Thursday, December 13, 2007

Teacher Action Committee formed, issues statement

Following a couple of meetings, the teachers from various schools, colleges and universities including PU, FAST, LGS, LUMS, NCA, BNU, LACAS, FCC and GCU unanimously decided to form a Teachers Action Committee (TAC). The aim of TAC is to provide a nonpartisan forum where teachers can discuss issues pertaining to their profession and their role in society. These issues include our tiered education system and standard of education among others. But currently, the foremost being raising our voices against the illegal imposition of martial law (called emergency rule) and the brutal oppression by state authorities to suppress any voices calling for the rule of law and freedom of expression. Our silence is not an option in the face of this state brutality, especially now that the judiciary has been dismissed and the constitution violated.

The Teachers Action Committee vehemently condemns the FIR lodged against 14 members of the Punjab University academic staff and 4 professors and 2 students of LUMS under sections 124-A, 188, 143/149, 16-MPO and 7 ATA (charge of terrorism). We demand that the state also withdraw cases against PU faculty members as has already been done for LUMS faculty. We stand in complete solidarity with our fellow academics and students who have been subjected to harassment and intimidation. We strongly believe that safeguarding freedom of thought and expression is a fundamental principle of our profession. Thus repressive tactics by the state and restrictions on freedom of speech and peaceful protest by administrations are in direct violation of the principles of our profession and the Pakistani constitution.

We pledge to raise our collective voice to protect and win the constitutional freedoms of our citizens especially teachers and students and we invite all teachers to join us in this long struggle.

We demand

1. An immediately end to faculty and student harassment for exercising their constitutional right to free speech and peaceful protest. We demand institutional administrations to protect the constitutional rights of students and faculty.

2. September 2nd judiciary and constitution to be restored immediately.

3. All political prisoners to be released immediately.

4. Lifting of all curbs on the media.

5. Free, fair and transparent elections. We consider the current manipulated election process to be neither free nor fair.

6. An immediate lifting of martial law, army returning permanently to the barracks and the abrogation of changes to Military Law.

With this we take the first step towards a brighter future of our country.

Teacher Action Committee.

A lonely walk now

Kamila Hyat

(Courtesy The News)

The writer is a freelance columnist and former newspaper editor

The few lingering hopes that the country's political parties would stand for right, and in defence of the country's ruthlessly mutilated Constitution, have now been quashed.

Abandoning earlier promises, and refusing to look beyond the possibility of short-term gain, all the major parties have opted to participate in an electoral exercise which will act chiefly to grant legitimacy to a set-up that has consistently shown contempt for the law of the land and for all those who have attempted to uphold it. This includes particularly the deposed judges of the superior courts, who had declined to participate in the kind of contortions of law that many before them opted to undertake in order to facilitate rulers in their various unlawful acts.

The reports that, in their decision to participate, key political players including the PML-N and the PPP had come under pressure from foreign capitals, notably Riyadh and Washington, are even more disturbing. The fact that these parties believe there is more to be gained by following instructions issued from distant quarters, rather than building a stable future for their parties by putting the interests of Pakistan's people foremost on their list of priorities, explains why there is so much cynicism regarding their role in the affairs of Pakistan.

The situation that has now emerged means that the lawyers, who have spearheaded the struggle for the people's basic right to justice, now stand essentially alone. The political parties have opted to walk away from their principled stand. The proposal put forward by Aitzaz Ahsan, the detained president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and PPP leader, to find a way for the parties to take part in balloting while retaining the central demand of judicial independence, has been largely ignored. Aitzaz had suggested that each candidate take an oath swearing he or she would work to restore the pre-Nov 3 judiciary, if elected to parliament. This formula has already been rejected by harder-line lawyers, who continue to seek a boycott, while a PPP spokesperson has emphasised that the scheme is Aitzaz's personal initiative, and not one that reflects the party's own line of thinking.

The question of what kind of democracy political parties hope will emerge after polls has not been adequately answered by them. Another period of parliamentary subservience to autocratic rule, as has been seen since 2002, will after all serve little purpose -- beyond constructing the fa├žade of a democratic set-up. This is all that Pakistan's powerful western allies are interested in seeing. The issue of administration of justice, crucial to the interests of the people of Pakistan, can after all mean little to them. It should however mean a great deal to the groups that claim to represent these people, and who speak, so often, in their name.

The question now is how the lawyers and the other civil society groups that have joined them in their struggle can most effectively continue their brave effort. It is true that, without any backing from the larger political parties, their quest becomes a harder one. But it is also true that their perseverance has created a small, but significant, movement -- which could have an important impact on future events in the country.

