Friday, July 31, 2015

FATE OF PEACE TALKS

There have been several reports in the past that Mullah Omar had died. The BBC broke the news of his death the other day, claiming that it occurred in 2013, while quoting Afghan government sources. Another former Taliban member of the group’s council endorsed the Afghan government claim: “Mullah Omar died of tuberculosis two years and four months ago. He was laid to rest on the Afghan side of the border.” The earlier BBC report was that he died in a hospital in Karachi while the Taliban the next day officially declared him dead since 2013 from a heart attack in a village on the border. Another report talks about him disappearing from Quetta where he resided after the Taliban’s overthrow in Afghanistan in 2001. A statement from the Afghanistan presidential palace in Kabul said “based on credible information”, the Taliban leader died in April 2013 in Pakistan. Abdul Hassib Seddiqi, the spokesman for Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, said Omar died in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, in April 2013. “We confirm officially that he is dead,” he said.
Most importantly, his death has been confirmed, regardless of the location or cause. The question is why was this information disclosed now when the preparations were underway for the second round of peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban? Was the intention to sabotage them? A controversy started after the first round of peace talks held in Murree, Pakistan. The question of the legitimacy of the peace talks and the authenticity of representation was raised by some Taliban factions opposed to the dialogue. A statement purportedly from Mullah Omar was released stating that Islam allows dialogue with the enemy. Now, with the new revelation, obviously that statement appears to be an attempt to endorse the peace talks using the name of Mullah Omar to lend it legitimacy and authority. Amid concern over how a transition in leadership in the Taliban could affect the fragile peace negotiations, President Ghani’s office added that the government is of the view, “grounds for the Afghan peace talks are more paved now than before.”


In April the Taliban published a biography of Mullah Omar, saying he was alive and still supreme leader of the movement, as he had been since 1994. The last audio message thought to be from him appeared in 2006. He had not made a public appearance in very many years. The late US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, articulated that Mullah Omar was in hiding somewhere along the rugged border between the two countries. Others were of the opinion that he had been hiding within Pakistan, something officials in Islamabad denied repeatedly. Spokesman John Kirby said the US State Department could not immediately confirm Mullah Omar’s death, but White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the Afghan intelligence reports are credible. He added that the US intelligence community is looking into the circumstances surrounding Mullah Omar’s death. Ending Afghanistan’s war with the Taliban has been a main priority for President Ghani since he took office last year.

The death of Omar could have deepened divisions within the movement as rival commanders position to succeed him, in a possible setback for the fledgling peace process. However, the tussle has been laid to rest as it has been finalised that Mullah Mansor, Mullah Omar’s number two, has succeeded him and is supporting the peace talks. The Taliban are split between those who support talks with Kabul to end the 13-year war and others who want to continue to fight. The only chink of light remains the peace talks continuing, as the only alternative is an indefinite civil war that will devastate an already prostrate Afghanistan and continue to spread ripples of instability throughout the region.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

JUSTICE DELAYED IS .......?

There's an age old dictum that "Justice delayed is justice denied" and "Justice hurried is justice buried" but in this case Justice delayed caused some one buried.

Nearly a year and half after one of the most audacious and brazen terrorist attacks in the capital’s history, investigators are no closer to finding the perpetrators behind the assault on the district courts building.

On March 3, 2014, up to eight men armed with weapons and explosives, entered court premises in Sector F-8. Using hand grenades and automatic weapons, they targeted court staff, lawyers and litigants indiscriminately, killing 12 people and injuring around 30 others. Additional Sessions Judge Rafaqat Awan was also among those who perished on that fateful day.

One of the lives tragically cut short in that attack was that of Advocate Fizza Malik. It was only the young graduate’s second day on the job when she was murdered by the attackers. But despite a suo motu notice by then-chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and promises by various politicians that they would bring the culprits to justice, there has been no apparent progress on this front.
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Tariq Malik, the elderly father of the young woman, recently passed away without getting to see justice done in his daughter’s case.

Asif Noor, one of Mr Malik’s friends, told Dawn that both his sons lived abroad and his daughter Fizza was the only child who lived with him. Mr Malik himself was around 70 at the time of her death and, according to those who knew him, he was completely shattered by the tragedy.

“Fizza’s death changed Tariq’s life. He used to be a very jolly person, but later became very serious and single-minded and only seemed to care about bringing the culprits to justice. When the chief justice took suo motu notice of the case, he hoped that it would ensure that the suspects would be arrested, but that did not happen,” he said.

