CIVIL SOCIETY PAKISTAN

January 30, 2008

CHIEF JUSTICE OF PAKISTAN WRITES A LETTER TO WORLD COMMUNITY AGAINST MUSHARRAF -THE MILITARY TYRANT AND A BULLY

Filed under: MILITARY RULE — civilsocietypakistan @ 11:16 pm
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JANUARY 29, 2008

AN OPEN LETTER TO:

His Excellency
The President of the European Parliament,
Brussels.

His Excellency
The President of France,
Paris.

His Excellency
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom,
London.

Her Excellency
Ms. Condaleeza Rice,
Secretary of State,
United States of America,
Washington D.C.

Professor Klaus Schwab,
World Economic Forum,
Geneva.

All through their respective Ambassodors, High Commissioners and representatives.

Excellency,

I am the Chief Justice of Pakistan presently detained in my residence since November 3, 2007 pursuant to some verbal, and unspecified, order passed by General Musharraf.

I have found it necessary to write to you, and others, because during his recent visits to Brussels, Paris, Davos and London General Musharraf has slandered me, and my colleagues, with impunity in press conferences and other addresses and meetings. In addition he has widely distributed, among those whom he has met, a slanderous document (hereinafter the Document) entitled: “PROFILE OF THE FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE OF PAKISTAN”. I might have let this go unresponded but the Document, unfortunately, is such an outrage that, with respect, it is surprising that a person claiming to be head of state should fall to such depths as to circulate such calumny against the Chief Justice of his own country.

In view of these circumstances I have no option but to join issue with General Musharraf and to put the record straight. Since he has voiced his views on several public occasions so as to reach out to the public at large, I also am constrained to address your excellencies in an Open Letter to rebut the allegations against me.

At the outset you may be wondering why I have used the words “claiming to be the head of state”. That is quite deliberate. General Musharraf’s constitutional term ended on November 15, 2007. His claim to a further term thereafter is the subject of active controversy before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. It was while this claim was under adjudication before a Bench of eleven learned judges of the Supreme Court that the General arrested a majority of those judges in addition to me on November 3, 2007. He thus himself subverted the judicial process which remains frozen at that point. Besides arresting the Chief Justice and judges (can there have been a greater outrage?) he also purported to suspend the Constitution and to purge the entire judiciary (even the High Courts) of all independent judges. Now only his hand-picked and compliant judges remain willing to “validate” whatever he demands. And all this is also contrary to an express and earlier order passed by the Supreme Court on November 3, 2007.

Meantime I and my colleagues remain in illegal detention. With me are also detained my wife and three of my young children, all school-going and one a special child. Such are the conditions of our detention that we cannot even step out on to the lawn for the winter sun because that space is occupied by police pickets. Barbed wire barricades surround the residence and all phone lines are cut. Even the water connection to my residence has been periodically turned off. I am being persuaded to resign and to forego my office, which is what I am not prepared to do.

I request you to seek first hand information of the barricades and of my detention, as that of my children, from your Ambassador/High Commissioner/representative in Pakistan. You will get a report of such circumstances as have never prevailed even in medieval times. And these are conditions put in place, in the twenty-first century, by a Government that you support.

Needless to say that the Constitution of Pakistan contains no provision for its suspension, and certainly not by the Chief of Army Staff. Nor can it be amended except in accordance with Articles 238 and 239 which is by Parliament and not an executive or military order. As such all actions taken by General Musharraf on and after November 3 are illegal and ultra vires the Constitution. That is why it is no illusion when I describe myself as the Chief Justice even though I am physically and forcibly incapacitated by the state apparatus under the command of the General. I am confident that as a consequence of the brave and unrelenting struggle continued by the lawyers and the civil society, the Constitution will prevail.

