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.