Saturday, February 28, 2009

History of Pakistani Dirty Politics of 90s - 4

On Wed, 2/25/09, Emergency Moderator/Teeth Maestro wrote:

Sharif brothers declared ineligible for Elections Posted by Teeth Maestro February 25,2009

On Sat, 2/28/09, Jimmy Jumshade wrote:

They have created an unwanted crisis already when there is so much other crisis going on. Bloody Weirdos..... ......and Shareef brothers should have been disqualified & not allowed to participate in elections a year ago.....not after they have been in Office for a year.This is just a big time power-grab.

Excerpts from ISLAMIC PAKISTAN: ILLUSIONS & REALITY By Abdus Sattar Ghazali:

The author is a professional journalist, with Master's degree in Political Science from the Punjab University. Started his journalistic career as a sub-editor in the daily Bang-e-Haram, Peshawar in 1960. Later worked in the daily Anjam and the Tourist weekly Peshawar. Served as a News Editor in the Daily News, Kuwait from 1969 to 1976. Joined the English News Department of Kuwait Television as a News Editor in December 1976. Also worked as the correspondent of the Associated Press of Pakistan and the Daily Dawn, Karachi, in Kuwait. At present working as the Editor-in-Chief of the Kuwait Television English News.



The Benazir government made even General Zia, the military dictator, look like a liberal by its decision to consider deposition of an accused before the police as a valid evidence against him. The President promulgated an ordinance in April 1995 that permits confessions or statements against third persons obtained during police interrogations in parts of the country, declared to be terrorist affected areas, to be used in court. Human rights monitors view this ordinance as an endorsement of police torture to obtain evidence, while the government argues that the law is currently not applied, because no part of the country has been declared a terrorist affected area.[40] The law authorizes the police and the civil armed forces (Rangers, Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary, or any other forces designated by the government) to use force against suspects. By allowing confessions to police as proven evidence the policemen are being given a legally protected excuse to liquidate their quarry in the so-called encounters.[41]

By Ordinance XXXIX of 1995, a new section 11A has been introduced in the Terrorist Affected Areas (Special Courts) Acts, 1992. The material portion of the new section is as follows: "Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 38 of the Qanun-e-Shahadat, 1984, the confession made by a person...before a police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police may be proved against him..." In other words, section 11A attempts, insofar as offenses triable under the Terrorist Affected Areas Act are concerned, to do away with the protection contained in section 38 of the Qanun-e-Shahadat. Section 38 provides with admirable brevity as follows: "No confession made to a police officer shall be proved against any person accused of an offence."

It is ironic indeed that the government of Pakistan -- that is (as our leaders keep reminding us ad nauseam) free and democratic -- has seen fit to do away with a protection against police brutality that in fact antedates even the British Raj. The origins of section 38 can be traced to 1817, i.e. the days of East India Company. More than a hundred years ago, in Queen-Empress vs Babu Lal (1884) 6 All 509, a Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court had the occasion to examine section 25 of the Evidence Act. The observations of the learned judges as to the absolute need for protection provided by this section (or its present form, section 38) still ring true and can, unfortunately, be readily appreciated by modern day Pakistanis as representing the harsh realities on the ground here today. One of the judges, Justice Mahmood (who, incidentally, was one of the first Muslims to be elevated to the High Court), observed:

"These legislative provisions leave no doubt in mind that the Legislature had in view the mal-practices of police officers in extorting confessions from accused persons in order to gain credit by securing convictions and that those malpractices went to the length of positive torture The object of the rules was to put a stop to the extortion of confessions, by taking away from the police officers the advantage of proving such extorted confessions during the trial of accused persons."[42]

Commenting on this retrogressive piece of legislation, the daily Dawn[43] said: Do we need to be reminded how our police work and what sophisticated methods they use to carry out their investigations? In the armory of our police force no tool of investigation is more frequently used than what in the local lingo is called the chittar, a vicious piece of leather with a handle which no police station through the land is without and which is used indiscriminately not only on offenders but on anyone else foolish enough to provoke the police's anger. Indeed, even a more reprehensible feature of the ordinance than the threat to innocent detainees is the danger that it will further undermine public faith in the system of justice.


On November 30, 1994, the Benazir government withdrew army from Karachi and other towns of Sindh as it failed to restore lasting peace in its 29-month operation.[44] The army was replaced by the Rangers force which launched ruthless operations of mass arrests, siege of Mohajir localities, and at random killings of alleged terrorists in order to root out what the government called "the MQM terrorists." According to the Pakistan Human Rights Commission report, 353 people were killed and 649 were injured between October 1993 and November 1994 while the army was operating in Sindh.[45] But more than 850 people had been killed within seven months of the operation by June 1995, including 280 in June alone. By the year end, 1800 people had been killed by the official count.

