Thursday, November 22, 2007

Teachers joining protests

By now it should become apparent to this government, that their up against not just lawyers. With students and civil society members already behind the legal fraternity in the protest movement, teachers have now begun to step up protests in universities across the country.

University teachers announce two-hour boycott of classes ( The News)

Bureau report

PESHAWAR: Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff has decided to boycott classes from 10 a.m. to 12 noon in all public sector universities of the province to protest what they called the non-cooperation of the Higher Education Commission (HEC). A statement issued here Tuesday said that teachers would not deliver lectures in the duration but would attend a protest meeting in the convocation hall and would arrange a walk to show solidarity with civil society and condemn human rights violation, curbs on media and imposition of emergency by the government.

Protests planned for Thursday


Event: Protest led by Justice Wajihuddin Ahmed
When: 22nd Nov, 9 45 am (sharp!)
Where: Meet infront of Mr. Books, F-6 SuperMarket
To Bring: Placards, Banners, Flowers. Please bring "appropriate" placards for restoration of judiciary, human rights, freedom of press. Please refrain from bringing placards that would be a shame for civilized citizens of Pakistan.


Event: Student Protest Planning Committee Lahore Chapter Meeting
When: 22nd Nov, 7 pm
Where: Minigolf
To Bring: Friends from different universities/colleges/schools who are interested in organizing.

Imran Khan released from jail

According to incoming news reports Imran Khan has been released from detention, as part of the government's release of several opposition and political activists arrested since the martial law was imposed. Khan, who vouched to continue to hunger strike till death, was arrested and charged under Anti- Terrorism laws, when he tried to lead a student protest at Punjab University. His arrest was met by strong condemnation by international commentators , human rights activists as well as students who had been actively protesting against the martial law.

It seems the government is beginning to understand that illegally detaining protesters is not going to stifle dissent. On the contrary, it has only made most of us adamant to not stop until our rights have been restored. The Government gesture of announcing general elections on January 8 and apparent release of 3400 prisoners is a lame attempt at placating the dissent brimming among the public. This is a long fight; not confined to simply challenging the martial law and this fight will continue until the government restores the judiciary, eases media restrictions, releases all political prisoners and holds free and fair elections.

Justice Wajihuddin Arrested!

Eye witness accounts report that Honorable Justice Wajihuddin Ahmed, former Chief Justice of High Court has been arrested, while leading a lawyers' protest in Islamabad. As seen earlier during the CJP crisis, when Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was roughed up by law enforcement officials, the police has no shame in manhandling a revered representative of Pakistan's judiciary and mistreating him like a common criminal.


After an announcement by the Ministry of Interior yesterday that there were no restrictions on judges imprisoned in their residences in Islamabad, a group of lawyers decided to meet them to test this assertion.

The lawyers who were accompanied by Justice (retired) Wajihuddin, were prevented from visiting the Judges Colony at a distance by a heavy posse of police. Justice Wajihuddin along with the group were forcibly removed from the area.

Dawn News reports that Senior Advocate Athar Minallah has been arrested and taken to Secretariat Police Station in Islamabad.

Journalists from Pakistan honored for reporting in times of danger

Pakistani journalists are finally being reckoned for their achievements internationally. Mazhar Abbas - ARY One's deputy director, is one of the four journalists who will be awarded the International Freedom Award in New York by the Committee to Protest Journalists, recognizing his dedicated work despite heavy restriction imposed on media by the Government.

The International Press Freedom Award recognizes their extraordinary contribution to journalism and their defense of press freedom.
picture courtesy VOA

Pakistani journalists have been a pivotal component in the civil society movement alongside lawyers and their coverage has been catalytic in mobilising protests against the government's autocratic policies and in demands for the restoration of democracy, judiciary and media freedom. Kudos to all those media outlets which have continued to resist government pressure to sign on the dotted line conforming to new media regulations. The government's blanket ban on any negative press has not deterred these journalists, who have taken risks to protest and provided coverage to the public, despite continuous brutal crackdown by the police.

