Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Urgently Wanted: Federal Ministers

The Federal cabinet, currently operating with a small team of sixty one members, urgently requires experienced and dynamic new ministers to fill up a large number of challenging assignments lying vacant due to the non-availability of suitably qualified and experienced candidates.

The Ministers required are:

- Minister for promotion of vani, karokari and jirgas. The applicant must be able to show bonafide evidence of his participation in at least 10 jirgas. Knowledge and deep personal commitment to the traditions of Vani, Karo kari and other similar compensatory mechanisms is an essential pre-requisite.

- Minister for burials and graveyards: This is a sensitive assignment and would require improvement in burial procedures specially relating to those women who are pre-maturely killed for such heinous crimes as wanting to get married to persons of their own choice. Preference will be given to ex-senators and those already serving in provincial cabinets.

- Minister for pointing fingers: This highly complex assignment requires the minister to point fingers during press conferences, typically towards carefully selected journalists, to indicate who should speak next.

- Minister for elimination of wild boars, dogs and other such animals: This ministry is not as simple as it looks. The minister will be responsible to get the unwanted wild boars out of the President and the PM House. He/she shall also be responsible to create a strategy for elimination of dogs from Khairpur and other such districts, where they are currently being used to maul women whenever ordered by a local jirga. As either the Jirgas or the dogs must be eliminated to get rid of this menace , the government has decided to retain the Jirgas and get rid of the dogs.

- Minister for non-religious affairs: We already have six ministers, one each for Ushar, Zakat, Haj, Moon-sighting, Muharram and other Religious affairs. We now need a minister who could point out what is non-religious about all these religious ministries. Candidates who have been earlier allotted free agricultural lands or diesel licenses need not apply.

- Minister for unofficial foreign visits: This minister will be full time responsible to create reasons, make arrangements, issue statements and plan yet more official looking unofficial visits for the president and the prime Minister. His task is to keep these two gentlemen out of the country for at least 75% of the time.

Qualification and Experience:

Applicants must possess verifiable evidence of skill and excellence in their area of expertise. While a formal degree is not required, a non-recognisable vague qualification such as diploma in 'education' from any unknown institute would be desirable. Those with experience of driving around without number plates, participating or presiding in Jirgas, wanted by courts or having been in jail for corruption charges would be given preference.

Salary, allowances and privileges:

As you are primarily interested only in serving the poor people of Pakistan, your basic salary shall be Rs.80,000 per month only. Your hard work shall however be partly compensated by perks and perquisites, some of which are mentioned below:

a. One Prado/land Cruiser for self and three for staff and family.

b. A monthly foreign trip to observe elections being held in a country of your choice. Additional trips can be arranged depending upon your areas of expertise. These could be leading a Pakistani delegation to an interfaith conference, Kashmir conference , cultural conference, sports conference, or a conference on how to identify where such conferences are being held.

c. Two free 'Umras' per year, that include a 4 nights stay in Saudi Arabia in a 5 star hotel. All expenses paid.

d. One free bungalow in Islamabad in any sector of your choice

e. Unlimited free travel and stay throughout Pakistan.

f. You may recommend upto 8000 friends, relatives and well wishers to receive monthly grants from Mohtrama Shaheed Benazir Bhutto fund.

g. You may recommend upto three hundred friends, relatives and well wishers per month to get employment in government organisations.

h. Free use of President House for Mehndi, marriage, and Valima ceremony for self, family and friends. Advance booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.

i. Free medical treatment and medicines for self, friends and family. This facility however does not include free compensation for any violence that you and your family members may commit against the medical staff of the hospital.

Source: The Emergency Mailing List

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Which is Best: A Kingdom or A Democracy ?

I read a book recently and a lot of what was written - even though fiction - seemed to be true for Pakistan. The book showed how people from a democratic country, who had gone through a major man-made calamity, grabbed onto the idea of a kingdom in hopes of finding a better leader.

In terms of Pakistan, Musharraf has constructed a sort of kingdom for himself and refuses to let go of power at any cost. Before he came into power when the two major political parties each had their stints in the government (if they could be called democracies), they too ruled and spent their time as if it was a kingdom. Below is a part out of a passage from that aforementioned book :

At their cores, like all governments, democracies and kingdoms are both corrupt. We form them as necessary evils to protect us against other corrupt governments, but governments are not the people and they never have the people's best interest at heart, they have the government's best interest at heart. Regardless of what protections we put in place, a Bill of Rights or Magna Carta, governments will oppress the people, censor the people, exploit the people. Governments do not trust the people, governments are contemptuous of the people. Governments build concentration camps and cathedrals, the people plant gardens. We feed and breed, we nurse and harvest;put your trust and love in the people, never a government. Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what you can do to save and promote and protect the people even if that requires treason of king or country, because the people, your family, friends,neighbours, we are the conspiracy that has survived a million years, and we are alive today not because of governments but in spite of governments. We endure. We are the people.

