Saturday, February 28, 2009

History of Pakistani Dirty Politics of 90s - 7

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.


1997 Constitutional Crisis

The crisis with judiciary began in August 1997 when the chief justice recommended elevation of five named judges to the Supreme Court. On Sept. 5, the Supreme Court suspended a government notification to reduce the number of judges from 17 to 12. The federal government, on Sept. 16, withdrew its notification. However, from around August 20 up to the middle of October there was practically no other issue in contest -- publicly. And the resistance to the recommendation, in fact not-so veiled refusal to comply with it, was coming from Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif and not the parliament.

On October 10, the aggrieved judges took the opportunity of a brief absence of Justice Sajjad from the country to call a full court review under the chairmanship of the acting chief justice. Justice Sajjad returns home in haste on October 13, calls off the full court meeting and transfers all dissident judges to the outposts of the apex court in Quetta, Karachi, Peshawar and Lahore.

The breach was now clearly in the open. The resentment of the dissident judges -- respected members of the judiciary -- must have been intense. The Chief Justice was master of the house, but a bitterly divided house. In an unprecedented move, on October 21, five honorable judges of the Supreme Court sent a letter to the President of Pakistan, to complain about the behavior of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and distance themselves from some of his actions. This letter was originally written to the chief justice, and later sent to the president. Never before in Pakistan's history had such an incident occurred.

On November 3, a petition of contempt of court is entertained by the CJ against the PM and his close associates. A charged atmosphere was super-charged by summoning the PM to appear in the court on November 17 and demanding the Speaker of the National Assembly to turn over the expunged record of the assembly proceedings. Yet, another breach of the assembly's privilege.

A three-member Supreme Court bench, headed by the then chief justice "directed the president" on Nov 20 not to give assent to the Contempt of Court (Amendment) Bill 1997, as under: "In the circumstances we deem it fit and proper to direct respondent No. 1 (President of Pakistan) in constitutional petition No. 4 43 of 1997 not to give assent, and if assent has already been given the operation of the Contempt of Court (Amendment) Act of 1997 is hereby suspended until further orders." There was no precedent, nor apparent ground in law, for the chief justice to prohibit the president's assent to that bill, and even less to rule the bill suspended if the assent had already been given.

The bill amending the law of contempt was innovative in that it provided for an appeal against a Supreme Court conviction for contempt, for automatic stay of the conviction, and for that appeal to be heard by another set of judges of the same court.

On Nov. 26, the Supreme Court, Quetta Bench, declared Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah's appointment in abeyance and the Prime Minister sends to president the name of the new Chief Justice for approval. This case was the strangest of the strange, indeed, one in which not only the little-known petitioners but even the federation stated that the appointment of Justice Shah by superseding three senior judges was illegal. The next day, a five-member Supreme Court bench annuls Quetta bench's verdict over CJ's suspension while; the Supreme Court Peshawar bench endorses Quetta bench's order.

The ruling political party was not far behind in ugliness when the party's rabble attacked the Supreme Court premises on November 28. It was one of Pakistan's saddest days. There is no doubt the disgraceful attack on the Supreme Court was completely premeditated.

On December 2, by suspending the 13th Amendment in a total arbitrary manner, the stage was set for the dismissal of the government of Nawaz Sharif. The grant of temporary restoration of the presidential power to dissolve the National Assembly (the repealed Article 58(2)b on the ground of a break-down of the constitutional machinery was obviously an act of desperation to prevent a feared collapse. It was virtually the last throw of the dice in a do-or-die game.

After weeks of machinations and Machiavellian scheming aimed at ousting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from power, the country's partisan president had finally to resign on Dec. 2. Mr. Leghari had never relished the fact that Mr. Nawaz Sharif should have taken away his powers to dismiss the government through the 13th Amendment. In fact, President Leghari and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif both used the Pakistani judiciary to establish their personal authority. In this power game, Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was very much with Mr. Leghari. But this power struggle could not be carried on because of the effective intervention of the Army Chief, General Jehangir Karamat.

Mr. Leghari apparently had ruthless dictatorial ambitions and was never content with the ceremonial role that he was constitutionally assigned. He dismissed the duly elected government of Ms Benazir Bhutto and came very close to dislodging another. He engineered an unholy alliance with Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah to carry out a constitutional coup and the Chief Justice was a willing ally in the conspiracy to subvert the people's mandate. Chief Justice Shah relentlessly attempted to provide Mr. Leghari the dictatorial powers under the Eighth Amendment to deliver the proverbial coup de grace to the Sharif regime.

