking and their greed for wealth and other undue privileges (See the findings of Hamood ur Rehman Commission Report). They have too many stakes to guard – strict adherence to professionalism becomes the last option.

The crux of the matter is that one person is playing havoc with the civil, military and social institutions of Pakistan. His most serious crime in the eyes of many Pakistanis is that apart from tearing down the national institutions he is also deforming the language, culture, heritage and above all the sovereignty of Pakistan.

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June 28, 2007

Voice of the nation

Filed under: MILITARY RULE — civilsocietypakistan @ 4:19 pm


Monday, May 28, 2007, Jamadi-ul-Awal 11, 1428 A.H.
The general is left with few options for survival.
He and his ministers have hinted at imposing a state of emergency or even Martial Law. He specifically stated that he is ready for extra constitutional measures to enhance his stay in power. But the mood of the people shows that such tactics will face widespread and stiff public resistance.


By Kamal Matinuddin

Having crossed the age of 80 I had decided to lay down my pen and spend the sunset years of my life just lazing around. But the tragic scenes of the streets of Karachi which were being flashed on TV screens by all the independent channels shook me out of my self-imposed stupor.I heard the president’s speech on May 12. On his call hundreds of thousands of people gathered at the Islamabad parade ground. Even more could have been assembled by the ruling party, as they had all the resources at their disposal. Dancing crowds raised slogans in favour of General Musharraf. How many of them were genuine supporters and how many were rented is another question.

The president was not entirely wrong when he said that the chief justice was politicising a judicial matter. In ordinary circumstances judges should not air their views in public. They are required to express their opinion only through their judgments. But when a person is pushed against the wall, pitched against the entire governmental machinery and whose future is at stake will use all kinds of tactics to gain support for what he believes is an injustice to him. It is up to the crowds and the political parties not to follow him if he is in the wrong, but an opportunity to drum up support against the president was provided and they are making full use of it.

Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, whose professional qualities, till a few months ago, were known to the lawyers’ community only, has been suddenly turned into a hero, because he has become the symbol of defiance and a focal point for the opposition to rise up against the government. By asking the president/chief of army staff to address public gatherings has the regime also not politicised the judicial crisis?

Staging demonstrations to show one’s strength, particularly in an election year, is perfectly justified. There is no denying the fact that the MQM has been and will remain the largest political party in Karachi, but to proclaim that Karachi hamara shahar hai (Karachi is our city) amounts to showing a red rag to the others, who also reside in the commercial capital. The PML (Q) presumably encouraged the MQM not merely to bring out a massive rally in Karachi on the very day the Chief Justice was to address the Sindh High Court Bar Association but to also prevent rival political groups from using this occasion to display their anti-government feelings. To achieve this objective the Sindh government blocked all the roads with heavy containers that were leading from the airport.

This was a recipe for disaster and both the MQM and the opposition knew this and were prepared for the bloody clashes, which were bound to occur in such a tense situation. The law enforcing agencies by placing themselves in between the opposing groups could have prevented the clashes. They were apparently told to step aside. According to the president 25,000 people of the opposition moving about freely in MQM majority localities of Karachi could lead to clashes. But by stopping them from doing so also led to the loss of more than 40 bread earners

Altaf Hussain must have been fully aware of the consequences of his directive to hold a rally on May 12 as millions of non-MQM followers also live in this mega city, many of who are armed. It was distressing, therefore, to hear him shedding crocodile tears when he ended his telephone address to his followers by praying for the souls of those MQM supporters who were killed.

President Musharraf was full of confidence during his interview with a TV channel recently. He implied that he was prepared to accept the ‘crown’ if it was offered to him the third time. The fact that it could become a crown of thorns does not seem to bother him, because he still believes that the vast majority of the 160 million people in Pakistan are with him. It was so in 1999 but is that so now?

