Musharraf was denied immunity in CJP restoration case
By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: The critical issue whether the president enjoys immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution was categorically and specifically decided by the Supreme Court and it was denied to former president Pervez Musharraf in the case of restoration of the then-deposed chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
While the short order in the case given on July 20, 2007, by a 13-member bench, headed by Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, restored the chief justice, in its detailed judgment of the same case, given just 35 days ago, no room for any ambiguity has been left.
The detailed judgment, which did not receive much legal or media attention, addressed the issue, which Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has now referred back to the Supreme Court in his speeches in the National Assembly, and gave reasons and past references to deny immunity to a sitting president, even in criminal cases as provided for in Article 248 of the Constitution.
The detailed judgment issued on Dec 24 clearly states: “…allegations of mala fide had been levelled against the person of the president by no less a person than the chief justice, no exception could be taken to implead the president as a respondent…”
Responding to objections raised in 2007 by the then-government (of Gen Musharraf), over impleading the then-president, the detailed judgment also refers to several previous judgments on this specific issue of Article 248 and cites examples where such immunities were not accepted.
The Ramday judgment refers to mala fide actions of Gen Musharraf and ruled in Para 107: “As would appear from the averments made in this petition, some of which have even been noticed in the earlier part of this judgment, the mainstay of the case of the petitioner, the chief justice of Pakistan, is that the entire exercise in question had been commenced for collateral purposes and suffered from mala fides which was sought to be established, inter alia, through the chief justice of Pakistan being summoned by the president to the Army House/President’s Camp Office; detention of the chief justice at the said office for about five hours; attempts made to secure the resignation of the chief justice under duress and through coercion; the alleged illegal detention of the wife and the children of the chief justice in their house and the alleged unconstitutional removal of the chief justice from his office and appointment of acting chief justice of Pakistan. Since such serious allegations of mala fide had been levelled against the person of the president by no less a person than the chief justice of Pakistan, no exception could be taken to implead the president as a respondent in this petition, which was in fact imperative in view of the above-mentioned precedent cases.”
Interestingly, this judgment says the president can be impleaded for his actions of illegal detention of the chief justice, his wife and children, etc. All these actions are of criminal nature, which a sitting president ordered, but the Supreme Court did not give him immunity under Article 248(2), which says no criminal proceedings can be initiated or continued against a sitting president. The Constitution does not give immunity to president or any other public office holder in civil matters.
Referring to the objection raised that Gen Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, had been impleaded in the said petition as one of the respondents, which was seen by the then government as against the provisions of Article 248(1) of the Constitution, the judgment reproduced the said Article, which reads as: “The president, a governor, the prime minister, a federal minister, a minister of state, the chief minister and a provincial minister shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions: Provided that nothing in this clause shall be construed as restricting the right of any person to bring appropriate proceedings against the Federation or a province.”
Many past judgments were also quoted by the Ramday judgment of Dec 24, 2009. It said that such an immunity clause had been examined by the Privy Council in HB Gills case (AIR 1948 Privy Council 148) and the reaction of the Privy Council to such-like protective provisions was as under: “Their Lordships, while admitting the cogency of the argument that in the circumstances prevailing in India a large measure of protection from harassing proceedings may be necessary for public officials cannot accede to the view that the relevant words have the scope that has in some cases been given to them. A public servant can only be said to act or to purport to act in the discharge of his official duty, if his act is such as to lie within the scope of his official duty. Thus, a judge neither acts nor purports to act as a judge in receiving a bribe, though the judgment which he delivers may be such an act: nor does a government medical officer acts or purport to act as a public servant in picking the pocket of a patient whom he is examining, though the examination itself may be such an act. The test may well be whether the public servant, if challenged, can reasonably claim that, what he does, he does in virtue of his office.”