However, in the meantime, General Musharraf has launched upon a vigourous initiative to defame and slander me. Failing to obtain my willing abdication he has become desperate. The eight-page Document is the latest in this feverish drive.
Before I take up the Document itself let me recall that the General first ousted me from the Supreme Court on March 9 last year while filing an indictment (in the form of a Reference under Article 209 of the Constitution) against me. According to the General the Reference had been prepared after a thorough investigation and comprehensively contained all the charges against me. I had challenged that Reference and my ouster before the Supreme Court. On July 20 a thirteen member Bench unanimously struck down the action of the General as illegal and unconstitutional. I was honourably reinstated.

The Reference was thus wholly shattered and all the charges contained therein trashed. These cannot now be regurgitated except in contempt of the Supreme Court. Any way, since the Document has been circulated by no less a person than him I am constrained to submit the following for your kind consideration in rebuttal thereof:

The Document is divided into several heads but the allegations contained in it can essentially be divided into two categories: those allegations that were contained in the Reference and those that were not.

Quite obviously, those that are a repeat from the Reference hold no water as these have already been held by the Supreme Court to not be worth the ink they were written in. In fact, the Supreme Court found that the evidence submitted against me by the Government was so obviously fabricated and incorrect, that the bench took the unprecedented step of fining the Government Rs. 100,000 (a relatively small amount in dollar terms, but an unheard of sum with respect to Court Sanction in Pakistan) for filing clearly false and malicious documents, as well as revoking the license to practice of the Advocate on Record for filing false documents. Indeed, faced with the prospect of having filed clearly falsified documents against me, the Government’s attorneys, including the Attorney General, took a most dishonorable but telling approach. Each one, in turn, stood before the Supreme Court and disowned the Government’s Reference, and stated they had not reviewed the evidence against me before filing it with Court. They then filed a formal request to the Court to withdraw the purported evidence, and tendered an unconditional apology for filing such a scandalous and false documents. So baseless and egregious were the claims made by General Musharraf that on July 20th, 2007, the full Supreme Court for the first time in Pakistan’s history, ruled unanimously against a sitting military ruler and reinstated me honorably to my post.

Despite having faced these charges in open court, must I now be slandered with those same charges by General Musharraf in world capitals, while I remain a prisoner and unable to speak in my defense?

There are, of course, a second set of charges. These were not contained in the Reference and are now being bandied around by the General at every opportunity.

I forcefully and vigorously deny every single one of them. The truth of these “new” allegations can be judged from the fact that they all ostensibly date to the period before the reference was filed against me last March, yet none of them was listed in the already bogus charge sheet.

If there were any truth to these manufactured charges, the Government should have included them in the reference against me. God knows they threw in everything including the kitchen sink into that scurrilous 450 page document, only to have it thrown out by the entire Supreme Court after a 3 month open trial.

The charges against me are so transparently baseless that General Musharraf’s regime has banned the discussion of my situation and the charges in the broadcast media. This is because the ridiculous and flimsy nature of the charges is self-evident whenever an opportunity is provided to actually refute them.

Instead, the General only likes to recite his libel list from a rostrum or in gathering where there is no opportunity for anyone to respond. Incidentally, the General maligns me in the worst possible way at every opportunity. That is the basis for the Document he has distributed. But he has not just deposed me from the Judiciary. He has also fired more than half of the Superior Judiciary of Pakistan – nearly 50 judges in all — together with me. They have also been arrested and detained.
What are the charges against them? Why should they be fired and arrested if I am the corrupt judge? Moreover even my attorneys Aitzaz Ahsan, Munir Malik, Tariq Mahmood and Ali Ahmed Kurd were also arrested on November 3. Malik alone has been released but only because both his kidneys collapsed as a result of prison torture.

Finally, as to the Document, it also contains some further allegations described as “Post-Reference Conduct” that is attributed to me under various heads. This would mean only those allegedly ‘illegal’ actions claimed to have been taken by me after March 9, 2007. These are under the heads given below and replied to as under:

1. “Participation in SJC (Supreme Judicial Council) Proceedings”:

(a) Retaining ‘political lawyers’: Aitzaz Ahsan and Zammurrad Khan:

It is alleged that I gave a political colour to my defence by engaging political lawyers Aitzaz Ahsan and Zamurrad Khan both Pakistan Peoples’ Party Members of the National Assembly. The answer is simple.

