Friday, March 28, 2008

The War on Terror: Another Grisly Tale, still Shrouded in Mystery

- Suspect in 'Lahore FIA blast' dies in custody: Torture, Poisoning... ?

How many people will have to be killed or debilitated or simply 'vanished' in police custody before the War on Terror can be won? That is a question we as a nation need to ask ourselves. If law enforcers insist upon gouging out 'voluminous confessions of truth' even from the depths of bruised entrails, they do nothing but destroy the legitimacy of law. No matter how many esteemed judgest, lawyers and activists rally behind the slogan of rule of law, and no matter how many movies and dramas are made to eulogize the agents of the law, incidents like the one reported below simply destory the foundations of respect for law.

In the eyes of the law, the deceased was no more than a mere suspect, innocent until proven guilty, duly protected from all torture. His life and well-being were no less than law's sacred trust - a trust that has been tragically betrayed. Largely unmourned and unbemoaned remains the violated deceased. Amidst all these tragedies, we do not even have a Mir Anis who may befittingly record the 'marsia of our times' so that we may sit together and weep over it.

Read on. From today's "The Nation".


ASIF CHAUDHRYLAHORE - The mystery surrounding the death of the owner of mini-truck in police custody which, according to the police officials was the only ray of hope, has begun to unwind now. A medical board of Mian Munshi Hospital in its post mortem report ruled that the death was caused by suffocation or strangulation, sources disclosed.
The board which declared the death of the truck driver as caused by strangulation included MS Mian Munshi Hospital, Dr Shafqat Ali who is chairman of the board, senior surgeon Dr Muhammad Khalid, District Health Officer (DHO) Dr Muhammad Ishaq and District Medicolegal Officer (DMLO) Dr Muhammad Tanveer.
Afzal was being interrogated by the Sabzazar Police when he was found dead mysteriously in the police lock up. The police tried to hush up the issue, claiming it was a natural death. However, relatives of the deceased claimed that he was tortured in the police custody that led to his death. Meanwhile, Mian Munshi Hospital’s senior doctor told The Nation seeking anonymity that while examining the body of Muhammad Afzal, the experts found some marks on his throat which revealed that the cause of death was ‘asphyxiation’.To a query, he said that no torture marks were found on any other part of the deceased. The marks on the throat of the deceased has confirmed that he was suffocated to death, he said.The source said that after compiling the initial report, the medical board has sent some parts of stomach, lungs and liver of the deceased for chemical examination to establish presence of any poisonous substance. The source claimed that two members of the medical board expressed their apprehension that the deceased might have been administered poisonous substance before suffocating him to death. After thoroughly discussing this point, the participants agreed to sent some body parts of the deceased for further chemical examination.The dead body of mini truck driver Muhammad Afzal, 25, was shifted to the city morgue for autopsy after he was found dead mysteriously under the custody of Sabzazar Police on last Wednesday.
According to the rules, if a person dies in the police custody, the case is referred to the Medical Board of the Mian Munshi Hospital to establish real cause of the death. His death in police custody is also considered a great loss for the investigators.The post mortem report establishing that he was killed through suffocation would crop up further problems for the police leaders. They will have to address questions that why and how he was killed.It is pertinent to mention here that Muhammad Afzal was arrested by the law enforcement agencies after the Excise and Taxation Department established his ownership of the mini truck used in blowing up the FIA headquarters in the city. He was the only accused so far arrested by the police. Muhammad Afzal was interrogated in various police stations to seek his arrest.
The police handed over the dead body to its relatives on Thursday. It is also learnt that dozens of close relatives, friends and locals held demonstration against the death of youth Muhammad Afzal in the police custody. The protestors placed the dead body of the deceased on the road outside Press Club and chanted slogans against the police.The protestors were carrying placards inscribed with appeal to the prime minister, chief minister Punjab and other high ups to hold inquiry against Afzal’s arrest and his death claiming that he was innocent.

Judiciary's Restoration through Parliament - Justice (R) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim's Draft

Below is the text of the draft prepared for Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari by Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim for the restoration of the judiciary through the parliament.
WHEREAS, We the elected representatives of the people of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan acknowledge and honor the long and arduous struggle for the return to democracy and rule of law by the legal fraternity, civil society and the ordinary citizens of our beloved country.

AND WHEREAS, We pay tribute to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and thousands of brave political activists across the country who made the ultimate sacrifice and laid down their lives or suffered imprisonment for the cause of restoration of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law in Pakistan. We shall not let their sacrifices go in vain.

AND WHEREAS, this Assembly is mindful that the foundation of democracy cannot survive without a return to the rule of law. We are mindful, that the rule of law cannot survive the rule of the gun unless we have an independent judiciary. And, we are cognizant that we shall never have an independent judiciary if the Judges of the Superior Court's of this country are imprisoned at the whims of a lone individual.

