Original Articles

Asma Jahangir’s exclusive interview on Supreme Court’s army-inspired decision on memogate

Memogate: Asma Jahangir ki nazar mein (Interview by Matiullah Jan, Dawn News)

Leading Pakistani lawyer Asma Jahangir today quit as counsel for former envoy to the US, Husain Haqqani, in legal proceedings related to the memo scandal, saying she had “no confidence” in the commission formed by the Supreme Court to probe the matter.

Jahangir, one of Pakistan’s leading rights activist, said she had asked Haqqani to engage another lawyer to represent him in the apex court and the court-appointed commission that has been asked to conduct an inquiry into the alleged memo that sought US help to prevent a feared military coup in Pakistan in May.

A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry last week formed a commission comprising the Chief Justices of the High Courts of Islamabad, Balochistan and Sindh to conduct a probe into the memo issue in four weeks.

Jahangir alleged the judges of the Supreme Court were acting “under the influence of the (security) establishment”.

She said: “And if nine judges of the Supreme Court can be (under their influence), then I am sorry to say I cannot have any expectations from High Court judges, who are under (the apex court judges).”

“Should we close our eyes? Should we allow ourselves to be fooled?… I have told my client he can appear before the commission if he wants to, and he will go. I have no confidence at all (in the commission),” Jahangir told Dawn News channel.

“This is the court’s order and we have to follow it but I told (Haqqani) to engage some other lawyer,” she said. (Source)

Some key points from the interview (extracts taken from Twitter and facebook):

  • The Military is running Pakistan’s Supreme Court ; a noose awaits President Zardari and the elected government
  • Pakistan army is the invisible hand behind the memo petition in the Supreme Court
  • I have no confidence in the Memogate commission set up by the Supreme Court
  • Supreme Court’s decision in the memo case is inspired by invisible hands of the military establishment
  • The Supreme Court says they (military) cannot come now, when did they leave?
  • “When the army takes any action, they don’t read case law”
  • Supreme Court gave interim order in Memogate when Husain Haqqani didnt even have a lawyer
  • ‘Only democratic process will take country forward’.
  • Pakistan does not have an “independent” judiciary.
  • Judicial activism uptake on public interest issues shows bias of interest.
  • “Until the last drop of blood in me,I will fight for my rights & your rights”
  • Transition to democracy not complete – transfer of power not taken place in effective terms
  • “Fundamental rights cannot b compromised”; Pakistanis are not idiots they know what is happening..”
  • “Heard of Shakespearean tragedy, but in Pakistan it is Shiekh-Chillian (delusional) tragedy”
  • “Neither they (estab) let us die nor live, the mindset of society be changed only then we can live without fear
  • Husain Haqqani not at PM House because they serve “better cakes and pastries”, he is under threat by the ISI which wants to force convert him to an approver in the memo case
  • If DG ISI is supreme in this country, we can’t claim to be a free nation.
  • “It’s not me, it is Pakistan’s civilians who have lost in the Supreme Court, it is a loss of their basic rights”.







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Jehangir Hafsi


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  • Asma steps down as Haqqani’s lawyer in memo case

    Islamabad: Former president of Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir has refused to appear before memogate commission as counsel of ex-ambassador to US, Hussain Haqqani by expressing no confidence in the Supreme Court’s judges as well as the commission constituted to probe the scam.

    While speaking to Online here on Sunday, she said that she has neither any expectation from the Commission, formed to investigate memogate nor from the judges of High Court. How it is possible that out of nine-member bench, not even a single judge wrote down any note of descent.

    “The lawyers have given so many sacrifices for the independence of judiciary which went waste. Judges had made their mind earlier. The court went much forward from the relief demanded by the applicants”, she added.

    Asma Jahangir said that when the Supreme Court did not fulfill the requirement of justice. The court confiscated the basic rights of Hussain Haqqani. “I am in doubt that the judges will take statement of my client according to their will, as they are working under Establishment. He was also threatened at the time of ‘arrest’. I told the court but it did not pay any heed towards it”, she added.

