by Babar Sattar
The writer is a lawyer based in Islamabad.
The chief justice did the courageous thing by taking suo motu notice of the clandestine affair between Malik Riaz and his son Arsalan Iftikhar that had spread like wildfire through a crafty whispering campaign. And after putting the judicial wheels in motion to hold to account his son and Malik Riaz, and throwing his weight behind affixing the liability of the two in a transparent and impartial manner in an open court, he did the right thing by recusing himself from the case. Those who argue that the accusations rooted in gossip should have been shrugged off are wrong. The conduct in question might be that between two private individuals, but one of them being the CJ’s son, the insinuation was that illegal gratification was offered and accepted to influence the outcome of court cases pending before the Supreme Court.
From the disclosures made by journalists so far it is obvious that documents and accounts (and probably even videos?) were meticulously kept to drag the name of the CJ through dirt and consequently bring into disrepute the integrity and credibility of the apex court. The matter therefore didn’t relate to the CJ alone, but would bring under cloud the competence of the highest court of the land to dispense justice not adulterated by considerations of favour. And this in turn would bring into question the very notion of the existence and utility of rule of law in Pakistan by lending credence to the view that (i) law is not a shield for the weak but a weapon in the hands of the powerful to keep in subjugation the lesser mortals in society, and (ii) unimpeachable integrity is a defunct concept as every mortal is up for sale at the right price.
Such jaundiced view of the state and society is not a figment of cynical imagination but is rooted in the reality that the ordinary Joe is confronted with on an everyday basis. By all rational accounts we are living in a kleptocracy: a government of the extortionist, by the extortionist, for the extortionist. The state is in default of its contract with the citizen. You no longer have an entitlement to your rights even if you do your duty as a citizen. And consequently you have to pay for everything, even to protect your most basic rights to life, liberty and dignity. And if you are ready, willing and able to pay, it doesn’t matter if what you seek is right or wrong. State largesse flows through channels of personal patronage. Personal loyalty trumps merit. There is no distinction between honest and dirty money. And there are no principles remaining, only interests.
And consequently instinct demands that one accumulate as much wealth and influence as possible and use it to build social networks of protection to replace the role of the state. And it is people like Malik Riaz, who have mastered the ways of this ‘brave new world’ where money buys influence, influence yields more money, and with the use of money and influence to cajole the powerful and coerce the weak there are no limits to what you can accomplish. But not everyone in this state and society is comfortable with the rules of our evolving kleptocracy. And when someone who has reached the highest echelons of power within the state, like the CJ, refuses to be bought or otherwise inducted within the kleptocracy, the stakes go through the roof.
Within the kleptocracy that we are referring to, the kith and kin of the powerful do exceedingly well. Why should it be surprising that the mediocre son of our CJ grew a sense of entitlement to receive preferential treatment and climb the ropes without paying his dues? Does such lack of discretion and propriety reflect poorly on Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the father? It probably does. But does it undermine his integrity or credibility as a judge and a public-office holder? Absolutely not. In exposing the dealings between himself and Arsalan Iftikhar, Malik Riaz has used the nuclear option. Why would anyone need to employ means of last resort in the event that quiet persuasion is working? According to media accounts, Malik Riaz leaked details of sponsoring the merry-making of Arsalan Iftikhar because his investment wasn’t paying off.
So what we have so far is this. By his own account, Malik Riaz paid Arsalan Iftikhar to influence the outcome of judicial proceedings pending before the Supreme Court. Was he forced to do so because the wily Arsalan was blackmailing poor Mr Malik? Improbable, and Mailk Riaz would need to adduce evidence to establish that he was at the receiving end of this clandestine relationship with the imprudent 34-year-old. As Arsalan Iftikhar was not holding court and adjudicating cases implicating Malik Riaz, he would in fact need to establish that the CJ was in fact blackmailing him while using his son as an agent. Without this, and in view of information disclosed by Malik Riaz himself, he could be charged for offering illegal gratification to influence a public servant.
This could make him liable under Section 165-A read with Sections 162 and 163 of the Pakistan Penal Code as well as Section 9 of the NAB Ordinance. If it were established that Arsalan Iftikhar accepted the gratification with a view to influence the discharge of functions by the office of the CJ or other public servants due to the exercise of his personal influence, he could also be liable under Sections 162 and 163 of the PPC. Now that details of this scandal are out in the open, it is essential for the apex court not to take a narrow view of this affair in the event that Malik Riaz backs off and doesn’t adduce any evidence before the court, but instead exercise its inquisitorial powers to collect and decipher facts to ensure that both Malik Riaz and Arsalan Iftikhar are held to account for their actions in accordance with the law.
