Intelligence agencies and law –> Dr AQ Khan column in The News

Dr A Q Khan

Source :http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=18997&Cat=9
The Lahore High Court recently acquitted 11 people accused of involvement in an attack on Gen Musharraf and ordered their release from Adiala Jail. Before they could even taste their freedom they were, according to jail authorities, whisked away by agents of the intelligence agencies. To give it all a bizarre twist, the advocate general, Maulvi Anwar-ul-Haq, presented an affidavit from the intelligence agencies stating that these people were not in their custody. Then the bombshell came from the chief secretary of Punjab, who informed the Supreme Court that the men in question had indeed been taken away by ISI sleuths.

This is a very disturbing matter, as it more or less confirms the universal belief that our intelligence agencies are rogue agencies, and are above the law and the Constitution. Equally disturbing is the impression created that the army and the ISI still have Musharraf stooges who are willing to do anything for him, even if that means breaking the law. Only these organisations can tell us what the advantages of their actions are. It is an undeniable fact that such actions give a very bad name to our most august institution, the army.

Ever since Ayub Khan’s coup, our intelligence agencies have been used as servants for personal use and against political opponents. Their main task – gathering information for national security and safety – was superseded. It is said that our most expensive and extensive networks, like the ISI and the MI, are run by the army and take orders from the army chief, not from the civilian government. This has led to all the coups staged in this country.

When the Indians exploded their nuclear weapons on May 11, 1998, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) on the 13th to discuss options. The participants had varying views, but Foreign Minister Gauhar Ayub Khan, Mr Shamshad Ahmed Khan, the foreign secretary, and myself were quite vocal in favour of a response in kind. I voiced my criticism of the performance of our intelligence agencies. Despite their claims of having informants in almost every house in Pokhran, and their promises that they would inform us if India made any preparations for tests, we were caught unawares. If we had had as little as 10 days’ notice, we could have prepared a matching response and could have detonated our devices in as little as an hour.

If we look at the history of espionage and spies, we find that it is a very old business. The Indians and the Chinese were the original masters. Chanakya and Sun Tzu wrote treatises on the subject and the techniques recommended included murder, secret agents and paying foreigners for information. Similarly, the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans, all established intelligence networks on a scientific basis. The Mongols and the Japanese also used all kinds of tactics to get information about their adversaries. Western and communist countries strove hard to perfect this technology and turned it into a lethal war instrument.

It is said that Abul Fazl Sakzi, the adviser (prime minister) of Sultan Alp Arsalan, once asked the Sultan why he had not established an intelligence network and employed spies for collecting information against adversaries. The sultan replied: “I believe that there is a need for an intelligence network and spies, and that this is the responsibility of the government. This responsibility must be given to highly competent, honest, experienced people so that the government remains safe from dangers. This work is highly complicated and needs people of wisdom, knowledge and foresight, as there is a great danger in this work of fraud, cheating and double games. Hence the people working in this field must be free of all temptation and blackmail, as the security of the country will depend on their performance. They should be free from financial and family worries, which will enable them to fully concentrate on their important work and provide the government with correct and reliable information. It must ensure punishment to traitors and unpatriotic elements and reward and respect patriotic people and well-wishers of the state. The conditions within the country should be such that people automatically and willingly become good, law-abiding and patriotic citizens while at the same time respecting and fearing state laws. They should not dare to indulge in any anti-state activities. The establishment of an intelligence network and the deployment of spies is a state responsibility and it is a demonstration of courage and foresight. It is thus an essential duty of the state.” (Tusi Siasat-nama.)

Sultan Alp Arsalan gave important and practical advice. He not only mentioned the inherent dangers and possible undesirable activities of these institutions and their workers, but also the necessity of such organisations.

