By Khalid Aziz
ISLAMABAD – Chairman Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf Imran Khan Saturday warned of countrywide protest against the prospective conviction of Dr Aafia Siddiqui in USA.
Khan while addressing a students’ seminar said that the US court was going to deliver an ex-party sentence against Dr Afia who was not pleading her case for having no hope of justice from American courts. PTI’s Women Wing had organised the seminar at party’s central office.
He regretted that our own agencies handed over a daughter of nation to foreign powers for the sake of dollars, adding that rulers were keeping mum over her possible conviction. He, however, warned that PTI workers would come on streets in each and every corner of the country if Dr Aafia were convicted by US court.
Recalling his youth days before the students, PTI chief said by then Pakistan was a fast progressing country and the nation was proud and confident. Later, it became slave of foreign powers due to the misdeeds of its rulers. He said that rulers were worshipping the dollar, who, he said, had sold out the nation for minting dollars from USA.
He said that PPP should ask Zardari to explain from which source or business he earned the millions of dollars kept in foreign banks.
Khan also condemned military operations in FATA and other parts of the country and called for withdrawal from the foreign war. He said operations were not a solution to the problem but produced more militants and suicide bombers. Once again he offered mediation between the Taliban and government with guaranteed success provided Pakistan withdrew from the so-called war on terror.
He also denounced US drones’ attacks inside Pakistani territory, saying that 42 drone attacks carried out during the last year killed only eight terrorists and 708 innocent Pakistanis. PTI Chief said people were not paying taxes due to lack of trust in government, adding that rulers were spending taxpayers’ money on their lavish foreign trips having no benefit for the country. “Zardari is once again out on begging trip,” he said.
Responding to a question regarding government response to his earlier mediation offer, Khan said that rulers had not yet obtained NOC from USA. He asked why government was not establishing its writ in Karachi and why judicial inquiry of the May 12, 2007 carnage in Karachi was not being carried out.
Imran Khan also regretted that at times when rest of the world was asking US for withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan, Pakistan Foreign Minister was requesting them for staying in Afghanistan for at least five more years. He said government was shedding the blood of its own people for the sake of dollars.
By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: The monitoring mechanism reflected in the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment for the accountability courts is well within the parameters of judicial functions of the Supreme Court and a practice that is going on for years.
However, the judgment has been grossly misinterpreted by some to show that it amounts to interference in the functions of the executive branch.
Independent sources in the Law Ministry confided to The News that all the special courts, set up in the past or are functioning right now in Pakistan, have been and are being monitored and supervised by the apex court, which adopts such monitoring mechanism to ensure that cases pending before the courts concerned do not get delayed unnecessarily.
The sources believe that those feeling uneasy with the monitoring mechanism announced in the Dec 16 judgment for the accountability courts are deliberately creating confusion to prove this judgment as a move by judiciary to interfere in the executive functions.
These sources said such elements are said to be oblivious of the fact that a similar monitoring mechanism is working in the apex court for anti-terrorist courts.
Even for high courts and the subordinate judiciary, a comprehensive monitoring mechanism is presently in place as part of the national judicial policy to ensure quick disposal of cases and to clear the backlog.
Following the government’s complaint that the terrorism cases are not timely pursued and result in increase in terrorism, the present Supreme Court under Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had set up an effective monitoring system to keep a vigilant eye on the anti-terrorist courts so that no unnecessary delay could occur in such cases.
Under this monitoring scheme, Justice Javed Iqbal serves as a monitor for anti-terrorism courts of Sindh; Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday oversees the ATCs in Frontier; Justice Nasirul Mulk supervises the Balochistan ATCs; and Justice Sardar Raza Khan is monitoring the performance of the Punjab ATCs.
Neither anyone had objected to this monitoring mechanism for the ATCs nor was any objection raised for such overseeing strategies adopted in the past for the special courts during the last three decades. However, the sources said a vested interest group is deliberately trying to create confusion for the monitoring mechanism evolved for the accountability courts by the Supreme Court.
In its latest judgment, which has unnerved many powerful and mighty in the government, the Supreme Court clearly said this mechanism is evolved to “monitor the progress and the proceedings in (NAB) cases”.
Since the NRO beneficiaries and their sympathisers were generally complaining that the cases terminated under the condemned NRO remained undecided for over 10 years, this mechanism was evolved to address these complaints and ensure the NAB accused get quick justice.
