Friday, February 22, 2008

U.S. Ambassador Anne Peterson should leave Pakistan

Yusuf Nazar

The U.S. Ambassador is blatantly interfering in Pakistan's internal affairs and trying to influence the formation of a new government in Islamabad. The New York Times (Feb. 22) reports, " as the negotiations proceeded between Mr. Sharif and Mr. Zardari in the last two days, political circles here were awash with talk that Washington was interfering, trying to micromanage a process in which the Bush administration has much at stake.

The impression that the United States was meddling was fortified Wednesday when Mr. Zardari was summoned to the American Embassy for a meeting with the ambassador, Anne W. Patterson. Afterward, Mr. Zardari was portrayed as a creature of the Americans who wanted him to work with Mr. Musharraf, a negative perception for a politician in a country where recent polls show the United States has a favorable rating of just 16 percent."

This seems like a crude attempt by way of a 'careful leak' apparently made through the U.S. diplomatic channels to belittle Mr. Zardari and defame him since he has apparently refused to play ball with the Americans and has opted to work with the PML(N) whereas the Bush administration officials want him to work with Musharraf and his allies in the PML(Q) - a group called as political orphans by late Benazir Bhutto.

According to a report (Feb. 22) in the News International by its correspondent Ansar Abbasi, "although, Zardari did not talk of Washington's pressures, sources in the party confirmed that the Americans had brought tremendous pressure on the PPP co-chairperson to make a coalition government with the likes of the PML-Q and MQM but not with the PML-N.

The N-League's foremost priority for the reinstatement of the deposed judges is not getting approval from Washington despite the fact that within Pakistan this is the most popular demand of the masses. Not only the Americans are directly influencing the party to make what many see as an "artificial" coalition government in Islamabad, some pseudo intellectuals are also pursuing the same agenda."

The Daily Times (Feb. 21) reported that, "a delegation of US senators visiting Pakistan met Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari at the US embassy here on Tuesday and urged him to ally with moderate forces to form a democratic government. US Ambassador Anne W Peterson was also present on the occasion. The delegates condoled with Asif Ali Zardari on his wife and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's death and acknowledged Benazir's struggle for democracy. The delegation of US senators includes Senator John Kerry, a former US presidential candidate, Senator Joseph Biden and Senator Chuck Hagel."

The Americans and particularly its Ambassador in Pakistan should know that the people of Pakistan have voted the Pakistan People's Party -headed by Mr. Zaradari - as the largest political party and he therefore should be treated with due respect and courtesy. But more importantly, it is high time that junior level American diplomats should stop trying to micro manage Pakistan. Another U.S. diplomat - its Consul General in Lahore - met Aitzaz Ahsan and tried to persuade him to that the PPP should work with Musharraf as President.

The level of interference by the U.S. diplomats in Pakistan has crossed all limits of diplomatic norms and the tolerance of Pakistani people. It is about time that the people demand that the U.S. Ambassador Anne Peterson immediately leave Pakistan. The APDM and the civil soceity- particularly - the lawyers should demand this as a sign of protest by the Pakistani people against the American support for dictator Musharraf.

Press Release From Justice (Retd.) Tariq Mahmood.21-02-2008

It is evident from Pakistan’s history that removal of any military dictatorship does not occur simply through a popular movement. Although the military dictatorship becomes weaker; it simply reappears with a new face. This time too, there was no indication that we would get rid of General Musharraf, until the 9th of March 2007.

But on the 9th of March, the lawyers saw and seized the opportunity to start a populist movement against the rule of Gen. Musharraf. The private media, civil society, students and political parties have played an integral and enthusiastic role in this movement. As a result of this movement, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed and Mian Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan, which resulted in the military dictator being forced to hold General Elections.

Since the power of the ballot is one way to enable the citizenry to remove military dictatorship, hence the popular political parties decided to participate in the elections, while some decided to boycott the elections. And, unfortunately, that portion of the leadership of the Lawyers’ Movement, which was outside prisons or house-arrest, sided with those political forces in favour of a boycott of the General Elections.

Nevertheless, the General Elections took place, and the results in Sindh, Punjab and NWFP demonstrated the wishes of the people. However, since the popular political parties of Balochistan boycotted the elections, thus the results there are skewed. Nevertheless, the PPP was successful in Balochistan. In the NWFP the MMA won only the few seats it deserved.

In this scenario, I would request that the victorious parties should be given the opportunity to form the Government, so that they can start dealing with the problems facing Pakistan. These include the restoration of the Judiciary, but this problem must be solved with great care and deliberation. Military dictators have turned Pakistan into ”Masaailistan”. These problems cannot be magically solved instantaneously.

