Monday, January 14, 2008

A cowardly threat by the Establishment - A courageous reply by the Lawyers

Dear All,

As it was being predicted that the year 2008 will be the continuity of the shameful acts of the Establishment to restrain the civil society from challenging the unconstitutional and illegal deeds done by post 99 regime. One of its brutal examples was observed on 10 Jan, when the masterminds controlling the situation to make it in 'their' favor, once again showed their brutality to the citizens of Pakistan. The objective of the bomb blast at the gate of the High Court, a high security area, shows a clear message to the lawyer community.....Stop demanding rule of law and supermacy of constitution or u will be hit anytime, anywhere,anyway......This threat to the lawyer community did not work. The lawyers and the civil society showed their determination by announcing to keep their struggle on and on, until the objectives are not acheived.
The best example of the lawyers courage could have been observed today 12 Jan, when despite the fears/threats of attacks from establishment-led masterminds, the election of the Lahore Bar Association were held with an even better turn-out. The establishment has badly failed to assess the courage and determination of the legal community.
Another important fact: out of 55 major suicide attacks during year 2007, government has failed to investigate and get the culprits to justice in every single case. Not one case solved. This should be a real eye-opener for every concerned citizen.

Ali Imran
Advocate High Court

Vigil and arrests at Karachi - eyewitness account

Today (Sunday, Jan 13th), at 6:30 p.m, around 20 people from the civil society coalition -- People's Resistance -- held a peaceful candlelight vigil outside the residence of Justice (retd) Bhagwandas in Clifton, Karachi. Justice Bhagwandas was placed under house arrest on Saturday. Two minutes after we arrived, a police moble came rushing into the street, with a loud siren, and some menacing plainclothes policemen got out. It is most likely that they were part of the intelligence agencies, particularly one Mr. Intelligence Fanatic (IF) - picture attached. Another mobile came about five minutes after that. It was very amusing for us to see how threatened the state's repressive apparatus felt by a group of 20 civil society activists holding candles outside the residence of a retired judge. We lit candles, sang the national anthem, sent a handwritten note inside to Justice Bhagwandas, and chanted slogans. The police watched, and media teams from Express, Geo and KTN videotaped.

We were getting ready to leave after 20 minutes or so, when Mr. IF tried to arrest a young, male member of the Communist Mazdoor Kisan Party -- a member who looked more vulnerable compared to other elite members that were around. When he was rescued by other protestors, we started to leave immediately, and then suddenly the lights of the entire street went out. IF and other policemen charged towards us, manhandled a female activist, and grabbed several protestors. All this seemed to be pre-planned, as no media could cover the abuse and arrests that happened in the dark. They arrested 9 men, who have been booked under section 144 and last we heard, were trying to negotiate their release. Many of us felt that the police/intelligence action was aimed at setting an example..even 20 protestors who gather for 20 minutes need to be terrorized and tamed. As intimidating and disempowering as such situations are, we know that we cannot give up. Through sustained efforts and multiple strategies, we need to keep working towards reinstating the rule of law and preventing the rising rule of terror.

