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Posts from — June 2013

Charge of the talk-talk brigade; by IRFAN HUSAIN in Dawn, June 29

BY now, Imran Khan must have come to the conclusion that running a political party is a bit more complicated than captaining a cricket team.

When he was a successful skipper of the national squad, he was known as an autocratic, no-nonsense leader. But then a cricket team has 11 players, and if they want to play, they don’t cross the captain.

Welcome to the fractious world of politics where members of parties are not bound by the constraints of discipline, or even good sense. Of late, my email inbox has been filled with irate complaints about two Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) legislators who have made statements that have made a mockery of Imran Khan’s campaign slogan of building a new Pakistan.

First, we have Mujahid Ali Khan, MNA, demanding on the floor of the National Assembly that Mumtaz Qadri, Salmaan Taseer’s murderer be “honourably released”. Considering that this self-confessed killer was convicted for assassinating the Punjab governor two years ago, this demand is a new low for even one of our public representatives.

Then, following the deadly suicide bombing of a mosque in Peshawar a few days ago, the KP health minister, Shaukat Ali Yousafzai, saw a foreign hand behind the incident. According to him, “no Muslim could attack a mosque”.

This PTI stalwart is of the view that the Taliban are “against attacking places of worship.” Tell that to the thousands who have been killed in mosques over the years.

But in his conspiracy theory about the hidden hand, he is not alone. When a group of foreign trekkers were murdered at the base camp of Nanga Parbat recently, the prime minister said: “The attack is a conspiracy hatched against Pakistan at the behest of those who wanted to destroy her.”

Considering that the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was swift in claiming that its new faction Junoodul Hifsa had carried out the attack, blaming the proverbial ‘hidden hand’ is to bury one’s head firmly in the sand. It is exactly this kind of ostrich-like behaviour that has prevented effective action against known militant groups.

Both Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan are in the forefront of those demanding negotiations with the jihadi groups that have multiplied like a virulent cancer. Well, now they have an opportunity as they are in control of Punjab and KP provinces, as well as the central government.

But before they proceed down this dubious path, let me remind them of the kind of people they want to talk to. Here is a letter to this newspaper from a Dr K. Fiazuddin of Karachi in case Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan missed it:

“According to your news report (June 10), the Taliban beheaded two boys aged 10 and 16 on the suspicion of spying for the Afghan army. Last year also in the same district of Kandahar they beheaded and skinned a 16-year-old boy, a six-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy.

“The Taliban are ruthless, savage and brutal. How dare they behead small children? The civilised world should stand against them and eliminate them wherever they are. They deserve no mercy. They are barbarians.”

And if the prime minister and Imran Khan think that the Pakistani Taliban are any gentler than their Afghan brethren, they need to talk to the comrades of the hundreds of our security personnel who have been tortured and beheaded by the TTP and its offshoots.

In emails and on TV chat shows, I have heard one argument ad nauseam: if the Americans can talk to the Taliban, why shouldn’t we? This asinine argument misses the point that the Americans are negotiating their withdrawal. Pakistan does not have this luxury.

Our army has repeatedly reached truce agreements with various militant groups over the years; each time, the jihadis have used these pauses to regroup and then launch attacks at will.

This was demonstrated most famously when Swat was handed over to Mullah Fazlullah and his band of Taliban. They immediately set out to conquer the neighbouring area of Malakand, bringing them 100km from Islamabad.

It would be a mistake to think that just because they are poorly educated, the Taliban do not think strategically. By killing a group of foreigners in Gilgit-Baltistan, they have virtually ended the small trickle of intrepid mountaineers who came there to scale the spectacular peaks in the region.

This will affect thousands of Shias in the Baltistan valley who made a living from foreign visitors. They have also exposed the government’s pitiful security measures to the world yet again.

When I was there last October with seven English friends, I was happy to see how much they enjoyed the beauty and serenity of the place. All of them spoke of returning, and recommending the trip to other friends. But on the journey to Islamabad, we drove down the Karakoram Highway and when I saw the suspicion and hatred in the eyes of the locals near Chilas, I made a mental note not to bring foreign guests to these parts ever again.