    She said that the intelligence agencies always try to befool the civilian government and people. A piece of paper was made the matter of national security, whereas they cannot see the problem of Baluchistan and Abbottabad incident as the matter of national security.

    Asma also criticised government by saying that it took memogate scandal very lightly and non-serious behaviour of the government in the matter shows that the PPP has no any legal experts in their team. As a matter of fact government is just killing the time. It seems that government is himself counting down the remaining days.

    She told media that she withdrew as the counsel for Hussain Haqqani after complete consultation with him, She asked Haqqani to hire some other lawyer who could plead his case. If the commission worked according to Constitution, she could appear before it. “But I already know what kind of drama would be played in the commission so I regret to go there. I faced physical torture for the liberation of courts and if I appeared before the partial judges, my blood pressure might be high”, Asma added.

    She said she does not take care of her life, as she would continue fighting for the supremacy of law. “We want to hand over Pakistan to our young generation as a democratic country and not as a security state”, she maintained


  • Asma Jahangir is the president of Supreme Court Bar Association, so if the Judiciary is not ‘independent’, so as to say ‘corrupt’ in other words, then she is herself at the apex of this strata of corruption.
    Secondly, if she knows so much already due to her ‘supernatural’ powers, she may well be knowing already whether the memo is true or not. So what was the whole point in taking stand in the case? She should go out in the street with her circus troupe where she belongs.

  • @Unaiza:

    Asma is not president of SCBA. Just because you are an idiot does not mean Asma is wrong.

  • @Malik
    Because you are uneducated buffoon does not mean Asma Jahangir is not the head of SCBA. Get help.

  • Probe ISI too if you must: Asma tells SC
    By Faisal Shakeel
    Published: December 29, 2011

    Husain Haqqani’s counsel says memo mentioned a national security team in Pakistan, while no such team exists here. PHOTO: EXPRESS/ FILE
    ISLAMABAD: The relentless Asma Jehangir lay down the gauntlet on Thursday.
    If the court wouldn’t abandon the memo case, it should be prepared to question not just the civilians, but also the khakis, warned Jehangir, counsel for the former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani.
    Jehangir piled up a host of questions before the Supreme Court as she concluded her arguments against the maintainability of the petitions in the memogate scandal on Thursday. The entire affair smacks of foul play, Jehangir argued, as she attempted to convince the court to abandon the case in favour of a probe by an NA panel.
    The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief left for London, without the prime minister’s permission, to meet Mansoor Ijaz, who had been writing against the ISI for the past three years with impunity, Jehangir argued.
    If the court decided to hold a probe, it would also encompass the motive behind General Pasha’s visit to London to meet with Ijaz, Jehangir warned.
    Jehangir insisted that the affair is a complicated political matter and should be left to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security for a decision. The judges did not appear entirely convinced.
    “Do you want us to leave all these questions for the committee to decide?” said Justice Jawad S Khwaja. “I am also a parent and a citizen of this country and feel concerned,” the justice observed.
    Jehangir said the judge was right in expressing anguish, but could not break free from the confines of the constitution’s dictates regulating his work.
    She said Ijaz’s reply had been full of contradictions, and said that even General James Jones, who claimed to have delivered a memo to Admiral Mike Mullen, doubted the Pakistan government’s capacity in delivering on the terms set out in the memo.
    Her query left the chief justice quizzical: “Why did General Jones deliver the memo to Admiral Mullen if he felt this way?” he observed
    Jehangir then attempted to punch holes in Ijaz’s credibility. The court should not attach more credibility to the statement of Ijaz than that of her client, who made ‘hectic efforts for safeguarding the country’s interest’ as the ambassador to the US, she argued.
    The Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who is protecting our borders, had confirmed the existence of the memo, the chief justice shot back.
    Jehangir talked about General Kayani’s responsibilities, but added that history bore testimony to the fact that generals too made mistakes.
    She added that the right forum for holding her client responsible for his alleged crime was the PCNS, or a probe under the Inquiries Commission Act of 1956.
    Do you seek an inquiry for your client and later referral of that inquiry to an authority through the government, asked Justice Saqib Nisar.
    Precisely, Jehangir answered, adding this is what she meant when she sought ‘due process’ for Haqqani.

