Monday, April 4, 2011

Ethnic Discrimination in Pakistani Judicial System. guarantees in the constitution and the `unbiased` judiciary is helpless to rescue hundreds of people from targeted killings and systematic disappearances, which have created a collective sense of insecurity among all segments of Baloch society, leading to further alienation and isolation of Baloch people from the state system and even from the state itself. Though justice was delayed in Chile and Argentina`s case, luckily they are satisfied with the recent verdicts. However, Baloch families are not so lucky because there is not a single ethnic Baloch judge in Pakistan`s superior courts, there is no top military official who can protect their fellow Baloch from the wrath of the establishment and neither are they truly represented in the state system and institutions. REFERENCE: Justice delayed, not denied By Sanaullah Baloch | From the Newspaper January 17, 2011 The writer is a former parliamentarian. 

Benazir Bhutto Criticised Pakistani Judiciary for being Ethnically Biased. said the decision completely ended the role of the parliamentary committee by denying it the right to disagree with the recommendations of the Judicial Commission. She questioned the existence of a parliamentary committee that did not have the power to take independent decisions. Ms Jahangir pointed out the reservations expressed by the chief justices of the high courts about the moral authority of the six additional judges in question.Ms Jahangir said that at the commission level appointment of judges had to be initiated through the CJP which in her view was contrary to the concept of independence of judiciary wherein independent opinion of every judge commanded weight and regard.She had an issue with the composition of the judicial commission, citing what she called a lack of representation from Sindh. Also on her list of concern was the confirmation of judge of the Peshawar High Court only a few months before he was to retire.The bar president concluded the briefing by calling for greater accountability in the judicial system. REFERENCE: Asma shows concern over SC verdicts By Our Staff Reporter | From the Newspaper March 30, 2011 (5 days ago)

The Lahore High Court accepts (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 Mr 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. [Courtesy: Excerpts from ISLAMIC PAKISTAN: ILLUSIONS & REALITY By Abdus Sattar Ghazali] 

CJ Ifitkhar Muhammad Chaudhry also Violated Constitution

[Musharraf-Iftikhar.jpg]Chaudhry Iftikhar named new CJ [Daily Dawn 2005] By Our Staff Reporter ISLAMABAD, May 7: President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday appointed Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, the senior most judge of the Supreme Court, as the next chief justice. He will assume the office on June 30 after retirement of the incumbent Chief Justice, Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui, on June 29. “The notification has ended speculations of appointment of a junior judge as chief justice in violation of the seniority principle settled under the 1996 Judges case,” commented a senior Supreme Court lawyer on condition of anonymity. Justice Chaudhry will reach the superannuation age of 65 years in 2012, which will make him one of the longest serving chief justices in the judicial history of Pakistan. He will serve as chief justice for over seven years. Earlier Justice A. R. Cornelius and Justice Mohammad Haleem served as chief justice for eight years from 1960 to 68 and 1981 to 89, respectively. Justice Chaudhry was elevated as a judge of the apex court on February 4, 2000. He has performed as acting chief justice from January 17 to 29, 2005. He holds the degree of LLB and started practice as an advocate in 1974. Later he was enrolled as an advocate of high court in 1976 and as an advocate of Supreme Court in 1985. In 1989, Justice Chaudhry was appointed as advocate-general of Balochistan and elevated to the post of additional judge in the Balochistan High Court in 1990. He also served as banking judge, judge of Special Court for Speedy Trials and Customs Appellate Courts as well as company judge. He served as the chief justice of the Balochistan High Court from April 22, 1999 to February 4, 2000. He was elected the president of the High Court Bar Association, Quetta, and twice a member of the Bar Council. He was appointed as the chairman of the Balochistan Local Council Election Authority in 1992 and for a second term in 1998. Justice Chaudhry also worked as the chairman of the Provincial Review Board for Balochistan and was appointed twice as the chairman of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, Balochistan. Presently he is functioning as the chairman of the Enrolment Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council and Supreme Court Buildings Committee. Reference: Caudhry Iftikhar named new CJ By Our Staff Reporter May 8, 2005 Sunday Rabi-ul-Awwal 28, 1426  