I continue to be surprised by the attitude Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan have chosen to adopt towards the Taliban. Both have had ample exposure to normal countries that handle such security threats with a firm hand. No tolerance is shown in either Saudi Arabia or the UK towards terrorism of any kind. And yet, both our leaders treat these killers with kid gloves in Pakistan, a country that has suffered so much violence at the hands of religious extremists.Another thing the talk-talk brigade forgets is that the Taliban’s demands are non-negotiable. What they want is the replacement of the constitution by their version of the Sharia. They view the offer of negotiations as a sign of the government’s weakness. Finally, how do you talk to people who behead and skin children? http://dawn.com/news/1021411/charge-of-the-talk-talk-brigade

June 29, 2013   No Comments

An act to isolate Pakistan: by S Rahman in The News, June 29

Pakistan is a country blessed by Providence with ever-growing elements of national strength that non-state actors just cannot undermine through their nefarious activities the ugly demonstration of which was experienced the other day in the Nanga Parbat area resulting in the killing of about 10 foreign tourists belonging to different countries including our time-tested friend, China.

It was an act of bestiality on the part of non-state actors that have stakes neither in the country’s stability nor in the people’s security. Likewise, the image of Pakistan in the comity of nations is none of their concern since these elements are hell-bent upon pursuing their own narrow agendas that mean terrorization of the society. Anybody coming in the way of their terrorization activities is their target and they are not bothered whether their targets are innocent citizens, womenfolk, children or foreign mountaineers.

In the instant case, it seems that the foreigners including those from our friendly countries were intentionally targeted by these non-state actors with the purpose of isolating Pakistan from the rest of the world besides tarnishing the country’s image, abroad. The motive behind this image-lowering and isolationist move is not difficult to understand, given the peculiar mindset of the armed gangs and mafias operating in the name of many sugar-coated missions and causes. It is now an open secret that the sole agenda of these elements is to weaken Pakistan internally, externally, economically and security-wise. It is in their knowledge that Pakistan has a strong security structure and that the people and the armed services of Pakistan are on the same page on the question of citizens’ and foreigners’ protection nevertheless they (the militants) are continuing with their evil designs with the objective of creating an atmosphere of pall and gloom to bring a bad name to the country in the global fraternity. Certainly, for the time being, they have lowered the country’s image as some of the kin closely connected with the slain tourists were found expressing their dismay. Of course this is a jolt to Pakistan’s tourist industry and thus to our economy. The national tourist industry had just started reaping benefits through the soft, tender image of Pakistan in the outside world.

The global fraternity has also welcomed the political change in Pakistan in acknowledgement of public mandate conferred on the government of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif. It is also a worldwide known fact that the Sharif government believes in the promotion of goodwill at international level and in strengthening ties with the foreign countries.

The timing of targeting of foreign mountaineers seems to be well-calculated, just a few weeks after the newly elected government took over in Pakistan with public mandate. By now, this reality has also been established that even public mandate is the centre of hatred of the non-state and anti-state elements whose destructive missions are continuing in guise and disguise (the attackers were wearing the forces’/ levies’ uniform at the time of assault on foreign tourists).

However, the area and the sector chosen by the militants this time have seldom been a target of such heinous acts in the past. Neither the mountainous resorts nor the tourist industry had been targeted with this much of impunity and ‘chase’ as was done during the last few days. Some incidents of attacks on foreigners have come to the fore in some parts of the world in the recent past but the occurrences have been very limited in number.

And, although the present attack too doesn’t necessarily lead us to think that there is likelihood of recurrence of such macabre happenings at these spots, the damage has been done at least in terms of ‘striking terror in the hearts’ (to quote the militants’ oft-given threats).

At this point, one must quote Interior Minister, Ch Nisar Ali Khan, who has rightly stated that attack on foreign tourists was not an attack on these foreigners but on Pakistan.By all standards of prudence, it is an attack on Pakistan because both in the short-run and in the long-run, the losses like bad image, isolation and economic decline come no one’s way other than Pakistan’s way.