    The petitioners, meanwhile, insisted that the court forge ahead. The memo is an American conspiracy to pit the army against the government, argued petitioner Barrister Zafarullah. He asked the court to dismiss Jehangir’s application against maintainability because the case is related to the infringement of the collective security of the country.
    Another petitioner, Tariq Asad, said the court has the jurisdiction to entertain the case and order a probe into the matter.

    Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2011.

  • Where is judicial independence, my lords? —Marvi Sirmed

    The memo case is a classic example of not only how basic principles of the independence of the judiciary have been violated, but also, how the international guarantees of human rights have been torn apart

    The apex court’s short judgement in the memo case last Friday left many stunned and shocked. The petitioners could neither prove any violation of fundamental rights under Article 184(3), as their petition claimed, nor could they prove former ambassador Husain Haqqani’s alleged role in the memo. Nonetheless, they were given what they wanted: an inquiry commission without due process of law, and putting Mr Haqqani on notice not to leave the country without the court’s permission.

    Judicial independence remains one of the most misused and mythical terms in Pakistan. Civil society’s saving the employment of a few judges taken away by a dictator could hardly translate into a much-fantasised ‘judicial independence’. When a lower middle class woman from a minority community is left to languish in jail just because a fair decision would mean a popular uproar or maybe life threats to judges, when a judge has to flee the country after sentencing the murderer of former Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer because the fanatic religious elements thought he was a blasphemer, when hundreds of Ahmedis are killed with impunity, and the judiciary along with the state’s law-enforcing mechanism miserably fails to provide them justice or even access to justice, the independence of the judiciary seems to be a cruel joke.

    The ‘freedom of judiciary’ frenzy that engulfed us in 2007 totally blinded us to the real elements of judicial independence. We started the movement and took the first milestone as a destination. The symbolism of not accepting dictation and still surviving in the office was taken as the freedom of judiciary, while it was just the first step. Little did we realise that the basic ingredients of a free judiciary, institutional independence, individual independence, separation of powers and impartiality of judges have to be watched and ensured as part of a continuous process. While we see how touchy the lordships have been on institutional and their individual independence, little attention has been paid to the most important aspects of impartiality and separation of powers.

    Before the kicking in date of the freedom of the judiciary (in 2009), judicial bias was imminent when it came to the political leadership versus the security establishment. Post-2009, we thought we got a free judiciary. Unfortunately, the judiciary after this kicking in date still seems to be under the establishment’s influence. If it is the NRO or NICL case, judicial activity is exemplary. When it is the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case, Mehran Bank case or missing persons’ cases, the freedom of judiciary puts on a burqa and goes into hiding. When Asghar Khan’s petition comes up, judicial independence takes its own ‘independent’ decision to remain quiet. One laments over this judicial ‘freedom’ when one is refused even the copy of public petition no HRC 19/96 — the petition by Asghar Khan that incriminates the security establishment.

    In pre-2009 days, the judiciary used to be biased against civilian governments and under the strong influence (in some cases, under control) of the security establishment. Looking at the short order on the memo case, one wonders, what exactly has changed? The judiciary still fears standing up to the imperiousness of the military establishment against the civilian dispensation. Judgements are still given looking at the names of the petitioners. How could a bench even attempt to be impartial under moral obligation of obliging the petitioners who had won the lordships their jobs just a couple of years ago? How could the bench claim individual liberty when the all powerful spy agencies who possess dark secrets of the bench and bar are a party to the case?

    As an observer of most of the proceedings on the memo case, one cannot help but see the visible partiality against the defence lawyer who was grilled by relevant and irrelevant questions while leaving aside the petitioners who chose to beat about the bush most of the time, as if knowing quite well that they cannot lose the case anyway! When media noise and populist sloganeering of political parties sway the courts, how could they be free or independent? Most amusing was the frequent pronouncements by the bench of ‘sipah salaar’ instead of a constitutional term ‘Chief of Army Staff’ (COAS), as if it will change the reality of their surrender of independence to the old traditional power centre.