Barrister Akram Sheikh & Letter to CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry (GEO 2007)


Start quote
Justice Iftikhar Muhammad ChaudhryMr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry
Chief Justice
Supreme Court of Pakistan
My Lord:
I write this letter as an Officer of the Supreme Court of Pakistan; as an Advocate enrolled in the apex Court since 1984 and in the High Courts since 1972; as an Attorney who has paid more income tax from his earnings in the legal profession than many of my friends, colleagues and seniors elevated to the Bench; and as a stake-holder in the dispensation of justice, intimately and vitally interested in the functioning of the Supreme Court. Many judges who adorn the Bench in the Supreme Court and the High Court know me over decades, as a person endowed by nature with a pleasant disposition and acceptance of human failings. Towards the courts, my approach has always been of consistent and continuous display of respect and humility. I bow out of conviction, not compulsion. I use the words “My Lords”, because I want to, not because I have to. As an Attorney, I look up to the Court and want to see it on a high pedestal of dignity, compassion and justice, tempered with mercy. REFERENCE: Letter to CJ from Naeem Bokhari Posted by Teeth Maestro February 26, 2007
ISLAMABAD, Feb 2: The government elevated five judges to the Supreme Court on Wednesday. According to a notification, the president has appointed Justice Rashid Aziz, Chief Justice, Lahore High Court; Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui, Chief Justice Sindh High Court; Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice, Balochistan High Court; Qazi Farooq, former chief justice of Peshawar High Court; and Justice Rana Bhagwan Das, judge, Sindh High Court, judges of the Supreme Court. After the elevation of Justice Rashid Aziz Khan to the SC, Justice Mohammad Allah Nawaz has been appointed Chief Justice of Lahore High Court. Justice Deedar Hussain Shah has been appointed Chief Justice of Sindh High Court and Justice Javed Iqbal Chief Justice of Balochistan High Court. After these appointments, the number of SC judges has risen to 12, leaving five posts vacant. REFERENCE: Five judges elevated to SC Bureau Report DAWN WIRE SERVICE Week Ending : 5 February 2000 Issue : 06/05, April 25: President Mohammad Rafiq Tarar on Tuesday appointed five judges to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. With the appointment of these judges, the strength of the Supreme Court judges, i.e. 17, stands completed. The newly-appointed judges include Justice Mian Mohammad Ajmal, Chief Justice, Peshawar High Court; Justice Deedar Hussain Shah, Chief Justice, High Court of Sindh; Justice Javed Iqbal, Chief Justice, High Court of Balochistan; Justice Hamid Ali Mirza, judge, High Court of Sindh and Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, judge, High Court of Sindh. These judges have been appointed to the SC from the date they respectively take upon themselves the execution of their offices as such judges. Following are the names of the judges of the Supreme Court according to their seniority:

1. Justice Irshad Hassan Khan, Chief Justice of Pakistan,

2. Justice Mohammad Bashir Jehangiri,

3. Justice Sheikh Ijaz Nisar,

4. Justice Sheikh Riaz Ahmed,

5. Justice Ch. Mohammad Arif,

6. Justice Munir A. Sheikh,

7. Justice Abdul Rehman Khan

8. Justice Rashid Aziz Khan,

9. Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqi,

10. Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry,

11. Justice Qazi Mohammad Farooq,

12. Justice Rana Bhagwan Das,

13. Justice Mian Mohammad Ajmal,

14. Justice Deedar Hussain Shah,

15. Justice Javed Iqbal,

16. Justice Hamid Ali Mirza,

17. Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar.-APP

REFERENCE: Supreme Court judges' strength completed DAWN WIRE SERVICE Week Ending : 29 April 2000 an interview on Geo TV on the night of December 2nd, 2003, just 96 hours ago, none other than Dr Nasim Hassan Shah, once one of the pillars of the State by virtue of being the Chief Justice of Pakistan, more importantly a member of what can only be called the lynch mob that was the Supreme Court bench that upheld the death sentence passed by the Lahore High Court presided over by Maulvi Mushtaq, let several rather large, rather nasty cats out of the bag. ...... Judges are concerned about their jobs and confirmation (remember that Shah was an ad-hoc judge at the time of Bhutto's trial and was confirmed during the pendency of the trial or soon thereafter)! Maulvi Mushtaq was a "Zabardast" (hard) man who was Bhutto's "Dushman" (enemy) and should not have sat in judgement on him! He himself (Shah) thought Bhutto's life could have been spared had his defence counsel not "angered" the judges by saying he did not care about the punishment that might be imposed on his client — and only demanded an acquittal, adding as an afterthought that he regretted the decision to hang Bhutto! The then Chief Justice (Anwar-ul-Haq) "might" have received instructions in Bhutto's case (might?) and "may have told us what should be done" (may?)! Either he did or he did not, dash it all. I may add here that it is a well known fact that the Chief Justice's home and office were connected to the Green (VVIP, and very secret special telephones which only the senior-most members of the Federal Government have access to) Line exchange for the very first time in the history of Pakistan during the Bhutto trial. This had not happened before because the Chief Justice was never to be in constant touch with the Executive.

Was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's hanging a judicial murder?


...... anyway there was nothing new in what Shah has said. For we all knew it all, did we not? From the grotty way in which Bhutto was re-arrested on the murder charge after a hundred thousand people turned out to greet him at the Lahore airport, a few weeks after the sponsored PNA agitation, please note; from the shameful way in which he was re-re-arrested, this time under Martial Law Regulations, when he was granted bail in that same murder case by Justice Samdani (another non-Punjabi let us quickly note); from the cruel way in which Maulvi Mushtaq conducted the trial losing no opportunity to humiliate and torture the former President and Prime Minister (such as ordering his chair to be removed and making him stand for days on end during the hearings) when he objected to Maulvi hearing his case because he was openly inimical to Bhutto for not promoting him to Chief Justice; from the daily filthy and vile, and yes, cruel, propaganda broadcast against Bhutto and his ladies on the State-run electronic media, in the so-called White Papers, and in ‘inspired-by-lifafa' pieces in the censored print media. Yes sirs, we knew it all. .....

Justice Durab Patel's Interview on Z A Bhutto's Case


For the purposes of the present discussion, let us only look at those of Shah's confessions which are to do with Bhutto's hanging. For what else was it if not cold-blooded murder when one of the judges on the Appellate Bench (yes, Nasim Hassan Shah), knowing full well that there could have been a most serious miscarriage of justice when Bhutto's "enemy" Maulvi Mushtaq had himself sat on the bench, ratified the\0 death sentence anyway? What else was it if not cold-blooded, planned murder, when that same judge admits almost a quarter century later that Bhutto was hanged because the convicting judges had been irked by a statement by the defence counsel and because the accused plead not guilty — one always knew that the egos of the little men (pun not intended) who prance upon our national stage are fragile, one is aghast at the brittleness! It is also instructive to note that the non-Punjabi judges had no such problem: they were not "angered" because Bhutto did not plead guilty and fall upon their mercy. Is it the case then, that just because Yahya Bakhtiar, a Pathan from Balochistan did not grovel before Punjabi judges on behalf of his Sindhi client, the Punjabi judges condemned his client to death?! Even though his "crime" merited lesser punishment?

Judicial Murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Part 3

Judicial Murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Part 4


If this is an attempt at purgatory on Shah's part, it is purgatory too late. For a valuable human life has been lost and huge fissures have been created between the Punjab and the smaller provinces, specially Sindh. If, indeed, the Establishment using means mainly foul could paper over the fissures before now it will find it more and more difficult as time passes and more and more of those who wish to make peace with their consciences (everybody has some little conscience, surely?) try and purge themselves of the awful guilt they carry. But this purgatory is a very private matter. What should the Pakistani State, which professes itself to be the citadel of Islam, a just religion more than anything else, etcetera and all; which insists that its is the moral high ground always, making much of standing alongside the Kashmiris and the Palestinians and other great causes; what should this State do in the wake of Nasim Hassan Shah's earth-shaking disclosures? In a matter of the uttermost import to the future of the Federation, mark? It should order an immediate re-trial of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, for, just as there are many good people in this country on whose backs (and in spite of the Establishment's knavery) Pakistan sputters on, there are many honourable judges in the country too. Yes, let there be a retrial of the Kasuri murder case. REFERENCE: As quoted in The Hanging Of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Purgation too late By Kamran Shafi The News, Karachi, Pakistan Saturday December 06, 2003-- S awwal 11, 1424 A.H.
Mushahid Hussain Saeeduz Zaman attack on Supreme Court


