Sunday, October 19, 2008

Judiciary in Pakistan - 12

More Dirt on the so-called Love Affair of Nawaz Sharif/Shahbaz Sharif - PML-N and Free Judiciary in Pakistan:

History sometimes is very ruthless.

Fascism on the march By Ardeshir Cowasjee

Week Ending : 13 December 1997 Issue : 03/50

THEORETICALLY, in a Westminster-style democracy that this country has tried to emulate, there are four pillars of state - the legislature, the executive, the judiciary, and the press. But our
country rests imbalanced on five. The fifth pillar, the most powerful, the richest, the most organized, is the army. Fortunately for us, it is now headed by a good commander.

Nawaz Sharif's `overwhelming' mandate, comprising less than ten per cent of the total population of the Republic, but sufficient for him and his `sovereigns of parliament' to do good by the 140 million should they so wish, did not satisfy him.

He first tackled the executive, emasculating the president, rushing through at midnight the 13th Amendment, suspending all rules of procedure, aided and abetted by a pliant assembly speaker and a pliant senate chairman (both front-runners in the present presidential race). To neutralize the legislature, he repeated the exercise with his 14th Amendment (passed without a single dissent) banning dissension or abstention in parliament. Never in the recorded history of any democracy have parliamentarians voluntarily given up their right to speak.

At the time when Farooq Leghari and his caretaker government were assuring Nawaz Sharif his second term, Abbaji was heard to declare, "leghari Sahib kay ehsan, mein, aur merey baitey, aur hamara khandan, kabhi nahin, bhoolengey." This was forgotten on February 3 when Nawaz Sharif was elected.

Nine months down the line, a weakened Leghari, given the choice between a threatened impeachment (which, because of the numbers game, may never have come off) or resignation, chose the latter. He should have called Nawaz Sharif's bluff, and, following the dictates of his conscience, gone on to sign or not sign whatever was presented to him. An independent judiciary would have intervened and passed appropriate orders against a mala fide and colorable impeachment.

Leghari having resigned, a new president now has to be elected. When my friend, Nawab Mohammad Akbar Shahbaz Khan, Tumandar Bugti, was asked whether he was an aspirant, he replied "No. I do not qualify. I have a spine." Amongst the pliable favorites are Wasim Sajjad, Sartaj Aziz, Ilahi Bakhsh Soomro, and, of all people, Ghous Ali Shah. Of this sorry lot, one is guilty of having lied under oath in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The fourth pillar of the state, the press, is no longer just the printed word. it is also the predominating electronic media. Nawaz Sharif and his men do not, or cannot, read, so, by and large, we remain relatively free. PTV, our prime ministers' personal television channel, remains abjectly controlled, so much so that it was prevented from broadcasting President Leghari's resignation speech to the nation. Shots were shown on foreign television channels, and the world informed that it was banned from the national channel. This reinforced international opinion as to Nawaz Sharif's authoritarian tendencies.

The army stands as one. Chief of Army Staff General Jehangir Karamat has acted prudently. Nawaz Sharif's propaganda about his having army backing is neither correct nor is it generally
believed. Why do you glorify the army chief so, asked Ayaz Amir (not so long ago one of our credible national columnists but now a budding Nawazite)? Have you forgotten your history? Have you forgotten how Hitler divided and destroyed the Wehrmacht? Have you forgotten the Blomberg-Fritsch affair? Have you forgotten how the ageing giant Hindenburg was duped by Hitler? If Nawaz succeeds in his aim, will Karamat be forgiven? I told him I had not forgotten any of it and how not so long ago I had sent to the general a copy of a video film on the Fuhrer which is being followed up by a copy of Shirer's `The Rise and Fall of the third Reich'.

As for the judiciary, Nawaz Sharif with his (or rather, our) money, with his carrots and sticks, has successfully managed to undermine this institution so recently built up. Neither history nor the people can ever forgive him for this.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Sajjad Ali Shah (to the Bar and the people he is neither `under restraint' nor `under suspension') was appointed by Benazir in 1994. No judge, or member of the Bar, up to November of this year, voiced any protest against his appointment or his administration. As Rashed Rahman, son of a former Supreme Court judge, wrote about him in The Nation, "That he is a man of courage and has a clean record goes without saying. In that sense he can be compared to a hero of a Shakespearian tragedy whose fall is brought about as much by a flaw in his own character as by outside factors."

