Sunday, December 2, 2007

Call from Student Action Committees in Islamabad and Lahore

The Student Action Committee (Islamabad) has called for a country wide protest on Tuesday the 4th of December against the atrocities committed by the current regime. In solidarity, the Student Action Committee (Lahore) is holding a protest on the same day in which students from over 21 colleges and universities from across Lahore will be joined by lawyers, journalists, human rights activists, and various civil society groups to stand up for justice, freedom, and the rule of law. The Committee demands immediate lifting of Martial Law, and also the restoration of the Judiciary to its pre-Martial Law state, as without an independent and unbiased judiciary, free and fair elections are not possible.

The Student Action Committee invites all concerned members of society to join the students in their fight for the restoration of democracy and rule of law in Pakistan.

A letter to Benazir Bhutto from Ghazala Minallah

Dear Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto,
I was absolutely shocked and amazed at your latest statement regarding the judiciary. How could you, of all people, say that you believed in an independent judiciary BUT that personalities did not matter? If personalities did not matter then why was Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry removed? Why were some judges locked up whereas others were not? If personalities did not matter then why is Musharraf waging a personal war against the CJ? You do not have to be a genius to figure out the reason. How can you separate the personalities from the institution? What you have on Constitution Avenue right now is a besieged and helpless building. The unfortunate but harsh truth is that right now we are a besieged nation as well.
Ms. Bhutto, I am writing to you because your statement has shocked and disturbed me to the extent that I feel I have no option but to reach out to you in this manner. I would like to remind you, since you seem to have forgotten, that you too were the victim of a corrupt judiciary. If Justice Iftikhar had been the CJ of the Supreme Court at that time then perhaps your father would never have been hanged. Had the entire bench been like the present one then there would have been a unanimous judgment. But the judgment was not unanimous - it was a 4 to 3 split – just one judge too many on the wrong side. One more upright personality on the right side and our history would have been different. So yes, personalities certainly do matter.
Ms. Bhutto, I am writing to you in desperation because I am the daughter of Late Justice Safdar Shah, who was one of the three dissenting judges. When Mr., Bhutto was the Prime Minister my father was CJ of the Peshawar High Court. Both these headstrong personalities did not get on with each other, and because of Safdar Shah's constant criticism and disagreement regarding the reforms and policies being introduced by the PM, the latter had him prematurely retired by introducing the 5 th Amendment. After the coup, when Gen. Zia took over, and Mr. Bhutto was charged and convicted of Conspiracy to murder by the Lahore High Court, he appealed to the Supreme Court. Gen. Zia wanted Mr. Bhutto dead and he did his best to manipulate the bench. It soon became obvious as to WHY Safdar Shah had recently been appointed as judge of the Supreme Court . Having the typical mind-set of a dictator, Zia was sure that he would be vindictive and take revenge. But, he was wrong and the rest is history. WHY? Because three of the judges had the courage to say NO, and did not give in to the threats and pressure exerted on them. So yes Ms Bhutto, personalities do matter. Had Justice (retd) Wajiuddin's father , the late Hon.Waheeduddin not been prematurely retired on extremely dubious medical grounds , history could have been different, No one can dispute the fact that the judgment was wrong since Justice (retd) Nasim Hassan Shah confessed on a talk show on TV a few years ago that the judges were threatened and pressurized into giving that judgment. Yes Ms. Bhutto, they were, and I am a witness to that fact.
Ms. Bhutto, our paths crossed briefly and both of us were victims of a corrupt judiciary which colluded with a Military Dictator. But I am not writing this letter to lament about our plight, since nothing we went through can possibly compare to the torture and torment you and your family went through .Have you forgotten the times when you visited your father in prison? Have you forgotten the humiliating tactics those heartless tyrants subjected you and your family to? Have you forgotten the last time you went to visit him in prison and were not able to hug him? Whenever I think about that grave injustice, which was nothing but a judicial murder, my heart goes out to you and what you suffered then and have suffered since. That is precisely why I am at my wits end and cannot understand WHY you cannot value the importance of independent judges.