Pakistanis Demand Resignation of Dictator PervezMusharraf

Angry Pakistanis Turn Against [Pakistan] Army
By Christina Lamb

Islamabad, Pakistan (The Sunday Times) - It is the most expensive -and talked about - property development in Pakistan, but few can get near it. Hidden behind barbed wire, the new state-of-the-art[Pakistan] Army headquarter to replace a garrison in Rawalpindi is costing a reputed 1 billion UK pounds and will cover 2,400 acres of prime land in Islamabad, including lakes, a residential complex, schools and clinics.
Originally intended to represent the best of Pakistan, the new Army HQ is now being seen as a symbol of all that is wrong with the country.
Amid nationwide anger over the killing of the Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and a widespread belief that the country's military or intelligence may have been involved, the population is turning against the Army for the first time.
From the wailing rice-pickers at Bhutto's grave in the dusty village of Garhi Khuda Bakhsh in the southern province of Sindh to the western-educated elite sipping whisky and soda in the drawing rooms of Lahore, the message is the same: Pervez Musharraf, must go and the Army must return to its barracks.
Feelings are running so high that officers have been advised not to venture into the bazaar in uniform for fear of reprisals.
"The interests of the people of Pakistan are now totally at odds with those of the Army," said Asma Jahangir, the head of Pakistan's Human Rights Commission, who was one of hundreds of lawyers placed under house arrest in November.
"If a civilian President had done what Musharraf has done, he would have been dragged by his hair to the sea."
It is not just civilians who argue that, if the country is to stay together, power must go back into the hands of the politicians, however corrupt or inept.
Asad Durrani, a retired General, headed the notorious Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) bureau during the 1990 elections when, he admits, it spent millions of dollars to prevent Bhutto being voted back into power. Now he believes the Army should step back.
"If you are in charge for such a long time, you can't blame anyone else for the state of the country," he said. "You have to take responsibility for the situation."
"We are all trying to get across the message [to Musharraf] that 'you are the problem'," said another retired General. "I am hearing the same from serving generals."
For decades children in Pakistan have grown up on text-books glorifying the Pakistani Army and glossing over its defeat in three wars and loss of half the country in 1971 (to become Bangladesh). When Army chiefs have seized power they have generally been welcomed. But none of Pakistan's military rulers have stepped down voluntarily and Musharraf, it seems, is no different, picking an unpopular fight with the country's judiciary when they tried to take him on.
Elections scheduled for last week were delayed after Bhutto's assassination. The new date is February 18 [2008], but there is scepticism about whether they will go ahead. A bomb that killed 22 in Lahore last week was seen as another step in creating a climate of insecurity that makes voting impossible.
Even if they do go ahead, the elections are widely expected to be rigged in favour of Musharraf's allies [PML-Q and MQM]. Last Wednesday the head of the European Union observer mission visited the [dictator] with a list of 10 concerns about a lack of transparency.
Bhutto's death has left her one-time rival [Muhammad] Nawaz Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League [PML-N], as the main Opposition figure. Although he emerged on the political scene in the 1980s under the patronage of Pakistan's last military ruler, General [Muhammad]Zia ul Haq, he now insists the Army must stop interfering in politics."The only way to move forward is for people to defy the Army and to realise that these generals who keep staging coups are our real enemies," he told The Sunday Times in an interview at his heavily guarded farmhouse outside Lahore.
"It is not the job of generals to hold the Prime Minister, Cabinet or Parliament accountable," he added. "They are accountable to the people. The Army has to go back to barracks or we will never have a functioning state."
Resentment against the men in khaki is particularly acute in Bhutto's home province of Sindh. To Sindhis, she was killed not because of her stand for democracy and against terrorism but because of where she came from. After her death many Sindhis went on the rampage, burning lorries, trains and banks.
They have been reined in by Bhutto's husband, Asif [Ali] Zardari, who has taken over running her Pakistan People's Party [PPP]. But he warns: "If elections are rigged or don't go ahead, this may be impossible to contain."
Those close to Musharraf say he still believes he is the only person able to sort out Pakistan, even though under his rule bombs have become an almost daily occurrence.
"The problem is that 9/11 went to his head," said Durrani. "After that I found him a changed man. He went from being a pariah to applause, saviour of Pakistan and the West."
Washington and London are clinging to Musharraf for want of other options and the [false] belief that he represents the best hope of preventing Pakistan's 50 or so nuclear warheads falling into militant hands. The West had hoped that Bhutto would be brought in as Prime Minister to provide his regime with a democratic face, but are now working on co-opting Sharif or Zardari.
Sharif, who has received three calls from David Miliband, the [UK] Foreign Secretary, since Bhutto's assassination, was the PrimeMinister ousted by Musharraf in [October] 1999. He insists that working with Musharraf is not an option.
Were free elections to go ahead and the Opposition parties to achieve a two-thirds majority, they would be in a position to impeach the[illegal] President. But few believe that, with Musharraf's hand-picked caretaker government overseeing the elections, this is a realistic possibility.
The only way he might go is if the Army were to decide he had outlived his purpose.
More than 700 Pakistani soldiers have been killed in the fight in the tribal areas against militants said to be linked to [fictitious] "Al-Qaeda", and officers admit that morale has not been so low since they lost Bangladesh in 1971.
"We are being asked to bomb our own people and shrug it off as collateral damage," said a Mirage pilot. "I call it killing women andchildren."
Hope rests on General Ashfaq [Parvez] Kayani who took command of the Army in late November [2007], when Musharraf succumbedto pressure to take off his [Army] uniform and become a civilian.
Little is known about Kayani apart from his love of golf and his professionalism as a soldier. He is said to be unhappy about the Army's involvement in politics and might pull back if elections proceed smoothly.
"Nobody is anyone's man once he becomes commander-in-chief with 700,000 soldiers under his command," says Imran Khan, the former cricketer turned politician.

CMKP and PR activists detained at vigil in Karachi

Over 10 citizens of Karachi who had come together to stage a peaceful candle light vigil outside the home of Justice Rana Bhagwandas have been arrested.
The candle light vigil was on for a good 20 minutes when all of sudden the area was plunged into darkness as a major electricity breakdown occurred in the area, within the darkness the police stationed there moved in and started harassing the men in the crowd and pulled the men to the side and arrested them one by one. They have been taken to Darkshan Police station and are said to be released soon.

Notice to the Chief Justice

While Musharraf continues to occupy Army House even after retiring, CJP Iftikhar Chaudhary has been served a one week notice to vacate his official residence in Islamabad. The Chief Justice has refused to vacate the residence as he pointed out that he is still the constitutional Chief Justice of Pakistan. Islamabad members should stay in touch with lawyers over any protests planned to force government to back down on its attempt to expel the Chief Justice of Pakistan from his official residence.

Musharraf is visiting Brussels, Belgium on 20 January 2008. If you are in Europe, you are strongly requested to join the protest against the dictator led by President PTI Belgium Shiekh Majid at 15:00 at Place la Bourse and at 20:00 to 22:00 in front of Hotel Conrad Brussels at Avenue Louis. You may contact Sheikh Majid, the organizer at: 00 32 485 688 735 or email:

Abeer Hamid.

Half of Pakistanis suspect officials' hand in Benazir's death: poll

ISLAMABAD: Almost half of all the Pakistanis believed that the government-allied agencies or politicians were responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, according to a survey released on Saturday.
Meanwhile, more than half backed Bilawal as the right person to succeed Benazir as the new party chief, the poll by Gallup Pakistan said.
The survey said 23 per cent of the people suspected the government intelligence or security agencies of being responsible for Benazir's killing, and a further 25 per cent believed the government-allied politicians were to blame.
Only 17 per cent of the Pakistanis believed the official account of the government that Al-Qaeda militants were to blame.
Benazir herself accused several senior government and intelligence officials of plotting to kill her following a double suicide attack on a parade to welcome her home from exile in October last year.
Twelve per cent suspected the United States, and four per cent blamed India.
On Benazir's succession, 53 per cent of those questioned said the PPP had made the right decision to choose Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as its new chairman.
A further 28 per cent said it was wrong and 19 per cent said they did not know.
Gallup Pakistan said it interviewed 1,300 men and women in towns and cities across Pakistan and the poll carried a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points