“Disheartened by the inaction, Tariq later held press conferences and criticised Mr Chaudhry. He was also disappointed in the political leadership, who continuously promised to punish the culprits, but those claims never materialised,” he said.

“He established the Fizza Trust to work for girls’ education and help the poor, while simultaneously making efforts for the arrest of the culprits. But he did not survive to see his dream come to fruit and in March this year, nearly a year after Fizza’s death, he too died of cardiac arrest,” Mr Noor said.

However, investigators admit they haven’t had much luck so far.
A police official told Dawn on condition of anonymity that recently, a number of individuals had been picked up from Peshawar who had revealed some information about the case, so there was still a chance that the case may finally be solved thanks to the new leads. However, the case has changed hands many times.

“Every station house officer (SHO) of the Margalla Police Station becomes the investigation officer in the case by default, because under the FIR, the SHO is the investigation officer,” he said.

The current SHO, Malik Mohammad Bashir, also admitted there had been no progress in the case. “But the Federal Investigation Agency is also following up on the matter and we are hopeful that the culprits will be arrested soon,” he said.

Courtesy: Ikram Junaidi
Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2015

Saturday, May 2, 2015

SAUDI RESHUFFLE IN D(IE)NYSTY





I believe strongly in the rights of women... my mother is a woman, my sister is a woman, my daughter is a woman, my wife is a woman. - King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia



In an unprecedented major move, Saudi King Salman has reshuffled the deck at the apex of the Kingdom’s power structure. The reshuffle has replaced Prince Muqrin, chosen as Crown Prince by the late King Abdullah before his death in January, with Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef, and appointed his young son, Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman as the Deputy Crown Prince, or second in line of succession. Both men are relatively younger than the past octogenarian successors to the Kingdom’s founder King Abdulaziz al-Saud, comprising the generation of his (many) sons. That tradition gave Saudi Arabia five kings from amongst al-Saud’s sons. This reshuffle represents the transition to a new generation. Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the new Crown Prince, is the first grandson of founder King al-Saud. Given that Nayef is 55 and Mohammed bin Salman is just 30, the announcement appears to have settled the succession issue for decades to come. 

Not only that, power at the apex of the Saudi hierarchy now appears to be concentrated in the hands of the two Princes under King Salman. Their rise to power is seen to signal a tougher stance on foreign policy and continuing to keep the lid on domestic dissent. Prince Nayef has been Interior Minister since 2012, succeeding his father in that position. Al Qaeda paid him the ultimate compliment as a formidable enemy when they tried to assassinate him in 2009 when he was security chief. He escaped that attack and is seen as tough on internal dissent or attempts to subvert Saudi rule. Saudi Arabia clearly has an eye on the unprecedented turmoil roiling the region, with external challenges such as the intervention in Yemen and internal issues emanating from religious extremists’ attempts to overthrow Saudi rule in the past. 

The latest avatar of such extremists, Islamic State (IS), is said to be operating on Saudi soil. Recently, Riyadh announced it arrested 93 people suspected of being IS operatives. The tougher foreign policy of course is centred on the perceived growing Iranian influence in the region. In the Yemen context, the refusal of Pakistan to get involved militarily in the Saudi campaign, which has caused so much heartburn in Riyadh as well as other Gulf Cooperation Council allies, has now been translated into Pakistan offering humanitarian assistance for Yemen. Whether this will get Islamabad off the hook with Riyadh, only time will tell.



Apart from these two changes at the top, veteran Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal has been sidelined in favour of Saudi ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir, the first non-royal to hold the post. Even the head of the state oil firm Aramco has been shifted to Health Minister. His successor is awaited with bated breath by the oil markets, given Saudi Arabia’s pre-eminent position as the world’s largest oil exporter. 

All these changes presage a more confrontational foreign policy, with Yemen as the testing ground of the new direction. Prince Mohammed bin Salman has led the aerial foray into Yemen against the Houthis but seems to have come up against the fact that mere air power cannot defeat the rebels. After Pakistan excusing itself, Saudi Arabia is now training tribesmen to fight the Houthis in a new proxy ground war that could escalate the conflict, possibly even over the border into Saudi Arabia itself. 