Unfortunately, in our country the performance of the intelligence agencies is anything but commendable and is not something to be proud of. They have been the extended arm of dictators and been widely branded as rogue organisations. They operate outside the law, are least bothered about the judiciary and totally ignore court orders. During Gen Musharraf’s time, a general, an ISI colonel and eight subordinates forcibly sent us to Bannigala and kept us there for 10 hours. During that time our house was totally ransacked, bedrooms, clothes, books, files, etc., searched and many things taken away – all this without any official warrant or court order to do so. To-date many of the things taken away have not been returned. During the process our house was also bugged with cameras and – how low can you get – listening devices placed behind our bed and in the bedroom of our granddaughter, as well as in the drawing room, dining room and other places. They totally ignored that fact that, with my background, I was not ignorant of such affairs. I immediately realised the mischief they had done, traced their devices but left them in place (until years later) to let them remain under the illusion that we were unaware. The courts did not take any action against this blatant violation of our fundamental rights and privacy. In any civilised society such despicable acts are totally unacceptable and are dealt with severely by the courts.

We saw how President Nixon was removed from office in disgrace over the bugging of Watergate by his staff. Our courts have wide powers and could, if they so desired, deal with such mischief effectively and immediately in one way or another. Unfortunately, such action is always lacking and the rogue agents of the rogue agencies are left to follow the law of the jungle. As long as they are allowed a free hand, we will be branded as a lawless, corrupt country.

It is my personal opinion that these activities are mostly carried out by retired and re-employed army personnel, who then try to be more loyal than the king and indulge in all kinds of mischief to justify their continuity in service. In doing so, they give a bad name to their agencies and to the government. The heads of the intelligence agencies would be better off not carrying such excess baggage and to utilise the services of young, educated, honest and capable people.

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Mr. Musharraf, Pakistan needs you!

By Faisal Rahman

Source : http://www.aaj.tv/2010/10/mr-musharraf-pakistan-needs-you/

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.

Supreme Court of Pakistan’s remarkable decision can change the future course of our country.

On Friday after a long delay of more than 4 hours SC of Pakistan gave a remarkable judgement of declaring the 3rd November 2007 as unconstitutional,illegal and extra judicial.

The 14 member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Ahmed Chaudhary who was restored by the government on 16 March 2009 after immense pressure from a long march by lawyers,civil society and politicians on Friday also rejected the unconstitutional amendments made by former dictator Musharraf during the time of emergency (between 3rd November 2007 and 15 December 2007).

SC sent the cases of those judges who violated the judgement of 7 member bench which declared 3rd November 2007 actions as unconstitutional and ordered the judiciary not to take oath under the PCO of dictator to Supreme judicial council.

Also the Supreme Court declared:

1) The sacking of judges by Musharraf on 3rd November as unconstitutional.

2) The removal of judges appointed during the PCO period and the Dogar period.

3) The tenure of Abdul Hameed Dogar (The PCO CJ appointed by Musharraf) as unconstitutional.

4) The increase in number of  SC judges to 29 through finance bill by current parliament as unconstitutional.

5) The Islamabad High Court as unconstitutional and now after this decision all the judges of  Islamabad HC are dismissed from their service.

6) The Ordinances issued by the dictator are referred to the parliament for review.

 

However in the decision SC did not change the status of :

1) The presidential oath taken by Dogar from Zardari.

2) The financial and administrative decisions taken by Dogar.

3) The cases related to day to day personal issues settled by the courts during that time.

One thing which didn’t go in favor of the government apart from the removal of jiala judges is the change in status of NRO which was approved by  the Dogar court is now a thing to be decided means people including or specially Zardari are now not indemnified from the cases of corruption.

The court has indeed played their part expected from them (people also expect more good news from them) and now the ball is in the court of the national parliament to show what they are capable of doing.

March for Justice and Freedom

The nation has been fighting for more than a year for the noble cause of restoration of judiciary, for the cause of justice and rule of law.

The movement which started with a ‘NO’ to the dictator by the honorable CJ of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhary has now seems to be in the crucial stages and I also hope that it’s in the final stages to the path of success.

Though the nation was fighting for the cause, giving lives and facing the brutality of government institutions some of our ‘leaders’ were busy in making deals outside the country, making decisions regarding the future of our country, taking dictations from imperialist powers on how to run the country and who should run the affairs of the state.

