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Posts from — March 2015

A road to nowhere : by BABAR SATTAR in Dawn, March 30th, 2015

The writer is a lawyer.
The PML-N and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) have finally agreed to form a judicial commission to probe the 2013 elections and determine three things: were they conducted impartially, fairly and justly in accordance with law; were they manipulated by systematic design; and were the results a fair reflection of public mandate.

If there was ever a commission to be formed likely to do nothing other than drag the judiciary into the political thicket and subject its findings to the ignominy of an emotive media trial, it is this.

Let us focus on the legal issues that bedevil this enterprise. Our Constitution conceives of no mechanism to declare illegal the collective result of an election.

Article 225 identifies the manner and mode in which elections can be brought into question: through an election petition presented to an election tribunal as prescribed in the Representation of Peoples Act, 1976.

Thus, without amending Article 225 and/or the 1976 Act, election results can’t be “called in question” by any commission.

The Supreme Court jurisprudence on this issue is clear. In Election Commission of Pakistan vs. Javaid Hashmi (PLD 1989 SC 396) it interpreted Article 225 by stating that the “constitutional provision is expressed in negative form to give exclusive jurisdiction to the tribunal appointed by the Election Commissioner and thus to exclude or oust the jurisdiction of all courts in regard to election matters and to prescribe one mode of challenge.” It reiterated such meaning of Article 225 as recently as in end 2014.

The SC has also clarified that “the word election has been appropriately used in the Article with reference to the entire process consisting of several steps taken for its completion which have a bearing on the result of the process.” In other words, “election” is to be given broad meaning. If Article 225 bars high courts from delving into any aspect of the election process even in exercise of its constitutional jurisdiction, how will a judicial commission deriving its authority from an ordinance overcome such a constitutional prohibition?

Then there remains the larger issue of whether judges should be in the business of conducting inquiries at all, notwithstanding the existing practice of appointing judicial commissions under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1956. Having come a long way since 1956, we now take the concept of separation of powers embedded in our Constitution seriously. Investigations and inquiries are quintessentially an executive function and an aggrieved party can generally challenge their outcomes before a court of law.

Criminal trials are all about the accused poking holes in police investigations. Courts often appoint local commissions and any party to the proceedings can object to the commission’s findings. It is the court that then sits in judgment over the veracity of an investigation as a neutral arbiter. Where would you go to seek relief if a high-powered inquiry conducted by judges of the highest court records findings against you, even as investigators? Using adjudicators as investigators is counterintuitive, if not plain wrong.

Can a judicial commission declare void the results in constituencies that were never challenged before an election tribunal? Can it interfere with or override the findings in election petitions decided by election tribunals or appeals decided by the SC after hearing the contesting parties? If three Supreme Court judges give definitive findings on the veracity of elections in their capacity as fact-finders, what legal value will their brother judges assign such findings while hearing appeals in election disputes?

Out of the questions to be referred to the commission, the only one capable of being investigated is whether there was a grand conspiracy to steal the PTI’s votes (the party’s allegation of election fraud being contingent on its theory that former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, in connivance with retired judges and returning officers, stole the PTI’s mandate on PML-N’s behalf). Even for such a purpose, an investigation by judges who worked under Mr Chaudhry’s watch is a bad idea. Imagine the PTI’s stinging reaction if the former CJ’s colleagues rubbish this conspiracy theory.

If the proposed commission is established through an ordinance and the courts too don’t conclude that it contravenes Articles 225 or the principle of separation of powers, will such a commission be retained as part of our permanent law to resolve similar conflicts in the future? Have bitter memories of the ’90s and Article 58(2)(b) faded away already? Do our political parties really want to establish as precedent a super commission with the power to pass a blanket verdict on the legitimacy of an entire election?

Let’s assume for a second that a commission is formed, is not declared illegal and concludes unequivocally that the election was one big fraud. What happens then? Because the Constitution doesn’t conceive of a collective challenge to a general election, it doesn’t provide for simultaneous dissolution of assemblies if allegations of grand fraud are substantiated. Only the prime minister can dissolve the National Assembly under Article 58 of the Constitution and the chief ministers can dissolve provincial assemblies under Article 112.

