Tuesday, February 5, 2008

HRCP denounces fresh curbs on Aitzaz and Tariq

Lahore, February 4: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) regrets that the government could not stomach its good act of restoring Aitzaz Ahsan and Tariq Mahmood to freedom for more than 24 hours. The tactic used by the government to evade its obligation to refer their cases to the Review Board reminds one of practices favoured by autocrats of the most contemptible variety. An administration that circumvents its legal and moral duties in this manner undermines the very foundations of an order based on respect for law. What makes the action against these distinguished lawyers reprehensible, from the very first day of their incarceration, is the fact that they have not been accused of any offence, and what they are supported to be prevented from doing is not a crime in any democratic dispensation. Their detention at the moment also amounts to a crude interference with the electoral process. The orders of their detention must be withdrawn forthwith.

Iqbal Haider,

Secretary General

Tribute to Benazir: From a mother

Dr. Nighat Khan

It was probably a sheer coincidence that I started my married life and career in 1988. The same year when the dark days of the Zia era had come to an end and a young, intelligent, vibrant and beautiful woman was poised to become the first PM of an Islamic country. She had gotten married a year before me and now she was to be a PM and a mother.

Millions of Pakistanis felt hopeful, or rather ecstatic at her sight. She exuded hope and glory this wretched nation deserved for a long time. Expectations mounted. But the mess was too much to clean, with so much to do amid hostility and animosity from all quarters of the establishment. Pakistanis began to grumble as they wanted her to fix all their ills with a magic wand.

By the time my first daughter Myra was born in November 1989, she had already succeeded in the no confidence movement against her. I was in labour when I heard the news. I also juggled my career as a faculty member of Aga , motherhood and the challenges encountered by many a career woman even today but many decades before.

She was dismissed as PM without being given a chance. And then the propaganda machine started churning against her and anyone close to her. I must confess I, along with many Pakistanis, felt disappointed and were perhaps swayed by the mass campaign against her and her husband. You see, we are a strange nation. We give decades to each dictator to mess with our destinies but are so short fused with politicians within 1/4th of that period.

I never met Benazir in person, a regret that I am going to take with me. The only time I saw her in person was when she had come to pick up Bilawal from school, who was a year ahead of Myra. She was already out of power as PM and was there as a mother.

At home time I looked up the Foyer steps one day and there she was. Tall, majestic radiant and towering everyone around her. She was flashing a charming smile. Oh God, how this image of her never left me. I wish I had gone up to her talked to her, befriended her as a mum.

What ever happened in 1990s, with the murder of her brother, what she was enduring many of us have only dreamt of. She was hounded by opinion makers, accused by the press of murdering her own brother. So much so that eventually she was driven out of the country. We celebrated when a “soft dictator” took over. She tried to come back but no one was ready to heed any attention. The upper classes went on about their comfortable living. Democracy, rule of law were perhaps never our priorities.

Her eventual arrival on 18th was preceded by the cacophony of NRO. Her reconciliatory tone was seen as her admission of corruption. On every TV channel, the so called intellectuals were busy dissecting NRO. But the common man had another idea. How she must have felt to see those thousands of human head dancing to her tune. They had no concern for NROs; all they could think was their leader was back. Her image of looking up the heavens with tears rolling down is immortal. She looked determined as well as radiant. But Benazir, the dark forces who killed the first PM of the country did not like what they saw. They were there to finish you. They failed only temporarily. Scores of people were killed and crippled.

My heart sank when she announced Liaqat Bagh as her venue for her next public rally on 27th December. I listened to her speech. She was exceptionally animated. I saw her coming down the stage after her speech, feeling relieved that she was fine now and changed the channel to BBC Food. You see, I come from Pindi and as a young girl, had witnessed the false trial and then tragic assassination of her father. I was worried that she is mother of children of my age and I know what I mean to my girls. I don’t know why I changed the BBC food channel and by mistake I pressed PTV channel number (We only press for PTV channel by mistake these days). I saw the ticker. There was breaking news of a bomb blast in her rally. My heart sank immediately. “Oh my God they got her”, I yelled for my husband who was quietly working at his laptop. I held his hand and said “She is no more”. I know for the next 15-20 minutes, TV channels tried to reassure us that she had left the rally and was safe. But it was her husband’s plea to pray for her life that the gravity of situation became a reality. I knew she was gone.