*Excerpt from Our American King by David Lozell Martin

Independent Judiciary FAQs

Iftikhar Chaudhry took oath on PCO in 2002 and now rejected the PCO in 2007?

The PCO which Musharraf presented in 2002 was not declared null and void by the Supreme Court of that time. The PCO of 2007 declared martial law in the country and abrogated the constitution. It was anti-constitutional, anti-state and clearly against the rights and wishes of the people of Pakistan. Furthermore, the PCO of 2002 and the oath of office order were given indemnity by a two-thirds majority in both houses – the 17th constitutional amendment. Therefore, from a purely legal point of view, taking oath under that PCO was not illegal. No doubt we have our reservations even about the first PCO and its legality, but the fact of the matter is that it was, in one way or the other, given some legal cover. On the other hand, the PCO of 2007 and the oath of office order haven't yet been given any constitutional cover by Parliament; therefore, it is not legal. Hence, taking oath under it is also extra-constitutional and illegal.

Beyond the legal argument, let us also keep in mind that the most popular democratically elected leader in our history, Z.A.Bhutto, was once in the cabinet of a dictator. So was Nawaz Sharif, another popular leader (during Zia's dictatorship). If we can forget this and support these leaders for the cause of democracy, why not the PCO of 2002 for the cause of an independent judiciary?

Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry got his son appointed at a position which he did not deserve. A notice on this was sent to the President and thus he rightly removed him?

As per the Constitution of Pakistan, the President has no right to remove a judge of the SC. The only way through which a judge of the superior judiciary can be removed is through a mechanism provided in the Constitution - the Supreme Judicial Council, which consists of the three most senior judges of the Supreme Court, and the two most senior chief justices of the four high courts of Pakistan. The council, after due inquiry, is authorized to retain or remove the judge against whom a reference has been filed.

Let's assume the Chief Justice was guilty of the alleged act of nepotism, who gave the illegal, self-proclaimed President of the country the right to remove a serving Chief Justice (CJ) of the Supreme Court of Pakistan?

Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry rejected the bail plea of Zardari. Why?

This is not correct. He was not the CJ at the time when his bail plea was presented. And in case he was responsible for this, should we forget all his contributions for the nation and state from July 2005 to November 2007 and reject him for not supporting one single person – whose character is hardly considered blameless by the public at large!

The judiciary has been responsible for the murder of ZA Bhutto. Every dictator derailed the process of democratization in Pakistan by using the judiciary to validate his rule. Now why are you shouting for them?

This is very true and is the basic reason for the success and gusto of the lawyers’ movement. The judiciary has been the puppet of dictators in the past but this is the first time in our history that the judiciary has taken a principled and moral stand. By rejecting PCO and Emergency Rule, they have resisted a military dictator for the sake of the supremacy of the Constitution and the sovereignty of Pakistan. We have an opportunity to strengthen our institutions. Democracy won't prosper until we have an independent judiciary to shelter it.

Well, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was reinstated in July 2007 and remained the CJ till November 2007. What were his character and achievements in this period and throughout his tenure as the CJP ?

Following are a few of the major achievements of deposed judges and the CJP:

- 18,000 cases solved of a total of 26,000 filed cases.
- 7,000 suo moto notices on various issues providing free and quick justice for the people. It is to be noted that the total number of suo-moto notices was 21,000 where 7,000 were solved. Several suo moto notices on national issues despite Army rule is yet another first in the history of Pakistan.
- Notice of 3000+ missing persons in Pakistan kidnapped illegally by agencies, hundreds released
- Notice on price hike and food crisis
- Rejected the anti-constitutional, anti-state PCO and put the dictator to the courts. A clear rejection to the ‘doctrine of necessity’.
- Suo moto notice on steel mill privatization case which was being sold for less than 10% of its value. He blocked this corruption worth more than 100 billion PKR!
- Suo moto notice on the tragic May 12 massacre in Karachi where 48 were killed and Musharraf announced that there would be no inquiry, labeling it the force of the people.
- Suo moto notice on New Murree Project, dealer of which was the Punjab Government. This project was criticized by experts for causing immense damage to forests and water supplies which would have lead to undesirable ecological, social and economic consequences.
- Suo moto notice on Murree Golf Club projects where Army illegally occupied over 53 acres of forest land.
- Rejected the PCO which imposed martial law in country, abrogated the constitution and denied civil liberties

A friend of a friend of a friend of mine told me that XYZ judge took ABC million rupees for a case. Why are you shouting in favor of such corrupt judges? They are rightly deposed!

