By Faisal Rahman
General (R) Pervez Musharraf, has launched his political party recently in London. Pakistan’s politics is amazing, a dictator who was all in all in his time and used to stop people from taking part in politics or coming back in the country is now forced to restart his politics from abroad.
Public opinion is divided in Pakistan over the comeback of Musharraf. It will surely not be an easy ride for him in politics. Arrival and stay in country will not be an easy task for the former dictator.
First and the biggest hurdle that will haunt him is 3rd November. It is something over which many sections of society, regardless of their social class and political affiliations, oppose him. 3rd November issue is not only related to the suspension of constitution and illegal sacking of the judiciary, but it also connects to several human rights violations to crush the lawyers movement, media and civil society.
Lal-Masjid operation, extra-judicial killings in Baluchistan, allowing US drone and missile attacks in Pakistan, NATO supplies and troops in tribal areas have put Pakistan into a real mess. The damage he did is so severe that even after two years we are facing the deadly impact. The violations of human rights in his tenure are probably worst in the history of Pakistan. Issues of missing people, particularly Dr. Aafia Siddiqi, will surely haunt him when he comes back.
The post 9/11 policies, which were mainly adapted to give legitimacy to Musharraf’s dictatorship in the eyes of world powers, have caused more than 40 billion dollars direct economic losses to Pakistan, according to government’s own sources. In Musharraf’s tenure, the real areas of economy such as agriculture , technology manufacturing and energy were not focused upon. As a result, we are undergoing food and worst energy crisis ever.
Some impression of stability was created through fictitious economy based on banking, real estate and telecom sector, which eventually resulted in the flight of capital and currency devaluation. This short sighted approach may have got him some political support, but for the country, the approach proved to be destructive in the long run. In fact, the economic bubble burst during the last days of his tenure.
Kashmir is another issue on which Musharraf needs to be questioned. According to APHC leaders, Musharraf damaged the Kashmir cause by sidelining the issue. The main leader from APHC, Syed Ali Shah Gillani, also accused Musharraf for the split of APHC. Keeping eyes close on India’s violations of Indus Water Treaty and letting India build dams was criminal negligence. His mishandling of Dr. AQ Khan’s issue and insulting the national hero will also not be forgiven by Pakistanis.
People including me often criticize the current setup, but we also need to see the cause of this mess i.e. NRO. We shouldn’t only see the ugly dry branches of the dead tree but also need to see who is responsible for the hot water going into roots.
Musharraf’s arrival is very important for Pakistan, as we need answers for many crimes he did against the nation. His arrival is important for strengthening rule of law as it will give chance to trial him for his unconstitutional actions. I am sure if people in NWFP and Baluchistan get a chance to file cases against him in the courts for his crimes against humanity, it will help in calming down the situation in many parts of our country. It will give a chance for Army to restore its image in the eyes of many, who have grievances against the national institution due to the policies by former dictators.
Musharraf’s arrival will also be a big test for our civil society, media and the Pakistani nation as a whole. It will give us a chance to set precedence of indiscriminate justice and rule of law. I hope we will take the right decisions without falling to our prejudices and greed.
Lets see what happens? Hopefully some justice will be done with them. The behavior of the army seems to be as if they are untouchables and no one can ask anything about their wrong actions.
Judicial commission to probe disappearances AWN
By Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD: A high-powered judicial commission comprising three retired superior court judges will be set up soon to look into the highly emotive issue of missing persons, the Supreme Court was informed here on Thursday.
“I have received the summary for the establishment of the commission,” Attorney General Anwar Mansoor told a bench comprising Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Mohammad Sair Ali and Justice Tariq Parvez that is hearing cases of a large number of missing persons whose families have been running from pillar to post since 2005.
The attorney general said the commission would be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court and two retired high court judges would be its members.
He said the commission could call any senior officer of the armed forces or Rangers whose name had surfaced in connection with any missing person.
Its orders would be binding on all departments and institutions, he said.
Praising the setting up of the commission, the bench expressed willingness to take action against people held responsible by it.
“If a department is found committing an illegality, the Supreme Court will not condone its acts,” Justice Javed said.
An unpleasant incident took place during the proceedings when Advocate Hashmat Habib, pleading the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, accused the Defence Ministry’s Legal Director Lt-Col Sarfraz Ahmed of having threatened to teach him a lesson for maligning defence institutions.