I sought to engage the best legal team in the country. Mr. Ahsan is of course an MNA (MP), but he is also the top lawyer in Pakistan. For that reference may be made simply to the ranking of Chambers and Partners Global. Such is his respect in Pakistan’s legal landscape that he was elected President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan by one of the widest margins in the Association’s history.

All high profile personalities have placed their trust in his talents. He has thus been the attorney for Prime Ministers Bhutto and Sharif, (even though he was an opponent of the latter) Presidential candidate (against Musharraf) Justice Wajihuddin, sports star and politician Imran Khan, former Speakers, Ministers, Governors, victims of political vendetta, and also the internationally acclaimed gang-rape victim Mukhtar Mai, to mention only a few.

Equally important, Barrister Ahsan is a man of integrity who is known to withstand all pressures and enticements. That is a crucial factor in enaging an attorney when one’s prosecutor is the sitting military ruler, with enourmous monetary and coercive resources at his disposal.

Mr. Zamurrad Khan is also a recognized professional lawyer, a former Secretary of the District Bar Rawalpindi, and was retained by Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan to assist him in the case. Mr. Khan has been a leading light of the Lawyers’ Movement for the restoration of the deposed judiciary and has bravely faced all threats and vilification.

Finally, surely I am entitled to my choice of lawyers and not that of the General.

(b) “Riding in Mr. Zafarullah Jamali (former Prime Minister)’s car”:

How much the Document tries to deceive is apparent from the allegation that I willingly rode in Mr. Jamali’s car for the first hearing of the case against me on March 13 (as if that alone is an offence). Actually the Government should have been ashamed of itself for creating the circumstances that forced me to take that ride.

Having been stripped of official transport on the 9th March (my vehicles were removed from my house by the use of fork lifters), I decided to walk the one-mile to the Supreme Court. Along the way I was molested and manhandled, my hair was pulled and neck craned in the full blaze of the media, by a posse of policemen under the supervision of the Inspector General of Police. (A judicial inquiry, while I was still deposed, established this fact). In order to escape the physical assault I took refuge with Mr. Jamali and went the rest of the journey on his car. Instead of taking action against the police officials for manhandling the Chief Justice it is complained that I was on the wrong!
(c) “Creating a political atmosphere”:

Never did I instigate or invite any “political atmosphere”. I never addressed the press or any political rally. I kept my lips sealed even under extreme provocation from the General and his ministers who were reviling me on a daily basis. I maintained a strict judicial silence. I petitioned the Supreme Court and won. That was my vindication.

2. “Country wide touring and Politicising the Issue”:

The Constitution guarantees to all citizens free movement throughout Pakistan. How can this then be a complaint?

By orders dated March 9 and 15 (both of which were found to be without lawful authority by the Court) I had been sent of “forced leave”. I could neither perform any judicial or administrative functions as the Chief Justice of Pakistan. I was prevented not only from sitting in court but also from access to my own chamber by the force of arms under orders of the General. (All my papers were removed, even private documents).

The only function as ‘a judge on forced leave’ that I could perform was to address and deliver lectures to various Bar Associations. I accepted their invitations. They are peppered all over Pakistan. I had to drive to these towns as all these are not linked by air. On the way the people of Pakistan did, indeed, turn out in their millions, often waiting from dawn to dusk or from dusk to dawn, to greet me. But I never addressed them even when they insisted that I do. I never spoke to the press. I sat quietly in my vehicle without uttering a word. All this is on the record as most journeys were covered by the media live and throughout.

I spoke only to deliver lectures on professional and constitutional issues to the Bar Associations. Transcripts of every single one of my addresses are available. Every single word uttered by me in those addresses conforms to the stature, conduct and non-political nature of the office of the Chief Justice. There was no politics in these whatsoever. I did not even mention my present status or the controversy or the proceedings before the Council or the Court, not even the Reference. Not even once.
All the persons named in the Document under this head are lawyers and were members of the reception committees in various towns and Bar Associations.

