Lahore, February 25: While welcoming the people's verdict of February 18, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has demanded immediate convening of the newly elected National and Provincial Assemblies and transfer of power to majority parties / coalitions so that the peoples' wishes for a change in the Presidency and restoration of judges could be expeditiously addressed. In a statement issued here today, HRCP said:
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) welcomes the people's verdict of February 18 and felicitates them on foiling the designs of the various elements that wanted to interfere with the electoral process through threats of violence, illicit influence, blackmail and bribery. This does not affect HRCP's censure of large-scale manipulation of the electoral process before the polling day and the Election Commission's failure to rise to the minimum acceptable standards of efficiency and respect for democratic imperatives. But these matters, as well as irregularities noticed during and after the polling, will be taken up in due course. At the moment all attention needs to be devoted to the possibility of transition to democratic and responsible governance created by the election result, and more importantly by the acceptance of this result by the people as well as all political groups, including those who boycotted the polls.
There is no doubt that the people have not only voted against the erstwhile ruling party, they have in effect rejected the 9-year-old regime, its performance and its presiding deity. A sincere acceptance of the election result leaves President Musharraf with no option except his withdrawal from political scene. Even if the argument that he has been elected in accordance with law (as amended by himself) is taken seriously, it can be said that his election has been superseded by a broader-based election. The disclosure of General Musharraf's involvement with poll-rigging in the 2002 election by Maj-Gen. Ehtisham Zamir, a former head of the ISI's political cell, has not only strengthened the case for an immediate disbandment of this cell but has made the position of the incumbent head of state much more untenable than ever. HRCP sees no force in the plea against a change in the presidency on the ground that it might affect the war on terror. Indeed the restoration of decision-making powers to popularly elected representatives and their parliament will lend the state actions legitimacy and strength both and the performance of the armed forces in this area also should improve when they realize the importance of democratic sanction for their operations. Above all, resistance to change in the presidency will pollute the political environment, embolden anti-democratic professionals to undermine the national consensus people's and create unwarranted obstacles to the resumption of the democratic journey.
In order to speedily conclude the electoral process it is essential that the new National Assembly and the Provincial Assemblies must be convened as early as feasible as any undue delay will amount to a defiance of the popular will. The many crises Pakistan faces demand the earliest possible transfer of power to the newly elected representatives of the people. The issues at the top of the national agenda – restoration of the judges with due guarantees of the independence of the judiciary, removal of the provinces' grievances against the centre, rationalization of the campaign against militants and extremists – must be addressed sooner rather than later.
Further, there is no gainsaying that any tendency to put the common citizens aspirations for bread, job, and a decent living – on the back burner will undo the recent gains by democracy and cause dangerous frustration to the masses.
Finally, HRCP wishes to hail the beginning of the end of the people's alienation from policies and hopes that the country's principal parties will help this trend by establishing rule by as large a democratic consensus as possible.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Lahore, February 25: While welcoming the people's verdict of February 18, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has demanded immediate convening of the newly elected National and Provincial Assemblies and transfer of power to majority parties / coalitions so that the peoples' wishes for a change in the Presidency and restoration of judges could be expeditiously addressed. In a statement issued here today, HRCP said:
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 11:30 PM
One, the balance of power in Pakistan's power construct has greatly shifted towards elements that constitute Constitutional democracy. The elements include political legitimacy, popular vote, independent judiciary, constitutionally granted public and state authority, elected offices and independent media. The March 9 2007 lawyers and citizens resistance marked the beginning of this shift, the results of the February 18 election exhibited the shift and the February elected parties alliance reinforced this shift. A corollary of this shift has also been the weakening of the Extra-Constitutional forces functioning outside of the parameters of the original Constitutions.
Two, as a consequence of this shift balance of power three elements operating supra-Constitutionally or with the help of supra Constitutional authorities have either been considerably weakened or have retracted from the extra Constitutional spaces they occupied. First the army which has institutionally begun to retrace its steps towards its constitutional role; second the former general now Parvez Musharraf's political authority and his time as the all authoritative supra-constitutional figure is up and third PML-Q created and patronized by general Parvez Musharraf and the agencies has been trounced at the polls. Also reportedly PML-Q's elected members of the Senate, national and provincial assemblies are busy forming forward blocs.
Three, the president's vastly diminished or vanished political authority has incapacitated him administratively to take any step to challenge the authority of the elected parliament. With the legitimate political ascendance of the elected parliamentary forces the president cannot use the Constitutional powers he acquired since 1999 through Ordinances and Constitutional amendments. With the army's obvious inclination to steer clear of politics retired general Musharraf, holding a controversial presidential position, has no cards with which to begin another round of power contest between the popularly elected parliamentary forces and the Vice-regal forces.
Four, the joint movement of Pakistan's major parliamentary forces towards Constitutional democracy greatly reduces the ability of agencies and the GHQ to puppeteer a new anti-democracy play. At this juncture of Pakistan's political history as genuine political forces work together according to consensus-based 'rules of the game' no IJI or MMA can be created. With PPP having wisely given a stake to all elected forces in a new setup and with PML-N determined to only play the democratic game, there are no politicians willing to play the B team for the presidency. Even the 93 independent parliamentarians voted into the national and provincial assemblies are looking towards the winning parties not the presidency.
Five, the emergence of lawyers-led organized and determined citizens' groups which seek accountable exercise of State and government power and demanding restoration of the pre-November 3 judiciary is significant. It has contributed to the creation of an effective democratic deterrence against the unhindered functioning of supra Constitutional forces within Pakistan's political space. The media, popular political forces and overseas Pakistanis have been a key element in this uniquely evolving Pakistani democratic deterrence. This democratic deterrence has worked to prevent the widespread rigging planned for the Election Day, as even conceded by Pakistan's Attorney-general in his telephone conversation. It was this democratic deterrence that also forced general Musharraf to roll back whatever plans he had made in November for imposition of a longer term emergency, postponement of elections and squashing media freedom. Washington had no choice but to acknowledge the emergence of this democratic deterrence against extra Constitutional forces and also seek an early end to emergency.
Six, Pakistan's power parliamentary forces appear relatively more capable of resisting external pressure keen to influence Pakistan's political future and the power scene. For example Washington's advice to PPP to keep the "Islamist" Nawaz Sharif out of a future ruling coalition and to the elected parliamentarians on not insisting upon the restoration of the pre-November 3 judiciary, was not adhered to. Similarly Washington's advise that the elected parties work with president Musharraf and US president's phone call of support to president Musharraf will not greatly alter the way various political leaders view president Musharraf.
Seven, the Musharraf era is over yet his political future and exit scenario is dependant on his personal decision, on the parliament's decisions and the street factor. Were the president not honor his own promise of respecting the public's verdict on his political future or the thumping failure of his eight year long political experiment and not resign then the politicians have the option to use their parliamentary strength to weaken him. As the PPP leader Amin Faheem has already stated that if the president were to get a vote of confidence from the new assembly his party can work with him. However the likelihood of a vote of confidence seems very unlikely. Some political forces within and outside of the parliament will continue to demand Musharraf's exit. His moral authority to stay on ended the day the people defeated his political party.
Eight, the struggle for the restoration of the pre-November 3 judiciary has greatly contributed to strengthening the struggle for rule of law in Pakistan. Whatever the public articulation of the PPP there is clear agreement between the PPP and the PML-N that restoration of the judiciary is a priority item for the two. However with various opinions on how the restoration can Constitutionally take place an immediate Task Force on Restoration of the Judiciary will have to be immediately set up to give specific recommendations on what is the quickest and the most effective way forward on this. While the lawyers' movement and the broader street strength gathered on the restoration matter will continue to exercise pressure on the parliamentarians, the elected political leadership cannot take any outside of a wisely guided consensus position evolved by a Task Force. Setting deadlines for restoration is an unwise approach but keeping the politicians on their toes through political pressure is needed.
These factors make for a clear and demanding path to a genuinely democratic Pakistan. Key issues including the president's future and the restoration of the judges need to be resolved. Instant resolutions may not be available. Patience without detouring from the Constitutional path is essential. Pakistan is transiting from a khaki-led quasi-democracy towards a genuine Constitutional democracy. Power realignments are taking place and we stand at the edge of a new democratic dawn. The democratic forces are ascendant but not quite rooted yet. The democratic process has begun but the return of Constitutional authority to the elected parliament has yet to begin. This is a hopeful yet precarious period. The challenge for Pakistan's parliamentary forces is to convert this shift in Pakistan's power construct into permanent ascendancy of the parliament in accordance with Pakistan's 1973 Constitution. It is time for responsible and thoughtful action not reactive behavior. The objective of the ascendancy of the parliament, of an independent judiciary and the presence of a consensus president are largely shared by the overwhelming majority of the elected forces. All elected political leadership and energy must be geared towards achieving these objectives remaining within the discipline of the Constitutional parameters and the confines of the parliament. All eyes are on the two key parties the PPP and the PML-N and also on important regional parties including the ANP and the MQM. Only jointly can they successfully respond to the many challenges- economic, political, internal security, distributive justice and foreign policy- that confront Pakistan.