AND WHEREAS, we as Members of the National Assembly have taken oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan" and we shall not waiver from this oath.

AND WHEREAS, Article 209(7) of the Constitution provides in no uncertain terms that "A Judge of the Supreme Court of or of a High Court shall not be removed from office except as provided in this article." Therefore, as opined unanimously by leading former Chief Justices and Judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the actions of 3rd November 2007, seeking to remove and restrain the Chief Justices and Judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Provincial High Courts is void ab initio and has no sanctity in law.

WE, THEREFORE, bound by our Constitutional Oath and the mandate given by the people of Pakistan on February 18, 2008 do hereby RESOLVE and call upon the Federal Government to remove all illegal restrictions placed on the Chief Justices and Judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the provincial High Courts on and after 3
rd November 2007 with immediate effect.

History shall not forgive those, who even now, may seek to obstruct the irreversible path to constitutional rule in our great country.

THEREFORE, WE FURTHER RESOLVE, and call upon the Federal Government to perform its obligation under Article 190 of the Constitution and act in aid of the Chief Justices and the Judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Provincial High Courts who were illegally restrained on and after 3rd November 2007 so that they may resume their Judicial functions in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.


Dated: [] March 2008

A Chill Ushers in a New Diplomatic Order in Pakistan

(The New York Times)
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — If it was not yet clear to Washington that a new political order prevailed here, the three-day visit this week by America's chief diplomat dealing with Pakistan should put any doubt to rest.
The visit by Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte turned out to be series of indignities and chilly, almost hostile, receptions as he bore the brunt of the full range of complaints that Pakistanis now feel freer to air with the end of military rule by Washington's favored ally, President Pervez Musharraf.
Faced with a new democratic lineup that is demanding talks, not force, in the fight against terrorism, Mr. Negroponte publicly swallowed a bitter pill at his final news conference on Thursday, acknowledging that there would now be some real differences in strategy between the United States and Pakistan.
He was upbraided at an American Embassy residence during a reception in his honor by lawyers furious that the Bush administration had refused to support the restoration of the dismissed judiciary by Mr. Musharraf last year.
Mr. Negroponte once told Congress that Mr. Musharraf was an "indispensable" ally, but the diplomat was finally forced to set some distance after months of standing stolidly by his friend. Mr. Musharraf's future, he said, would be settled by Pakistan's new democratic government.
Perhaps the most startling encounter for the 68-year-old career diplomat was the deliberately pointed question by Farrukh Saleem, executive director of the Center for Research and Security Studies, at the reception Wednesday evening.
"How is Pakistan different to Honduras?" Mr. Saleem asked, a query clearly intended to tweak Mr. Negroponte about his time as ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s, when he was in charge of the American effort to train and arm a guerrilla force aimed at overthrowing the leftist government in Nicaragua. He was later criticized for meddling in the region and overlooking human rights abuses in pursuit of United States foreign policy goals.
The diplomat demurred, according to Mr. Saleem, saying, "You have put me on the spot."
Mr. Negroponte had no reply to his next question, either, Mr. Saleem said. "I asked him, 'What do you know about our chief justice that we don't know?' "
That question was meant to reflect, Mr. Saleem recounted afterward, that the Bush administration had refused to recognize the illegality of the firing of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and that many Pakistanis were angered that the United States had signaled it did not favor the reinstatement of Mr. Chaudhry who, it appeared, was too opposed to Mr. Musharraf for Washington's taste.
Mr. Negroponte and the Bush administration were tone deaf, Mr. Saleem and others said, to the changes in Pakistan, though the message of the tune seemed inescapable.
As they stood on the lawn of a diplomatic residence here in the spring evening, the chairman of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Aitzaz Ahsan, who has led the campaign to restore Mr. Chaudhry, picked up the challenge to Mr. Negroponte.
First, Mr. Ahsan said he told the diplomat, the lawyers were miffed that Mr. Negroponte had not included them on his planned round of meetings. When the lawyers asked for an appointment on Tuesday, they were rebuffed by the American Embassy, Mr. Ahsan said.
Then, Mr. Ahsan, a graduate of Cambridge and one of Pakistan's most talented orators, gave Mr. Negroponte a 10- to 15-minute discourse on why an independent judiciary was important to fight terrorism.
"I told him that the most effective weapon on the war against terror is a people who have enforceable rights — then they have a stake in the system," Mr. Ahsan said of his conversation with Mr. Negroponte.
Mr. Ahsan said he argued that an independent judiciary was "a middle ground" between the military and religious fanatics.
When Mr. Negroponte countered that the new Parliament had pledged to deal with the question of the restoration of the judges within 30 days, Mr. Ahsan said he retorted: "I said you can't build a Parliament on the debris of the judiciary."
In contrast to Mr. Negroponte, a delegation of legislators, led by Rep. John F. Tierney, Democrat of Massachusetts, chairman of the National Security Subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee, visited Mr. Chaudhry at his home on Thursday. They were the first foreigners to see the judge since police barricades were removed Tuesday after four months of house arrest.
"He believes the Parliament has a vote in the next 30 days and the judges will go back to work," Mr. Tierney said after talking to Mr. Chaudhry. "That's his position, and they're sticking with it."
Although he had little to do with the lawyers or the judiciary, Mr. Negroponte, accustomed to seeing a limited circuit of figures, starting with Mr. Musharraf, had to widen his contact list this time.
He met with the leaders of the two main parties in the new coalition government, Nawaz Sharif, and Asif Ali Zardari. They were both in exile for much of Mr. Musharraf's rule. He also met with prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, who was an unknown politician until this week, and the speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Fehmida Mirza.
Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif have said they want to change the military approach of Mr. Musharraf toward the extremists, and work toward talks.
At a news conference in Karachi before leaving, Mr. Negroponte said Washington could work with the new government, but drew the line at negotiations with extremists. "Security measures are obviously necessary when one is dealing with irreconcilable elements who want to destroy our very way of life," he said. "I don't see how you can talk with those kinds of people."
There was some hope, however, he said, of working with "reconcilable elements" who "can be persuaded to participate in the democratic political process."
In a marked change of tone from the Musharraf era, the new prime minister, Mr. Gilani, said after meeting Mr. Negroponte on Wednesday that Parliament was now the supreme decision-making body. Pakistan supported its long alliance with the United States, but the fight against terrorism would be discussed in the legislature, he said.
Mr. Negroponte's visit was generally poorly received. Coming in the week that the government was still being formed — a cabinet has yet to be announced — it was widely interpreted as an act of interference, a last effort to prop up a vastly weakened Mr. Musharraf. One television commentator called the visit "crude diplomacy."
Others said Mr. Negroponte did not understand that Mr. Musharraf was a disappearing figure, isolated and with little power. One of his last loyal aides, Attorney General Malik Mohammad Qayyum, resigned Thursday.
By the end of his trip, Mr. Negroponte indicated that perhaps Mr. Musharraf's usefulness to Washington had diminished. The future of Mr. Musharraf was up to the Pakistanis. "Any debate or any disposition as regards his status will have to be addressed by the internal Pakistani political process," he said.