The movement would have achieved its goal immediately after the 18 Feb elections but it didn’t because the lust of power and greed of our elected representatives who on the foreign dictation are delaying the issue, it seems they don’t care what the people of Pakistan want, what is the need of time for the nation, where we have to take our future as a nation, what are our national objectives, how to safeguard the national integrity and honor, how to improve the lives of our people, how to get rid of the dictatorship and above all how to give confidence to the nation by respecting there mandate to restore the independent judiciary of 2nd November 2007 BUT they are busy in getting assurances from the Americans for the protection of their status as ‘rulers of Pakistan’(or in-fact loyal servants of the USA).

When ever there is a chance of restoration of judiciary we see Americans arriving in Islamabad to meet our so called democratic leadership and then we see hypocritical statements by Mr. Zardari

such as:”We want to change the system it’s not just about the restoration of few judges” or ”Murree declaration was just a political statement “…

Now he has said,”We are ready to face the lawyers’ movement”.

The reason why our American ‘masters’ don’t want their slaves to have an independent judiciary is that they  want to protect their best asset in the country (the dictator who served them more than he served his nation) and cannot afford to lose him before 2008 presidential elections in USA because if CJP Iftikhar gets restored then it means a farewell to Musharraf and his anti-Pakistan policies and it will be serious set back for the Republican party in the elections who are banking on Musharraf to give them a breakthrough in our mountains and so they again will be able to use the same old fake war against terrorism in their elections.

Americans are very clever they always have a backup plan and that plan is now evident in the shape of PPP lead by Zardari and well assisted by people like Rehman Malik,Hussain Haqqani and the same old Mehmood Ali Durrani (former Pakistani ambassador and currently working as national security advisor to the PM) under the influence of NRO and under the umbrella of Dogar Lead judiciary .

Now we have to be really alert in this situation we not only have to protect our judiciary but also to safeguard our freedom, we have to cry out loud that we reject any foreign interference in our national affairs, we don’t accept any involvement of USA in our judicial issue, we are a nuclear power and a free country we know how to take it on the path of success.

I appeal to the whole nation to think as sincere Pakistanis and join the long from Multan to Islamabad for the cause of Justice and Freedom.

LONG LIVE PAKISTAN!

GO MUSHARRAF GO!

 

Those who violated Supreme Court Order of 3rd November will be punished–>Constitutional and Genuine CJP Iftikhar Chaudhary

Faisalabad: Constitutional and genuine Chief Justice of Pakistan has said that those who violated the 3rd November 2007 SC order will be punished.

While addressing the lawyers convention in Faisalabad CJP Iftikhar said its time for lawyers,civil society, political workers and the whole nation to decide which type of judiciary they want whether independent pre-3rd November or post-3rd November(unconstitutional and PCO whcih surrendered infront of the dictator) judiciary.

He said the demand for the restoration of the judiciary is in accordance with the SC decision of 3rd November 2007 and that the decisions in the future(in the related cases) will be taken in accordance with the 3rd November of SC decision which rejected the dictator’s PCO.

The convention was also addressed by President of SCBA Aitzaz Ahsan,Hamid Khan,Ali Ahmed Kurd,Munir A Malik,Mehmood ul Hassan and others who demanded the restoration of judiciary, condemned the minus one forumula,Zardari’s approach towards the issue and re-uttered their conviction with the movement and the call for 10 June long march.

The final countdown—>Legal Eye by Babar Sattar on Emergency mailing list

The final countdown
Legal eye
 
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Babar Sattar
 
The writer is a lawyer based in Islamabad. He is a Rhodes scholar and has an LL.M from Harvard Law School
 
Asif Zardari asserts that judges cannot be restored through an executive order for (a) the Dogar Court can stay such order thus creating a constitutional
crisis and (b) removing the midnight appointees of General Musharraf through an executive order would be wrong, just like removing the constitutional judges
was wrong, and that two wrongs don’t make a right. The arguments don’t really wash. It has been asserted in this space before that if a stay order issued
by the existing court is a real deterrent, then this entire debate is redundant. For the Dogar Court has already validated all the Nov 3 actions of the
general, including that of dismissing judges. Second, the rationale for restoring the Nov 2 judges is that the tenure of constitutionally appointed judges
is protected and they can only be removed pursuant to Article 209 proceedings, on the advice of the Supreme Judicial Council.
 