For the rest of the article click here

Succesful Protest at the Karachi Press Club- An Eyewitness Account

The rally

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) had called for a peaceful demonstration at 03:00 Tuesday (yesterday) outside the Karachi Press Club. The purpose was to demand the freedom of the Press, etc. Please note, all of us were totally unarmed, while the police surrounding the area were in complete riot gear with shields and motey dandey and bulletproof vests, helmets, knee pads, and whatnot. The entire area around the press club had been cordoned off.

The moment the rally got out of the Press Club, we were attacked (yes, "attacked") by the policemen. There was a LOAD of brutal baton-charging, and one policeman hit ARY's Aajiz Jamali so hard on his back with the shield, that the shield broke in two. :-S Women and men were hit indiscriminately and very VERY brutally -- yes I can emphasize that enough. I'm skinny -- I crawled around and got out unhurt. Everyone ran back towards the press club. Some of our office bearers and senior people had been picked up.

The demands and the negotiations

We all got out again and demanded that everyone be released. The policemen said they'd let everyone go if we went back inside the press club. We refused, and said we'd go in ONLY after our people were released. Negotiations followed, and it turned out that our people could not be released. We said fine, if you can arrest 10, you can arrest all the rest of us too. :-P We gave in "ba-jamaa'at" giriftaariaN. The policemen tried to stop the women but we said we were standing by our male colleagues. They said there were no female police officials and we could therefore not be arrested. We reminded them that the people who had baton charged us were not female police officials, and if the male police waalahs could hit us, they could pretty darn well arrest us too. Khair, female police waaliaN were brought in, but we insisted that we will go in the same vans as our male colleagues.

In the van

Now this is the fun part! :-D There were 27 of us in this van -- seven women and 20 men. And boy did we raise hell!!! The van took us on a tour of the entire city, and we kept naarafying all the way. Passersby stopped to gape at us and then joined in the naareybaazi. In short, we conducted a State-sponsored anti-Musharraf rally. AHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! Yes, I can't get over this -- this IS funny!!! :-D They took us to the Boat Basin police station, only to realise that it was full. Ditto for Gizri and Darakhshan. They were then told to take us to the Docks police station, but the driver did not know the way (YUP!!! :-D). He took us to the Jackson police station instead, where his bum was kicked, and the correct raasta explained to him by officials concerned. LOL! All this while, we weren't making life easier for him by continuously naarafying, jeering and heckling. Yes we're mean. :-P

At the Docks Police Station

We were "offloaded" and the women were told to go separately. We refused and decided to stick with our male colleagues. "We're here as journalists, not men or women," we told the police waalahs there. Since the Docks Police Station does not have a female lockup, they had to put all 26 of us in the interrogation room where we continued to party. :-P

At around 05:30 p.m. they came to the women and said that we were free to go. We asked if EVERYONE was free to go and we were told, "No, only the 'laddiss'." We told them to sod off -- either EVERYONE leaves, or no one does.

They tried to confiscate our cellphones, and we refused en masse. So while cellphones at the rest of the police stations were taken away, us "Docks waalahs" still had ours on us. :-D

We also took over the SHO's rest room, because the "prisoners' restrooms" were filthy and the doors wouldn't lock. We made them bring water for us, etc etc, didn't tell them our home addresses for the FIR, bugged them every way we could. :-P Faiz saheb's kalaam was sung, nareybaazi huee. Some PPP waalahs brought us food, tea, diet coke and jaali ciggies, for which we're thankful to them. :-P

A lot of people visited us, and we are sincerely grateful for their support. Special thanks to Ayesha Siddiqi from the People's Resistance for staying with us for a whole bunch of hours together. A majority of the CMKP Karachi DC camped out outside the gates of the police station, as did Nasir Mansoor and Sherbaz Khan from the LPP, and Dr Riaz and all. The HRCP visited us too, as did members of Peoples Resistance, including Dr Awab Alvi and Sophia (I'm sorry I'm missing out names here). From what I heard from the other police stations (people were spread out -- some, including two women, were at the Clifton police station, some at the Artillery Maidan police station, Frere police station, Darakhshan too, I think), journos there were having as much fun as we were having at the Docks Police Station.