"Always decide on principles, moral values and law, no matter people call it wrong or whatever", says Hazrat Ali in one of his letters to the newly appointed governor of Egypt of his times.

As already discussed, the judges were deposed illegally and un-constitutionally. Musharraf himself admitted in his interview with BBC that this was un-constitutional. As per principles and moral values, even if they were corrupt, they could not and should not have been removed like this. Two wrongs don't make a right!

Secondly, none is perfect. They might have made mistakes in the past as they are humans. I marvel at how easily we forget the corruption of the politicians which we elect over and over again but are not willing to forget minor issues even when we often lack hard facts and have no more than hearsay to go by. The principled stand which these judges took on 3rd November 2007 is historic and enough for us to label them the real heroes of the nation. Their contributions are commendable and prove their abilities and dedication.

But why would Musharraf have to remove the judges when his public image was already getting weak. He was trying to improve his image and thus removing them must have been correct.

When Musharraf removed him and his colleagues, CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing an important case related to the legality of Musharraf as the President of Pakistan. Musharraf was afraid of the upcoming decision as the judiciary had recently gained independence. Musharraf asked his allies, the King's party, for assistance and those incompetent supporters must have suggested that he remove the judges, telling him there was no other way left.

There are hundreds of issues in Pakistan like energy crisis, food crisis, price hike etc. Why are you over-politicizing the judicial crisis?

Because, 'kufr ka nizaam chal sakta hay par na-insaafi ka nahe. jahan adal na ho wo bastiyan ujaar jati hain' (Hazrat Ali).

Judiciary is indeed not the only problem facing Pakistan but it is the most important one. The judiciary is one of the pillars on which the state of Pakistan stands! We are facing many problems but the point is that once we have an independent and honest judiciary, the majority of these problems might be solved as everyone could then be held accountable. Everyone will be subject to the law irrespective of his position. Atleast, this would be the first step in the right direction.

Ever thought:

- why we can't stop smuggling ?
- why we can’t resolve the flour crisis ?
- who is responsible for the energy crisis ?

The answer lies in the fact that we lack an independent judicial system. People break the law because they know they can escape from the law-enforcement authorities. The solution lies in having an independent judiciary which judges on the basis of principles and the law. Once such a system is in place where everyone is equal before the law, a large proportion of such problems will be rapidly resolved.

It is to be noted that food, energy, residence etc are needs of the individual while independence of judiciary is the need of the society in general. Independence of judiciary, supremacy of law and democracy are those needs of the society which ensure the existence and well-being of the state.

Let's say these judges are restored, what's next? What's the guarantee that they won't ditch us, that they will remain independent and honest?

There is no such guarantee; neither can there ever be one. Some people say Parliament is supreme, others say the Constitution is supreme. I say the nation is supreme, the citizens themselves are supreme. Thus we, as a nation, should keep a check on everything and everyone, whether it is politicians, bureaucrats, military or judges. We must seize the power to be supreme and to hold everyone accountable to us. This is an opportunity for us to do so.

Pakistan is going through a transition and we must keep our eyes wide open and play our role. Further, I personally believe that the strength which the students and civil society have recently gained, courtesy Musharraf and the lawyers' movement, must remain intact. The citizens have been transformed into activists and we must be like this. Our active participation can guarantee strong institutions. If we have been on roads for more than a year for a principle and a moral cause, supporting the judges, we must come out to show our strength in case they ditch us.

Why is the lawyers’ movement focused on one person i.e. Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry? Isn't it personality promotion?

Not at all. Lawyer's movement backed by civil society, students and media demands the restoration of all illegally deposed judges. It's not just about personalities, it’s about principles. Every judge who refused to take oath under the PCO commands our respect for taking a principled stand. It's not about Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, it’s about principles, moral values, supremacy of law and the Constitution. For his clear stand against Musharraf, he has become a symbol of resistance.

What is the problem with the suspected Constitutional package which increases the retirement age to 68 years and restricts Iftikhar Chaudhry’s tenure as the CJP to 2010?

