Thursday, December 6, 2007

Writ of Habeas Corpus and the lifting of Emergency

Dear All.

Journalists from international newspapers have either ignored or have no idea that even if Musharraf lifts Emergency we will still have no "writ of habeas corpus" because of the new Army Act. They can pick anyone and hold for ever, without producing before a civilian Judge. And to criticise this is a crime also. (The reason all Newspapers are mum). Musharraf did not want to submit to law as you see in the decisions below. So he has made himself a King. I was able to explain this to journalist (Dutch magazine, Vrij Nederland) and in a long article she did put:
" Ironically, Imran Khan last week became one of the very few Pakistanis to be charged with terrorism in "the war on terror."
His crime was to lead a student rally at Punjab University. The sentence could be death. He is in prison and his family says he has been on a hunger strike since Sunday."So, please, explain the tricks. Because, somehow the Western Journalists do not see the Musharraf doings as criminal acts. A man submits to a court and if the decision is adverse then he terrorises the whole country.
Keep on explaining to them. Without a "writ of habeas corpus" we are finished.

Javaid Aziz

Pictures from the Lums Protest against the FIR's

Students of Mauritius Africa express solidarity

Message of Solidarity

We- the students of Mauritius- express our heartfelt support for thestruggle of the Lawyers, Students, Journalists and Civil Society inPakistan fighting for the immediate restoration of full democracy,resumption of the rule of law, and the reinstatement of judgesforcefully dismissed from office by a military dictator.

We applaud the heroic efforts of the Pakistani people strugglingtooth and nail against today's Mobutu, against indiscriminate andbrutal military rule, against the efforts of one man to subvert and makedemocracy a dead idea in Pakistan.

We reiterate the call of the Pakistani people:

Restore Democracy NOW!
Restore Freedom of the Press NOW!
Restore the judiciary and stop all attacks upon this honorableinstitution NOW!
Release all political prisoners and end political persecution NOW!
Take back the ban on student unions NOW!
Restore the Constitution NOW

This message of solidarity received over 5,800 signatures fromstudents, mainly from:

1). The University of Mauritius- Reduit
2). The University of Technology- Pointe Aux Sables
Amongst the groups that approved this message in session:
1). Hands off Zimbabwe committee
2). United Africa
3). Africa Initiative- Nkrumahist
Copies of the message were sent to:
1). the office of the Prime Minister, Republic of Mauritius, PortLouis.
2). The High commission of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan- Floreal
In addition, this message was printed in poster form and pastedoutside the walls of the high commission.

Update- Lums Student Action Committee Activities

Lahore 06.12.2007 -

The Lahore University of Management Sciences continued to build up the momentum for the protest called by the HRCP to be held on International Human Rights Day, 10th December (Monday) by holding an on campus protest today (Thursday). About 150 students gathered in the sports complex between 1 and 2 pm to voice their concern about the injustices being perpetuated by the regime all over the country. The speakers at the protest asked the students present to believe in themselves and their power to make a difference. The students were encouraged to participate in the protest activities on and off campus to the greatest extent possible. Details were also given to the students of the activities of the Student Action Committee Lahore, specifically the protest on the 10th of December.
Yesterday (Wednesday), a talk was held where a member of the faculty spoke to the students. Speaking to an audience of about a 100 students, the faculty member emphasised the need to continue the struggle regardless of Pervez Musharraf having doffed his uniform and having declared a date for the lifting of the emergency. The talk was followed by the screening of the documentary 'Missing in Pakistan'. The documentary moved some of the viewers to tears as it chronicled the tale of the missing persons uptil the point of the removal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhary.
Meanwhile, LUMS has issued a press release condemning the FIR against its faculty and students as absurd and absolutely baseless. One of the instructors against whom the FIR has been registered has been in the US for the past many months. This speaks of the absolute untruth of the charges leveled against the six people. The administration pledges to maintain freedom of expression and all other inalienable rights on campus and demands that the charges against member of the LUMS community be withdrawn immediately. Despite a message from the police warning students not to protest, a rally is planned for tomorrow (Friday) at 2:30 pm, on campus.

Gathering at Aitzaz Ahsan's house

Dear Friends,

Join us outside Aitzaz Ahsan's house for some fun and frolic. The government may or may not release him tomorrow - let's make sure they do. Come and shout out your support tonight - and if he gets released tomorrow, claim the credit and boast to your friends!!

TIME: 6:30 - 7:30 pm ( Tomorrow- Friday 6th)
CONTACT: (0322) 472-4110

In complete Solidarity

CCP Team ( Concerned Citizens of Pakistan)

Muneer A Malik writes

First things first

There can be no free and fair election unless all the superior court judges are restored. You cannot put the cart before the horse.

By Muneer A. Malik

It was heartening to see Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif finally sitting together. The formation of a joint ARD-APDM committee is a positive step. The committee is to agree on a minimum charter of demands that must be fulfilled before the opposition parties participate in the elections.

Naturally, the primary agenda of the opposition parties is to ensure an atmosphere where free and fair elections are possible. But such elections are impossible without the restoration of the superior judiciary to the status quo prevailing on Nov 2. There can be no transition to democracy without an independent judiciary.

Consider this. The Election Commission of Pakistan (EC) is responsible for the overall organisation and conduct of elections. It comprises a retired Supreme Court and one serving High Court judge from each province. The actual nomination and polling process is supervised by District Returning Officers (DROs), Returning Officers (ROs) and Assistant Returning Officers (AROs). Serving district judges, additional district judges and civil judges perform the duties of the DROs, ROs and AROs respectively. The Chief Justices of the pro vincial High Courts have administrative control over the subordinate judiciary. They control their appointments, transfers and promotions.

Any challenges to an RO's acceptance or rejection of nomination papers are to be decided by election tribunals constituted for that purpose. These tribunals consist of High Court judges. Any post-election disputes relating to the qualifications of candidates or allegations of unfairness or rigging are decided by election tribunals constituted for this purpose by the EC. Challenges against decisions of these tribunals end up before the provincial High Courts and finally the Supreme Court.

Every stage of the election process is conducted and supervised by the judiciary. Given our electoral system, it is naïve to say that the issue of restoration of judges can be taken up after the elections. There can be no free and fair election unless and until all the superior court judges are restored. You cannot put the cart before the horse. Independent judges supervising the electoral process are the only guarantee of a free and fair election.

On Nov 3, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, the Chief Justices of two provincial High Courts and the majority of Supreme Court and High Court judges were sacked. The Chief Justice and his brethren Supreme Court judges are under house arrest! It is impossible to over-emphasise the enormity of this action. It has no parallels in Pakistani or any other country's history.