Ten people who had been taken to the Shershah police station were brought over to Docks, bringing the total at our camp to 36 -- the more, the merrier! :-P

The Release

At around 09:30 p.m. they said all of us were free to go. We came to know, however, that four of our senior office bearers could not be traced. It was mutually decided that no one would leave any police station, until those four people were released with us. The police waalahs threatened to physically throw everyone out, and they were told to "try." :-P The missing people were then "miraculously" traced out within 15 minutes, and everyone rejoiced. We left the Docks police station the way we'd entered it -- naarafying and partying. :-D

All of us "criminals" from all the police stations then congregated outside the Clifton police station, where we raised hell again. We then proceeded to the Karachi Press Club, where we partied again -- yes, that's what us Karachi'ites do best -- and we do things with a bang! : )

Lesson learnt yesterday: Unity = Victory.

Comrade Ziyad asked me yesterday about why we were not mistreated at the police station. The answer, comrade, is: they dared not mistreat us because we stood united.

Also, from what we were told by the new information minister, Nesar Memon, the decision to arrest journos was taken independently by the Sindh government -- no such orders had come forth from the provincial level. Now I'm wondering how or why a caretaker government would take such a major step.

Moreover, there are people who're going around saying that the police resorted to violence only after journos hurled stones at them. This is WRONG. Stones were hurled, yes, but only AFTER the police started beating us up like cattle. A friend of mine rolled up her placard and started hitting a police waalah on the head with it -- after his lathi hit her really hard. Serves them right, I'd say. But let the records show that the stone-throwing was a REACTION. Anyone would do it if you saw your friends being beaten up this way for no reason -- and we're all friends here. No matter how cut-throat the competition between publications and channels, no matter how hard we try to outdo each other professionally, but when push comes to shove, we journos are all friends and we stand united!!!

Oh and naaras that journos came up with yesterday:

Mukk gya tera show Musharraf -- Go Musharraf, Go Musharraf!
Kalla baetha ro Musharraf -- Go Musharraf, Go Musharraf!!! :-D

Inquilaab Zindabad!

( The Emergency Times Eds- This officially places public protest rallies as the number one source of exciting entertainment as far we are concerned. Hats off to the The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ)and the People's Resistance. We are with you all the way. In Complete Unity.)

Update on Aitzaz Ahsan's situation

Nov 20, 2007: Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan is still in Adiala Jail, his 17th day of solitary confinement. He is suffering from high blood pressure and is now allowed medicines in his cell. Members of his family are now allowed to see him during his one hour breaks from solitary confinement.

Aitzaz is still in high spirits and holding up well.

Some senior members from the foreign diplomatic community tried to see him but were refused access.

( May his spirit and determination continue to inspire us and keep our hopes up and our heads held high)

Deposed judges release ruling against Musharraf

Courtesy The News, 21 Nov 2007
ISLAMABAD: Three defiant judges of the Supreme Court, who are presently under house arrest after imposition of emergency, have now declared in their detailed judgment submitted before the SC last Friday that General Musharraf could not be allowed to contest the presidential elections.

They say frequent military interventions and destabilization of elected governments have given "rise to indiscipline, disorder, unemployment, massive corruption, intolerance, and extremism in Pakistan, which must be eradicated and eliminated with iron hands".

These judges who had refused to take oath under the PCO, have also observed in their joint judgment, which has not been released to the media, that continuation of Musharraf as the army chief beyond December 31, 2004 was "illegal and unlawful".

The judges, Justice Rana Bhagwandas, Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan and Mian Shakirullah Jan, were part of the nine-member bench which had dismissed the petitions of Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Imran Khan on September 28, 2007 with regard to the question whether Musharraf could contest election from the present assemblies with or without uniform.

The judges submitted their detailed judgment to the Supreme Court on Friday in which they have addressed seven questions that were raised before the court. Talking to The News, Justice Rana Bhagwandas who headed the bench, confirmed that he along with Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza and Mian Shakirullah had submitted their judgment last Friday but the authorities may not have released their 58-page long observations.

Justice Bhagwandas who was in good spirits and in a defiant mood told this correspondent they had taken a lot of time and effort to put together the arguments to establish their points of view. The SC should have made their judgment public.

But, he said, it was not done. He observed that his staff might have handed over the judgment to the concerned authorities for its release to the media, but it was simply dumped and ignored. "These are very important observations and everybody should come to know about those points on the basis of which we had decided the issue of eligibility and merit."