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 11:27 PM
However, the road to restoring the pre-Nov 3 judiciary requires no legal underpass or any constitutional flyover. It does not require a two-thirds majority in parliament to amend the Constitution as the president's men claim, nor even a simple-majority resolution by the newly elected representatives. It requires only the will to perform our constitutional duty.
On Nov 3, 2007, the Government of Pakistan, starting from its president and down to the faceless police officers manning the barricades in the Judicial Colony in Islamabad, have acted in violation of their constitutional duty. Article 190 of theConstitution says: "All executive and judicial authorities throughout Pakistan shall act in aid of the Supreme Court of Pakistan." Yet, since Nov 3, the Government of Pakistan has refused to act in aid of the Supreme Court. In fact, the executive authority of the country has acted, in open defiance, to subvert and strangulate the apex court.
In the late afternoon of Nov 3 news broke that President Musharraf hads uspended the Constitution by a so-called Proclamation of Emergency and arrogated to himself the right to amend the Constitution as he pleased and the authority to dismiss the judges of the superior courtsof the country as it suited his fancy. This action, as the president himself boasted as being unconstitutional, was not entirely unexpected. Apprehending such an illegal act, an application had been filed in the Supreme Court on Nov 2 by the lawyers, challenging the president's election.
Within hours of the issuance of the PCO, a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court, led by the chief justice passed an order that changed the course of history. The bench ordered that "[the] government has no grounds/reasons to take extra- constitutional steps," and proceeded to restrain president Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz from"undertaking any such action which is contrary to the independence of the judiciary." The Supreme Court restrained Pakistan's "Civil and Military authorities…[from] acting on the PCO" and held that "no Judge of the Supreme Court or the High Courts chief justice(s) shall take oath under the PCO…"
For the first time in Pakistan's judicial history, the majority of its Superior Court judges resisted a coup d'etat. However, the executive authority refused to come in aid of the Supreme Court. In gross violation of its constitutional duty, the executive authority detainedthe judges and obstructed them from carrying out their judicial duties.
After passing the order on Nov 3 suspending the PCO and other unconstitutional actions of President Musharraf, the Supreme Court bench directed that the case be put up before the full court on Nov 5. But on Nov 5, the judges of Pakistan were under illegal detention.
On the road to restoration, the path before the newly electedgovernment is remarkably simple. After taking oath of office, the new prime minister must pick up the phone and direct the local administration in Islamabad and the four provincial capitals to act in aid of the order passed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Nov 3.
Consequently, the barricades in the Judicial Colony Islamabad will be removed and the illegal restraints on the chief justice and other judges will be lifted. Chief Justice Iftikhar M Chaudhry and other honourable judges will be driven to the Supreme Court building and escorted to their chambers and their courts. This simple directive will be repeated in the four provincial High Courts. Thus, the judiciary of Pakistan will stand restored. The mandate given to the newly elected representatives by the people will stand fulfilled.
There are, of course, complex questions of law for lawyers to mull over. What will be the consequences, if any, for those individuals who violated the order of the Supreme Court dated Nov 3? What will be the status of those individuals who have taken oath in violation of the Supreme Court's order? What will be the legal effect, if any, of proceedings taken in various courts after Nov 3? These questions cannot be answered by the newly elected parliament. These questions can only be answered by the restored Supreme Court of Pakistan.
One last question which plagues all discussion on the issue of the restoration of the judiciary is what will happen to President Musharraf? Well, the restored Supreme Court will resume its hearing of Justice Wajihuddin's petition challenging the eligibility of Mr Musharraf to contest the presidential election. The Supreme Court will decide the fate of Mr Musharraf in accordance with the law, and not the opinion of Condoleezza Rice.
All seemingly complex and convoluted constitutional absurdities will stand resolved if the newly elected government performs its constitutional duty and acts in aid of the Supreme Court's Order dated Nov 3, 2007. That is the road to the restoration of the judiciary.
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 11:12 PM
He was speaking at an event organised at The Second Floor (t2f), wherea high court advocate, Faisal Siddiqui, interviewed him. This wasfollowed by a detailed question-and-answer session after the floor wasopened to the public.
Prior to taking up the leadership of the current lawyers' movement,Malik has been known to participate in a number of agitations,including those against the war in Vietnam while he was a student inthe US. He has also been actively involved in bar association politicsin Pakistan, especially that at the lower court level. He never joineda political party, however, and spent most of his career with theKarachi Bar Association (KBA), with what Siddiqui referred to as the"masses of lawyers." The reason for this, Malik said, was because onehas to start from the beginning, and the KBA, as the lowest level ofbar association of politics, was the beginning for the former SCBApresident. "When I was 18, I thought I'd conquered the world, when Iwas 19, I realised that the conquering was only half-done. By the timeI was 24, I realised that I had to start from the very basics," hesaid candidly.
Substantially there is no difference between the movements during theformer military dictator, General Ziaul Haq's regime, and the movementagainst the current military dictator, General (Retd) PervezMusharraf, Malik said. "Both are movements for the supremacy of theConstitution, and the supremacy of the rule of law," he said."Tactically however, both movements are different. The majordifference has been brought about by the communications age. The mediahas played a major role in the current movement."
"During Ziaul Haq's time, word of what happened with us on M.A. JinnahRoad would not reach Nazimabad until around three days later," Maliksaid. "Now however, what happens in a remote area of Sahiwal becomesnews all over the world."
Malik sees himself as a normal, everyday person, doing his duty as acitizen. "I'm so glad I'm not abnormal like Musharraf," he said,amidst cheers and applause from the audience. "I'm not a revolutionaryeither. I share the ideals of the left – they were romantic ideals,and the politics of the left attracted me. The world has changedhowever, and I believe in change. Marxism has changed. I subscribe tothe ideals of the left, the concept of a welfare state, verypassionately."
The first lawyers' movement under the current regime came forward in2002, when 32 amendments were made to the Constitution via the LegalFramework Ordinance (LFO). The leaders of the current movement,including Malik and Ali Ahmed Kurd, led an agitation against the LFO,and the ordinance was withdrawn after being in place for 16 months(August 2002 to December 2003). That movement, however, did nottransform into the mass-based mobilisation that the current movementis, Siddiqui said.
"We have to realise that lawyers don't write the Constitution, and atthat time [in 2002] we ran the risk of being accused of going againsta particular individual, not the idea behind the individual," Maliksaid. "The best way to get through to the masses was to pose afundamental question in front of them: did they get justice in thiscountry in 60 years? By the time March 9 came around, we were able toexplain to people that bonded labour and practices such as vani andswara were still in place, that land in Gwadar was being sold togenerals like it was someone's personal fiefdom, that the armed forceshad permeated every facet of civil life, that despite the fact thatthis is the age of privatisation, you don't sell family silver forpeanuts," Malik said. "The slogan of the current movement was'justice.' And justice is possible only when everyone is equal beforethe law – an equality that is guaranteed in the Constitution."
"We explained to people that their money had been used to set up thebiggest commercial enterprise in Pakistan – the GHQ. The success ofthe current movement lies in the fact that this time around we wereable to connect to the masses, and change mindsets," Malik said.
The citizens of Pakistan had, due to the remnants of colonialmindsets, learnt obedience at the cost of liberty. The currentmovement, Malik said, changed that. "Politicians were taught that theshortest route to Islamabad is not through Washington or Riyadh, butthrough Pindi, Lahore and Quetta, etc. There was resentment boilingunder the skins of people. Through this movement, we channelised thatinto a positive direction," he said.
Another fundamental difference between the post-March 9 lawyers'movement, and the agitation against the LFO, is that the former hasthe support of the "masses of lawyers," or as Siddiqui put it, thismovement has "captured the imaginations of the entire lawyers'community." Malik explained how this had happened. "The rank and fileof lawyers is divided into the 'haves' and the have-nots.' The formerrule over and oppress the latter. When the CJP, Justice IftikharMuhammad Chaudhry, stood up to the regime and refused to resign, herebelled against authority and became an icon for the younger,oppressed lawyers. "They are the ones providing strength to themovement," Malik said.
He spoke about one incident that took place post-March 9 in Sahiwal.Lawyers there had organised a rally where they were walking whilecarrying candles. Police contingents stopped them en route and dousedthem and their candles in petrol. Around 33 lawyers were seriouslyburnt, "but even this did not stop them," Malik said.