How could this happen? The shock, despair and horror which took over every Pakistani were by no means unique to me. I was part of a nation grieving. Like many Pakistanis I had broken down and was crying like an inconsolable child for days. Nothing seemed important anymore. My younger daughter would come every 5 minutes and say “your kiss makes me feel better so I will take care of you” She would hug me and give me a kiss. There was a role reversal. I had neglected my children in my grief. But I knew deep down at least I was alive for my daughters. My heart was bleeding for Bakhtawar, Asifa and Bilawal. Myra and Mareeha’s mother was alive but who will console these children? When will their mother give those hugs and kisses? Listen to their squabbling and just smile? How could such cruelty be meted to these children? Who are these heartless people? Don’t they have any children or grand children to plot such medieval murder? No one gave us any answers and the ones who did were so ridiculous that we were outraged even more.

I have been to Garhi Khuda Baksh lately with a group of women from WAF and anyone who visits that place cannot describe the intensity of tragedy striking us. But I went to her father’s grave and 30 years of grieve had come out and I cried and cried the tears I could not shed since April 4, 1979. I felt I was guilty of a terrible slight. I apologised to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for not rising up as a Pakistani at his murder. I apologized to him for being a drawing room talking head, for not meeting his illustrious daughter in person and telling her that she and I one in principle, that we had difference but we had more similarities. Sorry my dear prime ministers, we are ever so sorry for your killers are amongst us. I want to say

Qatal-e- hussain assl mein murg-e yazeed hai
Islam zinda hota hay hur Karbla kay bad

Benazir by taking your assassin head on, you have taught us new meanings of courage. They might have eliminated you physically but you have chosen to live on. Anyone who doubts that should go to Garhi Khuda Baksh and witness flocks of poor, shoeless people pouring in to her burial site after walking for miles.

The writer is a non political physician practicing in Karachi.

Email by Masood Sharif Khan to the Youth of Pakistan

Assalam alaikum All,

The younger generation of Pakistan gives me a lot of hope that all may not be lost as yet. I salute Raheem-ul-Haque and Saeeda Diep for their courage and conviction (READ THEIR ORDEAL BELOW). I salute every single one of you striving for Pakistan's freedom.

While I am proud of every single one of you I am quite ashamed of the fact that my generation has more or less failed to provide the younger generation a Pakistan wherein instead of feeling the need of distributing fliers demanding freedom in all respects (which truly is a basic human right that need not be asked for in a civilised society but be ensured by the State on its own) you all should have been striving towards self improvement at this stage of your lives.

There should have been jobs out there for which you all should have been competing knowing that your connections in this haphazard society of ours is not going to improve your lot but your competency will.

My generation should have built a Pakistan for you all which should have been free of guns, drugs, bombs and fighting of all sorts so that all of you could have happily indulged in your career building rather than being beaten by robotic so called security guards and the police itself for trying to salvage Pakistan from going deeper down the pipe.

I feel truly proud of all of you. You are all my sons and daughters. You are all, each one of you, truly the sons and daughters of this unfortunate land i.e. Pakistan that we call our motherland. THE MOTHERLAND IS TRULY PROUD TO HAVE PEOPLE LIKE ALL OF YOU OUT THERE FIGHTING THE HEAVY ODDS IN ORDER TO RESCUE PAKISTAN FROM GOING INTO A STATE OF PARALYSIS WHILE MANY ARE JUST WAITING AND WATCHING THE MOTHERLAND SUFFER AND BE FURTHER MAULED.

I believe in the power of one. You all are not one but many. One day those that now watch you suffer at the hands of the guards etc from the sidelines as in this case will be by your side. The struggle must go on if Pakistan is to be saved from the scheming within the country and from the conspiracies being hatched against its very integrity. This beautiful land of Pakistan needs to be salvaged, saved and put on the path of true freedom and has to be done very soon.

Believing in the power of one I recently wrote a letter to President Musharraf to resign giving him an exit strategy after having announced a resignation intent. Some of you may have read that but some may not have. Therefore I am attaching portions relevant to the incident of Raheem and Saeeda below.


The deplorable law and order situation in the country, in general, and the mishandling of the situation in our erstwhile peaceful tribal areas and other parts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) only add to the widespread belief in the country that you and your government have now become a huge part of the problem and are certainly not equal to the task of finding a solution to the gigantic problems faced by Pakistan. These problems have gained unimaginable dimensions through the years of your rule. While the Army and the paramilitary is deployed to fight in many parts of NWFP the police and the rangers etc are busy beating up the civil society in the city streets. Pakistan and Pakistanis are no longer at peace with each other.

.............This is an occasion to set things right. Mr President, the entire Pakistani Nation wants that you should not stand in the way leading to the evolution of a free and independent nation governed by systems, institutions and a free judiciary rather than by the whims of individuals. Pakistanis desire that you should now help bring this about through an announcement that you have, in principle, decided to resign and work for a smooth transition of power in the shortest possible stipulated period.