What was their crime? They were hearing a petition against Musharraf's re-election as president. They had not even decided the case! When judges of the Supreme Court can be summarily dismissed and placed under detention for daring to simply hear a petition against Musharraf; how can any judge in the future ever act independently? How can a man who worries for the safety and future of himself and his family ever go against the wishes of the establishment?

My concern for the management and editorial staff of this newspaper prevents me from expressing my views on the few judges who decided to take oath under Musharraf's Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) superseding their original oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. They enjoy their offices while their erstwhile brother judges are forcibly confined to their houses.However, I am told that I can express my 'respectful, temperate criticism' of their judgments. I see no point in doing so. The legal fraternity does not and will not recognise PCO judges and their judgments. There is no point in petitioning courts whose independence is not guaranteed. The handful of lawyers who ignored the Pakistan Bar Council's boycott call, have already witnessed the utterly predictable results of their impetuosity. Likewise, political parties who rush to elections without first securing the restoration of an independent judiciary to supervise the electoral process will regret their haste.

Hundreds of district judges, additional district judges and civil judges throughout Pakistan were transferred with immediate effect by the incumbent de facto Chief Justices of the provincial High Courts just prior to the announcement of the election schedule. Again I am restrained from commenting upon the reasons behind this unprecedented step. But whatever the reasons may be, it is these lower court judges who will perform the functions of returning officers during the entire electoral process. And the EC has refused to reverse such transfers.

I am an optimist but I'm not a fool. The elections will be rigged. The ruling parties shall be returned with a thumping majority in parliament. Should PPP, PML-N, ANP and other opposition parties decide to participate; they shall be left marginalised. The most optimistic outcome could be a hung parliament where legislators will be left with a personal choice between packing their bags and going home or ratifying legislation that will preserve and grant indemnity to the usurper and his actions. And given the absence of an independent judiciary, there will be no legal recourse open to them.

The picture should be clear with the rejection of the nomination papers of the Sharif brothers. Understandably, they consider it futile to challenge the rejection before the current election tribunals and superior courts.

If the opposition parties are serious about securing free and fair elections with a level playing field; they must place the demand for the full restoration of the judiciary to the pre Nov 3 position on the top of their list. This demand has to be non-negotiable. In the absence of a full restoration of the judiciary; any concession granted by Musharraf's regime shall be meaningless.
The continuing protests, in the legal community and beyond, are taking their toll on the regime. The judicial machinery has come to almost a complete standstill. The growing consensus between the opposition parties is an endless source of concern for the establishment. The desperation of Musharraf's regime is evidenced by the number of leaks and feelers being sent out in every direction. Despite the Supreme Court's declaration that the issue of sacked judges is a past and closed transaction; it is being conveyed unofficially that the regime is amenable for a partial restoration of judges.

The legal fraternity shall not brook compromises on this issue. We shall not become party to the regime's attempt to pick and choose between judges and pack the courts with the more pliable ones. Each and every judge must be restored unconditionally. Our stand is based on principles and is not about individuals.

Now the judges who refused to take -- or were not given -- oath under the PCO are men who believe in the rule of law. They took a principled stand for the independence of the judicial institution at great personal cost. If they are restored, some may decide that the larger interest of an independent judicial institution requires them to make further personal sacrifice. But that choice must be theirs and theirs alone.

I have closely known the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court, Sabihuddin Ahmed and the Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court, Tariq Pervez. I can testify to their honour and lack of vindictiveness.

But it is for the establishment to decide whether it prefers a course of confrontation that will plunge the nation into turmoil or whether it wishes to restore Pakistan's stability by submitting to the rule of law. The writer is a former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, who is currently hospitalised following renal failure during his detention in Attock jail.

The writer is a former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, who is currently hospitalised following renal failure during his detention in Attock jail.

Open Letter from Aitzaz


Aitzaz Ahsan
M.A. Cantab
Senior Advocate Supreme Court
President Supreme Court Bar Association.

Dec 05, 2007
My dear colleagues,

Asalam o alaikum. As I write this from a sub-Jail, let me tell you how proud I am of each one of you and of myself to be part of the community that is writing the present chapter in the history of our unfortunate country. As you are all aware, we, the lawyers, are the vanguard in this long overdue mammoth battle for civil rights and democracy in our country. As for myself, jail is not new to me. I was first arrested as a one-year old in the arms of my mother when she courted arrest in 1946 after my father and grandfather had already done so in the Pakistan movement.

During the Martial Law imposed by General Zia-ul-Haq I was arrested and detained without trial several times for long terms only because I pursued, even then, the ideals of democracy and an independent judiciary. Let me assure you that the sacrifices that you have given and the selfless courage that you have shown for a completely selfless cause of an independent judiciary and civilian rule have no parallel anywhere in the world, even in countries from which we have borrowed the concepts of the rule of law and judicial independence. By seeking the restoration of the Chief Justices and Judges of all provinces we are in fact seeking to the save and strengthen the Federation. Ours is a noble cause.

You know that Muneer Malik, Tariq Mahmmod, Ali Ahmed Kurd and I have never wielded any weapons. We have never broken any law. We are no terrorists. We are men of peace. Yet we have treated worst than terrorists while were in jails. In fact, when arrested, I was only seeking to persuade, through cogent and respectful arguments, 11 senior most judges of the country that an Army General's attempt to contest elections for the office of President was completely in breach of his own oath under the Constitution. And then what happened? Just because that Bench seemed likely to give a verdict according to the express language of the Constitution, he sacked the Chief Justice of Pakistan and other judges of Supreme Court and of the four High Courts. Only the judges who were willing to legitimize him were retained.

What happened thus was unthinkable in today's world. It brought disgrace to the country. No such step was ever taken even in any "banana republic". Yet because of us lawyers and the support we are getting from our kindred in the media, the general public and the students, no one can write off this country as a failed nation. However, for the first time since 1947, we are in the middle of a fresh struggle for independence: independence of civil society and civilian institutions. It is in the context of ultimately achieving our one point goal of restoring the pre-November 3 status quo and the fact of a form of elections being upon us, that I propose the following:

ONE, Our stand for boycott would be vindicated if ALL major parties also boycott.
TWO, Our stand would also be vindicated if even one of the two major political alliances (ARD or APDM), decides to boycott.
THREE, IF however ALL major parties decide TO CONTEST elections, we must devise a strategy to use the momentum to our own advantage.