Fali Nariman, a former Attorney-General of India and now president of the bar association of India, who keeps himself abreast of happenings in the courts of our country, asked me to fax him the orders passed by the Quetta and Peshawar Benches and by Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah relating to the ouster. On December 5, a perplexed Nariman asked, `but is there any legal or constitutional basis for the orders of the Quetta and Peshawar Benches?"

My constitutional adviser and senior counsel, Barrister Makhdoom Ali Khan, was immediately consulted. Careful Makhdoom's first response was to say, "Not to my knowledge." I asked him for a one- word answer, either `yes' or `no'. "No," he said. There are certainly no precedents in Pakistan for what has happened, but there are many against. It is a settled principle that no writ will be issued by one judge to another.

On November 28, I was in the Supreme Court whilst the contempt case against Nawaz Sharif and others was being heard by Chief Justice Shah's Bench. Sitting beside me was my friend and lawyer, Khalid Anwer, now federal law minister. Whilst alleged contemner Nawaz Sharif's lawyer, S.M. Zafar, laboured on and on, Khalid shook his head from side to side. Zafar, making his usual noises, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, told the court that its constitution was in question. A calm and composed Sajjad asked, why then are you here before us? Zafar also questioned the legitimacy of Sajjad's appointment as chief justice. If you do not recognize me as chief justice, do you recognize me as a judge of the Supreme Court? queried Sajjad.

As the harangue continued, I remarked to Khalid that his writ as law minister does not extend far, and asked if it would extend far enough for him to protect my seat whilst I nip out to attend to a call of nature. Good humouredly, he replied that though he may not succeed as law minister, he could manage to do so as a senior counsel of the Supreme Court. Before I could reach my destination one floor below the courtroom, a surging screaming crowd of hooligans appeared in the corridors. Zahid Hussain, correspondent for The Times (London) and the chief of AP in Pakistan, was with me. We were both hurriedly sent back by court officials who were rushing around instructing each other that the doors of the courtroom be closed, that the crowd had arrived to arrest the Chief Justice.

As we re-entered, I heard Sajjad remark, to Zafar, "Thanks to you," whilst adjourning the case and leaving the courtroom just before a section of the crowd, spearheaded by women, rushed in. Turning to Khalid I said that if Nawaz Sharif must use women, he should at least see to it that they are good looking rather than frightening. A lawyer of Lahore standing close by informed me that they were not actually women, but intermediary beings, and that I would look like them were I to shave off my beard and moustache and put on lipstick and make-up. He even recognized a few of them as being famous `tanglas' from certain specialized areas of Lahore. As we pushed our way out of the courtroom, a dejected Khalid Anwar muttered to himself, "Most unnecessary, most unnecessary."

Acting Chief Justice Ajmal Mian is so far clean on record, and, as far as is publicly known, free from any impropriety. His first challenge is to deal with all those involved in the attack on the Supreme Court. This will not be easy. It must nevertheless be faced. The mob did not attack a man, or a building. The institution of the judiciary, with the Supreme Court at its apex, was the
target of the assault. This was contempt of court of the worst kind, and any lack of firmness or alacrity in dealing with the culprits will only encourage others to use similar methods each time the court is seized of a politically sensitive matter. The authority of the court will become subject to the muscle- power of the mob and the machinations of those who hire them.

The master-fixer, my friend the Jadoogar of Jeddah, Sharifuddin Pirzada, who snoozed besides me as we flew back to Karachi, was firm in his opinion that the gravest of contempt had been
committed, that it's an open and shut case.

Fascdism on the march — II Ardeshir Cowasjee

Week Ending : 20 December 1997 Issue : 03/51

AN open letter to Justice Ajmal Mian, the honourable J-1 of the Supreme Court:

As a citizen of Pakistan, no more no less, I address you, today the principal custodian of the honour and dignity of the judiciary of Pakistan, particularly that of the Supreme Court. You may perhaps have read my column printed last Sunday, the manuscript of which is sent herewith.