Let’s assume that the PML-N abides by its legally non-binding commitment of calling fresh elections, Prime Minister Sharif dissolves the National Assembly, Chief Minister Sharif dissolves the Punjab Assembly, and Chief Minister Khattak dissolves the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly. What happens to the Sindh and Balochistan assemblies if the PPP, the MQM and Baloch sardars decide that they have nothing to gain from immediate elections? Further, what will be the fate of newly elected senators if the judicial commission finds that the MPs who elected them were devoid of legitimacy themselves?

The proposed judicial commission is a non-starter: it might provide the PTI a face-saving means to return to the National Assembly (despite all those claims and swagger during the dharna) and it might also help the PML-N get a monkey off its back. But let’s hope this obsession with what went wrong in the past doesn’t distract the constructive minds within our political class from pushing forth vital electoral reforms that will prevent it from happening again.http://www.dawn.com/news/1172687/a-road-to-nowhere

March 30, 2015   No Comments

The futility of Islamophobia : by Yasser Latif Hamdani in Daily Times, March 30, 2015

The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore
The First Amendment to the Constitution of the US is unique in the world. Other than religious freedom as well as a bar on Congress from respecting an establishment of religion, this amendment provides for an unfettered right to freedom of speech and press. This is how it should be everywhere ideally but, unfortunately, we live in a less than ideal world. The advantages of having an unfettered right to freedom of speech and press are too numerous to list. Primarily though it creates a society where true scholarship and bona fide research into even the most taboo of topics is possible. This leads to a marketplace of ideas that creates a national intellectual economy so essential to a progressive society. Yet it can also mean that the same freedom is abused. The right to speak is conflated often with the right to offend. Offensive speech, it follows, is protected speech. However, where hate speech leads to hate violence it becomes fighting words.

Now consider the ongoing Islamophobia debate in the US. It is one of the most divisive and polarising debates in that country. Leading this debate are people like Sam Harris and Ayyan Hirsi Ali, who vehemently insist that extremists and terrorists are intellectually honest when committing crimes against humanity in the name of Islam. Their target, without exception, is not extremists or terrorists but moderate Muslims who they contend are intellectually dishonest, naïve or both. Furthermore, they contend that the only way to be a good Muslim is to be a Muslim in name. A corollary is that they believe moderate Muslims shield extremists because they make it impossible to criticise Islam’s true doctrine (ironically laying claim to be the true experts of Islamic doctrine themselves). This, they say, is not Islamophobia but instead legitimate criticism of an ideology that is inherently violent. Needless to say, this abrasive rhetoric is counterproductive to any of the stated objectives of this camp. They can claim as many times as they want that their target is a set of ideas and not Muslim people but the truth is that the Chapel Hill shootings showed that this rhetoric also translates into hate violence.

Perhaps the biggest problem with their penchant to paint the diversity that is Islam with one broad brush is that they forget one fundamental truth: there are close to 1.5 billion people on this Earth who identify themselves as Muslims and modernisation of the Muslim narrative can only happen if you state that their lifeblood, which is their faith, is completely compatible with such modernity. What Islam is going through right now is not at all different from the process of reformation that Christianity underwent during the 16th century. Those who are so impatient with reform would do well to read that history. Indeed, the world of Islam is reforming at a faster rate because of the times we live in. More and more women are part of the work force. At the very basic level there is a realisation that religious freedom is a good thing and civil society in many Muslim countries, especially Pakistan, is very active in speaking out for civil liberties, women’s rights and other issues germane to the modern age. Yes, there are fundamentalists and fanatics creating problems but then what do you think Martin Luther, the father of Christian reformation, was? Lutherans and Catholics both burnt each other at the stake during the 16th century.