Ms.Bhutto, do you think you are invincible? Are you so blinded that you cannot or will not acknowledge the truth? Does it never occur to you that some day you might have to face those judges in the present Supreme Court.? Well let me please spell it out. With independent judges you get a verdict you deserve, whereas with the present kind of farce you get a judgment dictated by the intelligence agencies or the dictator himself. Do you honestly not know or are you honestly not aware of the grave injustice going on? Does it not send a chill up your spine that if the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court can be tossed around by Musharraf it could very well be you as well ?For God's sake Ms. Bhutto , WAKE UP .You owe it to your father as well as to the nation to defend the judiciary and fight for its independence.
My father continued to be persecuted even after the judgment and we were forced to leave the country. But I will never forgive or forget those responsible for the torment my father went through during his last years. He died an unhappy man and was never able to get over the fact that he was not able to prevent the cold-blooded murder of an innocent man. And that innocent person was your father for God's sake! I have vowed that I will continue to fight for the independence of the judiciary come what may! I was confident and certain that once you were back you would definitely take up this battle and lead the nation towards sanity.
Ms. Bhutto, is it not obvious to you WHY Musharraf wants Justice Iftikhar out of the way? Ask the families of the 'missing persons', who for the first time were being heard and for the first time they could see a light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone knows who is responsible but no one before this CJ had the courage to take up the matter. Ask the countless downtrodden people who had discovered that they could have direct access to the CJ through Suo Moto notices. Ask 2 and 3 yr old Aneela and Tasleem from Naudero Feroze in Sindh , ask 4 yr old Shaneela or 6yr old Munni or 8 yr old Marina from Mardan what this Chief Justice has done for them. These innocent little girls were the victims of jirga decisions according to which they were to be handed over to the enemy as a symbol of truce .It was Justice Iftikhar who took serious notice of this barbaric custom and passed strict orders to the local authorities to prevent this atrocity from carrying on. It was during the tenure of this CJ that serious environmental disasters were averted .Who took notice of the New Muree Project? Who took action in the Dungi ground case? Who prevented Shah Sharabeel from converting a public park in sector F-7 Islamabad into a multi-million commercial project? Ask the poor people living in the adjacent Christian colony what that decision meant to them. Sharabeel has taken up arms against the CJ since this decision because for that class of people the slum dwellers are a low life who do not deserve any special attention. I can go on and on about the cases in which the SILENT CRIES OF THE DOWNTRODDEN of our society were being heard by a sympathetic judge for the first time. Ms. Bhutto, these are the Suo Moto notices which Musharraf said were a waste of time in his speech justifying the emergency. If personalities did not matter then why is Musharraf so threatened by this man? On any and every occasion he gets he attacks and tries to malign the CJ with a vengeance. His abnormal hatred for the man has exposed the truth. He knows very well that this man was the biggest hurdle in his plans to destroy what is left of our country. The coup was against the judiciary, the 'emergency' was created to sack the CJ and the other conscientious judges. Musharraf needs to be told that we are not a nation of imbeciles and that everyone is aware of the truth and the depth of the situation. We all know that the 'crisis ' in Swat or the threat of terrorism had NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the sacking of the CJ and the locking up of him and the other judges.
Once again Ms Bhutto, I beg you to think very carefully about where you are heading. I beg you not to betray your father or the nation. I beg you not to fall into Musharraf's trap and to boycott the elections. The rigging has already taken place, so why are you allowing yourself to become a party to this farce? I beg you to realize that you are the one holding the trump card right now. If you boycott the election, THEY lose face. But if YOU participate, you not only lose face, you lose the confidence and the faith the people of Pakistan have in you. Last but not least, you owe it to Bilawal, Bakhtawar, Aseefa and all future generations of our beloved country.
Yours sincerely,
Ghazala Minallah
D/O Late Justice Safdar Shah

Fazlur Rehman refuses to support Judiciary

ISLAMABAD: MMA Secretary General and JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, on Saturday, refused to support the reinstatement of deposed judges of the Supreme Court and high courts including sacked chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

At a ceremony hosted by the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), Fazl said that he supported the independence of judiciary, but would not favor the reinstatement of the deposed CJP and other judges, as they had taken oath under a PCO in 1999. His remarks created uproar in the hall, with a large number of participants shouting “Shame! Shame!”

Replying to an angry participant’s comments that he wanted to become deputy prime minister, Fazl’s reply was, “I want to become the prime minister! What do you mean by deputy prime minister?”