The deposed judges have been unlawfully restrained from performing duty as the mandatory removal process was not followed in ousting them. Thus they are
still judges and can be allowed to resume duty with an executive order acknowledging the same. The Article 209 protection doesn’t apply to the general’s
post-Nov 3 appointees, because they are not constitutionally appointed judges. The PPP, under the leadership of Mr Zardari, has refused to abide by this
majority opinion of the legal fraternity. Is it a coincident that the PPP has chosen to follow a minority and largely discredited legal opinion on the
proper mode of restoring judges pandered by the likes of Sharifuddin Pirzada and Hafiz Pirzada who are responsible in large part for our convoluted constitutional
jurisprudence? According to this opinion the general’s unconstitutional actions cannot be undone without a constitutional amendment or else we will set
a legal precedent that will have horrendous consequences for the nation.
 
What consequences are we talking about? If Hafiz Pirzada’s advice is adhered to, the precedent we are setting is that any unlawful changes made to the
constitution by a dictator by use of force will automatically attract the protection of the constitution, and can only be undone by meeting the high threshold
set to amend the constitution. The idea that if judges are restored through an executive order, the executive will in future be able to do all sorts of
crazy things through executive orders is simply preposterous. The executive order will simply be reiterating the twin constitutional principles that that
under no circumstance can (i) the constitution be amended without a two-thirds parliamentary majority required by Article 239 of the constitution, and
(ii) constitutionally-appointed judges be removed without following the process mandated by Article 209.
 
It is hard to believe that despite being counseled by Fakharudin G Ebrahim, Aitzaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani and the legal opinion of sixteen judges including
almost all former chief justices, the PPP is still genuinely confused about the legal issues underlying this debate. Why then is this popular national
party jeopardizing its mandate by flip-flopping on the judges’ issue? A few explanations come to mind.
 
First, the negotiations between General Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto came to fruition in Dubai in the backdrop where the general was feeling the heat due
to the lawyers’ movement and wanted some respite. It is possible that some explicit promises with regard to the PPP supporting the general against Chief
Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary were made part of this deal. As this deal was brokered by the general’s western allies and supported by the UAE rulers — and
Mr Zardari duly credited the US for getting the general to shun his uniform on BB’s insistence — PPP’s current leadership might be convinced that reneging
on a promise made to the US and PPP’s other foreign sponsors will carry more political cost than backtracking on a popular domestic issue and breaking
a promise made to the people of Pakistan.
 
Second, there is a structural change underway in the composition of the establishment at the moment. Traditionally, the judiciary as an institution was
part of the establishment, and the PML-N and its successor political forces comprised the establishment’s B-team. And the PPP might have a point when it
complains that the judiciary has in the past applied the constitution more enthusiastically when the outcome favoured the PML-N as opposed to the PPP.
After March 9, 2007, however, the judiciary reluctantly decided to confront the egregiousness of the establishment and their divorce was finalized on Nov
3, 2007. Simultaneously, having learnt lessons from its time in exile and from suffering persecution at the hands of the Musharraf regime since Oct 12,
1999, the PML-N has also emerged as an anti-establishment party for the first time since its inception.
 
These two happenings have created a vacuum that the establishment wishes to fill by (i) resurrecting a court (that includes its post-Nov 3 midnight appointees)
committed to the status-quo, and (ii) co-opting a ‘reconciliation-seeking’ PPP that can function as the political ally of the establishment and will be
allowed to rule in return within the four corners of policy areas delegated to political governments during democratic times. This is certainly not another
grand conspiracy theory. We can replace the word ‘establishment’ with the term ‘status-quo forces’. The point being made is that the polity is undergoing
a structural transformation and the traditional actors that functioned as agents of status quo have opted to become forces of change.
 