The NAB has been condemned by the NRO beneficiaries while the Supreme Court also found its incumbent chairman, the prosecutor general and the deputy prosecutor general incompetent. Therefore, the apex court judgment directed the Bureau to transmit periodical reports of the actions taken by them with regard to NAB cases to the Monitoring Cell of the apex court set up following the same order.
Interestingly, similar directions were given to all the provincial governments under the national judicial policy to ensure that the challans in criminal cases, pending before the lower or superior judiciary, are submitted by prosecution within the stipulated time period to avoid unnecessary delays in dispensing justice.
In a remarkable judgment by 17 member bench headed by Iftikhar Chaudhary, Supreme Court of Pakistan has declared NRO as unconstitutional from the day of issuance.
As a result of this judgment all the cases closed by NRO are reinstated on the positions of 5th October, the day General (R) Musharraf issued the order of National Reconciliation Ordnance (NRO).
According to the judgment of SC 17 member bench the NRO is contrary to the equality of all citizens in front of the law guaranteed by the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan.
The historic judgment also says:
1) All the High Courts will make sure that cases reopened by this judgment get a fair trial, proper investigation and proper legal procedure.
2) Government is responsible to pursue the cases in Swiss court against Asif Ali Zardari and team.
3) NAB Chairman, Prosecutor General and Deputy Prosecutor General to be sacked and replaced by some other persons.
4) Government needs to take action against former Attorney General, Justice (R) Malik Qayum for writing unauthorized letter to Swiss court to withdraw cases against Asif Zardari.
During the proceedings Chief Justice also made clear that even parliament has no right to change the basic structure of the constitution.
The court has also shown displeasure on Acting Attorney General Shah Khawar and said he hide the truth.
The judgment is welcomed by a majority of legal community and civil society considering it another milestone towards to goal of real independent judiciary and rule of law.
This is really amazing no fair trial, no justice, baseless allegations on an innocent mother of 3 children two of which are still missing (if alive) and still they call their selves civilized fighting a so-called war against terror. The imperialists are real terrorists and hypocrites ruling the world with their power,brutal killings,economic exploitation and lies.
They Zionists/Neo-Cons don’t consider others as human beings , they are real fascists and modern face of Nazism.
Can Aafia get the share of civilization and system of justice she deserves? Is there any conscience left in our government which is busy in licking feet of their imperialist masters? Is there any Kerry-Lugar bill for Aafia? Is there any humanity left for an innocent lady who has suffered a lot for being a muslim women who loves her religion?
Dr Aafia to boycott trial
NEW YORK – While a defiant Aafia Siddiqui declared that she would boycott her trial in January, a federal judge Thursday rejected her lawyers’ plea that she could not be tried in the United States as they pointed out that the Pakistani neuroscientist’s alleged crime took place outside the country. Ms Siddiqui, who was brought to New York in August 2008 from Afghanistan where prosecutors say she allegedly fired at US interrogators. No American was hit but she was shot in the abdomen and was charged with attempted murder and assault.
In a pre-trial hearing on Thursday, her lawyers, led by Charles Swift, argued that Dr Siddiqui could only be tried on terrorism charges in the US, and not on murder charges. In this regard, he quoted various international regulations.
But US District Judge Richard Berman ruled out the motion, saying that the US courts have jurisdiction if American citizens were subjected to attacks abroad, citing some precedents.
But Ms Siddiqui, who is languishing in a maximum security jail, interrupted her lawyers in US District Court in Manhattan to announce that she did not plan to participate in her trial, scheduled for Jan 19.
“I am boycotting this trial,” she declared. “I am innocent of all the charges and I can prove it, but I will not do it in this court.”
Since the very beginning, Ms Siddiqui has said that she has no confidence in the American judicial system or the lawyers appointed for her by the court – even those retained by the government of Pakistan – and that she wants to make peace and knows how to do it.
She has vigorously protested against what she called humiliating strip searches before she is brought to the court.
Judge Berman said that her trial would proceed after her lawyers and prosecutors visit Afghanistan to interview eyewitnesses to finalise their case.