(If anyone wishes to relay their polite feedback regarding this stand to the honorable Maulana, his numbers, as mentioned in yesterday’s issue as well, are 0345-8506684, 0345-9872244 and 0333-5279999.)

US human rights activists stage 24-hour vigil in front of Aitzaz's residence

When: 12 noon, December 2 until 12 noon, December 3
Where: 5 Zaman Park, Lahore

Medea Benjamin and Tighe Barry, members of the U.S. human rights group
Global Exchange and the women¹s peace group CODEPINK, came to Pakistan to
learn about the political situation since emergency rule was declared on
November 3. One of the people they are most anxious to meet with is
prominent lawyer/politician Aitzaz Ahsan, who was jailed by the Musharraf
government from November 3 to 25, when he was then placed under house

Pakistan government representatives in the US have said that the lawyers
arrested under the emergency law have been released. But when the visiting
human rights activists tried to meet with Aitzaz Ahsan on December 1, they
discovered that his home is still designated a 'sub jail' and he remains
hostage in his own home, unable to go out or to receive visitors. For that
reason the U.S. activists decided to stage a vigil outside his home.

"Pervez Musharrah is telling the world that he is committed to democracy. So
it is outrageous that the head of the nation¹s Supreme Court Bar
Association, Aitzaz Ahsan, remains under house arrest," said Tighe Barry.

"We have come a long way to meet this man who we have heard is one of the
great heroes of the struggle for democracy in Pakistan," said Medea
Benjamin. "We will sit patiently in front of his door and sleep overnight in
front of his door, asking his jailers to allow us in."

Photos, account of Protest in Dublin

Dublin: (Dec 1) A big pro-democracy protest was held outside the Irish Parliament House on Saturday afternoon. It was organized by a group of conscientious Pakistani citizens which drew a large number of protestors who came to express solidarity with the deposed judges and called for their immediate reinstatement. The speakers on this occasion demanded lifting of Martial Law in Pakistan. They included important members of the Irish Parliament as well. The speakers called to boycott, what they called 'fraudulent' elections under a dictatorship, while rejecting the controversial PCO and called for restoration of the country's constitution.
The protestors chanted anti-Musharraf slogans and held placards decrying dictatorship under President Parvez Musharraf and opposed his repressive and tyrannical rule in the strongest terms. They called for lifting of curbs on media and release of all judges, lawyers and political prisoners and urged the Pakistan government to respect democratic norms.
This was the largest political protest held in Dublin by the Pakistani community. The last rally in Dublin took place on November 9. With the increase in number of protests and world-wide condemnation of Pakistan's unpopular dictator it appears that pressure is now building up on President Musharaf to force him to finally step down from office, a controversial position which he has managed to hold on for the last nine years. (Uzair Kundi reports)

Boycotting Elections

Dr. Faisal Bari
Ms. Bhutto and Maulana Fazlur Rahman have hinted that they are not convinced that elections should be boycotted as that would leave the field open for Muslim League-Q, and Musharraf will again have a Q-League government and without any effective opposition in the assemblies even. They have also hinted at the fact that they learnt their lessons about boycotts from the 1985 non-party election.

But this seems like a very strange argument to make. The two of them seem to be saying that even though we know that there is a martial law in the country, there is no independent judiciary or an independent election commission, there are no basic rights, there is no constitution, the whimsies of one person, backed by the military might of a standing army, is the law, and there is no hope even of things changing before elections, we should still go for elections. The hope that Ms. Bhutto is expressing, is of course, that though she knows she will not get a fair deal, but she would rather fight this election and then come into power and change the system from within.

This seems like a really bad and far fetched argument. If Musharraf is not willing to give all parties a fair shot at the polls now, why will he allow anyone to change anything if he is able to get quite a few Q-Leaguers in the assemblies? And if the hope is that Musharraf will become toothless once he gives up his uniform and then, only as a President, he can be dealt with, the hope is unfounded. What is going to stop the next General from playing the same game?