..............The people of Pakistan cannot now be stopped, through the misuse of State resources and the application of brute force, from achieving THE PAKISTANI DREAM which entails a free Pakistan for us all – from the common man to the President/Prime Minister. Pakistanis now want a Pakistan where law is the protector rather than being the tormentor of its own population.

Have you not, Mr President, seen pictures of those young Pakistanis protesting against your actions against the judiciary being beaten so ruthlessly? It is the State that you are heading that is beating its own children, my children as well as your children, Mr President. Collectively they all belong to us. They are our kith and kin. They are our blood and are also Pakistan's future.

Protests will take place. Protests have to take place in any society. They will always take place and, therefore, governments in Pakistan will have to be more tolerant with dissent and if they cannot be then they should either do only the absolutely unquestionable things so that there is no need for anyone to protest OR they should resign and make way for others to succeed them.

.........Make way for the future rather than having respectable people like our lawyers and students beaten up ruthlessly on our streets. These are the truly enlightened people of Pakistan who supported you till you went wrong. These people will never damage a single plant while protesting. So why beat them so brutally? I assure you that there is no way any amount of baton charge can now deter these leaders of tomorrow.

Pakistanis now seek that true freedom that they have longed for in the shape of The PAKISTANI DREAM which envisages us as the proud citizens of a Pakistan governed by systems and the national institutions rather than being ruled by a one man regime. Mr President, make way for The Pakistani Dream and become a part of it too. I urge you, and I am sure millions of Pakistanis would second me on this, to do the following:-

a. Announce that you have decided to resign and that you shall hand over power to a new President as soon as he is elected.
b. Announce that you shall meet all the political leaders within one week and, thereafter, will announce just one person as the consensus Prime Minister who will run the government through the existing bureaucratic structure and will have no Cabinet of useless Ministers. Also add that, thereafter, you shall recede into the background till the new President is elected and you finally hand over to him.
c. At this point, in time, also announce the revival of the judiciary to its 02 November,2007, position because this one step will bring about the lost confidence of the people of Pakistan and will also help give credibility to the whole process of the transition of political power.
d. That the new Prime Minister, independent of you, will appoint a new Election Commission, Chief Ministers and Governors.
e. That this new Prime Minister and the new Chief Election Commissioner will conduct a free, fair and impartial general elections within 90 days of taking office.
f. That during the three months in power the Prime Minister along with the revived judiciary will lay down the methodology for the effectiveness of the existing rules of business for all the government institutions so that once the new government takes charge there is never a transgression of one institution into the working of any other institution, civil or military.
g. That within one week of the new parliament coming into force the schedule for the election of a new President will be announced and once the new President is elected you shall hand over to him. The revived judiciary will give you immunity till this time i.e. when you actually hand over and leave. This can always be worked out amicably if we all put Pakistan ahead of our own selves.

I have suggested this smooth transition as compared to an abrupt transition so that the world starts looking at us as a civilised country and so that the country's chances of plunging into anarchy are avoided. The option of immediately handing over to the Chairman Senate after announcing the new consensus Prime Minister is available for you to consider. However, I will still recommend that work on the smooth transfer of political authority should begin immediately and in right earnest.

The writing on the wall is written in large, capital and bold letters, Mr President. Failing to read the same will be very detrimental for Pakistan.

The moment belongs to you, Mr President, and the choice of bringing about a graceful and historic political change in Pakistan, or an ignominious one, is all yours.

My prayer to ALLAH THE ALMIGHTY is to give you the strength to make the right decision which can only be to make way for the future in the most graceful manner.

Best regards.


If I could somehow do it I would bring about a generational change in Pakistan wherein Pakistan and the shping of it's destiny has a smooth transfer from the present generation to the younger generation in totality so that the stagnancy imposed upon Pakistan in the name of "experience" is done away with and Pakistan becomes that true progressive and welfare State that THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF PAKISTAN was always meant to be but never got anywhere near it's goals. 85% of Pakistanis live in deplorable conditions. They need help. Our help.

This is an occasion for the Pakistanis to realise that we are in a make or break situation and there is now nothing but we ourselves that can come to our own rescue.
My salutes and my very sincerest of prayers for all of you who can take injuries on your own bodies so that Pakistan is truly free.

Sincerely and from the innermost core of my heart an admirer of what you young people , the students - and of course the lawyers are doing for Pakistan.

Very humbly yours - and someone ashamed of the fact that his generation has let down our beloved Pakistan.


