‘Making windows into men’s souls’

Benazir Bhutto on arrival in Karachi, Oct 2007. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Slightly revised version of my column in Hardnews January issue, published in The News on Sunday, Jan 3, 2010, written on Dec 25 with a recent postscript.

PERSONAL POLITICAL: Making windows into men’s souls

Beena Sarwar

Writing this on Dec 25, 2009, two words come to mind – ‘morality’ and ‘terrorism’.

Flashback to the first Al Qaeda arrest, Feb, 1995: Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) picks up Ramzi Yousaf, the Kuwaiti-Pakistani behind the 1993 World Trade Center car bomb that killed six people (the target was thousands). His arrest is credited among others to then FIA additional director Rehman Malik (current Minister for the Interior).

June 1997: Then opposition leader Benazir Bhutto mentions Malik in her diary series for Slate, A Week in the Life of Benazir Bhutto, writing in her entry of June 21, 1997 about a prison visit to Wajid Shamsul Hasan (currently Pakistan’s High Commissioner in London): Continue reading

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Pervez Hoodbhoy strikes back; More on the NRO ruling

More on the NRO ruling below – but this response by Pervez Hoodbhoy to the scurrilous attack on him by an expat professor deserves mention (he doesn’t usually respond to personal attacks),  published originally in Counterpunch on Dec 14 (later on Chowk on Dec 18) and is worth a read: “Is The Cheque In The Mail? – The Confessions of a Pakistani Native Orientalist”

Below, more about the NRO short order and its implications, including the emphasis on morality and acceptance of the “Islamic provisions” of the Constitution:

1. Two comments on Dec 19 by Asma Jahangir on the NRO ruling, one in a BBC Urdu interview, and “Another aspect of the judgment” oped in Dawn – Extract: “Witch-hunts, rather than the impartial administration of justice, will keep the public amused. The norms of justice will be judged by the level of humiliation meted out to the wrongdoers, rather than strengthening institutions capable of protecting the rights of the people.”

2. Aasim Sajjad Akhtar argues against simplifying the NRO ruling in ‘After the verdict’ (The News on Sunday, Dec 20): “…the structures that produce one bad apple after another need to be interrogated and eventually replaced. There can be no shortcut to justice, and the ‘rule of law’ brigade would do well to bear this in mind.”

3. ‘Legal, moral, political‘ – in this oped (Dawn, Dec 20) Asha’ar Rehman points out some inherent ironies and contradictions, eg “If the legal, political and moral must mingle, how can a lawyer, hailed as the author of the constitution, allow himself to defend a dictator who held the document in abeyance, and also defend his referendum — and then, a few years later, contest an ordinance fashioned by the same dictator?”

4. Letter to Chief Justice Ifitkhar Chaudhury from Bilal Qureshi at Foreign Policy Blogs, December 18, 2009, in which he calls upon the CJ to:

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