The crucial issues pending before your court include;

* Contempt of court action against Nawaz Sharif and seven others.

* Petition regarding the unlawful allotment of thousands of plots by him when chief minister of Punjab.

* Petition regarding the unlawful ISI distribution of Rs 140 million of the people's money to him and others.

* Petition regarding award of wheat transport contract by him to his crony Saeed Shaikh.

* Petition regarding his misuse of power in pressurising banks to settle loan cases out of court.

* Petition challenging his Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

* Petitions regarding suspension of 13th and 14th Amendments.

Fascism has been on the march in our country from 1954 a mere six years after Jinnah's death. Governor General Ghulam Mohammed used fascist force to try to prevent Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan from arriving at the High Court of Sindh to file his petition against the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. He ordered that Tamizuddin be arrested before he could get there, and the High Court was surrounded by the police. Disguised in a burqa, Tamizuddin managed to get through to the Deputy Registrar, Roshan Ali Shah, father of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Sajjad Ali Shah, held by certain of his bretheren now to be "under restraint."

Roshan Ali protected Tamizuddin and took him to Chief Justice Sir George Constantine, who accepted the petition and ordered the police to disperse or face action. You will also recall how, in 1973, District and Sessions Judge of Sanghar Mohammed Owais Murtaza was hand-cuffed, arrested while presiding over his own court, and jailed by provincial minister Jam Sadiq Ali, as ordered by Bhutto, for having granted bail to certain men he had imprisoned. The steadfast CJ Tufail Ali Abdul Rehman stood his ground and protested. Why was his judge humiliated, why was he, the Chief Justice, not consulted? Judge Murtaza moved the High Court for bail and Bhutto had him released before his application could be heard by Tufail Ali Abdul Rehman.

It was also in the 1970s, when I first heard of you. You were a young legal adviser of the Karachi Port Trust. My father Rustom, the senior-most trustee, was acting as the Chairman of the Trust. One fine morning, an agitated Chief Engineer Aftab informed him that Chief Minister of Sindh Mumtaz Bhutto had arranged to lay the foundations of a labour colony on port land that afternoon. The platform had been erected, flags were flying and buntings hung. My father immediately wrote off to the CM telling him that the land was port land reserved for its development, that he should therefore cancel his building programme and save himself embarrassment.

Within minutes, the gruff CM telephoned. Who are you? he asked, and how dare you address me as you have? Dared I have, replied my father. Right now, I am the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Karachi Port Trust, and therefore the chief conservator of all the land and water notified as falling within the port limits.

Whoever you may be, responded the Talented Cousin, always remember that every inch of land in Sindh is mine to do with as I will. What will you do if I lay the foundation stone and build a colony? I will file a petition in the High Court, came the answer, and stay your designs.

At lunch that afternoon, my father related this exchange to his sons. But, he said, we have a clear-headed young lawyer. "Ajmal tagro che," and Tufail will stay Mumtaz's hand within fifteen
minutes. However, before we could finish lunch, Aftab rang saying that the platform, flags and buntings had all been removed and the ceremony was off.

My father could act as he did, banking on an honest High Court presided over by a fearless CJ who would feel bound to protect the Trust.

Moving forward to the present, may I request that this letter of mine be accepted as a petition, and that you take suo moto action, for the gravest contempt committed in the face of the court,
against those who stormed the Supreme Court on November 28 as well as all those responsible for organizing, paying, and directing them to so do, and that severe deterrent punishment be handed down to all of them. (Possibly taking their cue from the Nov 28 happening, 50 mobsters on December 12 attacked the court of a civil judge of Faisalabad). Collectively responsible and guilty is the entire federal cabinet and its primus inter pares.

As evidence, sent herewith is a cassette. You will see clearly from this video recording, that the disgraceful and unprecedented scenes that took place on the premises and inside the court building on November 28 were undoubtedly government inspired and led, funded by the peoples money. You will, as did I, recognize certain prominent members of the present government, of the Senate, the National Assembly and the Punjab Provincial Assembly. And should you be familiar with the Muslim Leaguers of the prime minister's own home town, Lahore, you will no doubt see many familiar figures, flaunting the flag of the ruling party, proving that the substantial and violent mob was bussed in from the provincial capital specifically for the raid.