3. Political Leaders Calling on CJP residence:

It is alleged that I received political leaders while I was deposed. It is on the record of the Supreme Judicial Council itself that I was detained after being deposed on March 9. The only persons allowed to meet me were those cleared by the Government. One was a senior political leader. None else was allowed to see me, initially not even my lawyers. How can I be blamed for whomsoever comes to my residence?

Had I wanted to politicize the issue I would have gone to the Press or invited the media. I did not. I had recourse to the judicial process for my reinstatement and won. The General lost miserably in a fair and straight contest. That is my only fault.

4. “Conclusion”:

Hence the conclusion drawn by the General that charges had been proved against me ‘beyond doubt’ is absolutely contrary to the facts and wide off the mark. It is a self-serving justification of the eminently illegal action of firing and arresting judges of superior courts under the garb of an Emergency (read Martial Law) when the Constitution was ‘suspended’ and then ‘restored’ later with drastic and illegal ‘amendments’ grafted into it.

The Constitution cannot be amended except by the two Houses of Parliament and by a two-thirds majority in each House. That is the letter of the law. How can one man presume or arrogate to himself that power?
Unfortunately the General is grievously economical with the truth (I refrain from using the word ‘lies’) when he says that the charges against me were ‘investigated and verified beyond doubt’. As explained above, these had in fact been rubbished by the Full Court Bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan against which judgment the government filed no application for review.

What the General has done has serious implications for Pakistan and the world. In squashing the judiciary for his own personal advantage and nothing else he has usurped the space of civil and civilized society. If civilized norms of justice will not be allowed to operate then that space will, inevitably, be occupied by those who believe in more brutal and instant justice: the extremists in the wings. Those are the very elements the world seems to be pitted against. Those are the very elements the actions of the General are making way for.

Some western governments are emphasizing the unfolding of the democratic process in Pakistan. That is welcome, if it will be fair. But, and in any case, can there be democracy if there is no independent judiciary?
Remember, independent judges and judicial processes preceded full franchise by several hundred years. Moreover, which judge in Pakistan today can be independent who has before his eyes the fate and example of his own Chief Justice: detained for three months along with his young children. What is the children’s crime, after all?

There can be no democracy without an independent judiciary, and there can be no independent judge in Pakistan until the action of November 3 is reversed. Whatever the will of some desperate men the struggle of the valiant lawyers and civil society of Pakistan will bear fruit. They are not giving up.

Let me also assure you that I would not have written this letter without the General’s unbecoming onslaught. That has compelled me to clarify although, as my past will testify, I am not given into entering into public, even private, disputes. But the allegations against me have been so wild, so wrong and so contrary to judicial record, that I have been left with no option but to put the record straight. After all, a prisoner must also have his say. And if the General’s hand-picked judges, some living next door to my prison home, have not had the courage to invoke the power of ‘habeas corpus’ these last three months, what other option do I have? Many leaders of the world and the media may choose to brush the situation under the carpet out of love of the General. But that will not be.

Nevertheless, let me also reassure you that I continue in my resolve not to preside any Bench which will be seized of matters pertaining to the personal interests of General Musharraf after the restoration of the Constitution and the judges, which, God willing, will be soon.

Finally, I leave you with the question: Is there a precedent in history, all history, of 60 judges, including three Chief Justices (of the Supreme Court and two of Pakistan’s four High Courts), being dismissed, arrested and detained at the whim of one man? I have failed to discover any such even in medieval times under any emperor, king, or sultan, or even when a dictator has had full military sway over any country in more recent times. But this incredible outrage has happened in the 21st century at the hands of an extremist General out on a ‘charm offensive’ of western capitals and one whom the west supports.