How? My proposal is that: In situation THREE the hustle and bustle of the nation-wide election campaign may suck in all politically active persons within a few days. Local issues, of roads, water, sewage, schools and other services, may begin to engage people seeking promises of redress of their immediate miseries. Our one demand may go onto the back-burner of the public mind. People will become pre-occupied with other issues. That is what the regime is counting upon. What then must be done in situation THREE (and ONLY in situation THREE)? We have to keep the issue of the "deposed" judges alive. We have to keep the spotlight on our demand.

To that purpose I propose the following:

  1. The Supreme Court Bar Association, while continuing to deny validity to this election prescribes its own OATH to be taken and signed by all CANDIDATES. The oath will require each deponent to swear that, if elected, he/she will move the necessary motion/resolution/law/amendment required to ensure the restoration of the "ousted" judges, to pursue such motion etc, to speak in its favour, and finally to vote for it. (I suggest below the contents of THE OATH).
  2. The contents of the oath will be widely publicized by representatives of the Bar at all levels through press-conferences and media reports.
  3. It will be made clear that no candidate who does not take this oath is approved by the Bar as deserving the vote of the people irrespective of the Party he belongs to. If more than one candidate in any one constituency takes the oath, then these alone will be declared as the "pre-qualified" candidates disqualifying others from the support and vote of the people.
  4. The oath alone is not enough. It is the MANNER IT IS TAKEN that is also vital. To involve the people and the Bar Associations nation-wide, the SCBA and the PBC must give a call that all OATH-TAKING CEREMONIES:

i. will be held in District Bar Association premises before the General House;
ii. the oath will be taken by a senior Office-bearer of the DBA and recorded by the electronic media and the press.
iii. Records will be maintained at the District, Provincial and Central level by the Bar Associations of the oaths.
iv. Daily press conferences and press-releases at the respective District and Central levels will announce the names of pre-qualified candidates issuing the names to the press.

5. Keeping members involved in this most engaging activity will also make the boycott of the courts (wherever prescribed) more viable and effective for a longer period.

6. Since all this activity will be WITHIN THE PREMISES of the Bars there will be no premature confrontation and this activity will be entirely lawful and sustainable. Yet it will become the most prominent activity in public eye, nationally and internationally. In fact I expect the electronic media to run strips of the names of candidates who have or have not taken oath.

7. Each ceremony will involve a maximum number of lawyers and political workers across the country. We will also thus cause a synchonised nation-wide activity with the Bars themselves playing the lead role while highlighting our own primary demand. At the end of the day we may have create a large lobby (perhaps even a majority) committed to our demand as we begin to ride the "judicial bus" that may yet be necessary by late January, 2008. You may even today propose a tentative date for that event.

The proposal above is in respect ONLY of situation THREE. In that event, where ALL major political parties are participating in the elections, a mere placid boycott called by lawyers may not work. We have to be realistic. The electorate in that situation will get involved, distracted, indeed consumed by electoral activity. We, and our one demand may be sidelined. And if it is sidestepped during the elections it is unlikely to be of very high priority after the elections. We have to make it the PRIMARY ISSUE IN THE ELECTIONS.

We have a nation-wide network of District Bars. We can make it worth their while for candidates to adhere to our aspiration of restoration of judges. In the process we can, across the country, create a significant and vibrant political activity. And we will also keep the initiative with us. I am sure that within days candidates of parties already committed to the restoration of judges and independent candidates will be jostling for time to take the oath before the full blaze of the media. I can see them printing photos of the oath-taking ceremony on their posters and publicity material to assure the voters that they are committed to us. It will keep the issue of the "deposed" judges right up-front, and may be make it the most inescapable electoral issue.

We are today contesting the most unique case in the history of the world. In this case, our professional fee as lawyers is whatever this country has given each of us to date and our client are 160 million people. But our clients' interest, our nation's interest, we must, safeguard at all costs. If one unarmed lawyer could win the independence of this country, I do not see any reason why we, thousands of lawyers, should not be able to achieve victory.

If we put out hearts and souls into this perfectly legitimate and peaceful enterprise we will prevail. We shall overcome.
Yours truly,


I, ___________________ s/o ____________________ candidate in Constituency No. ______ to the ________________________ Assembly do hereby solemnly take oath and swear in this ______ day of __________, 2007(8) that in case I am elected in the forthcoming elections I will devote all my energies, powers privileges, rights and authority, (including the privilege to move and initiate legislation/amendments/motions/resolutions and the right to vote and/or to speak) and exercise them at once from the first available opportunity after taking oath so as to ensure that the Supreme Court and the High Courts revert completely to their status as on November 2, 2007 and that none of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the High Courts of the provinces are in any way impeded from performing the functions of their respective offices by any person, authority or any purported law in the shape of any PCO or any other Proclamation by whatever name called and for that purpose to do all in my power and authority till such time as I am member of the Assembly.


VERIFIED: Office-bearer DBA _______.

Musharraf's Economic Deception

By Dr. Tariq Naeem-

General Musharraf took over the reigns of power in 1999 from Nawaz Sharif with the Pakistan economy on the verge of bankruptcy. So desperate was the situation Nawaz Sharif toured the world visiting Pakistanis with a begging bowl requesting them to invest in Pakistan due to the sanctions imposed on Pakistan for carrying out nuclear tests. Incoherent, short-term policies had resulted in a minority of people benefiting immensely, who incidentally were directly linked to the Sharif family.
Both the IMF and the World Bank have consistently praised the Musharraf government for solid macroeconomic recovery and saving the Pakistan economy from the brink of economic collapse. They cite the $128bn generated under his tenure. Many commentators are eager to explain that the Musharraf government has made substantial macroeconomic reforms since taking over the economy in 1999. The argument of the few Musharraf loyalists being that he has brought a degree of stability to Pakistan that the country never knew under civilian rule.
Part 1 of this two part series will assess this claim and analyse the current state of Pakistan’s economy which shows it is in a far more precarious position:

Reform, reform, reform

Once the dust settled on Musharraf’s coup he set about organising the nation, he formed a small working cabinet consisting mainly of experts and technocrats in their respective fields. These individuals were selected on the basis of expertise in their respective fields including a new team of economic managers, which included expatriate Pakistanis’ working in international institutions. Several committees, constituted with experts drawn from both within and outside Pakistan whose job was to make recommendations on the content, phasing and implementation timelines of the various reforms Musharraf planned to turn round the economy.
The most important committee was the Debt Reduction Management headed by ex-Chief Economist of the World Bank. This committee’s recommendations formed the basis of subsequent actions in this area. Another committee, under the leadership of a former Senior Vice President of the World Bank and assisted by consultants from the Lahore University of Management Sciences, submitted a blue print for the reform of the Central Board of Revenue. Another group was commissioned to review financial sector reforms and the services of several ex-World Bank staff were secured for this purpose on a full time basis. An Agriculture Taxation Committee, headed by a former planning secretary, produced a consensus view on the introduction of agriculture tax by provincial governments. An Interim Poverty Strategy Paper was developed in consultation with stakeholders from both within the government as well as from civil society, laying out the broad contours of the road map for economic policies and reforms.
The strategy was, as Musharaf’s economic team put it:

  1. To effect a sustainable reduction in debt ratios (reduce debt)
  2. To reduce fiscal deficit through revenue mobilisation. (i.e balance government budgets)
  3. To restructure key public sector institutions and stop their losses (privatisation)
  4. To pursue a prudent monetary policy and hold inflation down. (Raise interest rates)
  5. To liberalise the foreign exchange regime and allow market forces to determine the level of exchange rate (remove all obstacles to currency transfer)
  6. To create a level playing field for all economic actors (removal of state subsidies to key industries)

Such objectives were to be met with a number of reforms or changes to the way the economy was previously run. What needs to be understood is such objectives were all geared towards gaining credibility abroad rather then deal with domestic woes. Musharaf’s team was composed of experts from the very institutions that had indebted Pakistan and insisted on policies that would reduce debt. They proposed a number of reforms to achieve the above objectives, which included:

  1. The privatisation of the banking and financial sector
  2. The removal and reductions of all tariffs which protected Pakistan industry and agriculture
  3. The privatisation of all public sector enterprises
  4. Sale of shares to public through stock exchanges
  5. Removal of subsidies and administered prices on agriculture commodities
  6. The removal of all barriers on agriculture exports and imports
  7. The removal of all price controls, leaving essential prices to market forces
  8. Removal of domestic price controls of petroleum products and aligned with international prices domestically

Privatisation: past and present

Misgivings about the concentration of wealth in Pakistan (both East and West at this time) were voiced in official circles as early as 1959, when it was noted by Credit Inquiry Committee of State Bank of Pakistan that 222 depositors were making use of 66% of the total credit facilities offered by Pakistan’s banking system. In a study in the same period by Gustav Papanek, who today is President of the Boston Institute for Developing Economies and Professor of Economics Emeritus at Boston University, however at the time he was Harvard advisor to Pakistan, established that 24 individuals, firms and companies controlled nearly all of the country’s industrial assets. Both the Awami League in East Pakistan and PPP in West Pakistan came to power promising nationalisation. The heavy concentration of wealth among non-Bengalis is considered one of the key factors leading to a separatist sentiment in East Pakistan, and members of the leading families admit that, in anticipation of separation, they moved all investment and headquarters to West Pakistan. Following the separation of East Pakistan, these families were dealt a heavy blow, as the assets of non-Bengalis over 1.5m rupees were nationalised in now separate Bangladesh.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto ushered in the era of nationalisation with key industrial units coming under government control. The shock of nationalisation and loss of millions in assets for the leading industrial families resulted in the absence of any large industrial projects. Business leaders had became risk-averse, avoiding the capital-intensive industries, which were easy to seize, but are also key engines of growth and employment. Many of the leading families left Pakistan in the 1970s, withdrawing capital permanently for investment in the West.
In 1988, Benazir Bhutto’s government commissioned a privatisation plan from Rothschild and Son, which recommended Thatcher style privatisation through the stock exchange. When Benazir’s government was dismissed in 1990 Nawaz Sharif continued western style privatisation identifying 115 units for privatisation. The Musharraf government has continued with the privatisation drive and sold off remaining enterprises. The most important aspect of Musharraf’s economic reform package has been the wide scale mass sell-off of state industry, energy, and telecommunications, banking and public enterprises.
The justification for the privatisation policies was that the units were performing poorly, and that their sale would generate much-valued revenue for the state. However, in practice the promised gains amounted to nothing. Although the Musharraf government championed the privatisation programme as bringing competition, competitiveness and efficiencies to their respective sectors they were sold below their market values to make them attractive. They were sold by placing them on the stock market which led to them being bought by speculative investors only interested in short term gains and the proceeds were used to reduce the mounting debt burden.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

Pakistan has been praised heavily for deregulating its economy allowing foreign multinationals to invest in Pakistan taking advantage of its mineral resources. Foreign direct investment (FDI) has soared to $2.2 billion in 2006; by the end of 2007 FDI will be $7 billion. Pakistan assembles Suzuki’s, defence equipment (submarines, tanks, and radars), salt, marble, onyx, engineering goods, and many other items. BMW, Toyota, and Honda have also invested in manufacturing facilities in the country.
However the sustainability of such a policy for domestic development has to be questioned. The usefulness of foreign direct investment, whereby foreign investors bring their capital and repatriate their earnings, profits, debt servicing, royalties, technical fees and even capital, without any restrictions in reality brings no benefit to Pakistan. Under the guise of globalisation many western companies place production facilities in the Third world making use of lax laws, cheap labour then sell the very same items for extortionate prices abroad.
Pakistan has not become an important destination for investors as India has over the last decade. India offers the promise of political stability, a legal system that can protect investors, a highly trained workforce, and a fairly large rate of domestic savings. It also has a large domestic market, which is of interest to foreign companies. Pakistan, on the other hand, is a country with a high level of illiteracy (only 54% of people above the age of 15 can read or write), in which political instability continues to threaten the pursuit of economic policies that could be sustained. If foreign investors have been attracted to the country it is only those who either are tapping the large market for basic goods for their own consumption. When the government claims that it has made possible large foreign direct investment into the country, it does not mention that FDI has come in the form of purchase of domestic cigarette manufacturing by America’s Altria group, or by an expansion in the presence of food and beverage companies such as Pepsi Cola and McDonald’s.
But investment in consumer products and domestic services cannot be the basis of long-term sustainable growth. The vulnerability of the economy to external funds was revealed by the data on investments and its sources by the finance ministry. During the Musharraf period, the rate of investment has increased by a third, from 17.2% of GDP in 2001-02 to 23% in 2006-07. However domestic savings have declined from 17.8% to 16.1% of GDP in the same period. This means that the economy is even more dependent on foreign flows than was the case in the 1990s. This dependence may not mean that the continuing political support of western governments and development institutions such as the World Bank is absolutely critical for economic progress. But there is now reliance on foreign companies and the money they invest in Pakistan. Hence Pakistan’s reliance on foreign funds has changed from international institutes to international companies. The claim of Islamabad that the economy is now moving on a sustainable course and that it will not be derailed by political storms is hard to accept. This is because a reliance on foreign funds can never be sustainable as foreign companies will choose the cheapest markets for production facilities that will not always be Pakistan; hence any economy which relies on foreign investment remains vulnerable to external shocks.

