A National Hero Is Being Humiliated By Political Opponents, Judiciary And The Right Wing Media In Pakistan

On November 5 by admin

Originally published at http://www.thekooza.com/national-hero-humiliated-political-opponents-judiciary-right-wing-media-pakistan.html

On April 4, 1979 an elected Prime Minister, the former President, and the Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan, the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged in the Central Jail of Rawalpindi on a murder charge. Pakistani judiciary faced severe criticism by the jurists and the political leaders around the world who classified the death sentence by the Supreme Court of Pakistan as a “Judicial Murder”.   Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a political icon and a hero, suffered a tragic end simply because justice was not done.  The Supreme Court of Pakistan is still there and perhaps many of those judges who participated in the “Judicial Murder”,but the nation lost a national leader forever.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto is long gone, but unfortunately our nation still faces countless situations at the highest courts that are challenging our integrity, dignity and safety.  Let us look at some recent cases in the hands of our judiciary. What is the verdict on Memogate case?  Has Air Marshal (Rtd.) Asghar Khan’s petition reached a final verdict?  Do we know all the names of 8,041 accused persons who were pardoned under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO)but the cases against these accused have now been revived and are pending in courts with no immediate verdict in sight?  Do we know that some of the politicians, whose serious charges and crimes were pardoned in the past by the President, are back in power?  What is happening to petitions filed by candidates against the rigging in recent general elections?  WillNADRA’s report on election rigging trigger Suo-moto by the Chief Justice? I will leave these questions for our fellow citizens to answer according to their own conscience.

On September 7, 2013 the Chief justice of Pakistan, while addressing the National Judicial Policy Making Committee, made this very important statement that the “administration of justice is a prerequisite for rule of law in a society and Judiciary plays central role in justice system for promoting social justice by shielding the rights of every citizen of the State”.   Let us then ask ourselves — Is there an unbiased administration of justice in Pakistan?  Is judiciary playing a central role in the justice system of Pakistan for promoting social justice?  Pakistan sadly is in a state of major chaotic situation, and if we pose these questions to our fellow citizens today, a large number of our population may not answer positively to these questions.

At the end of World War II, Britain went into a major chaotic state while a large number of its citizens questioned the then Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill if they could ever get out of that chaotic state of their war torn country.  Sir Winston Churchill simply asked his citizens, “Are you getting the justice from your courts?” to which they answered, “Yes”.  Churchill then assured them and said theywould soon be able to get over the chaotic situation by seeking justice from the courts in all facets of their and their country’s lives.  Britain today is back on its feet and its citizens are enjoying the social justice in all facets of their lives.  But inPakistan the situation seems to be very different. Both politicians and the media are entirely focused on their own narrow interests, feeding their own egos while settling old scores with absolutely no respect forthe rule of law.Conversely, Pakistan is in a major chaotic state, and based on the justice administered by our courts, no one can honestly say that we will ever be able to get out of this chaotic and dire mess.

General Pervez Musharraf, after being placed in power through the 1999 military coup, took the challenge and brought the near bankrupt country into the fourteen most developing nations of the world with major economic and social turnaround.Pakistan,regarded as the 11th most corrupt nation in the world,reformed itself to become the 41st most corrupt during Musharraf regime. Businesses flourished, the citizens enjoyed a peaceful life in the country and Pakistanis were looked upon with dignity and respect outside the country.Our currency got strengthened against other currencies of the worldand was trading roughly at 50 PKR for 1 USD.For these reasons, most of the people in Pakistan consider Pervez Musharraf as a national hero and an iconic leader of Pakistan.Undoubtedly, Musharrafmade some grave mistakes during his eight years; his biggest mistake was to invite corrupt politicians and dishonest bureaucrats in his party and administration, which ultimately cost defeat to his party in the 2008 Elections.  Also NRO, although imposed on him by the West, should never have been issued, as it was a national disgrace for all of us to pardon over 8,000 people who were involved in all kinds of corruption and crimes.  Nevertheless, one must not deny the achievements of an honest individual who, based on his services to the nation,deserves the title of National Hero.