The discourse, rightly labelled as Islamophobia, does not aid or speed up the process of Muslim reformation. It hinders it especially since Sam Harris and company goes after not the extremists in the Muslim world but the moderates. When painted into a corner, even a moderate Muslim has to make a choice: to give up his identity and his way of life or to resist. If human history is any indication, nine out of 10 moderates will resist. And there are many achievements in Islamic history that moderates are rightly proud of. The civilisation that Islam ushered in produced Avicenna, Averroes, Rhazes, Al Khawarzimi and countless other men of science and philosophy, who have enriched the human consciousness. Averroes, for example, was precisely the kind of person who would be called an “Islamic apologist” by the Islamophobes of today. He had attempted to reconcile Aristotlean ideas with the Islamic faith. Yet it is Averroes who features prominently in the artwork of the Renaissance period. His influence over western thought cannot be underestimated.

The main objection raised against Islam by its critics today pertains to the Islamic legal system. The criticism holds water because Islamic jurisprudence has remained static since the 12th century. There is no denying of course that the major pre-occupation of Islam has been the law. However, it must be said that compared to the legal systems that existed at the time, i.e. from 650 AD to 1250 AD, Islamic jurisprudence was far more progressive. Then it all came to a halt around the time the great Muslim seat of Islamic learning, Baghdad, the capital of knowledge in the world, was burnt down by Helagu Khan. Islamic law was ossified and limited to dogma. What the critics of Islamic jurisprudence today attack is a corpse rather than a living system. A legal system has to constantly evolve. After all, how does one explain west’s evolution from a society that burnt women at the stake to the one that is subject to the highest principles of human conduct and civil rights?

What is certain, however, is that one cannot hope to reform the Islamic world until and unless one enlists Islam and its doctrine in one’s aid. That is just the way it is. Therefore, one really questions whether piling humiliation or insulting moderate Muslims, instead of welcoming them with open arms, is the forward march of humanity.http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/30-Mar-2015/the-futility-of-islamophobia

March 30, 2015   No Comments

The local bodies legacy: edit in The News, March 30, 2015

We may be in the midst of a democratic transition in Pakistan, but political parties appear to be hell bent to act against their own interests. The PML-N-led National Assembly has passed a bill to hold party-less local bodies elections in Islamabad. Not only did the PML-N act against the agreement in the Charter of Democracy, it has negated the spirit of the constitutional requirement in the 18th Amendment to devolve governance to the lowest levels. While the PPP managed to get 33 percent representation for women, five percent each for peasants, non-Muslims and youth, and two percent for technocrats, the PML-N refused to concede two major amendments which would have allowed political parties to nominate candidates. What was even more amusing is that Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Saeed seemed to take credit for imitating non-party local bodies elections in the 1980s, followed by non-party elections to the national and provincial assemblies – happily saying that ‘such (party-less) elections were held under Ziaul Haq’. The worrying thing was that no one from the ruling party seemed to take him down.

The PPP resisted the move and may still get its way if the Senate refuses to ratify the legislation. Leader of Opposition Khursheed Shah did well to remember that the PML-N had attempted to get non-party polls approved in Punjab, unlike the other three provinces. The fact is that the PML-N prefers to rule via the bureaucracy and likes to keep local politics in check via elaborate patronage structures that connect to its MPAs and MNAs. If another political party were to win a majority at the local level, this would cause fissures in its governance structure. Fears over the PML-N’s role are also a reason why the PAT has already filed a petition against Saad Rafiq regarding possible rigging on the eve of the cantonment board elections. The Supreme Court has asked provincial governments to ensure all local bodies elections are held before September 2015. It is disheartening to see political parties wavering on a commitment they themselves agreed to. True democracy in Pakistan would have nothing to fear from party-led local bodies elections. One is sometimes left to wonder whether 30 years of non-democratic rule have taught anything about democracy to Pakistan’s political parties. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-8-309658-The-local-bodies-legacy