This may prove to be true, no matter what the immediate outcome of the struggle is. Certainly, despite the harsh measures adopted by the State and its security apparatus, the movement started off almost spontaneously by lawyers following the wave of anger that followed the "suspension" of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in March has refused to die out. A recent interview with former SCBA president Muneer A Malik, given from his hospital bed, suggests that even where the body has been broken, the spirit lives on.

The increased involvement of students in the effort, and indeed of many other people across civil society, is also important. The fact that in Lahore this weekend it was thought necessary to put on a "pro-government" student rally, involving about 100 persons including drivers and other personal servants, shows how much desperation this sustained outpouring of anger is generating. Students leaders at the LUMS campus, which alongside the Lahore Press Club and the bar rooms has emerged as a focal point of protest, denied the claims of the persons staging the rally that they were a part of the student body at the university. LUMS students, and faculty members, have also so far refused to give in to the intimidation by police, including the registration of cases and threats of imminent arrests.

Regardless of what happens in the weeks and months ahead, the sequence of events seen recently has underscored certain facts. It has been proven that, as many had feared, political parties lack integrity, commitment or the good sense to see that by refusing to stand up for what is just, they are further discrediting themselves in the eyes of people. The door of opportunity flung open before them -- offering a chance to the parties to show that they are capable of rising above self-interest or letting so-called "allies" know they will not be dictated to -- have been slammed shut by leaders. And by doing so they have further convinced people that little can be expected in the way of principle from these groups.

Instead, new heroes have arisen. They include leaders of the legal community, journalists and media owners who have refused to make unethical compromises, the energetic student leaders who after years of silence on campuses have spearheaded many of the recent protests, politicians such as Imran Khan, Mahmood Khan Achakzai and others who have stuck to principle -- and, perhaps the most unlikely figures of all to play such a role, the judges who refused to take oath under the PCO. For any society, such heroes are important. They provide models to look up to -- now and in the future -- and offer a reminder that even within the increasingly immoral society in which we live, they are still people unwilling to sell their souls in the way of expediency.

Already, there are indications that the actions of these persons have at least put a view of Pakistan that differs from the "official" picture before the world. They have also shown that agitating for right can have an impact -- and, in the longer run, this movement may yet play a part in bringing to the forefront the kind of leaders Pakistan so badly needs to help its people find a way out of the crisis into which they have been plunged time and again by the acts of megalomaniac dictators and the political forces that have repeatedly struck unholy deals with them.

Musharraf's covert Propaganda Being Handled By Self-Proclaimed Master of Deception, Ahmed Quraishi

Author of "Thesis" that US is Plotting Against Musharraf May Actually be an Intelligence-Connected Propaganda Consultant; Says on His Own Website that he Creates "Immaculate Deception…Tailored to Your Senses"

By Farid Alvie

Ahmed Quraishi's ''enlightening'' articles have been doing the rounds on the net of late. One can only describe him as Pakistan's very own Bill O' Reilly (with just as much credibility!). And like O' Reilly, his most used weapon of choice is the tag of 'traitor' and 'unpatriotic' for anyone who criticizes the government (or perhaps just el presidente, the now retired generalissimo), be they politicians, journalists, lawyers, academics, human rights activists, former army officers et al. It seems Mr. Quraishi gets his inspiration (along with his fake American accent) from Fox News.

Even a cursory look at his website might help one understand Mr. Quraishi's "unbiased, journalistic, analytical, and professional" approach to issues he so passionately addresses in his articles. Mr. Quraishi's website is studded with countless gems that reflect the luminosity of his brilliance, breadth of vision, and intellectual maturity.

For instance, in the 'biography' section of (also known as the ''tooting one's own horn" section) we are informed that "Starting in the year 2003, Mr. Quraishi has lent his expertise to Furmaanrealpolitik political consulting firm originally based in Dubai."

A look at the website of (who came up with this subtle name, one wonders?) helps answer questions people might entertain regarding Mr. Quraishi's credibilty, motives and unique understanding of national and international affairs.

The 'services' offered by furmaanrealpolitik include "Intelligence, Research & Analysis;" "Surveillance & Confidential Investigations;" "Mobilization & Campaign Development;" and (my personal favorite) "Immaculate Deception Creations Tailored to Your Senses." This 'service' is not only my favorite for the brilliant title it boasts but also for its content:

'Immaculate Deception Creations Tailored to Your Senses'? Immaculate Deception... Are we talking about peddling untruths in order to deceive? Oh dear! So how do Mr. Quraishi and the boys at furmaanrealpolitik serve their clients? The website says: "Anyone can do TV. But we go a step further -- we create...Our production can be tailored to business, political and military requirements."