You will see on the portion taken from BBC tracks, that prominent in the pushing, shoving and shouting crowd outside the court is the well known federal minister Mushahid Hussain who works closely with the prime minister. As he jostles along he is smiling the smile of sweet success and contentment. You will observe that he made no effort to pacify or dissuade the mob. Clambering over the gates of the court premises can be spotted the ample figure of MPA Sa'ad
Rafiq, a former leader of the Muslim Students' Federation. Encouraging the attack is the since- sacked-then-reinstated political secretary to the prime minister, Mushtaq Ali Taherkheli,
who later was interviewed by the BBC. You will also see the many law enforcers, flak-jacketed policemen, standing watching, or strolling by, apparently under orders not to react.

Women were well represented by Najma Hamid, a former MPA of Punjab, I am told.

Amongst those directing the mob within the court building was Senator Saifur Rahman, Nawaz's chief trouble-shooter and man for all affairs, and his chief-in-charge of ehtesab. It was very sad to spot him amongst the hooligans. I thought better of him. The night before, he was hurriedly sent for by provincial chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and he flew back with him from Lahore in the CM's special plane at 0300 hours that morning.

Sardar Naseem, an MPA of Lahore, was prominent, as was an associate of the well-known Khwaja Riaz Mahmood, a former deputy mayor of Lahore, famous for remarking that he cannot understand why two police constables were not simply sent to arrest the chief justice and get the whole thing over with quickly.

Other honourable Senators seen directing the rioters were Raja Aurangzeb, and a man recognized by some as Parvez Rashid. MNA Tariq Aziz did his active best. Former hockey star Akhtar Rasool, and Mian Abdul Sattar, both MPAs of Lahore, performed well. From Rawalpindi there was MPA Chaudhry Tanvir, a former vice-chairman of the Cantonment Board. You will see how the rowdies were guided in and, after forcing the court to adjourn, hurriedly ushered out. They were later accorded a celebratory feast at Punjab House. The affairs of state will trundle on and soon Chief Justice of Pakistan (under restraint) Sajjad Ali Shah will be invited by the government to honour his constitutional obligation and swear in the new President, as required by Article 42. But, on you, for the present, rests the onerous responsibility of reconsecrating a badly desecrated and purposefully divided Supreme Court.

Fascism on the march – III Ardeshir Cowasjee

Week Ending : 27 December 1997 Issue : 03/52

THIS true story relating to the election of the first president, to suit the genius of the 1973 Constitution warrants repetition. When President Bhutto decided to step down to the prime ministerial slot he looked around for a 'suitable' replacement. What he sought ideally was a blind, deaf, mindless, crippled candidate. Prior to his sighting of the gentle Fazal Elahi Chaudhry, his eye lit upon the politically acceptable Begum Shahnawaz, daughter of Sir Mohammad Shafi, sister of my late lamented friend, Mian Iqbal Shafi.

My first reaction was to exclaim, good grief, she must be pushing ninety. To check, and to congratulate Iqi in the event that it was true, I rang him. Yes, he said, there is something to it and, yes, she is getting on for ninety. But she qualifies perfectly. She can barely see, she is almost stone deaf, and she is mobile only if helped. We must hope they don't let her down. She is preparing her trousseau for the move to the presidential palace, and it will hit her hard if it doesn't come off. Nusrat and Zulfi have been visiting. Keep your fingers crossed, pal. You and I may be on to a good thing. She will have a special train. We'll organize an extra bogey and tour Pakistan in style. Pack your bags, pal, he instructed me before he signed off.

A few days later Iqi called. Unpack, pal, unpack. Bad news. Jehanara's chances have receded. She has regained her hearing in one ear, her eyesight has improved, and she has thrown out her
nurse. No go. She has ceased to qualify. Looking around this time, Nawaz Sharif's eye focused on
octogenarian Fida Mohammed Khan as a suitable candidate. He also qualified on other grounds. Hailing from the NWFP, he would be acceptable to most as a symbol of the federation. But Wali Khan, Sharif's coalition partner, spoilt that one. Fida did not suit his purposes. He was relatively sharp of hearing and sight, and had almost all his brain cells intact.