March 30, 2015   No Comments

COAS’s resolve:edit in Daily Times, March 30, 2015

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif stands out in contrast to his predecessor, General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani. Whereas the latter dragged his feet over clearing FATA, especially North Waziristan, of terrorists and their local and foreign affiliates, General Sharif has taken the bull by the horns. One of the triggers may have been the APS attack in Peshawar that led to the massacre of students and their teachers, but the COAS’s resolve to eliminate terrorism from Pakistan’s soil predated his elevation to overall command of the army. General Sharif is credited with being the conceptual and in practice leader of turning the military towards first understanding and then eliminating the existential threat to the country that entrenched terrorism represents, and which by now is received wisdom across the board. The COAS, even before he was elevated, is widely believed to be the counterinsurgency General of the army, having written the manual on the subject and trained troops for the task. Not for General Sharif the ambiguity and duality of long years of prevarication and spurious distinctions between good and bad Taliban that hamstrung any effective action against them in the wishful desire to project power in Afghanistan through armed proxies. Instead of achieving that outward aim, the country is now suffering from the ‘reverse osmosis’ of Pakistani Taliban based on Afghan soil mounting raids against the military and security forces on our side of the border. There is little doubt that Operation Zarb-e-Azb has rocked the terrorists, once considered difficult to winkle out of their redoubts in FATA, on to the back foot and triggered an exodus from areas in the path of the military’s operations. It therefore comes as no surprise when the COAS reiterated his and the army’s determination to go after the terrorists wherever they may be. His message while addressing the convocation of the CMH Lahore Medical College on Saturday was straight and unambiguous. He said the army was tackling the menace of terrorism head-on and would not rest till it had delivered to future generations a terror-free Pakistan.

The task of cleansing Pakistan of terrorism promises to be a protracted one. After all, terrorists have proliferated and consolidated themselves for four decades and more on our soil as an unintended consequence of our long involvement with our neighbour Afghanistan. While endgame approaches in Afghanistan with foreign troops reduced to a virtually token presence and the Kabul government open to political negotiations with the Afghan Taliban to find a peaceful solution to the long running war, Pakistan has a big stake in such an outcome next door. Peace in Afghanistan would have the reverse effect of continuing war. The latter would open up the door to the risk that the Afghan Taliban may be tempted to go on supporting the Pakistani Taliban on their soil, to Pakistan’s security detriment. Peace on the other hand, would avoid such a spillover and may even make the existence of the Pakistani Taliban inside Afghanistan difficult if not impossible. On the domestic front, we now have the first report to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif under the National Action Plan (NAP). The report states that from December 24, 2014 to March 25, 2015, the law enforcement agencies have arrested 32,347 people on various charges in 28,826 operations conducted across the country since the start of the NAP. A province-wise breakdown shows that of these operations, 14,791 were conducted in Punjab, 5,517 in Sindh, 6,461 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 84 in Balochistan, 405 in Islamabad, 1,394 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), 83 in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and 91 in FATA. The breakdown of arrests reveals that of the total 32,347 people arrested, 2,798 were from Punjab, 6,467 from Sindh, 18,619 from KP, 3,483 from Balochistan, 762 from Islamabad, nine from AJK, 30 from GB and 179 from FATA. It may appear at first glance incongruous that there appears not to be a correlation between operations in a province and arrests made from that province, and this is especially glaring in the case of Punjab. But it is inherently very difficult to find such a correlation for the simple reason that such operations are intelligence-led which, like all human endeavour, is an imperfect science. The number of operations therefore cannot be expected in each and every instance to reap a similar crop of suspects. But it is nevertheless reassuring to see that Punjab leads the list of the number of operations in the context of first, the perception that the terrorists have treated Punjab as a safe haven in the past and therefore refrained from too many actions in the province, and second, the allegations and accusations in the air that the Punjab government tried to save the province from the unwanted attentions of the Taliban by appealing to them to spare Punjab. Whatever the truth of such past mistakes and illusions, the fact that the figures underline what the COAS said, that terrorists would be pursued no matter where they are in the country, is cause for satisfaction. However, the other side of the picture is that even after such intense operations in a relatively short time, terrorism is not completely scotched and that brings us back to our starting point: we are in a protracted war against terrorism, one we cannot afford to lose.http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/editorial/30-Mar-2015/coas-s-resolve