Consequently it is extremely tempting for the PPP — which has ruled for a maximum of five years over the last three decades despite being the largest
political party of the country — to fill the pro-status quo slots that have opened up due to the coup of the judiciary and the PML-N, in return for being
treated as the favoured political entity by the establishment and overtly supported by the Dogar Court. The fact that the current PPP leadership is dominated
by individuals who have no popular roots in the masses and don’t seem beholden to Bhuttoism or the ideology of ‘roti, kapra aur makan’ — which by definition
is pro-people and anti-establishment — exacerbates the danger of the PPP chewing on this bate. Would it not be a grave tragedy if the predominant lessons
that the PPP has learnt in its 40-year existence turns out to be that (i) the desires of the US administration must trump wishes of Pakistani people when
the two are in conflict, and (ii) not getting on the wrong side of the establishment even at the cost of compromising principles makes for better politics?
 
The judges’ issue is one that has stirred the collective conscience of our nation like none other in recent history. What is at stake foremost is whether
we as a nation will side with rule of law or politics of expediency. The return of judges will not function as elixir for all the maladies afflicting Pakistan.
But if we squander this opportunity it will take at least a decade to raise another breed of judges who might muster the courage to stand and fight to
liberate the judiciary from the crutches of the establishment.
 
Second, many of Pakistan’s problems spring from the imbalance in the distribution of state authority between civil and military institutions. This is a
time in our history when the military needs to demonstrate its neutrality toward politics due to political compulsions and to protect its own institutional
interests. If our political elites fail to regain some of the lost ground in these circumstances, we might have to suffer another reckless dictator to
create overwhelming public support for such change.
 
And third, the restoration of judges brought about by dint of a freedom movement supported by the nation will be tremendously emancipating psychologically.
For too long have we given too much credit (or discredit) to the ‘forces that be’ for controlling our fate. But returning our judges against the wishes
of the establishment and its foreign patrons, we could prove to ourselves that we are not puppets but a sovereign people who have control over our present
and our future.
 
The issue of restoration isn’t merely a political dispute but one of individual and collective choices that is defining the personal identity and moral
standing of the actors involved. The lawyers’ movement has been advocating that the promise and practice of law must be brought into closer alignment and
this modest goal resonates will many around the country. The judges should be restored and can be restored but not without a forceful street movement that
forces our ruling political elite to acknowledge that people are not willing to allow the country to recede into another round of musical chairs between
conviction-less politicians and generals.
 
And to achieve that the lawyers must boycott all courts – not just higher courts — for at least a few weeks to bring the judicial system to a grinding
halt. It is time to move from the go-slow phase to the pens-down phase at this decisive stage of this historic movement. Without this and a forceful street
movement the deposed judges might be history.
 

Aitzaz rejects the idea of two supreme courts.

Supreme Court Bar Association President Aitzaz Ahsan has categorically rejected the idea of two Supreme Courts when asked the the opinion on the issue by Talat Hussain of AAj TV in the programme Live with Talat.

He said the suggestion refers to an arrangement which is Dogar and Iftikhar Chaudhary specific and he said it will be like spliting the court in two parts.

In his interview he also said that he tried his best to convince his party leadership and accepted that his opinion is considered as and opposing one in the party circles and he blamed the leagal advisors of the party for this.

Aitzaz Ahsan who is also a member of central executive committee of PPP said he and Justice(R) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim sent their arguements in writing to the committee for the restoration of judiciary in which they gave a solution for the PCO judges adjustment as appointments on ad-hoc bases which will not only keep the PCO judges in the court but also will not disturb the seniority of the genuine judges.

He also again rejected the minus one formula and revealed that he was given this proposal by a very trusted advisor of Musharraf when he was in Adiala jail during emergency(Martial Law).

Below is the News Report on the issue.

Two Supreme Courts being considered to resolve judges issue

By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: Two parallel Supreme Courts are being quietly discussed in Pakistan as part of a draft constitutional package to resolve the complex issue of the deposed judges’ restoration.

The proposal envisages one Supreme Court to be headed by the deposed chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry dealing only with criminal and civil cases and the other by the incumbent Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, which would be looking after the constitutional matters. It will also have all the suo motu powers.