Thus, at this critical juncture, we should not take any step, which would bring the incoming political leadership under pressure and the invisible powers may take advantage of it, which would harm and set back our Movement, and might even necessitate the launch of a new movement.

At this time, there is a need that we should adopt attitudes and behaviour that will strengthen our institutions. We should not work for our personal interests. We all have made huge sacrifices for the larger interest of our country and for strengthening our institutions. We want a prosperous Pakistan for our children, where there will be equal rights for everyone and equal opportunities for everyone to develop according to their abilities. We should not expect any temporary personal benefit, in exchange for our sacrifices.

Through these election results the people of Pakistan have provided our leadership a golden opportunity to take Pakistan out of its problems. But to achieve this, we should cooperate with them and be patient. This is the start of a new and challenging era for Pakistan, in which our success will require us to be wise, sensible and patient.

Video of MQM Polling agents rigging in NA 250, Karachi

Replace NRO with general legislation on "Judicial Pardon"

Salman Shuaib

It is evident that PPP is not too keen on restoring the judiciary, especially since they want the NRO to stay. Musharraf has activated the trial in the Swiss courts against Zardari as a bargaining chip. The disgraced General will also rely on the good offices of President Bush to press Zardari to not restore the judiciary, as it will spell the end of Musharraf.

All these, however, are the last sighs of a dying man. The movement for restoration of judges will only gather pace from hereon, and CJP Iftikhar will have to be restored sooner or later. Infact, "restored" is the wrong word, CJP Iftikhar "is" the current constitutional Chief Justice of Pakistan and we don't even need the new government to pass any administrative order to reinstate the Chief Justice.Our problem is to ensure that CJP Iftikhar resumes his office wihout any conditions attached. At the same time we need to restore a level of trust and cooperation between the reinstated judiciary and new executive.

The NRO is unacceptable as it gives an exclusive constitutional amnesty to certain political parties for their alleged corruption. In order to restore Pakistan's judiciary with honour and without such humiliating conditions as the NRO, I recommend that a general concept of judicial pardon for those who commit acts of redemption be legislated.

Those who commit an act of goodness such as restoring the judiciary without any conditions attached, thereby protecting Pakistan from billions of dollars of corruption in future, they should be eligible to receive a judicial pardon for their past crimes - provided that such a pardon is given at the discretion of the judiciary and not a part of any legislation. Also, if any past corruption is proven, then the guilty individual that received a pardon will still have to reimburse Pakistan's coffers with the stolen amount but will not be subject to any personal punishment such as jail for the specific period that he received a pardon for. The pardoned individuals will remain accountable for any future acts of corruption.

I believe that if Allah can forgive us for our past crimes if we overcome them with good deeds, then our Constitution should also have some element of forgiveness in it.

Again, just to ensure that my personal opinions are not misinterpretted as a free ride for the corrupt, I would like to lay down the specifics of the "Judicial Pardon" as it ought to be legislated:

1. NRO stands annulled
2. Any citizen of Pakistan that has committed a crime in the past but overcomes it with an act of equal or greater goodness, as determined by independent judges, should be eligible to receive a judicial pardon for his past crimes. The extent of the pardon should be determined by the judges as well.
3. Provided that if any past acts of corruption are proven in a court of law, the individual receiving pardon must reimburse the State of Pakistan with the misappropriated amount.
4. The individual receiving pardon will still be accountable to the judiciary for any corruption or crime committed in the future.
5. No conditions must be attached to the resumption of office by the Chief Justice Iftikhar and all other judges. Judicial pardons will only be granted on a case-by-case basis after the independent judiciary is restored.

I believe that Imran Khan should mediate between CJP Iftikhar, Nawaz and Zardari with the above proposal. This is my personal opinion and not in any way reflects PTI's official stance. The civil society, lawyers and APDM meanwhile should continue to press for the reinstatement of CJP Iftikhar so that he comes to his office with the power of the people, and not beholden to any political party that does him a favour.

Judiciary restoration should be first govt priority: Atizaz, Imran

(Courtesy GEO)

LAHORE: Chief of Tahreek-i-Insaaf Imran Khan and Supreme Court Bar Association President Aitezaz and Imran both said public has given their mandate in elections that they completely reject Musharraf’s dictatorship and wants democratic forces to takeover.

They said elected leaders should take advantage of this mandate and take a clear stance on the issue of judiciary. They appreciated the mutual statement by Nawaz sharif and Asif Ali Zardari in a meeting that judiciary will be reinstated.

Both Aitezaz and Imran stated that there is no need of parliamentary intervention to reinstate the deposed judges as it was only one executive order and not any parliamentary intervention which had deposed them.