March 30, 2015   No Comments

The war and the IDPs :edit in The Express ribune, March 30th, 2015

If one were to go by the claims put out regularly, it seems that Operation Zarb-e-Azb, launched in June last year, is progressing successfully and is going in the right direction. However, in the absence of any independent corroboration of these claims or our own reports from ground zero, one finds it difficult to state with any degree of confidence how this war is poised currently. One is not in any way questioning the ISPR claims but only questioning one’s own mandate to endorse or reject them in the absence of first-hand reports or independent corroboration. But going by the declining number of major terror attacks since the launch of the operation, one can say with some degree of confidence that things are, indeed, improving. There have been only five or six major attacks since the launch of the operation — on the Naval Dockyard in Karachi in September 2014, on the Wagah border in November the same year, on the Army Public School in Peshawar a month later, on the imambargahs in Shikarpur and Peshawar earlier in 2015 and on the two churches in Lahore’s Youhanabad area on March 15. These were the attacks that caused large-scale death and destruction, and their ownership was claimed by terror outfits. Still, the extent of the anticipated blowback appears to have been greatly pre-empted by the operation. That perhaps, is what Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has tried to convey when he claimed on March 26 that Operation Zarb-e-Azb has started yielding promising results.

While the North Waziristan operation was thought to be the mother of all battles, the ongoing operation in Tirah, it is said, is turning out to be more difficult than had been anticipated. Lying close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the control of Tirah for the government of Pakistan has always been difficult. The area has remained virtually independent since colonial times. It was only in 2003 that Pakistani troops entered the Tirah valley for the first time since independence. It is also an area where the government has been trying to cut down on poppy cultivation. It has a history of kidnapping and bloody feuds.

Three militant factions — the Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the TTP Jamaatul Ahrar — are said to have ganged up to put up a united front in Tirah valley. On the first day of combat, there were more than 200 fighters, but their numbers have multiplied since then. Bunkers built in the mountains covered by a wall are said to have made it difficult for the military to attack targets. It was to overcome this difficulty that Pakistan’s indigenously-developed armed drone, Burraq, fitted with laser-guided missile, Burq, was used. This is said to have turned the tide against the militants in this offensive. Officials are claiming that senior militant commanders, including those from Mangal Bagh’s LeI and the TTP, were killed in Pakistani drone strikes. Analysts are quoted as saying that peace in the region now hinged on the outcome of the Tirah battle.

As the war continues to rage along most of the tribal region, more and more people are fleeing their homes and joining the camps arranged for internally displaced persons (IDPs). Every now and then officials claim that very soon the IDPs will return home. But on the ground, there is no sign of any such thing happening any time soon. No reconstruction work is said to have been started in the areas cleared of the terrorists. Generally, media access to IDP camps is highly restricted because of which it is becoming increasingly difficult to report on the factual conditions in these camps. The second-hand information reaching the media is not encouraging at all. Material and monetary support to the people living in these camps is said to be too inadequate, making it impossible for the IDPs to live in dignity and honour. Reconstruction and rehabilitation work, therefore, needs to be started soon so that the IDPs can return home without suffering any further psychological damage. While it is important to win in military terms, it is equally important that the civilian populations directly affected by the war are rehabilitated as soon as possible. Otherwise, the gains in military terms may end up going to waste. http://tribune.com.pk/story/860925/the-war-and-the-idps/

March 30, 2015   No Comments

Cantonment LB polls party-less in name only: by Tariq Butt in The News, March 30, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Local Bodies (LB) elections in 42 Cantonment Boards (CBs) are being held on party-less basis only in name while in fact they are absolutely party-based. Under the law, any candidate found to be using the platform or flag of any political party or having association with it will stand disqualified.

Prominent among the political parties, which are actively contesting the non-party elections, are Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). They have completely politicised the exercise, which, as per the law, has to be non-political.

Even the PTI has written to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), alleging an attempt by the PML-N to politicise these polls. But it is also doing precisely the same with remarkable enthusiasm to get a large share in the CBs for the first time in its political life.

These political parties are preparing to unofficially field their nominees under the nomenclatures of various electoral groups. The PML-N is expected to opt for the Khushaal Pakistan group.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan recently directed that federal and provincial legislators and party office bearers would jointly select candidates for local elections to avoid any squabbling.In the case of Rawalpindi and Chaklala cantonments, the PTI has received more than 150 applications from aspirants. Similarly, the PTI Lahore has short-listed candidates from amongst over 100 applicants for general seats of Cantonment and Walton boards.

