Thursday, January 31, 2008

Iftikhar Day today

(Courtesy GEO)

KARACHI: Lawyers are boycotting courts and taking out protest rallies across the country on Chaudhry Iftikhar Day to express their solidarity with the sacked judges.

Lawyers of the Islamabad and Rawalpindi Bar Association are planning to march to dismissed chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry's residence this afternoon. In Karachi, Justice retired Rana Baghwandas is addressing lawyers at the Sindh High Court Bar Association's offices.

Later, the protesters will march towards the press club. Lawyers are also gathered in the District courts in Lahore and are planning to march on the Mall. Authorities have vowed to stop the protest and heavy contingents of police are deployed in the area. Smaller protests are taking place in Peshawar and Quetta and heavy security is in place in all the cities where rallies are being taken out.

Pictures from Iftikhar Day Rallies can be found here.

Justice Iftikhar lashes out at Musharraf

By Nasir Iqbal

(Courtesy DAWN)

ISLAMABAD, Jan 30: Deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has written an open letter to world leaders, rejecting the allegations levelled by President Pervez Musharraf during his recent tour of Europe.

“I’ve no other purpose than to clear my name and to save the country (and perhaps others as well) from the calamity that stares us in the face. We can still rescue (Pakistan) from all kinds of extremism: praetorian and dogmatic,” he said in the letter handed out to the media by advocate Athar Minallah at the Islamabad Bar Association on Wednesday.

The copies of the letter have also been sent to embassies and high commissions in Islamabad.

Addressed to the president of the European Parliament, president of France, prime minister of the United Kingdom, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Prof Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum, Justice Iftikhar reassured that he would not preside over any bench that would be seized of matters pertaining to personal interests of President Musharraf after restoration of the Constitution and judges which, God willing, would be soon.

“I have found it necessary to write to you and others because during the tour General (retd) Musharraf has slandered me and my colleagues with impunity in press conferences, other addresses and meetings,” the letter said.“While meeting the international press, heads of state and other important personalities at Davos, Paris, Brussels and London, President Musharraf had also distributed a document, entitled ‘profile of the former chief justice of Pakistan’ and accused him for being ‘inept and corrupt’.”

Justice Iftikhar said he still was the rightful Chief Justice of Pakistan though detained in his residence along with his family since Nov 3, 2007, pursuant to some verbal and unspecified order passed by the General (retd) Musharraf.

He said the Constitution of Pakistan contained no provision for its suspension and certainly not by the army chief or bring amendments except by parliament.

There can be no democracy without any independent judiciary and there can be no independent judge in Pakistan until the action of November 3 (when the emergency was proclaimed) is reversed.“Whatever the will of some desperate men, the struggle by valiant lawyers and civil society of Pakistan will bear fruit. They are not giving up,” the letter said.

The edifice of an independent judicial system, Justice Iftikhar emphasised, alone stood against extremism and if this edifice was destroyed, the ground would be taken over by other. “This is what is happening in Pakistan.”

He asked the world leaders about any precedent in the history where 60 judges, including three chief justices, were dismissed, arrested and detained at the whim of one man.

“I have failed to discover any such event in medieval times under any emperor, king or sultan or even when a dictator has had full military sway over any country in more recent times.“

But this incredible outrage has happened in the 21st century at the hands of an extremist general out on a ‘charm offensive’ of western capitals and one whom the west supports,” he said.

Justice Iftikhar divided the allegations levelled by President Musharraf in the document into two parts: one which was also part of the reference filed against him on misconduct but was thrown out by a 13-member Supreme Court bench.

“The Supreme Court found that the evidence submitted against me by the government was so obviously fabricated and incorrect that the bench took the unprecedented step of fining the government of Rs100,000 for filing clearly false and malicious documents as well as revoking the licence to practice of the Advocate on Record for filing false documents.”