So whether it is Benazir Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif or Pervez Musharraf or the ISI or Coca Cola or Tapal Danedar Chai, the ''passionate'' team at furmaanrealpolitik will sell its services to the highest bidder and come up with ''immaculately deceptive'' techniques ''tailored'' to their respective ''senses'' (and by senses I am guessing Mr. Quraishi is not talking about a sense of decency here!).

Is Mr. Quraishi telling us that as part of a political consulting/lobbying firm that proudly lists on its website its expertise in conjuring up lies and deceptions, that he actually makes his living by peddling lies and untruths? Or as he calls them "immaculate deceptions?"

As an analyst and a journalist, what does this say about his work, his credibility?

Are we to understand that every word Mr. Quraishi pens is written on the behest of a client? Could it be that Mr. Quraishi's 'insightful and unique take on national and international affairs is as faux as his American accent and can vary depending on who bids the highest for his immaculately deceptive words?

In case Mr. Quraishi has misunderstood the meaning of the word deception and used it by mistake (and with the same casual attitude and effort with which he throws conspiracy theories and allegations about in his articles), let me offer the services of my humble thesaurus. Alternatives for the word deception are listed as: dishonesty, trickery, fraud, con, sham, trick, ruse, cheating... etc.

Forget about out the rest of the world, I wonder how seriously his own son, little Al Waleed, would take daddy dearest the next time he is instructed not to lie and to always tell the truth!

Farid Alvie is an academic based in the U.A.E.

(For more interesting information regarding Mr.Qureshi's journalistic charades, read this article on Dictatorship Watch)

Habib Jalib - Poetry of Defiance

Habib Jalib reciting poetry during General Zia's era. An amazing watch.

Official election results ready

(Courtesy DAWN)

LONDON, Dec 10: The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), now minus the Jamaat-i-Islami, is expected to hold the balance in the next National Assembly as the January 8 elections are estimated officially to throw up largely a hung house.

These estimates which the PPP and the PML-N sources here believe have been drawn up by the intelligence agencies in the first week of the current month have given the PML-Q 115 seats followed by PPP (90), MMA (45), PML-N (40), MQM (20) and ANP (12) in a house of 342.
These estimates are said to have been made on the basis of the 'strength' of each party constituency-wise plus individual candidate's own 'ability' to pull voters and the political affiliation of the nazims in the constituency.

The sources who did not wish to be identified alleged that the official plan was to rig the polls in such a way as to deny a clear majority to any of the contesting parties so as to place President Pervez Musharraf in a position of cobbling together a coalition of his choice which, according to the American script, is a coalition of the PML-Q and the PPP.

However, if the PML-Q and the PPP wished to make their own governments without the other, which many here fear is what the two parties would try their best to achieve first, Musharraf's desire and American script notwithstanding, they would need to enlist the support of the MMA because a coalition of the PPP, PML-N and ANP would fall short by 30 votes, if the above official estimates come true, while the PML-Q would require another 17 votes to form a government even after the addition of 20 each from the MQM and smaller parties like PML-F and PPP (Sherpao) etc.

But then since a coalition with the MMA would not make Washington all that happy, Musharraf would probably try his best to scuttle any such move either by the PML-Q or the PPP, sources said.

This, they said, would then lead to a long drawn political wrangling and intense attempts at horse-trading which they fear would finally culminate into invalidation of January 8 elections and the president calling for fresh elections in June.

They, however, did not rule out the possibility of the original official estimates undergoing further changes in the remaining three weeks to the polls which could swing in favour of the PPP and the PML-N in case the two succeeded in forcing the government into accepting some of their demands included in the Charter of Demands.

Or, they said, the PML-Q in panic fearing losing their voters to the PML-N could go on a spree of rigging full throttle undermining the very credibility of the elections both inside and outside the country, to be followed by a kind of Orange revolution a la Ukraine which again could to lead to fresh elections in June.

Sources said that even if there was no Orange revolution the new government led by the PML-Q with a single digit majority would not last long unless of course it enlists the support of the MMA even at the cost of annoying the US.

The DeMockery Bus

by Fauzia Minallah.

Pakistan Government Threatens Media

(Courtesy Associated Press)
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — The government's intolerance of public dissent isn't easing ahead of next month's parliamentary elections, with TV executives warned they could go to jail and pay fines if they give the president's critics a live forum.

