CIVIL SOCIETY PAKISTAN

February 17, 2008

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KHABARIAN

FEBRUARY 17, 2008

JASARAT

FEBRUARY 17, 2008

FAISALABAD – Feb 16: A silent majority for which the right to living is more important than the right to vote.—Dawn

KARACHI – Feb 16: A paramilitary soldier stands guard by an election hoarding as security is tightened for the Feb 18 polls in the city.—AFP

KARACHI – Feb 16: Lawyers stage a demonstration at the City Courts on Saturday for the independence of the judiciary.—Online dawn

February 17, 2008 Sunday Safar 09, 1429


US differs with Musharraf over right to protest By Anwar Iqbal
WASHINGTON, Feb 16: The US State Department, for the first time, has openly disagreed with President Pervez Musharraf’s suggestion that he would not tolerate protests after the election.

“People have the right to peacefully protest and to peacefully speak out on their opinions regardless of whether those opinions are supportive of a government,” said the department’s spokesman Sean McCormack while commenting on the statement the president made during a television interview on Thursday.

“Our view, and we have expressed these to all important actors in Pakistani political life, is that they should devote their energies to ensuring that this is the kind of election in which the Pakistani people can have confidence,” Mr McCormack added.

“The Pakistani people should have a reasonable degree of assurance that their ballot will, in fact, be reflected in the results and that the overall will of the Pakistani people is reflected in these results.”

Mr McCormack said that ultimately it’s the people of Pakistan who have to decide whether the elections were fair and free. “This has to be an election in which they have confidence. And we all will look for the election to produce a government in which the Pakistani people can have confidence.”

Talking about the measures that the United States believes are important to ensure the fairness of the election, the State Department spokesman said all candidates should have access to the media and people should be able to freely express themselves in a peaceful manner – free from threat of violence or intimidation.

“They should be able to peacefully assemble. There should be a set of procedures surrounding election day, in which the Pakistani people can have confidence that their ballot will in fact be faithfully reflected as part of the results of the election.”

DAWN

February 17, 2008 Sunday Safar 09, 1429


French lawyer not allowed to meet Aitzaz
By Our Reporter
LAHORE, Feb 16: International Union of Lawyers (IUL) member executive committee Don Ramon Oria Fernandez de Munain was not allowed to meet Supreme Court Bar Associaton president Aitzaz Ahsan detained at his Zaman Park residence.

Mr Fernandez met Mrs Bushra Aitzaz and informed her about the objectives of his visit and exchanged views on judiciary and the lawyers’ movement. He said the lawyers’ struggle in Pakistan had been recognised world over.

The judges and lawyers worldwide stood united with the lawyers and the deposed judges of Pakistan in their cause for the rule of law, he said. Mrs Aitzaz thanked him for his concern and visit to Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the IUL and the Punjab Bar Council (PbBC) have agreed to strengthen their relationship for the defence and freedom of lawyers, particularly in Pakistan.

ILU Executive Committee member Don Ramon Fernandez de Munain and PbBc Vice- Chairman Mohammad Aslam Sindhu announced this at a press conference here at council office on Saturday.

In a joint declaration, both leaders expressed their concern over the hardships being faced by lawyers in Pakistan and agreed to lend their support to them as well as the deposed judges.
DAWN

FEBRUARY 17, 2008

EDITORIAL

February 17, 2008 Sunday Safar 09, 1429

Fabrication or tell-tale slip-up?

EVEN in officialdom as inestimably ugly as Pakistan’s, the discerning reader would be hard pressed to find a functionary more difficult to hold in esteem than the country’s attorney-general. To be Malik Mohammad Qayyum is to lose the distinction, all too clear to most of us, between right and wrong. Think about it, if you will for the nonce. This is a man who, as a Justice of the Lahore High Court, fabricated his findings in at least one case of law as per the dictates of his political masters, namely, the Sharif brothers. He is on tape — on tape, mind you —making queries about the length of the sentence he should hand down in a corruption trial featuring Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari. So damning was the evidence that Mr Qayyum was forced to resign his post, much to the delight of all right-thinking people across the country. Finally, justice appeared to be done.

