Saturday, 15 December 2007

Blogger’s Take on COAS Remarks

What exactly did Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kiyani had on his mind when he recently said, “Ultimately, it is the will of the people and their support that is decisive”?

Here is one interesting take.

End of Martial Law, Tyranny Continues

Forty-two days after he unleashed his second martial law, Tyrant Musharraf has ‘issued a presidential order to lift the emergency and to restore the constitution by ending the PCO’, the New International says in this newsflash.

The state-run APP reporting the development said Musharraf “will address the nation at 8.00 pm today” over radio and television.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Justice Chaudhry Named Lawyer of the Year

Awarded the Howard Law School ‘Medal of Freedom’ last month, Our Lord the Chief Justice has now been named ‘Lawyer of the Year’ by the prestigious National Law Journal.

“Chaudhry, the chief justice of Pakistan ...has been a strong voice for the preservation of the rule of law in Pakistan”, says Rex Bossert, the Editor-in-Chief, in the leader of the Journal's 17 December issue.

He concedes nomination of Justice Chaurdhry “is a bit of a departure, since normally our sights are set on the American legal community”, but justifies the choice saying, “The unusual choice of Chaudhry was prompted by the rare instance of a judge taking such a bold and influential stand against a government in defense of judicial independence and the rule of law.”

Bossert pays rich tributes to Justice Chaudhry, saying, “He has become an international symbol of an independent judiciary and of resistance to the excesses of military rule.... Chaudhry’s example reminds us that no government or person — whether ally or enemy — is above the law.”

A United States periodical founded in 1978, the weekly National Law Journal reports legal information of national importance to attorneys, including federal circuit court decisions, verdicts, practitioners' columns, coverage of legislative issues, and legal news for the business and private sectors.

Published by ALM, the publishers of the American Lawyer magazine, the Journal claims the highest paid circulation of any weekly periodical serving the legal community in the United States.

The ALM press release announcing Justice Chaudhry's nomination can be read here.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

True Blue Aitizaz Stays True to Cause

Barrister Chaudhry Aitizaz Ahsan threw his lot with the people of Pakistan Wednesday by withdrawing his electoral candidacy, parting ways with Pakistan People’s Party leader Benazir Bhutto.

Bhutto, who is in cahoots with Musharraf since her return from self-imposed exile earlier this year, has been noticeably cool about the President of Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association, who has pressed all concerned to boycott the polls Bhutto is so eager to contest.

Some reports have suggested she is jealous – or perhaps insecure – about the popularity Aitizaz Ahsan, a key leader of Bhutto’s party, has won by championing the cause of independence of judiciary.

The ace lawyer who lead the legal charge that defeated Musharraf’s first attempt (9 March 2007) to remove the Chief Justice of Pakistan from office, Barrister Chaudhry also spearheaded the street battle rallying the people of Pakistan to the cause Our Lord the Chief Justice.

Small wonder he was among the first to be detained on 3 November when Musharraf unleashed his second martial law in his second attempt to unseat the His Lordship. He was first detained at Adyala Jail Rawalpindi but later brought to Zaman Park residence, where he has remained under house arrest.

Barrister Chaudhry’s wife Bushra Aitizaz, confirmed to Geo News today her husband had instructed his lawyers in writing to withdraw his nomination papers, the New International says in this newsflash.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Activists Bear Brunt as Harassment of Judiciary Continues

The Musharraf regime’s pressure tactics to harass the independent judges continue, while activists who rose to support the justices are facing brutalities.

Ten activists, among them lawyers and students, men and women, have been arrested for keeping vigil outside the official residence of Justice Shahid Siddiqui, who had been threatened with forced eviction, the Post says in this report.

Justice Siddiqui, who was hospitalised Tuesday night, is said to be in a stable condition. His condition had deteriorated due to the regime’s pressure tactics. Meanwhile, the police is putting pressure on his family to vacate the residence, the Daily Times says.

Police have erected barricades on all the roads leading to the residence of Justice Shahid Siddiqui who had refused to take oath under Provisional Constitution Order (PCO), the News International said in this newsflash.

“Local people are not allowed to use these roads where heavy police contingents have been deployed”, the paper said. “The restriction has been imposed in government employees’ residential colony, GOR One on the order of Lahore High Court. The police blocked the roads leading to GOR last night and prevented common citizens to from entering the area....”

In a related development, Justice (Retd.) Wajihuddin Ahmed was arrested Friday from Gujrat as he was leading a rally for restoration of judiciary. He has been flown under duress to Karachi, the News International says.