In the second part, the letter addressed the allegations like retaining political lawyer like Aitzaz Ahsan, riding in former prime minister Zafarullah Jamali’s car, creating a political atmosphere, countrywide touring and politicising the issue and political leaders calling on the CJP at his residence.

Vigorously denying each allegation, he said the new allegations dated to the period before the reference had been filed against him last March, yet none of them had been listed in the already bogus charge-sheet.

More pictures from the Peshawar Rally

Images: Ordinary citizens on the streets in Peshawar

Pictures from the peace rally in Peshawar. Report below.

Citizens stage peaceful rally in Peshawar

Citizens staged a peace rally in Hayatabad on Wednesday, demanding the government and militants make efforts to protect citizens from suicide and rocket attacks. read more here:\01\31\story_31-1-2008_pg7_51

What the above report did not highlight is that there was a strong anti-Musharaff mood in the rally and almost all the speakers held the government responsible for the present security crisis. I participated in the walk too and it confirmed my belief.

The writing on the wall is now clear -- the dictator has no sympathisers left in the Frontier. These are ordinary citizens, women and children showing dissent in the streets in a conservative place like Peshawar. These are evident signs that the dark days of Musharraf's rule are ending. (Account by an Eye Witness)

What is your mission?

By Dr. Haider Mehdi

Unusual as it was, Dubai in the UAE remained under dark clouds, chilled, and rainy for several days last week. Equally unusual, at about the same time, was the fact that Pakistan’s Attorney-General, Justice (retd) Malik Qayyum, a symbol of the neo-colonial mindset of the incumbent political establishment in Islamabad, was spotted shopping all alone, unattended by the subservient bureaucracy of the consulate’s office, in a Hypermarket at the Dubai Festival City. Indeed, it was an indication that the Attorney-General, wanting to be unnoticed, was on a secret mission in the Emirates.

Then came the news that Asif Zardari was also in town to see his children. What a coincidence! This was followed by other news that the Attorney-General had met the PPP Chairperson and offered him the premiership of an interim administration on the pre-condition of accepting certain government demands that included postponing the elections for another year. In the meantime, the General (retd) has been telling his audiences in Western Europe that there is “no way” elections could be delayed.

No less surprising, another media story surfaced: Shahbaz Sharif, President PML (N), had flown to Islamabad to inquire about the health of an old friend, a retired army officer who happens to be a close confidant of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. By absolute coincidence, it was claimed, the younger Sharif and the retired Brigadier flew to London for a medical checkup at about the same time.

In the meantime, the General (retd) continues to claim, abroad as well as at home, that by imposing emergency and dismissing the Supreme Court judges on November 3, 2007, he has upheld the constitution of Pakistan. How one justifies such an absurd and contradictory claim is only known to the General (retd). Ironically, in a similar analogous assertion, the General’s (retd) personal friend and staunch supporter, George W. Bush, considers himself “a president of peace” – notwithstanding a “holocaust” in which over a million and a half people have perished so far in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon. This human carnage has been explicitly orchestrated by his 8-year neo-conservative ultra-Right-Christian-supported regime in Washington D.C. This is despite the fact that the Center for Public Integrity in the US says that the top US officials, including President Bush, lied 935 to the American public and the world in a two-year period leading to the Iraq war – in spite of this, the American president maintains that he and his administration were merely the unwitting victims of “bad intelligence”. Amazing incidents of deliberately intended falsehood, aren’t they? What can you say about these shameful charades of the ultra-Right-Wing politicians?

An internet website is currently circulating two pictures of the former two-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. In the first photograph taken nearly 2 decades ago, Nawaz Sharif is seen on the mazar (grave) of General Zia-ul-Haq saying, “Hum ap ka mission poora karain gay (We will accomplish your mission).” In the second picture, the former Prime Minister is at Benazir’s mazar (grave) and repeating exactly the same statement verbatim, “Hum ap ka mission poora karain gay.” What is this twice- (in two different eras) promised mission exactly?