It is encouraging to note that the government, the political leadership from all parties and the security establishment are in complete harmony with one another on the question of eradication of terrorism that has become a constant bane for the peace-loving Pakistani nation whose splendid and soft face is still admired in the foreign capitals, given the cheerful and moderate disposition of the vast majority of Pakistanis but for these negative, destructive elements.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-186744-An-act-to-isolate-Pakistan

June 29, 2013   No Comments

Letter was written to Pak envoy, not Swiss authorities: Khursheed

ISLAMABAD: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Opposition Syed Khursheed Shah said on Friday that the law secretary wrote a letter on November 22 not to the Swiss government but to Pakistan’s ambassador that the Supreme Court in its November 14 verdict has stated that there was nothing in this case.

“The matter would be clear once facts are presented to the Supreme Court about the letter being dubbed as ‘secret’, he said while talking to newsmen at the Parliament House on Friday.In reply to a question he said the trial under Article 6 of the Constitution for November 3 action was just like punishing some one for inflicting head injury but sparing the murderer.

He said the PPP would support the federal government even if probe against former president Pervez Musharraf started from November 3 under Article 6 of the constitution.He said it would have to be established whether Article 6 could be invoked for November 3 action. “October 12, 1999 action was far more serious violation of the Constitution than November 3, 2007, as on that day Constitution was abrogated, Parliament was dissolved and an elected prime minister was arrested,” he added.

The Opposition leader said Nawaz Sharif should not have formed a committee on the Swiss cases. The matter is in the court and we will face the cases in courts,” he added.Syed Khursheed Shah said agreement was reached with the PML-N that after the restoration Chief Justice Ifthikar Muhammad Chaudhry will proceed on leave and will remain on leave till the retirement of Justice Dogar. ‘We had no objection to the restoration of Chief Justice,” he added.

To another question he said the government has not yet asked for any name for the post of NAB chairman but finance minister Ishaq Dar has only initiated the consultation process for the appointment of chairman NAB.

The opposition leader said the appointment of former chairman Senate Muhammadmian Somoro as NAB chairman would be controversial. He said Nawaz Sharif targeted President Asif Ali Zardari for 17 years but could not prove anything against him. On the other hand, he said, the PPP government did not reopen cases against Nawaz Sharif.

He said President Asif Ali Zardari has retuned all powers to Parliament and it was an historic gesture.He was of the opinion that if we returned to the politics of 80s and 90s then some one else could take the benefit.

To another question he said the Bhutto reference is still pending in the court. To yet another question, he said Shahbaz Sharif should now stage a protest rally against load shedding and organise a sit-in against Khawaja Asif. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-23795-Letter-was-written-to-Pak-envoy-not-Swiss-authorities-Khursheed

June 29, 2013   No Comments

Corruption has crossed all limits: Supreme Court

by  Sohail Khan in The News, June 29

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday observed that corruption had crossed all the limits and the corrupt saved one another.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, expressed these views while hearing the case of discretionary funds of Rs42 billion which were issued during the tenure of ex-PM Raja Ashraf. The court also issued notices to parliamentarians and authorities over the use of funds from the People’s Works Programme-II.

The apex court observed that the government had been releasing billions of rupees to candidates and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) kept on sleeping over the issue.

The SC bench directed former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to appear before it in person on July 16 and explain the issue pertaining to utilisation of Rs42 billion in excess of the budgeted PM’s discretionary fund. Attorney General Munir A Malik, while appearing before the court, informed the court that former prime premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had violated the rules and regulations of the Planning Commission of Pakistan by releasing unbudgeted developments funds.

Representatives of the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGPR) informed the apex court that the PM had the authority to utilise the discretionary funds for development projects; however, the PM was bound to get permission from the ministries concerned before shifting funds from the national development projects to local development projects. They contended that former PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf did not comply with rules and regulations.

The chief justice termed the release of Rs20 million to an officer of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to convene a meeting from development funds as an “extreme of corruption” and observed that Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had released billions of rupees through the PM’s discretionary funds, which was a clear violation of rules and regulations.

During the hearing, Justice Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhry expressed dissatisfaction with the incumbent government’s measures to recover billions of rupees and asked the AG to inform the court whether the government wanted to save the national money or it had made a compromise. He further said that funds were utilised to muster public support during the general elections 2013 and queried why the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was silent on the issue.