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. REFERENCE: Fascism on the march By Ardeshir Cowasjee Week Ending : 13 December 1997 Issue : 03/50



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. REFERENCE: Fascdism on the march — II Ardeshir Cowasjee Week Ending : 20 December 1997 Issue : 03/51



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 wrote 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. REFERENCE: Fascism on the march – III Ardeshir Cowasjee Week Ending : 27 December 1997 Issue : 03/52



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. REFERENCE: Fascism on the march – IV Ardeshir Cowasjee Week Ending: 03 January 1998 Issue : 04/01



OUR two alternating juvenile prime ministers and opposition leaders are made of the same stuff. They care not for our Constitution; they make no effort to conform to it; they amend it to suit their own purposes. They have no regard for our laws, which they chop and change at will. When a chief justice asserts the independence of the judiciary, he is deemed to be ‘non- cooperative’ and is removed by machinations defying law. Had the seven honourable judges of the Supreme Court now hearing the cases against this prime minister and his minions been able to hear the testimony of former president Farooq Leghari (who suffered both juveniles), he would have sworn on oath that neither is capable of tolerating, or surviving, an independent judiciary. He would have reaffirmed his public statements of December 2, 1997 when he announced his resignation (and might even have revealed other issues such as Tarar’s flight to Quetta on November 26, 1997). He would have substantiated his affirmations with details of past shameful events, and the Supreme Court of Pakistan might just have found the present and former heads of government guilty as charged.

Shortly after the March 20, 1996, judgment was announced by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, Sajjad Ali Shah, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto went to President Leghari and asked him to denotify the Chief Justice. Why? Because his judgment, repugnant to her selfish interests, would stand in her way. Impossible, he told her, and advised her not to take on the judiciary in a battle she was bound to lose. Eighteen months later, on October 16, 1997, shortly after the then Chief Justice had nominated five High Court judges for elevation to the Supreme Court, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif went to Leghari, taking with him as support and as his voice Leghari’s erstwhile friend, Punjab Governor Barrister Shahid Hamid. They asked him to denotify the same Chief Justice, giving as an excuse their fear that with the five judges elevated, he may shoot down their Anti-Terrorism Act. Nawaz had the denotification document ready for the President’s signature in his pocket. Once again, Leghari had to refuse. Nawaz Sharif went a step further and asked him to send to the Supreme Judicial Council a reference against Sajjad Ali Shah on the grounds that his appointment was unconstitutional and that he was guilty of misconduct. There was no way, under the Constitution, that Leghari could agree to this. Nawaz Sharif then put on a brave face and announced that all was not lost as they had “worked on the Judges.” When Leghari pressed them to give the true reason, they admitted that it was Nawaz Sharif’s fear that Sajjad Ali Shah, with the support of those elevated, might well disqualify him in the cases filed against him. And, besides, it suited Nawaz to have two of the five remain where they were.

At around 0130 hours on November 27, following the unprecedented unconstitutional suspension of Sajjad Ali Shah (Chief Justice of Pakistan for almost four years) by the Quetta Bench of the Supreme Court in the afternoon of the 26th, Nawaz Sharif arrived at the Aiwan to meet Leghari, bringing with him Speaker Ilahi Bakhsh Soomro, Senate Chairman Wasim Sajjad, Law Minister Khalid Anwer, COAS General Jehangir Karamat and DG-ISI Lt. General Rana. For four hours they tried to pressure him into swearing-in as Chief Justice the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court, Ajmal Mian. The Law Minister trotted out at length various precedents to support the action of the Quetta Bench, in response to which Leghari informed him that during the past three months it was his advice that had brought Nawaz to his present predicament. Leghari informed them that he would not sign Sajjad Ali Shah’s denotification, that he would rather resign and hand over to Wasim Sajjad who, as Acting President, would have no moral compunctions to swiftly signing on the dotted line. They begged him not to resign, quite ignoring the fact that for the past many days Nawaz Sharif, Illahi Bakhsh and Wasim had been frantically busy trying to move an impeachment motion against Leghari.

