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Judicial coup in Pakistan deflects attention from CJ’s son’s graft case

The Supreme Court, in claiming to represent the will of the people, has removed from power the people’s representative, saying that Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani stood disqualified from being a member of parliament and hence the office of the prime minister since April 26 — the day he was found guilty of contempt.

Support for the decision may not be unanimous mainly because of recent developments, especially where the Honourable Court was dragged into the Arsalan Iftikhar matter (graft case against Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s son) and how it chose to — itself — remove it from the allegations citing that Malik Riaz had himself admitted that he had never received any favours from the court.

The procedure to remove a prime minister from office is clear: he can be voted out by parliament or the speaker of the National Assembly can send a reference to the Election Commission. So the view, that with this verdict, the apex court has played the role of judiciary, legislature and executive, may find some takers.

Also, one must wonder why didn’t the seven-member bench that ruled in the contempt case in April not make matters clear, and that if the intention was to leave the matter to parliament then why wasn’t the speaker’s ruling left unscrutinised.

Furthermore, how can a 3-member bench disqualify a PM while the original 7-member bench did not deem it fit to do the same? Apparently, to save his son, the CJ (with alleged links with Pakistna’s military establishment) decided to strike the democratic government.

How can 7-member bench decision be overruled by 3-member bench, it was basically a right of same bench to hear PTI-PMLN petition against the democratic government. The passage of almost two months since that verdict and Tuesday’s decision may well give ammunition to some people who may claim that the Honourable Court is perhaps trying to deflect attention from the Arsalan Iftikhar case.

Furthermore, there will be people, and not entirely from within the PPP, who may consider whether yesterday’s verdict is, in effect, a judicial coup.

Of course, all of this is not to say that Yousaf Raza Gilani or the PPP is without blame. From opposition political parties perspective, the crisis could have been avoided by simply writing to the Swiss authorities or he could have resigned on April 26. Of course, the other view is that the apex court could have let the matter rest after being told by the government that under the Constitution, the president enjoyed immunity. Of course, it has to be said, with the utmost of deference and respect, that often times, the apex court has not shown the same assertiveness to military generals (serving and retired) that it has shown to elected civilians/governments.

Source: Adapted from Express Tribune

Video: Asma Jahangir terms PM’s disqualification as soft coup by Pakistani judiciary
http://youtu.be/yGk8kYKGTkU

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  • Another worth reading article published in Wall Street Journal:

    Pakistan’s Judicial Coup – WSJ Article

    The Pakistani Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday to dismiss Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani signals the unnatural death of another civilian government. While less dramatic than the military variety, this judicial coup—carried out on the pretext that Mr. Gilani refused to pursue corruption charges against President Asif Ali Zardari—perpetuates the cycle of unelected institutions “rescuing” Pakistanis from their own chosen leaders.

    The man responsible for this constitutional crisis is Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry,

    who was once hailed as a democratic hero for standing up to the last military strongman, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, in 2007. It’s not the first time the court has come close to disqualifying Mr. Gilani from office. Last December, he accused the military of being behind the effort. “I want to make it clear that there are conspiracies going on to pack up the elected government,” Mr. Gilani said at the time.

    Whether or not it should be called a conspiracy, there certainly is a confluence of forces gunning for the Prime Minister and Mr. Zardari. This makes it impossible for the government to function normally, with no end in sight. Presumably the Supreme Court would order any new Prime Minister to pursue the same corruption case against the President, and hold him in contempt as well should he refuse. New elections may be the only way to break the deadlock.

    Pakistan can ill afford this political wrangling as the economy falters and terrorist groups gain strength. Public confidence in democratic institutions, shaky to begin with, is in free fall, and the middle class continues to emigrate. Pakistan has defied predictions of failed statehood before, but testing its luck again with another undemocratic transition is foolhardy.

    Having stepped in to overthrow so many civilian Presidents, the judiciary and military view coups as their prerogative and even duty. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that this time democratically elected leaders managed to stay in power for an impressive four years—Mr. Gilani is already the longest-serving civilian Prime Minister in Pakistan’s history—and the coup-makers felt constrained by public revulsion at a return to military rule.