Although Lt-Col Sarfraz later tendered an unconditional apology before a visibly disturbed court that had re-assembled after retiring for a few minutes, the officer explained that he had asked the counsel not to drag the army which was defending the borders into the case, rather point out specifically if he had any grievance against any agency.
“The sanctity of this court is like a God’s house and our job is to protect whosoever enters it. How could you threaten him?” Justice Sair asked. He said the officer had brought the court into disrepute.
“The army does not belong to you alone but also to us,” Justice Tariq said.
When the court asked about a report submitted by the Foreign Office that 6,000 Pakistani nationals were languishing in foreign jails, the attorney general sought two weeks time to tally the figure with other reports. The Foreign Office was also asked to make its report more comprehensive.
“A lot of grievances of the families of the missing people would be resolved if they are allowed to visit their relatives,” Justice Tariq said.
Justice Javed said the record of missing people available with different departments should be referred to the judicial commission.
Amina Masood Janjua, chairperson of the Defence of Human Rights group, who has been campaigning for the release of detained people, including her missing husband Masood Janjua, requested the court to continue hearing the cases instead of transferring them to the commission.
However, the court observed that the decision to set up the commission was a good step because now there would be two forums.
“You are not aware of stringent procedures; the SC is not a forum to record evidence; we have to find a recourse leading to a solution,” Justice Sair said.
Justice Javed said the phenomenon of missing persons should end now.
He said parliament had taken cognisance of the issue and “let’s see what kind of legislation it makes”.
When Mrs Janjua requested the court to issue directives to parliament for the early setting up of the commission, Justice Javed said parliament was supreme and no one could make it accountable unless an attempt was made to change the basic structure of the Constitution. “We are product of the Constitution framed by parliament,” he said.
He said parliament was entitled to bring any kind of legislation and the court could not cross certain barriers.
Justice Sair said the apex court would monitor and supervise the commission.
“The commission will start its proceedings from where we leave,” Justice Javed said, adding that the court would not dissociate itself from the process.
Justice Sair said the move would mean sharing the burden and not shifting it.
When Justice Javed recalled that 237 missing people had been traced, the attorney general said certain people whose names were on the list had gone for jihad and many were hiding abroad to evade arrests.
Referring to the missing people of Balochistan, Justice Javed said the court would not allow anyone to take political mileage out of the issue. He asked the media to verify facts before highlighting the cases because exaggerated figures created panic.
Asma Jehangir, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission (HRCP), asked the court to make the intelligence agencies accountable for their involvement in the cases.
Rawalpindi SP Kamran Adil said senior officers of the armed forces had recorded their statement before a joint investigation team constituted to locate Mr Janjua.
Advocate Raja Bashir, representing the defence ministry, said Mrs Janjua’s contentions were based on hearsay, what she had heard from others and not seen herself.
He said an FIR had been registered and recording of evidence at an appropriate forum would start soon about her husband’s disappearance.
Mrs Janjua said her objective was not to embarrass any institution, but to get her grievance addressed.
The court summoned the Islamabad chief commissioner and police chief and complete record about the number of casualties during the July 2007 Lal Masjid standoff when girl students of Jamia Hafsa had occupied the adjacent Children’s Library in protest against the razing of seven mosques. Several people were killed in battles between security personnel and students at the mosque.
The court also clarified that Dr Aafia’s case did not fall in the category of missing people and media- and public-driven campaigns were not suitable for judicial findings.
Justice Javed observed that the sincerity of the government should not be doubted because it had engaged good counsel to defend Dr Aafia in the US.
The bench adjourned the hearing for two weeks.
Court temporarily adjourns hearing :The Nation
By: Farehia Rehman
ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily adjourned hearing of the missing persons case for almost ten minutes after an army man threatened a senior lawyer. According to details, Legal Director of the Ministry of Defence, Lieutenant Cornel Sarfraz threatened to Hashmat Habib during the break for commenting about the Army in the court.
After the break as proceedings started again, Habib Advocate appeared before the court and told about the incident occurred during the break. On which, three-member bench headed by Justice Javed Iqbal took strict notice of it and asked Sarfraz to tell the court why he did this.
On this, he told, “I did not threaten him in this sense, I was just asking him not to pass comments about Pakistan army in the court”. On which, Justice Javed Iqbal remarked that it is their Army too and commenting against the Army is contempt of the institutions.
