Friday, April 4, 2008

Brutalization of a University Professor

Dr. Zahoor H. Baber

It was unbelievable to see a university professor Dr. Riaz Ahmed of the University of Karachi, standing severely injured inside the campus gate few days ago. His associates and students who saw his condition were appalled, many eyes became wet. Innumerable questions were raised; the academic mind was in great turmoil. How can this happen? Why? And for what purpose? And so on.

The inquiry was set forth, procedures started following, committees began forming. The crisscross of defenders and offenders is the norm of the situation now. Protests are launched by teaching communities and civil society through out the country. However, the incident has left deep wounds in the hearts and minds of associates of Dr.Riaz, who is known for his commitments towards the teaching community, academic institutions, and a liberal society.

The deplorable state of affairs in the academic world of Pakistan
demands a revaluation of the whole academic setup and its authentication. The cruel behavior towards a vigilant and profound thinker, a brilliant researcher and a highly conscientious member of the society, within the premises of his institution, reveals the hidden facts. It exposes the anti-intellectual and irrational mind-set working against any one who is committed towards liberalism, open-mindedness, justice, and freedom.

Dr. Riaz Ahmed’s incident symbolizes the conflict of a society struggling against itself, and thus never being able to come out of its own nostalgia. Where as the high profile educationists and policy makers will keep on falsely intellectualizing their success in bringing the academic world at par with the west, the really committed people like Dr. Riaz Ahmed will always be condemned and crushed for their courage and wisdom in their struggle against authoritarianism, and in their fight to bring the working class up to the standards of humanization and freedom; thus defeating imperialist structures imposed on a developing nations.

Judges’ scrutiny by parliament panel after reinstatement

By Nasir Iqbal
(Courtesy DAWN)
ISLAMABAD, April 3: A draft constitutional package envisages subjecting all judges of the superior judiciary to scrutiny by a parliamentary committee after reinstatement of the judges sent home upon proclamation of the emergency on Nov 3.According to a reliable source, the government had “almost finalised” the “omnibus” constitutional amendment package.
“The constitutional package, being finalised with the consent of all the allied parties in the coalition government, is getting the final touches,” the source said.The proposal is in conflict with the Murree declaration, signed by the People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N last month, that spoke about the judges’ reinstatement through a parliamentary resolution within 30 days of government formation at the centre.
“Now the judges would be reinstated first in respect of the commitment made, but then the case of every judge, including the deposed and the incumbent, would be reviewed by a parliamentary committee to make a decision about their retention in the superior judiciary,” the source said.
The President of Supreme Court Bar Association, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, has already warned political parties against giving their assent to a package “prepared by the presidency”. The package is the brainchild of Attorney General Malik Mohammad Qayyum, Aitzaz Ahsan has alleged. He said President Pervez Musharraf wanted to make Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry very controversial so that he could be removed after the scrutiny process. Any such attempt would open a Pandora’s Box, he said, adding that every judge would then become controversial and the entire judiciary would be thrown into turmoil.
Former SCBA president Hamid Khan was also critical of the package, recalling that the Murree declaration only suggested en bloc reinstatement of all those judges who refused to take oath under the PCO. He suggested that the draft copy of any constitutional package should be circulated among bar councils and associations.
About Justice Iftikhar, Hamid Khan alleged that conspiracies were being hatched to get rid of him. He, however, warned that any proposal that spoke of reinstating judges minus Justice Iftikhar would not be accepted by the legal fraternity.

Asif ticks off Aitzaz

(Courtesy The Daily Times)

NAUDERO: PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari is reported to have ticked off Aitzaz Ahsan in an after-dinner gathering of the PPP’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) members in Naudero on the subject of the restoration of the judges, independence of the judiciary and the threatened long march by Aitzaz and his supporters. According to sources present on the occasion, Zardari took Aitzaz to task for constantly threatening to launch a long march to force parliament to restore Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and the other deposed judges.

Zardari advised Aitzaz to go ahead with his long march if he was so keen on it instead of constantly threatening the PPP about it. He told Aitzaz that he was wrong to think that the lawyers movement had forced General Pervez Musharraf to take off his uniform or hold the elections. He said that honour belonged to Benazir Bhutto who had compelled Musharraf to do so and paid for it with her life. He said the entire credit for restoration of democracy went to Ms Bhutto and Aitzaz and the judges and lawyers could not rob her of her victory.

