The Student Action Committee (
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
The Student Action Committee (
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
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 8:43 PM
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 8:35 PM
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.)
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 8:27 PM
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."
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 6:58 PM
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 6:56 PM
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 11:27 AM
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 9:03 AM
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.
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 8:58 AM
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 (
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,
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
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
Later it was said that the notion that ‘separate but equal’ is inherently unequal. The problem in
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
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
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
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 7:26 AM
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
Mufti Ibrar Sultan
Qari Abdul Baees Saddiqui
Qari Fayazur Rehman Alvi
Qari Muhammad Yousaf
Qazi Hameedullah Khan
Dr. Muhammad Ismail Buledi
Liaqat Ali Bangulzai
Akhunzada Mohammad Sadiq
Dr. Khalid Mahmood Soomro. (JUI)
Kamran Murtaza. (JUI)
Muhammad Talha Mahmood Aryan.
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 1:00 AM