The new Saudi assertiveness may also be a ploy to divert attention from domestic tensions emanating not only from the extremist threat, but also the inherent contradiction between conservatives and modern young people who are dying for change. Unemployment amongst even the educated young is high and could become a destabilising factor in future. The transition may have settled the Saudi succession for the foreseeable future in an effort to ensure stability and smooth changes, but the concentration of power in the apex triumvirate and the more aggressive policeman’s role being assumed by Riyadh in the region is a risky enterprise fraught with many imponderables that will only reveal themselves in the fullness of time

Saturday, March 21, 2015

ITTEFAQ NAMA

Meray aziz humwatno, I am planning a few days off the leash and sad to say, it can’t be in Bloved London. Why? Because Altaf bhai is there and coast is not clear, hain ji. He has been howling to me on phone, after consuming several liters of Rooh Afza. What I can do, hain ji? General Raheel and his buoys are determined to clean up the mass that MQM has made Karachi. Crime has to be separated from politics, they keep saying. I told Altaf Bhai, “please to wait until end of General Raheel’s term. As you know, army’s policies change with army chief. Look at nice time you had with Musharraf and Kayani. They looked the other way while you and your murderous thugs went on a decade-long killing spree and army chiefs before that too, except General Asif Nawaz.”
But Altaf is concerned about here and now. As you can see, my gormint is not supporting generals in clean up, except for Chory Nisar. Why? Because we know Punjab can be next. And if MQM declines in Karachi, Imran Khan will reap benefit. And finally, as Asif Zardari says, buds of feather must stuck together.

In meeting in PM’s House drawing room, which is size of Lahore Railway Station, I assembled my team and asked them what is to be done about Altaf Bhai and MQM. Everybody’s dental work was on display until I infarmed them that same to same can happen to us. OK, we are not mass murderers in Punjab but there is a profitable syndicate doing good business in various shapes and farms (here I got huge elbow in ribs from Shbaz Saab sitting beside me) ….
Then Shbaz Saab went into huge sulk and despite my several efforts to establish cordial relations, kept stony silence. I kept smiling at him and he kept looking at the peacocks and gazelles in the garden. “Why you are looking at the animals outside when I am inside, hain ji?” I asked. Still no response. Finally I sighed and said to bera, “Open the window. Let the airforce in.”
Courtesy TFT 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

SENATE ELECTIONS, POLITICIANS & HORSE TRADING!





Although Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf(PTI) Chairman Imran Khan supports this change, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the JamiatUlema-e-Islam F (JUI-F) have expressed their concerns. JUI-F chiefMaulanaFazlur Rehman has not committed to supporting the bill. He has voiced his reservations about a 22nd amendment when his concerns about the 21st amendment, which he believes singles out religious groups as the proponents of terror in Pakistan, have not been addressed. PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman has also opposed the shift to open ballots and Leader of the Opposition SyedKhursheed Shah has even suggested that the elections should be held by direct voting, allowing the people of the provinces to choose their representatives to prevent manipulation, monetary or other. Rehman and Shah both asserted that once the election schedule has been announced, it is completely unprecedented to change the existing electoral procedure. The PM’s committees’ drive to change the way the constitution terms senators as “elected” representatives to “chosen” ones attempts to rule out the possibility of direct elections.



At this point in the talks, it is not certain whether asserting the clarity of the indirect nature of the elections and switching to open ballots or changing the electoral policy to direct elections is the right direction for the Senate selection process to take. Since the elections are scheduled to be held next week, there is hardly sufficient time for all the parties to achieve a consensus regarding the best way in which to ensure transparency. The short timeline for any policy changes before the elections, which are set to be held on March 5, begs the question why the PML-N government is so adamant in pushing this hastily drafted constitutional amendment through. PML-N MPAs have shown resentment towards the party’s extremely centralised control and the fact that their opinions and concerns are not duly heard by the party leaders, particularly in Balochistan but also in Punjab. PTI representatives in Khyber Pakhtunkhwaon the other hand have formed a 14-member dissident group. This internal discord makes both parties susceptible to the manipulation of their estranged MPAs and explains the PML-N’s thrust to institute an electoral procedural shift and PTI’s uncharacteristic support of the ruling party. However, it will prove difficult for the PML-N leaders to gather enough support for their proposed constitutional amendment, whether they succeed in holding an APC or not, in just nine days before the elections. Nevertheless, these talks should be encouraged and if constitutional reform is to take place, it must broach the problems that have plagued the election process in the past and could cause concern in the future. The purpose of the Senate, with equal representation from each province, is to balance out the inordinate strength of Punjab. Therefore, reforms should be geared towards ensuring fair and transparent representation of the provinces in the Senate and further strengthening it in the long run. 