Musharraf deposed around 60 judges of the superior courts including the CJP on the grounds that he was expecting a decision against him. He replaced them with the judges of his choice who took oath under the anti-state PCO validating martial law in the country.

Deposing the judges by Musharraf, an illegal president, is unconstitutional. Why do we need a constitutional package to rollback an unconstitutional action? A constitutional package to restore the judges would be accepting the illegal and unconstitutional actions of Musharraf of 3rd November 2007 as correct !

The constitutional package itself seems person-specific:

- Iftikhar Chaudry has to remain the CJP till 2013. Under what principles is his tenure being reduced to 2010 ?
- Dogar is to retire in March 2009 for he is approaching 65, the earlier age limit. Increasing the retirement age to 68 is to make sure that Dogar becomes the CJP after Iftikhar Chaudhry leaves in 2010.

The constitutional package, if necessary, should focus on strengthening the institutions rather than focusing on individuals.

Restoring these judges violates the Charter of Democracy (CoD) signed by the PPP and PMLN which says PCO judges would not be accepted?

This is a myth. The Charter of Democracy signed on 14 May 2006 says:

"No judge shall take oath under any Provisional Constitutional Order or any other oath that is contradictory to the exact language of the original oath prescribed in the Constitution of 1973."

The deposed judges took oath on the PCO before the CoD was signed. They refused to take oath on the anti-state PCO of 2007 when CoD existed. Those judges who took oath on this PCO should not be accepted as this is a violation of the CoD.

Moreover, keeping the PCO judges and restoring the deposed judges of the SC will bring the total number of judges in the Supreme Court to 27. India with a population ten times more than us has 26 judges. Why do we, an under-developed country, need 27?

Source: ALE-Xpressed

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mexico's Glorious Disorder Puts Nanny State to Shame

Having just returned from a week in Mexico, and therefore being an expert, this is what I have to report: It is just like Canada – 30 years ago.

By Jack Knox

People smoke in restaurants. They ride in the back of pickup trucks. There do not appear to be seat belt laws (or, frequently, seat belts). Half the pasty-white population of Canada frolick in the water with nary a lifeguard in sight.

A vacationing builder from the United States stood poolside and gazed dumbfounded at the construction workers clambering, untethered, high atop the concrete skeleton of the condo complex being erected next door. “Seventy-two feet up and not one of them is wearing a safety lanyard” observed the American, his voice a mixture of admiration and horror.

It was, in short, gloriously unregulated – just like Canada used to be back when kids could take peanut butter sandwiches to school and skate without helmets.

In Mexico, smiling street vendors served up food that had basked in the sun longer than an Albertan after a six-margarita breakfast. The water front walkway had no railing, not even a yellow line painted along the edge to prevent inattentive strollers from tumbling, lemminglike, to the jagged rocks far below. Parasailing tourists soared high in the sky before plunging straight into beaches packed with first time jet skiers-and not one of them had to sign a liability waiver before doing so.

On New Year’s Eve, the fireworks burst directly overhead and fell at the feet of delighted celebrants. The floor of the bus that carried us downtown was fissured with thousands of cracks, just one pothole away from exploding into a cloud of rust-coloured dust.

The municipal planner appeared to have been drunk. All the properties in town had seemingly been tossed into a giant paper bag, given a good shake and dumped on the ground in a dizzyingly haphazard manner. A gated mansion sat by a Quonset hut crammed with truck tires, which was beside a franchised chicken joint, which was next to a cornfield, followed by a car lot, a hospital and a farmhouse.

To repeat: The disorder there was glorious.

In Canada, we have allowed ourselves to be regulated, sheltered and shepherded to the point that our national costume should be the fluorescent orange safety vest. We have banned lawn darts, mandated bicycle helmets and robbed our playgrounds of any apparatus that spins until you trap a limb/throw up/have fun.

Few of the rules in which we wrap ourselves are objectionable when viewed in isolation (smoking in restaurants? Yuck!) but the cumulative effect of all of these directives is a nanny state that smothers us until we are incapable of moving, of making our own decisions.

The result is society with a false sense of security. It absolves us of any personal responsibility. Coffee too hot? Sue McDonald’s. Slip on the sidewalk? The city should have cleared the ice. Fall off the cliff? There should have been a warning sign.

So viva Mexico! Down with over-regulation and those who would inflict it upon us.

Source: Times Colonist

Monday, April 14, 2008

An Account of a Meeting with the CJ

This is an account of my parents' meeting with CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry the day after he was freed from house arrest.