Masood Sharif Khan is a former IB Chief of Pakistan who resigned from the PPP when BB refused to take up the stance of the restoration of the judiciary and like us is boycotting the elections. He has already spent many years in jail for voicing up against Musharraf.

Solidarity Rally on the 9th of February

Today Pakistan stands at the crossroads of chaos and instability. The events of November 3rd, and December 27, 2007, have had a devastating affect on our nation, the Balkanization of which is now a very likely future scenario. The gravity of the situation demands that we, the people of Pakistan, stay united and work for the restoration of our judiciary, which can restore order to our nation. In the wake of rising provincial disharmony and the judicial crisis, Hum Logge has organized a plan to rally under the flag of Pakistan for solidarity on February 9th, 2008 from Lahore to the capital, Islamabad, via the G.T. road.

“Hum Logge” consists of organizers, in consultation with the Leaders of the Bars and major political parties, who are advocates of civil rights, the independence of judiciary, and a restoration of democracy. The parties will participate in the rally for a national cause since they too stand as a symbol of the Federation. We will rally with full support and enthusiasm from all classes of people (awam: the real people), the Leaders of the Bars and other participants including WAF (Women Action Forum), HRCP (Human Rights Commission of Pakistan), CCP (Concerned Citizens of Pakistan), the members of various NGOs, local civil society groups, SAC (Student Action Committee), and most importantly, the most marginalized citizens of this nation, who are the real voters. Hum Logge- We, the people, ARE the government. United we stand to make our voice heard.


The rally aims to reiterate the people’s demands for the restoration of the judiciary, free and fair elections for democracy, and to show solidarity amongst the four provinces in order to move the country away from the prevailing, vulnerable situation. It’s time to work together for the solidarity of our country.

We will join our brethren in Islamabad and together march towards the Supreme Court so that we can influence the present regime to meet our demands. We aim to show solidarity with judicial leaders who are acting players for the suppressed of the country, and who are fighting for the independence of the judiciary, civil liberties, freedom of democracy, a free media, and a society rid of atrocities and tyranny.

We anticipate everyone’s involvement and request that all individuals and organizations send their delegations as representatives in large numbers to show strength, power and the struggle of the people of Pakistan for their rights and for democracy.

This is for PAKISTAN and for ALL Pakistanis. It does not matter who you are and what your affiliations are. We ONLY want the Pakistani flag here, be it in the form of the flag itself, stickers, banners, etc. We want to focus on unity instead of the minor differences in agenda that we may have. Now is the time to unite.

We would also be obliged if people can donate cars for transportation to Islamabad. Please do register your cars with us and confirm the number of people you will be bringing along with Bina Qureshi.


Looking forward,
Bina Qureshi
Team leader

Phone number: 0300-8412435

Email: images_help@yahoo.com

SHC disposes of May 12 petitions : Five-member bench declines to ‘interfere’

Daily Times Reports:

KARACHI: A five-member bench of the "Sindh High Court (SHC)" on Monday disposed of multiple petitions filed in connection with the violence on May 12 here, saying no aggrieved party had filed any cases, and it did not want to “interfere”. The bench, led by SHC Chief Justice Afzal Soomro, and comprising Justices Munib Ahmed Khan, Nadeem Azhar Siddiqui, Abdur Rahman Faruq Pirzada and Rana M Shamim, said a few individuals could materially disrupt a law and order situation. This, it said, was likely to adversely impact the economy, and cause insecurity and unrest among citizens. The bench also discussed a suo motu reference moved by the SHC registrar, which was converted into a constitutional petition. It said the preliminary objections raised by Sindh Advocate General (AG) Dr Muhammad Faroogh Naseem, questioning its maintainability had merit. The bench also discussed the argument of the respondents and the State on the blocking of roads and all exit and entry points leading to the SHC. It noted that Naseem had argued that state functionaries were well within their powers to deny access to roads and premises to avert threats to life and property. The bench also noted that 80 FIRs had been lodged and investigations were underway. The contempt-of-court applications against the Sindh home secretary, IGP, CCPO Karachi, TPO Saddar and others, were also rejected. ar qureshi
RoP Adds: The Sindh High Court was actively persuing this case before Nov 3 and ensuring that the executive remained accountable before the courts for any gross violations of people's right and liberties. A point came when the Chief Minister of Sindh vowed that no investigation will be done ito the May 12 killings, despite abundant evidence of his government's complicity in the murder of dozens on that day. After Nov 3, a majority of the the SHC judges were sacked and only 9 loyalists were retained out of the 27 judges. The dismissal of petitions regarding May 12 incidents by the newly-constituted "Sindh High Court" is condemnible and reiterates the importance of restoring the independant judges, and of upholding the rule of law.