In the judgment spread over 58 pages, the three judges have observed that "we earnestly feel that this country no longer can afford the luxury of resorting to circumvent the law and the constitu tional mandate by upholding and affirming the draconian doctrine of necessity restored to earlier.

Indeed, the judges of this court are under an oath to uphold, preserve and defend the constitution of Pakistan, which must be strictly adhered to in letter and spirit without any fear or favour, or ill will.

"Any endeavor to continue and affirm the present system of governance, which has transformed parliamentary system of governance into presidential form of government is bound to damage the dignity, respect and honour of the citizen of this country in the comity of the nations and bring a bad name to it, which can hardly be appreciated.

"Independence of judiciary, stability of the democratic system, regular conduct of the general election process, allowing the institutions to serve freely within the sphere of their scope and without involvement of the armed would always be in the supreme interests of the nation.

They said: "Needless to emphasis, frequent military interventions and destabilization of elected governments have always given rise to indiscipline, disorder, conflict of interests, inflation, unemployment, massive corruption, intolerance and extremism in the country which must be eradicated and eliminated with iron hand and strengthen in accordance with the law".

In the same judgment the judges have also observed "we earnestly feel, there appears to be enough substance and force in the submission of the petitioners that General Musharraf could not contest elections from the current assemblies as outgoing assemblies can not be allowed to bind the successor assemblies to be elected as a result of popular mandate. Further more, members of present electoral college, who have already expressed their opinion by expressing a vote of confidence immediately after their assumption of office, may not be in a position to exercise their right of franchise freely and independently. They would naturally be influenced and swayed by their earlier decision.

"Since the term of the office of President as well the present assembly expires simultaneously on November 15, 2007, it would be in the fitness of the things and in consonance with the democratic norms and intentions of the framers of the constitution if the new assemblies and the electoral college are allowed to exercise their right to elect a president of their choice during the term of electoral college under the constitution.

"An exceptional situation which can be conceived may be where the incumbent president, before expiration of his term of office, is removed from his office on the ground of physical or mental incapacity, is impeached on a charge of violating the constitution or the gross misconduct; resignation or death when the office of president falls vacant, the existing electoral college would be constitutionally authorized to elect another president for the un expired term of office.

"Indeed, General Musharraf, was fully alive to this situation, therefore while promulgating LFO 2002, he introduced meaningful amendments in the Chief Executive order, he introduced meaningful amendments in article 224 of the constitution, providing for time for election bye election. While the original text provided that a general election to the national assembly or a provincial assembly shall be held within a period of 60 days immediately "preceding" the day on which the term of assembly is due to expire, the expression "preceding" was intentionally substituted by the term "following".

"This amendment was intentionally and deliberately made with a view to make a room for a seeking election to the office of the president from the outgoing assemblies in conformity with clause (4) of article 41 of the constitution stipulating that election to the office shall be held not earlier than 60 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of the president in office. The draftsmanship and ingenuity of those who suggested the above said amendment in the constitutional provisions can only cause dismay may be looked upon with sorrow and grief".

"Since the purpose and object of the amendments never saw the light of the day, it is hard to appreciate the ground realities providing the forum to present electoral college for election of the same person to the office president for another tem for which new assemblies have to be elected a as a result of popular vote based upon election manifestoes of various political parties.

"It may be further observed that the president being an integral part of the parliament, it would be quite inconceivable and unusual that the parliament with whom a president has to work in total cordiality and harmony should not be elected by such parliament.

"At the cost of repetition, it may be noted that a parliament having outlived its tenure should not be allowed to bind the successor parliament with its choice as it is well settled that a parliament may do anything but bind the successor parliament. The present parliament having outlived its life, in our view, does not have a democratic mandate of the people to elect the same person as president for another term of five years, which would militate against the well entrenched principles of democratic value".

"For the aforesaid facts, circumstances and reasons these petitions are allowed and General Pervez Musharraf declared to be disqualified to contest for the presidential election," the three judges concluded.

Solidarity with Imran's cause

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Poetic Foresight- Faiz Ahmed Faiz

( click to read )