The role of the Service Sector

The services sector has been the driving force behind Musharraf’s so called success. It is now 54% of Pakistan’s economy but employs only 36% of the population. The regime has failed to develop foundations of a modern, competitive, and productive economy and as a result its reliance has been on services sector, real estate, and the stock market. The real productive sectors of the economy, both industry and agriculture have been completely ignored.
The privatisation programme saw most of Pakistan’s assets end up on the stock market; by 2004 Pakistan’s KSE 100 Index was the best-performing stock market index in the world as declared by the international magazine “Business Week.”[1] The stock market capitalisation of listed companies in Pakistan was valued at $10 billion in 2005 by the World Bank. Transport, storage, communications, finance, and insurance accounted for most of the services sector.
The property sector has expanded twenty-threefold since 2001, particularly in metropolises like Lahore. However the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimated in late 2006 that the overall production of housing units in Pakistan has to be increased to 500 000 units annually to address 6 million backlog of housing in Pakistan for meeting the housing shortfall in next 20 years. The report notes that the present housing stock is also rapidly ageing and an estimate suggests that more than 50% of stock is over 50 years old. It is also estimated that 50 percent of the urban population now lives in slums and squatter settlements. The report said that meeting the backlog in housing, besides replacement of out-lived housing units is beyond the financial resources of the government. This necessitates putting in place a framework to facilitate financing from the private sector and mobilise non-government resources for a market-based housing finance system.[2]
Pakistan has a population of 160 million, the 5th largest in the world and only generates $128 billion a year, this is the equivalent of Israel which does so with a population of 7 million (the size of Lahore). Half of this wealth is being generated from the services sector, which employs only a minority of the population. Hence only the rich have benefited from Musharraf’s policies as it is they who consume, spend and sustain the service sector which ultimately caters for them. The majority of people are unable to spend on real estate, purchase shares of the stock market or buy luxury goods as 72% of Pakistan live on less then $2 a day (World Bank, 2006). The size of the services sector shows Musharraf’s policies have been developed for the rich, by the rich and to sustain the rich.

Pakistani Debt continues to rise

General Musharraf’s regime has broken all records in borrowing and has pushed the country into a debt trap. Recent State Bank reports showed the government had borrowed a staggering amount of over $15 billion in the past four years, as the country’s total debt and liabilities had peaked to an all time high of $40 billion. Such debt apart from additional borrowing is also composed of rescheduled debt as the Musharraf government continued borrowing to fund basic government duties and the inability to generate sufficient wealth from the domestic economy. Such amounts of debt have never existed in the history of Pakistan. By the end of 2004, the total external debt was $33 billion. If the government had stopped borrowing as it claimed, the country’s total debt would have declined to $23 billion based upon Pakistan’s regular yearly payments by the end of June 2007.
With the absence of basic industry in Pakistan, imports have become critical and have been rising due to this. Pakistan now faces an all time high trade deficit. Pakistan has borrowed over $3 billion during 2006-2007. The figures reveal that the huge borrowing was made to pay debt and continuous current account deficits. This is because the Pakistan government was unable to provide for the basic needs of the country, were forced to import larger amounts from in excess of exports and this has resulted in a deficit. Average annual payment of debt servicing has reached $3.3 billion in 2007. The current account deficit for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2007 had increased by 41% reaching $7 billion. Instead of focusing on increasing exports the Musharraf government is relying on unreliable sources like foreign direct investment (FDI), remittances by overseas Pakistanis and privatisation to meet the gap.
This clearly shows the Musharraf regime’s lack of vision has failed to develop the foundations of a productive economy. In previous eight years its reliance has been on the services sector, real estate, and stock market. The real productive sectors of the economy, both industry and agriculture, were ignored. The infrastructure in Pakistan has not been upgraded and as a result the country now faces a serious energy crisis. The social sectors continue to be neglected with expenditure for education and health sectors much lower than those of previous governments.


Although Pakistan generates $128 billion the people of Pakistan see very little of this wealth and live in severe poverty. Wealth distribution represents a glaring failure on part of the Musharraf government as its policies have only benefited the select few, life for most Pakistani’s is a daily struggle of making ends meet which has got even worse since Musharraf took over. Depending on which measure is used the World Bank puts 17% of the population living on less then $1 a day whilst 73% of the population lives on less then $2 a day. The World Bank also puts 33% (the size of South Korea) of the population living under the poverty line, another measure, which is a national estimate based on population-weighted subgroup estimates which is decided by national governments.
The blatant inequality is something all the people of Pakistan can see. The Pakistan Economic Survey 2006-07 acknowledges that the gap between the rich and the poor in the country widened in the period 2001 and 2005 (when the two surveys that have provided the data were held). The ratio of the income of the richest 20% and the poorest 20% went up from 3.76 to 4.15. The Gini Coefficient, which is universally regarded as an efficient measure of income equality, changed from 0.2752 to 0.2976 (that is for the worse). The thrust towards privatisation of facilities in the social sectors, especially education and health, has made these services more costly and less affordable for the common man. People are now compelled to spend more on most basic necessities. The government’s own figures say that the poor are now spending 14.6% more (as compared to 2001) on health. Ironically, the rich are spending 6% less - thanks to the better food, environment and living conditions they can afford. The poor are spending 50% more on transport and 11% more on food. The Musharraf regime has attempted to gloss the figures over by juggling around with statistics and definitions. Such shifts in the yardsticks adopted have distorted results beyond belief. For instance, a new methodology has led the government to change the poverty line figure in 2001. Thus an income of Rs878 per month per capita has been taken as the poverty line. This amount is at complete odds with the facts on the ground. Not surprisingly, the figures cited by the government for people living below the poverty line have come to be widely questioned. With poverty alleviation being the buzzword in Pakistan’s economic development and a key criterion for aid givers, policymakers are desperately trying to prove the success of their strategy in terms of falling poverty levels. What is so shocking is the fact that although the situation of most of Pakistan is one of abject poverty according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, Pakistan in 2005 was the worlds:

Largest producer of Ghee
2nd largest producer of Chickpeas
4th largest producer of Apricot, Cotton and Sugarcane
5th largest producer of Milk and Onion
6th largest producer of Date Palm
7th largest producer of Mango
8th largest producer of Tangerines, mandarin orange and Rice
9th largest producer of Wheat, and
10th largest producer of Oranges