Once bitten, you would have thought that Mr Qayyum would have developed safer phone etiquette in due course. But no. He, it seems, remains a breed apart. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has now released a taped recording in which Mr Qayyum is heard advising someone, possibly his kin, to accept a PML-Q ticket as

a sure bet of winning because the next elections will be ‘massively rigged’. This is the Attorney-General of Pakistan speaking. Not some opposition leader voicing a fear but the top legal eagle in the country confirming, or so it seems, the worst. Mr Qayyum, for his part, questions the authenticity of the HRW recording, of course, and is threatening to sue the organisation. Any one can hear it online and you don’t need to be a linguist with fancy degrees to know what’s what. You don’t need voice recognition software of the kind CIA used to confirm Pakistan’s finding, based on a recorded phone conversation, that Baitullah Mehsud instigated the murder of Ms Benazir Bhutto.

Mr Qayyum’s appointment as attorney-general affords a peek into the mindset of President Pervez Musharraf. His desperation is now so complete he would rather cock an ear to people of Qayyum’s ilk rather than his true well-wishers. Everything has gone so completely wrong now that there can be no pulling back for those calling the shots and ruling our fates. But the stakes are high. The rigging of elections tomorrow would spell disaster. It must be stopped. One can only hope for good sense and political discretion to take over.

Sunday, February 17, 2008
By our correspondent

SHEIKHUPURA: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Mian Shahbaz Sharif has said that his party will make the country a superpower after winning the Monday’s elections.

Addressing a public meeting at the Company Bagh here on Saturday, he said the PML-Q had committed atrocities and caused artificial shortages of daily-use items during its eight-year rule.

He alleged that the PML-Q government had spent Rs 1.5 billion on the renovation of the Chief Minister’s House while it accomplished no development project across the Punjab. He said the people were forced to drink contaminated water while the Gujrati rulers had been drinking mineral water imported from Paris.

“Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and his cronies have broken all the previous records of corruption by exporting wheat, sugar and other eatables,” he alleged. “Tomorrow’s sun will rise with the victory of the PML-N.”

He said all the deposed judges and Dr AQ Khan would be released after winning the elections. He asked the government employees to refrain from supporting the PML-Q candidates. The participants of the meeting chanted slogans in favour of the PML-N candidates. Mian Javed Latif, a candidate from NA-133, Kashif Arif, Mian Nawaz and Malik Tariq Aziz also spoke on the occasion. Later, the PML-N workers took out a rally.

 
 

THE NEWS

EDITORIAL

FEBRUARY 17, 2008

Rigging rigmarole
Sunday, February 17, 2008
The row stirred up by the release of an audio-tape recording of a telephonic conversation during which Attorney General Malik Muhmmad Qayyum has apparently said the polls will be “massively rigged” and has advised an unknown person, in view of this, to seek a PML-Q ticket rather than one of the PML-N or PPP, is extremely disturbing. Human Rights Watch (HRW), the New York-based organization which obtained the recording and placed it on its website, maintains the voice of Qayyum has been verified through scientific testing. Qayyum has denied the authenticity of the recording and has threatened to take HRW to court.This is the second time Qayyum, who appears to be particularly susceptible to taped phone conversations, has been caught in an embarrassing position. In 2001, a British newspaper published transcripts of conversations between Qayyum, at the time a judge of the LHC, and then accountability chief Mian Saifur Rehman of the PML-N, which showed that Qayyum, in early1999, apparently sought advice on how to handle the case of corruption against Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari that he was hearing at the time. The couple were convicted. The revelations three years later eventually forced Qayyum to resign as a judge. Now, it seems, his place as AG may be under threat. The conversation, apparently taped by a journalist who was interviewing Qayyum on another line, is highly damaging — not only to Malik Muhammad Qayyum, but also to the government as a whole. This has already been acknowledged by Qayyum himself, who has opined the recording is intended to hurt President Pervez Musharraf to whom he is close.

No matter what happens now, the perceptions created by the tape, which has also been played over television channels, will persist in the public mind. This is all the more so as the new row has broken out at a time when allegations of rigging are already rife. Reports of attempts by the PML-Q to ‘fix’ results, particularly in Punjab — a province it is desperate to cling on to — have come in from many quarters. Factors that could deny a level playing field to contestants, such as bias within the official media, have also been pointed out. In a new report, the European media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, has for instance found over 80 percent of airtime on PTV has gone to the PML-Q, the president and the government.