The attorney general, however, assured the court that the instant matter would be brought into the knowledge of the federal government.The Director General (DG), Pakistan Public Works Development (PWD), Sarwar Awan, told the apex court that Rs140 million was released to three individuals from the Chakwal district under the PM’s discretionary funds —Rs40 million was released to Col (retd) Ghulam Saleem, Rs50 million to Malik Muhammed Amir and Rs50 million to Fasil Majeed.

The court summoned former premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on July 16, besides seeking the notification, issued in 1984, which authorised the PM to release the development grants to public representatives and adjourned further proceedings in the instant case.

During the course of hearing, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry remarked if the destiny of the country would never change and they would continue to pursue the status quo.“Those pleading the truth should block all ways of corruption. Law does not favour anyone and it makes no distinction between the rich and poor. Nothing is known about the schemes and money was distributed lavishly. Former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf included passers-by in his charity. Had it been known to us, we would have sent some persons. Releasing funds on the basis of having acquaintance is discriminatory treatment. The persons who were favoured in several programs were favoured again. Senators and public representatives reaped their share generously. Wherever we touch, springs of corruption sprout. The fate of this country never changes,” the CJ remarked.

Justice Ejaz Chaudhry remarked, “The ECP was sleeping while the government continued spending and providing billions of rupees to its candidates. This is deceit with democracy. Only one party was given the benefit and loss was caused to all others. Money was provided to those who were to contest election and they even devoured the pension funds of the poor people.”

Justice Ejaz remarked, “Two XENs defied the court’s orders. Case be sent to FIA. All wrong is done on one telephone call. If government does not want to save the national wealth, you people should separate from it.”The CJ remarked, “We send the case to FIA and if it is proved, action will be initiated against all.” http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-23786-Corruption-has-crossed-all-limits-Supreme-Court

June 29, 2013   No Comments

And now timber scandal haunts Pervaiz Ashraf

ISLAMABAD: More trouble awaits former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf who on his last day in office lifted the ban on cutting of trees in Gilgit-Baltistan causing a loss of Rs8b to the national exchequer.

The government on Friday confirmed in the National Assembly confirmed that the former prime minister lifted the ban that resulted cutting of 350 old trees in Gilgit-Baltistan.Two MNAs from the treasury benches, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Junaid Anwar Chaudhry, had moved a call attention notice on the issue.

Deputy Speaker National Assembly Murtaza Abbasi directed the government to constitute an inter-ministerial committee comprising environment department, ministry of Kashmir affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan and Cabinet Division to probe the issue and present the report in the National Assembly.

Raja Pervez Ashraf lifted the ban on March 15, 2013, his day in office, and it benefited the timber mafia, which chopped trees worth Rs8 billion and transported them different parts of the country.

Responding to the call attention notice, minister of state for parliamentary affairs and in-charge minister for Cabinet Division Sheikh Aftab told the House that this matter related to ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, which can clarify on what ground the ban was lifted. He said the ban was imposed 2008 but the former prime minister lifted it on his last day in office.He suspected the involvement of timber mafia, as the price of wood from the chopped trees is Rs200 per foot in Gilgit-Baltistan but it fetches Rs4000 per foot in Lahore.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-23796-And-now-timber-scandal-haunts-Pervaiz-Ashraf

June 29, 2013   No Comments

PPP reveals ‘understanding’ with PML-N that CJP will go on leave after restoration

ISLAMABAD: Leader of the opposition in National Assembly Khursheed Shah on Friday revealed that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had an understanding with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) that the chief justice of Pakistan would go on leave if he were restored.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the opposition leader said that the PPP had no objection to the judges’ restoration. He said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should not have formed a committee on Swiss cases. “The matter is before the court. We will face it there. The judiciary should deliver justice indiscriminately,” he said, adding “it seems that the chief justice is waiting for his retirement as there is no progress in Bhutto murder case”.

