Daily Times Pay Your Employees!

Did anyone else think it was impossible for Daily Times− a propaganda tool and mouthpiece for the Governor of Punjab, which doesn’t even deserve to be called a newspaper− to get worse? To sink to the depths it has sunk to now? I happen to know that many of the employees haven’t been paid a penny since the editorial regime change from Najam Sethi to Rashid Rahman, which has become a perpetual excuse given to the ones who have asked for their basic right: their salary. I have written this to the letters to the editor to some newspapers but so far, no one has published it. There’s a very simple reason why: they all do it, at least periodically. I cannot think of one newspaper that hasn’t delayed/denied payment. Sometimes, it can take months for writers to obtain even meagre sums, basically the amount they end up spending calling up the office and begging for what they were promised. And it most certainly isn’t particular to newspapers in this nation.

Those of us who have been in the workforce for even a few years know that even when your own relatives promise to pay you, the chances of getting what you deserve are not exactly high. And the richer the person, the lower the chances of ever seeing a penny, at least in Lahore. It’s a sad reflection of what being Punjabi is.

One my cousins, who worked for MTV Pakistan, was also a victim of this. Actually, let’s just say that most people I know have been a victim of this other than the elitist brats who work for dad or have pulled lots of strings to get comfy jobs, robbing the deserving who don’t have connections of their futures. Anyway, she coined a phrase that remains stuck in my mind: “the inshallah syndrome.” This nation, by and large, is stricken with this syndrome, as evidenced by those of us frustratingly trying to get work done. Some of my own students, instead of getting organised and working properly, also love this term. Plenty of times I’ve asked right before a paper is due if they’re working on it or are finished with their rough drafts. The replies that frustrate me the most are from the ones who think that saying “inshallah” and writing a rant the night before will be sufficient.

My point is that there are many of us who have been victims of this “inshallah syndrome” when it comes to payment. This is especially true for those of us who are in the education industry or the media. But what’s truly sad is the fact that the majority of people who are deprived of their basic human right are too scared to speak up. They are too scared to say a thing knowing, full well, that the Punjabi elite, the affluent and influential who run all these industries, will malign them or ruin their careers. In this case, as in many others, silence is violence. This systemic exploitation must stop, and the only way we can do so is by speaking up and making a stink. I realise not everyone’s brave enough to take a stand, but those of us who are crazy enough need to speak up on their behalves. Daily Times pay your employees. You’re disgusting enough as it is.

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Application for registration of FIR against Musharraf and others

   AFRIDI, SHAH & MINALLAH
Advocates & Legal Consultants
24th, 1st Floor, Beverly Center ,Blue Area, Islamabad.
Tele Nos:  2278253-4  Fax: 2278257

March 3, 2008

The SHO,
Police Station,
Secretariat,
Islamabad.

REGISTRATION OF CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST GEN ® PERVAIZ MUSHARRAF, MINISTER OF INTERIOR, SECRETARY INTERIOR, CHIEF COMMISSIONER ISLAMABAD, IGP ISLAMABAD, SSP ISLAMABAD, DC ISLAMABAD AND OTHERS FOR KEEPING THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF PAKISTAN JUSTICE IFTIKHAR MOHAMMAD CHAUDHRY, OTHER HON’BLE JUDGES AND THIER FAMILIES UNDER/IN WRONGFUL RESTRAINT, WRONGFUL CONIFINEMENT, COMMITTING CRIMINAL TRESSPASS, CRIMINAL INTIMIDATION,  ETC PUNISHABLE UNDER THE PAKISTAN PENAL CODE 1860 READ WITH OTHER ENABLING PROVISIONS.

We have been authorized and instructed by the respective Presidents of the High Court Bar Association, Rawalpindi Bar Association and Islamabad Bar Association to submit this application for registration of a criminal case under the relevant provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code and other enabling provisions. It is, therefore, stated as follows;

1.    That on March 9, 2007 the then Chief of Army Staff, General Pervaiz Musharraf attacked the independence of the judiciary by illegally using the State machinery to criminally intimidate, coerce, threaten and assault the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry so as to illegally force him to resign from his office.

2.    That on refusal to succumb to the illegal pressure and subjugate the independence of the judiciary, the Chief Justice of Pakistan was taken into custody and kept in illegal confinement and house arrest with the other members of the family for more than two weeks. The officials of the intelligence agencies and the administration at the behest and on orders of General ® Pervaiz Musharraf trespassed the official residence of the Chief Justice and kept him and the members of his family confined to two rooms within the residence.

3.    That General ® Pervaiz Musharraf publicly confessed and regretted the illegal and wrongful restraint and confinement.

4.    That on July 20, 2007 a thirteen member bench of the Supreme Court honourably restored Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry as the Chief Justice of Pakistan and held that the allegations in the Reference were malafide, illegal and unconstitutional. It is important to note that the  evidence relating to the purported allegations in the reference had been withdrawn and the lawyers representing General ® Pervaiz Musharraf and the Federation tendered apologies before the Supreme Court and the Bench of the Supreme Court imposed a fine of Rs. 100,000/- against the Federal Government.

5.    That in a shameless act of revenge solely for his personal ego, General ® Pervaiz Musharraf committed high treason on November 3, 2007 when taking advantage of his position as the Chief of Army Staff, he issued an illegal and unconstitutional Proclamation of Emergency and a Provisional Constitutional Order. He, thereby not only committed high treason under Article 6 of the Constitution but also conspired to bring the Pakistan Army into disrepute merely for his personal gain and ego. He attacked the independence of judiciary yet again and the integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan as well.