The aim of the current movement is to ensure that every judge in thecountry should be able to say 'no' to the executive if he or she seesa judgement that goes against his or her conscience. The other aim isto send the army back to the barracks.
The lawyers had called for a proactive boycott of the elections,rather than a passive boycott, Malik said. The main thing thatpolitical parties that come to power after these elections is torestore the pre-PCO independent judiciary. "If you want to removeArticle 58-2 (b), you have to go to court. And whether you want to goto Dogar's court or Iftikhar Chaudhry's court, is your choice," Maliksaid. "A man can only be free if he wants to be free."
If the new parliament restores the pre-PCO judiciary, the short termgoals of the lawyers' movement will prevail within the next couple ofweeks. If the judiciary is not restored however, the movement willdrag on, but it won't stop or die down, Malik said, adding that peoplereally had nothing to be afraid of by participating in the currentmovement. "You have nothing to fear but fear itself."
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 11:09 PM
Karachi, Feb 22, 2008: While welcoming the results of the generalelections of February 18, the People's Resistance noted that theoverall results came about despite massive pre-poll manipulation inthe form of compromising the independence of judiciary and media,illegal transfers and postings, and an incomplete and flawed electoralroll. PR also strongly condemned the widespread rigging itself thatmarked the February 18 polls in Karachi and called for action againstthose involved in the manipulation of votes cast that day.
Independent reports confirm overstuffing of ballot boxes, highervolume of votes despite low turnout, harassment at the pollingstations, voting without ID card, absence of voters' names on theelectoral list and the overwhelming presence of a certain party'sworkers across a large number of polling stations in the city.According to one report, some polling stations registered 140% votersturnout despite a low turnout generally witnessed in the city.
Peoples Resistance has many individual testimonies complaining ofharassment, rigging and being coerced to vote in a certain party'sfavour. Voters complained that their ballot papers were alreadystamped on the 'kite' symbol, that they were not provided privacy atthe polling booths that the presiding officers themselves asked votersto stamp the 'kite' symbol. Many gave in to the presiding officers'coercion, afraid to risk a confrontation, especially in theoverwhelming presence of the party's activists at the polling booths.Voters also complained that they were handed over up to 50 ballotpapers to stamp against their ID cards. "I was asked to stamp the kitesymbol on all of them," said one voter.
A Karachi-based party's victory by huge margin also raises questionsabout the transparency of the polling process. There have been reportsof the Party getting 65,000 votes from areas where it had earlierreceived not more than 4,000 votes. Not surprisingly, their opponentshave challenged the results of a number of constituencies, including:NA-241, 249, 250 and 253, and PS-92, 110, 111, 112, 126 and 127.
Terming these irregularities as a mockery of an importantconstitutional exercise, the People's Resistance said that thewidespread rigging reported from Karachi puts into question thecredibility of these results. We condemn blatant harassment of voterswho were bullied into voting for a certain party while theadministration provided no protection against such coercion.
PR also denounced the administration's inefficiency that added to thevoters' miseries. Voters complained of their names missing from thevoters list even though they had registered their names earlier. Theywere made to run between different polling stations and misguided bypresiding officers adding to their difficulties.
PR called for action against biased presiding officers who werewitnessed stamping the ballot papers. "Presiding officers abused theirpower and authority. Instead of facilitating voters, they harassedvoters and did the bidding for one political party, which is aviolation of the EC's code of conduct," said a PR statement.
PR said that the hijacking of Feb 18 polls has shaken the public'strust in this important democratic exercise. Despite security threats,the public came out to cast their votes because they saw the Feb 18polls as a hope for a democratic transition. Those who attemptedrigging on polling day challenged public's constitutional right tomake its choice. These elements must be brought to book. Disputedconstituencies must have a re-election since elections in thoseconstituencies violated all electoral rules and their non-transparentresults cannot be accepted.
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 11:06 PM
Monday, February 25, 2008
1. Reception given at Hyderabad
2. Excerpt from speech by CJ Sabihuddin Ahmed
Accompanying the "Judicial Bus" there were over 60 cars in the caravan, several motor-cycles, one bus and two Suzuki vans packed with those who could not bring cars. Chief Justice Sabeehuddin Ahmed, 13 non-PCO judges of Sind High Court, Justice Ghulam Rabbani of Supreme Court, Mr. Munir Malik and Mr. Rasheed Razvi were in the judicial bus.Several cars which were not part of the caravan joined it along the way on Super Highway and raised pro-judiciary slogans and victory signs. It was also pleasant to see the spirit on the streets of Hyderabad where many bystanders joined in. On one intersection in Hyderabad, traffic policemen smiled and nodded their heads to the slogans as they stopped traffic to let the rally pass through.
Earlier, the rally started with an upbeat mood. People's Resistance members reached the High Court at Karachi to join the lawyers around 9 in the morning. The previous night, thanks to Riaz, Sophia and Samina messages for new banners were decided. Couple of them were "Awaam ka mandate, Adlia ki Bahali", "Awaam ka Mandate, Musharraf ko Chelta Kero". The caravan left the High Court around 945. Tahmasp and Salahuddin were kind enough to ask the rally to wait for some PR members who joined late.Everyone re-assembled on Sharae Faisal near Awami Centre to allow others to join in and put up banners and posters on the cars and buses. The cars lined up on the side of the road and traffic flow was not disturbed. Traffic and Karachi police were present to guide the flow as well. Sophia arrived with the new banners and literally shocked everyone by the size and quality of the banners she printed !! There were 12 of them and one each was fixed on the back of the "Judicial Bus" and the other Coaster. The rest were put up on the larger cars in the caravan. Posters from "International Socialists" were taken by Pasban members and fixed on their cars :) !! A sort of coming together of two ends of the right-left spectrum for a common cause. Women's wing of Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf joined the caravan near Drigh Road Railway station. Speaking to them later, they told us that when they were waiting for us to arrive, the police had asked them to leave the road as "VIP movement" was expected !! When they asked further, they were told that the Prime Minister was arriving :) !! Of course, there was no "VIP movement" (of the government kind) and only the judicial bus rally passing through.Some PR members went as far as Malir Bar Association and lined up on the roadside to see off the rally which continued the journey. There were 3 stops on the way where locals including peasants, truck drivers and shopowners joined the traveling group and greeted them.
The venue at Hyderabad had to be changed as the administration of PCO'ed High Court of Sind had sealed the original venue at Circuit Bench in Hyderabad. In sharp contrast to the tear gassing of lawyers rally at city courts in Karachi few days ago, police throughout was very cooperative and even raised victory signs along the way (picture in one of the sets attached).Hyderabad was tremendous. Local lawyers and Awami Tehreek had organized a befitting reception at the District Courts. Song and dance with very catchy Sindhi slogans were raised. The entrance was flooded with flower petals.Chief Justice Sabihuddin, in his measured and emphatic manner, made two significant points. One was that the people had given their verdict through elections and have proven that "we are not terrorists" but "peaceful people" who "believe in the building of institutions to strengthen our society and country".He also said that an institution can only be strong if the people in it have an unwavering commitment to make that happen.After the event, on the way back in evening, some PR members stopped at a roadside "dhaba" for tea and snacks - but could not resist Dal fry :) prepared rural style - on coal.
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 11:01 PM
Words cannot express the current euphoric mood in the Pukhtunkhwa. The pre-election uncertainty and apathy has given way to an unrestrained jubilation – though nothing tangible has changed the wretched lives of ordinary folks – there exists a feeling of hope and yearning for tomorrow, after the nightmare of interminable bloodletting that had taken grip of the province during the MMA government.
On our way to the spacious Bacha Khan Markaz situated in the verdant suburbs of Peshawar, the ubiquitous red flags, banners, posters and slogans fluttered on a bright sunny day – PPP not lagging behind in this colourful outburst. Roadside crowds could not contain themselves offering us sweetmeats, gushing, 'The Red tide is here!' Was this reminiscent of the jubilant 1970s elections, after yet another protracted military regime as another dawn of democracy was on the anvil? Throughout the length and breath of Peshawar district people rejoiced, "We finally got rid of the scoundrels!" (Reference to the despised MMA government)
Asfandyar Wali Khan succinctly remarked: "The verdict of Pukhtunkhwa is that we prefer school uniforms rather than suicide jackets." The resurgent leader, who led the energised ANP with progressive, educated, mostly middle class leadership and cadre, deserves full credit for this landslide victory after decades of hopelessness in the aftermath of the Cold War. On one side were the resurgent Islamists gloating over the victory of religion against the liberal, secular forces – on the other hand the junta consolidated its heavy hand of despotism, deftly facilitating the MMA's victory in 2002 elections, while reinforcing terrorist elements into the tribal as well as the settled areas of the province.