In this debate, Malik Riaz must not be seen as a solitary individual. He might be a good friend, a loving father and a rich man who believes in charity. But he is also a phenomenon that highlights the growing predatory instincts of our society. This phenomenon has cultivated the myth of infallibility and immortality of the powerful within the society. It has defeated the conventional wisdom that if you are caught with hands in the cookie jar society holds you to account and respectable folk refuse to associate with such delinquents. It has established that irrespective of personal repute, money can buy the best professional assistance. It has proven that if cut a piece of the pie everyone is willing to play ball. This phenomenon has established an ethic of success that labels right and wrong as irrelevant for those who aim for upward professional and social mobility.
The CJ’s commendable action of dragging his son before an open court and laying his ethical failings in plain public view is a defining moment in the fight between continuity of the depraved status quo and the desire for change. As nothing succeeds like success, the strength of the entrenched kleptocracy is rooted not in its popularity but in its efficacy. Our ruling elites – across the political class, the khakis, the bureaucracy, the media and the lawyer fraternity etc – are mostly its beneficiaries.
The few who still have qualms about meddling in grime have turned apathetic having made their peace with the ‘ground reality’ they cannot change. In this environment, the action of the CJ to stand by law and principle, even as he subjects himself and his family to public scrutiny and possible embarrassment, has provided a unique opportunity to stand up and fight the kleptocracy. We must not fitter this opportunity away.
Good program and a bold discussion on Army operations, Balochistan, Liyari,Peers and Makhdooms in British Raj, and other topics by Javed Hashmi and Nadeem Malik. JH has shown that he can think above himself.
مخدوم کا خطاب انگریزوں نے بنایا اور اس کے ساتھ زمینیں دیں۔ انگریزوں نے مسجد شہید گنج کی شہادت کے خلاف فتوی دینے پر پیروں کو زمینیں دیں۔ہمارے ملک میں بہت کم سیاستدان ہیں جن کی معیشت پچھلے پچیس سال میں بہت مستحکم نہیں ہوئی۔ قوم بھوکوں مر رہی ہے اور سیاستدانوں کی دولت اور گاڑیاں بڑھ رہی ہیں۔ یوسف رضا گیلانی کو اپنے والد سے ملنے والی جائیداد مجھ سے کم تھی۔ میں یوسف رضا گیلانی کے گھر افسوس کے لئیے گیا ان کے گھر میں اے سی تک نہیں تھا۔ مخدوم اپنے مرید سے پیسے مانگ کر کھاتا ہے وہ کیسے بادشاہ ہو سکتا ہے۔ یوسف رضا گیلانی کو سزا ہوئی ہے اسے اخلاقی طور پر استعفی دینا چاہئیے۔ عوام اٹھ گئے تو پھر کسی کی پرواہ نہیں کریں گے کہیں گے کہ سب سے جان چھڑاؤ۔ مسلم لیگ ن کی طرف سے سپریم کورٹ پر حملے کے فیصلہ میں زمہ دار لوگ بھی شامل تھے۔ زرداری نے نواز شریف سے ملاقات میں کہا کہ اس کا بس چلے تو تما ججوں کو ٹانگ دے۔ جماعت اسلامی،عمران خان اور اچکزئی نے نوازشریف کے کہنے پر الیکشن کا بائیکاٹ کیا تھا۔ نواز شریف نے بعد میں خود الیکشن لڑنے کا فیصلہ کر لیا۔ عمران خان اسی نوازشریف کی وعدہ خلافی کی وجہ سے اس پر اعتبار نہیں کرتا۔ ملتان میں مسلم لیگ ن کی سیٹ پر پیپلز پارٹی کے امیدوار کا جیتنا لوگوں کا ن لیگ کے خلاف نفرت کا اظہار ہے۔ پیپلز پارٹی کے لئیے پنجاب اور خیبر پختونخواہ میں الیکشن کے لئیے امیدوار ڈھونڈھنا مشکل ہو گا۔ مسلم لیگ ن کی سیاست نے پیپلز پارٹی تقویت دی ہے۔ میں بھٹو بینظیر کی سیاست تو سمجھ سکتا ہوں لیکن زرداری کی سیاست سمجھنے کے لئیے پی ایچ ڈی کی ضرورت ہے۔ مسلم لیگ ن قومی اور صوبائی اسمبلیوں سے استعفے دے تو ایک طوفان اٹھ کھڑا ہو گا۔ میں نے کہا تھا کہ میں زرداری کے مقابلے میں صدر کا الیکشن لڑتا ہوں۔ میں نے نواز شریف کو کہہ دیا تھا کہ تاریخ آپ کو کبھی معاف نیں کرے گی جس طرح آپ زردری کو بالواسطہ صدر منتخب کروا رہے ہیں۔ آج بھی مسلم لیگ ن اپنی سیاست سے پیپلز پارٹی کی مدد کر رہی ہے۔ ہم عدلیہ سے یکجہتی کا اظہار کریں گے کہ قوم آپ کے ساتھ کھڑی ہے۔ عدالت کا فیصلہ آنے کے بعد حکومت نے نہ مانا تو پھر پارے پاکستان کو پیرالائز کر دیں گے۔ ہم کوئٹہ گئے لوگوں نے ہمارا بہت محبت کے ساتھ استقبال کیا۔ ہم بلوچستان جاتے ہی نہیں ہیں کہ وہاں کسی کی بات سنیں۔ مسلم لیگ ن استعفے دے کر اسمبلیوں سے باہر آئے تو پھر ہم ان کو ساتھ لے کر چلیں گے۔جاوید ہاشمی
First that feudal bitch insulted the APO and now she has forced her to defend her. We need the toppling of this feudal/military/corporatist hold on our country to move ahead with prosperity and dignity.