    Among the 20 basic principles of the independence of the judiciary adopted by the Seventh UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders and endorsed by the General Assembly resolutions 40/32 and 40/146 of 1985, principle number 6 reads: “The principle of the independence of the judiciary entitles and requires the judiciary to ensure that judicial proceedings are conducted fairly and that the rights of the parties are respected.” Moreover, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines the principles of equality before law as well as the presumption of innocence before proven otherwise. The memo case is a classic example of not only how basic principles of the independence of the judiciary have been violated, but also, how the international guarantees of human rights have been torn apart.

    The petitioners in this case were not insisting and in fact pronounced during the proceedings time and again that they are not implicating anyone, including Mr Haqqani. But the apex court went on curbing Mr Haqqani’s fundamental right of mobility by restricting his freedom of movement just because the affidavits of their ‘sipah salaar’ and spy chief included Mr Haqqani’s name. Ironically, even the spy chief does not seem to have any evidence against Mr Haqqani, as even he ‘requested’ the court to order a probe and get forensic evidence necessary to incriminate Haqqani. Some glaring blunders in how the bench approached this case and anomalies that would come out resultantly after the short (sighted) judgement, however, cannot be ignored. The only link between the memo and Mr Haqqani is an alleged phone conversation wherein Ijaz (who boasts of his links with two dozen intelligence agencies) claims the contents of the memo were dictated to him. One wonders, how will the forensics help decide whose account of the conversation is right?

    It also seems deliberate by a section of the media that Asma Jahangir argued for no inquiry, implying that Mr Haqqani might be fearing an investigation. It was clearly said time and again that the government and Mr Haqqani both demand an impartial inquiry, but under the due process of law. Should we laugh or cry when even the apex court decides to make a mockery of the due process of law? Why an inquiry commission by parliament or by the government could not be made under the Commission of Inquiry Act 1956? With three high court chief justices on the inquiry, what happens if the inquiry leads to a criminal case? Will three high courts be disqualified from hearing appeals in that criminal case? If General Pasha’s demand is a forensic inquiry, why did his and General Kayani’s statement incriminate Husain Haqqani creating a pre-disposition against him without an inquiry? And why the apex court upheld these anomalies?

    Where is judicial freedom, my lords?

    Postscript: Human Rights Watch, an international rights organisation that pointed towards the violation of basic rights through this judgement, is being attacked by sections of the media. Hail judicial independence!

    The writer is an Islamabad-based commentator on counterterrorism, social and political issues. She can be reached at marvisirmed@me.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/marvisirmed


  • Memo affair

    The nine-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) hearing the memogate case has unanimously ruled the other day that the petitions are maintainable and has set up a three-member judicial commission to investigate the affair and report back in a month. The commission will be headed by the Chief Justice (CJ) of the Balochistan High Court Qazi Faez Isa and include the CJs of the Islamabad and Sindh High Courts. The SC bench has also reiterated its order of December 1 directing former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani not to leave the country without the court’s permission. It may be recalled that the counsel for Mr Haqqani, Asma Jahangir, had argued before the SC that the petitions were not maintainable on grounds of the issue being a political one, and had cited case law from foreign and Pakistani jurisprudence in support of her arguments, apart from questioning the appropriateness of the issue being agitated at a judicial forum when parliament was already seized of the matter. She had also questioned the order of December 1 against her client, stressing that he had been ‘condemned’ unheard and this was a violation of Mr Haqqani’s fundamental rights. That order has been questioned also on the grounds of being tantamount to giving relief to the petitioner/s that they had not even asked for. No wonder then that the latest ruling visibly upset Asma Jahangir, who criticised the ruling as being ‘establishment-minded’, having put the civilian government under the military’s command and prioritised national security above fundamental rights. She was of the view that the order was not in accordance with the rule of law. She characterised the occasion as a dark day for the judiciary, questioning whether the judiciary restored through the lawyers’ movement was a judiciary of the people or the establishment. Reluctantly accepting the ruling, as is expected of a senior lawyer, she nevertheless reserved the right to file a review petition against the ruling once the detailed order was available. She also cautioned the petitioners, particularly the PML-N, that the court’s order would come back to haunt them in future.