I am grateful for your attention. I have no other purpose than to clear my name and to save the country (and perhaps others as well) from the calamity that stares us in the face. We can still rescue it from all kinds of extremism: praetorian and dogmatic. After all, the edifice of an independent judicial system alone stands on the middle ground between these two extremes. If the edifice is destroyed by the one, the ground may be taken over by the other. That is what is happening in Pakistan. Practitioners of rough and brutal justice will be welcomed in spaces from where the practitioners of more refined norms of justice and balance have been made to abdicate.

I have enormous faith that the Constitution and justice will soon prevail.
Yours truly,

Iftikhar Mohammad Choudhry,
Chief Justice of Pakistan,
Presently:
imprisoned in the Chief Justice’s House,
Islamabad.

January 27, 2008

Thus spake Musharraf

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 4:58 am
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THE NEWS

JANUARY 27, 2008

 
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Ghazi Salahuddin

While so many concerned Pakistanis sleep badly because of their nightmarish thoughts about the state of the nation, the spectacle of President Pervez Musharraf’s determined campaign to repair the country’s — in fact, his own — image abroad has become a kind of a diversion. Even before he left for Europe, his spin doctors had set the ball rolling with a chain of interviews with the foreign media. And Musharraf’s pronouncements have made some interesting headlines.

Let us begin with what he said in his Newsweek interview. He said that Benazir Bhutto was “unpopular” with the “army”. It is not easy to understand why he had to express this opinion in a formal discourse, particularly after the assassination of the charismatic leader of the largest political party in the country. What does it mean when the former chief of the army staff, who has been at the helm for more than eight years and who led the army for a longer period, emphatically implies that the army has this inherent aversion to democratic dispensation in the country?

So much more can be read in this opinion, with specific reference to attempts in the past by the army and its agencies to subvert the political process in the country and create hurdles in the way of the Pakistan People’s Party’s electoral claim to govern this country. Besides, if this is what he thinks, why did he have to fly to Abu Dhabi to meet Bezanir and make a ‘deal’ with her?

We do have a very large army and it is not rational to believe that its officers and men would not reflect the dominant trends and choices that exist in our society. Yes, General Zia-ul-Haq managed to execute the founder of the party, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and the ISI spent large sums to create a political alliance to oppose Benazir in 1988. But did these acts represent a collective sentiment in the army vis-à-vis a particular leader or a party?

We know that the Pakistan Ex-servicemen Society, in a meeting held in Rawalpindi on Tuesday, asked Musharraf to resign in the larger interest of the country. This meeting was attended by some very well-known retired military officers. I need not repeat the names that have appeared in news stories. Can we surmise, from this apparently extraordinary development, that Musharraf, at this time, is unpopular in military circles?

It is also significant that this meeting of the society was held at a time when the president was in Europe, struggling to defend his recent moves against the judiciary and the media. Naturally, this figured in one of the questions put to him. According to reports published on Friday, Musharraf hit out at the retired generals who said that they no longer had confidence in him.

This has been quoted from his interview with The Financial Times: “They are insignificant personalities…Most of them are ones who served under me and I kicked them out. They are insignificant. I am not even bothered by them”. Kicked them out?

The Washington Post had a report about Pakistan on Wednesday with this headline: “Supports at home and abroad backing away from Musharraf”. One quotation from this report: “‘The army would be very happy to get rid of him’, said one political analyst, Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani general”.

While in Brussels, Musharraf was perhaps speaking his mind when, in answer to a question, he made these remarks about the western governments: “They must understand Pakistan’s difficult political environment and stop their obsession with democracy and human rights”. This indicates that democracy and human rights are the not goals for him to pursue. As for the reality of Pakistan’s ‘difficult’ political environment, we need not refer to statements made by any western government or any foreign media. Readers of our own newspapers and viewers of television’s talk shows may wonder why every retired military officer or bureaucrat who expresses an opinion is critical of the present dispensation.