He continued that the institutions could have good and bad qualities. Services of the Pakistan Army and secret agencies are appreciable, he added.
“We will protect everyone, whoever enters the court”, he said and further added that the people, who are taking part in the proceedings, are talking with facts and figures.
He said that the court was like mosque, where everyone could get protection and justice and everyone should respect the court.
Over the situation Justice Muhammad Sair Ali adjourned the proceedings for ten minutes saying that they could not continue till the matter was resolved.
As proceedings started after ten minutes, Lieutenant Cornel Sarfraz apologised for his behaviour, which was also accepted by the Senior Advocate Hashmat Habib.
Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan has written a must read thought provoking article on 1971 Independence of Bangladesh.
History teaches lots of lessons and nations which don’t learn from it often become a forgotten part of it.
Below are the words of Hamood ur Rehman commission report. The commission was made to investigate the 1971 Fall of Dhaka or Independence of Bangladesh. As Bangladesh is a sovereign state now and we wish best of luck to them on their independence day.
“Indiscriminate killing and looting could only serve the cause of the enemies of Pakistan. In the harshness, we lost the support of the silent majority of the people of East Pakistan.” Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission Report on 1971
It seems we have not learned the lesson from our history and still repeating it in NWFP,Baluchistan and FATA.
Imran says he got positive response from Taliban–>We support this initiative from Imran Khan and demand the government and urge the people to honestly support it.
At last someone from politicians finally volunteered for the cause of peace in Pakistan. We cannot expect any good from parliamentarians, government, army or agencies to work for the cause of peace because it will not serve their greed and lust for power.
People like Imran Khan , other leaders from PTI and Jamat e Islami,Ulemas who are trusted by tribesmen and other religious and political figures need to make a joint effort for this cause and this should be backed by the trust of Pakistani people and government.
Army and agencies shouldn’t try to deceive the people this time as they have already created a huge mess just for dollars and to serve their imperialist masters.
We support this initiative from Imran Khan and demand the government and urge the people to honestly support it.
We need to get out of this war against humanity and peace, we are already too late and cannot afford more damage.
We oppose the killings of innocent people in army actions, suicide bombings or in any other way.
Imran says he got positive response from Taliban
By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan, who on Wednesday offered his services and even showed the willingness to go to the tribal areas to get the mounting terrorism issue resolved through political dialogue, got encouraging response from the Taliban side. His appeal, however, seems to have fallen on the governmentís deaf ears.
The cricket hero-turned-social worker, Imran Khan, told The News on Thursday that after his Wednesday’s press conference, he was contacted by some important Taliban groups, who posed their full confidence in him for political solution of the problem. Khan said that no one from the government side contacted him though.
Imran Khan on Wednesday volunteered to mediate between the government and the Taliban leadership to bring peace, claiming that the menace of terrorism was bound to grow because of the military operation in South Waziristan and in the absence of a political solution.
In his press conference, he had said that if the government gave him the mandate, he was willing to travel to the tribal areas and elsewhere to negotiate peace. His only pre-condition to mediation between the two sides was that the government would not let the US-pressure to ruin his peace efforts like the past.
While some people believe the government has no political strategy to address the issue and is entirely dependent on the military operation that has allegedly aggravated the problem, Imran has taken a bold step amidst great chances that he would be dubbed pro-Taliban by confused Pakistanis and arrogant foreigners.
Imran Khan got an encouraging reaction from some Taliban leaders. Khan said that he was now even considering convening an all parties conference (APC) on the issue. Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman Group) are also opposed to the military operation and seek a political solution to the problem by revisiting Pakistanís policy on the US war on terror, formulating an independent foreign policy and bringing an immediate halt to the military operation in the tribal areas, particularly South Waziristan.
Although, Maulana Fazlur Rehman is not appearing in the media these days, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Professor Munawar Hasan has become vocal in his opposition to the military operation. Interestingly, the PML-N is also not supportive of the present military operation but it lacks the guts to public its demand a political solution to terrorism. However, the party is not making its views public amid reports that it does not want to irritate Washington that is today quite pleased with the party and its top leadership.
In this situation, Imran Khanís daring initiative to do what others are shy to do, is expected to bring pressure on all other pro-dialogue parties, including the PML-N, the JI and the JUI(F) to sit together and chalk out a strategy where the government could be pressurised to save its innocents, whether in the tribal areas or in settled areas of Pakistan from being killed.