6.    That on November 3, 2007 a seven member bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan suspended the Proclamation and the PCO. The authorities were restrained not to act in pursuance of the Proclamation or the PCO and held any act performed thereunder as illegal and unconstitutional.

7.    That General ® Pervaiz Musharraf taking advantage of being the Chief of Army Staff and in flagrant violation of his oath as a member of the armed forces criminally abused his authority by taking control of the Supreme Court in the evening of November 3, 2007 through the law enforcement agencies. The Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and other Hon’ble Judges, except five who agreed to collaborate in this heinous crime, were taken into custody. The acts and omissions are also contempt of the Supreme Court. This also is contempt of the Supreme Courts order dated November 3, 2007.

8.    That the officials of law enforcement agencies and the administration of Islamabad Federal Capital Territory at the behest of and on instructions from General ® Pervaiz Musharraf criminally trespassed the official residence of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and other Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice and the judges, along with their families, were wrongfully confined and restricted in their respective official residences so much so that the outer doors were padlocked and chained. Barbed wires were put all around the residences and the roads leading to the judicial colony were also barricaded and barbed wires were placed.

9.    That the eighteen year old daughter of the Chief Justice of Pakistan i.e Ifra Iftikhar was not allowed to leave the residence for taking his “A” Level examinations.

10.    That eight year old physically challenged son of the CJP, Ballaj Iftikhar, who has been termed as the ‘Youngest Political Prisoner” by local as well as international media has not even been allowed to come out to the garden of the residence let alone allowing him to attend the school.

11.    That sixteen year old Palwasha Iftikhar a student of ‘A’ Level has also not been allowed to leave the residence and attend her school.

12.    That Justice Sardar Raza Khan, Justice Shakirullah Jan and Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk also remain under wrongful restraint and confinement.

13.    That General ® Pervaiz Musharraf and on his instructions and his behest the Minster of Interior, Secretary of Interior, Chief Commissioner Islamabad, IGP Islamabad, SSP Islamabad, DC Islamabad and other collaborators have committed offences, inter alia, punishable under the Pakistan Penal Code.

You are, therefore, advised to forthwith register a FIR against the above named offenders under sections 338, 334, 341, 344, 441, 442, 503, 506, 107, 102-A and other enabling provisions failing which further legal proceedings shall be initiated.

For the applicants
President High Court Bar, Rawalpindi.
President District Bar, Islamabad.
President District Bar, Rawalpindi.

Through

(ATHAR MINALLAH)

# 24, 1st Floor, Beverly Centre,
Blue Area,
Islamabad

With extreme prejudice?

On two consecutive days, 1st and 2nd February, the staff (security personnel as well as faculty members) of Punjab College, Muslim Town have tried to deny the rights of free speech and of free association of pro-democracy activists, and members of the Student Action Committee (SAC) Lahore – even going to the extent of brutal, un-restrained physical assault. In the face of this practical demonstration of the fascist attitudes nurtured in the so-called institutes of higher education that constitute the Punjab Group of Colleges, owned and run by the Nazim (Mayor) of Lahore, Mian Amir Mehmood, the activists have shown a remarkable degree of calm and fortitude, refusing to be provoked, and yet refusing to bow down to the dictates of the civilian collaborators of Army rule.

As already reported in some newspapers (e.g. Dawn), on Friday 1st February, Raheem-ul-Haque (adjunct faculty at Punjab University, former Project Manager at Techlogix) and Saeeda Diep (a veteran political, and not merely social, activist) were distributing flyers on the public side-lane in front of the two sections of the segregated Punjab College. The flyers, published by the Students Action Committee, laid out the basic demands of the Committee and also urged students to join hands with other sections of the public in a protest demonstration in Nasser Bagh on Saturday, the 2nd. The two activists were handing out flyers to all the students, boys and girls, consistent with their belief that information and debate are as much the right of women as of men. While Raheem was distributing some flyers outside the girls’ section of the college, he leaned over the chain at the exit and handed a few to some students standing there. He then continued distributing the pamphlets to other students as they left for home or arrived for class. It is important to note two things here: at no point did either Raheem or Diep trespass on the private property of the college, unless, of course, in his extraordinary legislative zeal, the President decides to declare into existence a new law against aerial trespassing, “Thou shalt not lean into, or otherwise violate the airspace of, another’s property”; not a single student had actually complained against the actions of the pro-democracy campaigners.

Soon thereafter, one of the security guards employed by the College told Raheem to stop handing out the flyers. Raheem defended his acts, saying that he was well within his rights to do as he pleased in a public space and that he was distributing flyers to the girls in the same way that he was distributing them to the boys. The guard slapped Raheem. Instead of hitting back, Raheem asked him why he’d hit him. He got two more punches for his trouble – this time the guard broke his spectacles. Again Raheem tried to reason with the guard, protesting that he was not doing anything wrong. He then walked over to consult with Diep. The guard followed, and the ensuing discussion quickly heated up with the guard pushing Diep and insulting both activists in abusive language. People gathered around them, which prevented the guard from following up his verbal threats with further physical aggression. Realizing that the situation could spiral out of control, some staff members from the College extricated the guard from the crowd.