Bushra Gohar, ANP's CEC member and the firebrand NA candidate from Swabi claimed, "The peaceful elections in Swat and the overwhelming verdict against extremist forces all over – including Waziristan – sends a resounding message to all and sundry. Pashtuns are not terrorists but peace loving, progressive people and against violence. In Swabi and some districts women not only voted but celebrated with traditional music!" Now this is a real revolution in the making in the Taliban hinterlands!
Clearly ANP won despite the bombings and threats. Their election manifesto spells provincial autonomy, economic reform, renaming of the province, gender empowerment, as well as redefining the 'war against terrorism' as their political agenda. Afrasiab Khattak, the provincial president argued: "Terrorism in NWFP is only a manifestation of the militarised state of Pakistan. Being the main source of instability, if the anomaly is corrected at Islamabad HQ, normality will naturally return to the entire nation."
ANP has made it abundantly clear that it will uphold their manifesto as a plank for governance. "At present the province is hobbled by a severe budget crunch as only six per cent of total expenses are covered by its resources, while the federal government pools in with occasional NFC award, the divisible pool and other sources to cover up the yearly shortfall," says Haji Adeel, General Secretary, ANP.
How would the social sector development, ignored by successive governments, face up to the challenges of public expectations on important issues such as health, education, inflation and the prevailing poverty trap? After all it is the economy that really matters, besides, governance.
According to Haji Adeel, "ANP expects that only foreign affairs, currency, defence and (partly) communications remain with the centre and the concurrent list be amended to emerging realities.
Pukhtunkhwa is a resource rich province that contributes Rs50bn in tobacco in federal tax alone. On the contrary, wheat and cotton are not taxed as they belong to the Punjab. Timber, gemstones (emeralds), minerals (uranium) high quality oil and gas are also taxed by the federal government and local exploitation of resources is not permitted. Fifty per cent of corn in Pakistan is cultivated here."
"Despite the 1990 ANG formula and subsequent 1991 Water Apportionment Award, Punjab has illegally diverted over one MAF through various water channels out of the province for cultivation, while over three million acres in the southern parts of the province remain barren for lack of water. The hydel power net profits should yield Rs30bn yearly. This amounts to over Rs7tn till June 30, 2007. Neither transfer of the much needed resources has occurred nor have we been permitted to develop the hydro electric potential of the province which can exceed over 45,000 MW, according to expert estimates, beyond our needs for another 20 years, besides, exporting to neighbouring countries," complains Haji Adeel.
These rough estimates, if translated into financial accords and transactions can change the fate of the impoverished, downtrodden and neglected province wreaked by the demons of hopelessness and extremism. The 'new social contract' between the federating units which PPP, PML-N and ANP have pledged to their electorates, needs to be drawn up in order to have any semblance of governance through public demand.
Violence is the last resort of desperation. But one can feel a tangible commitment by the ANP leadership not to let this golden opportunity slip by. Bushra Gohar says, "We cannot afford to fail again as this may be our last chance."
It is also imperative to mention the western donors who want to fight a 'war on terror' on their own terms, but also impose strict WB/IMF prescriptions need to critically look at the consequences of unravelling of the Pakistani welfare state. They simply cannot have it both ways.
According to John Pilger, "The goal is what Bill Clinton called the 'integration of countries into the global free-market community', the terms of which, noted The New York Times, 'require the United States to get involved in the plumbing and wiring of other nations' internal affairs more deeply than ever before'."
This plumbing and wiring has to stop now. Let Pakistan govern itself.
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 10:48 PM
In NA-249 Karachi, MQM stalwart Dr Farooq Sattar eventually won by a staggering margin of 30,623 votes, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) website. Earlier in the evening however, while the vote count was showing that Dr Sattar was losing by a wide margin in what is almost considered his home constituency, he called a press conference and alleged that the PPP had rigged votes in his area.
In other areas of Karachi, the ECP website showed that around 200,000 votes were cast in some constituencies, especially in district central. To take one example, the website states that a total of 187,074 votes were cast in NA-244. The winning candidate there, from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), is said to have obtained 185,582 votes, while the remaining votes were distributed among the runners-up, which included candidates from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), as well as independent candidates.
A visit to these polling stations on February 18 had however, revealed virtually deserted polling booths, with less than 25 voters present within a polling station at any given time.
The ECP website lists 172 polling stations for NA-244. With a liberal average of three polling booths per polling station, a total of 516 polling booths can be assumed within the entire constituency. By noon February 18, less than 75 votes had been cast at a majority of these booths, and officials there had claimed that the voter turnout had been very low, but was "expected to increase after 02:00 p.m."
Assuming that more people started coming in after 02:00 p.m., and polling officials took an average of three minutes for each voter, around 20 people cast their votes every hour, making a total of 10,320 votes per hour for the entire constituency. Polling continued from 09:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m., and thus no more than 95,000 votes could have been cast humanly on February 18 in NA-244.
Those were liberal estimates. Added to this is the general curfew-like atmosphere that was prevalent in areas of district central. Shops remained closed in Liaquatabad, North Karachi, North Nazimabad, Azizabad, etc. The roads were deserted, and the only places which showed signs of human life were the party camps set up right outside polling stations.
Only three PPP camps were seen in the area behind Haidery Market in North Nazimabad. Officials at one of the PPP camps in the area claimed that their chief polling agent had disappeared and was untraceable. This was compounded by the fact that PPP polling agents at stations in MQM-dominated areas were a rare sight. Polling officials at these stations did not seem concerned by this fact, however.
This was in stark contrast to areas in district central that are traditionally thought to be dominated by the PPP and the Awami National Party (ANP). Shershah, Mauripur, Banaras, Orangi Town and Sohrab Goth looked festive. Shops and restaurants were open and doing brisk business, while entire families were out on the streets, singing, dancing and chanting slogans for their parties. Polling agents from almost all contesting parties, including the MQM, PPP, ANP, MMA, Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), and even the Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid (PML-Q), were present at most polling booths in these areas. There were discrepancies at these polling stations too – the presence of ANP and PPP activists inside some polling booths, for instance – but their presence was apparently ratified and accepted by polling agents of other parties present. "They're here to maintain peace and ensure that everything goes smoothly," an MQM polling agent at a booth in Banaras had said.
It may also be put on record that some irregularities were also reported in certain PPP-dominated areas. In these stations the PPP managed to get its way while the ECP and polling officials concerned took the other way. In the final analysis, however, one can say that the deserted streets and empty polling booth hallways in some areas, compared with a carnival-like atmosphere in other areas proved once and for all that respect in politics is given voluntarily, and only grudging obedience can be obtained by force.
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 10:33 PM
You have stated time and again that you will quit (leave the Presidency) if the people don't want you. On 18th February the nation has spoken. They have repudiated you, your policies,and your hand-picked party, (which you have openly referred to as your party). Please stick to your promise, which you are now trying to wriggle out of by asserting that you have been elected for five years by a competent electoral college. You are fully aware that a lame duck or dying electoral college was not competent to elect you, nor were you eligible to be elected in uniform or out of it, since the Constitution specifically prohibits it. You knew what would be the verdict of the Supreme Court against you. Therefore on the advice of Pirzada and Malik Qayyum you illegally proclaimed emergency on 3rd November as COAS, , suspended the Constitution, removed the Superior judiciary, imposed PCO and obtained a judgment in your favour through a bunch of judges who like you, violated their solemn oaths to uphold and protect the Constitution. Not even Pharoah or Nero practiced such diabolical schemes.
For goodness sake, if you claim to be a Muslim and also consider 'Pakistan First', please quit, otherwise you may meet a fate worse than Mussolini, Please ask Pirzada and Malik Qayyum to read out Article 6 of the'Constitution of Pakistan to you in case you cannot read it yourself. It will be enough to deter you and your two (and more) advisors from persisting on a path which leads you to a pre-ordained and logical fate. Faiz has warned:Har ik ulil amr ko sadaa do,Kay apni farday amal sambhaalay.Uthay ga jab jammay sarfaroshaan..Koee na hoga jo kay bachaa lay,Jazaa, sazaa sub yaheen pay hogee..Yaheen pay roz-e-hisaab hogaIn Complete Solidarity with Pakistan
Concerned Citizens of Pakistan (CCP) A non-partisan, non- political group
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 10:30 PM
"Your call for a march towards Islamabad and the restoration of judges before Mar 9 is bound to polarise the fragile parliament, the political parties that have been beaten, poached, hounded with leaders assassinated or disqualified. It is a delicate juncture of our history and any division in the moderate political class or resort to historical bickering and blame-games will rock the system only to benefit the martial corridors of Islamabad's Byzantine palaces and their traditional occupants."