The judgment added: “In our jurisdiction the pleaded Article 248 came up for interpretation in Chaudhry Zahur Elahi’s case (PLD 1975 SC 383). The scope and the operational area of the said provision was so stated by this court: “…the immunity provisions must, in accordance with the accepted principles of interpretation, be construed strictly and unless persons claiming the immunity come strictly within the terms of the provisions granting the immunity, the immunity cannot be extended. The immunity is in the nature of an exception to the general rule that no one is above the law.”
The matter was further explained in these words: “Hence, since neither the Constitution nor any law can possibly authorise him to commit a criminal act or do anything which is contrary to law, the immunity cannot extend to illegal or un-constitutional acts.”
This court, the judgment said, when confronted again with the protection provisions of Article 248 in Amanullah Khan’s Case (PLD 1990 SC 1092) reiterated that the said provisions were required to be strictly construed and added in para 56 that: “If mala fide of fact was pleaded by a party then it had to decide for itself whether on the material with it, the minister has to be impleaded in spite of the protecting provisions of the Constitution; because if his act does not fall within the purview of the provision so interpreted, then he can be impleaded as a party and all objections to such impleadment dealt with in the proceedings. In the absence of the party, no finding with regard to mala fide of fact (as distinguished from mala fide of law) can be recorded, should be recorded and should have been recorded. Recourse to the principles of natural justice to overcome the prohibition contained in Article 248 of the Constitution is not permissible.”
“It was further declared: “Protection under Article 248 of the Constitution is not available to the designated functionaries if their actions suffer from mala fide of fact where the allegation against the protected functionaries is one of mala fide of fact, they have to be personally impleaded as a party to the proceedings;”
“The views of Nasim Hassan Shah J in the same case are also enlightening for the resolution of the issue in question. His views were: “Now the immunity to a minister extends only to the exercise of powers and performance of functions of his office or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions. A minister can be said to be acting in exercise of the powers and functions of his office, if his acts are such which not only lie within the scope of the powers and functions conferred on him by law but are performed bona fide and for carrying into effect the intention and purposes of the statute under which, he is acting. If on the other hand his acts are performed with mala fide intent or for a colourable purpose, such acts will not be deemed to have been performed in the lawful exercise of the powers and functions vested in him and will not, therefore, be covered by the immunity. Accordingly, where it transpires that a minister has acted illegally and abused his discretion and the illegality committed was not in the bona fide exercise of his powers and functions but on account of mala fides the immunity contained in Article 248(1) would not extend to protect such an act.”
Similar views were expressed by this court in Nawabzada Muhammad Umar Khan’s Case (1992 SCMR 2450) which were as under: “Secondly, where allegations of mala fide of fact are involved or alleged, it is necessary that the parties against whom such mala fide of fact is alleged must be impleaded as a party so that it has occasion to meet the allegation. This is notwithstanding the constitutional protection enjoyed by such functionaries under Article 248 of the Constitution vide Amanullah Khan and others Vs the Federal Government of Pakistan through secretary, Ministry of Finance, Islamabad, and others (PLD 1990 SC 1092).”
While there are such specific rulings and judgments given by the Supreme Court itself, the latest being on December 24, 2009, a new case filed by Khalid Khwaja is again before the Supreme Court to give another judgment on the subject.
The prime minister has promised in Parliament that he would act if the SC clarified the ambiguity, although after reading the Dec 24, 2009, judgment of Justice Ramday, there is no ambiguity left, an expert said, lamenting that perhaps no one in the government had bothered to go through this detailed judgment that has squarely discussed the issue of President’s immunity.
Howard Zinn wrote it in 2001 after 9/11 and USA invasion of Afghanistan.
The article is important for those who find it liberal to support the current war and consider anti-war voices as Taliban. I hope Zinn will not be named as “Taliban Zinn”.
Just A Cause, Not A War
It Seems to Me by Howard Zinn
December 2001 Issue
A Just Cause, Not a Just War
I believe two moral judgments can be made about the present “war”: The September 11 attack constitutes a crime against humanity and cannot be justified, and the bombing of Afghanistan is also a crime, which cannot be justified.