Barrister Chaudhry Proposes Oath for Polls’ Candidates

Barrister Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan has devised a strategy to make restoration of judiciary the primary electoral issue, should the political opposition fail to boycott the election.

The centrepiece of his strategy is an oath he proposes to be administered to every candidate by districts bar councils across Pakistan to be prequalified to run for the elections.

The text of the oath:


I, ___________________ s/o ____________________ candidate in Constituency No. ______ to the ________________________ Assembly do hereby solemnly take oath and swear in this ______ day of __________, 2007(8) that in case I am elected in the forthcoming elections I will devote all my energies, powers privileges, rights and authority, (including the privilege to move and initiate legislation/amendments/motions/ resolutions and the right to vote and/or to speak) and exercise them at once from the first available opportunity after taking oath so as to ensure that the Supreme Court and the High Courts revert completely to their status as on November 2, 2007 and that none of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the High Courts of the provinces are in any way impeded from performing the functions of their respective offices by any person, authority or any purported law in the shape of any PCO or any other Proclamation by whatever name called and for that purpose to do all in my power and authority till such time as I am member of the Assembly.


VERIFIED: Office-bearer DBA _______.

‘Parties rushing to polls sans independent judiciary to regret’

“Political parties who rush to elections without first securing the restoration of an independent judiciary to supervise the electoral process will regret their haste”, former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Munir A Malik has said.

“Every stage of the election process is conducted and supervised by the judiciary”, argues the top lawyer in this Dawn op-ed. “Given our electoral system, it is naive to say that the issue of restoration of judges can be taken up after the elections.”

Malik, a senior lawyer who faced inhuman conditions in detention before being hospitalised a few days ago, also asserts that “the legal fraternity does not and will not recognise PCO judges and their judgments”.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Fresh Move to Oust Dissenting Judges

In its latest draconian move against the superior judiciary, Musharraf’s illegal ‘interim’ government has purported to retire some of the dissenting judges, The News International said Tuesday.

“Federal ministry of Law has issued the notification for retirement of 24 High Court judges who did not take oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO)”, says the newsflash.

“Those judges who stand retired as per the notification included 12 judges of Sindh High Court (SHC), 10 judges of the Lahore High Court (LHC) and two judges of Peshawar High Court (PHC).”

Human Shield to Prevent Eviction of Dissenting Judge

Civil society activists, lawyers and retired judges picketed Monday night outside the house of a dissenting judge following attempts to forcibly evict him from his official residence.

Leading activists Asma Jahangir, Hina Jilani, and Asad Jamal were among those who kept the nightlong vigil outside the official residence of Justice Shahid Siddiqui in the bitter December cold were.

Activists are taking turns to keep an uninterrupted vigil, 40-50 at a time, forming a human shield to prevent the Punjab government from forcibly evicting the judge who declined to take oath under Musharraf’s martial law regulations, said Hamid Khan, a former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association.

The vigil was prompted by reports Monday evening that Justice Siddiqui may be evicted from his official residence. As the word got out at about 10:30 pm, scores of lawyers and civil society activists are gathered outside Justice Siddiqui's residence to show solidarity with him.

Speaking on the occasion, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chair Asma Jahangir said if the police came they would have to hit her first.

Justice Siddiqui is one of te two dissidents among judges living in government housing in Lahore's GOR, the other being Justice Ijaz Ahmed Choudhry. All other dissenting judges live in their own residences.


wake of eviction orders served on both the judges by a new ‘registrar’ brought in by the regime. Justice Siddiqui responded by challenging his authority and serving a contempt of court notice on him.

It may be pertinent to note that the rulebook says a judge will be given at least six months to vacate his official residence even is he is forced to retire. The regime’s attempt clearly violates those rules.

Activists are calling upon anyone in the area to please go and support the cause. The street address of Justice Siddiqui is 14 Tollington road, GOR I, Lahore.

Below is the text of the contemp notice served by Justice Siddiqui on the regime’s registrar.


30. 11. 2007

The Registrar of this Court through letter dated 16th November 2007 has requested me to vacate my official residence i.e. 14 – Tollinton Road, GOR – 1, Lahore. It has been written after the issuance of Proclamation of Emergency and the Provincial Constitution Order 2007. This communication is wholly illegal, totally in defiance to constitutional provisions and even against the normative values of decency.

1. I am clear in my mind that Lahore High Court holds its very existence to the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 which embodies the will of the people. Needless to say that the Constitution of a country is always considered as the supreme and sacred law of the land. It cannot be allowed to be abrogated, held in abeyance or violated under any pretext specially by those who have taken the oath to preserve, protect and defend it.