...The foremost objective of your movement should be to back the formation of a national coalition of the political parties who have been the victims of the nefarious Mullah-Military alliance of the last nine years. There can be no other alternative. If there are street pressures then this process will get derailed. We need the consensus of the political class on inter-party dialogue and cooperation. This should entail rectifying the Constitution and purging it of absolutist insertions, bigotry and most importantly how the judges are appointed."If your movement ends up dividing the tenuous partnership brokered by the Charter of Democracy, then mainstream politics will once again be de-legitimised. Another saviour will emerge from the ashes of this cycle to pronounce yet again the need for genuine democracy.
"Collisions at this point will only benefit the Mullah whose benefactors are retreating, but in no way giving up. This time they have to be defeated not through blood and resurrection of Garhi Khuda Buxes but through a democratic process that does not make the faceless masters an arbiter of our destiny."
Exactly after two decades, the moment has returned. It was squandered by the political forces and exploited by these faceless masters. Do we want another round of that regrettable phase where one institution gains at the expense of the millions?
"Continue your struggle but look at what might be the cost of exacerbating the tension between the big political parties and exerting weight on a parliament that has yet to learn the art of being sovereign. You and your associates must also be a little self-critical. The boycott of elections was not the wisest of decisions. Events proved your late leader right – no matter how tainted the electoral process was, it was the best option available and Pakistanis seized it."
Let an un-manipulated and fully representative executive, backed by an amended Constitution emerge; and let it end the executive arbitrariness in judicial appointments once and for all. And let the Parliament institute sound mechanisms for internal accountability within the superior judiciary. Institutions are greater than individuals, as you very well know."We know that your sense of history is unmatched. Now is the true test of your leadership where you will have to trade populism for statesmanship.
"And, we have faith in you."
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 10:13 PM
Sunday, February 24, 2008
One close confidante said that the president believed he had run out of options after three of the main parties who triumphed in last week's poll announced they would form a coalition government together, and also pledged to reinstate the country's chief justice and 60 other judges sacked by Mr Musharraf in November.
"He has already started discussing the exit strategy for himself," a close friend said. "I think it is now just a matter of days and not months because he would like to make a graceful exit on a high."
According to senior aides, Mr Musharraf wants to avoid a power struggle with the newly elected parliament, in which his opponents will be close to the two-thirds majority needed to impeach him and remove him from office.
"He may have made many mistakes, but he genuinely tried to build the country and he doesn't want to destroy it just for the sake of his personal office," said an official close to the president.
Mr Musharraf, who stepped down as head of the army late last year, had called for a harmonious coalition after the defeat of his party - which won just 38 out of 272 national assembly seats in last Sunday's elections - but his political rivals have demanded he go.
Officials said he had considered resigning immediately after the election results were known, but had been persuaded by party loyalists that his sudden departure could precipitate a crisis.
In an article published last week he insisted that he would serve out his five-year presidential term.
Behind the scenes, his staff attempted to broker an agreement with Asif Zardari, who became leader of the main Pakistan People's Party (PPP) following the assassination of his wife, Benazir Bhutto.
Yet despite pressure from America, which has relied on Mr Musharraf's support for its war on terror, Mr Zardari refused to strike a deal.
He declined despite also claiming to have been threatened by Mr Musharraf's allies that the government would revive long-standing corruption charges against him.
"I have seen these jails and this is not something new to me," said Mr Zardari. "I fought all these fake cases instituted against me with courage and never disappointed anyone by asking for a pardon.
"I'm ready to fight it out again, and will never disappoint anyone."
PPP officials said that any deal with Mr Musharraf would have dented the party's public support and it was better to try to govern with the help of the other main parties.
"It doesn't make any sense for us to sink with the dying man," said Nisar Khuhro, a senior PPP leader, referring to Mr Musharraf.
Jamil Soomro, a PPP spokesman, said: "He has betrayed everyone since the very outset and we have no guarantee that he would not betray us once he stabilised his position."
Mr Musharraf's popular support drained away over the past year as he interfered with the independence of the courts, imposed a state of emergency, restricted the media and postponed elections.
Shortages of basic foodstuffs and unreliable gas and electricity supplies have left him more vulnerable now than at any time since he seized power in a bloodless coup in October 1999.
A coalition of the anti-Musharraf parties - the PPP, PML(N) and ANP - would govern with 211 MPs, just short of the 228 needed for the two thirds majority that would allow them to launch impeachment proceedings against the president. They could, however, win support from other smaller parties and independent members, which would leave the former general in a precarious position.
If Mr Musharraf decides to dig his heels in, the opposition parties plan to remove his constitutional powers to dissolve the assembly.
"I think his game is over but if he was able to survive for any reason, he would be like a dead fish, sitting and rotting the presidency," said Khwaja Asif, a senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League.
The frontrunner to take over as prime minister in the new administration is Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the widely respected vice-president of the PPP.
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 6:54 PM
Muhammad Asif Riaz
Pakistani youth is experiencing an age that lack stable government, justified economic growth, basic physiological needs and high rate of unemployment. History tells us that in such conditions, youth often challenges the authority and ideology of mainstream society through alternative options of religion, violence, extremism or migration (brain drain). Radical Islamist groups have been successful in portraying their version of religion as an escape from everyday problems and a channel through which to criticize the present day system. They have also been successful in recruiting the disillusioned and improvised youth, providing simplistic answers to questions about the grim reality of their lives. To this view is the reality that in today's conflicts, especially armed conflicts in different areas of Pakistan, usually children and teenagers are often seen as political actors being recruited into religious and political armed groups and motivated to serve in roles such as combatants and spies. An important study about the youth upsurge finds that the youth cohorts who are not given the opportunity to integrate into community and social structures are less able to acquire the skills they need for peaceful and constructive adult lives. A deprived, frustrated, or traumatized youth cohort, if left without help, can continue to foment violent conflict for decades. International media has branded such generation a "Lost Generation".
Youth traditionally provides upsurge for change; whether this is for a beneficial change or for the destruction of a society, the effects are equally felt. From beneficial Change all I mean is attainment of higher level of Peace in any Community, or Nation. This change can be achieved by reclaiming the lost generation by process of social transformation. Social transformation for peace very much means revolution. More and more of us should begin to realize that it could not mean less. We are marching towards the future but trying to have the barbaric ruling principals of "might is right". As I write, in this moment, hundreds of people are being killed, wounded, hunted, tormented, ill-treated, delivered up to the most intolerable and hopeless anxiety and destroyed morally and mentally, and there is nothing in sight at present to arrest this spreading process and prevent its reaching to us. It is spreading at velocity of light. It is time to act and try to start struggle for social transformation at massive level in Pakistan. If we run away from it, it will follow and get us. We have to face it. We have to solve it, or be destroyed by it. It is as urgent and comprehensive as that.
There must not be protection for leaders and organizations (armed, religious, poiltical or what so ever) from the positive criticism, on the plea of "Pakistan First". We have to talk and tell exactly what our ideas and feelings are. The more unpleasant aspects of a state, under modern conditions is the presence of a group of individuals, too clever by half, in positions of authority, excited, conceited, prepared to lie, distort, pseudo-intellectual and generally humbug people into states of agreements, resistance, indignation, vindictiveness, doubt and mental confusion; states of mind supposed to be conductive to a final victory. These people love to twist and censor facts. It gives them a feeling of power. They sit, filled with the wine of their transitory powers, aloof from the fatigues and dangers of conflict, pulling imaginary strings in people's minds. I put free speech and vigorous publication ahead of all. It is the best thing worth fighting for. It is the essence of personal honor. It is our duty as a citizen to do what we can do for that. We have not only to resist suppressions; we have to fight your way out of the fog. If we find our media failing to distribute any type of publication whatever- even if we are in entire disagreement with the views of that publication—we must boycott the offender and find another for everything we read.
Pakistan is burning and going to pieces. It has to be reconstructed and it can only be possible in the light. The youth is indeed restless, impatient and as we shall see extremely dangerous. This information modernized excess population has no longer any social humility. It has no belief in the infallible wisdom of its rulers. It sees them too clearly; it knows about them, their waste, vices and weaknesses, with an even exaggerated vividness. It sees no reason for its exclusion from the good things of life by such people. It has lost enough of its inferiority to realize that most of that inferiority is arbitrary and artificial. The eager and adventurous unemployed young are indeed becoming the shock troops in the destruction of the old social order in Pakistan. How are we going to use up or satisfy this surplus of human energy? "How can we offer the common young man a reasonable and stimulating prospect of a full life?" The simple answer to this question is to take mass initiatives that include integrating youth into society for social transformation and not merely aim at compensating youth for current disadvantages.