We need to get rid of these feudal scum bags and their strangle hold on our country. These feudals along with military junta have damaged our country and they are holding our freedom as their captive. We need to take all back from them and kick them out of the corridors of powers. If we don’t do it then our future generations will be right to curse us for our lack of interest in defending our future.
Also I would like to ask those so called liberal NGOs who advocate women rights only when it suits their agenda to come forward and take the lead on the issue.
I would also like to appeal Election Commission of Pakistan and Supreme Court of Pakistan to cancel the registration of Waheeda Shah.
Slapped APO defends Waheeda Shah at press conference
TANDO MUHAMMAD KHAN: Waheeda Shah, the Pakistan People’s Party’s candidate who slapped an Assistant Presiding Officer (APO) in a polling station Saturday, held a press conference and got the humiliated officer to speak in her favor, Geo News reported.
Waheeda Shah had the APO accompany her to the press conference held today and got the latter to give a statement in the former’s support.
However, the people from Waheeda Shah’s own constituency said the woman in Burqa was not the one who was slapped and humiliated yesterday.
Nothing could be said with certainty whether the woman at press conference was the same woman who was subjected to the ill treatment on Saturday. Even if it is believed the woman was the same, her defending the wrongdoer may lay bare the helplessness of the officer but it cannot give Waheeda Shah a clean chit.
It clearly appears to be a case of the powerful Waheeda Shah, a big landlord of the area, getting the poor teacher named Shagufta to give a statement against the herself (Shagufta) and in the former’s defence.
Perhaps Shagufta would have thought that if Waheeda Shah could beat her in front of cameras what worse she must be capable of doing in their absence.
ISLAMABAD: A five member bench of the Supreme Court has decided to refer the six options relating to the NRO implementation case to the Chief Justice for constitution of a larger bench for hearing of these options.
Announcing the verdict on NRO implementation case‚ the bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said the six options are being handed over to the Attorney General.
01: To initiate the contempt of court proceedings against the Chief Executive and the Secretary Law for not implementing the NRO verdict.
02: To declare the chief executive ineligible from the membership of the Parliament.
03: The court may form a commission to get the verdict implemented.
04: The people themselves decide on the issue and the court exhibit patience.
05: Contempt proceedings against Chairman Nab may be initiated.
06: The action may be taken against President for violating the Constitution.
The Supreme Court said in its order in NRO implementation case that the government has failed to implement the verdict.’The government is not taking interest to observe the order for the last two years. We knew that the actions we are about to take they may be unpleasant.’
‘The court has taken oath to defend the Constitution. The prime minister respected the party over the Constitution.’
‘The president in an interview to Geo News said his government would not implement one part of NRO verdict.’
As per Article 189 and 190 all institutions are bound to help the apex court, the order said.
‘Prima Facie the prime minister is not an honest man and violated his oath.’
The court recommended the case to the chief justice to form a larger bench to hear the case on January 16.
A Five-member bench of Supreme Court (SC) headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa resumed the hearing of the case pertaining to the implementation of National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) verdict today.
We, the civil society of Pakistan, demand Election Commission and Supreme Court to make sure that every Pakistani who wants to exercise his/her democratic right to vote should be facilitated.
Therefore, we demand that new elections should be based on NADRA IDENTITY CARDS and PAKISTAN ORIGIN CARD.
If democracy is the name of giving people the right to choose then there should be minimum hurdles in expressing the choice.