Incensed and humiliated, the two activists decided to bring this action to the notice of the larger public. Some friends and one reporter arrived on the spot in short order. At this point, the group decided to report the matter to the police. At the nearby Muslim Town police station, which is also the office of the Superintendant Police Saddar Division, the police hummed and hawed for two hours before finally announcing that they needed a medico-legal report from the nearest government hospital. The physician at Jinnah Hospital diagnosed a perforated left ear drum and prescribed some antibiotics. Armed with the report, the group headed back to the police station, where they were informed that such an injury, not visible to the naked eye, was not serious enough to be the subject of their hallowed “First Investigation Report” (FIR)!

That evening, members of the Students Action Committee gathered outside Aitezaz Ahsan’s house to celebrate his release, prepared a press release and vowed to go back the following day to the same college to concretely demonstrate the strength of their resolve.

The next day, Hassan Rehman (FAST-NU graduate student) and Umayr Hassan (FAST-NU faculty member) accompanied Raheem-ul-Haque and Saeeda Diep to Punjab College. They arrived at 11.30 AM and started handing out the flyers urging students to attend the protest demonstration that would start in a few hours time. It seemed that they had proven their point and were about to disperse (in fact, Hassan Rehman had already left) when the Principal of the College arrived in his black Mercedes. Some of the security guards (there were at least ten of them in total) called Raheem to meet the Principal. Raheem and Diep – infuriated – argued with him that their guards had no right to tell them what to do on public property and that, in fact, they (the College) was illegally encroaching upon public property (the green belt between the service lane and the main road serves as a parking lot for the College). Raheem mentioned that he had taken several photographs of the encroachment. Another SAC member, Shehryar (software engineer by profession) arrived while the argument was going on.

At some point, as he leaned either to say or after having said something to the Principal, the Principal grabbed Shehryar by his collar and then told the guards to thrash him. All of the guards fell upon Shehryar, punching, slapping, and then picking him up to be taken inside the College premises. Diep and Raheem went to save Shehryar and were similarly assaulted. Diep was dragged along with Shehryar while Raheem and Umayr were slapped and pushed into the premises through another gate.

Inside their offices, the four were forced to sit on the sofa and not allowed to go out. Raheem, infuriated, railed against the teachers present, who either remained silent spectators or told the activists to shut up or taunted their professionalism or called them Indian agents/NGO people. They claimed they were puncturing car tires and instigating students inside the campus. A female teacher suggested that Diep (being a female) could accompany her elsewhere – Diep angrily refused. Shehryar struggled against the goon squad and was beaten again. The other three tried to protect him as Raheem was punched and his nose started bleeding profusely. Diep tried calling Usman Gill (SAC activist and recent graduate from FAST-NU) and while she was talking to him, the guards tried to confiscate her cell phone – Diep refused but could not complete the call. This and more went on for more than an hour, with the College personnel alternating between beating up the activists and apologizing to them. There were twenty or thirty of them in all, some staff, some faculty and some who looked like hired thugs in plain clothes, who attacked and tormented the trapped pro-democracy campaigners.

Suddenly, Shehryar fell on all fours, gasping and indicating that he had difficulty breathing. It was a clever hoax, but no one including friends realised it then and started to panic. They clamoured for an ambulance to be called, warning the administration of the trouble they would bring upon themselves were one of them to die on the premises. As Shehryar lay limp on the floor, Umayr went outside to tell someone to call an ambulance. Usman Gill was outside and Umayr shouted to him telling him to call the ambulance. As he came nearer to the College boundary wall, someone behind Umayr told the guards outside to bring Usman inside. A guard grabbed Usman by the collar and tried to push him toward the gate – Usman resisted and was released just outside the gate as the police had arrived by that time. Usman, Umayr, Raheem and Diep’s driver carried Sheryar outside and laid him in Umayr’s car as Shehryar and Diep were driven away to safety.

The rest of the SAC members waited for the senior police officer (already aware of the incident the previous day) to arrive while the activist and College administration argued the case with the officer present. In particular, the activists demanded that the College return Shehryar’s cell phone and Raheem’s camera (used to photograph the College façade as well as the encroachment – hence the reason the guards to grab it from Raheem’s car, as witnessed by Umayr’s driver. The camera cost approx. $1000.) When the senior police officer arrived, the same argument persisted: the students demanded the retrieval of their property while the college personnel complained that the SAC members had been interfering inside their College. They now also claimed that the activists had damaged their property – a door glass was broken when the guards were scuffling inside with Shehryar. It was not clear who broke it. All parties now went inside the offices and the officer then had a word in private with the Principal. Outside, Umayr narrated their tale to a plainclothes Special Branch (police intelligence) representative. Outside, again, the officer had managed to recover the cell phone and asked the administrators to look for the missing camera asked the activists to come to the police station to lodge a complaint while his junior stayed back to look for the camera. Raheem and Usman went with him in the police mobile car.

By this time, Diep had managed to inform the SAC members attending the big rally at Nasser Bagh. However, once the activists had managed to free themselves, they sent messages to the SAC members to attend the rally which was the more important event, and to come over to the Muslim Town police station afterwards.

Shehryar and Raheem got medical treatment. Shehryar had a broken finger and Raheem had a bloody nose swollen as after a boxing match.