Pakistan's regulators ordered all satellite television channels "to stop airing such live programs, talk shows and contents immediately," according to a copy of a letter Tuesday obtained by The Associated Press.

The regulators warn the channels could be taken off the air, and those responsible — the network's license holder or its representative — could face up to three years in jail and fines of up to $170,000.

Journalists responded Wednesday by accusing the state media regulator of trying to restrict their coverage of the Jan. 8 elections. The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, or PFUJ, called it "an attempt to silence the free media."

Information Minister Nisar Memon denies any censorship, saying the independent channels must show they are responsible by not stirring up political tensions.

"Every one of us in Pakistan should share the responsibility and work for betterment of the country by keeping the environment conducive for the polls," Memon said.

Still, networks likely will comply with the threat and avoid giving live coverage of fiery speeches of opposition leaders such as Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, the two former prime ministers who returned in recent months from years of living in exile.

The media regulator is telling networks to install time-delay equipment to prevent violations of its orders.

Both Bhutto and Sharif have hit the campaign trail this week, vowing to do all they can to curtail Musharraf's clout. They backed off from threats to boycott the elections, despite concerns the vote will be rigged, because they do not want to leave the field open to Musharraf supporters.

Addressing hundreds of backers near the eastern city of Sialkot, Sharif urged people to reject candidates from the pro-Musharraf ruling party and said the elections would prove to be a "final blow to the crumbling wall of Musharraf's government."

"I want to eliminate dictatorship, and I cannot achieve this goal without your support," Sharif said.

Bhutto repeated accusations that Musharraf will use police, the judiciary and administration functionaries to cheat. She urged them not to comply.

"You should be accountable to your conscience and to Allah almighty," she told about 1,500 supporters in Pabbi, 15 miles east of Peshawar. "You should not indulge in any rigging for this cruel government. Don't back those who are indulging in oppression against the people of this country."

The media crackdown adds to concerns on whether the elections can be free and fair and restore democracy after eight years of military-dominated rule under Musharraf.

When Musharraf imposed emergency rule Nov. 3, he rounded up opponents, purged top judges who could have derailed his re-election, and cracked down on independent media.

The government outlawed live coverage of incidents of violence and anything considered defamatory of the president, armed forces and state organs. It also made independent networks that have mushroomed under Musharraf's rule sign a "code of conduct" so they could broadcast again.

Musharraf, who last month resigned his position as army chief, says he will lift the emergency rule this weekend, but it appears his media curbs will remain in effect.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said it was troubled by evidence of pressure on TV news channels in the run-up to the elections.

"We call on the Musharraf government to cease intimidation of the broadcast media and allow full independent coverage of the political situation in Pakistan," said Bob Dietz, the committee's Asia program coordinator.

Associated Press writers Munir Ahmad, Matthew Pennington and Zarar Khan contributed to this report.

Upcoming protests for the 13th..


Where: Rawalpindi Bar

When: 11 am,

To bring: banners and placards.
Call by: LAWYERS, STUDENTS, Imran Khan and Qazi Hussain will be there in solidarity.


When: 3:30 pm
To bring: Candles, flowers, banners and placards.


When: 10.30 AM
To bring: Banners and placards.
Call by: Lawyers and judges of Lahore High Court, District Courts and Concerned Citizens of Pakistan


Where: University of Peshawar (Between UOP & Town Stores)
When: 10 a.m
To bring: Banners and placards.
Call by: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) & Civil Society groups

Details are listed below:

Dear all,
Join the lawyers in a march from the Lahore High Court. We will assemble at the GPO Gate at 1030 AM tomorrow (Thursday Dec 13th). After an excellent showing on the 10th and today's inspiring speeches at Aiwan-e-Adal, it's crucial to build the momentum and for all segments - lawyers, professionals, students and civil society to begin coalescing into a unified movement.
In Complete Unity,



Student Protest Planned in Peshawar Tomorrow (Dec 13)
Venue: University of Peshawar (Between UOP & Town Stores)

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) & Civil Society groups are organizing a pro-democracy peaceful student rally tomorrow (Dec 13) at 10 a.m. to express solidarity with Judiciary and Media and to demand restoration of the Chief Justice
Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry & other deposed judges.
All Students & Teachers, PTI members, Civil Society groups, Human Rights activists, Lawyers, Media persons and citizens from all walks of life are requested to gather in front of the University of Peshawar (Main Gate) at 10 a.m Dec 13 to make this protest successful.
Thank you
Peshawar - NWFP
Long Live Pakistan!