And yet, voices across the political spectrum, including many on the left, have described this as a “just war.” One longtime advocate of peace, Richard Falk, wrote in The Nation that this is “the first truly just war since World War II.” Robert Kuttner, another consistent supporter of social justice, declared in The American Prospect that only people on the extreme left could believe this is not a just war.
I have puzzled over this. How can a war be truly just when it involves the daily killing of civilians, when it causes hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children to leave their homes to escape the bombs, when it may not find those who planned the September 11 attacks, and when it will multiply the ranks of people who are angry enough at this country to become terrorists themselves?
This war amounts to a gross violation of human rights, and it will produce the exact opposite of what is wanted: It will not end terrorism; it will proliferate terrorism.
I believe that the progressive supporters of the war have confused a “just cause” with a “just war.” There are unjust causes, such as the attempt of the United States to establish its power in Vietnam, or to dominate Panama or Grenada, or to subvert the government of Nicaragua. And a cause may be just–getting North Korea to withdraw from South Korea, getting Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait, or ending terrorism–but it does not follow that going to war on behalf of that cause, with the inevitable mayhem that follows, is just.
The stories of the effects of our bombing are beginning to come through, in bits and pieces. Just eighteen days into the bombing, The New York Times reported: “American forces have mistakenly hit a residential area in Kabul.” Twice, U.S. planes bombed Red Cross warehouses, and a Red Cross spokesman said: “Now we’ve got 55,000 people without that food or blankets, with nothing at all.”
An Afghan elementary school-teacher told a Washington Post reporter at the Pakistan border: “When the bombs fell near my house and my babies started crying, I had no choice but to run away.”
A New York Times report: “The Pentagon acknowledged that a Navy F/A-18 dropped a 1,000-pound bomb on Sunday near what officials called a center for the elderly. . . . The United Nations said the building was a military hospital. . . . Several hours later, a Navy F-14 dropped two 500-pound bombs on a residential area northwest of Kabul.” A U.N. official told a New York Times reporter that an American bombing raid on the city of Herat had used cluster bombs, which spread deadly “bomblets” over an area of twenty football fields. This, the Times reporter wrote,”was the latest of a growing number of accounts of American bombs going astray and causing civilian casualties.”
An A.P. reporter was brought to Karam, a small mountain village hit by American bombs, and saw houses reduced to rubble. “In the hospital in Jalalabad, twenty-five miles to the east, doctors treated what they said were twenty-three victims of bombing at Karam, one a child barely two months old, swathed in bloody bandages,” according to the account. “Another child, neighbors said, was in the hospital because the bombing raid had killed her entire family. At least eighteen fresh graves were scattered around the village.”
The city of Kandahar, attacked for seventeen straight days, was reported to be a ghost town, with more than half of its 500,000 people fleeing the bombs. The city’s electrical grid had been knocked out. The city was deprived of water, since the electrical pumps could not operate. A sixty-year-old farmer told the A.P. reporter, “We left in fear of our lives. Every day and every night, we hear the roaring and roaring of planes, we see the smoke, the fire. . . . I curse them both–the Taliban and America.”
A New York Times report from Pakistan two weeks into the bombing campaign told of wounded civilians coming across the border. “Every half-hour or so throughout the day, someone was brought across on a stretcher. . . . Most were bomb victims, missing limbs or punctured by shrapnel. . . . A young boy, his head and one leg wrapped in bloodied bandages, clung to his father’s back as the old man trudged back to Afghanistan.”
That was only a few weeks into the bombing, and the result had already been to frighten hundreds of thousands of Afghans into abandoning their homes and taking to the dangerous, mine-strewn roads. The “war against terrorism” has become a war against innocent men, women, and children, who are in no way responsible for the terrorist attack on New York.
And yet there are those who say this is a “just war.”
Terrorism and war have something in common. They both involve the killing of innocent people to achieve what the killers believe is a good end. I can see an immediate objection to this equation: They (the terrorists) deliberately kill innocent people; we (the war makers) aim at “military targets,” and civilians are killed by accident, as “collateral damage.”