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 6:52 PM
The gravity of the problems that Pakistan has to face today is known to all thinking citizens. There are multiple complex challenges that have to be confronted in every sphere of life. The systematic manipulation of executive power by an increasingly ruthless military dictator in order to maintain and extend his authority at any cost, has done untold damage to the very fabric of Pakistani society. In whichever direction one looks one sees ruin – a breakdown of institutions which are pivotal to any civilized society, an erosion of moral values essential for the development of a self-respecting nation, a dissipation of precious dreams and hopes without which no country can evolve or advance.
The mandate that Mian Nawaz Sharif has received from the people has put a very heavy mantle of responsibility on his shoulders. So much is expected from him – not only that he will rectify the wrongs that have been done in the political, economic, social and other spheres of everyday life – but that he will make a fractured, broken nation whole emotionally, mentally and morally. This is a formidable task for any leader, especially for one who was forced to live in exile for many years and whose family was subjected to extreme hardship. But the fact that God has elected him for this task, the fact that God enabled him to return to Pakistan despite huge impediments and obstacles, makes it his religious and moral obligation to live up to the ideal of a leader – referred to by Allama Iqbal as “Mard-e-Haqq” or “Mard-e-Momin” - who represents the highest ideals and best practices of Islam.
Aitzaz Ahsan is a person of amazing versatility and talents. His brilliance and diligence as a lawyer has long been recognized. However, since he undertook to represent the Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Choudhry in March 2007, he has become much more than a lawyer or a political leader. He has become the symbol of the “mujahid” who pursues the quest for justice in the face of formidable odds.
The Honourable Chief Justice has immortalized himself by refusing to submit to the dictates of a “zalim sultan.” His courage and conviction and refusal to surrender even when Pharaonic actions were taken against him and his family, including his young children - something that has no precedent in history – made him a beacon of light for thousands of people who had lost all hope of ever finding justice in Pakistan. However, Aitzaz Ahsan - with his intense dedication, energy, and passion – has played a pivotal role in making the cause of the Honourable Chief Justice the rallying-point of a nation that the gallant lawyers’ movement awakened from a state of death-like dormancy. By doing what he has done, and is continuing to do, he has secured his place in history.
Imran Khan has phenomenal achievements to his credit. A legendary sportsman, he has followed in the footsteps of Muhammad Ali who has become larger than life through the work he has done to give hope and help to countless persons in critical circumstances. One cannot forget the massive effort undertaken by him to raise consciousness about cancer, the deadly disease that killed his beloved mother, and gather the community support that enabled him to establish The Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital, an outstanding medical facility which provides free treatment to disadvantaged patients. A social reformer par excellence in the core of his being, Imran Khan gave up a life of luxury and ease in the West, and returned to Pakistan to initiate “Tehrik-e-Insaaf” – a movement for justice.
Imran Khan’s profound commitment to justice has been exemplified in the way he has responded to the havoc wrought upon Pakistan’s judicial system by General Musharraf who removed the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan and his worthy colleagues so that their unworthy successors appointed by him would legitimize his past, present and future, crimes. Imran Khan did whatever was humanly possible for him to do. He tried to mobilize youth which idolize him. He participated in all kinds of protests and suffered all kinds of punishments, including being jailed. He went to the U.S. – the greatest supporter of General Musharraf – and talked to many groups and policy makers to inform them of Pakistan’s rapidly deteriorating situation and urge them to live up to their own professed ideals of democracy and justice. Imran Khan went to England – a country where many still regard him as an icon – and demonstrated in front of the Prime Minister’s residence when General Musharraf was visiting the country. Thanks must also be given to Jemima Khan who demonstrated her love for Pakistan and for the cause of justice by her ongoing ardent participation in the movement for the liberation of our country from the evil rule of a Western-backed military tyrant.
Mian Nawaz Sharif, Aitzaz Ahsan, and Imran Khan now stand at the centre of an historic movement. They also stand at the threshold of the opening of a new chapter in Pakistan’s politics. All of them are political leaders in their own different ways with their respective party loyalties. In the coming days they may have to make some crucial decisions with regards to their priorities. At this time it is very likely that a strong pressure will be put on them to focus on what Asif Ali Zardari has referred to as “the larger perspective” and not insist on the restoration of the pre-November 3, 2007 judiciary as their first priority.
There will be many who may advise them to be a part of, or to support, the new parliamentary set-up and assure them that in due course of time, the parliament will review the issue of the restoration of the judges through setting up committees etc. It is very easy to be seduced by such advice and assurance which takes away the burden of continuing an uphill struggle. However, the Qur’an – the highest source of authority for us – makes the pursuit of justice mandatory in all circumstances, as clearly and emphatically stated by Surah 4: An-Nisa’ : 135 :
O ye who believe!
Stand out firmly
For justice, as witnesses
To Allah, even as against
Yourselves, or your parents,
Or your kin, and whether
It be (against) rich or poor:
For Allah can best protect both.
Follow not the lusts
(Of your hearts), lest ye
Swerve, and if ye
Distort (justice) or decline
To do justice, verily
Allah is well-acquainted
With all that ye do.
The Honourable Chief Justice and his venerable colleagues have borne the undiluted fury of an unscrupulous, callous ruler without flinching. The strength and steadfastness that they have shown, as the nation has struggled through the dark night of the soul, has kept the light of hope alive amongst millions in Pakistan and elsewhere. At this time, thousands are looking toward Mian Nawaz Sharif, Aitzaz Ahsan, Imran Khan and other like-minded leaders, to fulfil the commitment they have made to the people of Pakistan that they will work ceaselessly to right the grievous wrong that has been done. If the crucial issue of the restoration of the deposed judges is allowed to be put on the back burner in the interests of “the larger perspective” and its review is relegated to committees, the momentum that our valiant freedom-fighters have built up in their respective movements will be lost forever. As Shakespeare said with ominous insight:
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat.
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
Before Mian Nawaz Sharif, Aitzaz Ahsan, and Imran Khan is the shining example of Allama Iqbal and Quaid-e’Azam, two visionaries – incidentally both lawyers - who were responsible for the creation of Pakistan. The spiritual and political founder of Pakistan both believed that politics had to be grounded in ethics, and that moral principles must not be compromised on grounds of political expediency. By answering the call of God and the people to uphold the cause of justice - hard as it may seem at this time – their gain both in this world and in the hereafter will be much greater than if they walk away from this awesome responsibility.
(The writer is a Professor, specializing in Islamic Studies and Iqbal Studies, who teaches in the United States, and also heads The Iqbal International Leadership Institute.
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 6:50 PM
“War is too serious a matter to entrust to military men” is a famous quotation now getting popularity in Pakistan as Aitzaz Ahsan is using it frequently in his TV interviews while emphasizing the doctrine of Civilian Control of the Military. One more illustrative example are the words of Chairman Mao Zedong, who stated that "Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party", reflecting the primacy of the Communist party as a decision-maker in Marxist-Leninist and Maoist theories of democratic centralism. One can find the same philosophy in the Jinnah’s advice to Colonel (later General) Akbar Khan. “Never forget that you are the servants of the state. You do not make policy. It is we, the people’s representative, who decide how the country is to be run. Your job is to only obey the decisions of your civilian masters.”
All of the above quotations lead to the doctrine of civilian control of the military that places ultimate responsibility for a country’s strategic decision-making in the hands of the civilian political leadership, rather than professional military officers. One author, paraphrasing Samuel P. Huntington’s writings in The Soldier and the State, has summarized the civilian control ideal as "the proper subordination of a competent, professional military to the ends of policy as determined by civilian authority”. Civilian control is often seen as a prerequisite feature of a stable, liberal democracy; use of the term in scholarly analyses tends to take place in the context of a state governed by democratically elected officials.
What is civilian control? Is it a fact? Is it a process? According to Professor Richard H. Kohn, "civilian control is not a fact but a process”. Affirmations of respect for the values of civilian control notwithstanding, the actual level of control sought or achieved by the civilian leadership may vary greatly in practice, from a statement of broad policy goals that military commanders are expected to translate into operational plans, to the direct selection of specific targets for attack on the part of governing politicians. Leaders with limited experience in military matters often have little choice but to rely on the advice of professional military commanders trained in the art and science of warfare to inform the limits of policy; in such cases, the military establishment may enter the bureaucratic arena to advocate for or contest against a particular course of action, shaping the policy-making process and blurring any clear-cut lines of civilian control.
For many young democracies, the institutionalization of civilian control over the military is a crucial task for democratic consolidation. This is especially true for Pakistan. After Pakistan gained independence in 1947 and lost its founder and first prime minister very early, the military history of Pakistan can be viewed as the history of modern-day Pakistan, as the military of Pakistan has played and continues to play a vital role in the establishment and shaping of the country. Although Pakistan was founded as a democracy after the partition of the Indian sub-continent, the military has remained one of the country’s most powerful institutions and has on occasion overthrown democratically elected governments on the basis of mismanagement and corruption. Successive governments have made sure that the military was consulted before they took key decisions. Political leaders know that the military has stepped into the political arena before at times of crisis, and could do so again up till now.