Inflation has also pushed many people into poverty as prices continue to rise. Add to this the increase of the general sales tax (GST), life for most Pakistanis has become more difficult in the last decade. The huge surge in prices has been caused by huge increase in money supply particularly private credit, which has risen by an astounding average annual rate of 25% over the last five years. Such credit has caused considerable damage to the economy and the country’s poverty stricken citizens. The credit has fuelled inflation, which officially stands at 10%. However that is the average price increase, most essential items have risen much higher in price including staple foods like flour and cooking oil. During the last six years essential kitchen items have increased by 200% - 300%. Opposition MP Ahsan Iqbal exposed the Musharraf government emphasising “The government policies are pushing the country towards a serious crisis. The cost of borrowing could be a threat to the country’s economy as,” he said. “The State Bank has been purchasing billions of dollars from the local market by flooding the local currency and creating inflation in the country.”[3]


The Musharraf strategy for the economy is comparable to using ointment to deal with a tooth ache; it may psychologically make one feel better but in no way deals with underlying problem making the inevitable pain to re-surface at a later time. Musharraf has managed to win the hearts of the West as he has opened the economy to them and rescheduled debt which 8 years ago was on the verge of being defaulted. Domestically only a handful of people have benefited from the wealth the economy has generated who could be considered Musharraf’s support base. However many of those who live in Pakistan have not been fooled by Musharraf’s polices and for them the recent state of emergency symbolises the beginning of the end of Musharraf. So desperate is Musharraf he recently awarded his core generals plots of land ensuring they do not desert him. Pakistani economists continue to argue free markets has brought much success to Pakistan however has not been the case as most of Pakistan’s economic policies are short term, political and not sustainable for the well-being of the nation. Hence although the economy may be growing Pakistan’s economy remains dysfunctional and unable to cater for its own citizens. Hence the economy needs a complete overhaul not mere cosmetic surgery. As Shahid Javed Burki, former vice president of World Bank who was in charge of the bank’s Latin American division when Mexico was hit by a financial crisis in 1994 put it “Pakistan is facing symptoms that preceded the Mexican financial crisis more than 10 years ago”. He points to the nation’s current account deficit, ‘excessive’ speculative business activity and weak banking system is all heading in only one direction.[4]

In part 2 policies will be presented on how the Pakistan economy should be structured and a vision for the future direction of the economy.

Peoples Resistance calls for meeting at Karachi Press Club

This is an open call issued by members of the People's Resistance group to all activists in Karachi to attend a meeting at the Karachi Press Club

Venue: Karachi Press Club
Date: 6th Dec 2007
Time: 5:00pm


A number of civil society groups, laborer's, student bodies and political parties are invited to join hands to plan and issue a call for a city wide protest in the near future (13th or 14th Dec) [decision pending]. It must be remembered that People's Resistance would also like to also issue a unified stand on the present political situation during the meeting, and we anticipate a total consensus amongst the participating organizations, founding the basis of our future protests and coalition, which are as follows

1) We consider the PCO to be unconstitutional and all actions taken under this, as illegal.
2) We demand the immediate repeal of the PCO, Army Act 2007, PEMRA Ordinances 2007, and demand the restoration of the judiciary and complete freedom of the media.
3) We reject army rule - overt and covert
4) We reject the holding of elections under the Musharraf regime
5) We reject Pervez Musharraf as an illegal and illegitimate entity.

Please remember this is just a meeting, with no intention of agitation or protests, and would strongly urge all activists in Karachi to show up in numbers and be a part of this important process. Request to please help propagate this message to a wider audience. In Complete Unity for Pakistan

15 Baloch Students arrested from a Quran Khawani!

Courtesy- Dawn News

QUETTA, Dec 4:

The Baloch Students Organisation (BSO) has alleged that police have arrested 15 students of the Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water and Marine Sciences in Uthal for organising a Quran Khwani on the campus for Baloch leader Nawabzada Balaach Marri who was killed few days ago. Addressing a news conference on Tuesday, BSO’s central executive committee member Farida Baloch accused police of torturing the students.She said atrocities would not compel the Baloch people to give up the struggle for their rights. Balochs had been facing the excesses of rulers for 60 years, she added. She said that forces were not only targeting BSO members but also implicating members of their families in false cases.

(We strongly condemn this despicably brutal act by the police upon innocent students gathered for a sombre and religious cause. If the state cannot even respect religious customs, it is sad evidence of the fact that they have renounced every ounce of humanity that could possibly remain. It is baffling as to how sheer tyranny and bigotry of this sort can even be tolerated, let alone ordered by any government. It is a stark reminder of the fact that the Musharraf regime is the only real extremist around and is an evil that must be rooted out at all costs. We reach out to our fellow Balochi Students in support and solidarity and solemnly pledge to remain committed to our cause for civil freedom, liberty and rule of law, until we the citizens are no longer subjected to further such state brutalities. We recognize that the Baloch's have been targeted by despotic rulers for many decades now, and it is only very recently that we have recieved a taste of what they have endured for so long. We salute them for their strength and resilience and reach out to them in these times in complete unity.)

The Emergency Times- Eds

Observe Dec 10 as 'Black Day'!

Lahore 05 December 2007:

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan calls upon all members of civil society to observe the Universal Human Rights Day as a "black day". The worst human rights abuses, in the history of the country, were recorded in 2007. The rights of ordinary people have been violated by the government with impunity. More than 400 people have been picked up by security forces and many remain missing. The Musharraf regime obstructed the Supreme Court in providing justice to those who remain disappeared, as well as those who recorded their statements of having suffered extreme forms of torture at the hands of the security forces. Reports of torture, threats, intimidation, and arbitrary arrests run into thousands. Incidents of extrajudicial killings continue to be reported but never investigated.

The situation has now reached alarming proportions. The coercive apparatus of the State are being blatantly used against all sections of civil society. The media is chained and free expression censured. Thousands of lawyers, journalists, students, teachers and human rights activists were arrested. A number of them remain incarcerated under deplorable conditions. Lawyers and others have been accused of offences falling under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Thirty-five judges of superior courts have been put under house arrest. The family of the Chief Justice of Pakistan is also confined to their residence. This is unprecedented.
The rights of the people are being usurped on the pretext of curbing terrorism. It is the people who are suffering terrorism; both at the hands of non-state militants and state agents. The government has failed to bring militants to justice or to disarm them. On the contrary, at several occasions, the government and its agents have patronized or in the least, ignored criminal acts carried out by militants acting in the name of Islam.