Courtesy Daily Times

Sunday, February 22, 2015

GOODBYE NASIM HASSAN SHAH (Justice)



The inspiring man, with a height of 56 inches only, overcame his handicap by becoming the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He worked in this capacity from April 17, 1993, to April 14, 1994.He possessed a brilliant academic career, having doctorate of law (with distinction) from Paris University. He had a successful legal practice when he was appointed as a high court judge at the age of 39. He retired as the chief justice of Pakistan at the age of 65, the longest tenure of a judge in the history of the subcontinent. He was Nasim Hassan Shah- the former Chief Justice who passed away on Tuesday (4th February, 2015) in Lahore after a prolonged illness.



Justice Nasim Hassan Shah was born to Syed Mohsin Shah in Lahore on April 15, 1929. He also served as the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman. He was 86 and is survived by three daughters and a widow.


Judges and senior lawyers of the country expressed sorrow and grief over his demise and called him a role model for all the people who fail to actively perform in the society owing to some complexes.


According to Wikipedia Encyclopedia, perhaps the only time in Pakistans' Judicial History a petition against a Former Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan was filed, seeking registration of a case against him on charges of abetting in the "murder" of former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. A division bench comprising Justices Sheikh Abdur Rashid and Bilal Khan held that the petition hardly qualified for processing because the judge of a bench could not be proceeded against in a case which had already been decided.

 

The members of the bench felt that petitioner Mian Mohammad Hanif Tahir of the People's Lawyers Forum(PLF) was hardly prepared to address legal aspects of the case and questions arising out of the petition. Instead, he was agitating legal points in a political manner.One member of the bench remarked; In a situation where the judgment of a case was effective for citation as a reference, an ambiguous statement of one of the members of a panel of judges hearing the case, could in no way prejudice the decision after two decades. If such things were allowed to happen, the whole judicial system would collapse.



The PLF leader Hanif Tahir had quoted the former chief justice as saying in two of his press interviews that the Supreme Court judgment in the appeal of the late Bhutto against his death sentence awarded by the Lahore High Court, was a wrong decision and it was a fit case for lesser punishment.



The petitioner submitted that Mr Shah was part of the 7-member bench of the Supreme Court which upheld the death penalty. He contended that comments of the former chief justice amounted to a confessional statement and that he had shown no such sentiments while agreeing with the majority opinion of apex court's bench which confirmed the execution of Mr Bhutto.



When the proceedings began, the petitioner requested the court that a larger bench be constituted to hear the case which was of paramount importance. Rejecting the request, the court informed Mr Tahir tFIRs were usually heard by a single bench. It was because of the nature of case that the chief justice had constituted a division bench.
hat petitions seeking registration of

Later, the petitioner requested for time to collect evidence and sought an adjournment. The court refused to do so and directed him to argue his case as he should have gathered evidence before coming to the court.



The petitioner started with quotes from the interview of Mr Shah. The court asked him if such quotes, taken from a television interview, carried any legal significance. When the petitioner submitted that the text of interview was a "public document", the court asked the lawyer to define the legality of public documents and remarked that points raised in the petition were based on hearsay.



As for petitioner's contention that Mr Shah had made a confessional statement in his interview, the court directed him to examine the relevant law to know what a confessional statement was and if it carried a legal weight if given on a non-judicial or extrajudicial forum. He must also differentiate between a press statement and a legal statement recorded in a court of law. The bench of the Lahore High Court on 12 February 2004 dismissed in limina.

 

On 25 February 2010, President Asif Ali Zardari said in Quetta: "I believe former Justice Naseem Hassan Shah as the murderer of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto."

Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Azam Nazir Tarar said Dr Shah was a great man who overcame his disability and earned a good career. He was a role model for others, Azam Nazir said.

Activism Penal Chairman Azhar Siddique said that Dr Nasim Hasan Shah was one of the legends of legal fraternity. He always worked for the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution. Azhar Siddique, however, said Dr Shah’s decision in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s case was against the norms of justice, adding the deceased himself had admitted negation of right to free trial in that case, which had become part of the Constitution through Article 10-A of the 18th Constitutional Amendment.