    Nevertheless, the self-anointed defenders of Pakistan’s interests have again succeeded in crippling Pakistan’s democracy. Mr. Zardari and Mr. Gilani may fairly be accused of bungled leadership and inept policy making. But Pakistan will never reach political maturity until democratic governments are allowed to serve out their terms at the pleasure of the people, not unelected elites.

    Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303836404577476231968099476.html

  • Laibaah ‏@Laibaah1
    What does Omar Waraich smoke? “Supreme Court has rightfully earned much popularity 4 grilling intelligence agencies & confrontng corruption”. Omar Wariach obfuscates: “Its unclear whether CJ’s son was being suborned by the government-connected billionaire, or was extorting him” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/omar-waraich-pakistan-suffers-a-coup-by-other-means-7866514.html

    Naeem Shamim ‏@naeemshamim
    Najam Sethi Sahib , when you repeatedly keep on referring to your chiriya or chiraa , it becomes unbearably disgusting ! Sincerely, Viewers

    Laibaah ‏@Laibaah1
    Najam Sethi claims “Gilani is most hated PM across Pakistan”. You know who is speaking, right?

    Laibaah ‏@Laibaah1
    True to her urban pseudo-liberal roots, Nasim Zehra is blaming PPP’s legal strategy for PM’s disqualification. #BlameTheVictim

  • Democracy under threat: by Asma Jahangir http://dawn.com/2012/06/19/democracy-under-threat/