    As validation of Ms Jahangir’s contention, the parliamentary committee on national security has decided to summon Husain Haqqani, DG ISI General Pasha and the main character in the whole brouhaha, Mansoor Ijaz, to appear before it. We are in therefore for an embarrassing scenario where two of the highest forums of the state, parliament and the judiciary, would be dealing with the same matter at the same time. On this count, many senior jurists, including Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood, have added their voices to the criticism of the SC in admitting the petitions for hearing at such a juncture. A possible, bruising outcome could be that the judiciary and parliament rule contradictorily on the issue, sparking a division and perhaps a clash between the two highest state institutions.

    The independence of the judiciary has been proclaimed repeatedly since its restoration. That is of course a desirable outcome, given the sorry history of supine judgements of the superior judiciary in our past, especially where validation of military coups has consistently been in evidence. Although CJ Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has repeatedly said there is no question of repeating that bad track record, the doctrine of necessity on which such past validations were based having been buried, the present case does arouse concerns that the court may be giving more weightage to the views of COAS General Kayani and General Pasha, whose affidavits before the SC seem to be at odds with their nominal ‘bosses’, the federal government. In cases of such political and constitutional import, the SC in its own interests must ensure that justice is not only done, but is seen to have been done, without giving critics the slightest opportunity to accuse it of bias, since this would be deleterious for the respect and dignity of the judiciary.


  • @Unaiza: You are buffoon yourself otherwise how long does it take for a human to find out Asma is not president SCBA. This also explains why you have not understood a single word Asma has to say.

  • I thought he is just blind of one eye but he is totally blond… Bastard Chief Justice… Was that we foight for free judiciay…?

  • Beyond the mandateFrom the Newspaper | Editorial | December 29, 2011

    ASMA Jahangir, legal counsel of Husain Haqqani in the memo hearings in the Supreme Court, may have had in mind a robust defence of her client while making strong statements about the political role of the ISI but her remarks in Courtroom No 1 on Tuesday are worth reflecting on in a wider context. Also, while ‘memogate’ may have pitched the elected government against the powerful army, the hearings in the Supreme Court could become a way of addressing hitherto taboo subjects, such as the responsibilities of the ISI, official and otherwise. The rub of the present matter is that the ISI appears to have ‘investigated’ its own political leadership and determined that the political leadership has grave charges to answer. In fact, from the statements of ISI chief Lt Gen Pasha filed in the Supreme Court, it would appear that the army prima facie believes the allegations of Mansoor Ijaz regarding the role of Husain Haqqani, and someone more senior to him on the civilian side, in the drafting of the now-infamous memo.

    Did the ISI itself transgress official boundaries in the present instance? Also, what is the ISI’s legal mandate: is it a counter-intelligence and external-oriented organisation or does it have a more expansive domestic role? Part of the problem is historical. While there is some irony that the PPP’s founder, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, is believed to have given the ISI a larger role and ingress into domestic politics, the real boost for the organisation proved to be the Afghan war in the 1980s. Organising and equipping the Afghan jihadis while serving the domestic needs of dictator Ziaul Haq, the ISI was an infinitely more fearsome institution at the end of the ’80s than it was at the start. By the time the so-called decade of democracy rolled around, the ISI was confident and capable enough to aggressively intervene in the democratic process. As the self-appointed custodians of the national interest, the army and the ISI established their own rules that only as a matter of convenience appeared to fit into the scheme of a constitutional democracy. For the civilians to assert their control over the country’s armed forces and its intelligence apparatus, many years, much sophistication in approach and honesty of purpose will be required. Sadly, none of that has been evident to date on the civilian side.

    Inevitably, perhaps, the courts also must shoulder some of the blame. Had the verdict in the Asghar Khan case, which looked into the manipulation of elections by the ISI in the 1990s, been handed down, the hearings into the memo affair may not have become necessary. Having said that, the present hearing could be used to try and establish the mandate and parameters of the ISI.


  • Whither an independent judiciary?