Around 20 – 25 SAC members had gathered at the Muslim Town police station by 4:30 PM. The SP allowed some SAC members to enter his office to take part in the discussion as the SAC lawyers presented their case and pressed for an FIR to be lodged against the staff of Punjab College. After much prevarication, during which he must have realised that SAC had a solid case and that he would have to file a report, he invited the group to go over to the College with him to talk to the College administration. Here a comic twist presented itself: the SP never showed up. He climbed into his official brand new 2.4D Toyota Hilux and disappeared. While the SAC members waited outside the College, they started raising slogans against the military dictatorship, against the Nazim and against oppression. About the same time, students started leaving for home and were quite surprised to encounter the SAC group in full cry. Some of them stopped to ask what had happened – they either knew nothing at all, or had been fed lies by the administration to the effect that the people beaten up earlier that day had been teasing female students. The SAC members disabused them of this fiction and even handed them their new flyers.

Eventually a DSP arrived and started negotiations with the SAC lawyers. At first, it seemed that he merely wanted SAC to leave the College and move to a less “disturbing” location, such as the police station. But the SAC members flatly refused and demanded that some resolution be arrived at, otherwise they were willing to stake out the premises for as long as it took. Eventually, the DSP asked that Diep and Raheem tell him exactly what happened. At this point, Diep started narrating how they were dragged into the premises and beaten by College personnel. As she was showing him the path, the College personnel got infuriated. Banking on the fact that they were employed by Mian Amir Mehmood, they took an aggressive attitude towards the DSP and virtually ordered him off the premises, daring him to challenge their authority. Humbled and humiliated,, the officer left the premises. Some SAC members were enraged at this concrete proof of the adage “he who has the stick, has the buffalo”. After a brief verbal altercation with the College personnel, other SAC members intervened and defused the situation. At this point, the SAC and the lawyers conferred and it was decided that while the lawyers negotiated with the police, the SAC members would head to the Lahore Press Club.

At the Press Club, the Students Action Committee staged a small demonstration, prepared a new press release, and informed various media channels (newspapers and television) of the events of the day.

The SAC held a protest demonstration at the Press Club in support of their injured colleagues on Sunday, 3rd February.

(Written by Amanullah Kariapper , based on narratives by Raheem, Diep and Umayr)

The proof just keeps pouring in!

I received these attachments in an email. These are scanned copies of the documents Musharraf circulated in Brussels. Enough said.
Letter to ABA
Profile of former chief justice
Pakistan Electoral Process

This is the Chief Justice’s reply:

AN OPEN LETTER TO:

His Excellency
The President of the European Parliament,
Brussels.

His Excellency
The President of France,
Paris.

His Excellency
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom,
London.

Her Excellency
Ms. Condaleeza Rice,
Secretary of State,
United States of America,
Washington D.C.

Professor Klaus Schwab,
World Economic Forum,
Geneva.

All through their respective Ambassodors, High Commissioners and representatives.

Excellency,

I am the Chief Justice of Pakistan presently detained in my residence since November 3, 2007 pursuant to some verbal, and unspecified, order passed by General Musharraf.
I have found it necessary to write to you, and others, because during his recent visits to Brussels, Paris, Davos and London General Musharraf has slandered me, and my colleagues, with impunity in press conferences and other addresses and meetings. In addition he has widely distributed, among those whom he has met, a slanderous document (hereinafter the Document) entitled: “PROFILE OF THE FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE OF PAKISTAN”. I might have let this go unresponded but the Document, unfortunately, is such an outrage that, with respect, it is surprising that a person claiming to be head of state should fall to such depths as to circulate such calumny against the Chief Justice of his own country.
In view of these circumstances I have no option but to join issue with General Musharraf and to put the record straight. Since he has voiced his views on several public occasions so as to reach out to the public at large, I also am constrained to address your excellencies in an Open Letter to rebut the allegations against me.
At the outset you may be wondering why I have used the words “claiming to be the head of state”. That is quite deliberate. General Musharraf’s constitutional term ended on November 15, 2007. His claim to a further term thereafter is the subject of active controversy before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. It was while this claim was under adjudication before a Bench of eleven learned judges of the Supreme Court that the General arrested a majority of those judges in addition to me on November 3, 2007. He thus himself subverted the judicial process which remains frozen at that point. Besides arresting the Chief Justice and judges (can there have been a greater outrage?) he also purported to suspend the Constitution and to purge the entire judiciary (even the High Courts) of all independent judges. Now only his hand-picked and compliant judges remain willing to “validate” whatever he demands. And all this is also contrary to an express and earlier order passed by the Supreme Court on November 3, 2007.
Meantime I and my colleagues remain in illegal detention. With me are also detained my wife and three of my young children, all school-going and one a special child. Such are the conditions of our detention that we cannot even step out on to the lawn for the winter sun because that space is occupied by police pickets. Barbed wire barricades surround the residence and all phone lines are cut. Even the water connection to my residence has been periodically turned off. I am being persuaded to resign and to forego my office, which is what I am not prepared to do.
I request you to seek first hand information of the barricades and of my detention, as that of my children, from your Ambassador/High Commissioner/representative in Pakistan. You will get a report of such circumstances as have never prevailed even in medieval times. And these are conditions put in place, in the twenty-first century, by a Government that you support.
Needless to say that the Constitution of Pakistan contains no provision for its suspension, and certainly not by the Chief of Army Staff. Nor can it be amended except in accordance with Articles 238 and 239 which is by Parliament and not an executive or military order. As such all actions taken by General Musharraf on and after November 3 are illegal and ultra vires the Constitution. That is why it is no illusion when I describe myself as the Chief Justice even though I am physically and forcibly incapacitated by the state apparatus under the command of the General. I am confident that as a consequence of the brave and unrelenting struggle continued by the lawyers and the civil society, the Constitution will prevail.
However, in the meantime, General Musharraf has launched upon a vigourous initiative to defame and slander me. Failing to obtain my willing abdication he has become desperate. The eight-page Document is the latest in this feverish drive.
Before I take up the Document itself let me recall that the General first ousted me from the Supreme Court on March 9 last year while filing an indictment (in the form of a Reference under Article 209 of the Constitution) against me. According to the General the Reference had been prepared after a thorough investigation and comprehensively contained all the charges against me. I had challenged that Reference and my ouster before the Supreme Court. On July 20 a thirteen member Bench unanimously struck down the action of the General as illegal and unconstitutional. I was honourably reinstated.
The Reference was thus wholly shattered and all the charges contained therein trashed. These cannot now be regurgitated except in contempt of the Supreme Court. Any way, since the Document has been circulated by no less a person than him I am constrained to submit the following for your kind consideration in rebuttal thereof:
The Document is divided into several heads but the allegations contained in it can essentially be divided into two categories: those allegations that were contained in the Reference and those that were not.
Quite obviously, those that are a repeat from the Reference hold no water as these have already been held by the Supreme Court to not be worth the ink they were written in. In fact, the Supreme Court found that the evidence submitted against me by the Government was so obviously fabricated and incorrect, that the bench took the unprecedented step of fining the Government Rs. 100,000 (a relatively small amount in dollar terms, but an unheard of sum with respect to Court Sanction in Pakistan) for filing clearly false and malicious documents, as well as revoking the license to practice of the Advocate on Record for filing false documents. Indeed, faced with the prospect of having filed clearly falsified documents against me, the Government’s attorneys, including the Attorney General, took a most dishonorable but telling approach. Each one, in turn, stood before the Supreme Court and disowned the Government’s Reference, and stated they had not reviewed the evidence against me before filing it with Court. They then filed a formal request to the Court to withdraw the purported evidence, and tendered an unconditional apology for filing such a scandalous and false documents. So baseless and egregious were the claims made by General Musharraf that on July 20th, 2007, the full Supreme Court for the first time in Pakistan’s history, ruled unanimously against a sitting military ruler and reinstated me honorably to my post.
Despite having faced these charges in open court, must I now be slandered with those same charges by General Musharraf in world capitals, while I remain a prisoner and unable to speak in my defense?