The popular Lawyers’ Movement ultimately opened the doors for the corrupt politicians who fled into exile in fear of conviction or after being convicted by the courts.  These tainted politicians are now back into politics and a large number of them are ruling the country after being elected in a highly faulty election while the country is in a major chaos under the so called democratically elected group of people.The question arises -Is this the fault of democracy or the corrupt democratic system that does not allow free and fair elections, every time democracy is put on trial in Pakistan?  Or is the implementation of democracythat’s at fault?Dr. Tahir-ul Qadri is absolutely right when he stated,Siasat (democracy) under the corrupt electoral system is a fraud against the nation” and needs a revolution (baghawat) to bring about the positive changes in the country.

Musharraf resigned as President in August 2008 and remained in the country as an ordinary citizen until April 2009.  During this period, the elected parliament with the absolute majority of PPP and PML-N coalition never brought any charges against Musharraf under Article 6 and the courts did not summon or implicate him in any cases except a few while he was in the country.Instead he was given the guard of honour on his departure by the elected government in power as a great national hero.It is interesting to note that before going into exile he remained in the country for about eight months after his resignation and all controversial issues such as Benazir Bhutto’s murder, the Lal Masjid episode, Nawab Akbar Bugti’s death and even the Chief Justice’s re-instatement cases were being publically and politically debated as the coalition government of PPP and PML-N started its governance in the parliament but he was not arrested or jailed at that time.   false

On October 12, 2010 he formed his own political party All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) and decided to return to politics to participate in the next general elections.  This gave a new ray of hope to the people who were badly suffering during the regimes of PPP and PML-N.  A grassroots movement of support started to grow in the public to bring Musharraf back to power again.Looking at the growing popularity of Musharraf and his chance to win seats in the parliament, the corrupt and failed politicians joined hands and started making false accusations and filing bogus petitions in the highest courts against him in fear that he may come back to power.Some high court and Supreme Court judges who seemed to have vengeance against Musharraf started to act on these petitions, which was the beginning of closing the justice system on him.  Upon his return from exile, Musharraf started fighting these cases in courts while filing his party’s nominations in preparation to participate in the upcoming elections.  His political opponents who feared a defeat against his party started filing all kinds of false and fabricated  petitions in the high courts to disallow Pervez Musharraf from participating in the elections.

Justice in Pakistan hit its lowest point since the judicial murder of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, when a Peshawer High Court judge imposed a lifetime ban on General Pervez Musharraf from running for an elected office or becoming a member of parliament, a penalty which is not even provided in the Constitution and/or any other Electoral rules of Pakistan.  Revenge seems to be overriding justice and fair play as the barrage of politically motivated cases started pounding on him to simply bar him from taking part in the upcoming elections.

Musharraf was put in jail shortly after his arrival in Pakistan on March 24, 2013 although he has not been convicted by any court.  Systematically misusing the power under the law, the various courts including Anti Terrorist courts started playing musical chairs to keep him under arrest so he would not have the chance to encounter with the general public as thatmay start a movement protesting against the injustices against him.

 

Let us look at the judicial activism as the highest courts seem to be deviating from the principles of justice and taking revenge against a person who was one time the head of state and the head of army.

 

Declaration of Emergency rule in November 2007 and the dismissal of judges

”AND WHEREAS the situation has been reviewed in meetings with the Prime Minister ie.,Shaukat Aziz, Governors of all four provinces namely  Khalid Maqbool (Punjab),  IshratulEbad (Sind), Owais Ahmad Ghani (Balochistan) and  Ali Jan Aurakzai (KPK) and with the Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff Committee (General Tariq Majid ), Chiefs of the Armed Forces, Vice-Chief of Army Staff (General AshfaqParvezKayani ) and Corps Commanders of the Pakistan Army,  NOW THEREFORE, in pursuance of the deliberations and decisions of the said meetings, I General Pervez Musharraf, Chief of Army Staff, proclaim Emergency throughout Pakistan.”  – 2007 declaration of emergency rule in Pakistan.