Talking of obsessions, one observation is that in spite of the assessments of regional experts, the media and leaders of opinion in the west, President Bush remains obsessed with Musharraf and thinks that he hasn’t yet crossed the line. Quoting a senior congressional official’s comments about Musharraf, The Washington Post said on Thursday: “He’s locked in his own bubble that ‘l’etat c’est moi’ — the state is me. He doesn’t understand how anti-democratic he is. He’s not thinking clearly anymore”.

Obviously, the president was questioned again and again about the imposition of the state of emergency on November 3 and how this enabled him to remove judges and impose new restrictions on the media. He insisted that judges were sacked for “corruption and nepotism”. He named Justice Iftikhar Chauhdry a number of times. Another subject that figured in all his encounters with the media relates to the apprehension that the forthcoming elections are not likely to be free and fair. Every time, he asserted that they would be free and fair — “and I have added a new word — peaceful”.

This was the headline of the lead story in an English daily on Friday: “I upheld Constitution: Musharraf”. There is a box item on the same that says: ‘I will quit if unpopular’. Also on Friday, the Karachi edition of this newspaper has this main headline: “Look at Pakistan from Pakistan’s eyes, Musharraf tells West”.

This is certainly a good advice. But Pakistanis who look at Pakistan at this time, including respected observers, seem very worried about what they see. Even when the leadership of Musharraf or politics as such is not a subject of discussion, the overall mood remains grim and nervous. People just cannot come to terms with the assassination of Benazir and its immediate aftermath. Thousands and thousands of individuals have their own personal experiences to relate.

Normally, we have the regular commentators in the media, the usual suspects, who deliberate on national issues. I was shaken by the assessment of a psychiatrist that I read in a daily on Wednesday. Dr Murad Moosa Khan, who is professor of psychiatry at the Aga Khan University, said that “the present crisis is taking a heavy toll on the mental health of the people of Pakistan”, adding that “even during so-called normal times, the mental health of Pakistanis is severely compromised”.

Let me conclude with one brief excerpt: “Since the political crisis that started in March last year, there has been a strong sense of insecurity and uncertainty amongst the people who appear to be living on the edge perpetually. The subsequent events of May 12, Oct 18, Nov 3 and Dec 27 have further frayed their nerves. There is a sense of hopelessness and helplessness (bezaari and bebassi)”.

Lectures on democracy

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 4:31 am
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DAWN

JANUARY 27, 2008

By Irfan Husain

SOME people are suckers for punishment: as Musharraf flies around Europe, he is beginning to resemble a travelling punching bag that journalists punch as soon as it comes within range.

In a desperate attempt to hit back, Musharraf complained that western concern with democracy was ‘obsessive’. This in turn drew a stinging counterpunch from Condoleezza Rice: “Should one be obsessive about the right of people to live in freedom? Maybe so.”

On the subject of democracy in Pakistan, the American secretary of state went on to say: “No one has ever said that democracy is something that is born in a minute. It does take time, but you have to get started, and you have to start putting in place the institutions that will secure democratic values that will allow people to exercise their rights to freedom.”

For me, this little lecture on how to build democracy is a sad and painful reminder of where Pakistan stands among the comity of nations. For a country established as a democracy over 60 years ago by a committed parliamentarian to be lectured on the prerequisites of freedom is more than just insulting. It is uncomfortably close to the mark.

Over the years, army generals and their supporters have constantly repeated the mantra that Pakistan is not ready for democracy. Ayub Khan is on record as stating categorically that “parliamentary democracy does not suit the genius of our people”.

I can understand army officers taking this line to justify their incessant meddling in politics, and the rewards they have reaped. But for them to have such a large following among the educated elites is puzzling. Recently, a highly educated and intelligent Pakistani friend here in London shocked me when she said, in effect, that if the choice was between the PPP and PML-N, she would prefer Musharraf. Unfortunately, she is not alone among the well-to-do to make this assertion.The real problem with this argument is that it does not even begin to explain why, after decades of dictatorship, Pakistan is referred to in tones one uses while discussing the health of a patient on life support. If dictatorship is such a blessing, why is Pakistan faring so badly in most indicators of development and wellbeing?