To find out the views of those who read newspapers, those who follow talk shows and those who get together at study groups and think-tanks I went through 30 English newspapers and ten Urdu ones, which appeared between May 13 and 18. I looked at 25 editorials and found that only one supported the government on the judicial crisis. I glanced through 20 articles, nearly all of them were critical of the tactical handling of the events, which followed the confrontation at the army camp on March 9. I read 40 letters to the editor, only two were against the chief justice, 33 were against the actions taken by the government against him. All the cartoons dealing with the current events showed the government in an unfavourable position. I stayed up late into the night and switched from one channel to another listening to the several discussions on the events leading up to the bloody clashes between rival groups on that Black Saturday. I saw his interview with Talat Hussain. I listened to the views of retired diplomats, bureaucrats, and senior army officers at study groups and private functions.

Two well-known female columnists have turned their attention inwards and have come up with scathing criticism. Their columns had headlines with phrases like ‘we have hit rock bottom, where is the state, the state is adrift’. The vast majority of us feel that the issue was not handled correctly, which has resulted in such a violent reaction against the government. Several British newspapers including The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and The Financial Times were, reportedly, all of the view that the judicial crisis in Pakistan has weakened the president.

On the issue of enlightened moderation and religious extremism the people are asking why the government is not taking sterner action against the clerics of Lal Masjid, who are defying the writ of the state. When two policemen were allegedly brought into the offices of a private TV channel some weeks back the police forced their entry into its premises. They smashed the window panes, broke the furniture beat up the workers and ‘rescued’ their comrades. Now when the clerics kidnap four of them negotiations are being carried out. A mockery of the state’s authority was made when para-military forces surrounded Lal Masjid on one day and then withdrew before the next morning. The clerics stood their ground and even threatened to declare a jihad against the government. The writ of the state vanished into thin air. A double-standard is being followed.

President Musharraf has been at the helm of affairs for eight years. During his watch the economy has indeed improved. The foreign exchange reserves have gone above $13 billion. Relations with India are inching towards normalisation. Grassroots democracy has been introduced. The international community acknowledges his active support in the war on terror. But the law and order situation has deteriorated. Political polarisation has increased. Religious extremism is creeping into the settled areas. The president has repeatedly said that he will abide by the constitution. According to the constitution no citizen of Pakistan can be prevented from returning to his country. Benazir will face the courts. Nawaz Sharif will face the wrath of the Saudis for breaking a deal in which they too were involved. So be it.

In the last 60 years we have experimented with basic democracy, controlled democracy, socialist democracy, Islamic democracy and now quasi-democracy. Let us get back to genuine democracy. To reduce the highly charged atmosphere in the country the president should now doff his uniform; declare that he will not be a presidential candidate; hold early elections and provide a level playing field for all the political parties.

This, I believe, is the voice of the nation at this critical juncture.

The writer is a retired lieutenant-general.

Every Pakistani must respect armed forces: Musharraf

Filed under: MILITARY RULE — civilsocietypakistan @ 4:14 pm

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

DAILY TIMES
May 30, 2007

 * President warns media not to politicise judicial matter, violate PEMRA rules

JEHLUM: President General Pervez Musharraf said on Wednesday that it is every Pakistani’s responsibility to ensure that the sanctity and reverence of national institutions, such as the armed forces, is maintained.

Addressing army officers at the Jehlum Garrison on Wednesday, Gen Musharraf, in reference to criticism of the military’s role in governance, said that the armed forces were in the barracks and claims to the contrary were unfortunate.

He said the speeches and slogans at a seminar at the Supreme Court auditorium last Saturday were an “assault on the superior courts”. The languages used at the seminar “humiliated” the armed forces and the judiciary.

The president also criticised the media, saying it must not politicise what was purely a judicial and legal matter. He was referring to the presidential reference against the chief justice of Pakistan. He said the media must abide by the code of conduct approved by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).