2. In view of the above, the Proclamation of Emergency and the Provincial Constitutional Order 2007 being in sheer abuse of powers are of no legal consequence as had been declared immediately after its promulgation by the Supreme Court of Pakistan existing under the Constitution. The mandate is binding upon the Judges of all the High Courts and all officials performing their functions under the law. Any infraction, violation or deviation from that order will amount to serious contempt of Court for which a deviant official will be liable and likely to be punished. The issuance of above letter appears to be an attempt to intimidate and overawe the Judges who have not surrendered to the Chief of Army Staff. I, therefore, as a sitting Judge of the Lahore High Court direct the Registrar of this Court to explain as to why and at whose instance he issued this letter asking me to vacate my official residence. The reply shall be submitted within a month.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Barrister Chaudhry Will Not Desert Cause, says Wife

Barrister Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan betray the brave struggle his fellow lawyers are waging for restoration of judiciary and the constitution, his wife has affirmed.

“Surely he will not leave the protesting lawyers in the lurch,” she was quoted as saying in this report by Daily Times.

The president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Barrister Chaudhry was among the first to be picked up after Musharraf’s second martial unfolded on 3 December 2007. First kept incommunicado in Rawalpindi Central Jail, he has since been shifted to his Lahore home, which the regime has declared sub-jail.

His wife Bushra is a human rights activist.

More Jurists Rally to Support Detained Judges

Twenty-five retired judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Lahore High Court have paid tributes to the judges who declined to take oath under the PCO, calling them heroes of the nation, The News International says in this report. This is the latest in a string of shows of support for My Lord the Chief Justice and his associates, being held in detention since the imposition, on 3 November 2007, of martial law.

Prominent retired jurists including Mr Justice (R) Fakhruddin G Ibrahim, Mr Justice (R) Nasir Aslam Zahid, and Mr Justice Wajihuddin Ahmed have already voiced their support to the judges, and demanded their reinstatement.

A signed copy (in pdf) of a joint statement issued a few days ago by eighteen illustrious former judges pressing for restoration of the constitution, reovkation of the proclamation of emergency of 3 November 2007, and release and restoration of the dissenting judges can be downloaded here.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Newsflash: Two Dissenting Judges Hospitalised?

Two dissenting judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan have been taken to a government-run hospital in Islamabad, The News International said in this newsflash Saturday 2:45 pm Pakistan Standard Time.

"Justice Rana Bhagwandas and Justice Ghulam Rabbani who had refused to take oath under [martial law] have been shifted to PIMS hospital in Islamabad for medical tests", the item said quoting sources.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Palwasha Chaudhry, 16, in Detention, Writes to Judges

“We may not be allowed to attend our schools or universities, we may have got our mobile phones blocked, we may not be allowed to meet anyone or go out, we may be kept in our homes like prisoners, we may be treated like militants or terrorists, but we do not care because it’s a time of sacrifice and we have to do it.”

Thus goes the letter written by the 16-year-old daughter of My Lord the Chief Justice to all the judges being held in detention for standing up to tyrant Musharraf’s designs.

Palwasha Iftikhar Chaudhry has been under house-arrest with her father since November 3. The online version of Dawn newspaper has this item based on her letter. Excerpts as carried by the newspaper:

“This letter is for all the judges who refused to take oath under the PCO and who happen to be my uncles as well,” she said, adding that she had never thought that one day she would have to convey her message to the people through this mode.

“This might be one of the crucial times we are facing but we should be proud that Allah chose us to sacrifice for this country.

“Yes it is indeed a sacrifice which we have to bequeath, not for ourselves but for this country. Ever since I opened my eyes I have seen my father affiliated with the judiciary and now it is like a part of our lives. Our life is like a tree and the judiciary is one of its branches.

“We have grown up with this branch and we cannot let anybody slice it. If we will not protect it, then who else will?”

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Pakistanis Would Rather Have 'President' Chaudhry: Time

This Time article article says 70% of the Pakistani respondents of a survey voted for My Lord the Chief Justice for the presidency against general Musharraf.

“The Pakistan Institute of Public Opinion, the local affiliate of Gallup International, recently posited a mock presidential poll between Musharraf and Chaudhry”, says the article. “Among those who voted, 70% chose the chief justice over the President.”