On July 31, 2009 the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued an orderpronouncing 2007 declaration of emergency rule and the dismissal of judges who did not take an oath on PCO as unconstitutional.  SC asked the government to initiate treason charges against Musharraf for signing the declarationon behalf of the government, a denial for signing of which may have constituted an act of insubordination to the highest institution of Pakistan.

The Chief Justice of Supreme Court Abdul HameedDogar a PCO judge, approved this declarationsimilar to the one approved on October 12, 1999 bytheChief Justice of Supreme Court Iftikhar Chaurdhri, also a PCO judge.

On April 18, 2013 a Justice of Islamabad High Court denied bail to Musharraf andasked the attorney general of Pakistan to add the act of terrorism in his FIR against Musharraf in order to facilitate the cancellation of bail and justify his detention in prison.  This case was registered against Musharraf under section 344PC, which is a bail able offence. On April 19, 2013 the Islamabad District Magistrate ordered the arrest of Musharraf to send his case to the Islamabad Anti Terrorism Court on the basis of the Islamabad High Court’s ruling that the dismissal and detention of judges amounted to terrorism.

Needless to say that the allegation of detention was never proven in court andanother judge of Islamabad High Court later gave a verdict that there is no record of Pervez Musharraf ordering detention of judges.  Islamabad High Court ruled that the Justice accusing Pervez Musharraf of an act of terrorism had erred by adding section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) to the FIR,which the prosecution had not even sought.

It seems that the honourable justices did not act impartially nor in an unbiased manner while administering justicein 2007 declaration of emergency and the detention of judges as quoted in Haq’s Musing program “Honourable Justice (who denied bail) is a right-wing judge who is ideologically pre-occupied to act against Musharraf even in a routine bail extension.  In fact, the key decision of Pakistan’s higher judiciary led by the Chief Justice continues to show strong bias in favour of Pakistan’s right-wing politicians and media”.

 

Benazir Bhutto’s murder

On April 20, 2013 the Islamabad Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) ordered Musharraf to be placed under two weeks of house arrest while FIA filed a petition seeking the physical remand of Musharraf in the Anti Terrorism Court.  On April 25, 2013 ATC allowed the FIA to include Musharraf in the investigation of the Benazir Bhutto murder case.

On April 24, 2013 the Rawalpindi Branch of Lahore High Court denied bail extension, which allowed Musharraf’s arrest, on the charges of negligence to provide protection to Benazir Bhutto.  On April 25, 2013 the Rawalpindi ATC ordered Musharraf’s arrest and on April 26 it ordered Musharraf to be placed under four days of house arrest to give the authorities adequate time to question him. FIA special prosecutor claimed that Musharraf failed to provide adequate security to Bhutto “indirectly facilitated and helped terrorists in executing their plan to murder.”

It is interesting to note that none of the slain premier’s blood relations, including her sister Sanam Bhutto, husband President Asif Ali Zardari, son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, or daughters Aseefa Bhutto and Bakhtawar Bhutto, have ever pursued the assassination case against Musharraf or his government.

It is evident that Marc Siegel, an American journalist on whose witness the charge sheet was issued against Musharraf, was not an impartial independent witness as he served as a paid lobbyist for Benazir Bhutto in the USA.  It seems as justice used the tactics of harassment and intimidation by placing Musharraf under arrest and by unjustly implicating him on alleged charges of murder without any credible evidence or proof of his involvement in Benazir’s murder.

Lal Masjid operation

On July 12, 2013 the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had ordered the police to register a murder case against Musharraf which both the SSP and SHO refused as they believed that Musharraf was not directly involved.On Sept 2, 2013 the IHC again ordered the authorities to register a case against Musharraf for killing several persons in 2007 Lal Masjid operation including cleric Ghazi Abdur Rasheed.  Annoyed over the non-compliance of the court’s earlier order, the honourable judge ordered the concerned SHO to either register a case against Musharraf on the spot in the courtroom and to provide the court with a copy of the lodged FIR   or face the contempt proceedings against the police.

It is evident that IHC acted in a highly biased manner against the common procedure of the police to register an FIR.  In a normal course of justice, IHC should have asked the petitioner that if there was a FIR to support the murder case of cleric claimed.