Up came the name of Mohammed Ali Khan Hoti, also from the NWFP. He was immediately rejected, for he has a good solid spine and is quite capable of deciding for himself what is what.

Ghous Ali Shah of Sindh's name cropped up, but was hastily discarded as too many people who mattered insisted that he was far too 'controversial' (the local euphemism for 'totally unacceptable').

Then Abbaji stepped in, and within the space of one minute settled everything. Cut the cackle and forget about the 'smaller' provinces. Let's keep it all in the family and in Punjab. Select my
friend and legal adviser, Rafiq Tarar, whose wit and wisdom I share, and with whom I often sup late into the night, exchanging sick Sikh jokes from our vast reservoirs. He is, and will prove to
be, perfect.

What is good for the Sharifs, is good for the party, and is good for the nation. Soon, with God's blessings, we will have a Sharif nominee at the head of the Supreme Court and at the head of our
powerful army. 'Der Fuhrer' had spoken. Without further ado, without consulting his ruling party members, or the leaders of the coalition parties, Nawaz Sharif nominated Tarar.

Thought-broadcaster and 'media developer' Mushahid Hussain was ordered to tailor Tarar to fit the slot, and vice versa. Mushahid trumpeted: Tarar is a moderate Muslim, a clean, devout, upright man and, contrary to what is said, is not a misogynist. He has been cleared by the agencies (who codified him in the records sent to those prosecuting Benazir's Bhutto government's dismissal as DW1 — Dari Wallah 1). He is a son of the soil, officially born in Pirkhot, District Gujranwala, on November 2, 1929, educated in Gujranwala and Lahore. Gujranwala is his oyster. It was there he grew his formal beard and in 1951 launched himself as a pleader.

He moved up to become advocate of the high court, to additional district and sessions judge, to district and sessions judge, and was elevated to the bench of the Lahore High Court in 1974, in the good old days of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's PPP. In 1989, in the equally good old days of Zia, he became chief justice of that court, moving up to the Supreme Court in 1991, from where he retired in 1994. His brilliance on the bench of the Supreme Court has been immortalized. During the three years he sat there, one sole judgment authored by the Honourable Justice Tarar was recorded in a PLD — his concurring judgment in the case of the 1993 dissolution of the National Assembly when the presidential dissolution order was struck down and the government of Nawaz Sharif restored.

Amongst his friends who share his thoughts and beliefs and over whom he wields considerable influence are Justice Khalilur Rahman (codified as DW2), a signatory to the November 1997 order of the Quetta bench of the Supreme Court which sparked off the sorry disintegration process; Afzal Lone, a benefactor of the Ittefaq empire, rewarded with a Senate seat, who is inevitably to be found lurking in the prime minister's secretariat, and Major General Javed Nasir (DW3), Nawaz Sharif's former chief of the ISI and of the 'Afghan misadventure'.

Tarar's nomination was filed on December 16, together with that of his covering candidates Captain Haleem Siddiqi and Khwaja Qutubuddin. (It is somewhat of a disgrace that a master mariner should have allowed his name to be included amongst the spineless.) Tarar's nomination was rejected on December 18 by Justice of the Supreme Court Mukhtar Ahmad Junejo, who also holds the post of Acting Chief Election Commissioner. Junejo, in this case, proved himself to be as strong as Seshan.

Can we remove Junejo, was Nawaz Sharif's first Gawalmandi reaction. Risky, he was told. Then file a petition against Junejo's order in the Lahore High Court and have the order suspended. Suitable counsel were hurriedly contacted, and it goes to the credit of the bar that not one of the top constitutional lawyers was willing to accept Tarar's brief.

Ejaz Batalvi, expert criminal lawyer, was roped in. Justice Qayyum admitted the petition on December 19 and suspended Junejo's order, allowing Tarar to "participate in the election provisionally subject to further orders". A larger bench will hear the petition on the 23rd.