“It is not a choice between two persons", the article quotes Gallup Pakistan's Ijaz Shafi Gilani as saying. "The results of this simulated contest show a massive preference for the rule of law as opposed to martial law. In its resolve to uphold the rule of law, the civil society of Pakistan has never been so united before.”

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Judges Worry about the Safety of My Lord the Chief Justice

An advocate who met with four dissenting judges of Lahore High Court says their Lordships had not regrets, but they were worried about the safety of the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Chaudhry Iftikhar Muhammad.

The judges the writer met are Mr. Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Mr. Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif, Mr. Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Mr. Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa.

“Their faces were sparkling with the honour” of principled stand and “their living rooms were full with guests congratulating them and their families for being so upright in the hour of adversity”, says the writer, who assumed anonymous for fear of persecution.

An account of the meeting and the impressions the writer had during the meeting have been published by the prestigious Jurist legal news and research website of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Lawyers’ Int’l HR Body Slams Continued Detention of Judges, Lawyers

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) Monday condemned the continuing arrest and detention of lawyers in Pakistan.

“It was claimed that the deposed Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had been released from house arrest,” said Dr Phillip Tahmindjis, IBA Programme Lawyer. “However, when lawyers went to see him at his home last Tuesday they were prevented by the police from doing so and one of them, Athar Minallah, was later arrested without charge.”

The he IBAHRI is monitoring the situation to ascertain whether lawyers who supported the Chief Justice in their professional capacity are being particularly targeted.

IBAHRI had earlier sent a fact finding mission to Pakistan to investigate the first attempt of the Musharraf regime to oust Lord Chief Justice, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

The findings of the mission have since been published as an IBAHRI report titled “The struggle to maintain an independent judiciary: a report on the attempt to remove the Chief Justice of Pakistan”.

The complete report and its executive summary are available for download from the International Bar Association website.

Established in 1947, the London-based International Bar Association (IBA) is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. t has a membership of 30,000 individual lawyers and more than 195 bar associations and law societies spanning all continents.

The IBA’s Human Rights Institute (HRI) works across the Association, to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.

Karachiites Pay Homage Visit to Dissenting Judges

A congregation of Karachi citizens paid a surprise visit Monday evening to the Sind High Court judges who did not take oath under the PCO, this discussion group posting reports.

The judges were met by a large delegation of citizens – including students, businessmen, accountants, corporate executives, journalists, and activists – carrying flowers and cake when they gathered for dinner at one of their homes.

“This meeting was part of the campaign to let these judges know that the people of this country stand by them and are proud of their principled stand”, says the beena-issues group run by senior journalist and activist Beena Sarwar.

“The citizen’s delegation covered the entrance of the judge’s residence with rose petals. As each judge entered, he was presented with a bouquet of flowers with his name on it, on behalf of the people.

“On learning what the bouquets were for, the flower-seller sent two bouquets ‘with love’ on his own account, said one of the citizens.

“Members of the delegation were receiving messages from all over Karachi as well as other cities asking them to convey their heartfelt gratitude to the non-PCO judges.

“A student from the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) had flown in especially for the occasion with a letter for each judge from his fellow alumni and students explaining their support.

“The judges particularly appreciated the principled stand of their colleagues who had only recently been elevated from the District Courts, and of Justice Rehmat Hussain Jaffery, who was due to retirement this November but did not take oath despite being offered a position in the Supreme Court.

“Members of the civil society reiterated their vow to never accept the PCO judges and their resolve to demand for reinstatement of the pre-PCO judiciary”.

Ali Ahmed Kurd in Quetta?

A VOA Urdu report Monday evening said Kurd was being detained in a Quetta police station.

Media reports have earlier said he has filed his nomination papers from two constituencies of Rawalpindi and one constituency of Quetta.

Pakistan Bar Council Kurd is a fiery speaker. He was one of the first to be detained on 3 November as martial law unfolded. Information on his whereabouts has been scant, amid fears for his safety.

Martial Law Clamped to Trample Judiciary!

“[Military dictator] Musharraf may lift the emergency, withdraw the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) and restore the constitution within a few days but he will never accept the opposition’s demand to restore the pre-November 3 judiciary”, says this news item carried by PakTribune, quoting Musharraf's senior aides.

Does it not make plain what the martial law was actually about?

Justice Mehmood Also Faced Abuse

Fresh reports of maltreatment in detention have emerged, this time concerning Justice (Retired) Tariq Mehmood. He was being served stale food and contaminated water, says this Dawn report.

This other report, carried by the News International, says he has been made to sleep on the cold floor of jail.