The Day We Met the Chief Justice of Pakistan

Iftikhar Chaudhry Was Finally Free After Five Months of Confinement

All these years we, my wife and I, used to envy all those people who had met the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

On 25th March 2008, we went to meet the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. It is really very difficult to describe the feeling of how we felt in the company of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. His bright eyes full of confidence, determination and reassurance will see through you, measuring you, gauging you and judging you; to assure you that the Chief Qazi of the land will carry out his sacred duty of administering justice without ‘fear’ or ‘favour’, and this is one of the most liked qualities in a person by Allah. We were happy that we met a man, almost a mirror image of Quaid-e-Azam. We now know how it must have felt like in the company of the Quaid-e-Azam.

We felt safe and reassured that no one would harm us after all the lawless situation, as the rule of law will prevail in the country and not dictates and whims of a person. There was comfort and protection that one got in the figure of this man; so humble in his disposition and so great in his righteousness. The feelings were not to part with such a company and remain there for ever to listen and learn; to chart your life on the principles of self respect, grace and dignity with firmness. His voice, so soft, that it sounded like a rhythm of life. He felt very happy that we were with him and thanked us. He said that we should always pray for him that may Allah grant him strength to come out of this ordeal successfully. He said he feels strong and honoured when all of us, the people, are with him.

His company was studded with the ‘stars’ and ‘heroes’ of our time, who gave the hope for a new beginning to the people of Pakistan. For a Pakistan which our Quaid had promised but which was lost somewhere in the dust of time. We had a great opportunity to also meet the great leaders of the lawyers, Aitzaz Ahsan, Muneer A. Malik, Ahmed Ali Kurd, Justice (retd.) Tariq Mehmood, Hamid Ali Khan, Athar Minallah, Sardar Atta Ullah Khan, Zafarullah Khan, Gohar Ali Khan, Abid Hussain (President British Muslim Lawyers Association of UK) and others. We are very grateful to the companions of the Chief Justice of Pakistan who showed a way to the Nation that, “until you change your life yourself no one else will do it for you.” This was highly appreciated by Barrister Abid Hussain from UK who said, “sitting abroad we always wanted people of Pakistan to stand up for their rights, we are happy that the lawyers of Pakistan showed the way and the people of Pakistan followed.”

We were welcomed very warmly, we were embraced, hugged and made to feel comfortable. We discussed the events of these past five months. They said they got strength from our prayers and support at all times, and it kept them going to achieve what they all had decided their aim was. We assured them that it was our common aim and we will do what ever it takes to achieve it. All the lawyers’ leaders thanked us one by one for the solidarity which was shown to them all the time. We also met all the junior lawyers who were present there in hundreds and appreciated their courage and steadfastness in their movement for the establishment of law and constitution in the country.

We are sure that the future of Pakistan is secure and we will tread on the path of success. May Allah guide us and give us the courage to stand for righteousness.

The writer is a retired Air Commodore

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry's Islamabad to Quetta Trip

Pictures of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry's departure from his residence in Islamabad, arrival at Quetta airport and welcome rally.
You can pause and manually view the pictures from the button at the bottom of the slideshow.

On Monday, supporters carried baskets of rose petals to shower Chaudhry at Quetta airport. Hundreds of flag-waving political activists and black-suited lawyers gathered at Quetta's airport to greet Chaudhry. In the baking sun outside, jubilant lawyers in stiff black suits chanted "Go, Musharraf, go!" and "Musharraf must go to jail!"

Pakistan's deposed chief justice arrived in his hometown to a hero's welcome. The ousted judge set out in a bulletproof sports utility vehicle on a seven-mile drive into Quetta, a southwestern city that is his hometown and the capital of Baluchistan province, an impoverished area.

The Mercedes SUV broke down, however, and had to be towed by another car. Underlining the country's extremist violence, lawyers formed a human shield around the vehicle as it inched forward while anti-terrorism police in pickup trucks with mounted machine guns traveled in front and back.

Hundreds of cars, rickshaws and trucks trailed Chaudhry amid a sea of political party flags representing ethnic Pashtuns, Baluch nationalists, Islamists and the party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, an arch foe of Musharraf who is a key player in the new government. Crowds gathered along the roadside and on rooftops to watch.

It wasn't a mammoth turnout, but a spokesman for the lawyers movement that has led opposition to Musharraf for over a year said that the parade sent a powerful message.