Remarks: Pakistan Civil Society agree that Pakistani armed forces should be respected as they, under the constitution of the country are responsible for the security of the people. However a problem arises when the generals drag the military in politics and occupy important civilian positions. A myth created by the generals is that the institution of military is most efficient and forthright, while other institutions suffer from corruption and decay. This myth has been proved wrong time and again. The military has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its history and nothing seems to get better. In fact, the military itself has become corrupt and inefficient, even in its professional capabilities. Justice Hamood ur Rehman Commission warned the army generals that they were loosing their professionalism, which is due to the greediness, land grabbing and favoritism, just to mention few vices. The commission’s report and its recommendations were ignored. The generals are disliked by the people at large and are seen as non-professional land grabbers and corrupt. People have also lost faith in their capacity to defend Pakistan. The lack of military professionalism was witnessed during the 1970 war against India, Kargil and now in Waziristan areas. In the tribal areas the army’s professional performance was highly disappointing and because of that was forced to enter into an agreement with the tribes of the area.In short the Pakistan Army is seen not as defenders of the country but a political party filled with greed, corruption lust for suppressing the people.  In these circumstances, how can anyone respect the present day military of Pakistan, especially its generals. Pakistan Army will only be respected if they remain with the confine of the constitution and restrict themselves to be professional soldiers, confined to their barracks. 


PROTEST AGAINST THE WORST EVER MILITARY DICTATORSHIP CONTINUES.

Filed under: MILITARY RULE — civilsocietypakistan @ 3:17 pm

Friday, June 01, 2007


Musharraf’s Party is Over

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 3:08 pm

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


by Hassan Abbas

06.11.2007

The hundreds of thousands of ordinary Pakistanis euphorically chanting in the streets in support of Iftikhar Chaudhry, the suspended chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, demonstrate that Pakistan has outgrown Pervez Musharraf’s transitional leadership. These protests have emerged as a people’s movement demanding rule of law and restoration of the chief justice; the public mood is simply electric. In response, the Musharraf government has tried every trick in its book to discredit Chaudhry and repress his supporters, but to little avail. The only word that explains the chief justice’s rise in public esteem is “defiance.” It also explains why Musharraf’s stars are fading: As he loses credibility, challenging him earns respect.

What all this means for the United States is an important question, so a credible analysis must look closely at the roots of the current crisis and the characteristics of the movement’s mobilizing forces. Any interpretation that pays little heed to these elements will inevitably be skewed.

Washington is understandably worried about the potential impact of these developments on Pakistan’s cooperation in the U.S.-led War on Terror. The prospect of an unstable nuclear Pakistan with religious political parties in power haunts not only the United States, but also Pakistan’s neighbors. Yet, Chief Justice Chaudhry’s character and the nature of his public support should allay these fears. He is not a religious extremist by any stretch of the imagination. If anything, he boldly used his chief-justice position to check the autocratic and authoritarian tendencies of Pakistan’s law-enforcement and intelligence agencies. He took many a suo moto action in support of poor and disenfranchised people who had no access to justice. He ruled against the vested interests in various high-profile cases. In an unprecedented move, he challenged the country’s powerful intelligence organizations to produce citizens—most of whom were political activists from opposition parties—who were “missing.” Chaudhry’s actions exposed the incompetence of the state machinery and provided relief to ordinary people. Unfortunately, such defenders of the public interest are rare in Pakistan.

This all transpired at a time when Musharraf was readying himself for reelection by a parliament whose term expires this November. He also indicated his plans to remain chief of the army, a job he promised to relinquish in December 2004 after taking advantage of a three-year extension. Both of these plans are constitutionally questionable, and it was obvious to Musharraf that Chaudhry would act independently and according to law. Musharraf recognized that if his prospective actions were to be challenged in the Supreme Court, he would not get a pass. So, as the story goes, the chief justice was suspended when he refused to resign upon Musharraf’s request. This version of events may or may not be completely true, but for the public it is fact.