Is it really an accident when civilians die under our bombs? Even if you grant that the intention is not to kill civilians, if they nevertheless become victims, again and again and again, can that be called an accident? If the deaths of civilians are inevitable in bombing, it may not be deliberate, but it is not an accident, and the bombers cannot be considered innocent. They are committing murder as surely as are the terrorists.
The absurdity of claiming innocence in such cases becomes apparent when the death tolls from “collateral damage” reach figures far greater than the lists of the dead from even the most awful act of terrorism. Thus, the “collateral damage” in the Gulf War caused more people to die–hundreds of thousands, if you include the victims of our sanctions policy–than the very deliberate terrorist attack of September 11. The total of those who have died in Israel from Palestinian terrorist bombs is somewhere under 1,000. The number of dead from “collateral damage” in the bombing of Beirut during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 was roughly 6,000.
We must not match the death lists–it is an ugly exercise–as if one atrocity is worse than another. No killing of innocents, whether deliberate or “accidental,” can be justified. My argument is that when children die at the hands of terrorists, or–whether intended or not–as a result of bombs dropped from airplanes, terrorism and war become equally unpardonable.
Let’s talk about “military targets.” The phrase is so loose that President Truman, after the nuclear bomb obliterated the population of Hiroshima, could say: “The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.”
What we are hearing now from our political leaders is, “We are targeting military objectives. We are trying to avoid killing civilians. But that will happen, and we regret it.” Shall the American people take moral comfort from the thought that we are bombing only “military targets”?
The reality is that the term “military” covers all sorts of targets that include civilian populations. When our bombers deliberately destroy, as they did in the war against Iraq, the electrical infrastructure, thus making water purification and sewage treatment plants inoperable and leading to epidemic waterborne diseases, the deaths of children and other civilians cannot be called accidental.
Recall that in the midst of the Gulf War, the U.S. military bombed an air raid shelter, killing 400 to 500 men, women, and children who were huddled to escape bombs. The claim was that it was a military target, housing a communications center, but reporters going through the ruins immediately afterward said there was no sign of anything like that.
I suggest that the history of bombing–and no one has bombed more than this nation–is a history of endless atrocities, all calmly explained by deceptive and deadly language like “accident,” “military targets,” and “collateral damage.”
Indeed, in both World War II and in Vietnam, the historical record shows that there was a deliberate decision to target civilians in order to destroy the morale of the enemy–hence the firebombing of Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, the B-52s over Hanoi, the jet bombers over peaceful villages in the Vietnam countryside. When some argue that we can engage in “limited military action” without “an excessive use of force,” they are ignoring the history of bombing. The momentum of war rides roughshod over limits.
The moral equation in Afghanistan is clear. Civilian casualties are certain. The outcome is uncertain. No one knows what this bombing will accomplish–whether it will lead to the capture of Osama Bin Laden (perhaps), or the end of the Taliban (possibly), or a democratic Afghanistan (very unlikely), or an end to terrorism (almost certainly not).
And meanwhile, we are terrorizing the population (not the terrorists, they are not easily terrorized). Hundreds of thousands are packing their belongings and their children onto carts and leaving their homes to make dangerous journeys to places they think might be more safe.
Not one human life should be expended in this reckless violence called a “war against terrorism.”
We might examine the idea of pacifism in the light of what is going on right now. I have never used the word “pacifist” to describe myself, because it suggests something absolute, and I am suspicious of absolutes. I want to leave openings for unpredictable possibilities. There might be situations (and even such strong pacifists as Gandhi and Martin Luther King believed this) when a small, focused act of violence against a monstrous, immediate evil would be justified.
In war, however, the proportion of means to ends is very, very different. War, by its nature, is unfocused, indiscriminate, and especially in our time when the technology is so murderous, inevitably involves the deaths of large numbers of people and the suffering of even more. Even in the “small wars” (Iran vs. Iraq, the Nigerian war, the Afghan war), a million people die. Even in a “tiny” war like the one we waged in Panama, a thousand or more die.