Current registrations with Election Commission of Pakistan will not guarantee the registration of every eligible voter.
NADRA’s machine readable cards will also help in ensuring transparency.
We also demand Election Commission and Supreme Court to facilitate Overseas Pakistanis especially students by allowing them to cast their votes either in embassy or online.
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By Sohail Khan – The News
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday directed the government to submit a reply to the report of the Judicial Commission on missing persons.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Javed Iqbal, resumed hearing into the case of missing persons, allegedly taken for interrogation by the intelligence agencies on their alleged links with militant groups. Their relatives claimed that they were picked up by intelligence agencies but were never brought before the court.
During the course of hearing, Justice Javed Iqbal observed that 2011 would be the year of missing persons’ recovery. Additional Attorney General K K Agha submitted before the court that the judicial commission had recovered 134 missing people so far, adding that the contents of the report were classified; therefore, it should not be made public.
K K Agha further said that as instructions were being taken from the government on the report of the commission, therefore, it should not be made public. Hashmat Habib, the counsel for one of the petitioners, submitted that there were missing persons whose heirs were not coming to the forefront. At this, Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed observed that these people were reluctant due to the fear factor.
Justice Javed Iqbal observed that as the apex court had traced the missing prisoners of Adiala Jail, it would also trace out the missing persons in the case as well. He observed that there should be a tribunal for the hearing of missing persons’ cases as recommended by the commission.
Amina Masood Janjua, the spouse of missing Masood Janjua, while appearing before the court, submitted that since April 2010, 100 more people had gone missing. She further said that relatives of the missing persons had been subjected to mental torture as they had not yet been informed about the whereabouts of their near and dear ones. Meanwhile, the court, after seeking a reply from the government on the report of the commission, adjourned the hearing till next Monday.
Supreme Court is proving again and again that at least there is one institution in the country on which we can trust.
RPPs return Rs 2b on SC orders
ISLAMABAD – The counsels for Guddu and Naudero projects assured the Supreme Court on Wednesday that Rs 2 billion taken in advance would be returned with the mark-up.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry heading a three-member bench comprising Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday said, “Everybody should follow suit on matters of the national exchequer.”
Justice Ramday remarked that many problems of the society could be solved with the cooperation of bar and bench.
Dr Pervez Hassan, counsel for Pakistan Power Resources (PPR), and Shahid Hamid representing Walter Power International (WPI) informed the court that money had been arranged and would be returned to Central Power General Company Ltd (CPGCL) during the course of the day, which, according to the media reports, was paid by Wednesday evening.
The court directed Abdul Malik Memon, CEO GENCO, to conduct an inquiry into the case and submit a report, fixing responsibility upon the officers or the persons on whose instructions GENCO agreed to make the payment to both the companies without keeping facts and circumstances of the case in front of them, in the next date of hearing, and adjourned the case till December 14, 2010.
The bench heard fraud in payment of Rental Power Projects detected by NEPRA (Human Rights Case No.56712 of 2010) and alleged corruption in Rental Power Projects (Human Rights Case Nos. 7734-G/2009 & 1003-G/2010). Syed Najamul Hassan Kazmi appeared on behalf of NEPRA.
According to the statements, PPR and Walters Power International had paid Rs 405.9 million (Rs 405,992,246) earlier and the balance amount of Rs 301 million (Rs 301,058,766) today (Wednesday).
Further RPP is paying Rs 120 million (Rs 120,000,000) on account of interest/mark-up on advance payment, while WPI submitted that an advance payment of US $10.1 million (US $11,036,666) and interest amount of US$ 0.18 million (US$ 180,753) are being paid.
NEPRA has declined to approve a fresh tariff for Naudero-II after discovering that the project’s equipment belonged to Guddu rental power project, which had been dismantled illegally.
The Government paid 14 per cent advance of US $11.28 million to Pakistan Power Resources (PPR) in April 2010 for Naudero-II, while the same company was paid 14 per cent advance payment of $10.15 million for the same machines for Guddu rental power plant having a capacity of 110 MW.
Intelligence agencies confirm custody of 11 missing prisoners – The Nation
Pakistan intelligence agencies have confirmed before a bench of the Supreme Court that eleven missing prisoners of Adiala Jail have been in their custody. Raja Irshad, the counsel of the agencies, during hearing of the missing persons case confirmed before a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry that the missing prisoners are alive and have been in custody of the Military Intelligence (MI) and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). The counsel further said that these persons were arrested under military act during various operations and more people are being arrested. He further said that the military, ISI and MI are subordinate to the judiciary under the constitution and law.