There are, of course, a second set of charges. These were not contained in the Reference and are now being bandied around by the General at every opportunity.
I forcefully and vigorously deny every single one of them. The truth of these “new” allegations can be judged from the fact that they all ostensibly date to the period before the reference was filed against me last March, yet none of them was listed in the already bogus charge sheet.
If there were any truth to these manufactured charges, the Government should have included them in the reference against me. God knows they threw in everything including the kitchen sink into that scurrilous 450 page document, only to have it thrown out by the entire Supreme Court after a 3 month open trial.
The charges against me are so transparently baseless that General Musharraf’s regime has banned the discussion of my situation and the charges in the broadcast media. This is because the ridiculous and flimsy nature of the charges is self-evident whenever an opportunity is provided to actually refute them.
Instead, the General only likes to recite his libel list from a rostrum or in gathering where there is no opportunity for anyone to respond. Incidentally, the General maligns me in the worst possible way at every opportunity. That is the basis for the Document he has distributed. But he has not just deposed me from the Judiciary. He has also fired more than half of the Superior Judiciary of Pakistan – nearly 50 judges in all — together with me. They have also been arrested and detained.
What are the charges against them? Why should they be fired and arrested if I am the corrupt judge? Moreover even my attorneys Aitzaz Ahsan, Munir Malik, Tariq Mahmood and Ali Ahmed Kurd were also arrested on November 3. Malik alone has been released but only because both his kidneys collapsed as a result of prison torture
Finally, as to the Document, it also contains some further allegations described as “Post-Reference Conduct” that is attributed to me under various heads. This would mean only those allegedly ‘illegal’ actions claimed to have been taken by me after March 9, 2007. These are under the heads given below and replied to as under:
1. “Participation in SJC (Supreme Judicial Council) Proceedings”:
(a) Retaining ‘political lawyers’: Aitzaz Ahsan and Zammurrad Khan:
It is alleged that I gave a political colour to my defence by engaging political lawyers Aitzaz Ahsan and Zamurrad Khan both Pakistan Peoples’ Party Members of the National Assembly. The answer is simple.
I sought to engage the best legal team in the country. Mr. Ahsan is of course an MNA (MP), but he is also the top lawyer in Pakistan. For that reference may be made simply to the ranking of Chambers and Partners Global. Such is his respect in Pakistan’s legal landscape that he was elected President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan by one of the widest margins in the Association’s history.
All high profile personalities have placed their trust in his talents. He has thus been the attorney for Prime Ministers Bhutto and Sharif, (even though he was an opponent of the latter) Presidential candidate (against Musharraf) Justice Wajihuddin, sports star and politician Imran Khan, former Speakers, Ministers, Governors, victims of political vendetta, and also the internationally acclaimed gang-rape victim Mukhtar Mai, to mention only a few.
Equally important, Barrister Ahsan is a man of integrity who is known to withstand all pressures and enticements. That is a crucial factor in enaging an attorney when one’s prosecutor is the sitting military ruler, with enourmous monetary and coercive resources at his disposal.
Mr. Zamurrad Khan is also a recognized professional lawyer, a former Secretary of the District Bar Rawalpindi, and was retained by Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan to assist him in the case. Mr. Khan has been a leading light of the Lawyers’ Movement for the restoration of the deposed judiciary and has bravely faced all threats and vilification.
Finally, surely I am entitled to my choice of lawyers and not that of the General.