Imran and Aitezaz seems united on one point that they want reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudry as the chief justice of Pakistan and all 60 deposed judges who took stand for every citizen of Pakistan and not just the constitution of Pakistan, hence there will be no compromise on this demand.

Aitezaz called for lawyers and civil society’s long march on 9th March and Imran Khan ensured APDM’s and his full support and participation to make the long March a success. In reply to a question Aitezaz said he totally supports ANP’s demand of change of name of NWFP to Pakhtunwa.

Over to new leaders

By I. A. Rehman
DAWN - 21 February, 2008
THE poor, dumb, illiterate voters have done it again. They have maintained their tradition of cleaning the politicians' stables every nine or ten years and securing for their elected representatives opportunities to establish a system of governance that is democratic, sensitive to the people's sorrows and their aspirations, and responsible to them.
What the masses did on one of the most radiant Mondays in Pakistan's political history was not easy. The attempt by the arrogant members of the executive to influence their choice and pre-determine the electoral outcome may have been largely foiled in the final round, it need not be forgotten.
Everyone knows about the cheques and bags of flour that were being distributed in Lahore on the eve of the election or the canvassing for the King's party done by the mightiest in the land by predicting its triumph. The people's success in overcoming these factors makes their effort all the more impressive. They deserve credit for Monday's vindication of the majesty of the ballot more than anyone else. They made the final lap of the race somewhat credible, the earlier laps were not.
The media is a close second on the roll of honour, for they stuck to their job despite provocations and not only made the hurdles placed in their way ineffective, they also made the curbs placed on them look ridiculous. The voters' achievement can be summed up in a few words. They left no room for doubting their comprehensive repudiation of the regime and the way they have been governed for many years.
By calling off the bluff of trouble-makers they reaffirmed the fact that gatherings that demonstrate freedom from fear of violence are not likely to be interfered with. They kept the rate of turnout abreast of the requirement and at places it exceeded 50 per cent.
The voting pattern had quite a few notable features. In three provinces the establishment party was routed and it survived only in Balochistan because the potential winners there, the nationalists became more serious about the poll boycott than the authors of the idea. While the political parties invited criticism for their lack of planning and preparation the voters did not display any such shortcoming. They respected the multi-ethnic character of the provincial entities and avoided voting exclusively along ethnic lines. And they have obliged the various pretenders to the seat of power to learn the art of governance by coalition which must in all circumstances be based on the principle of inter-party consensus.
That Pakistan's crises have been aggravated to such an extent that they cannot be adequately addressed by any single party is quite widely understood. Even a government of national consensus will realise the need for patient application to the task of creating a reasonably efficient order. The split-vote in almost all parts of the country means that there is no alternative to a sincere search for national consensus and reconciliation.
Let nobody presume that democracy has been restored, only the journey towards this goal has began. No election guarantees change and fulfilment of people's expectations. It may be suicidal to take the establishment for granted. Its capacity to protect itself by exploiting differences between the major political actors must not be discounted. The danger that democratic politics could be undermined by a replay of the centre-province confrontation such as was witnessed after the 1988 election has already been noted in public debate and it must not be ignored. Whatever the nature and composition of new governments at the centre and in the federating units, it will obviously be necessary to keep personal ambitions of the front runners in check.
Those capable of staying out of power may last in public favour longer then those rushing to assume responsibility for what must for quite some time be unpopular decisions.
In order to be able to fully respect the electorate's verdict in favour of change the new governments will need to be clear about their priorities. Essentially this applies to the PPP and the PML-N. Fortunately both of them reaffirmed their commitment to the Charter of Democracy in their election manifestos. Their ability to deliver on the people's expectation will depend on the degree of their faithfulness to the charter.
The new governments will start off well by recognising that democratic governance will not be ushered in with their oath taking. Their most formidable task will be to lay the foundations of democratic institutions, beginning with resurrection of the parliamentary system, which consists mainly of rule by a cabinet totally responsible to and guided by parliament. A speedy revival of parliament as the locus of state authority will be necessary for evolving the system of responsible governance. Pakistan has suffered a great deal over the past decades because of its rulers' tendency to avoid interaction with the people during inter-election years.
Mature politicians do not always talk down to their people; they listen to them and are not shy of learning from them. It is time to free political parties of the stigma that their sole purpose is to manage periodic elections.
Now is the time for democratic political parties, to establish mechanisms for a two-way flow of ideas between party leaders and the cadres so that the choice of candidates for elective offices can be made solely on the basis of one's talent, skill and record of public service. The only defence democratic forces can build against their authoritarian rivals lies in broadening the base of governance, the greater the number of the people in power the stronger and more benevolent the democratic system will be.
Of course, there will be pressure on the new rulers to resolve the issues that have fuelled agitation and discontent over the past many months. These are: restoration of the judiciary and its status as an organ of the state by no means inferior to either of the two other state pillars; resolution of the causes of discord over the presidency and a redesigning of its constitutional role; the need to build up a federation of duly autonomous partners; the urgency of devising effective means to overcome militancy and extremism; and the pressing demand to guarantee the disadvantaged hordes freedom from want through gainful employment, social security and advancement of women's and children's rights.
Fortunately the electorate has created possibilities for resolving all of these matters. None of these issues is new, and the causes of failure in the past to deal with them should be kept in mind. Quite often the democratic forces make the going difficult by poor manoeuvrings against their adversaries. Efforts to address the critical priorities must begin straightaway because delay in facing a crisis is the surest way to perpetuate it and make it progressively more intractable.
But the temptation to find instant solutions to complex issues through hasty and ill-planned initiatives can be as damaging as inaction. The new leaders will improve the chances of their success if they can learn to take the people into confidence and to take them along. Broadest possible public support to their enterprise alone can assure the new leaders of the minimum necessary comfort on what is manifestly a bed of thorns. Only the fittest to govern will survive.