    عدالتی فیصلے سے مطمئن نہیں: عاصمہ جہانگیر
    آخری وقت اشاعت: منگل 19 جون 2012 ,‭ 18:53 GMT 23:53 PST
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    آمریت سے ڈر نہیں لگتا لیکن قانون کے سہارے آمریت آئے تو اس سے خوف آتا ہے
    سپریم کورٹ بار ایسوسی ایشن کی سابق صدر عاصمہ جہانگیر نےکہا ہے کہ وہ عدالتی فیصلے سے مطمئن نہیں ہیں تاہم پارلیمان اور حکومتی جماعت کو فیصلہ تسلیم کرنا چاہیے۔
    لاہور میں بی بی سی کے نامہ نگار عباد الحق سے بات کرتے ہوئے عاصمہ جہانگیر نے کہا کہ حکمران جماعت پیپلز پارٹی عدالتی فیصلے کو تسلیم کرے اور نیا وزیر اعظم چنے۔
    اسی بارے میں
    وزیراعظم کی نا اہلی کا فیصلہ قبول ہے: پیپلز پارٹی
    وزیراعظم گیلانی کی نااہلی کا نوٹیفیکیشن جاری کر دیا گیا
    سپریم کورٹ میں کیا ہوا
    متعلقہ عنوانات
    پاکستان, سیاست
    عاصمہ جہانگیر کا کہنا ہے کہ جب سے عدلیہ بحال ہوئی ہے اس نے اداروں کو بار بار دھچکا لگانے میں کوئی کسر نہیں چھوڑی لیکن بقول ان کے حکومت کی بقاء اسی میں ہے کہ وہ سپریم کورٹ کے فیصلوں کو تسلیم کرتی رہے۔
    سپریم کورٹ بار کی سابق صدر نے اس خدشے کا اظہار کیا کہ اگر عدالتی فیصلوں کو تسلیم نہیں کیا جاتا تو اس سے تصادم کی صورت حال پیدا ہوگی جس سے ’سوفٹ کو‘ ہونے کا خطرہ ہے۔
    ان کے بقول چیف جسٹس پاکستان کے بیٹے ارسلان افتخار کا معاملہ ایک سازش کا حصہ لگتا ہے کیونکہ سپریم کورٹ نے بڑی تیزی سے جمہوری نظام کی بساط لپٹنے کا آغاز کیا ہے۔
    عاصمہ جہانگیر نے یہ خدشہ بھی ظاہر کیا کہ لگتا ہے کہ انتخابات نہیں ہوں گے۔ ان کا کہنا ہے کہ اب وہ زمانہ نہیں رہا جب کھلم کھلا مارشل لاء لگادیا جائے۔ لیکن ایک سویلین چہرے کے پیچھے فوجی بیٹھے ہوتے ہیں اور اس کی اب بدبو آنی شروع ہوگئی ہے۔
    انہوں نے کہا کہ عدالتی فیصلہ جمہوریت کے لیے ایک بہت بڑا چیلنج ہے کیونکہ جب عدلیہ ہی آمر ہو جائے تو حالات آمریت سے زیادہ بدتر ہو جاتے ہیں۔
    عاصمہ جہانگیر نے کہا کہ آمریت سے ڈر نہیں لگتا لیکن جب قانون کے سہارے آمریت آئے تو اس سے خوف آتا ہے۔
    سپریم کورٹ بار کی سابق صدر نے اس بات پر افسوس کا اظہار کیا کہ عدلیہ، پارلیمان اور اپوزیشن ایک دوسرے کو کمزور کرنے کے لیے خود اپنے پاؤں پر کلہاڑی مار رہے ہیں۔
    ایک سوال پر عاصمہ جہانگیر نے کہا کہ ’جمہوریت خطرے میں ہے‘ کہ عنوان سے شائع ہونے والے کالم میں انہوں نے جو بات کی ہے اس کی ایک کڑی آج سب نے دیکھ لی ہے۔
    ان کے بقول عدالتی فیصلے کے باوجود پارلیمان اس کو تسلیم کرے اور نیا وزیر اعظم لائے تاکہ کل کو کوئی یہ بات نہ لکھ سکے کہ سیاست دانوں کی وجہ سے جہموریت پٹڑی سے اتری ہے۔
    عاصمہ جہانگیر کا کہنا ہے کہ ’جہاں سے جمہوریت کے پٹڑی سے اترنے کا آغاز ہوا ہے وہیں الزام بھی جانا چاہیے۔‘
    ایک سوال پر وکیل رہنما عاصمہ جہانگیر نے کہا کہ بار ایسوسی ایشنز ’سوفٹ کو‘ کے خلاف ضروری کوشش کریں تاہم وکلا تنظیموں میں دھڑے بندی موجود ہے۔
    ان کےبقول وکلا کے ایک بڑے گروپ کے رہنما نے تحریک انصاف کی طرف سے مقدمے کی پیروی کی اور عدالتی فیصلے کے بعد چیف تیرے جان نثار کے نعرے بھی لگے۔
    سپریم کورٹ بار کی سابق رہنما نے کہا کہ وکلا رہنما ایک غیر جانبدار موقف اختیار کریں اور یہ اندیشہ ہے کہ ایسے رہنماؤں کو کچھ دیر کے بعد پیچھے دھکیل دیا جائے۔
    عاصمہ جہانگیر نے کہا کہ معاملات خراب سے خراب ہوتے جارہے ہیں اور بقول ان کے عدلیہ ایکسپوز ہوئی ہے، لیکن اس نے یہ فیصلہ کیا کہ جس راستے پر وہ چلے ہیں اسی راستے پر چلنا چاہیے۔
    ان کا کہنا ہے کہ سیکنڈل کے آنے کے بعد کچھ مجبوری بھی ہے کیونکہ اسٹیبلشمنٹ پہلے ٹریلر دکھاتی ہے اور بعد میں فلم چلائی جاتی ہے۔

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2012/06/120619_asma_interview_as.shtml

  • Counsel for Ex-Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in contempt of court case, Aitzaz Ahsan has said that three member bench has changed the verdict of seven member bench.

    While talking to media Aitzaz Ahsan said that I was already expecting the verdict and that is why I was not present in the court at the time the decision was announced.

    Aitzaz also said, “Seven member bench did not disqualify PM; infact, 3 member bench changed the decision of 7 member bench.”

    He also said, “April 26 verdict did not disqualify PM.”

    “Decision for not appealing was politically right,” he told adding that, “Party decided not to appeal otherwise I had prepared appeal of 250 pages.”

  • I think the Pakistan Army breeds soldiers who are rather fat but I still think that the Chief Justice acted with honesty, integrity and in the best interest of the nation. However I do not like the fact that Zardari is still alive and ruling the roost.

    Any corruption committed by Dr Arsalan pales when compared to that committed by Zardari and his gang.

  • Enemies of reason — Dr Mohammad Taqi

    While by design it may wish to apportion itself the imagined and tangible glory, by default such a judiciary ends up transferring all its gains to its supporters directly and/or indirectly

    “Suspicion is the enemy of reason, but the persons who suffered from this prejudice include judges of the superior courts, leaders of the Bar, generals, intelligence services and all the right of centre parties” — Justice Dorab Patel.