(b) “Riding in Mr. Zafarullah Jamali (former Prime Minister)’s car”:
How much the Document tries to deceive is apparent from the allegation that I willingly rode in Mr. Jamali’s car for the first hearing of the case against me on March 13 (as if that alone is an offence). Actually the Government should have been ashamed of itself for creating the circumstances that forced me to take that ride.
Having been stripped of official transport on the 9th March (my vehicles were removed from my house by the use of fork lifters), I decided to walk the one-mile to the Supreme Court. Along the way I was molested and manhandled, my hair was pulled and neck craned in the full blaze of the media, by a posse of policemen under the supervision of the Inspector General of Police. (A judicial inquiry, while I was still deposed, established this fact). In order to escape the physical assault I took refuge with Mr. Jamali and went the rest of the journey on his car. Instead of taking action against the police officials for manhandling the Chief Justice it is complained that I was on the wrong!
(c) “Creating a political atmosphere”:
Never did I instigate or invite any “political atmosphere”. I never addressed the press or any political rally. I kept my lips sealed even under extreme provocation from the General and his ministers who were reviling me on a daily basis. I maintained a strict judicial silence. I petitioned the Supreme Court and won. That was my vindication.
2. “Country wide touring and Politicising the Issue”:
The Constitution guarantees to all citizens free movement throughout Pakistan. How can this then be a complaint?
By orders dated March 9 and 15 (both of which were found to be without lawful authority by the Court) I had been sent of “forced leave”. I could neither perform any judicial or administrative functions as the Chief Justice of Pakistan. I was prevented not only from sitting in court but also from access to my own chamber by the force of arms under orders of the General. (All my papers were removed, even private documents).
The only function as ‘a judge on forced leave’ that I could perform was to address and deliver lectures to various Bar Associations. I accepted their invitations. They are peppered all over Pakistan. I had to drive to these towns as all these are not linked by air. On the way the people of Pakistan did, indeed, turn out in their millions, often waiting from dawn to dusk or from dusk to dawn, to greet me. But I never addressed them even when they insisted that I do. I never spoke to the press. I sat quietly in my vehicle without uttering a word. All this is on the record as most journeys were covered by the media live and throughout.
I spoke only to deliver lectures on professional and constitutional issues to the Bar Associations. Transcripts of every single one of my addresses are available. Every single word uttered by me in those addresses conforms to the stature, conduct and non-political nature of the office of the Chief Justice. There was no politics in these whatsoever. I did not even mention my present status or the controversy or the proceedings before the Council or the Court, not even the Reference. Not even once.
All the persons named in the Document under this head are lawyers and were members of the reception committees in various towns and Bar Associations.
3. Political Leaders Calling on CJP residence:
It is alleged that I received political leaders while I was deposed. It is on the record of the Supreme Judicial Council itself that I was detained after being deposed on March 9. The only persons allowed to meet me were those cleared by the Government. One was a senior political leader. None else was allowed to see me, initially not even my lawyers. How can I be blamed for whomsoever comes to my residence?
Had I wanted to politicize the issue I would have gone to the Press or invited the media. I did not. I had recourse to the judicial process for my reinstatement and won. The General lost miserably in a fair and straight contest. That is my only fault.
4. “Conclusion”:
Hence the conclusion drawn by the General that charges had been proved against me ‘beyond doubt’ is absolutely contrary to the facts and wide off the mark. It is a self-serving justification of the eminently illegal action of firing and arresting judges of superior courts under the garb of an Emergency (read Martial Law) when the Constitution was ‘suspended’ and then ‘restored’ later with drastic and illegal ‘amendments’ grafted into it.
The Constitution cannot be amended except by the two Houses of Parliament and by a two-thirds majority in each House. That is the letter of the law. How can one man presume or arrogate to himself that power?
Unfortunately the General is grievously economical with the truth (I refrain from using the word ‘lies’) when he says that the charges against me were ‘investigated and verified beyond doubt’. As explained above, these had in fact been rubbished by the Full Court Bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan against which judgment the government filed no application for review.