PTI Lahore President Abdul Aleem and senior vice-president Shoaib Siddiqui have interviewed the aspirants in the light of recommendations of the office-bearers of local organisations, former national and provincial candidates and district office-bearers.

“We have decided to bring forward the elected party people as well as those attached with the PTI since long as its candidates for the local elections,” Aleem has been quoted as saying.He said the cantonment areas are home to educated people, who represent the PTI’s vote bank, and that the PML-N would again face a humiliating defeat.

In Rawalpindi, the PML-N formed a 13-member committee under the chairmanship of Senator Chaudhry Tanveer to finalise the candidates for the PML-N-supported Khushal Pakistan Group.More than 231 candidates applied for the seats of the Rawalpindi and Chaklala cantonment boards. The committee will announce the candidates on Monday after getting a go-ahead from the party leadership.

Both the PTI and PML-N are marred by factionalism in different areas with every group trying to get its choice candidates sponsored.In some areas, it is a fight between their elected federal or provincial legislators and those who faced defeat in the 2013 general elections. There are no reports of intervention by senior party leaderships to get rid of the tussles.

However, the CBs elections are a highly limited exercise as nearly two million electorates will use their right of vote. The ECP is supervising the local polls for the first time.The polling will be held on April 25. The ECP has announced a code of conduct, barring government officials, including the prime minister from taking part in the election campaign. The nomination papers will be submitted from March 29 to 31. Scrutiny will be done on April 2-4. The candidates will be able to submit appeals until April 4 against acceptance or rejection of nomination papers. The decisions on appeals will be announced on April 9.

Candidates can withdraw their nomination papers by April 10 while the election symbols will be allotted on April 11.A total of 199 general councilors will be elected from 42 CBs in the first round of elections. Election results will be announced on April 28.In the second round, newly elected general councilors will select representatives of female workers, minority youth and farmers. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-309710-Cantonment-LB-polls-party-less-in-name-only

March 30, 2015   No Comments

Govt, PTI trying to salvage accord on judicial commission: by KHAWAR GHUMMAN in Dawn, March 30th, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Negotia­tors from the ruling PML-N and the PTI spent a busy weekend trying to salvage their March 20 accord over the constitution of a judicial commission to investigate rigging allegations in the last general elections. The agreement suffered a setback on Friday when PTI chief Imran Khan accused the government of backing out of it.

Sources in both parties told Dawn that negotiators were busy sandpapering whatever differences had surfaced over the agreement announced on March 20. Representatives of the government and the PTI held detailed in-house meetings over the weekend and exchanged notes on the remaining bones of contention.

“I’m hopeful of a significant development towards the proposed commission within this week,” a senior PTI leader privy to the development told Dawn. The ruling party sent out similar positive vibes.

On Friday, the PTI chairman had said his party had already yielded enough ground and there would be yet more discussion on the commission’s terms of reference. According to Mr Khan, the government wanted to revise the agreed-upon MoU.

But what changed over the past week that prompted Mr Khan to threaten to take to the streets again? Jahangir Khan Tareen, the PTI general secretary and lead negotiator in talks with the government told Dawn on Friday that Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt had called him and asked for changes in the agreed MoU.

Explaining the changes the AG had asked for, Mr Tareen said the PM would only dissolve the National Assembly and announce new elections if the proposed commission found positive evidence on three main critical accounts: that the PML-N manipulated election results in its favour; that election results didn’t reflect true mandate of the people; and that elections weren’t conducted impartially, honestly, fairly and justly overall.

PTI accuses govt of changing its mind; govt insists it’s only doing ‘due diligence’
Secondly, the government wanted to secretly change the clause related to the consensus over the appointment of the FIA director general, National Database and Registration Authority chairman and Election Commission, which was part of the agreement.

Thirdly, according to Mr Tareen, the attorney general said that as long as the judicial commission was conducting its investigation, neither side would issue any statement on the subject of election rigging.