On the question of appointment of Muhammad Mian Soomro as NAB chief, Shah said it could be controversial. He said that trying Pervez Musharraf for November 3, 2007 emergency instead of October 12, 1999 martial law was like pardoning someone for murder and punishing them for baton charge. However, in a clear deviation from its demand to start the trial from October 12, 1999 coup, the PPP showed its readiness to support the government if it tried Musharraf for his November 3, 2007 act of imposing emergency.

Shah, however, feared the erstwhile military dictator might be absolved of the charges against him in the court, proved innocent and leave the country. “Go ahead and investigate him (Musharraf) for November 3 acts if you want, we will support you, but then what if he manages to leave the country,” the opposition leader asked. Shah said the constitution was not suspended through the imposition of emergency on November 3, 2007, as it was on October 12, 1999.

He also lashed out against the government on the issue of previous government’s writing of a letter to the Swiss authorities on cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. He said his government did not take up any case against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during its time if power and remarked that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief has been trying to dig out evidence against President Zardari for 16 years but has found nothing. He also asked why the court was not taking up the pending Zulfikar Ali Bhutto case.


June 29, 2013   No Comments

Investigating officer not allowed to enter Musharraf’s farm house

by  Usman Manzoor   in the News, June 28

ISLAMABAD: The authorities in Islamabad appear helpless as a key Investigation Officer was not allowed to enter the luxurious farm house of General Musharraf in which the Anti-Terrorism Court judge was holding proceedings and had summoned the IO as a witness, The News has learnt.

The ATC judge holds the proceedings of judges’ detention case in Musharraf’s Farm House in Chak Shahzad which has been declared as a sub jail. Well-placed sources told The News that “men in civil clothes” guard the farm house and without their consent not a single person can go inside the farm house no matter either someone has to appear before the judge holding court inside the house or had someone has to meet Musharraf. The sources say that there are two security check points to enter Musharraf’s Farm House, and the outer has been taken over by Musharraf’s personal guards and it is upon their will to let anyone enter. The inner check point is controlled by the jail authorities.

The sources said that Inspector Mubarak Ali of Secretariat Police Station was summoned by the ATC judge in judges’ detention case to appear before the court in Musharraf’s Chak Shahzad Farm House on June 21. He was stopped by the men in civil clothes posted at Musharraf’s residence in which he has been detained and was not allowed to enter the farm house to appear before the ATC judge, the sources added.

“Either they were from Musharraf’s personal security or were from some powerful organization, but they abused and insulted the Investigation Officer Inspector Mubarak Ali,” said one of the eye-witnesses of the event. The sources said that the Inspector Mubarak after being humiliated by Musharraf’s ‘guards’ decided to leave the place but was duty bound not to do so because the ATC had summoned him and he had to appear before the judge to tell him what has he gathered regarding Musharraf’s misadventure on November 3, 2007. “Investigating Officer’s humiliation continued till the ATC judge concluded the proceedings,” the sources maintained. They added that when the judge was about to conclude the proceedings, the Inspector on the intervention of officers was allowed to enter the farm house but was made to sit in the waiting room and could not appear before the ATC judge.

It was in the waiting room of Musharraf’s farm house where the Investigation Officer of judges’ detention case was told that he had been re-summoned on June 29 by the ATC judge, the sources added.

November 3, 2007, is termed as one of the blackest days in the history of Pakistan when a usurper in the capacity of chief of army staff abrogated the Constitution of Pakistan and imposed emergency rule. As a result of Musharraf’s emergency, in one of the most unique and stinking manner, dozens of superior courts’ judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry were detained. The case is based on an FIR against the retired general registered in August 11, 2009, on the complaint of Chaudhry Muhammad Aslam Ghumman, advocate.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-186514-Investigating-officer-not-allowed-to-enter-Musharrafs-farm-house

June 28, 2013   No Comments

NRO case back to square one in SC; by Tariq Butt in the News, June 28

ISLAMABAD: Action against those found liable for blatantly and illegally nullifying a letter written by the previous government to Swiss authorities on the Supreme Court direction, to reopen Swiss money laundering cases, may result in criminal charges of fraud.