Even regarding the 1985 elections, it is not clear what lesson has Benazir learnt from it and if this was even the right lesson to learn. The boycott of the 1985 election did reduce the credibility of the election and it was only in 3 years that we were at polls again. And not only that, it was partially the 1985 boycott that allowed Benazir to make a significant comeback in the 1988 elections. But even more to the point, Benazir won in 1988, but came into power after making quite a few compromises, was she able to change the system then? Fighting elections under the present situation, when the system is totally stacked against politicians, even if she wins, will she be able to do anything at all?

Right now the world has seen and knows very clearly that this entire issue of imposition of martial law was wrong and misguided. And even though the US needs Musharraf to do its dirty work and kill more Pakistanis, it still cannot justify what Musharraf did 3 weeks ago. They, even if for form sake only, have to continuously say that martial law should be removed, and the constitution and basic rights restored. For the rest of the world, as expressed by the Commonwealth and even some individual countries, what Musharraf did was completely wrong. Surveys show that the majority of Pakistanis also think that the imposition of the martial law was unwarranted and unjustified. Under the circumstances if the bigger parties of Pakistan, PPP, PML-N, the Jamaat, JUI and so on, boycott the elections, and if elections go ahead under these circumstances, there will be no credibility for these elections anywhere in the world. Musharraf might succeed in bringing his selected group back in power, but it is very unlikely that that arrangement will work beyond a few days or a few months.

On a matter of principle too, if the aim is to get democratic rule established and entrenched in Pakistan, a boycott of the elections, under the present conditions, is the only choice open for political parties. If political parties agree to contest the elections under martial law, and with the judiciary as it is, they will only legitimize what Musharraf has done. As it is, just the fact that most parties have chosen to file nomination papers before deciding about the boycott, has led many people in the administration and the Q-League to say that this act of filing nomination papers implies that these parties have accepted the legality of what was done by Musharaf on November 3rd. If the parties go ahead and fight the elections, they will definitely legitimize the martial law. In fact, one of the first acts the incoming parliament will have to do, even before it can start functioning properly, will be to indemnify all actions taken by Musharraf. And they will have to do it because their own elections will also only be valid if they indemnify all other actions as well. This has been done by dictators before too, and it will be tried by other dictators in the future too. And as long as they can find enough collaborators, they will be able to get away with this. Do the current political parties want to give Musharraf this way out of the crisis?

A lot of people think that politics is 'the art of the possible' and it is all about expediency. But it is not clear what is meant by expediency here. If expediency just means that the sole aim of the game is to be a minister or a prime minister or to have some such title, then clearly, expediency dictates that all parties collaborate with Musharraf and not just contest elections but actually do so in coalition with Musharraf. If people know that a certain party has the backing of the agencies, the chances of that party winning seem to increase significantly. And what Q-League, Patriots and others did in 2002 was then the height of expediency and a pretty smart move. What MMA did to help pass the 17th Amendment also then makes sense: MMA had two governments in the provinces as well as the position of the leader of the opposition. But if this is the game, why do we need elections even? Why not have a Shoora of selected people?

If expediency is anything other than the very narrow objective of being in power tomorrow then certain principles will have to make their way into the calculus as well. If the objective of the politicians is to establish a system that creates a reasonably well functioning representative system that allows people some power to articulate their demands and some ability to elect people on that basis, then the foundational principles of such a system will have to be established for all and will have to be grounded beyond question. Rule based on a constitution and a judiciary that can effectively check to ensure that the constitution is being followed are the bare minimum for such a system. If these two are compromised, how do you know when some ground rules have been altered unfairly, and who would you appeal to for arbitration? This is the situation right now. There is no constitution, there is no rule of law, there are no judges one can appeal to and there is not even a free media around that can make the voices of the weak heard. How can going for elections under these conditions be taken as a way of strengthening democracy? Forgetting principles, even expediency, which is not just based on the aim of being in power, would dictate that boycotting the elections is the only way out of the current crisis.

If all political parties do not boycott the elections, and it is clear that Q-League and MQM are not going to boycott, those who do might have to pay a price for it for some time. Maybe this is not too high a price to pay for principles. If the larger parties, especially PML-N and PPP boycott the elections, the credibility of the process will suffer and the cost might not be very large for all. Even this cost seems to be high for some parties (Ms. Bhutto and the Maulana). But if the larger parties do not boycott the elections and accept the current conditions and then go to polls in January, the country will definitely lose big-time and for years and years to come. The choice for the politicians seems clear. Let us see how the game unfolds.