    The Bahria torpedo a la Malik Riaz Hussain nearly sank the self-styled flagship of virtue and the ensuing maelstrom sucked in more victims than one could imagine. Free fall of many media anchors and journalists, along with their ethics, threatened and did manage to take down many with them. However, with the Supreme Court of Pakistan firing back, to fire the prime minister, Mr Hussain may eventually be forced to remember Tuco’s words from The good, the bad and the ugly: when you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk. Nearly sank does not count.

    More importantly, however, the current turbulence has reopened or exposed the existing fault lines in the body politic of Pakistan. The military establishment and the politicians have traditionally been at the opposite ends of the tug of war in Pakistan. The superior judiciary has acted as the military’s sidekick in most instances, barring a couple of notable exceptions where an individual judge worked to appease a particular civilian ruler. While the separation of the executive, parliamentary and judicial powers has conceptually and constitutionally existed, a pliable judiciary has almost always acted as a proxy for the military establishment that has never had a constitutional role in this trichotomy.

    The post-March 2009 judiciary arrived at the helm with a sense of entitlement and populist vigour, which it felt it had earned for inspiring and leading its own restoration movement. Frequent references, in several recent verdicts, by several judges to the Supreme Court of Pakistan to being “the people’s court” rather than a constitutional court indicated that the justices were operating under the influence of what they perceived was popular support received during the restoration movement. The restored judiciary had come to the bench after contracting the messiah complex! The misplaced assumption of being the new saviours has put the judiciary in a unique situation where it has on occasion been at odds with both the civilians and the military and appears to be acting not just as a proxy, at least in its own mind, but a power player.

    There are several fundamental problems with such assumptions on the part of the judiciary. Firstly, as an institution it lacks, by itself, the wherewithal to effect any meaningful change in the existing structures. It has to rely on the support of other players and weakness of the opponents to be taken seriously. The present Supreme Court appears to have made common cause with the rightwing politicians and media persons for its strength. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which has been at the receiving end of repeated adverse verdicts, has limited options in terms of how to respond effectively. The PPP does not have the political capital required to counter a populist judiciary, and certainly not in the fifth year of its government; no political party usually does at such a late stage in its stint. The second issue flows from the inherent inability of the judiciary to be a direct power player. While by design it may wish to apportion itself imagined and tangible glory, by default such a judiciary ends up transferring all its gains to its supporters directly and/or indirectly. Direct beneficiaries in the present scenario could be the political parties that have been egging on the judiciary. The ultimate beneficiary, however indirect, will remain the military establishment, which stands to gain from the civilian institutions pouncing on each other.

    Thirdly, and most importantly, there are legal as well as philosophical issues with a populist court. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, in its report for 2011 seems to be of the opinion that the superior judiciary’s overzealous use of suo motu powers as well as entertaining petitions by so-called interested parties — the definition of which remains nebulous and ever expanding — has taken up the time and energy of the courts to the detriment of other cases. In addition to, and often at the expense of, its normal function as the court of appeal, “the country’s apex judicial forum was also functioning as an ombudsman’s office, as an administrative court, as an anti-corruption tribunal, as a supreme investigation agency, and as the sole defender of not only the constitution but also of public morality.” Add to this the court taking over the functions of the Election Commission of Pakistan in its verdict against the Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and the actions of Superman would start to look like, well, child’s play.

    Like the other messiahs and supermen that Pakistan has had, the judiciary seems not only too full of itself but extremely suspicious of the others, especially the politicians. Pontificating from the bench, resorting to morally charged poetry, brandishing the scripture in open court while casting aspersions at and actually calling civilians disloyal to Pakistan, point to the simultaneous delusions of paranoia and grandiosity that are the sine qua non of ideologically anchored messiahs. The opening quote is from the late Justice Dorab Patel’s commentary on Pakistan vs Wali Khan Case (initiated, ironically, by ZA Bhutto). Justice Patel went on to cite Wali Khan:

    “Democratic states did not have ideologies. A democratic society is a pluralist society, and it is difficult for an ideological state to be a pluralist society. On the other hand, ideological states have generally ended up as dictatorships, because criticism of the state’s ideology is resented. But in democracy, citizens and political parties have the right to criticise the most cherished values of society.”