Recently, a reader sent me an article (“Junta versus Janata” by Shekhar Gupta) that appeared in the Indian Express. The author makes the point that when Musharraf arrived in Agra to hold talks with the Indian prime minister, Indians were very impressed with his smartly tailored suits, his military swagger and his decisive approach. He is reported as complaining to his team of his impatience at Vajpayee’s cautious approach where everything had to be referred back to the defence committee of the cabinet.

Gupta quotes him as saying, in effect: “But you are the prime minister. Once you and I have decided something, why don’t we just sign?” Basically, Musharraf just did not grasp the concept of the prime minister being the first among equals in a cabinet.

Seven years later, Gupta asks where has the swagger gone? In the intervening period, Musharraf is a pariah with his country in turmoil. India, on the other hand, has continued its rapid progress.

Indeed, Gordon Brown’s visit to New Delhi, and Manmohan Singh’s trip to China have served to highlight the self-evident fact that India is now a world power by any definition of the term. Both Beijing and London are now talking about supporting India’s bid to join the Security Council. Pakistan, meanwhile, was suspended from the Commonwealth for Musharraf’s imposition of quasi-martial law on Nov 3.

For the ardent supporters of dictatorship, I would like to submit that Pakistan’s real problem has not been democracy, but its absence. The truth is that Condoleezza Rice is able to lecture us today on what democracy needs simply because it has never been allowed to put down roots in our infertile soil. Each time the system shows signs of maturing, it is uprooted by the army on grounds of corruption or misrule. Then the generals come along and indulge in the same misdeeds, albeit without much criticism from the media.

I am often accused of supporting politicians and the system they represent despite the fact that ‘they have looted the country’. Well, for one, compared to what the military officer class has gained, legally and illegally, the corruption of civilian politicians pales into insignificance. But even more importantly, if we are to talk of accountability, who is responsible for our disastrous Kashmir and Afghan policies but the army high command? Both continue to cost Pakistan untold billions and thousands of lives, and yet which general has even been asked for an explanation?

And if you still doubt the superiority of democracy over dictatorship, here is Gupta again, concluding his article “Junta versus Janata”: “The general draws his power by throttling the democratic system and its institutions, and you can see the result of that in Pakistan. So, in a democracy, howsoever powerful a Lalu or Megawati, they have to shut up and listen when the Supreme Court speaks. The Election Commission can publicly upbraid Sonia Gandhi and Narendra Modi. We, the media, can question and curse who we want. It happens because the political class has the biggest stake in the democratic process… In contrast, a military dictator owes his power to the absence of institutions, of checks and balances. That is exactly what Musharraf has done to his judiciary, the Election Commission and even the media…”

If we, as Pakistanis, resent these lectures on democracy from Washington and New Delhi, then it our own fault that we are getting them. In defence of their frequent interventions, generals often say the army is dragged into politics by politicians. But this begs the question of why they are willing to listen to out-of-work politicians in the first place. And more to the point, why they don’t return to the barracks as soon as possible.

But more than cynical politicians, it is the massed ranks of opportunists impatient for crumbs from the junta’s table who contribute to military rule. They and an irresponsible media have much to answer for.

KILLER MUSHARRAF

Filed under: MILITARY RULE — civilsocietypakistan @ 2:55 am
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JASARAT

JANUARY 26, 2008

EDITORIAL

WOMEN, CHILDREN AND MEN RUN FOR THEIR LIVES AS MUSHARRAF ATTACKS THEM WITH TANKS AND F-16s

Filed under: MILITARY RULE — civilsocietypakistan @ 2:22 am
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THE TRIBAL AREAS ARE IN FLAMES 
Pakistan soldiers
Musharraf has started another war against the people of Pakistan.  He is using tanks and F16s to kill Pakistani women, children and men. These weapons, bought with the taxpayers money are meant for the enemy. However, he bows before the external enemy but is harsh against his own people.

His ruthless, erratic and sick psyche has become a liability for the people of Pakistan.