Scott Simon of NPR wrote a commentary in The Wall Street Journal on October 11 entitled, “Even Pacifists Must Support This War.” He tried to use the pacifist acceptance of self-defense, which approves a focused resistance to an immediate attacker, to justify this war, which he claims is “self-defense.” But the term “self-defense” does not apply when you drop bombs all over a country and kill lots of people other than your attacker. And it doesn’t apply when there is no likelihood that it will achieve its desired end.
Pacifism, which I define as a rejection of war, rests on a very powerful logic. In war, the means–indiscriminate killing–are immediate and certain; the ends, however desirable, are distant and uncertain.
Pacifism does not mean “appeasement.” That word is often hurled at those who condemn the present war on Afghanistan, and it is accompanied by references to Churchill, Chamberlain, Munich. World War II analogies are conveniently summoned forth when there is a need to justify a war, however irrelevant to a particular situation. At the suggestion that we withdraw from Vietnam, or not make war on Iraq, the word “appeasement” was bandied about. The glow of the “good war” has repeatedly been used to obscure the nature of all the bad wars we have fought since 1945.
Let’s examine that analogy. Czechoslovakia was handed to the voracious Hitler to “appease” him. Germany was an aggressive nation expanding its power, and to help it in its expansion was not wise. But today we do not face an expansionist power that demands to be appeased. We ourselves are the expansionist power–troops in Saudi Arabia, bombings of Iraq, military bases all over the world, naval vessels on every sea–and that, along with Israel’s expansion into the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has aroused anger.
It was wrong to give up Czechoslovakia to appease Hitler. It is not wrong to withdraw our military from the Middle East, or for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, because there is no right to be there. That is not appeasement. That is justice.
Opposing the bombing of Afghanistan does not constitute “giving in to terrorism” or “appeasement.” It asks that other means be found than war to solve the problems that confront us. King and Gandhi both believed in action–nonviolent direct action, which is more powerful and certainly more morally defensible than war.
To reject war is not to “turn the other cheek,” as pacifism has been caricatured. It is, in the present instance, to act in ways that do not imitate the terrorists.
The United States could have treated the September 11 attack as a horrific criminal act that calls for apprehending the culprits, using every device of intelligence and investigation possible. It could have gone to the United Nations to enlist the aid of other countries in the pursuit and apprehension of the terrorists.
There was also the avenue of negotiations. (And let’s not hear: “What? Negotiate with those monsters?” The United States negotiated with–indeed, brought into power and kept in power–some of the most monstrous governments in the world.) Before Bush ordered in the bombers, the Taliban offered to put bin Laden on trial. This was ignored. After ten days of air attacks, when the Taliban called for a halt to the bombing and said they would be willing to talk about handing bin Laden to a third country for trial, the headline the next day in The New York Times read: “President Rejects Offer by Taliban for Negotiations,” and Bush was quoted as saying: “When I said no negotiations, I meant no negotiations.”
That is the behavior of someone hellbent on war. There were similar rejections of negotiating possibilities at the start of the Korean War, the war in Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the bombing of Yugoslavia. The result was an immense loss of life and incalculable human suffering.
International police work and negotiations were–still are–alternatives to war. But let’s not deceive ourselves; even if we succeeded in apprehending bin Laden or, as is unlikely, destroying the entire Al Qaeda network, that would not end the threat of terrorism, which has potential recruits far beyond Al Qaeda.
To get at the roots of terrorism is complicated. Dropping bombs is simple. It is an old response to what everyone acknowledges is a very new situation. At the core of unspeakable and unjustifiable acts of terrorism are justified grievances felt by millions of people who would not themselves engage in terrorism but from whose ranks terrorists spring.
Those grievances are of two kinds: the existence of profound misery– hunger, illness–in much of the world, contrasted to the wealth and luxury of the West, especially the United States; and the presence of American military power everywhere in the world, propping up oppressive regimes and repeatedly intervening with force to maintain U.S. hegemony.