Mr. Leghari had never relished the fact that Mr. Nawaz Sharif should have taken away his powers to dismiss the government through the 13th Amendment. In fact, the Pakistani judiciary was used both by Mr. Leghari and Mr. Nawaz Sharif to establish their personal authority. In this power game, Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was very much with Mr. Leghari. But this power struggle could not be carried on because of the effective intervention of the Army Chief, General Jehangir Karamat.

When Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was removed from the office, on Dec. 2, the crucial issues pending before the Supreme Court were:

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

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

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

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

5. Petition regarding his misuse of power in pressurizing banks to settle loan cases out of court.

6. Petition challenging his Anti-terrorist Act 1997.

7. Petitions regarding suspension of 13th and 14th Amendments. ]

Judiciary damaged

Victory of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been at the expense of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and indeed superior judiciary as such. The SC judges have not held their image and prestige by becoming controversial. It is a settled principle that no writ will be issued by one judge to another. It was a pathetic spectacle to see two Supreme Court benches suspended the chief justice of their own court while the chief justice retaliated by recommending disciplinary action against all four of five judges involved. Repeatedly, order by one bench was overturned by another. Then political workers invaded the Supreme Court several times and abused the judges and indulging in violence. This was the darkest hour for the judiciary in the country. Gone were the days when it was universally respected as the cleanest and the most upright institution. Both sets of judges have been accused by their detractors of being motivated by personal and other extraneous considerations in their mutual bickering and tussle.

The irony of the crisis was that, eventually, it was not the executive that gave the final and, perhaps, fatal blow to the chief justice. It was his own peers who let him down. The very institution they wished to strengthen fell to the ground by their own actions. No one is left with any doubts that the judges are far from impartial.

The law and its traditions have since long become a fiction in courtrooms. The only difference this time was that the decay in the judiciary unfolded for all to see. The price paid by the superior judiciary is certainly very high. The crisis with judiciary have only served to confirm that, irrespective of how "stubborn" or "vindictive" a chief justice may be, he is no match against a government that excels in the art of wheeling and dealing. (6)

Nawaz Sharif has succeeded in achieving what General Zia set out to do when he was cut short by destiny. In fact, the late dictator could not have hoped for a more competent lieutenant. General Zia had no patience for independent judges and thought nothing of replacing the ones who did not agree with him. Sharif has demonstrated the same tendency and, as in everything else, has surpassed his mentor in achieving his objectives. The judiciary today lies in ruins, devastated by the kind of power politics that was once the domain of political parties. (7)

The repercussions of the rulings given in haste or in anger will long dog the course of justice. During the crisis, the people have seen the Alice in Wonderland spectacle where the judges pass the judgment first and hear the witnesses later. Inevitably the feeling has arisen that the superior courts exist only for the seekers and brokers of power while the ordinary litigants languish into generations before their cases appear on the "cause list" which appeared quickly and abundantly when political power was at stake. (8)

Why the Army did not intervene?

It was apparently failure of the army to sustain the president's position -- the presidents have always depended on the army for their actions against the government -- that President Leghari was forced to resign. Theoretically, in a Westminster-style democracy that this country has tried to emulate, there are four pillars of the 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 which has governed Pakistan for half its 50-year existence. (9)

Fortunately, at present the chances of a direct take-over by the army seem remote because of economic factors and the international environment. There is a renewed emphasis on democracy worldwide in the aftermath of the Cold War and Pakistan cannot be immune to these global trends. Now it will be difficult for the Pakistani armed forces to sell a coup to the world in general and to the United States in particular.

Some political analysts believed that the army simply could not intervene for fear of a division within its own ranks. The army's involving itself in politics, at this stage, would have meant taking sides. Which would have made the army controversial and opinion within the forces would have strongly differed. That threat was all too real as numerous press stories had mentioned it. Therefore the fact that the army did not participate in political matters by siding with the president or anyone else and that he in fact refused to bail out the president and the CJP bespeaks the fear that the leadership had of the consequences of upholding any of them.

Moreover, Mr. Nawaz Sharif was no pushover like Benazir Bhutto was. It could legitimately be foreseen and feared that there would be a backlash in Punjab and the situation may not be easily controllable even by the army. And of course, there was the danger of the army being divided within itself. In fact the limits to army's political power have become visible even to ordinary citizens. (10) However, thanks to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the turn of events - especially those in the third week of November - have, by default, made the army establishment's dream come true: It now has a much greater say in the affairs of the government without its concomitant responsibility.