Recent attack in the Parade Lane mosque Rawalpindi which is one of the most secured areas of the country taking lives of dozens of people and then the drone attack by USA forces in our northern part of country taking lives of 50 people are calling for a serious revision of our foreign and security policies especially with respect to this American lead war against humanity and peace or so called war against terror.
Whether innocent people are dying in drone attacks, military operations or suicide bombings the historical fact is they don’t add to the cause of peace but result in more terrorist activities which lead to more military operations and so this vicious cycle of death and fear is going on and on with no real directions.
We don’t see any real measures for peace except for lies and false claims by our government and security institutions that are not willing to come out of this weapon-blood-dollar game because of their personal greed and foreign self-imposed pressure.
Another thing which our government does is to gather ‘Ulemas’ and religious scholars to give joint statements or ‘Fatwas’ against the suicide bombings and to declare these acts against the teachings of Islam which is true and factual but it has not proved worthy enough to stop these attacks and the prime reason is that this is not a matter of religion or personal faith.
Resistance in Afghanistan is surely backed by religious and nationalist sentiments as their land is occupied by foreign imperialist powers but in case of Pakistan it is due to our imperialist sponsored security and foreign policy backed by our unjust and cruel actions against our own people that we are seeing one of the most terrible times of our history where life seems to have no value.
The main contributor to this mess was surely Musharraf and his ruling junta of that time which for their lust for power, greed of wealth and so called international stature put Pakistan into a great mess that nation is finding itself into an apparent hopeless condition.
The Musharraf government’s submissive policies in front of America and allies, giving permission to foreign security agencies to operate in Pakistan, illegal abduction and selling of Pakistanis and others without any legal procedure and protecting the basic human rights, extra judicial killings to please foreign powers, merciless bombings of civilian areas in the name of hunting down few terrorists, creating sectarian and ethnic tension among masses to extend his rule and this baseless war, giving no respect to country laws and creating a sense of deprivation of rights and alienation among the people living in tribal areas and Baluchistan all have summed up to this mess.
Current elected government and military establishment are no different in their overall strategy and policies except for few cosmetic changes which are mainly made to run this war effectively. Our role has become a client state and our army is fighting like a deadly mercenary force killing its own people. If someone criticizes the war or protests against the violation of national sovereignty then he or she becomes eligible for the titles of extremist, fundamentalist, Taliban supporter or even traitor.
Media machinery is also being utilized by establishment to gather support for this and they are especially targeting the youth by promoting propaganda specialists and so called think tanks to spread war hysteria in the name of patriotism and nationalism and also glorifying the security institutions and their role in country affairs.
This seems to be a never ending game due to our self destructive policies which has gone worse with the involvement of foreign player’s contribution and even for that I say we have provided them the ground to play evil.
We seriously need to think our way out of this war if we want to survive as a nation and exist on the map as an independent state of this world for this we need to think and act as an honest, just and freedom loving nation putting everyone on board. We need to bring everyone on table with sincerity not in the hypocritical manner our security agencies did previously and these talks also need to include those people we are killing in Waziristan, Sawat, Bajaur and elsewhere.
We also need to compensate the losses of the victims of military actions and provide justice to the people who suffered by the actions of our governments and military by putting the responsible figures of this mess like Musharraf in front of the system of justice as without it all confidence building measures will be considered as words of mouth.
May Allah show us the right path and give peace to the innocent souls of people who lost their lives in this war.
By Ayaz Wazir
Operation Rah-e-Nijat, or to use the so-called FATA experts’ pet phrase ‘the mother of all wars’, has entered its fourth week. All indications are that it will soon be over. So far more than 700 militants are reported to have been killed. There has been no mention whatsoever of loss of innocent lives or damage to property (termed ‘collateral damage’ in American terms to minimise the psychological impact).This is hard to believe, considering that aerial bombardment and artillery are being used. So far, no picture of any dead, important militant commander has been shown on TV. Neither are journalists allowed to enter the area and whatever the army spokesman tells us is to be believed without corroboration.
Since the operation has already been launched and cannot be reversed at this stage, let us pray that that it will achieve the desired result and no more operations will be required for the elimination of militants, although our experience for the last eight years tells us a different story. Has the writ of the government been established in Bajaur and other places in FATA where operations were conducted earlier? Will this one bring peace to Waziristan? Such questions come to our minds when we talk about operations in FATA.