What the General has done has serious implications for Pakistan and the world. In squashing the judiciary for his own personal advantage and nothing else he has usurped the space of civil and civilized society. If civilized norms of justice will not be allowed to operate then that space will, inevitably, be occupied by those who believe in more brutal and instant justice: the extremists in the wings. Those are the very elements the world seems to be pitted against. Those are the very elements the actions of the General are making way for.
Some western governments are emphasizing the unfolding of the democratic process in Pakistan. That is welcome, if it will be fair. But, and in any case, can there be democracy if there is no independent judiciary?
Remember, independent judges and judicial processes preceded full franchise by several hundred years. Moreover, which judge in Pakistan today can be independent who has before his eyes the fate and example of his own Chief Justice: detained for three months along with his young children. What is the children’s crime, after all?
There can be no democracy without an independent judiciary, and there can be no independent judge in Pakistan until the action of November 3 is reversed. Whatever the will of some desperate men the struggle of the valiant lawyers and civil society of Pakistan will bear fruit. They are not giving up.
Let me also assure you that I would not have written this letter without the General’s unbecoming onslaught. That has compelled me to clarify although, as my past will testify, I am not given into entering into public, even private, disputes. But the allegations against me have been so wild, so wrong and so contrary to judicial record, that I have been left with no option but to put the record straight. After all, a prisoner must also have his say. And if the General’s hand-picked judges, some living next door to my prison home, have not had the courage to invoke the power of ‘habeas corpus’ these last three months, what other option do I have? Many leaders of the world and the media may choose to brush the situation under the carpet out of love of the General. But that will not be.
Nevertheless, let me also reassure you that I continue in my resolve not to preside any Bench which will be seized of matters pertaining to the personal interests of General Musharraf after the restoration of the Constitution and the judges, which, God willing, will be soon.
Finally, I leave you with the question: Is there a precedent in history, all history, of 60 judges, including three Chief Justices (of the Supreme Court and two of Pakistan’s four High Courts), being dismissed, arrested and detained at the whim of one man? I have failed to discover any such even in medieval times under any emperor, king, or sultan, or even when a dictator has had full military sway over any country in more recent times. But this incredible outrage has happened in the 21st century at the hands of an extremist General out on a ‘charm offensive’ of western capitals and one whom the west supports.
I am grateful for your attention. I have no other purpose than to clear my name and to save the country (and perhaps others as well) from the calamity that stares us in the face. We can still rescue it from all kinds of extremism: praetorian and dogmatic. After all, the edifice of an independent judicial system alone stands on the middle ground between these two extremes. If the edifice is destroyed by the one, the ground may be taken over by the other. That is what is happening in Pakistan. Practitioners of rough and brutal justice will be welcomed in spaces from where the practitioners of more refined norms of justice and balance have been made to abdicate.
I have enormous faith that the Constitution and justice will soon prevail.
Yours truly,

Iftikhar Mohammad Choudhry,
Chief Justice of Pakistan,
Presently:
imprisoned in the Chief Justice’s House,
Islamabad.

Delusional Punjabis

Delusions. They’re what keep us going here in Pakistan. Our survival instinct kicks in and [apparently] happily accepts what it being thrown our way, whether we agree with it or not.

We, Punjabis, are the most despised ethnic group in Pakistan. We are the majority. We wield the most power. We are the rulers, the feudals and the military. We have managed to isolate each and every ethnic group of our country. They all hate us. And I don’t blame them.

I don’t want to launch into a long list of Punjabi wrongdoings. It would eat me up with guilt and will take up lots of time since the list is, unfortunately, endless. Needless to say, we, the Punjabis, have managed to usurp most of this country’s resources. We have promoted only ourselves. We have developed Punjab and left all the other provinces in the margins. Most of Balochistan is a barren wasteland. We exploit their resources, such as gas, and, in return, do not even grant them access to what we are taking from them. Sindh and the Frontier have similar grievances against us.

I propose that the problem isn’t just about exploitation, but also about honour and ideology.

Punjab has been through numerous rulers and kingdoms over the years, just like most of the subcontinent. The Indian sub-continent was never united; it was a conglomerate of kingdoms that constantly warred with each other. A rich and fertile land like Punjab, with her five flowing rivers, abundant harvest and tolerant culture, was never part of one kingdom for too long. We, the Punjabis, are as old as the Indus Valley Civilization itself. One of the most ancient cities in the world, Harrapa, is found here. Punjab was too tempting for anyone to resist. Anyone who came close wanted a piece.

Because Punjabis had to live with constant disruptions and new rulers on a regular basis, they learnt to adapt as best they could. Punjab’s numerous crops were to be protected. So instead of fighting, Punjabis tended to come to terms with their new rulers. This, in my opinion, was actually a pretty smart move- far better than waging wars for centuries. This also made Punjabi culture quite tolerant. There were hardly any forced conversions in the land since it was already quite multi-religious. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians etc all lived together very peacefully. In fact, Islam was not spread by the sword here. No, it gained popularity because of the numerous Sufi saints, such as Bulleh Shah, who preached that God was love. Punjabis learned to reach an understanding with any others who walked amongst them. Punjabi culture is extremely hospitable, and people were welcomed to Punjab with open arms. Instead of resisting and fighting the latest conqueror, Punjabis accepted and worked with their new leader. Wise choice. Wars and chaos would destroy Punjab’s goldmine: her fertile crops.

The Islam of Punjab is quite different than the Islam of the rest of our provinces. Sindh’s first converts were born out an invasion by Muhammad bin Qasim, an Arab. The hermeneutics of the Islam practised in Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan is a syncretism of the tribal cultures of those lands, which are a blend of traditions from earlier religions and cultures. The tribal system of honour is a code that is deeply entrenched in the psyche of these ethnic groups, and is inseparable from their practice of religion. One example of this is the belief that honour killings are divinely sanctioned. What I am saying, and what I am going to get a lot of flak for, is that the Islam and culture of the tribals is different from that of Punjab’s. Whereas the tribals believe religion to be inseparable from honour, the Punjabis do not see it that way because of the tradition of tolerance in the Punjab.

The tribal ideology consists of fierce loyalty to the clan. This, in turn, leads to a strong sense of honour. Indeed, it is a grave crime to dishonour the clan in any way, shape or form. Honour killings are an excellent example of this because when a woman’s sexuality is illicit, it doesn’t just damage her reputation, it brings dishonour to the whole family, and thus the clan. This is why so many innocent women- including rape victims- end up meeting their death. Even the slightest accusation is reason enough to believe that one’s honour is threatened. Similarly, if a member of the clan converts to another religion or marries a member of the rival clan, the honour code- and loyalty- is threatened. This certainly was not true in pre-partition Punjab where many families, including my own, had Hindu, Sikh and/or Christian relatives. My paternal great-grandmother, much like the vast majority of my family, was a Brahmin covert, and my mother still has many Hindu relatives across the border. Punjabis, like I said before, were a tolerant people who lived peacefully side by side despite differences in religion etc. (I say “were” tolerant because we are now too influenced by intolerance and extremism that is plaguing our society.)