Video of Student Rally at Liberty Chowk

[StudentSpeeches&NationalAnthem] - Students Action Committee Mass Protest at Liberty, Lahore - 30Nov07 - [ from formanite10 on Vimeo.

Imran Khan calls on Pakistani Youth to rise

Imran Khan speaks at Students Convention at Ichrra, Lahore - 30Nov07 - [] from formanite10 on Vimeo.

Ideals and Expediency?

By Muneer A. Malik:
Retrieved: Dawn, June 27, 2007

In my first article about the current lawyers’ movement, I had countered sceptics convinced of its ultimate futility by reminding them that the longest journey starts with a single step.

Now, as the movement grows from strength to strength; as hundreds of thousands of people turn up to show their support from Abbottabad to Lahore, Peshawar to Chakwal; as an increasingly desperate regime seeks refuge behind the corps commanders, I have still not been approached by any intermediary seeking to broker a compromise.

To save everyone’s time, let me make the bar’s position absolutely clear. The demands of the bar are non-negotiable and brook no compromise. This is because of the inherent nature of this movement.

To begin with, what are the objectives of our movement? Firstly, it is about changing the mindsets of our people. Throughout our history, the masses have viewed the bureaucracy, the military and the judiciary as part of the same ruling elite, cooperating with each other to subjugate the people. The minds of the masses have been inoculated against the concept of true justice. We were taught obedience at the cost of our liberty and independence.

This mindset is a hangover from our colonial past. These institutions were created by the British as a means of controlling the civilian populace. They were manned by Englishmen from the same background taught to venerate the same ideal — the preservation of the Raj.

Judges and ICS officers were not meant to empower the masses and improve their lot, they were there to keep the peace so the British could continue, unhindered, with their commercial exploitation and empire building. Likewise, the army’s primary role was internal not external. Their job was to quell local rebellions that could threaten British dominance. Alas! This role remains the same.

Decentralisation and separation of powers were never on the agenda. When a few thousand Englishmen set out to establish total control over a land of three hundred million people, any localised pockets of power could have proved fatal. A division of powers between the different institutions of state would be suicidal.

Our fight is for a separation of powers, for constitutionalism, for the principle that all men are equal before the law and for the ideal that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Thus the DC ruled his district (with the willing cooperation of the local elite, the feudal lords) with a free hand and without any constraints. His basic job was to keep the people quiet and subservient to imperial dictates.

If populist leaders, like Muhammad Ali Jinnah, B.G. Tilak or M.K. Gandhi, became too noisy, he knew he could always call upon his willing brothers in the judiciary to convict them for sedition or banish them from the practice of law. If matters went further, the likes of General Dyer would bail him out by shooting a few hundred natives for the restoration of ‘peace’.

The supposed impartiality and independence of judges in the colonial era is a complete myth. Of course, they were neutral when deciding land disputes between two natives. But when the interests of the Raj were at stake, when the interests of the people collided with those of their colonial masters, they never let their government down. Unfortunately, our nation’s independence and the departure of the British did not bring their system of governance to an end. Rather, a ‘coloured’ ruling establishment quietly stepped into the shoes of their departing masters and adopted their practices and beliefs. After all, it was more civilised to be an Englishman, notwithstanding that you were not admitted to their clubs unless you served as a waiter.

As a result, concepts such as the rule of law or the independence of the judiciary never took root in the minds of our people. We were never convinced that the judiciary’s true function was to guard the rights of the people and to protect the masses from oppression.

The first aim of our struggle is to change those beliefs. We seek to convince the masses that the courts are not there only to adjudicate property disputes between rich landowners or the competing commercial interests of multinational corporations, but that a truly independent judiciary will allow the common man to realise his fundamental rights. That judges with security of tenure will be fearless enough to administer true justice. That such judges will protect them from the abusive exercise of power by the wadera, the ‘seth’ or the SHO.

We seek to inculcate the belief that laws are not meant to be jealously preserved in jurisprudential tomes but to be applied, by activist judges, for the protection of the common man, and that the rule of law is an idea worth fighting for. To do so, we have to change the mindset of our judges about their true duties and functions. This is our second aim. For too long they have functioned as if they were part of our military-bureaucracy, and now the plundering capitalist (the attempted sale of the Steel Mills being a case in point), establishment. They need to realise that they are no longer part of a foreign force seeking to forcibly impose its will upon the people. They need to end their alienation from the masses and align themselves with the wishes of the people.