This suggests actions that not only deal with the long-term problem of terrorism but are in themselves just.
Instead of using two planes a day to drop food on Afghanistan and 100 planes to drop bombs (which have been making it difficult for the trucks of the international agencies to bring in food), use 102 planes to bring food.
Take the money allocated for our huge military machine and use it to combat starvation and disease around the world. One-third of our military budget would annually provide clean water and sanitation facilities for the billion people in the world who have none.
Withdraw troops from Saudi Arabia, because their presence near the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina angers not just bin Laden (we need not care about angering him) but huge numbers of Arabs who are not terrorists.
Stop the cruel sanctions on Iraq, which are killing more than a thousand children every week without doing anything to weaken Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical hold over the country.
Insist that Israel withdraw from the occupied territories, something that many Israelis also think is right, and which will make Israel more secure than it is now.
In short, let us pull back from being a military superpower, and become a humanitarian superpower.
Let us be a more modest nation. We will then be more secure. The modest nations of the world don’t face the threat of terrorism.
Such a fundamental change in foreign policy is hardly to be expected. It would threaten too many interests: the power of political leaders, the ambitions of the military, the corporations that profit from the nation’s enormous military commitments.
Change will come, as at other times in our history, only when American citizens– becoming better informed, having second thoughts after the first instinctive support for official policy–demand it. That change in citizen opinion, especially if it coincides with a pragmatic decision by the government that its violence isn’t working, could bring about a retreat from the military solution.
It might also be a first step in the rethinking of our nation’s role in the world. Such a rethinking contains the promise, for Americans, of genuine security, and for people elsewhere, the beginning of hope.
Howard Zinn, a historian and an anti-war activist who raised his voice against the unjust cause of wars when many were reluctant and confused.
Zinn died at the age of 87.
I hope there are more saner voices like him.
The Nation: Goodbye Howard Zinn
by Peter Rothberg
Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and the author of the seminal A People’s History of the United States, died yesterday at the age of 87 of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California. He was in a swimming pool doing laps and was spotted immediately by lifeguards but died instantly.
Zinn’s brand of history put common citizens at the center of the story and inspired generations of young activists and academics to remember that change is possible. As he wrote in his autobiography, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train (1994), “From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than ‘objectivity’; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble.”
Below is the article by an Indian doctor on the issue of Vikram Buddhi, who got jailed for just expressing his views. Allegedly he just gave few remarks about George W Bush on a website.
Hopefully the guy will find justice and will be freed soon.
Also please sign the petition for Vikram’s release:
The Curious Case Of Vikram Buddhi
By Dr. Shah Alam Khan
13 December, 2009
It is ironical that the day President Barrack Obama held his Nobel Peace medal in hand, the American judiciary soiled its hand with blood of justice…….cold and savage. Again the American consciousness failed to separate the good from the bad. And yet again an innocent was sacrificed at the altar of lady of liberty, the symbol of freedom and hope for millions across America. The sentencing of Vikram Buddhi, the IIT Alumnus from India has come as rude shock in this part of the world. The curious case of Mr. Buddhi, a graduate of the IIT Mumbai, is an eye-opener for all those who till date believed in the fairness of the American legal system.
The case of Mr. Vikram Buddhi is perplexing. In December 2005, an Internet message appeared urging the people of Iraq to avenge the death of 312,769 Iraqi women and children. Subsequently this message was traced to the computer of Vikram Buddhi, a graduate student at Purdue University in Indiana. Vikram was picked up for interrogation and released on January 18, 2006 by the U.S. Secret Service, complete with a report that he posed no threat.
For obscure reasons, in May 2006 he was mysteriously picked up again and jailed. The case went to trial, crucial evidence was hidden from the jury by a hostile judge, and a guilty verdict was returned on June 25, 2007. Finally on December 11, 2009 he was handed a four years nine months prison sentence. So much for posting hate messages against the then President George W Bush and his team of gangsters. I suppose if this was his crime, then at least half the world’s population would be behind bars! We all know how popular the butcher of Baghdad was!