Five days later Leghari did resign rather than uphold Sajjad Ali Shah’s unconstitutional removal. In his December 2 resignation speech (recorded by his men) to an audience which included some 200 international and national media people, he spoke at length on the crisis engineered by Nawaz Sharif, intent upon his confrontation with the Chief Justice, loathe to make any attempt to resolve it. He spoke of the cost to the nation in economic terms of the two-month paralysis of the government, a cost of some Rs.1 billion per day, and of the cost in other intangible terms – the negation of the rule of law, the subjugation of the judiciary, the damage done to the nation’s institutions and morale. He spoke of the engineered disruption of the Supreme Court, of government pressure exerted upon the judges of the Court in order to deliberately and with mala fide intentions fuel the confrontation between the executive and the judiciary. He spoke of how the prime minister’s parliamentarians in open court had insulted the chief justice, of how the ruling party had sent in “goons and militants and parliamentarians to assault the Supreme Court, to jump over fences, to break through doors, to go through corridors waving flags, chanting, dancing and hurling abuses at the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the Supreme Court of Pakistan.”

He spoke of how he had done his best to dissuade Nawaz Sharif from his tussle, to instead concentrate on the major issues confronting the nation, such as poverty, illiteracy, the backwardness of its women, its health, the need for social reforms, the need for modern technology, the need to improve science and agriculture through research. He spoke of how he had begged Nawaz Sharif to back down, to uphold rather than destroy the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law, to not damage irreparably the institutions of the state. He spoke of how Nawaz Sharif had thrice offered him a second term in return for his ‘cooperation’ and how thrice he had refused. On February 24, 1998, an application under Order V Rule 1 of the Supreme Court Rules 1980, was filed by Advocate Muhammad Ikram Choudhary, petitioner in the contempt case against Nawaz Sharif and others now being heard in the Supreme Court, and his Advocate on Record, M A Zaidi.

The application pleaded:

“That Mr Ardeshir Cowasjee has written an article in Dawn of Karachi, on Sunday the 22nd of February 1998, titled ‘The second Tumandar’ relating to alleged ’subjugation and politicising of the judiciary,’ as stated by Mr Farooq Leghari, the ex-president of Pakistan, and so stated in the above article.

“That Mr Ardeshir Cowasjee … has already sent the speech on video cassette to the Resgistrar S.C. Islamabad. “That Mr Leghari, as per Ardeshir Cowasjee, is ready to make a statement on oath in the learned court for the purposes of analysis of the relevant facts and events involved in this case and to do so in the interests of justice. “That the petitioner is placing on record the video cassette containing the speech of Mr Leghari and other things stated above and requests for an appropriate order”.

The application came up the next day before seven judges. They ordered: “In our view, Mr Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari’s the then proposed speech which is contained in the video referred to in the application cannot be taken by this Court as a piece of evidence on the controversy in issue. The application is dismissed.”

The video cassette of the speech submitted to the Court is not the recording of ” Mr Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari’s the then proposed speech”. It is the recording of the speech actually made by President Leghari at the Aiwan-e-Sadar on December 2, 1997. Excerpts from this speech were broadcast on international television channels on December 2 and December 3, but no part of it was allowed to be broadcast by the government-controlled PTV. Excerpts were also reported in the national and international press of December 3. REFERENCE: Hear no evil Ardeshir Cowasjee Week Ending: 7 March 1998 Issue : 04/10