Why is it that Justice M.R. Kayani considered it acceptable to contest elections and become president of the Civil Servants of Pakistan Association while he was sitting on the bench of the high court, particularly when the major portion of his duties involved the judicial review of the wrongful acts of civil servants? It was not because of any particular lack of integrity on his part. Rather, he was known as an outspoken and honest judge. It is simply the pernicious elitism that pervades our entire judiciary that leads them to ally themselves with the ruling classes rather than with the masses. Our judges can easily identify with the causes of senior government officials but not those of a ‘kissan’. That is exactly why I call for a Supreme Court of the People of Pakistan.

Why is it that high court and Supreme Court judges consider it perfectly acceptable to lunch in elitist clubs and exchange views with industrialists, government ministers and advisers, bureaucrats et al, but shy away from sharing a cup of tea with the labourer or political worker at a trade union function? Does this not distort their perception about the needs and aspirations of the people of Pakistan?

The visit of the governor of Sindh — fresh from his debriefing in London — to the Sindh High Court is illuminating. Eyebrows were raised when seven honourable judges examining the May 12 tragedy refused to meet him and he was told that there could be no discussion on that issue. Why should there have been even an iota of surprise?

The government of Sindh, and the party to which the governor belongs, had been directly implicated in the tragedy of May 12. I say that at the risk of my life and that of my children. Would there have been any astonishment if any judge refused to entertain a common litigant who wanted to have a cup of tea in the judge’s chamber and discuss the facts of his case? The commendable behaviour of the Sindh High Court judges was newsworthy because too often in the past our judges have fallen short of this standard of rectitude when it comes to the power elite.

The idea that judges interpret the law in splendid isolation strictly in accordance with recognised and time-tested legal doctrines is entirely fallacious. Our Supreme Court has repeatedly pointed out that the Constitution is an organic document and needs continuous reinterpretation in light of changing times and needs. So who will inform them about the changing needs of the hour? Must it be the generals, the industrialists and the bureaucrats?

Take the example of the reviled doctrine of necessity. Blatantly illegal and unconstitutional acts were repeatedly justified by our Supreme Court on the basis that they were necessary for survival of the nation. And who was the spokesman for the nation? The generals.

Why can’t the needs of the nation be determined by directly listening to the voice of the nation? Why must the doctrine of necessity always be employed in favour of the military-bureaucracy establishment? Can it never be used in the other direction — to force a general (even if he has invented a specious legal cover for his actions) to respect the legitimate desires and aspirations of the people?

I recall discussing this issue with the late Justice Dorab Patel. A splendidly honest man, he felt compelled, nevertheless, to defend his brethren. He justified previous judicial decisions based on expediency on the grounds that they were made by a few old men left alone in face of the entire army’s might. This movement seeks to reassure our judges that they are not alone. If they choose to do the right thing, the whole legal community and the entire nation will turn out in their support.

The learned Chief Justice is no charismatic politician. His speeches, on purely legal issues, do not enthral the nation. But when hundreds of thousands of people stand all day in Lahore’s scorching heat and brave all night Faisalabad’s thunderstorms waiting to catch a glimpse of him, they do so to salute the courage of the man. They do so to show their support for a judge who dares to say ‘no’.

Our aim is to instil that courage in every judge throughout the land. Our aim is to illuminate a path that leads beyond the Maulvi Tamizuddin, Dosso, Nusrat Bhutto and Zafar Ali Shah cases.

Our third objective is to restore civilian supremacy in Pakistan. We are no longer prepared to live under the barrel of the gun. Those guns and their wielders must return to their rightful positions; facing outwards at the frontiers of our land. The people will rule themselves. Of course, our elected politicians will make mistakes, both honest and dishonest, and there will be misrule. But the court of accountability must be 170 million Pakistanis and not nine corps commanders. Elected governments must complete their tenure and face up to their failures at the time of polling instead of being handed a convenient excuse by their forced ouster at the hands of the military.