The army’s job, as we all know, is to destroy the enemy. Once that is done, it is then the job of the civil government to step in to sort out the problem on a permanent basis. It is so unfortunate that our civilian government has not taken that step and keeps on blaming the past rulers for the policies that it is still following.
It was a different story altogether during Musharraf’s time. He was doing it for his own survival. The people were fed up and wanted change. They voted in favour of the ruling party, hoping that it will discard the policies of the dictator, and give guidance to the army and the public at large. It didn’t. It even ignored the unanimously adopted resolution by parliament endorsed by all the political parties, which could have laid the foundation of finding a permanent solution to the problem.
FATA has suffered all along and South Waziristan the most. It seems to be the most unfortunate spot on this earth. It has been deprived of political and economic development for centuries. The Afghans ignored it when it was a part of their country. The British continued to do the same, besides constructing roads and an airport to pursue their own interest. In fact, South Waziristan was neglected even after partition.
Thirty years of war in Afghanistan fought mostly from this area have further added to the miseries of the people. It destroyed the infrastructure and left deep scars on the body politic of tribal customs. The traditional tribal system, though intact, was badly bruised leaving little room for the tribes to resist militant onslaught.
Whatever little progress that was made by the tribesmen in trade, commerce and agriculture was destroyed in the eight-year-war against the militants. The general public has not taken up arms against the army but has suffered the most. Their close relatives got killed, their houses demolished and shops razed to the ground. The losses run into billions of dollars but nobody has been paid compensation so far. Imagine their frustration when they see victims of militancy in other cities of Pakistan, getting the attention of the media and government.
The president and prime minister issue immediate instructions for medical assistance and financial help to compensate for the losses. No doubt, they deserve our sympathy and support for rehabilitation, but why are the people from Waziristan not treated in a similar manner? Aren’t they Pakistanis as well? Should they continue to pay for the sins of others? Should they continue to be the victims of a situation brought upon them against their wishes? If not, then let us take the matter more seriously and put our heads together to ascertain what went wrong and what we should do next.
The civilian government does not appear to be in the mood to take over its responsibilities in tribal areas. It has left everything to the army, which is doing its job to the best of its abilities. However, on its own it cannot solve the problem ‘politically’. As Winston Churchill right said, “War is too serious a matter and cannot be left to the generals alone.” The civil government must give its guidance to them, in consultation with the people concerned.
We voted the present government into power mainly to undo the unpopular policies of the dictator and allow for refreshing solutions to the problems faced by the country. Unfortunately, the latter failed to do the same. It got embroiled in notorious matters, such as the NRO. What were the public aspirations and what has the government done? It has only added to their miseries by giving us load-shedding, sugar and flour crises, etc.
FATA, which does not fall under the jurisdiction of parliament, is the responsibility of the president. He is in charge of it. In fact, he was kind enough to take the trouble of flying to Peshawar for a meeting with the tribal elders, donating huge amounts for the economic development of the area. His government, he promised, would take urgent steps towards bringing the people of that area at par with the rest of the people of Pakistan. The tribesmen are hearing such promises for the last 62 years. This seems to be one such promise as nothing has happened so far.
The president is not only in charge of FATA but is also the supreme commander of the armed forces as well. Prudence demands that he visit battle-torn areas including South Waziristan, where our troops are sacrificing their lives, to boost the morale of soldiers and interact with tribesmen. His visit will leave a lasting impact on soldiers and locals alike. What has he done instead? He has shut himself up in the bunkered presidential palace in Islamabad, and has started ordering the purchase of expensive bullet-proof cars for ministers and other senior functionaries of his government. These officials should come out of the bunkered city of Islamabad if they are serious about fighting militancy. This nation can hardly afford the luxury that Zardari and his cronies are living in. The tribesmen in FATA and other Pashtuns in NWFP are getting killed by the hundreds on a daily basis. Waziristan and Peshawar are burning, while life in other cities goes on unaffected. What kind of a nation are we? We are not agitating, expressing our concern, pressuring the members of parliament to do what they are supposed to do, instead of wasting time and energies defending shady deals and bills such as the NRO. What are we up to?
We still have time to rise to the occasion if we want to live as a nation together. We must make decisions reflective of the national aspirations to get rid of this menace. We failed once and lost half the country. We cannot afford to fail again. Let us wake up and face the problem with wisdom and grit. Waziristan, after all, is a part of this country.
The writer is a former ambassador. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org