Lawyers for Ms Siddiqui tried to convince the court that she was mentally incompetent to stand trial, citing in part her refusal to cooperate with lawyers and the reports of a psychologist who said she suffers from delusional disorder and depression.
Judge Berman rejected that argument after prosecutors pointed to psychological reports that concluded she was faking mental illness.
Berman on Thursday rejected defence arguments aimed at tossing out charges against Ms Siddiqui that carry a potential minimum prison sentence of 30 years and a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Before he ruled on the request, Dr Siddiqui said visits by her lawyers were “torture for me” and it was a waste of money for lawyers to go to Afghanistan to interview witnesses because she was not participating in the trial.
“I’m not dealing with them anymore,” Dr Siddiqui said of her lawyers. “They’re just people coming to my door and talking, talking, talking.”
During a break, Dr Siddiqui was led out of the courtroom by US marshals when she would not stop talking loudly. “Take me out,” she said. “I’m not coming back.”
She was not present when the judge made his decision.
Finally the ever awaited list of National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) is out which has names of 8,041 beneficiaries out of which only 34 are politicians and rest are from bureaucracy , criminals, businessmen and other accused.
There is a huge demand from various corners of the society to take resignations voluntarily or in voluntarily from the people who benefited from this law and are still serving in the government.
The point of view of government as presented by federal minister for information and governor of Gilgit-Bultistan Qamar Zaman Kaira is that demanding resignations from NRO beneficiaries uncalled for. The reason he gives is one will have to differentiate between charges and crimes and that nothing has so far been proved against the NRO beneficiaries which on principle seems to be OK! But can the information minister inform us about the pending cases and trials of common people in courts who have to justify their innocence before law to get acquitted and if the NRO angels where innocent then why they took refuge in a dictator’s shelter of NRO.
The question here is of morality and social justice that why an elite group of people found it necessary to get a clearance certificate through a draconian law instead of facing the courts whereas a common man has to face years of trial to get justice.
Still no full list of beneficiaries and cases is provided to the people and media.
We also demand the list of people who got benefits from loan forgiveness or unfair settlements through corrupt political and banking practices.
By Zahid Gishkori
ISLAMABAD – List of beneficiaries of National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) released by Ministry of Law and Justice on Saturday took the top politicians of the state to task and perceived them as black sheep of the society.
Some 34 politicians have been ranked first in the list of some 8,041 persons in terms of money, murders, attempted murders, balwa, embezzlement, corruption, malpractice, terrorism, kidnappings and other crimes of heinous nature. Keeping in view their massive embezzlements, these politicians seem to be heavy burden on the country that is already facing a severe financial crunch.
The Law Ministry for the first time has brought the big fish to surface by releasing the list of country’s most corrupt people. “The notorious guns of malpractice of these black sheep which left the poor at the mercy of God had been used as common practice against the innocents since decades,” NRO list observed.
The top beneficiary of NRO is Altaf Hussain whose 72 cases including 31 murder cases were dismissed. President Asif Ali Zardari had seven cases against him, while the number of Dr Farooq Sattar’s cases was 13. Most politicians had one to two cases against them. Madam Nusrat Bhutto, the spouse of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, also heads over thousands in the notorious list.
The MQM headed over other political parties whose workers hit the iron when it was hot. However, the PML-Q workers kept them away from that shoddy practice.
Addressing a press conference, Minister of State for Law & Justice Mohammad Afzal Sindhu on Saturday released the much-awaited list of the beneficiaries of NRO. The total number of NRO beneficiaries is 8,041 and 34 top politicians, 248 bureaucrats and three ambassadors are included in it, he told.
“Corruption, embezzlement and criminal cases dumped under NRO will likely to be reopened, as the goose of the said ordinance will be cooked on November 28, 2009,” he said. Many stalwarts of the country’s political arena will fight legal battle in the courts as the top court of the country terms NRO null ab initio, he explained.