Fourthly, our aim is to strengthen all the institutions of our state; the executive, the legislature, the judiciary as well as the media. Only by strengthening these pillars and strictly enforcing the limits on their separate powers in accordance with the Constitution can we protect ourselves from tyranny and secure the rule of law. Only then can we rid ourselves of the inequities of the past.

To achieve these goals, we welcome the support of every segment of civil society; the media as well as labour unions, NGOs as well as political parties. But our demands are non-negotiable. We will not sacrifice our principles at the altar of expediency. Any dialogue with the establishment can only begin after they take steps that concretely display their commitment to these principles.

Our history is replete with tragic compromises. We don’t need to go too far. The Zafar Ali Shah case was a compromise by the judiciary. Musharraf’s military takeover was legitimised in exchange for a promise that elections would be held and a civilian government installed within three years.

Five years have passed since those elections, but all power still rests with Musharraf and his corps commanders rather than with the prime minister and his cabinet. On March 9, 2007, while cabinet ministers hunkered under their beds, the ISI, MI and IB chiefs wreaked havoc.
The Seventeenth Amendment was a compromise by the politicians. Musharraf was allowed to continue as president despite his uniform in exchange for, essentially, a verbal promise that he would shed it in a year. Characteristically, he reneged and four years later he was donning the same uniform when he attempted to fire the Chief Justice. No amount of apology, no matter how sincere, will bring back lost times and opportunities.

For once in our history, people from every segment of civil society, judges and politicians alike, need to stand up for ideals and eschew the culture of deal-making. The struggle is not for tawdry offices and superficial power; it is about principles. If we can maintain our united commitment to these principles, we shall triumph and overwhelm all opposition. But if we fail to learn from history, we will be condemned to relive it.

Interview with Muneer A Malik

The following is an interview with Muneer A Malik, by Hissaan, a student of LUMS. It was taken before he was shifted to Karachi.

1. How are you feeling Sir?

I think I’ve turned the corner. My kidneys have started to function and I’m off dialysis. Tomorrow (28/11/07) I will be discharged from PIMS and will leave for Karachi.

2. I know that you have been asked this question a number of times, but now with the student community and other members of the civil society also joining you, let’s clarify any ambiguities and set the record straight. What are the aims of the lawyers mov’t?

We wanted to bring apart from lawyers other segments of the society like students, doctors, teachers and other professionals together. We looked for the largest common denominator and then decided that there are three aims of this movement and we are clear on this from the beginning. Rule of law, Independence of the judiciary and ‘Cause and Effect’- to elucidate causes and implications for the periodic intervention of army in the politics. Every society has people with different political ideologies. They may be secular, leftist, communists, Taliban and so on. Yet there is another significant segment who would strive for personal gains and try to force themselves into limelight to achieve just that. By sticking to our raison d’ĂȘtre , and the fact that the lawyers movement has no political affiliation, we have been able to bind the legal community together until now. We need other members of civil society who have no political affiliations, like students to be in this movement. We do not want student politics of yore like NSF to muddle our focus. We want institutions like LUMS to come forward, who represent the cream of this society and also have the intellect for a positive input.

3. At this present moment, I would ask what do you think this movement has achieved and what more is in the agenda?

We have managed to make 2 irreversible changes in the country. Number one, we have made the meaning of justice clear. We have shown that judiciary is a not a pawn to be used by the establishment for reaching their nefarious goals, a practice inherited from our colonial masters. With this we have changed minds forever - Minds of both the judiciary and the people. This is reflected by the pro-activity of the judiciary which is unprecedented in the history of the country! It is the first time that a majority of the judiciary has refused to do bow down to the rule of the army boot. We have supported the judiciary in their endeavor to find their rightful place in the state. Now our target is to to make the political parties realize that Pakistan’s fate must be governed by the masses and not from anywhere else. We realize that there is a capitalistic mafia, which would resist our efforts but we are ready to slog on.

4. It has often been claimed that you are politicizing this movement. What do you have to say about that?

The governing clique whether its army or a civilian is a matter of politics and it does concern me. What I am not involved in, is partisan politics.

5. How do you see the 1973 constitution and its effectiveness considering the numerous amendments? Do you think that the revival of judicial activisim would make any difference in improving the situation?