    It is unlikely that a direct dictatorship will be able to dislodge democracy in Pakistan but regression to seventh century symbolism is the worst thing that can happen to a democracy in the 21st century. Replacing dogma for reason is perhaps going to be the most lasting, and most ominous, legacy of the present Supreme Court.

    The writer can be reached at mazdaki@me.com. He tweets at http://twitter.com/mazdaki

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20126\21\story_21-6-2012_pg3_2#.T-JDj_YaLvQ.twitter

  • Our country was traveling at the speed of light towards progress and prosperity during the era of the most wanted democracy perpetuated by the visionary leadership of Zaradari & Co. Masha Allah

    Every person was getting his/her right, enjoying employment, Roti, kapra makaan. Even a blind can see the abundance of peace in the country.

    Corruption vanished during Gillani’s era. We were getting enough electricity that we wanted to sell our 2nd hand UPS / generators at net realizable value (ROFL).

    I cant write enough jokes.

    For the article writer, you raised many hows. Now read some “hows” from my side please.

    How important Zardari is that Gillani was reluctant to write a piece of words for the sake of country’s own assets’ recovery?

    How hard it is to understand that their is a rule that the one who got caught will be culprit (literal meaning Jo pakra gaya wohi chor). If CJ is showing sympathy to Army/Nawaz, why don’t you make yourself like them? (But as you claim, you are the country’s biggest well wisher, not same like armed forces / PMNL, so will not want to becomae BAAADDD like them :D)

    How will you realize that people in Pakistan are not happy with your leaders? Howwww??? Its evident from TV reports, media reports, … (What.. these are not reliable sources???,,,, okay… go to markets, ask the shop owners, consumers, a thailay wala, rickshaw wala, ask the common? In fact ask your lil bro / sis, whats their opinion about load-shedding, shortage of water, threat of being kidnap/killed? I think they make 180m population, not your leadership’s fake backing 180m.

    How will you understand that their are provisos and addendum to laws / acts / ordinances which are required to be read in conjunction with particular sections. He was found guilty, a convicted can’t hold any office of public. It is as simple as it can be.

    How long it will take the new PM to start the demolition pace which Gillani was carrying on. (This question is making me awake whole night. Poor new PM need to get that pace in only 1-2 months.) (Yes, i mean Destroy, not to correct the evil doings of democratic government and alliance, because that what you were doing since last 4.5 years. CJ actually put brakes on the velocity of the destruction.)

    How long it will take you learned people to realize that democracy is good for you, but current democracy will destroy you and your country. Vote out persona-non-grata from your party.

    And a sad last question…

    How fool our voters are that they will again vote you for next 5 years. 🙁

    Long live Pakistan, short live the corrupt

  • Certainly the Chief Justice has done a great injustice in dislodging the elected PM on a trivial excuse. I don’t agree with the reasoning that by his not obeying the Supreme Court Order to send a fresh request letter to Swiss authorities the Prime Minister has in any way attacked the independence and integrity of the judiciary or his conviction is sufficient to disqualify him because certain section in certain Act says so. Who is to disqualify? It is the Speaker of the Legislature who has such powers and the President of the nation the ultimate executive authority in this respect. How can the judiciary step in and order Election Commission to disqualify? This seems to be a lawless law situation in Pakistan. At least in India Supreme Court has and cannot have any such powers. It has only powers of judicial review and powers to protect fundamental rights and nothing more. The day the Supreme Court in India exceeds its limits I am sure the people will rise and the Parliament will react and punish and overthrow any such erratic judges. If even in India with its better established rule of law and working of Courts such a situation cannot be envisaged, how can the Pakistani Judiciary do all this? One was sympathetic to it because Musharraf was very authoritarian and unjustly dismissed many of them including this authoritarian CJ. But now these people in judiciary have turned tables and themselves become authoritarian and bring this coup – perhaps with covert support and aid of the military. This has to be strongly condemned. The Parliament of Pakistan, if it has any self-respect, should intervene, unite forgetting all party and sectional interests, and impeach this CJ and remove him from his post by an extraordinary resolution.

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