Zardari also reminded Aitzaz that while he was incarcerated for eight long years none of these heroic judges had given him justice, even when he had asked for one day’s reprieve to attend a funeral of a close relative. Zardari is reported to have said that Justice Chaudhry had politicised himself overtly and ruined his case as an advocate for an independent judiciary. He also cited other instances when some of these judges had not conducted themselves with any degree of integrity or independence in the past. Aitzaz tried a feeble defence but could not deflect Zardari’s irritation. “I thought Aitzaz would get up and leave but he just sat there,” said the source. staff report

(After reading this news report one would definitely start worrying the prospects of the restoration of judiciary - it may be time to start worrying - and planning)

Musharraf's capacity to bear indignities

Musharraf's capacity to bear indignities
Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

President Musharraf's capacity to bear indignities, provided he is allowed to retain his office, seems to be unlimited. While he has repeatedly said he is willing to work with the new government, he continues to be conveyed through unambiguous gestures that he is not acceptable to the newcomers.

On Monday he administered oath to federal ministers, nine of whom wore black armbands to indicate they would rather see his back than face. They told the protocol officer they would not stand up on the arrival of the president to slight him. It took the ceremony to be over in seven minutes after which they walked out without shaking hands with him. Earlier on March 24, at the election of the new prime minister, the National Assembly had resounded with slogans of "Go Musharraf, Go" and at Mr Gillani's oath taking ceremony, attended by military top brass command and foreign diplomatic corps, there were again slogans that made Musharraf squirm.

On Tuesday there was another embarrassment waiting for him. None of the newly appointed cabinet members turned up at 13th Comstech General Assembly, the first international function attended by diplomats from the Islamic countries after take over by the new government to be addressed by Musharraf. As invitations had been duly dispatched to all the ministers this amounted to a calculated boycott. The unmistakable message was, well, we have other important things to do.

As if to give a lie to Rashid Qureshi's claim that everyone other than Mian Nawaz Sharif was dying to work with Musharraf, all top leaders of the four party alliance boycotted the two oath taking ceremonies. And if this was not enough, he has reportedly been told by Dr Fehmida Mirza that the speaker's chamber in the parliament under Musharraf's use since 2005, would no more be available to him.

For full five years Musharraf refused to address the previous National Assembly despite its having been turned into a rubber stamp. He called it ill-mannered because the opposition which was being constantly steam-rollered occasionally resorted to anti-Musharraf slogans. He felt at home in the meetings of a pliant ruling party that he frequently co-chaired. He wielded the COAS baton like the magician's wand to remove and install prime ministers at will. This is all a dream now. Used to playing with lapdogs Musharraf will have to live with pit bulls.

Majority of those who were administered oath on Monday have been unjustly targeted by Musharraf in the past. The idea had been to change their loyalties through pressure. The prime minister spent five years in jail on false accusations and was honourably acquitted by the court. Navid Qamar spent over a year behind the bars, Ahmad Mukhtar a year and half. Senior Minister Nisar Ali Khan was kept under detention for a year and a half, Ishaq Dar for a similar period, Khwaja Asif for over a year and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for seventeen months. How can Musharraf build up rapport with his victims who have returned to power against his wishes on the basis of a historic verdict?

February elections have brought a seismic change in Pakistan's politics. Prime Minister Gillani says his relations with the president would be strictly in accordance with the constitution. In other words, the new prime minister would not allow him to make intrusions into his turf as he has been doing in the past. Henceforth the prime minister would deal with Bush, Gordon Brown, Manmohan Singh, Hamid Karzai, Wen Jiabao and others. It is he rather than the president who would address the UN sessions, Davos moots and attend summits. Gone are the foreign junkets and visits abroad to play bridge with friends that cost the national exchequer heavily. The voluntary reduction of expenses of the Prime Minister House by 40 percent is a signal that the presidency too is going to be required to follow suit.

The lawyers have vowed to converge on the Army House after the thirty-day countdown to evict him for being an unauthorised occupant, accusing him of using the premises for conspiracies against the elected government. Their leaders have already accused Musharraf of indulging in games to sabotage the Murree Accord. An unquenchable thirst for power has led Musharraf pocket one insult after another. It remains to be seen if his capacity to take indignities has any limits.


General (r) Musharraf promised in an interview that: I can exit anytime if I want to. If I feel that nation does not want me and I have become unpopular, nation does not require me, I'll be the first person to exit.

Polls, Surveys and even General Elections in Pakistan won't make him leave his seat. How shameless can he be?