This is a very crucial difference between the Punjabis and the tribals. To them, and to the many ethnic groups who moved from India, we are seen as weak people who sell out to anyone who rules us. We seem to have no loyalty to our tribe or clan. This makes us seem like we place far less importance on honour than the others. Our acceptance of others is also not exactly seen as a positive step. Our ideology, which is to tolerate and work with whoever is in power, is seen as a sign of weakness. We are not ready to fight for what we stand for like they are. We also are not as focused on being Punjabi as say the Pathans are about being Pashtuns. We do not defend our culture to death like most others do. We don’t even teach Punjabi in schools here! Perhaps it is because we are the majority, and thus are not threatened. Our rich land and the fact that we are the majority of the population certainly doesn’t help give us more credibility.

Punjab today, however, has certainly delineated from its tradition of tolerance. Sadly, this was one of the worst influences we could have adopted. Also, the fact that the state has split the country along lines of ethnicity has only lead to resentment against the Punjabis, and quite stupidly, we are becoming their self-fulfilling prophecy of oppressive, hegemonic rulers. This is why the next Prime Minister of Pakistan cannot, and should not, be a Punjabi. In a country that is bitterly divided along ethnic and sectarian lines, this would a disaster akin to civil war. Sindh, which displayed its awesome and crippling strength of agitators in the days following Benazir Bhutto’s death, will not accept a Punjabi leader. A Punjabi can no longer stand for the federation; they will only be seen as yet another symbol of Punjabi dominance. Unfortunately, since the elections are most likely to be rigged, not only will we have a Punjabi Prime Minister, Pervaiz Elahi from PML-Q, but we will also have a powerful Mafioso man, and immensely corrupt feudal who will illegally return to power, and loot and plunder the country like he has been doing for years. As responsible citizens we have to ensure that this doesn’t happen. If it does, there is a real danger that we will break up. And if that happens, India will also have a vested interest in the region because of our nuclear arsenal. This is yet another reason why we need to have free and fair elections. Those supporting Musharraf blindly, like Sajida Hina Khan are in fact doing the biggest disservice to this country. Those who claim that their families have fought hard for this country should finally stop putting their foot in their mouth and do something. If they don’t, they’ll be as responsible for the chaos that ensues as the corrupt leaders they support.

Blogspot banned again!

As expected, the government is attacking blogs (of all things!) again. I guess they’ve really started abusing the cyber crime bill already.

Two years ago blogspot was banned and we discovered that you can access it through http://www.pkblogs.com/. I ended up shifting my blog to wordpress because of my students’ heinous article about me in which they revealed my blog. And since wordpress seems to have less Pakistani bloggers, the chances of it being banned are less. The Emergency Times at http://www.pakistanmartiallaw.com cannot be accessed. Here’s the link through pkblogs: http://www.pkblogs.com/pakistanmartiallaw. It’s well worth taking a look at.

I also want to say “HA!” to the people making fun of me for taking this cyber crime bill seriously. “What the hell would they shut down blogs for? I don’t think they care much for what one person says!” Seems like they do. Sadly, it seems like they do.

And to those who say Musharraf has “freed” the media and given us more freedom, I would like to ask: Are you still delusional enough to believe this? Doesn’t this interfere with my right to freedom of speech, which, by the way, the laws of Pakistan entitle me to.

Cyber Crime Bill Promulgated by the President

My mother received the following in an email and asked me to be careful online.This is very, very frightening for someone like me who has a blog like this one. I could very well be arrested and tried under this ridiculous bill. This is the work of a power hungry dictator who wants no one to oppose him. I fear that it will be abused.

In a shocking development the President of Pakistan has promulgated the Cyber Crime bill, I don’t have the exact document but our last understanding of the issue – which was the ‘final draft’ this bill can be considered very dangerous for regular citizens. The bill forms a Tribunal which is in effect judge jury and executioner all encompassing, it allows the FIA full authority to confiscate and arrest anyone who is deemed by the government to be in violation of the ‘integrity of Pakistan’ labeled as a person having terroristic intent – this is a new word created by the Govt of Pakistan for the English Language ;). There maybe some good aspects to the law but when an agency or tribunal supersedes the Justice system one would tend to worry of its widespread potential to misuse.

As per the final draft – an officer can walk into my house confiscate my computer and arrest me, he/she does not have to explain why and neither give reason for the arrest. I shall remain in custody as long as it takes for the tribunal to take collect evidence. And if found guilty by the Tribunal I am punishable from 3-10 years &/or Rs. 5,00,000.

In all honesty I feel this is just a step to clamp down on the Internet and can be seen to be just like the PEMRA ordinance that was enforced on the media after Nov 3rd

DISCLAIMER: This is my own understanding as per the FINAL DRAFT that was up for approval – though our team of lawyers met the Ministry of IT and voiced their opinions, I am told that they were only heard and we don’t know if it was accepted into the bill. we await a copy and if someone has it please forward along

We must raise hell – don’t know if it will change anything but our protest must go all international news outlets