According to the Washington Post, the army sided with Sharif today by making clear that it would not back President Leghari if he dismissed the prime minister. The Post reported that Leghari had informed the army chief, General Jehangir Karamat, that he intended to dismiss Nawaz Sharif and was drafting an explanatory speech. But General Karamat delivered a message of his own: The army would not back Sharif's ouster, in effect making any such order meaningless. (11)

Looming economic crises in Pakistan prevented the army from taking over control of the country during the current political crisis, according to the Times, London. "In another era the army would have taken over. This time, the looming economic crisis doubtless deterred it from dosing so, given the certainty that international financial institutions would have shunned a nation led by military dictators." The generals were bound to engineer the Prime Minister's survival because the only alternative was martial law, a fact that emboldened Mr. Sharif to take on two such important institutions. (12)

In a comment the New York Times said: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has won a constitutional battle with the president and supreme court chief justice, but he had to get the army's support to prevail. "The army behaved responsibly by insuring the continuation of an elected government. Still, it is discouraging to see the army remains such a powerful arbiter." Mr. Nawaz Sharif had become the most powerful Prime Minister since Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. (13)

According to the Financial Times, London, General Jehangir Karamat, the army chief, has intervened twice in the growing constitutional crisis, apparently in both cases to save Nawaz Sharif from premature downfall. On this occasion, Pakistan's military has chosen to side with an elected parliament rather than bring the tanks on to the streets. But the very fact that it took the chief of staff's interventions shows how qualified a victory it is for Pakistan's democracy and how politically important the military remains. (14)

Senator Tarar elected as President

Senator Rafiq Ahmad Tarar, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, was elected president on December 31, 1997. Amid speculations that the presidency would go to a smaller province since the Prime Minister and the Army Chief of Staff are from the Punjab province, the presidential race had narrowed down to Senator Sartaj Aziz and Acting President Wasim Sajjad when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif dropped his bombshell: "Justice (retd) Rafiq Ahmed Tarar was to be Pakistan's next president. " Over the next two days, it became apparent that even Sharif's cabinet knew nothing about the decision while this unexpected announcement left many Muslim Leaguers bewildered.

For his remarks in press interviews against the judiciary, Justice of the Supreme Court, Mukhtar Ahmad Junejo, who also held the post of Acting Chief Election Commissioner, rejected Tarar's nomination on December 18. A petition was filed against Junejo's order in the Lahore High Court. 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." Justice Junejo was removed and replaced by retired Justice Abdul Qadeer Chaudhry as the Chief Election Commission.

It is no mere coincidence that he was on the Supreme Court bench that reinstated Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister on May 26, 1993. Also casting a dark shadow on him is the referendum of December 1994 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 wrote the saddest chapter in Pakistan's constitutional history. (15)

The selection of Senator Tarar as a presidential candidate was a surprise to all and not too well received by a broad section of society. The Prime Minister, of course, had his own reasons that he explained in his interview with the BBC. He said Senator Tarar was a patriot and a man of integrity and belonged to the middle class section of society. This could, of course, be said for millions of others as well. When asked why the presidential candidate was not selected from a smaller province as was being expected by the people, the Prime Minister said that such "petty matters" should not be given any consideration. The full participation by all the provinces in the federal decision-making process in Islamabad is essential for the unity and solidarity of the federation and is certainly not a "petty matter." (16)

LHC upholds Tarar's plea

The Lahore High Court accepted, on Feb. 9 1998, the constitutional petition filed by Rafiq Tarar against his disqualification by the (former) Acting CEC and declared him qualified to contest for and hold the office of President. The acting CEC, Justice Mukhtar Ahmed Junejo of the Supreme Court, had found Tarar, a former Supreme Court Judge, guilty of propagating views prejudicial to the integrity and independence of the judiciary at the time of his nomination as a presidential candidate under Article 63(G) of the Constitution and debarred him from the December, 1997 contest.

The short verbal order did not deal with the question of fact involved in the case - whether Tarar in his interview of the weekly Takbir of June 27, 1996, and statement to the daily Jang, Rawalpindi, of Dec 4, 1997, propagated views prejudicial to the judiciary. Neither before the acting CEC nor in the LHC did Tarar or his counsel categorically denied the allegedly contemptuous statements in their entirety.

Tarar's counsel, Barrister Ijaz Hussein Batalvi told the LHC that the interview carried by Takbeer did not fully convey the views of Tarar. In any case, Tarar was elected senator after the interview and was not debarred from the senatorial contest. The Jang interview did not refer to any judge as no judge left in disgrace on Dec 2. Besides, a penal action could not be based on newspaper reports. Again, a presidential candidate who is also a sitting member of parliament cannot be disqualified under Article 63. Article 41(2) says that a candidate should be qualified to be elected a member of parliament under Article 62 and disqualification under Article 63 cannot be read into it.

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