AS you drive towards the rear entrance of the Sindh High Court, on the left
hand side, near the old Sukkur Barrage offices, you will see a 70-year old shady tree which should wear a plaque with the engraving: “Saved by Nasir Aslam Zahid.” One day in 1993, on my way to the Court, I noticed that two of the four old trees that had been planted when the British built the Barrage offices had been chopped down and uprooted. They were just about to start on the third. The Chief Justice in those days was Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid. I approached him in his Chamber and told him of the destruction taking place just outside the Court compound. What can we do to save what is left, I asked. He did not tell me to file a writ, he did not consult the law books to check on what sections permitted him to do what, he was ready to act immediately. I got the Commissioner on the line and he then and there ordered him to stop the felling. By that time three had gone, but one was safe. Nasir Aslam Zahid was one of the best CJs that Sindh has had, and afforded its people full protection. Upsetting the prime minister or the provincial chief minister and their various minions never worried or concerned him, so obviously he had to go. Soon after Benazir Bhutto came in at the end of 1993, he was exiled to the Shariat Court. His departure was a great loss to the people of the province. However, when his two-year term on that Bench came to an end he was elevated to the Supreme Court. So, it was with great relief that I read early this month that Chief Justice of Pakistan Ajmal Mian had appointed Justice Zahid to preside over the Bench comprising Justices Munawar Ali Mirza and Abdur Rahman Khan, former Chief Justices of the Balochistan and the Peshawar High Courts, to investigate the November 28, 1997 storming of the apex court of the land by the rowdies of the government. After the passage of four months, something would be done about restoring the people’s faith in their judiciary. 

Soon thereafter, a notice was sent to me from the Supreme Court asking me to be present in the court of Justice Zahid at Islamabad on March 25 to record my statement concerning the video cassette I had sent the Chief Justice with my letter to him of December 13, 1997. This video cassette contained a recording of the disgraceful events of November 28 shown by the BBC and recorded by the CCTV cameras installed in the Supreme Court. Inter alia, I had written : “You will no doubt appreciate the urgency of the matter. Apparently encouraged by the successful storming of the Supreme Court on November 28, a fortnight later a mob invaded the court of a civil judge at Faisalabad. “It is my firm belief, which, needless to say, is shared by many others, that, as is the case with Benazir Bhutto, her family and followers, Nawaz Sharif and his adherents can neither tolerate nor survive a strong united judiciary. “If Nawaz does survive beyond the next six months, he will find ways to remove you.” Since I myself am not familiar with the majority of Nawaz Sharif’s MNAs and MPAs, and certainly not with his party workers, I sought the help of Spin Doctor Hussain Haqqani, who had spun for both Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, and Zahid Husain, correspondent for The Times (London), in charge of the AP bureau in Pakistan, and writer for Newsline. Apart from Mushahid Husain and Saifur Rahman and Nasreen Jalil who I know, Haqqani was able to identify a few MNAs, MPAs and others and Zahid confirmed the identity of those he knew. This was conveyed to the Court. Those listed as having been seen on the film were Mushtaq Tahirkheli, political secretary to the PM, information minister Senator Mushahid Hussain of the PML, Ehtesab Bureau Chief Senator Saifur Rahman of the PML, PML MNAs Khwaja Asif and Tariq Aziz, PML MPAs Saad Rafiq, Chaudhry Tanvir, Akhtar Rasool, Mian Abdul Sattar and PML party worker Najma Hamid. 

On March 25, the CCTV cassette was shown in the courtroom and I confirmed the listing of the names as submitted with my affidavit and was then cross-examined by the Attorney General. Of those listed, in the court that day was Tariq Aziz, who was asked to make his statement. He swore that he was a law-abiding man and that contrary to what was reported in the press it was not he who had removed a court signboard. When he was caught by a press photographer, with arms upstretched and the board in his hands, he explained that he had reacted subconsciously and was actually trying to hand it back from where it had been torn down. Two others who had been present at the court that day but were not identified on the film, PML MNAs Mian Mohammed Munir and Rao Qaiser, volunteered their statements which were recorded by the Court. The ‘heavies’ followed the next day. Najma Hamid made her statement and testified that she was neither in Islamabad nor in the Supreme Court on November 28, that the chaddar-clad woman filmed climbing up the staircase (and identified by Hussain Haqqani) was not her. It was a case of mistaken identity. I apologized, she graciously accepted the apology and withdrew. Next came Senator Saifur Rahman, seen in the film waving the crowd on towards the courtroom door. He had no intention of coming to the court on November 28, but had been sent there by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif (whose jurisdiction does not extend to Islamabad) to see what was happening as he had heard that there was some sort of disturbance going on in the court premises. All he had done was to try and control the crowd and get them out of the court. 