What we have to understand is that the constitution is an organic document. This means that it is open to interpretations at different. For example let’s look at the 14th amendment in the USA constitution. The blacks and whites in the United States drank from different waters, went to different schools, had segregated motels but were considered ‘separate but equal.’

Later it was said that the notion that ‘separate but equal’ is inherently unequal. The problem in Pakistan is that the interpretations have been done by the army and they have used the doctrine of necessity at their whim. In an article I wrote, late Justice Durab Patel was skeptical, that how could few judges stand against military might. But we feel that we have turned a corner and unlike previous judges the present judiciary would be able to interpret the constitution in its spirit. In the Ramday case the doctrine of necessity was buried forever. This is why the government has resorted to extra-constitutional measures.

6. Musharraf has said that elections will be held under the emergency. This means that there is a possibility that the legitimate judiciary might not be restored. How hopeful are you about the rein-station of the judges?

I feel that participating in this charade would be giving a lifeline to this tottering regime. Let me tell you that this is a defining moment for Pakistan. If the legal community remains together, supported by the students and if the political parties can play their cards intelligently, this might be over. There has to be an end to this. How can a brigadier, who replies only in yes sir and no sir, is a vice-chancellor of an educational institute that seeks to find the truth. How can people who refer to non army people as ‘bloody civilians’ rule the very same people? They may use all the tricks like the martial law but it behoves us not to let them succeed. There has to be an end to this and I repeat that this is a defining moment.

7. Lawyers movement is being supported by the student community. LUMS, QA, FAST and other various instiutions have joined the struggle. This might be the revival of moribund student politics. How can this nascent movement become more mainstream and effective?

I believe that this it is the repression of the student unions that has been a source of strength for the student unions. The student unions should not be an extension of the political parties but should be a vanguard of the political parties. They are bright people. They are clean people. They don’t have vested interests. They are selfless. They should be the vanguard of the political parties. Look at Indonesia. Suharto’s regime was toppled by the students. You people have a lot of potential.

Malik Muneer also said that he was proud of the LUMS and the student community. He said that he is grateful for their support and expressed his wish to visit LUMS someday. Interviewed on the 27th of November 2007 by Hissaan Butt

Force MMA to boycott!!

The mass contact campaign seems to be working very effectively. I would like all of you to continue with this campaign and request you all to go crazy with your phone-calls and SMSes again.

MMA is meeting on Saturday (today) in Islamabad to discuss the election strategy. It is clear that the state-sponsored-Fazl-ur-Rehman will be trying to convince the rest to forget the election boycott. We can not allow this to happen. Below are the telephone numbers of the MMA. Please call and sms to show solidarity to the MMA parties who have announced boycott of the elections and put pressure on Fazl-ur-Rehman to join the rest of the APDM.

Our stance: no elections till the judges are restored to pre-Nov 3 position. There will be NO compromise on this.

The Rickshaws JUI-F:

Moulana Fazal ur Rehman

Hafiz Hussain Ahmed JUI

Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri
0333-7806545 , 0320-4936933

Haji Gul Muhammad Dumar

Maulana Amanullah Khan

Maulana Khalil Ahmad

Maulana Muhammad Gohar Shah

Maulana Muhammad Qasim

Maulana Nasib Ali Shah

Maulana Rehmat Ullah

Maulvi Muhammad Khan Sherani

Molvi Noor Muhammad

Molvi Abdul Haleem

Moulvi Rehmatullah

Mufti Ibrar Sultan

Qari Abdul Baees Saddiqui

Qari Fayazur Rehman Alvi

Qari Muhammad Yousaf

Qazi Hameedullah Khan

Shujaul Mulk

Dr. Muhammad Ismail Buledi

Liaqat Ali Bangulzai

Akhunzada Mohammad Sadiq

Dr. Khalid Mahmood Soomro. (JUI)

Kamran Murtaza. (JUI)

Muhammad Talha Mahmood Aryan.

Other Important MMA leaders:

Liaquat Balouch

Qazi Hussian
0333 4132833

Saifullah Gondal
MMA Parlimentry Affair

Prof. Muhammad Ibrahim Khan.

Rehmatullah Kaker

Sahibzada Khalid Jan

Muhammad Hanif Abbasi

Mr. Farid Ahmed Paracha