IPSS Discussion: The feeling of Sindh, 5pm Saturday, 5 Zaman Park - Nehrghar

Institute for Peace & Secular Studies (IPSS) invites you to a Discussion On
The feeling of Sindh

(A Sindhi Nationalist's interpretation of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, leadership change in PPP, recent elections and expectations from the current coalition government in the context of provincial autonomy)

Abdul Khaliq Junejo
(Chairman Jeay Sindh Mahaz)

Date: Saturday 29th March
Time: 5pm SHARP
Venue: Nehrghar – 5 Zaman Park

Abdul Khaliq Junejo is the chairman of Jeay Singh Mahaz (JSM) and contributing writer to various newspapers & magazines. He joined JSM in 1972 under the leadership of G. M. Syed. He has been involved in politics since his student days at the Sindh Engineering University where he completed his Bachelors and later his LLB. He hails from Qazi Daro, a small town near the ancient ruins of the Indus Civilization at MohenjoDaro in the district of Larkana.

Directions: Nehrghar - 5 Zaman ParkOn the canal, cross the mall road and take the 1st left at the Zaman Park sign. Take an immediate right on the side lane. 2nd gate on the left.

Institute for Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS) is a community supported voluntary effort focused on the people's agenda. IPSS strives to highlight and promote discourses for the attainment of a peaceful society. 91 G, Johar Town. 0300.844.5072

IJT Nazim expelled in wake of thrashing of PhD students

By Mansoor Malik
LAHORE, March 26: The Punjab University on Wednesday expelled an IJT nazim and rusticated another activist for one year on the charges of beating up university students in the presence of the vice-chancellor two weeks ago.
The PU Disciplinary Committee has expelled Institute of Geology's student Usman Ashraf and imposed a fine of Rs5,000 on him. It rusticated Abdullah Munir Leghari, of the same department, for one year.
PU Disciplinary Committee head Prof Dr Iftikhar Husain Baloch said the committee had heard both parties and seen the available evidence on Monday.Prof Baloch, who is also principal of the varsity's College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said the committee had finally decided to expel one student and rusticate the other for one year.
He said Usman Ashraf was IJT's professional zone nazim and son of an Islamic Studies teacher, Mr Ashraf, teaching at a college in Gujrat. Abdullah Munir Leghari is a son of a shepherd in Dera Ghazi Khan.
Both the students were charged with thrashing three PhD students -- Haroon Riaz, Amir Jalal and Muhammad Sajjal who were distributing fliers to promote independent judiciary outside the university’s Jamia Masjid following Juma prayers on March 14.