    Noted lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir has refused to appear before the judicial commission investigating the memo case as counsel for Mr Husain Haqqani. Ms Jahangir’s decision is a serious expression of no confidence in justice being delivered from either the court or the judicial commission. This has raised some serious questions regarding the superior judiciary. From the very beginning of the memo case, it was obvious that more credence was being given by the court to the military top brass as against the civilians. Ms Jahangir expressed her disappointment with the judgement of the nine-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. She termed the judgement as a win for the military establishment, which undermined civilian supremacy: “If nine judges of the SC can be [under the establishment’s influence], then I am sorry to say I cannot have any expectations from the high court judges [heading the judicial commission].” That the court is focused on national security instead of upholding fundamental rights and civilian authority has turned the public’s expectations from the ‘independent’ judiciary into disillusionment.

    Those who have criticised Ms Jahangir for ‘running away’ from the fight or ‘defeatism’ must remember how hostile the bench was towards the defence counsel. In fact, it seemed like a repetition of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s case, where some quarters lamented that Mr Yahya Bakhtiar did not plead Mr Bhutto’s case well, which led to his hanging. This was despite the fact that the judiciary in those days was completely under the army’s thumb and highly biased towards Mr Bhutto. A similar scenario is in the making today in the memo case. Independent courts all over the world do not hear political cases but in Pakistan’s case, as the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has pointed out, “a tendency for the courts to find themselves embroiled in matters that they would not otherwise be an appropriate forum for”. HRW also expressed “concern about the fear of judicial overreach and unwarranted intrusion into the affairs of the legislature and the executive”. Courts should be a forum of justice where citizens go expecting their rights will be protected. Ms Jahangir was not able to get justice for her client despite making a strong legal case about the maintainability of the memo petitions. Now the judiciary’s ability to provide justice hangs in the balance.

    It would be interesting to see if the findings of the judicial commission are different from that of the parliamentary committee’s investigation. In such an event, whose findings would be considered ‘supreme’ would determine where the real power lies. In principle, parliament is supreme but by hearing the petition on an unsigned memo, and that too when parliament is siezed of the matter, the court has in effect given an impression of ignoring the possible pitfalls ahead. With the success of the lawyers’ movement, it was expected that the judiciary would become truly independent but now the perception is growing that not much has changed. If this trend continues, the issue of civil-military imbalance may not be addressed and democracy remain in the dock.


  • PBC backs Asma’s stance on memogate

    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Vice chairman (VC) Latif Afridi has backed Asma Jahangir’s stance regarding court’s judgement in the controversial memo scandal, saying that the superior judiciary cannot play the role of an investigator in any matter. Talking to Daily Times, the PBC vice chairman endorsed Asma Jahangir’s stance that the Supreme Court has wrongly assumed its jurisdiction in the memo scandal. Regarding the memo probe commission, consisting of three high courts chief justices, Afridi said that ordinary litigants would face difficulties in this situation. “The nation is already divided politically, ethnically and economically… it cannot be allowed to further divide on judicial consideration,” he added. The VC hoped the judiciary would not become a source of conflict and things would proceed in accordance with the constitutional division of powers. “Pakistan needs coherence, unification and support of all the federation units and democratic forces, minus those who make hay while the sun shines,” Afirdi said. He urged the SC not to adopt dual standards, and take notice of Mansoor Ijaz’s other statement regarding the ISI director general’s visits to the Arab countries for the removal of President Asif Ali Zardari. The PBC VC urged the court to adopt the policy of judicial restraint, and refrain from entertaining political cases, as the move could make the SC prone to allegations of favouritism. On the other hand, he urged the chief justice of Pakistan to take up the Asghar Khan case. Concerning Pervaiz Musharraf’s return, he said the lawyers would agitate against the former dictator upon his arrival. hasnaat malik


  • A woman of great courage and valour! So proud to have her as a pakistani, this nation should learn to appreciate her, she is standing up for all of us to face the evil that exists in Pakistan, if not for her the cursed Taliban and their admirers would run us all over, Pakistan was NOT MADE for these scum. They should all go to Afghanistan and make their ideal jahilliya society there, this is what idiots like Unaiza need to understand provided she has brains which i seriously doubt!