America and its claim of freedom has been under the scanner for long. Post 9/11 the American claims of justice, egalitarianism and liberty have been admonished on a regular basis. No wonder, President Obama announced the closing down of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in his first Presidential address to the nation. It is important that in a world with impending terrorist threats every country has a right to defend its land and subjects. But it is also noteworthy that governments have no right to trample human dignity in the name of salvaging freedom and liberty. Needless to say American establishment has a habit to stamp on the rights of others. Their past and recent misadventures in the Middle East, Vietnam, Central America, Rwanda and Afghanistan are an appalling testament for the same.
The tombstones in America’s human right cemetery have a grim story to tell. Vikram Buddhi’s case is not the only one. The mockery of justice and legality in the legally correct land is a regular feature. Although it is a different matter that those who suffer are African Americans, Native Indians or expatriates from the third world; the not so equals in an otherwise “equal & just” American social order.
The most glaring of all cases is that of Gary Tyler, an African-American, who is serving a life sentence in Louisiana. He was convicted by an all-white jury in 1974 for the murder of a 13-year-old Timothy Weber, a white student who was shot during intense racial clashes in Destrehan, Louisiana. Tyler, who was 17 at the time of the incident, has consistently denied involvement in the crime. In yet another story of blatant violation of human rights at the hand of an unjust legal system, two prisoners Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox languish in solitary confinement for the last 37 years in a prison in Angola, Lousiana. Their crime, political activism in prison. No other living prisoner in the United States is believed to have spent so long in solitary confinement as these two. And of course who can forget the thrashing of Rodney King in March 1991 at the hands of Los Angeles Police officers, the custodians of law.
There is no justification to the obscenity of Vikram Buddhi’s remarks on the internet. Equally there is no justification of handing him a half baked prison sentence, concluded in secrecy and painted with prejudice and hate. The American people should realize that it is not what he said is important, but why he said it. The universal detestation for America comes from its extraordinary record of war and destruction across the globe. American hegemony and its fall out is something which should worry the common American as a citizen of this world. Aggression breeds frustration and frustration breeds people who are vulnerable to the follies of the rabid. How lop sided can the American system be in condemning the handling of Roxana Saberi’s case by the Iranian authorities when they themselves have a Vikram Buddhi at hand? Justice is a bewildering weapon. Its presence can be sweet and fresh but equally it can hand a savage blow to the very cause it is meant to fulfill. American establishment and most importantly the American people need to introspect. Vikram’s case has revealed the vulnerability of their system.
It won’t be long before the American dream dies for millions of Indian students who wanted to go the same path as Vikram Buddhi; but for the common American the nightmare has only begun. Freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of identity are at stake. Once all Indians, all Chinese, all Arabs, all Blacks, all Browns and all Natives are swallowed by the legal American anaconda, it will come for their blood.
Dr. Shah Alam Khan
Department of Orthopedics
All India Institute of Medical Sciences
New Delhi, India
An interesting discussion on the future of Pakistan was organized by Intelligence Squared and Evening Standard Newspaper. The speakers invited were Imran Khan, Anatol Lieven, General Sir David Richards, Farzana Shaikh, Jaswant Singh, William Dalrymple and Jonathan Paris.
At the end of the discussion audience voted against the US and Western support for operations in Pakistan.
Below is the link to watch the discussion.
A Must Watch Episode Of Islamabad Tonight On Negotiations With Taliban.
Islamabad Tonight – 28th January 2010
Featuring PTI Chairman Imran Khan,Taliban leader Mullah Zaeef, General (R) Aslam Baig,Mushahid Hussain of PML-Q, Lt. General (R) Ali Jan Orakzai with Nadeem Malik as host.
We need to think our way out of this war against humanity and peace for the sake of innocent lives we are losing everyday.