Sindhu also announced a few important names in the list, which include President Asif Ali Zardari, MQM Chief Altaf Hussain, Begam Nusrat Bhutto, Federal Ministers Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar, Rehman Malik, Dr. Farooq Sattar, and Babar Ghori, Governor Sindh Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan, Jahangir Badr, Anwar Saifullah, Yousaf Talpur, Ch. Shaukat Ali, Haji Nawaz Khokhar (late), Agha Siraj Ahmad Durrani, Mir Baz Kithran, Mushtaq Awan, Sulman Farooqi, Hussain Haqqani, Wajid Sham-ul-Hassan, A.R. Siddiqui, Saleem Shahzad, Aftab Ahmed Sherpao, Mian Mohammad Rasheed, Tariq Rasheed, Tariq Mahmood, Sardar Maqsood Leghari, Ghani-ur-Rehman, Javed Ahmed Qureshi, Brig. (Retd) Imtiaz, Brig. (Retd) Aslam Hayat, Safdar Barqi and Saeed Mehdi.
“Sindh is on the bottom line in the said list as some 7,793 people obtained relief under Article 2 of the NRO’s Review Board. The number of beneficiaries of the Review Board is 3,230,” he said.
He said that neither Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani nor his wife had taken benefit under the NRO. “Prime Minister Gilani had opted to face the courts in the cases filed against him and he has been cleared by the courts,” he argued.
The minister said that President Zardari had protection under the Article 248 of the Constitution and couldn’t be tried in any corruption or criminal case as far as he was the President of the state. “We will not protect anyone against the decision of the Supreme Court,” he maintained. The ruling PPP has taken decision that the judgement of superior judiciary would be accepted at all cost, he added.
Parrying a query when asked how much amount was involved in corruption cases abolished against beneficiaries of NRO, Sindhu said, “The demand was the list and it is produced before the media.”
Advocating NRO beneficiaries, he said most of the cases were political vendetta and had been lingering in the courts for 10 to 15 years. “PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif has himself admitted that Ehtesab Bureau of Saifur Rehman had initiated political cases against PPP leaders,” he added. The PPP would have to give credibility to the chief of a major political party, he remarked.
The notorious NRO granted amnesty to politicians, political workers and bureaucrats who were accused of corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, murders and terrorism from 1st January 1986 to October 12, 1999, he emphasised.
The State Minister for Law said the myriad corruption cases had been pending since decades, adding only one case was decided and after that three judges had to resign.
Answering a query, he said NRO was brought in the Parliament at the direction of the Supreme Court and the verdicts of the higher judiciary would be respected in future as well.
LAHORE – National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) is against the fundamental rights and letter and spirit of the constitution. The Supreme Court should start proceedings against the corrupt bureaucrats and politician who benefited from the ordinance.
Judiciary till now is partially independent but it is hoped that it will assert its authority without bowing before any pressure.
Justice (r) Wajihuddin Ahmed said this while addressing a news conference at Lahore Press Club on Saturday.
He said it was expected that the judiciary would start proceedings at the earliest against those who looted the national wealth and got a clean chit from a military dictator under the NRO.
He opined that Feb 2008 general elections were not fully representative as lawyers, civil society and a number of political parties had boycotted the process and the nation was now expecting midterm elections.
“It is the responsibility of the Supreme Court to take up the petitions against the NRO beneficiaries on its expiry after Nov 28 deadline,” Wajih remarked, adding that it would be really difficult for the courts to open all the cases in absence of any proper prosecuting agency.
He maintained that the time had come for the emergence of alternate political leadership at the national level from amongst the leaders of lawyers’ movement and civil society.
About the immunity enjoyed by President Asif Ali Zardari, he opined that the constitution was like living organism while Article 248 being a its cancer body which give undue protection to the president and the governors. He demanded the apex court to abolish Article 248 from the Constitution as it was against the all the principles of justice and basic human rights.
Claiming that the lawyers’ movement is still alive, he said its next target was to ensure rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution while helping the judiciary in playing its role for providing of justice to the masses. He hoped that an alternate leadership would come forward from amongst the lawyers to fill the gap of political leadership at national level.
“Corruption is prevalent in lower judiciary as known means of income do not make with their (judicial officials) standard of living,” he said, adding that salary packages at the lower level should be increased.
Wajih was of the view that because of absence of any check clerical staff of sessions and civil courts received bribes openly.
He demanded amending the judicial policy and asked the higher judiciary to keep an eye on the state of affairs at the lower level.
He also suggested making the budget of judiciary independent just like the army in view of sensitive nature of its work and claimed that it improve judges’ stature in the eyes of the public.
Punjab University will remain closed from Friday Nov 27 to Monday November 30, 2009 on account of Eid-ul-Azha.
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