‘This is not about Shia or Sunni but barbarians hijacking our religion and our country’

Syed Shehroz Hussain (centre) holds a picture of his father, Dr Riaz Hussain Shah who was killed in Peshawar recently.

Syed Shehroz Hussain (centre) holds a picture of his father, Dr Riaz Hussain Shah who was killed in Peshawar recently.

Students and professionals in the Boston area organised a well-attended vigil on Friday evening in solidarity with Pakistan’s Shia Muslims and in protest against the ongoing target killings. A heavy snowstorm cleared up hours before the candlelight vigil at picturesque Copley Square in downtown Boston that some participants travelled for hours to attend. Continue reading

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Concern for Pakistan democratic process, safety of human rights defenders

Citizens’ statement of concern about the democratic process in Pakistan democratic and safety of human rights defenders, to be released to the media on Jan 5, 2012 (to endorse, please enter your information in the form at this link)

We, the undersigned, express our grave concern that Pakistani human rights defenders are being threatened and intimidated for their stance in the ‘memogate’ case. We are also concerned at the danger this crisis poses to Pakistan’s democratic political process that had taken a step forward with the elections of 2008. Continue reading

Some facts about Husain Haqqani and ‘memogate’

Husain Haqqani: Pawn in a larger game?

There are numerous issues besides ‘Memogate’ that directly affect the people, like the shortage of gas, electricity, clean drinking water, housing, healthcare, employment and so on. But the issue gains significance because so far, no democratically elected civilian government in Pakistan has ever been allowed to complete its tenure and hand over power to the next one through democratic elections (as I outlined in this paper). There were hopes that this government would be the first to do so – a critical step towards the continuation of a democratic political that is necessary to move the country away from the military-dominated politics of the past – something, as it is now all too apparent, is not a thing of the past after all. In this context, it’s important to understand the current situation and its dangers. Myra MacDonald sums it up in an analysis for Reuters. Some insights were posted to this blog earlier (here and here). Additional facts are laid out in a document received today (reproduced below) that outlines some facts about Husain Haqqani and ‘memogate’. Also read this important article, ‘Treason? Under what Constitution? in the New Pakistan blog, which dissects the ‘memo’ contents and notes that each item in the document falls under the constitutional purview of the federal government…

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‘Memogate’ commission should examine existing evidence, not create new evidence

The equation as it should be: Army following policies set by the civilian elected government, not the other way round. (Reuters file photo)

What is ‘Memogate’? The ‘memo’ in question is a letter allegedly written at the behest of Pakistan’s President by the Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, asking USA to prevent a possible military coup in Pakistan after US Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011. Haqqani denied the allegations, sent in a letter offering to resign in order to facilitate an impartial inquiry, and returned to Pakistan to clear his name. Instead, he found his resignation letter accepted. The Supreme Court barred his exit from Pakistan. He has been forced for his own safety to confine himself first to the Presidency and then to the Prime Minister House. On Dec 30, 2011, The Supreme Court in response to a petition against the ‘memo’ formed a three-member judicial commission to look into the matter that the media has dubbed as ‘memogate’.

Asma Jahangir, counsel for Husain Haqqani and former Supreme Court Bar Association President, has refused to appear before the commission saying that she does not trust the judiciary. She has said that instead of forming a commission to create or produce new evidence the Supreme Court should have looked into the evidence placed before it to decide whether there was a prima facie case and whether the court could proceed to enforce any fundamental rights by making a binding order. Continue reading

‘Memogate’: The basic issue is the civil-military relationship

Asma Jahangir: Speak out for democracy

Husain Haqqani: scape-goated and threatened

Former Pakistan ambassador Husain Haqqani’s counsel Asma Jahangir sounds a sombre warning about the danger Haqqani is in from the military and intelligence agencies that are capable of picking him up and ‘twisting his limbs’ to make him say what they want to hear. Talking to Dawn TV’s Matiullah Jan in a detailed interview of Jan 1, 2012 she says that she took up the case because she found it a travesty that an individual was being condemned on the basis of a media trial without due process or representation. However, she will not represent him before the Judicial Commission that has been formed as she does not trust the process. The interview, posted in six parts (about 5-6 min each), is worth listening to in full as she makes some crucial points about the significance of this judgement to Pakistan’s politics. She sums some of these points up in this earlier brief interview with Al Jazeera English:

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Lagay Raho, Media Bhai (Keep At It, Brother Media!)

See article below, posted with this comment by Shaheryar Azhar, Moderator, The Forum: “What is amazing is that people like Kamran Khan, Shaheen Sehbai and then politicos like PMLN (and PPP to be sure as in 1999) and everyone in between have such low opinion and regard for democracy that for all kinds of invented reasons they are ready to sacrifice it at a drop of a hat. They are or unwittingly become instruments of the Army. No one has the mental toughness to ask the difficult questions or patience to let the political process sort out the incompetent and the corrupt overtime. Irony of irony is that, in turn, each of them have themselves been a victim of the same establishment whose line they now toe. What accounts for this short-sightedness? Are they too self-absorbed, too bereft of core beliefs, too egotistically driven, too lacking in wisdom to see the circus of repeating rings! This is a great article by Sadiq Saleem because he is raising the logical issues – one can already see an alternative narrative developing here, which can, one hopes, lead one day to the true practice of the Charter of Democracy.”

Lagay Raho, Media Bhai (Keep At It, Brother Media!)
The News, November 04, 2009
By Sadiq Saleem
On Monday, November 2, thirty-five innocent Pakistanis lost their lives to a terrorist attack. These were ordinary people, standing in line at a bank to receive their monthly salary. They must have gone there with plans of spending that money on their parents, wives, children, brothers and sisters. But for the Pakistani media, especially the TV anchors who have now become the arbiters of what is important and what is not, the death of these poor people was not important. With their usual cast of characters from —Jamaat-e-Islami to Imran Khan to the two Muslim Leagues— the electronic media that day was exclusively focused on the so-called NRO issue.

‘Kary Logar’ ain’t the issue

My article on the ‘Kerry Lugar Bill’ and the crisis Pk faces today – a slightly edited version of which was published in Dawn today as KLB is not the issue

Photo from the demonstration on Oct 11. Courtesy www.dawn.com

Photo from the demonstration on Oct 11. Courtesy http://www.dawn.com

‘Kary Logar’ ain’t the issue

Beena Sarwar

As pressure mounted in South Waziristan with the army action, and retaliatory bombings began, a demonstration in Karachi by parties that claim religion as their raison d’etre underscored some key conflicts Pakistan faces: the requirements of justice under due process of law versus tribal, extra-judicial punishments, tensions between the elected civilian government and the ‘establishment’, and conflict between a long-standing foreign policy versus new domestic compulsions.

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