Pakistan’s ruling party has been routed in the country’s February’s general election , paving the way for a new government made up of former opposition parties that may try to impeach the President, Pervez Musharraf.
No party took an outright majority in the new parliament but anti-Musharraf parties, including the Pakistan People’s Party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and possibly others, are in discussion about forming the next government.
Co-Chairman PPP Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif while addressing a joint press conference on Thursday evening at the Zardari House after holding two-hour-long talks declared “We have decided to work together and move together for the future of the democracy in the country and to strengthen parliament.” In the same press conference Mr. Zardari said “system should be changed and there should be a new social contract with the establishment”. This is very bold and well thought of statement from Mr. Zardari but unfortunately got less attention from political and democratic analysts. If this statement read along with the quotation of Georges Clemenceau quoted by Atizaz Ahsan many times, gives some kind of insight of internal thinking taking place at PPP and shows that they are marching towards the doctrine of civilian control of the military in future.
Kohn succinctly summarizes this view when he writes that the point of civilian control is to make security subordinate to the larger purposes of a nation, rather than the other way around. The purpose of the military is to defend society, not to define it. As civilian leaders cannot usually hope to challenge their militaries by means of force, and thus must guard against any potential usurpation of powers through a combination of policies, laws, and the inculcation of the values of civilian control in their armed services.
Historically, direct control over military forces was hampered by the technological limits of command, control, and communications; national leaders, whether democratically elected or not, had to rely on local commanders to execute the details of a military campaign, or risk centrally-directed orders’ obsolescence by the time they reached the front lines. The remoteness of government from the action allowed professional soldiers to claim military affairs as their own particular sphere of expertise and influence; upon entering a state of war, it was often expected that the generals and field marshals would dictate strategy and tactics, and the civilian leadership would defer to their informed judgments.
Improvements in information technology and its application to wartime command and control (a process sometimes labeled the "Revolution in Military Affairs") has allowed civilian leaders removed from the theater of conflict to assert greater control over the actions of distant military forces. Precision-guided munitions and real-time videoconferencing with field commanders now allow the civilian leadership to intervene even at the tactical decision-making level, designating particular targets for destruction or preservation based on political calculations or the counsel of non-uniformed advisors.
While civilian control forms the normative standard in almost every society outside of military dictatorships, its practice has often been the subject of pointed criticism from both uniformed and non-uniformed observers, who object to what they view as the undue "politicization" of military affairs, especially when elected officials or political appointees micromanage the military, rather than giving the military general goals and objectives, and have the military decide how best to carry those orders out. By placing responsibility for military decision-making in the hands of non-professional civilians, critics argue, the dictates of military strategy are subsumed to the political, with the effect of unduly restricting the fighting capabilities of the nation’s armed forces for what should be immaterial or otherwise lower priority concerns. Politicians who personally lack military training and experience but who seek to engage the nation in military action may risk resistance and being labeled "chickenhawks" by those who disagree with their political goals.
In contesting these priorities, members of the professional military leadership and their non-uniformed supporters may participate in the bureaucratic bargaining process of the nation’s policy-making apparatus, engaging in what might be termed a form of regulatory capture as they attempt to restrict the policy options of elected officials when it comes to military matters.
Keeping these in minds it is hoped that results of this election, the power and the trust entrusted to political parties and their leaders, there will be an emergence of civilian masters in Pakistan.
The writer is Research Associate at The Iqbal International Leadership Institute and can be reached at email@example.com
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 6:46 PM
Pervez Musharraf's allies received a drubbing in Monday's elections. Now he faces the prospect of being impeached as president if his rivals can cobble together a two-thirds majority in parliament - Photograph: Aamir Qureshi/AFP
Visitors still call to see him at Army House, the marble-floored Rawalpindi residence of Pakistan's military chiefs, even though he retired three months ago. "It has been renamed Presidential Lodge," said spokesman Rashid Qureshi. "The normal routine is functioning."
But outside clouds are gathering. The spectacular rout of his Pakistan Muslim League (Q) party at the polls has shorn the retired commando of his political base, leaving him isolated and exposed.
"He's been sulking," said a senior party official. "He's retreated into a mental bunker, which is not healthy. He thinks everyone is out to get him and only listens to a small circle. It's a dangerous mindset to be in at this point in time. He could decide to hit back."
Musharraf's bad mood stems from the prospect of Nawaz Sharif, the rotund prime minister from Punjab he ousted in a 1999 coup and banished to Saudi Arabia a year later, returning to power. Sharif, who controls the second biggest party in parliament, the Pakistan Muslim League (N) has vowed to oust Musharraf at the earliest opportunity. "The nation has given its verdict. The sooner he accepts it the better," said Sharif.
But Musharraf, targeted at least twice by al-Qaida assassins, has a knack for survival. And he has at least one loyal friend left. Shortly after the electoral drubbing George Bush paused on a trip to Africa to pay warm tribute to him. He sounded less enthusiastic about Sharif's ascent. The message filtered quickly through the lines. In Washington the state department urged the opposition to work with Musharraf. In Islamabad American diplomats engaged in frantic talks with the opposition.
Senior officials from all parties told the Guardian they were trying to broker a deal that would ensure Musharraf stays in power. The PML (Q) official said his party was being pressured by US embassy officials hoping for a coalition between their party with Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's party, now led by her widower, Asif Ali Zardari.
"The Americans want a German-style grand coalition including the PPP," he said. "They want Musharraf to stick around, even if it's a diminished Musharraf."
British officials have been more coy, bristling at suggestions they are following the American lead. But many Pakistanis believe Whitehall is singing from a hymn sheet drawn up in the White House.
"The British are masters at using their language; the Americans are more crude. But in the end, it comes down to the same thing," said Nadir Chaudhri, a Sharif aide.
The western obsession with Musharraf seems puzzling. Since he resigned as army chief in late November most of Musharraf's power has drained to his successor, General Ashfaq Kayani. Diplomats unanimously praise the former spychief as a sober and sympathetic commander.
The problem is Sharif, who although not elected to parliament is still the power behind the PML (N). Although he went through a makeover during his exile in Jeddah and London - polishing his English, acquiring a hair transplant and a wardrobe of Saville Row tweed jackets - diplomats fear he cannot, or will not, deliver on their greatest concern: hunting al-Qaida and Taliban militancy.
Critics suspect Sharif of being a closet "fundo", or fundamentalist. They recall his infamous attempt to crown himself commander of the faithful while prime minister in 1998, and point to his family's conservative background. His close links with Saudi Arabia, which provided a royal jet and bulletproof Mercedes for his return from exile, have also caused some concern, particularly about possible leakage of nuclear technology.
But supporters and some political rivals say such fears are misplaced. A former Sharif minister said that during a 1998 meeting with Bill Clinton in the White House Sharif signed off on a secret plan to assassinate Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, using a CIA-trained force of crack Pakistani troops. Earlier he permitted an FBI team to capture a terrorism suspect and bundle him into a plane bound for the US.
"The whole idea of Sharif being the odd man out in the war on terror is utter nonsense," said Chaudhri, his aide. "There's no one more committed to rooting out extremism than him."
Still, Bush, whose has given more than $10bn to Pakistan since 2001, is more at home with Musharraf.
"He's very loyal. It's almost a tribal thing," said one aide. To some degree, Musharraf has reciprocated. Yesterday the New York Times reported that the president has allowed the CIA to set up a secret base inside Pakistan from which unmanned Predator aircraft can attack al-Qaida fugitives in the tribal areas. If Musharraf goes, officials worry, so could the permission to strike at will.
But many Pakistanis are angry at what they see as American meddling, even among pro-western parties.
"The US has to understand that the parties now elected to parliament are not stooges of Musharraf. They are genuinely elected people," said Senator Enver Baig, of Bhutto's PPP.
On the streets there is a tangible sense that the boundaries of power are blurring and Musharraf's aura is fading. Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, a cigar-chomping politico who was a Musharraf favourite, was among 19 former ministers to lose their seats in Monday's election.
A few days later he held a press conference at a five-star hotel, visibly smarting from the loss and threatening to set up his own party.
"Politics is very crude. You have to deal with the situation," he told the Guardian.
Speculation is rife that other PML (Q) cronies will defect to Sharif's party - from whence many of them came - in droves.
On Thursday hundreds of lawyers and civil society activists tried to storm the barricades outside the Islamabad house of the imprisoned former chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Lawyers in suits, ties and gardening gloves ripped back coils of barbed wire, only to be confronted with a phalanx of policemen armed with teargas and water canon. "Go Musharraf, go!" chanted the crowd - a mantra that has haunted the president since his botched attempted to fire Chaudhry last March. Musharraf despises the judge even more than he does Sharif; in a recent interview he described him as "the scum of the earth".