No human relationships, honorable, dependable, mutual, respectable and lasting can be built on falsehood – let alone solid, healthy and confident relationships between political leaderships and the national masses at large. The war in Iraq is based on falsehoods. So is the so-called incidental meetings between the Attorney-General and Asif Zardari. Contrary to the impression given in the media, the meeting between Shahbaz Sharif and the brigadier was pre-planned for specific political purposes. Similarly, the General’s (retd) assertions, in totality, are based on absolute falsehood and are intended to manipulate the public and the global audience. Just as Nawaz Sharif’s two declarations of “Hum ap ka mission poora karain gay” are purely rhetorical for public consumption.

Falsehood, at an individual level is precipitated by three fundamental psychological factors: (a) The people who habitually lie have no respect for the intelligence of others. They assume that others cannot figure out the truth. Also, they believe that if a lie is told consistently and continually, it will eventually be taken as “the truth” (this is the basis of the media-driven democracy doctrine in the US in the present technological civilization). Politicians (mostly the ultra-Right-Wing media-dependent majority) make another addition to this psychological equation: they believe that people have short memories, and there is no moral dilemma involved in lying to the public.

The second factor at the base of individual falsehood is that the feelings of others, in mutual interaction and human discourse, are not considered as important. What is assumed important is one’s personal agenda and its fulfillment. Politicians’ interpretation of this component is that the masses are too ignorant and lack basic intelligence to understand the dynamics of Realpolitik – It is not the public’s role to decide what and what not to be said in a given situational context. Nor does the public have the right to make judgments on national issues. It is simply a prerogative that belongs to politicians, who are obviously knowledgeable and in power.

The third element that operates within the psyche of individual falsehood is personal arrogance and intrinsic disrespect for seeking mutually and an in-depth strength of relationship with others: “If you do not like what I say and do, then tough luck. It is your problem, not mine.” Politicians extend this personal arrogance to another psychological level: “We are above and apart from the public. We make history. We know what you don’t. The common people neither have the right nor the knowledge nor the vision to question our judgments.”

The question is: If the politicians and the present ruling leadership in Pakistan (for that matter globally, especially in the US) are so aptly visionary, then why are we at the edge of an abyss today? One explanation of the prevailing chaos is the politics of falsehood that has become the “modus-operandi” of our political existence and the intended perpetuation of the said system.

At a time of a seemingly national political renaissance (thanks to the civil society, lawyers and the courageous judges of the apex courts), Asif Zardari did not have to lie to the nation about a pre-planned meeting with a top government functionary; all he had to do was to tell the nation that he wanted to find out about the government’s offer and make a counter-proposal to benefit the national movement for the restoration of democracy. Shahbaz Sharif did not have to invent a story which no one considers credible; he simply had to say that he wanted to listen to what was being proposed to him. Nawaz Sharif should have remembered that people, after all, do not have such short memories, neither are the masses so remote from understanding what is going on in their country. Nawaz Sharif should have qualified his statements with a reasonable and sensible explanation.

As for the incumbent political establishment, we all know that its leadership suffers from an incurable paralysis of political incorrectness, lack of vision, poor management skills, and above all, from a futility of falsehood that cannot be healed – nor can it be restored to any meaningful dimension that is the call of our time. Judging from the severity of its misjudgments and flawed political decision-making this administration is beyond the possibility of redemption or salvation.

Surely, we as a nation have the right to know where the leadership of both the PPP and the PML (N) firmly stand on the questions of a national political renaissance movement – unequivocally.

What is your mission?

Let it be known that the masses are not ignorant, neither are they willing to accept falsehood as the ideological “modus-operandi” of our political existence.

Perhaps the nation should listen to Imran Khan more attentively, more carefully – more diligently – that is where a clear line is being drawn between political falsehood and the political truth of our times!

Seek the truth – and the truth shall set you free…!

The Nation, January 30, 2008