Benazir enraged the Mohajirs when she called them as 'buzdil chuhas." While addressing a rally in Kasur on May 25, 1995, she said "cowardly mice had come out to spread terror."[46] Sindh remained disturbed with crime, terrorism, ethnic prejudices and gang warfare between MQM factions. The top PPP leadership recognized only three aspects of trouble in Karachi and rest of Sindh: politically a suspect MQM with which it is necessary to keep talking; terrorism that still stalks needs to be fought tooth and nail; and there is subversion and sabotage by India. It does not suspect that there can be a political dimension to terrorism or that negotiations with an opposition party, unless they are seriously intended and are purposeful, can do more harm than good.[47]

On the situation in Karachi, the US Human Rights Report for 1995 pointed out: "The number of extra-judicial killings, often in the form of deaths in police custody or staged encounters in which the police or paramilitary forces shoot and kill the suspects, increased in 1995. Most of such killings occurred in Sindh province in clashes between the government and factions of the MQM. In trying to restore order in Karachi, the government regularly used excessive force, including torture and alleged encounter killings, against MQM activists. The rate of politically motivated murders in Karachi reached an average of 10 per day in July; by year's end, over 1,800 people had been killed. According to the Karachi police, 500 police officers had been suspended for misbehavior as of September. None was known to have been prosecuted for abuses.

"Many observers believe the government to have been responsible for the murders of Altaf Hussain's brother and nephew in retaliation for the murder of the brother of the Sindh Chief Minister.

"Both main MQM factions, the MQM/A and the Haqiqi faction, resorted to extra-judicial killings and torture of their opponents and targeted police and security officials. Although the MQM/A consistently claims that its activists are innocent, unarmed victims of ethnic violence, disinterested observers believe that cells of armed MQM/A activists are responsible for a considerable amount of Karachi's violence and crime. This includes extortion of large sums of money from Mohajir businessmen as well asothers.

"The government uses mass arrests to quell civil unrest. During attempts to reduce crime and violence in Karachi, the MQM/A claimed that police and Rangers arrested 7,000 Mohajirs in numerous police sweeps. Many of those arrested were not suspected of committing a specific crime, and were allegedly held until family members paid police officers a ransom for their release."

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in its report on the state of human rights in 1995 noted that several hundred persons in Karachi and around 180 in Punjab were killed in the so-called police encounters or police custody.[48]

The Amnesty International, in its 1995 report on "Human Rights Crisis in Karachi,"[49] apportioned blame for continued violence in Karachi to both the law enforcement agencies and the armed opposition groups. It documented cases of arbitrary arrests, torture, deaths in custody, extra-judicial executions, "disappearances" allegedly committed by law enforcement personnel and the human rights abuses allegedly perpetrated by armed opposition groups.

However, the AI emphasized that human rights abuses perpetrated by armed opposition groups may never be used by law enforcement personnel as an excuse to ignore national and international human rights safeguards and to commit human rights violations themselves; to torture, kill or "disappear" people described by the government as "terrorists." The report criticized the government for failing to protect political activists, journalists and ordinary residents of Karachi from human rights abuses. It found that in some cases, those in authority appear to have condoned abuses by some armed opposition groups.

"Killings have been taking place due to an ongoing struggle between the two factions of the MQM and a government campaign to restore law and order implemented by the police and paramilitary Rangers. The government holds the MQM responsible for most of the human rights abuses, while the MQM has declared that the government is attempting to crush them as an organized political force by unlawfully detaining its workers, torturing and extra-judicially killing them, forcing them to change their political allegiance and perpetrating crimes for which the MQM is held responsible.

"The government in its determination to restore law and order has called upon the police to use "ruthlessness," and they have been tempted to use harsher, and sometimes unlawful methods in dealing with armed opposition groups who have targeted law enforcement personnel. The slowness of judicial process has also led police officers to take law in their own hands. The government's heavy-handed searches, the harassment to which Mohajirs and MQM members are subjected, and other human rights violations, it is feared, may drive young Mohajirs to extremism. Some observers told the Amnesty International that the MQM leadership may already have lost control over some of its militant youth groups.

The report also looked at complaints of torture, ill-treatment and intimidation of prisoners, and detainees in the police custody. The blind-folding of people during cordon-and-search was also reported. The detained persons are known to have included boys as young as 12 and old men. There have also been reports that torture of prisoners was carried out with intent to extract money from concerned family members. "The frequency with which people believed to be MQM members, or to be closely associated with MQM members are subjected to torture and extortion, suggests that the police assume that they can do so with impunity," the report concluded.