As for President Musharraf himself, he seems totally unwilling to accept the mounting evidence that most Pakistanis wish to see him out of office. Indeed, many believe the country’s multiple crises can be solved only in a post-Musharraf environment. Rather than heeding such advice, Musharraf has lashed out in an irrational diatribe against the highly reputable foreign organizations that have conducted the opinion polls showing his sliding appeal and accused them of attempting to meddle in Pakistan’s affairs.

This presidential descent into an unfortunate state of disbelief regarding reality and of apparent megalomania makes it all the more likely that an attempt could be made to rig polls. With the president, the PML-Q, the party closely associated with him since 2002, has also registered a marked slump in popularity. The indication that neither PML-Q leaders nor Musharraf himself are apparently willing to release their hold on power and the apparent reaffirmation of rigging plans devised at one point by the former party, contained in the recording that has hit the country only days before the polls, can only add to apprehensions regarding the impartiality of the elections. It must be hoped in the days ahead that the AG can be proven mistaken in his belief that foul play will take place in the electoral process and the EC is able to conduct the fair and free poll the country so desperately needs to restore stability and harmony within it.

 

THE NEWS

FEBRUARY 17, 2008

 

A blue-eyed baboo with three heavy hats
Sunday, February 17, 2008
By Ansar AbbasiISLAMABAD: Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Khalid Saeed has been given another lucrative post at home while a third one, a highly-paid overseas job has already been booked for him at a time when the country is about to go through transition.

Khalid Saeed took charge of the office of Chairman Nepra on Friday while he continues to be the principal secretary to the prime minister. Saeed has also been nominated for the post of Executive Director in the World Bank headquarters in Washington.

Khalid, who was appointed as principal secretary by former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz a few years back, is unique to have become the chairman Nepra, which is a four-year tenure post, while the World Bank job, which he is reported to take over in June this year, too carries a four-year term.

When contacted, Khalid said his appointment as chairman Nepra was with immediate effect while his World Bank appointment was six months away and subject to the approval of the WB.

Interestingly, his appointment as chairman Nepra has come as a surprise for many, including the authorities concerned, who were expecting the appointment of chairman Nepra from amongst a panel of five candidates recently selected after a prolonged process of newspaper advertisement, short-listing and interviews.

The government had advertised the post of chairman Nepra on October 16, 2007 and invited applications from those desirous of getting the slot. Pemra Act specifies a set of qualifications that include 20 years’ experience of finance, utility business, economics, etc for the office of chairman.

On the basis of the public advertisement, a total of 72 persons, both from public and private sectors, applied for the job. Only 16 most appropriate persons were short-listed and invited to appear before a high-level committee chaired by Secretary Cabinet and comprising members including Secretary Water and Power, and Secretary Establishment.

Last month, the committee interviewed the short-listed candidates and recommended a panel of five to the prime minister for final appointment. Those recommended include Hussain A Babar, Mian Shahid, Munir Sheikh, Zafar Ali Khan and Javed Nizam. All the recommended persons have great experience of power sector and also fulfilled the qualifications as set by the Pemra Act. While the committee members, the Pemra bureaucracy and the rest were waiting for the caretaker prime minister’s selection from amongst the recommended five, Khalid Saeed was appointed as chairman Nepra at a time when the country is going through once of the worst ever power crisis.

Khalid Saeed, an officer of the District Management Group, is not a power sector man. Although, he was not available for comments, a Prime Minister’s Secretariat official argued that the prime minister had the discretion to appoint anyone as chairman Nepra. The official, on condition of not being named, however, did not explain that if such an appointment was made, then why did the government follow a prolonged procedure of advertisements and interviews and involved so many, including three senior secretaries.

According to a news report, published a few days back and also confirmed by the Secretary Establishment, the prime minister has decided to designate his principal secretary Khalid Saeed as Executive Director World Bank.

The incumbent ED WB is Shuja Shah who, too, was the principal secretary of the then prime minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali. Shah was also nominated for the WB slot when Jamali was on his way out of the prime minister’s office.

Interestingly, while there are strict and lengthy procedures adopted for the appointment of otherwise routine posts like labour/press/commercial attaches and trade ministers etc in the country’s foreign missions, there is no selection criterion for sending Pakistan’s nominees in the top world financial institutions, including the World Bank and the ADB.

 

 

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