“Hundreds of participants stood up to show their respect to the wife of Justice Tariq [Mehmood] and to show their support and admiration” when she made an appearance at the suspended GEO TV'€™s €œCapital Talk show on the footpath of Islamabad on Monday, says the second report.

The account she gave of Justice Mahmood’s ordeal in detention since the 3 November martial law moved the audience to tears, it adds. "€œAs his health condition deteriorated in the Sahiwal jail, Tariq Mahmood who is said to have developed severe back pain has now been rushed to a Lahore hospital for his medical tests."

Monday, 26 November 2007

Students Stand Up for Restoration of Judiciary

Students of over Lahore are coming together in a conglomerate to campaign – among other things – for restoration of judiciary “as on Nov 2”.

“We - the students of Universities and Institutes of Lahore – unite in our opposition to the current emergency rule and unite on a common agenda to raise our collective voices against it”, says a press statement carried by The Emergency Times blog.

Justice Chaudhry, Teen Kids Under Tough Confinement

Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the Lord Chief Justice of Pakistan, is facing the most stringent confinement at the hands of the Musharraf martial law, says The News International in this editorial piece.

"After [he] attempted to leave his house following the interior ministry announcement regarding the freeing of judges, extra security personnel were rushed in to prevent him doing so, and barbed wire placed outside the gate of his house. Even Chaudhry’s teenage daughter and young son, who both attend educational institutions, have been prevented from continuing their studies, and newspapers denied to the family", says the paper.

"True Heroes" is the title of the piece.

The Tyrant's Colluders Unmasked

"Major opposition parties, foreign governments, and international organizations are trying to fool the people of Pakistan by setting easy and achievable targets and deadlines for General Pervez Musharraf", says Matiullah Jan in this excellent op-ed piece carried by The News International.

Up Next: Forced Eviction of Judges

Not content with keeping them under house arrest, , the Musharraf regime is now gearing to remove the dissenting jurists from their official residences, says this PTI report.

It may be recalled that the regime has earlier tried to forcibly remove Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and top judges to their native places. Those efforts came to a naught in the face of stiff resistance offered by the judges.

This time, it appears, the schemers of the regime have hit upon a new ploy to achieve the same object.

Reports of Inhuman Treatment of Lawyers

This Post reports says a top lawyer and supporter of the Chief Justice is being subjected for inhuman treatment in detention. This is the latest of such reports. Earlier rumors have centered on Ali Ahmed Kurd, another top lawyer and a staunch supporter of Justice Chaudhry, who is being held by the military incommunicado.

Detention Leaves Pakistan Lawyer Fighting for Life

Conditions of his detention may have been too much for Pakistan'€™s top lawyer Munir A Malik, who was struggling for his life in an Islamabad hospital Sunday, this Dawn reports says.

The draconian Musharraf regime lifted detention orders for the former Supreme Court Bar Association President on Sunday, after hospitalising him Friday evening.

His condition is said to be critical.

Malik was being detained at the notorious Attock fort since his detention under Musharraf’s second Martial Law, unleashed on 3 November 2007.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Locked Up: The Conscience of a Country

Pakistan’s military dictator Musharraf unleashed his second martial law primarily to bring down Mr Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the Chief Justice of Pakistan. Twenty days later, while the media is abuzz with reports of thousands of Pakistanis being released from detention and some are jumping to the conclusion that the emergency is softening up, the man who claims to lawfully be the highest jurist of Pakistan remains under house arrest.

If Sartre was France, Justice Chaudhry is Pakistan.

Musharraf first attacked the Chief Justice of Pakistan on 9 March, when he tried to unlawfully oust him. The ensuing legal battle saw the strongman defeated on 20 July when a 13-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan threw out the general’s allegations, reinstating Justice Iftikhar as the head of Pakistan’s judiciary.

The legal battle for Justice Chaudhry was mounted by a team of lawyers ably led by Barrister Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, who also organized a series of rallies and street protests in support of Justice Chaudhry’s cause.

The general know he could not get at Justice Chaudhry without first putting Barrister Chaudhry away; the Barrister was one of the first to be arrested when the martial law unfolded on 3 March.

With the Justice and the Barrister locked away, how can Bush call Musharraf a “true democrat”, how can Benazir Bhutto and others return to business as usual including preparations of elections and underhand power-sharing deals with the general?

Musharraf has locked up Pakistan’s conscience. Pakistan can neither forget it nor forgive the perpetrator of this crime – or any of his accomplices from Bhutto to Bush.

This blog follows the fate of Pakistan's top jurists and lawyers being held in detention by the martial law.