When it suited successive governments in Islamabad, the MQM was accommodated, but when Altaf Hussain was no longer required, he was unceremoniously dumped. However, all along, the MQM remained an armed and very dangerous group: for this government to pretend that it has just discovered the true nature of this ethnic party is a bit disingenuous.[50]


Three major developments in 1996 rocked the government of Benazir and eroded its popularity. In March, the Supreme Court, in a land mark judgment, held that consultations with the Supreme Court and the High Courts Chief Justices were "mandatory" in the appointment of judges to the higher courts. The judgment led to open confrontation between the government and the higher judiciary when Benazir alleged that an unnamed group was trying to use higher courts to remove her government. The federal government first challenged the judgment in the Supreme Court but later withdrew the references. The Supreme Court, on June 26, restored, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz group) dominated, local municipal councils in Punjab, which were disbanded in 1993 before completion of their tenure. The next day, the Punjab Assembly passed, in less than three hours, a bill to offset the Supreme Court order. The new legislation, which repealed the Punjab Local Government Ordinance, 1979, again dissolved the local bodies.

The government was still involved in acrimonious debate with the judiciary that the 1996-97 budget, envisaging staggering 40 billion rupees in new taxes, was announced on June 13, which angered the businessman and ordinary man alike. There was strong objection to the General Sales Tax, imposed on virtually all the consumers item, while feudal lords income remained un-taxed. Pakistan Muslim League chief Nawaz Sharif called for a nationwide shutdown on June 23 in protest against the budget as well as corruption within the government. The strike was successful. The following day, three supporters of Jamaat-i-Islami were killed in clashes with the police in Rawalpindi. On July 2, Pakistan's press staged a strike to protest against the imposition of a GST on newspapers and enhanced import duty on newsprint. Later the press launched an intensive campaign against the government financial policy but to no avail.

Benazir Bhutto's credibility was further eroded when the British newspaper, Sunday Express, published on June 9 a report that Benazir and her husband Asif Ali Zardari had bought a 2.5 million pound estate in the English county of Surrey -- complete with mansion, indoor swimming pool, 355 acres of garden and private landing strip. Benazir denied the report while, Zardari promised to sue the newspaper. But the newspaper, vowing to vigorously defend itself against a libel case, followed its original story by publishing two other items in subsequent weeks. A June 16 follow-up story in the Sunday Express fueled a volatile debate in the National Assembly when opposition demanded creation of an independent judicial commission on corruption. On September 15, the Sunday Express claimed that Zardari has set up an offshore account to pay for luxury apartments at one of London's most prestigious Belgravia area. The paper also reported that Hakim Ali Zardari, the father of Asif Ali Zardari, also purchased an apartment in Belgravia.


On March 20, the Supreme Court, in a land mark judgment, held that the consultation with the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, in the appointment of judges to the Courts "should be effective, meaningful, purposive, consensus-oriented, leaving no room for complaint of arbitrariness or unfair play." The Supreme Court also directed the federal government to appoint permanent chief justices in higher courts where at present constitutional functions are being performed by acting chief justices appointed by the government. The SC judgment also upheld the rule of seniority in respect of the appointment of high court chief justices. The Court struck down Article 203-C of the constitution, (which provided for the transfer of judges to the Shariah Court) an amendment made by General Zia, on the ground of conflict with Article 209.

On May 19, the Supreme Court returned a constitutional reference, filed by the president three days earlier, against the apex court decision, saying it had not been signed by the President as required by the constitution. On the same day the federal government filed a review petition against the Supreme Court decision. May 26, Supreme Court Judge Mir Hazar Khan Khoso announced his dissenting judgment which, inter alia, said that the President has the power under the constitution to appoint judges and that no time-limit can be fixed for filling in the permanent vacancies for judges in the superior courts. The Federal government withdrew its review petitions as the Supreme Court refused to change the bench. In an unprecedented move on June 13, the chief justices of the Supreme Court and four provincial High Courts ordered the sacking of 24 judges -- all of whom were appointed by the government. Benazir had balked at implementing that judgment and had refused to sack the 24 judges.

As the deadlock continued between the Chief Justice Sajjad Hussain Shah and the Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, over the appointment of judges to the superior courts, President Farooq Leghari, on September 21, filed a reference in the Supreme Court asking whether or not he could appoint judges to superior courts without the advice of the Prime Minister. In his reference, the president pointed out that the Supreme Court judgment had been partially implemented by the government and observed that some of the ad hoc judges of the high courts had resigned on the request or persuasion of the government. "It is a moot point whether these resignations constitute compliance with the Supreme Court judgment," the reference maintained.

President Farouq Ahmad Khan Leghari, on September 23, sent to the Speaker of the National Assembly and Chairman of the Senate messages, proposing suitable amendments in the laws enabling the president to consult the leader of the opposition and the chief justice of the Supreme Court in addition to the Prime Minister in appointing judges to the special courts adjucating corruption cases involving holders of public offices. He has also proposed amendments in the relevant laws enabling the Wafaqi Mohtasib to act as the prosecutor in the trial of these cases. The appointment of the Mohtasib would be done in consultation with the prime minister, the leader of the opposition and chief justice of Pakistan.

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