HRCP warns that the claim made by Musharraf of moving towards a transition to democracy is a total farce. The assertion is yet another smack on the face of the people of Pakistan. Amendments to the Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Act as well as the Army Act are only a few examples of the government's grand plan to subjugate the spirit of peaceful members of civil society. Much more is to follow.

HRCP, along with other civil society groups, will organize a black day on the 10th of December. Black flags and bands should be displayed on this unworthy occasion. In order to record the laudable struggle of the legal fraternity of Pakistan HRCP will award the best documentary film made on this movement. All entries are to be submitted by 30 June 2008.

Asma Jahangir
Chairperson Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

People's Resistance- Press Release

Civil society organizations condemn government crackdown on peaceful dissent

KARACHI, Dec 5: The People's Resistance, a coalition of civil society organization and individuals, strongly condemns the government's hard-line and brutal actions against peaceful dissent. These recent actions only betray the government's own weakness:

The Law Ministry's notification about the retirement of the judges who did not take oath under the PCO, and the attempted eviction of such judges from their official residences, in particular Justice M.A. Shahid Siddiqui in Lahore.

The FIRs registered against LUMS faculty members for wall-chalking -- Rasul Bakhsh Rais, Aasim S. Akhtar (who is not even in Lahore), Osama Siddique and Farhat Haq (who has not been at the university for past two years) and a student.

The brutal lathi-charge on the huge student-led demonstration in Islamabad on Dec 4.

The arrest and deportation of two American peace activists who were in Pakistan to express their solidarity with the people. This action and the way it was carried out, by armed, plainclothesmen, further tarnished the image of Pakistan.

We demand:
- The Law Ministry should immediately withdraw its shameful notification about the judges' retirement. Caretaker Law Minister Afzal Haider needs to stand up for constitutionality and legality as he is duty bound to do.
- The immediate withdrawal of the FIRs against the LUMS faculty and student.

We call on the democracy-loving people of Pakistan to join in the struggle for justice. We invite people to form a physical barrier at the homes of those judges who are being evicted, as the courageous activists of Lahore have been doing. We reiterate our refusal to accept the current dispensation with its curbs on the media and the judiciary.

Pictures from the Lums Protest

Press Release- Lums Student Movement

Lahore 05.12.2007 -

Despite intimidation by the police, LUMS students continued their protest today (Wednesday). A sit-in was held at 1 pm outside the PDC. Students and faculty members made speeches, condemning the FIRs registered against members of the LUMS community and asking the protestors to continue their fight for justice. The eviction of Justice Shahid Siddiqui from his residence and the disgraceful treatment meted out to US peace activists Medea Benjamin and Tighe Barry were also strongly condemned. Students from LUMS were present at Justice Siddiqui's residence at 2 am this morning and during the day today (Wednesday), forming part of a human shield to prevent the police from entering the premises.

Student Representatives from the LUMS Action committee along with prominent human rights activists, PMDC members, Lawyers, students and civil society members, attended a debate organized by The Campaign for Democracy and Rule of Law, at the Lahore Press Club today. The debate was held between the aforementioned groups and party members from most of the political parties to discuss party stances regarding the upcoming elections. Other than the ANP and PPP, party representatives confirmed that they would be boycotting the elections under the present circumstances.

A talk is planned for 9 pm today on campus, followed by a screening of the documentary 'Missing People'. The LUMS Student Action Committee has also organised a protest to be held on campus tomorrow.

-- RegardsPublic Relations ManagerLUMS Student Movement

PML Q's banner's adorned with Graffiti =)

Dear all,

This morning while going to the office I came upon a very pleasant sight, which I want to share with all of you. A day earlier, PML (Q) had hung its banners (depicting PML (Q) election symbol bicycle in white on a sparkling green background) with lamp posts along different roads of Lahore. This morning, most of them had black stickers carrying the slogan General nahi Judge, Emergency nahi Insaf pasted on them. Some of them had Vote Zulm or Lotay in black spray paint. I was filled with admiration for the courage of those (most probably students or lawyers) who carried out the audacious task and sent a strong message to both the PML (Q) and the public.

As is evident from the statement of political leaders, there is only a meek chance of the opposition going for boycott of elections or standing for the cause of the judiciary. Benazir and Nawaz Sharif have agreed to leave the matter of the restoration of judges to the next parliament. By all indications, in the long run, there is bound to be a divergence between the political parties and the civil society, which is struggling for the restoration of the judiciary and democracy with a clear vision. In that event, this would be a good idea to give other political parties too a message that the public boycott them for their opportunism and expediency – graffiti on their banners and hoardings.

(The Emergency Times- Eds This is coincidentally humorous since we all know that some students and faculty have already been charged for wall chalking. In the present circumstances, with our legal right to free expression robbed from us, wall chalking and banner graffiti amid other innovations cheerfully becomes an avenue for artistic and political expression. Paint away folks, our thoughts and ideas cannot be caged)

Justice Siddiqui suffers angina attack!

Dear all,

Late last night/early this morning, the police did, in fact come to Justice Siddiqui's house in Lahore and removed the barricades ( i.e. chairs, bedding etc. placed by the protesters) in preparation of the eviction. Justice Siddiqui suffered an angina episode and was admitted at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology. Please send notes, flowers to show your continued support for him in this ordeal. For those outside the city or country, you can e-mail your letter of support to - we will make sure the letter reaches him.

Thanks & God bless you all

In Complete Solidarity

CCP ( Concerned Citizens of Pakistan Team)