Please come to make a difference.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry declared Lawyer of the Year

(Pakistan's Real Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has been declared Lawyer of the Year by the National Law Review of America. Details are included in the article below.)
Pakistan's Chief Protestor
by Rex Bossert / Editor-in-Chief

Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is not exactly a household name to the legal profession in the United States. We think he should be.

Chaudhry, the chief justice of Pakistan who was dismissed from office by President Pervez Musharraf after the imposition of emergency rule, has been a strong voice for the preservation of the rule of law in Pakistan — one of the United States' key allies in the war on terror.
Though currently held under house arrest, Chaudhry has spoken out against emergency rule and has inspired thousands of his lawyer-brethren to protest in the streets in their traditional black suits and ties. He has become an international symbol of an independent judiciary and of resistance to the excesses of military rule. Hundreds of attorneys have also turned out to protest on his behalf in cities across the country.

As this year's National Law Journal Lawyer of the Year, Chaudhry is a bit of a departure, since normally our sights are set on the American legal community. And there were certainly numerous U.S. lawyers who deserved mention, as indicated by the many nominations we received from our readers. The unusual choice of Chaudhry was prompted by the rare instance of a judge taking such a bold and influential stand against a government in defense of judicial independence and the rule of law. And his example has prompted much commentary and concern among lawyers in this country, who by virtue of their profession have a vested interest in promoting the rule of law.

Chaudhry's example reminds us that no government or person — whether ally or enemy — is above the law.

Reluctant revolutionary

Chaudhry hardly begin his career as a revolutionary. According to press accounts and a court Web site, he was born to a lower middle class family in the city of Quetta, Pakistan, in 1948. He studied locally and then earned a law degree in Hyderabad. Chaudhry started practice as an advocate in Quetta in 1974. He practiced in many fields of law, including criminal, civil, tax and constitutional law, and eventually became president of the bar association of the Pakistan province of Balochistan. In 1989, he became Balochistan's advocate general, and the next year, a judge of the province's high court. A stint as chief justice of the Balochistan High Court followed in 1999, and he was then elevated to the Pakistan Supreme Court in 2000. In 2005, he was appointed chief justice of Pakistan.

During these years he showed few signs of breaking with traditions or an independent streak. Indeed, he participated in Supreme Court sessions between 2000 and 2005 that validated Musharraf's military takeover, the legal framework for his rule, and a constitutional amendment that gave Musharraf added powers and allowed him to keep his hold over the army.
But after becoming chief justice, Chaudhry began to show a desire to assert the high court's independence. According to various press accounts, he began pushing the government to disclose the whereabouts of Pakistanis who were secretly detained by intelligence agencies for alleged terrorism or other political purposes. He also held unconstitutional a steel-mills privatization plan that was dear to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

On March 9, Musharraf, backed by Aziz and the military, suspended Chaudhry because of alleged nepotism and abuses of office, sparking mass protests. A 13-member panel of the Pakistan Supreme Court reinstated Chaudhry in July, saying he was illegally suspended and dismissing charges against him. At the time Musharraf said he would accept the court's ruling, which the London Times said was the first ever by the court against a military ruler.
But on Nov. 3, Musharraf, perhaps fearing the Supreme Court would overturn his recent election as illegal because he remained head of the military, suspended the Constitution and purged the court of Chaudhry and others who he felt were disloyal. In his declaration of emergency, Musharraf accused the judiciary of hindering his fight on terrorism, and he said he needed to maintain stability in the face of extremism. Musharraf has asked judges to swear an oath to the provisional Constitution, but many have refused, at Chaudhry's encouragement. Lawyers are also boycotting courtrooms run by judges who have sworn their loyalty to new legal regime.

Chaudhry was replaced by a new chief justice, and eight other high court justices swore a new oath. The reconstituted court set aside an earlier ruling by Chaudhry and other rebellious judges that the emergency was unconstitutional.

Under house arrest, Chaudhry made a cellphone call to a meeting of the Islamabad Bar Association in which he told dozens of lawyers on speakerphone: "The lawyers should convey my message to the people to rise up and restore the Constitution.

"I am under arrest now, but soon I will also join you in your struggle."

He has also been secretly calling Pakistani journalists, who are defying an emergency order prohibiting coverage that would embarrass Musharraf or the government.
Asked by CNN International whether he had a message for Musharraf, Chaudhry said, "He should restore the judiciary, which was working independently in this country for the strengthening of the institution of democracy."