But unlike previous protests, the police did not baton charge or thrash the protesters - at least not very much - and only a few teargas canisters were fired, which landed half-heartedly in a nearby garden. When the crowd dispersed peacefully, one lawyer shook hands briefly with a policeman in riot gear, who smiled back.
"Things have changed," said the organiser, Athar Minallah. "Today Musharraf is obviously not in power, and that is the beauty of democracy."
But Musharraf's fate also rests on the ability of the fractious opposition to unite. In a country of giant egos and troubled history, that's no sure thing. A complex game of blackmail and manoeuvre is underway.
On Thursday afternoon government lawyers reinvigorated a corruption case against Zardari, a move seen as a shot over the bow in his government-forming talks with Sharif. But that night the two men appeared in public, looking chummy on a pair of gilt-edged thrones, announced they would "cooperate" to form a government against Musharraf.
Exactly what that means is unclear. Sharif's party wants to form a provincial government in Punjab but leave the national administration to the PPP, perhaps hoping to win an election outright in one or two years' time. Zardari wants a genuine coalition.
"We are still in the opening moves of this chess game," said Ayaz Amir, a newly-elected parliamentarian.
By roping in a few smaller parties the two leaders could cobble the two-thirds majority necessary to impeach Musharraf. The end could come by March 8, the date by which election officials estimate the new parliament will first sit.
Musharraf says he is going nowhere. "His term runs for five years. He knows there's a vast number of people who appreciate and love him for what he's done," said Qureshi, his spokesman. "After all he's done for this country, he would feel a little disappointed I guess."
In his self-vaunting autobiography, published last year, Musharraf wrote that "a true leader will always be loved by his people".
Supporters say if it comes to an impeachment motion, he may not fight to the end. "Frankly I'm not sure if he has the stomach for Custer's last stand. I don't see the fire in his belly any more," said a party official.
A new home, complete with security bunkers, is under construction on the edge of Islamabad. Whether he needs to move in there any time soon should become clearer in the coming weeks.
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 6:34 PM
The discussion at the meeting centred on the fraud committed by the Pakistani state, and of course recognized by the major imperialist powers. Julian, in particular, emphasized the dangers the imperialists would face if the PPP had been allowed to sweep into power, with the support of millions of ordinary Pakistanis. Somia detailed many of the instances of fraud, as well as outlining the efforts and desires of the Pakistani masses in getting rid of Pervez Musharraf.
The most energetic debate of the meeting occurred over the class content of the PPP. One person argued that the PPP was nothing more than a bourgeois party and that socialists had no business supporting it. Instead, he praised the work of the Labour Party of Pakistan. Somia responded by pointing out that the LPP had aligned itself with the Islamic fundamentalists of the country, some of the most treacherous and reactionary elements within Pakistani society (and responsible for many of the attacks against working class militants and socialists in the country). Julian also pointed out that the LPP's call for boycotting the elections simply sidelined them from the mass movement, as well as ignored the millions of Pakistani workers that supported the PPP's banner.
A small collection was also taken, with all of the money directed to helping out the work of the PTUDC in Pakistan. Over the next few days, there will be similar meetings in Montreal and Vancouver which will help to expand Canadian solidarity with Pakistani working class militants.
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 6:32 PM
As many of you might have noticed, YouTube has been banned across some parts of Pakistan. The ban is not universal as yet but people who have internet provided by the PTCL in particular are unable to access the website. In addition Micronet Broadband users have also suffered from a youtube blackout.Worry not, you can still try a few anonymizers to access youtube. Details are at:http://www.freeproxy.ru/en/free_proxy/cgi-proxy.htmIn addition if you are interested in copies of the rigging videos, contact me. I have 2 of them saved in AVI format.
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 6:27 PM
The recent elections' outcome has created a myriad of colorful Newspaper headlines on February 18th. Dawn's Bruce Lee-esque headline read "Musharraf allies face voter's wrath". The News, now taken to paraphrasing Bilawal Bhutto, has "Democracy takes revenge". "All the King's men, gone!" is the headline at Daily Times, a newspaper known for being pro-Government due to its owner, Salman Taseer'sministership.At the street level, people have been echoing similar sentiments. On various occasions, we were exposed to working class parents who have found their children spending weeks without meals, gas or electricity under the current administration. Suddenly, returning to the pre-musharraf years seems like serious progress.
1998 was the last year Nawaz Sharif spent unchecked before being unceremoniously defenestrated from Pakistani politics by Musharraf's coup. He had stormed the Supreme Court Judges in 1997, his military operation in Kashmir was a disaster. He even gave the newly constructed motorway to the military, granting them a foot hold in what should've been a civillian market.
We are ten years on, and Nawaz is posed to become the opposition's golden boy. Upon sweeping victories in Punjab that have won Pakistan Muslim League's Nawaz group 66 seats, Sharif has hit his PPP counterpart Zardari with a set of demands. Restore the judiciary, impeach Musharraf, and select High Court advocate Aitizaz Ahsan for Prime Ministership. He is echoing the demand of the ever-increasing anti-mush voices. His stances have forced many of us to reconsider our opinions of him and his party. Many PPP supporters ended up voting for PML-N due to the lack of a clear concrete position on any issue by the former and the bold principled stance of the latter.
From this point on, several outcomes may be conceived of; each with its own reactions. Everyone is looking to the parties elected. PML-N has made its stance clear. Now it's up to them to stick to it. But more heavily so, the eyes of the people now turn to the so called People's Party. Will it oblige? There are quite a few uncertainties in the current situation. At the foremost being PPP-P which is still ironing out its internal politics and power hierarchies and is hence, still unable to take any concrete stances over anything. If PPP-P decides to yet again look to Washington and ally itself with the pro-mush forces, it will be heavily discredited within the country. It's only choice is either PML-N, or the other anti-mush parties. With Musharraf's popularity at an all time low, the independents are most likely to align with the party that speaks of ouster and accountability. PML-N also stands to be able to make a government without the PPP by aligning with the all the other anti-mush candidates, in which case, PPP will either have to join in, sit in opposition, or coalesce with the much despised PML-Q or MQM.
Pakistan is now a threesome between Musharraf and his allies, the professed anti-musharraf political parties, and the lawyer's movement.The will of the people is evident. The strongest of the king's party have faced miserable defeats. The popular notion was, vote for PML-Q if you support Musharraf. So strong are anti-musharraf sentiments in the larger populace that politicians like Sheikh Rasheed who have gone 30 yrs undefeated could not secure a victory from the seats they were running from. Interestingly enough, the candidates for whose success rigging was not deemed required, were the ones that lost. The party leader Ch Shujaat Hussain even succumbed to heavy defeat, not being able to secure even a single seat for himself.
What does this mean for the people of Pakistan? Moving around on the
streets on election night, as preliminary results came out, the sheer emotion and ecstasy of the people was overpowering. With hope in their eyes, smiles on their lips, and hands in the air, they celebrate the possibility that their overburdened lives may now become livable. With an unprecedented 250% food inflation, the Pakistani poor—who form 80% of the population—have been the hardest hit. With no remedies available, no recourse to welfare or justice; citizens of a country that has failed time and again to provide for them even the most basic of necessities.
Their only hope: change. Fighting against all odds, amidst news of murdered candidates and possible bomb threats, the turnout at many polling stations in Lahore was impressive. Being part of the student election monitoring cell of the StudentAction Committee, rampant instances of rigging were observed by us and many caught on video. But in spite of massive rigging, people turned up in even higher numbers. Speculations state that the 39 or so odd seats won my PML-Q and 19 by MQM would not have been possible were it not so for pre and during poll rigging.
One MQM candidate was caught rigging elections in his constituency in Karachi by a Ranger deployed at the booth. But that didn't seem to make people suspicious of the 19 other MQM candidates that swept up the total twenty seats in Karachi. And no coverage has been given to Scotland Yard's forthcoming investigation into Altaf Hussein, the MQM chairman who's been indispensable in the efforts to make Karachi unlivable due toviolence.
Due to a systematic de-politicization of society and a ban on any involvement of students in politics, Pakistan suffers from an acute lack of credible politicians. The people of Pakistan in spite of widespread mistrust towards all the political parties are yet again forced towards looking to them for relief. The question on everyone's minds and tongues; will they deliver this time or disappoint us once more?
As for Musharraf, he has repeatedly stated, refuting various polls, that he believed the will of the people to come through the elections alone, and that if a majority of the people wished for him to step down, he would. Well the people have spoken: GO MUSHARRAF GO!
Posted by The Neem Revolution at 6:16 PM