“That means a complete gag order,” said Mr Tareen, adding that in so many words, this meant, “Heads I win, tails you lose.”

On the other side, a government source told Dawn that the changes being proposed to the MoU were being made to cover the risk factors that had cropped up after the agreement.

“The government is not trying to backtrack on the investigation, but they want to ensure that no legal holes remain unplugged as far as the proposed MoU and judicial commission are concerned.”

Until the MoU is formally signed and an ordinance issued, both sides can suggest changes, he said when asked why the government was asking for changes to an already-agreed upon document.

Although neither Mr Tareen nor Senator Ishaq Dar — the chief negotiators from both sides — were available for comment on Sunday over a possible final date for the signing of the MoU, sources on both sides told Dawn a final announcement could be made at any time.

The Senate session is scheduled to commence on April 6 and the presidential ordinance must be issued before then, giving the government a week in which to constitute the commission.http://www.dawn.com/news/1172712/govt-pti-trying-to-salvage-accord-on-judicial-commission

March 30, 2015   No Comments

JC formation issue lands in serious controversy : by Abrar Saeed in The Nation, March 30, 2015

ISLAMABAD – The matter of forming a ‘judicial commission’, to probe alleged rigging charges in the 2013 general elections, through a Presidential Ordinance, landed in serious controversy as legal and constitutional experts have termed the move in contradiction with the constitution.
Perhaps it was the strong criticism from the legal fraternity that has forced the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) to re-examine the move to make it in complete harmony and conformity with the constitution and law of the land.
Sources in the government informed that the legal team of the government was busy examining the proposed draft ordinance to make it in agreement with the constitution and for that matter Advisor to PM Barrister Zafarullah and former federal minister Zahid Hamid, de facto law minister, had held a series of meetings and also met several times with Attorney General of Pakistan to have indirect input and tacit approval of superior judiciary on this tricky matter.
These sources said that as the legal and constitutional experts saw the formation of judicial commission through a Presidential Ordinance in the presence of Article 225 of the constitution illegal and unconstitutional, which would eventually be challenged in the court of law, so the govenrment’s legal team wanted to have tacit input of superior judiciary on the draft ordinance so that the legal loopholes in it could be plugged.
Commenting on the government’s move to form judicial commission through a Presidential Ordinance, legal and constitutional experts said that in the presence of Article 225 of the constitution no such commission could be formed and termed it against the very spirit of the constitution and law of the land.
Article 225 reads; “No election to a House or a Provincial Assembly shall be called in question except by an election petition presented to such tribunal and in such manner as may be determined by Act of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).”
Explaining his point Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-i-Azam) Senator Kamil Ali Aga said that the government could get some law introduced in shape of Presidential Ordinance when both the house of the Parliament are not in session and the same should be in harmony with the spirit of constitution and it should be presented before the Parliament for formal legislation at the earliest. But here the case was altogether different. Because the government is waiting for prorogation of the sessions of both Senate and National Assembly to introduce an ordinance to form judicial commission and that too in conflict with Article 225 of the Constitution, he added.
He said that even in case the government manages to bring an ordinance for formation of judicial commission the same would surely be challenged in the court of law for being in conflict with the constitution.
A ruling party Parliamentarian and renowned legal and constitutional expert on condition of anonymity termed the whole exercise of forming judicial commission unconstitutional and against the spirit of the law.
He said that Presidential Ordinance could not override the constitution and if introduced the same would be challenged in the court of law and would eventually be struck down.
Former chairman Senate and renowned jurist Wasim Sajjad said that he could comment on the matter when the Presidential Ordinance to form a judicial commission would be introduced. However, adding that all laws and ordinances to be introduced should be in conformity with the spirit of constitution.http://nation.com.pk/national/30-Mar-2015/jc-formation-issue-lands-in-serious-controversy

March 30, 2015   No Comments

PML-N may lose former MPA in Hazara: by Syed Kosar Naqvi in The News, March 30, 2015

ABBOTTABAD: Another Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former Member Provincial Assembly from Hazara division, Inayatullah Khan Jadoon is likely to quit the party, family sources told The News.