However, it will depend on the findings of a two-member inquiry committee comprising Cabinet Secretary Sami Saeed and Intelligence Bureau Director General Aftab Sultan, who are men of impeccable character, which Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has constituted to investigate the matter.

“We will submit its report to the apex court and will proceed as directed by it under the law,” a senior official told The News.It is quite likely that the Supreme Court will await the findings of the probe body before issuing any order to take action against those held responsible for cancelling out the effect of a letter through a secret communication signed by the then Federal Law Secretary, Yasmin Abbasey.

There are chances that the accused may soon be put on the Exit Control List so that they do not escape from the country to avoid the criminal cases.Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s remark that those found involved in sending the dubious letter with the plea not to restore the (closed) Swiss cases “will have to face consequences” dropped a clear hint about the things to come for Abbasey and her bosses, former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and former federal law minister Farooq H Naek.

The official said that the committee will ascertain the authenticity of the secret letter and talk to all concerned especially Ms Abbasey and different senior officers of the Law Ministry, who had anything to do with the controversial communication, to reach a conclusion.

Experts believe that the apex court, on its own and on the basis of the report of the committee, may order a stringent action because it pushed the previous regime very hard for three years to write the letter for restoration of the cases. In the process, a prime minister (Yusuf Raza Gilani) was convicted for contempt of court and stood disqualified to hold the office not only for the time being but also for the next five years.

“The second letter, which was written a few days after the first communication penned down on the court order, was a very serious issue. It is not only a matter of the contempt of court alone, but will go much far,” Justice (R) Tariq Mehmood says.

The Supreme Court was aptly shocked to know that another letter was written 17 days after the first communication to undo the first communication which had averted a possible disqualification of the then PM.

While Abbasey and Naek are completely mum on the row, an argument given by some in their favour is that the second letter was their smart move and there was no prohibition from the court to send it. Additionally, the subsequent communication was addressed to the lawyer, hired by the previous government, and not to the attorney general whom the first letter was sent on the court orders.But the fact of the matter is that the subsequent letter annulled the validity of the first one. It was also written in the second letter that the facts contained in it should be brought to the notice of the attorney general to let the cases remain closed for ever. The Swiss authorities refused to reinstate the closed cases on the basis of the second letter.

The underlying direction in the December 16, 2009 judgment of the Supreme Court, which shot down the infamous National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) and ordered reopening of the Swiss cases, was to get them revived. Obviously, the main part of the court ruling was sabotaged through the second letter.

By successfully undoing the SC orders through the secret letter, the implementation of the NRO judgment is back to square one. It is now for the new government to take it to a logical conclusion. The previous regime suffered a lot but passed at least three years in dragging its feet on enforcing the key part of this decision. Not only the court but the general public, which faced a lot of suspense and tension for this extended period, were kept in the dark about the clandestine letter.

While all and sundry remained focused on the court proceedings relating to the implementation of the NRO decision, preparation of the first letter for weeks and other hectic activities pertaining to this affair, it never transpired that another communication had also been written. None of the leaders of the former ruling party too ever talked about it publicly.

Naturally, it was never leaked simply because of the fact that it was confined to the knowledge of an extremely limited number of people of the government, who kept it close to their chest.The official said that the new government came to know about the secret letter through the Swiss judicial order, which declined to reinstate the shut cases.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-186505-NRO-case-back-to-square–one-in-SC

June 28, 2013   No Comments

Scenarios after Musharraf trial decision being discussed; by Tariq Butt in the News, June 28

ISLAMABAD: Although the final outcome of the high treason charges against former President Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf is far in time, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s firm announcement to hold the unique trial certainly portends different scenarios.

It is also debatable whether or not Nawaz Sharif actually wanted to pursue the grave charge against Musharraf so early in his rule or was really constrained by the proceedings in the Supreme Court for implementation of its July 31, 2009 judgment, which held that the former president violated the Constitution through his November 3, 2007 strike and be proceeded on high treason charge.

The government was very hard-pressed to give a quick unambiguous commitment to the court about Musharraf’s trial. Two days back, when Attorney General Munir A Malik sought a 30-day time to come out with the government’s stand, the court agreed to just three days.