"This is meant to be a reception by the lawyers but, as you can see, the people of Quetta and Baluchistan have come out," Aitzaz Ahsan, a senior lawyers leader, said from the driver's seat of the stricken SUV. "It's a signal and a message to all of Pakistan that this is how much people here love him and how much they want him back as chief justice."

Chaudhry, who planned to address the city's bar association later Monday, sat silently by Ahsan, fingering prayer beads and hiding his eyes behind sunglasses.

Sources: Associated Press & Reuters

Pakistan's Public Hero Number One

By Farhan Bokhari
March 30, 2008

In less than a week since Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, the deposed chief justice of the supreme court, was released from effective house arrest, Pakistan's political landscape has changed rapidly.

The bottom line is apparently that as long as Chaudhry's future remains uncertain, Pakistan's future, too, would remain uncertain.

There are many in Pakistan who go a step further, and argue convincingly that President Pervez Musharraf's decision to sack Chaudhry last year was ill-advised to the extent that Musharraf's own future is now in doubt - unless the Chaudhry issue is resolved amicably.

Public move

Against this background, Chaudhry will make his first significant public move since his release when he travels to Quetta - his hometown - tomorrow, to speak to a gathering of lawyers, who have specially invited him to a public forum. More than what he says in public, Chaudhry's mere appearance before a gathering of lawyers will give momentum to his cause. It will remind many of the way his travels from one bar association to another just last year emboldened the lawyers' protest movement, and made a large number of Pakistanis deeply sceptical of their president.

Just over a year ago, Chaudhry burst on to the national and global stage by refusing to go out quietly after the president moved to sack him. Chaudhry's decision to come back fighting and eventually be restored to his position as chief justice, in a landmark decision by his peers at the supreme court last July, made him public hero number one.

Left without any constitutional or legal ways of getting rid of the former chief justice, Musharraf moved to depose him through a controversial state of emergency in November. Chaudhry's recent release says much about Musharraf's failure to appreciate the controversy unleashed by his actions.

Going forward, Chaudhry is set to take Pakistan by storm. Irrespective of whether he makes a comeback as chief justice or not, the mere fact that he is out in public makes a huge difference to his cause.

On the day of his release following an order from the newly elected Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Chaudhry dominated the scene across Pakistan's TV channels and the next day's newspapers, in a powerful reminder of his centrality to the country's recent past and present- day trends.

Backed by a large community of defiant lawyers and a largely supportive public, Chaudhry's activism entails two equally important outcomes for the future of Pakistan.

Changed for the better

On the one hand, the nature of politics has clearly changed for the better. In today's Pakistan, it is virtually impossible for any political party to ignore the cause initiated by Chaudhry. A new beginning has indeed been made.

In brief, it is impossible for any of Pakistan's mainstream politicians today to ignore the significance of at least recognising, if not immediately restoring, the judges sacked along with Chaudhry. Given the way the issue of judicial independence continues today, it may be impossible to predict Chaudhry's future. But it is possible to argue very convincingly that he has indeed changed Pakistanis' perception about the way their country is being run.

On the other hand, Chaudhry's activism has dented the ability of rulers like Musharraf to remain the absolute arbiters of events and circumstances in Pakistan.

There is no way Pakistan as a country will ever see a ruler like Musharraf behave as irresponsibly as he did when he tried to sack Chaudhry for the first time in March last year.

Today, there are many Pakistanis - from the country's powerful families and the corridors of power to the humblest man on the street - who openly acknowledge their absolute amazement at the way Chaudhry has endured what must have been his most difficult moments. During his months in captivity, the deposed chief justice had to face numerous ordeals, ranging from denial of adequate medical treatment for ailing family members to his children being forced to stay away from school and college and even having to take their exams at home.

Given Chaudhry's sacrifice this past year, he deserves major acknowledgement from the global community. He is, after all, the man who played a key role in turning Pakistan's destiny.

*Farhan Bokhari is a Pakistan-based commentator who writes on political and economic matters.

Source: Gulf News

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Justice Ramday being Forcefully Evicted

It is being reported by Aaj TV and Express News that Justice Ramday is being forcefully evicted from his official residence in Islamabad’s Judges Colony. The locks on the gates have been also broken. At the moment lawyers lead by Athar Minallah are talking with the police about this issue outside his house. Justice Ramday has himself been residing at his private Lahore residence since the Emergency was imposed and remained under house arrest there. Reportedly his belongings inside the house have been thrown out on the lawn. Interior Ministry Adviser Rehman Malik has said that a fact finding committee has been formed and will report on this issue within 24 hours. He has also called Athar Minallah and told him that Interior Ministry had no part in this issue.