Inayatullah Jadoon, who remained MPA in 2008-2013 and is the son of late chief minister Iqbal Khan Jadoon, lost the election in May 2013 to Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani, the incumbent provincial minister for information.

Sources in his family told this correspondent that Inayatullah Jadoon was annoyed due to neglect of his constituency, PK-44 Abbottabad, by the PML-N-led federal government. They said he had conveyed his complaints to the party leadership, particularly the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Sardar Mahtab Ahmed Khan, but to no avail. They said that after becoming the governor, Sardar Mahtab had ignored his hometown.

The sources in the Jadoon family said a grand jirga would be held in the second week of April to take decisions about participation in the forthcoming Cantonment Board Abbottabad and local government elections. They said decision would also be taken about the future political role to be played by Inayatullah Jadoon.

When contacted, Inayatullah Jadoon confirmed that he was facing pressure from his tribe as his constituency has been badly ignored. “I have conveyed my reservations to the party bosses in Peshawar and Islamabad and am waiting for their decision,” he added.

However, he insisted that he would not leave the party and continue to work as a member. His close aides, on the other hand, said that his differences with the party leadership had widened and he did not attend the workers convention of the party recently held in Peshawar to mark his protest.

Political observers believe that if PML-N leadership does not take the matter seriously, it will be another jolt to the party in Hazara after resignation of MPA Wajeehuzaman. This could also affect the performance of PML-N in the forthcoming local government elections.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-309615-PML-N-may-lose-former-MPA-in-Hazara

March 30, 2015   No Comments

Altaf resigns, slams Imran Khan: by SOHAIL SHABBIR in Dawn, March 30th, 2015

KARACHI: Chief of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Altaf Hussain tendered his resignation to party leadership on Monday, saying he is not able to bear the burden of leading the party any longer.

He also asked the party lawmakers to elect a new party chief by evening, drawing cries of disapproval from party activists.

The MQM leader made the announcement during a telephonic address to party leaders at MQM’s Nine-Zero headquarters.

“I will not be leading MQM from now on,” the MQM chief said. He also asked the party leaders to dissolve the MQM completely and devote themselves to charitable services.

“You can lead the party from now on, my best wishes are with you,” Altaf told the MQM activists.

Altaf said he had been abused frequently on television talk shows but that he will not hear such words any longer since he is dissociating himself from MQM. He further said whoever attempts to use foul language against him will use it against the whole nation.

The MQM supremo was also highly critical of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan and categorically denied all allegations Imran Khan has directed towards him.

Altaf said Imran ridiculed him when he cried on the murder of MQM politician Dr Imran Farooq.

Take a look: Altaf Hussain regretful over use of harsh language against LEAs

The MQM chief said Imran had promised during his sit-ins against the government to not go home until ‘change’ has been brought, however his revolution and containers both vanished after he got married.

Altaf said the PTI chief had called him the murderer of TV reporter Wali Khan Babar but that he had not even heard about Babar prior to his murder. He said he only “found out Babar was a TV reporter after he got killed”.

He also addressed Imran’s criticism of the length of his telephonic addresses. The MQM supremo said Imran is irked by his two-hour long speeches but he should answer why media gave such extensive coverage to his protracted sit-ins.

The MQM chief said Imran accuses him being a “coward” for living in a foreign country.

“I have been living in exile for past 25 years only for the sake of party workers,” he said.

He further said it was a matter of shame that MQM activists and leadership did not take notice of the foul language aimed at him until he pointed it out.

Altaf’s resignation drew cries of disapproval from party leaders who urged the supremo to give them “one more chance” .

Altaf did not step back from his announcement even after emotional pleas and chants from MQM workers who urged him to take back his decision. Subsequently the MQM MNAs announced their resignation from the assembly.

He also addressed Pakistan’s decision to support Saudi Arabia and its allies in their military offensive against Houthi militia in Yemen saying that Pakistan has fought five wars till the present, but no one ever offered to help Pakistan.http://www.dawn.com/news/1172810/altaf-resigns-slams-imran-khan

March 30, 2015   No Comments