Advocates on the move: Meeting Aitzaz Ahsan

Farooq Tariq
Labor Party Pakistan

We were today at Lahore High Court to participate in their Thursday weekly protest rally. Every Thursday, the advocates take out rallies. In Lahore, the advocates come from two different places and then join hands at Lahore High Court building. Here is what our observations are.

Over 4000 advocates marched on the main Mall Road of Lahore in a very defiant mood. They chanted slogans with full throat and vowed to continue struggle until end of military dictatorship and restoration of judiciary.

“Go Musharaf Go, Friends of Musharaf are traitors, You and me are dying with hunger, because the General Head Quarters Military (GHQ) has looted every thing, The black coats movement will win, Friends of Americans are traitors, Going with Musharaf will dig its own graveyard, We will prevail, restore our judges, down with those taking oath under PCO, Listen Chief (the deposed chief justice Iftikhar Choudry) we will die for you, The black coat will end Musharaf dictatorship, were some of the slogans raised at the rally.

They had earlier gathered at the hall of Lahore Bar Association and Karachi Hall at Lahore High Court. At Lahore Bar Association general body meeting, Justice Khawaja Sharif spoke and at Lahore High Court, Justice Shaihd Siddique and Justice Shafqat spoke of great movement of the advocates for the independence of judiciary. Later, Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudry spoke to Lahore High Court Bar Association members on telephone from Islamabad, where is detained at his home. Advocates were in a rebellion mood and were warning repeatedly to the future government of Pakistan Peoples Party.

“If they join hands with Musharaf, the struggle will be against them as well,” They praised the people of Pakistan who have voted against Musharaf. It seems that the movement has once again picked up to new heights. There were advocates from all ages and many elderly advocates were raising slogans like the young ones. The young ones were leading the rally with a great enthusiasm. The women advocates were raising many slogans as well.

One young advocate could raise slogans for many minutes continuously, winning many appreciations by the participants. She had almost made a song that she expressed in slogans along with her colleagues. Later in the afternoon, 10 of us went to the house of Aitzaz Ahsan, the president of Supreme Court Bar Association. We heard on the radio that he is again detained at his house after yesterday speech to the demonstrators who gathered at his house. There was a lot of police outside his house. We went in his office, which is situated at the back of his house.
There were over 30 present in the office.

His secretary Aftab welcomed us and told us that he cannot come out of his house. As we were writing messages for him, and handing over Weekly Mazdoor Jeddojuhd Faiz number, Aitzaz Ahsan just came over to the office to the surprise of every one. He was very pleased to see us over there. He spoke a lot of word of praise for the contribution of Labour Party Pakistan during the struggle of advocates. He particularly thanked me for all the enthusiasm we are bringing in the movement. He appealed to every one there to be ready for 9 March to reach Islamabad if judges are not restored. That will be the main preparation for every one in Pakistan.

He said he has just come out of his house to greet us briefly. The police officials were there but did not intervene or asked him to go inside the house. Earlier, on the radio, I heard that Punjab Government home secretary has issued strict orders that no one can meet Aitzaz and that Aitzaz has broken the law yesterday by coming out of his house to join the demonstration briefly.

It seems that the Punjab government has lost its control over its institutions of repression and the police was not doing what they were asked to do. We left his house after this brief encounter with Aitzaz, he was very happy and was eager to show his commitment to continue the struggle till the end of dictatorship.