My renowned constitutional expert (who for his own good explicitly asked me not to name him) maintains that Tarar may sail through the Lahore High Court. But, in the Supreme Court, it may, just may, be a different kettle of fish. Passing muster there will not be that simple.

The irony is that the order of Acting CEC Mukhtar Junejo will be defended by Attorney General Chaudhry Farooq, who, though technically the first law officer of the land representing the people still acts as if he were the personal hired lawyer of Ittefaq and Nawaz Sharif.

As for the president of the republic, with the powers now left to him in the Constitution, all he can depend upon is his moral authority and his presentability to the world. Tarar, unfortunately, possesses neither. To quote from the 'Comment' of man-of-integrity Kunwar Idris, published in this newspaper on December 20 :

"Also casting a dark shadow on him is the referendum of December 1984 when, as a member of Zia's Election Commission, he solemnly assured the people that 55 per cent and not just five per cent of the electorate had turned out to confer legitimacy on Zia's dictatorial rule. Mr Tarar also has to dispel the widely insinuated impression that he was involved in the 'Quetta Shuttle' which
divided the Supreme Court and write the saddest chapter in Pakistan's constitutional history."

The task before the present de facto chief custodian of the Supreme Court, the honourable J-1, Justice Ajmal Mian, is onerous indeed. Before he can reform and unite his 'farishtas' (as the judges of the SC are affectionately known) he has to clean up the paradise over which they preside. The dignity and honour of the court remain desecrated and dented by the mob attack upon it organized by the ruling party. The court must be cleansed and reconsecrated, the sponsors and their stormers punished for committing a criminal act in the face of the court.

Another task awaiting Justice Mian is the reining in of the parallel judiciary incorporated in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 (a Lone-Tarar creation).

Also (important and urgent) he must demolish the formation of a squad of honorary magistrates planned to be recruited in Punjab from the ranks of party bosses of the Muslim League. Following in his master's footsteps, Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat is said to have thought up this brilliant fascistic move.

Fascism on the march - IV Ardeshir Cowasjee

Week Ending : 03 January 1998 Issue : 04/01

SHOULD their mindset allow them one, all those who are still able to believe that the system we have is a democracy that suits the genius of and is capable of governing the 140 million people of
Pakistan should have second thoughts.

Reproduced are extracts from a series of columns entitled 'Ehtesab or intekhab', printed in this space in this newspaper during the Leghari caretaker period:

Dec 12, 1996 — "Never have we been nearer the edge of the precipice. The people must be taken into confidence and their will must prevail. A direct reference must be made and this caretaker government must ascertain what it is the masses want. The Constitution adequately provides in Article 48(6): "If, at any time, the President, in his discretion, or on the advice of the
Prime Minister, considers that it is desirable that any matter of national importance should be referred to a referendum, the President may cause the matter to be referred to a referendum in
the form of a question that is capable of being answered by 'yes' or 'no'."

Dec 29, 1996 — "The constitutionalists who support Nawaz maintain that elections must be held within 90 days. They ignore Article 254: 'When any act or thing is required by the Constitution to be done within a particular period and it is not done within that period, the doing of the act or thing shall not be invalid or otherwise ineffective by reason only that it was not done within that period.' They overlook Article 48(6).

"Why is the President afraid of holding a referendum? He must know that the overwhelming majority of the people will insist that the holding of the accountability process must be completed, and that the guilty politicians should be disqualified, or convicted, before any elections are held? But does he know that the majority of the people find many of the present caretakers unacceptable? He could easily replace them and appoint men in whom the people have confidence."
Jan 20, 1997 — "The people say, let there be a time-limited delay in the holding of elections. Article 58(2)(b) provides for an appeal to the electorate. Article 48(6) permits the President "in
his discretion or on the advice of the Prime Minister" (the advice being binding) to hold a referendum. Can the President not ask the people if they wish for a time-limited delay in the holding of elections (say, a period of 15 months) which would give him and his team (a changed team, he should get rid of the known rotters) time to strengthen the accountability laws and complete the process? >From the highest to the lowest in the land, the feeling is that these elections are being held far too soon. Chief Justice of Pakistan Sajjad Ali Shah is all for accountability and has stated that the 90 days period is 'too inadequate for completing the accountability process' (Dawn Jan 13).