The ideal view is that anyone who messed around with the Constitution deserves no concession and be awarded the legally prescribed punishment. And the status of the person so arraigned whether he is a former chief of army staff should not be kept in view as the violation of the Constitution can’t and shouldn’t be cordoned come what may.

No doubt, Nawaz Sharif stands on high moral ground as he did what he has been repeatedly committing since long. He stands vindicated. But there is a strong likelihood, according to informed official sources, that he was not pushed to swiftly start the instant case during the “honeymoon” period of its government.

There is no doubt that he first wanted to focus single-minded on resolving umpteen crises and national problems that have jammed Pakistan. But when he found that there is no option available to him but to extend a definite assurance to the apex court to file the high treason case against Musharraf, he announced that the former president would be proceeded against. It is clear that he is not initiating the case on his own, but is just doing so in view of an impending judicial order in this connection.

The other alternative available to the prime minister was to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors on the court directions, and then earn contempt of court proceedings, kick-starting a fight with the Supreme Court during the first few weeks of his rule. His considered opinion and policy that he is religiously following is that he would not lock horns with the apex court in any case. The change of portfolio of Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid even before a decision of the Supreme Court on his fate is an apt example to illustrate the point.

However, a question that has been vigorously raised by those who are unfavourable to the prime minister’s daring decision is whether Musharraf’s trial is the problem number one Pakistan faced that Nawaz Sharif chose to solve. In their opinion, the answer is a resounding no.

Moreover, whether people voted him to power to fix Musharraf’s trial as his top most priority or to grapple with other problems, the main being the economic mess and energy crisis, which have choked economic growth.

Another argument against the move is that the trial will open a Pandora’s Box. Undoubtedly, it will lead to such a consequence. But the counter-argument is that this question must be settled once and for all to avert recurrent military interventions.

Interestingly, it was discussed more than once in the senior most circles of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) that the trial would open a Pandora’s Box and may distract it from its ambitious agenda to reform Pakistan in all spheres. All pros and cons were debated. However, the circumstances have impelled the prime minister to act fast.

Some elements, who pose themselves to be the spokesmen of the establishment, like Sheikh Rashid and a few retired armed forces officers are relentlessly spreading the scare that the Pakistan army would intervene and send the government packing sooner than later because of Musharraf’s trial.

“At the very outset, I gave two years to the present regime, but after the prime minister’s declaration, I give it just six months to stay in place,” Sheikh Rashid said the other day in his usually prophetic tone. He keeps trying to impress all and sundry for having direct connections with the General Headquarters. Former army chief Mirza Aslam Beg stated that the decision to try Musharraf was a personal vendetta.

Jamiat Ulemae Islam (JUI) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is of late estranged with Nawaz Sharif for not accommodating his party at the federal level and in Balochistan, has said that the consequences of Musharraf’s conviction on high treason charge should not be lost sight of. He too tried to frighten the prime minister.

Although the government is aggressively dispelling the impression that the trial would not lead to confrontation between the institutions – the civilian government and the Pakistan Army, some elements are forcefully selling this theory. But if credence is to be attached, at least three solid news stories have clearly stated that the prime minister took the top army brass into confidence prior to announcing that Musharraf would be tried. Musharraf was offered a safe exit but he refused and earned initiation of high treason charge, these items said.


June 28, 2013   No Comments

Army not to be maligned in Musharraf trial: Nisar

By  Asim Yasin   in the News, June 28

ISLAMABAD: The Interior Minister on Thursday expressed the resolve in the National Assembly that no one would be allowed to bring disgrace to the institution of the army in the process of the trial of former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf for high treason as per Article 6 of the Constitution.

The members of the National Assembly expressed divergent views on holding Musharraf’s trial under Article 6 of the Constitution for his November 3, 2007 action. A number of MNAs demanded that the trial should also include his October 12, 1999 action while some said that all the dictators should be tried and the trial should start from 1956

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, however, did not agree with the assertion and said the government had taken a clear stance on the November 3, 2007 acts of the former president and also took the House into confidence on the matter. “We have stated our position to the Supreme Court and we have given our view, which is based on law and Constitution.”