Khwaja Asif, MNA and Privatisation chief was in the court that day, as he was one of the contemners summoned by the then Chief Justice, Sajjad Ali Shah. He had also done his best, pleading with folded hands whilst standing on a table, begging the stormtroopers to disband and go home. Lastly came the prime minister’s Spin Doctor Mushahid. His stance and demeanour was that of a minister making a political statement in the Assembly and on several occasions the judges had to restrain him and remind him that he was not in the National Assembly, but in a court of law, where he had been summoned to give an explanation and to answer questions, not to give a political speech. To quote Justice Zahid: “You might be a minister, but in this court of mine you are here merely as a witness, testifying under oath.” Justice Munawar Mirza also felt compelled to reprimand him: “You should remember that this is a courtroom of the Supreme Court and not the floor of the National Assembly.” Mushahid Husain’s explanations were at odds with each other. He firstly, in his statement, claimed that the storming of the court was “a spontaneous reaction of the people to a charged atmosphere.” 

Later he proclaimed, in answer to a question, that the storming was the result of “a conspiracy hatched by Farooq Leghari and Sajjad Ali Shah to destabilize the government.” Again he had to be reprimanded. Justices Zahid and Mirza firmly informed him that it was quite improper for him to refer to Justice Sajjad Ali Shah as plain “Sajjad Ali Shah.” Then, with a flourish and a satisfied smile, Mushahid Husain produced a copy of Dawn of March 25, and turning to the letters page pointed to a letter to the editor headed “Selective criticism,” written by one M Riaz-ul-Haq Ramay of Multan, opening with the sentences: “Mr Ardeshir Cowasjee is really a turncoat. He makes selective criticism.” It ends: “He has his blind spots – selective criticism, as I said.” The Court allowed me to respond to this by informing the honourable judges that every information minister has a team of letter-writers paid to discredit journalists and columnists who are not complimentary to their masters and to “set the record straight.” The very same letter sent by the same Ramay of Multan had been printed in Dawn eight to ten days ago. (On checking, it was found to have been printed on March 17.) At this, a flustered Mushahid held up the back page of Dawn and pointed to the print line where the name of the editor is printed. Exuding false innocence, he exclaimed that planting letters in a paper edited by the present editor of Dawn was an impossibility. The judges asked him to keep calm, not to get excited, not to persist with making unsolicited statements but to restrict himself strictly to answering questions. I sprang to his defence and the court was most indulgent. I was allowed to explain that normally Mushahid Sahib is a very calm man, extremely good natured, who smiles and laughs with the greatest of ease. In fact, one of his assistants had told me how on one occasion when he was informed of the death of an acquaintance he responded with his usual happy laugh and had to be prevailed upon to listen carefully while the sad news was repeated to him. The court assembles again on April 2 when the remaining five on the list will be examined. They are Tahirkheli and four MPAs from Lahore. REFERENCE: Week Ending : 04 April 1998 Issue : 04/14

REFERENCE: Storming of the Supreme Court – 2 Ardeshir Cowasjee Week Ending : 11 April 1998 Issue : 04/15 Storming of the Supreme Court – 3 Ardeshir Cowasjee Week Ending : 18 April 1998Issue : 04/16 Storming of the Supreme Court – 4 Ardeshir Cowasjee Week Ending: 02 May 1998 Issue:04/18 Storming of the Supreme Court – 5 Ardeshir Cowasjee Week Ending:16 May 1998 Issue:04/19 Storming of the Supreme Court – 6 Ardeshir Cowasjee Week Ending: 30 May 1998 Issue:04/21 ‘Are the courts functioning?’ By Ardeshir Cowasjee Week Ending: 23 May 1998 Issue:04/20

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