Highly-placed sources close to the presidential camp revealed that the new constitutional court to be headed by Justice Dogar, whom Musharraf and Asif Zardari do not want to lose, would be named as the Federal Constitutional Court (FCC), which would be exclusively empowered to deal with all the constitutional issues, such as the interpretation of the Constitution, the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), constitutional controversies, the validity of President Musharraf and most importantly the suo motu actions.

Sources said the court, to be headed by Iftikhar Chaudhry, would be a sort of an appellate court on the high courts of the four provinces. But the court headed by Justice Dogar would handle the real issues that worry the presidency and the Zardari House.

Likewise, the new constitutional package also envisages the formation of a parliamentary committee to scrutinise the judges as it was envisaged in the Charter of Democracy.

This correspondent made several calls to Law Minister Farooq H Naek to get his point of view but he did not pick up his mobile phone. He did not even answer an SMS sent to him. Several calls were also made to a member of the constitutional committee Raza Rabbani and Aitzaz Ahsan but they too could not be reached.

The new proposal contemplates the creation of a Federal Constitution Court, to be headed by Justice Dogar with seven judges on the bench. A separate Supreme Court of Pakistan to deal with civil and criminal appeals would be headed by Iftikhar Chaudhry.

This court will consist of the deposed colleagues along with some of the PCO judges. Sources claimed that if approved and enacted by parliament, the existing structure of the superior judiciary would be altogether changed into two distinct entities.

An important impact of this proposed amendment over the life of common citizen would be withering away of the writ jurisdiction, as provided under Article 199 of the Constitution, and all five writs shall be exclusively entertainable by the federal Constitution alone.

The status of both the courts with perks and privilege of the judges shall be at par and judges from one court to another court shall be transferable through exercise of executive authority. The proposed arrangements being discussed further envisages that the Federal Constitutional Court would be the only competent forum to issue writ of the nature of mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, declaration and injunctions and shall be competent to adjudicate upon disputes arising between the Federation and the federating units and shall be vested with the jurisdiction to interpret ambiguities in constitutional provisions and shall be competent to issue injunctions, both interim and perpetual and could validate or declare as null and void a constitutional provision or a subordinate law.

One expert said the proposed draft, if examined on the touchstone of the jurisdictional and judicial powers of the present day Supreme Court enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan, shall be tantamount to divide the powers of the apex court into two entities.

The Supreme Court, headed by Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, shall be reduced to the level of a civil court of civil and criminal appeals whereas all matters of public and the national importance, including those warranting interpretation of status, laws and constitutional provisions shall be vested in the Federal Constitutional Court and by such way, any disputes relating to the legitimacy of an incumbent of a government office like president, governor, etc, shall be exclusively litigated before the Federal Constitutional Court.

The expert said the move appears to placate the apprehensions of the establishment and the presidency on the one hand and endeavour to appease the civil society, media and the lawyers on the other.

Not only that the question of validity of President Musharraf shall remain buried, but also to pre-empt the ambitious pursuit of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry of frequent exercise of powers of the judicial review, a need for creation of a Federal Constitutional Court was felt and a resolution likely to be tabled next week in parliament shall be qualified with the passage of the constitutional package.

The expert said if this draft law was enacted, the institution of the judiciary would be belittled with its powers divided and jurisdiction curtailed. The immediate and most lethal impact of the constitutional package would be ordinary litigants and general citizens of the society with the withering away of the writ jurisdiction of the high court and in the absence of the alternate remedy at provincial capitals and where the high court benches are functioning. A great deal of inconvenience would be involved to present petitions to the Federal Constitutional Court at Islamabad.

The expert claimed that even the deposed judges would prefer to stay away from the chambers of the newly-styled Supreme Court and the lawyers community was expected to put an en bloc opposition to the move.

The expert feared as the package was likely to affect the life of an ordinary citizen, the response from the public may aggravate the situation and if the move failed on the floor of the house, either for dissent by the PML-N or for any other reason, the fate of the coalition government in Islamabad would also be decided there and then.