News report on LUMS student protests in BBC Urdu

عباد الحق بی بی سی اردو ڈاٹ کام، لاہور

’طلباء موجودہ صورت حال سے لاتعلق نہیں رہ سکتے‘
لاہور پولیس نے لاہور یونیورسٹی آف مینجمنٹ سائنسز (لمز)یورسٹی کے چار پروفیسروں اور دو طالب علموں کے خلاف اندیشۂ نقصِ امن عامہ سمیت دیگر دفعات کے تحت مقدمہ درج کرلیا گیا ہے۔
’لمز‘ لاہور کا پہلا تعلیمی ادارہ ہے جہاں ایمرجنسی کے نفاذ اور عبوری آئینی حکم کے اجراء کے خلاف طلبہ نے احتجاج شروع کیا تھا اور یہ احتجاج مختلف انداز میں جاری ہے۔
جن افراد کے خلاف پولیس سٹیشن ڈیفننس میں مقدمہ درج کیا گیا ہے ان میں یونیورسٹی کے سینئر پروفیسر رسول بخش رئیس، اسامہ صدیق، فرحت الحق اور عاصم سجاد کے علاوہ دو طلباء سعد لطیف اور عمر شامل ہیں۔
مقدمہ میں دفعہ ایک سو چوالیس کی خلاف ورزی کرنے، ایم پی او سولہ اور وال چاکنگ ایکٹ کی خلاف ورزی کرنے کے الزامات عائد کیے گئے ہیں۔
لمز یونیورسٹی کے کسی استاد یا طالب علم کا کسی سیاسی جماعت سے کوئی تعلق نہیں ہے اور یہ تمام لوگ اپنے طور یہ محسوس کرتے ہیں کہ ملک میں عدلیہ کو آزاد ہونا چاہیے۔ یونیورسٹی کے طلبہ میں یہ سوچنے اور سمجھنے کی صلاحیت پیدا کی جاتی ہے اور اس لیے وہ موجودہ صورت حال سے لاتعلق نہیں رہ سکتے۔

ڈاکٹر رسول بخش رئیس
ممتاز تجزیہ نگار اور پروفیسر ڈاکٹر رسول بخش رئیس نے بی بی سی سے گفتگو کرتے ہوئے بتایا کہ منگل کو ایک پولیس انسپکٹر کی طرف سے یہ نوٹس دیا گیا ہے جس میں کہا گیا کہ خود ان سمیت یونیورسٹی کے چار پروفیسروں اور دو طالب علموں کے خلاف سولہ ایم پی او سمیت دیگر دفعات کے تحت مقدمہ درج کیا گیا ہے۔
ان کے بقول’لمز یونیورسٹی کے کسی استاد یا طالب علم کا کسی سیاسی جماعت سے کوئی تعلق نہیں ہے اور یہ تمام لوگ اپنے طور یہ محسوس کرتے ہیں کہ ملک میں عدلیہ کو آزاد ہونا چاہیے‘۔ ان کا کہنا ہے کہ’یونیورسٹی کے طلبہ میں یہ سوچنے اور سمجھنے کی صلاحیت پیدا کی جاتی ہے اور اس لیے وہ موجودہ صورت حال سے لاتعلق نہیں رہ سکتے‘۔
ادھر منگل کو ہی سٹوڈنٹ ایکشن کمیٹی نے عدلیہ اور میڈیا کی آزادی کے لیے لاہور پریس کلب کے باہر ایک مظاہرہ کیا۔ اس مظاہرے کی وجہ سے پولیس نے لمز یونیورسٹی کا محاصرہ بھی کیا لیکن کے باوجود لمز کے طلبہ کی بڑی تعداد نے مظاہرے میں شرکت کی۔ مظاہرے میں انسانی حقوق کمیشن کی حنا جیلانی کے علاوہ وکلا اور سول سوسائٹی کے ارکان نے بھی شرکت کی۔
دریں اثناء امن کے لیے کام کرنے والی ایک تنظیم کے ٹیری اور بنجمن نامی دو امریکی ارکان کو پاکستان میں ایمرجنسی کے نفاذ کے خلاف احتجاج کرنے حراست میں لے کر امریکی قونصلیٹ کی تحویل میں دے دیا گیا ہے اور امکان ہے کہ ان کو ملک بدر کر دیا جائےگا۔
دونوں امریکی شہریوں نے بیرسٹر اعتزاز احسن کی رہائی کے علاوہ لاہور شہر میں مختلف مقامات پر ہونے والے اجتجاج میں بھرپور حصہ لیا اور حکومت کے خلاف نعرے بازی کرتے رہے۔ دونوں امریکن شہریوں نے اعتزاز احسن سے ملاقات کے لیے آنے والی امریکی سفیر کی روانگی کے موقع پر بش اور مشرف کے خلاف نعرہ بازی بھی کی تھی۔

'Not Without My Khakis'

He said it. He probably could not control his emotions on the day when he bid farewell to the army in a ceremony reeking of pomp and excess, but Musharraf summed up, in one sentence, the supreme military psyche: “Without this army, the entity of Pakistan cannot exist” [emphasis added].

Right. And we lost East Pakistan partly because this glorious army surrendered when it most mattered that they put up a fight! Thanks to this very army the “entity of Pakistan” is struggling to stay alive today. Its interference, time and again, in the political process-not to mention its other ambitious money-making schemes- has done irreparable damage to the country’s institutions (in addition to that caused by some politicians).

Pakistanis too, are fast developing an intense dislike for the country’s army. Only the other day someone remarked “Show me an army officer, and I’ll show you a real estate agent.” What a shameful image the institution has created for itself.

What sham democracy are we heading towards, where the general-turned-president firmly believes that the army is the ‘be all and end all’ for the country, that our “existence” (no mild choice of words, mind you) depends on an institution that has, time and again, proved itself hungry only for power and wealth.

One is astounded at the audacity of the former general as he callously reduced Pakistan to a mere “entity” whose past and future rests on the shoulders of this bungling mob of soldiers called an army. And, to give credit where it is due, for so many months now and with many a heavy heart, the lower ranks of the military have been fighting fellow Pakistanis. While we empathize with them, we cannot ignore the fact that they are part of an institution that has rarely served the country faithfully. This cannot have been what armies were created for.

It is but natural then that, in these unfortunate times, Pakistanis all over the world should gasp for a breath of fresh air, and struggle to revive that document which almost every other country in the world believes is the real key to a nation’s existence – the constitution. Surely, in the 21st century the life of any nation does not depend upon its army? And yet, in Pakistan our civilian president proclaims that his heart will remain inundated with love for the army. We only hope he can get his head out of the murky waters of military-style politics before his policies spell total ruin for Pakistan. Nevertheless, be warned all those who err to believe that Mr. Musharraf will be a force for positive change in Pakistan: you can take the man out of the army, but you will never take the army out of the man.

The struggle must continue. Musharraf may have shed his “skin” but there may be others conspiring to seize the much-coveted throne, illegally and extra-constitutionally. We can no longer allow the army, or any single person, be it a general or a politician, to attach to himself the label of indispensability. They must know that they are accountable to the people of Pakistan and, no number of self-constructed halos over their heads will detract from the oppression and misery they have wrought on Pakistan for sixty years!

We do not accept the sherwani in place of his khakis. Musharraf, the time has come for you and your beloved army to surrender your rein on power and make a full retreat!

Islamabad, Pakistan
December 2007

Abhee Na Rukna - Poetry of Defiance

click on image to read