Pakistani lawyers, who have been among the most vociferous opponents of Musharraf, are continuing to protest Chaudhry's treatment and military rule, and are boycotting court proceedings in several cities. In the face of such opposition, Musharraf — who recently took off his military chief's uniform and has been sworn in for a five-year term as civilian president — has promised to end the state of emergency and restore the Constitution before January parliamentary elections.

Outpouring of support

The Harvard Law School Association has recently awarded Chaudhry its highest medal, the Medal of Freedom.

"As lawyers who value freedom and the rule of law, we at Harvard Law School want Chief Justice Chaudhry and all of the courageous lawyers in Pakistan to know that we stand with them in solidarity," said Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan.
"We are proud to be their colleagues in the cause of justice, and we will do all we can to press for the prompt restoration of constitutionalism and legality in Pakistan."

Hundreds of lawyers recently held a protest march in Ottawa over the situation in Pakistan, sponsored by the Canadian Bar Association, which is also urging lawyers to sign a petition and write to Pakistani officials.

Among many others in the United States who have rallied in support, the American Bar Association spoke out against Chaudhry's suspension earlier this year, saying that it "appears to have been inconsistent with the language of Article 180 and Article 209 of the Constitution of Pakistan. International covenants and conventions recognize and adopt the right of an independent judiciary as an essential pillar of a society that contends it supports the principle of justice for all."

More recently, lawyers have also rallied in support of Chaudhry in cities across the United States.

And on Dec. 4, American Bar Association President William H. Neukom asked lawyers around the country to sign a petition asking Musharraf to restore the constitution in Pakistan, reinstate Chaudhry and other justices and free lawyers and civil leaders who have been jailed unjustly.
"An independent legal system and a just constitution are cornerstones of all lawful societies. The arrests of Pakistan's Supreme Court justices, and of thousands of lawyers, judges and civil leaders, are a profound breach of the rule of law," Neukom wrote. "The suspension of Pakistan's institutions of justice is a threat to the rule of law in all nations. We, the lawyers of America, stand with you."

The NLJ joins the chorus of those calling for the just treatment of Chaudhry and a return to the rule of law in Pakistan.

Aitzaz Ahsan withdraws from Election!!


Advocates and Attorneys
5 Canal Bank, Zaman Park,
Phones (92-42) 6362690-6369725
FAX (92-42) 6362545
House No. 10, Street 16, F-6/3,
Phones (92-51) 2206545-2206546

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

December 12, 2007

President Supreme Court Bar Association and Senior Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan today instructed his advocates to appear before the Returning Officer withdraw his nomination papers filed by him to contest the forthcoming elections to the National Assembly. Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan had filed his nomination papers in constituency No. NA 124, Lahore as a candidate of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party. The PPP leadership has been informed of the decision. Since he is under detention it is not possible for Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan to personally appear before the Returning Officer to withdraw his papers. Advocates Shaukat Ali Javed and Mian Tariq Hassan have therefore been authorized in writing by Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan to take the nomination papers back. While instructing the withdrawal of the nomination papers Mr.Aitzaz Ahsan said that although he believed victory in his elections was quite certain he was exercising the option to stand with the community of lawyers that had carried on a heroic struggle for the restoration of the judiciary and the supremacy of the Constitution.

The cause of the lawyers was a higher objective than his own personal interest. He said that the lawyers’ struggle was for a tolerant, liberal, democratic and plural Pakistan in which the laws, and not men, are supreme. They wanted a vibrant and progressive modern Pakistan in which the citizen has rights and can enjoy the due process of law under an independent judiciary and a truly sovereign parliament. Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan also said that even the parties that had decided to contest the elections were already calling them sham and rigged. Even the patrons of the regime had pronounced that these were not going to be perfect, which means that it is recognised, in advance, that these will be rigged. What can thus be achieved from such elections? he asked.

Rigged elections cannot solve the many and diverse problems faced by the people. Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan thanked the voters of his constituency who had shown such overwhelming enthusiasm for his candidature. He thanked the Pakistan Peoples’ Party for placing its trust in him. He also thanked the leadership of all other Opposition parties, and particularly Mian Nawaz Sharif, who had unanimously reposed confidence in him as a joint candidate of all the opposition parties. Aitzaz Ahsan’s papers will be withdrawn after his signatures have been formally verified by the Superintendent Camp Jail, Lahore. That is a necessary formality as Mr. Ahsan is in a sub-jail.

Aitzaz Ahsan & Associates