Chaudhry’s addresses at various bar associations across the country prompted huge shows of public support—and provoked the Pakistan president’s ire. Committing blunders became routine for Musharraf, and in the process he lost touch with reality. The state-sponsored killings in Karachi on May 12, meant to undermine pro-Chaudhry demonstrations, were the most devastating blow to Musharraf’s trustworthiness. Instead of reacting to the public mood, Musharraf has refused to back down from his mistaken position and has, in turn, lost all sense of direction.

Meanwhile, various progressive and liberal elements of Pakistani society—lawyers, human-rights activists, intellectuals and the media—galvanized public opinion on the matter; political parties therefore had no choice but to join hands with the chief justice’s supporters. This is a major setback to religious parties and conservative groups because Chaudhry’s movement stands for establishing the rule of law in Pakistan. There is a cry for free, fair and transparent elections. Now, religious political parties are merely following the course set by the liberals and are unlikely to benefit from these recent turns in events. The hitherto silent majority of Pakistan has spoken.

It is difficult to comprehend why this scenario perplexes Washington. Musharraf’s heart was certainly in the right place, and some of his contributions to the War on Terror deserve credit, but at best he was part of a transition phase. His policies in the tribal belt between Pakistan and Afghanistan have failed to deliver, and the Taliban is becoming entrenched in parts of the country’s North West Frontier Province. Even Musharraf’s supporters cannot explain why the Pakistani president took a very benign attitude towards a group of hard-line mullahs who have taken charge of Islamabad’s Red Mosque and have even established religious courts (as per their distorted version of Islam). These religious extremists are openly challenging the writ of the state, yet Musharraf is keeping criminally silent. Arguably, he wants to use these images to scare the West and prove his invincibility.

The crux of the matter is that Musharraf has become a liability for Pakistan, and consequently for the United States. There are clear indications that he may well dismantle what little he built. Of late, a few compromised media channels in the country (after recuperating from the ill-advised clampdown) have started giving undue airtime to some of the strong critics of U.S. policies towards Pakistan. One wonders if this is in response to government instructions. After all, it is in Musharraf’s interest to prove that the ongoing public fury and his possible ouster will strengthen religious and anti-American forces. One hopes that the Bush Administration will not take the bait. If nothing else, Musharraf’s stay in power will open up doors for religious extremists to stage a comeback and even attempt to hijack the public fervor.

Fighting religious extremism and halting Talibanization is in the larger interest of Pakistan, and the progressive forces in Pakistan are the entities most well-equipped to fight this war of ideas. Pakistan’s army, which is responsible for fighting the physical battle, will continue to be an organized and professional force and a beneficiary of the U.S. military aid—with or without Musharraf.

Hassan Abbas is a research Fellow at the Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army and America’s War on Terror (M.E. Sharpe, 2004).

PAKISTAN ARMY DEMANDS RESPECT FROM THE PEOPLE

Filed under: MILITARY RULE — civilsocietypakistan @ 3:02 pm

On June 2, 2007, Pakistani Corps Commanders granted support to General Musharraf for his undemocratic and brutal rule. The conflict is between the people of Pakistan and few corrupt and greedy army generals.

SHAMELESS MUSHARRAF FAILS TO DEFEND PAKISTAN -ONCE AGAIN

Filed under: FOREIGN RELATIONS — civilsocietypakistan @ 2:48 pm

On June 23, 2007 the NATO and the American military machine attacked the tribal areas of Pakistan and killed many women and children. This was a repeat of what they did few days ago. In January of the same year more than 60 innocent children were killed in a missile attack by the American drone.

Mr. Musharraf in a most criminal conduct kept mum. In fact he owned the January murders of innocent by saying that the Pakistan Army performed this criminal act. By doing this he defamed the Army, as well. Is this man fit to be the chief of the armed forces or even a phony President? These tribals are as much Pakistanis as any one else. On the contrary Musharraf fully supports a terrorist group MQM. Mr. Musharraf has failed to defend the sovereignty and independence of the country.  

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