Today Pakistan is in flames. A series of civil wars have been started by Musharraf. The brave and patriotic tribes are under brutal attacks by Musharraf’s army. All this is being done in the name of international terrorism. In reality it is Musharraf who is exercising State terrorism against his own people.
GET RID OF MUSHARRAF 

A FRUSTRATED DEFEATED COMMANDER -MUSHARRAF

Filed under: MILITARY RULE — civilsocietypakistan @ 2:04 am
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January 22, 2008

NO DOUBT A CRIMINAL

Filed under: MILITARY RULE — civilsocietypakistan @ 4:01 am
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Members of Pakistani opposition parties protest against the ...

EU in Pakistan election warning

Filed under: ELECTIONS - 2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 3:41 am
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BBC

JANUARY 22, 2008

Last Updated: Monday, 21 January 2008, 16:31 GMT

Pervez Musharraf in Brussels 21.01.08
We have a feudal tribal environment in some of our provinces… we have to adapt democracy, human rights, civil liberties
President Musharraf

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has told President Pervez Musharraf that Pakistan’s general elections next month must be “free and fair”. Mr Solana said that the level of the EU’s future cooperation with Pakistan depended on these criteria.

He was speaking as Mr Musharraf began an eight-day visit to Europe, with democracy and tackling terror on the agenda as he meets EU leaders.

The EU is Pakistan’s biggest trading partner, with annual trade worth $9bn.

Market access

Correspondents say that the EU chief did not give any clues as to what the EU’s “future cooperation” with Pakistan may entail if it was satisfied over the fairness of the vote.

Protesters from different Pakistani opposition parties demonstrate in Brussels on Sunday

Not everyone is impressed by the president’s ‘charm offensive’

President Musharraf told a Brussels news conference that he raised issues such as Pakistani market access to the EU.

“I look forward to it in Pakistan because we need to sustain economic growth,” he said.

Earlier President Musharraf said that he was determined the country would hold “free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections”.

BBC Brussels correspondent Oana Lungescu says the Pakistani leader was bound to face tough questions about the conduct of a postponed general election now scheduled for next month, democratic reforms and the role of Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.

The president tried to reassure those worried about the course of democracy in his country and the delay in holding the vote, which was initially scheduled for January.

“We must have fair and transparent elections on 18 February,” he said in Brussels.

“Whoever wins, obviously power will be handed over to them.”

‘Positive development’

The president also tried to assuage the concerns of those worried about Pakistani human rights.

Former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry

Critics say that the judiciary has been neutered

He said that Western preoccupation with the issue was “obsessive”.

“You have taken centuries in reaching wherever you have come. Allow us time for going for the values that you have established for yourselves,” he said.

The popular Pakistani independent television station, Geo TV, resumed broadcasting on Monday after the government lifted a ban imposed during emergency rule in November.

Correspondents say that the move could offset criticism that the president is gagging the media ahead of the elections.

“It is a wise and wonderful move, as elections are coming up (and) more media coverage would make the elections more credible and contribute to the positive development of the country,” the station’s President, Imran Aslam, told the AP news agency.

Unpopular

President Musharraf’s visit will also take him to the UK, France and the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

The tour is his first trip abroad since his controversial re-election and the murder of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

The BBC’s Barbara Plett in Islamabad says Mr Musharraf is deeply unpopular at home – members of civil society and opposition political parties do not accept his leadership, especially after his recent imposition of emergency rule.

Mr Musharraf told the European Parliament that instability in his country would not lead to the loss of control of its nuclear weapons.

He said that safeguards were securely in place.

“There is no chance at all of our nuclear assets falling into the wrong hands,” he said.

He also rejected allegations that elements of the Pakistani military might be colluding with Islamist extremists.

His itinerary also includes meetings with his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

He will also hold talks in Davos with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.

RESTORATION OF DEMOCRACY

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NAWAEWAQT

JANUARY 22, 2008

 

 

 

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Jasarat Interactive
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