"If, as it seems clear they will, the people vote for a time- limited delay, the Nawazians, the anxious hopeful beneficiaries, may go to court in protest. Let the CJ and his brethren then give
their verdict."

All too late now, Leghari dithered, wavered, and made up his mind that Nawaz Sharif was to be installed in the prime ministerial mansion and given another round. Incapable of exercising moral authority, he let greed get the better of him. And what was his fate? In less than a year, having allowed himself to be rendered weak and vulnerable by the very creature he had installed, and fearing the remote possibility of impeachment, he fled the scene on December 2.

Nawaz Sharif was sworn in as prime minister on February 17. Rather than concentrating on doing good by the people, for which all that is needed are moral qualities and endowments, moral habits and conduct, and the ability to know the difference between right and wrong, he concentrated on grabbing more power than was due to him by the Constitution.

So, in less than two months at midnight on April 2, all rules and procedures of the parliament were suspended and in the middle of the night, the 13th Amendment Bill was rushed through both Houses, signed by the president the next day, and notified on April 4. By this Amendment, the president was disempowered, and the prime minister further empowered. The president cannot dissolve the National Assembly, he cannot appoint governors at his discretion but on the advice of the prime minister, the provincial governors cannot dissolve their assemblies, the president, though he remains supreme commander of the Armed forces, no longer has the power to appoint or sack the service chiefs.

The question the president did not ask before signing this bill:

Why is this Amendment necessary? Why were the rules of procedure suspended? Why was no debate allowed in the House?

Rules dictate that a constitutional amendment is an extraordinary measure involving a great deal of deliberation on the part of the ruling party, consultation with the opposition, and an objective study of public opinion on the subject. Thereafter, according to the rules of procedure governing parliamentary proceedings under the 1973 Constitution, a bill (other than a finance bill) upon its introduction in the House stands referred to the relevant standing committee, unless the requirements of Rules 91 and 92 are dispensed with by the House on a motion by the member-in-charge. The standing committee is required to present its report within 30 days and, on receipt of this report, copies of the bill as introduced, together with any modifications recommended by the standing committee, must be supplied to each member within seven days. Two clear days then must elapse before the bill can be sent down for a motion under Rule 93.

Less than three months after this transgression, on June 30, in the Senate, the rules of procedure were again suspended, The 14th Amendment Bill went through like a shot, passed in less than a day, without one single protest or dissent being recorded.

On July 1, the bill was presented to the National Assembly, again rules of procedure were suspended, and the bill was passed immediately, again without one single protest or dissent. It went up to the president, on July 3 he put his signature to the bill, and on July 4 the Fourteenth Amendment Act of 1997 came into force.

This Amendment admittedly has the aim of putting an end to lucrative defections. But 'lotaism' only existed because all our political parties were in the business of buying and selling bodies. However, that was not deemed to be sufficient. The prime minister had to be further empowered, and so he was. A member of a parliamentary party will also be deemed to have defected if he breaches any declared or undeclared party discipline, code of conduct or policies, or if he votes contrary to any direction issued by his parliamentary party, or if he abstains from voting as instructed by his party on any bill. The prosecutor, defence counsel, judge and jury who will decide the member's fate is the head of the party, whose decision is not justifiable in any court of law.

The 14th amendment rendered the herd of legislators voiceless and the bell-wethers all supreme. Again, the president did not question the necessity for the stifling of all dissent.

The 15th Amendment Bill, disempowering the Chief Justice of Pakistan, has already been drafted. It was to be rushed through the two Houses in November, but for some strange reason Nawaz Sharif and his men stayed their hand. There is no reason for them to stay it any longer, and any day now rules and procedures will be thrown to the winds and the hasty midnight process will be repeated.

Now, to face reality. Nawaz Sharif had, within six months, managed to remove most of the stumbling blocks in his way. He had so far not touched the judiciary. He soon realized that the superior judiciary, headed by an honest man, was capable of moving against him. He made up his mind that Sajjad Ali Shah would have to go. Having reached this conclusion, he then sought the means.

If fascistic practice prevails, ladies and gentlemen of the press, we are next on the chopping block.

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