Ch Nisar announced the formation of a four-member FIA committee whose members are: Muhammad Khalid Qureshi‚ Muhammad Azam Khan‚ Hussain Asghar and Maqsoodul Hasan. The committee will submit a weekly report to the interior ministry on its progress. The minister did not say how long it would take to complete its investigations.

The opposition parties advocated expanding this trial to October 12, 1999 while the MQM said the trial of all the dictators should be held and the exercise should not be restricted to an individual.

PPPP parliamentary leader Makhdoom Amin Fahim asked the government to try former dictator Pervez Musharraf under Article 6 of the Constitution for overthrowing an elected government on October 12, 1999 rather than taking action against him for November 3, 2007 emergency imposition.

Fahim said that his party had announced full support to the government in this regard but the government’s decision to try the dictator for the November 3, 2007 emergency reflected that the government wanted to save some favourites. “This is unacceptable. Justice should be across the board. We condemn it as the abettors of the dictator are equally responsible,” he remarked.

The chief of the Awami Muslim League, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, also called for trying all the dictators under Article 6 of the Constitution, including all those who abrogated the Constitution since 1956.

The interior minister said that according to the judgment of a 14-member bench of the Supreme Court, only one person was responsible for the November 3, 2007 acts. He regretted that Musharraf was now trying to drag the institution of army into this affair. “During the eight years of dictatorship, it was Musharraf alone who enjoyed absolute power,” he added.

He said, “We have great respect for Pakistan Army whose personnel are rendering great sacrifices in the war against terrorism. There will be no blot on the face and image of Pakistan Army due to the initiation of inquiry against Pervez Musharraf,” he added.

The minister said a meeting of the parliamentary leaders would be held next month to discuss the issues of militancy and security with particular reference to drone strikes. “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will chair the meeting which would be attended by the Chief of Army Staff as well as senior officials of intelligence agencies in order to formulate a consensus policy,” he added.

On the situation in Karachi, the interior minister said the government would take all the political parties into confidence in order to improve the law and order situation in the provincial metropolis.

Nisar said that he would visit Karachi next month to meet the governor, the chief minister and political leaders there. He said the federal government would provide all possible assistance to the provincial government to improve the situation in Karachi.

Earlier, speaking on a point of order, Makhdoom Amin Fahim urged the government to move prudently as a dictator was going to be tried under Article 6 for the first time since 1947. “Has the criminal act of overthrowing the elected government on October 12, 1999 been pardoned?” he asked.

Shaikh Rashid Ahmed welcomed the decision of the government to hand over the probe of Musharraf to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and said the judges had punished their fellow judges for the emergency of November 3, 2007.

He said that the government would have to charge 623 people and the court had given only three days to the government to take action while the government had sought 30 days. Mahmood Khan Achakzai of PkMAP said that the armed forces needed moral support and the National Assembly should pass a unanimous resolution in condemnation of terrorism and extending full support to the armed forces.

Regarding General Musharraf’s trial, Achakzai said that the government had submitted its viewpoint in the apex court. Dr Arif Alvi of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) urged the government to evolve a unanimous strategy to tackle terrorism by taking all political parties into confidence.

MQM parliamentary leader Dr Farooq Sattar said the trial of all dictators since 1956 should be conducted as mentioned in Article 6(2a) of the Constitution. “The Constitution is being wrongly interpreted,” he viewed.

Chief of JUI-F Maulana Fazalur Rehman voiced concerns over the recent wave of terrorism in the country. He said practical steps were required to address the root causes of terrorism and extremism.

He said the federal government should formulate a policy on the issue after taking on board the provincial governments. Maulana Fazalur Rehman said the government should take the allied parties into confidence on the matter of trial of Musharraf.

Earlier, the House witnessed disorder when the Speaker Ayaz Sadiq denied Dr Farooq Sattar time to speak on the issue as the House had to take up the Finance Bill for approval.The MQM legislators in protest stood in front of the Speaker’s rostrum and chanted slogans against his ‘partisan’ attitude. However, opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah and Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq persuaded the MQM legislators to return to their seats.The protest ended when the speaker gave the floor to Dr Farooq Sattar.


June 28, 2013   No Comments