 

Nawab Akbar Bugti’s death

On August 25, 2009, three years after the death of Nawab Akber Bugti, one of his sons filed a petition in the Balochistan High Court (BHC) asking to direct the police to register a case of murder against the former president Musharraf.  Bugti was killed in his cave during the military crackdown in August 2006 and through this time, Bugti family continued to maintain a friendly ties with Pakistan’s political leaders including the leaders from Musharraf’s former political party PML(Q).  According to a close aide of late Nawab Akbar Bugti, a rocket fired by Bugtis to fend–off army officers going into the cave, caused massive explosion that resulted in the collapse of the cave and led to the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti.

On October 28, 2011 a judicial magistrate in Quetta had issued an arrest warrant for Musharraf, who was formally arrested over Bugti’s murder on June 14, 2013.  An anti-terrorism court put him on a 14-day judicial remand and on September 27, 2013, the SC rejected Musharraf’s release saying that the complainant must be present in person before the court for its judgement.

It is evident that Musharraf is being dragged into Bugti’s murder case by political foes after three years to gain political mileage by citing Bugti’s murder as a national loss to Balochis.  This case became a tool for Musharraf’s political foes to further implicate him in terrorism related issues, as anti-terrorism court in Balochistan had no ground to refuse the bail plea and order his arrest.

 

Registration of treason case under Article 6 of the Constitution

A three member bench of Supreme Court resumed the hearing in the case filed by five various petitioners, some as far back as March 25, 2009, seeking registration of treason case against former president Pervez Musharraf for subverting the constitution of Pakistan by overthrowing a democratic government, imposing emergency in the country and detaining judges of superior courts in 2007 (petitioners did not include in their petition the first coup in 1999 which overthrew democratically elected government and imposed Martial Law).

On June 24, 2013 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told the National Assembly that the government would put the former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on trial for treason charges under Article 6for imposing a state of emergency in the country in 2007 (not at the time of first coup in 1999) while also suspending the constitution.  On July3, 2013, the SC directed the Nawaz government to initiate a probe against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in a high treason case and complete the investigation in minimum possible time without “unnecessary delay”.

The Constitution of Pakistan under Article 6 certainly stipulates that any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance the Constitution by use of force or aids in subverting or suspending is rightfully subject to punishment as provided by the law.

But the Supreme Court directed the government to initiate the probe against Musharraf on the abrogation of the Constitution on the imposition of emergency in 2007 while they completely ignored the military coup of October 12, 1999, which brought Musharraf in power. Why?  Because the sitting Chief Justice of Supreme Court was directly involved in legitimating the October 1999 coup while many members of the current parliament including some ministers have also aided in the coup by accepting positions in the military regime of Pervez Musharraf.

This instance makes the SC prejudiced and raises the question of credibility of the SC and the government as they compromised the application of Article 6 in the October 1999 coup and pursued the application of Article 6 in November 2007 imposing of emergency and abrogation of constitution.

It seems that there is a deliberate attempt to single out Pervez Musharraf under Article 6 and save others who are equally guilty of subversion including the present Chief Justice of Supreme Court, current Army Chief and many ministers in Nawaz’s government of today.  Moreover, the subversion of Constitution in Pakistan is taking place since the first Martial Law in 1958 and there is still a substantial number of high profile people including army personnel, judges and politicians who are alive and who are guilty of subversion in four previous Martial Laws imposed by the military in the country.  The question arises, are we as a nation ready to open this can of worms because it may make it difficult to find impartial judges, the prosecutors and even petitioners who are not tainted with any treason charges under any of the past coups?

I am concluding my article by leaving you with this thought that the judiciary in Pakistan has, unfortunately failed to administer justice while the political leaders and right wing media are engaged in humiliating a national hero who served the country with grace, honesty and dignity.    The people of Pakistan are witnessing some very ugly moments in the history of our country as the revenge seems to be overriding the justice and fair play.

By: Ali Abbas Hasanie -Political scholar and analyst.

 

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