Monday, July 20, 2009

Govt employees involved in terrorism to be sacked

PESHAWAR: The NWFP government has decided to terminate the services of the government employees found involved in terrorist activities while the properties of militants would be confiscated.

Briefing journalists after NWFP cabinet meeting Monday, Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the cabinet members had approved termination of the services of the government employees involved in subversive activities and list of such employees had been prepared. “However, secretary Law Department and secretary Establishment Department will submit reports within two weeks in this regard,” he added.

Similarly, he said, the cabinet asked the provincial chief secretary to present a report regarding the procedure of confiscation of the properties of militants. The cabinet meeting, which was briefed by Secretary Home, IGP NWFP and chiefs of ERU and PRRSA, was presided over by NWFP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who was flanked by provincial minister Muhammad Ayub Asharhi, said the cabinet expressed its satisfaction over the operation against militants in Swat, Buner and Lower Dir and approved head money of Rs0.5 million each against five top militants belonging to Maidan, Lower Dir district.

The militant leaders include Hafizullah, Qari Shahid, Dr Wazir Miftahuddin and Abdul Salam. The cabinet was told the situation was improving in Lower Dir where relief goods for some 15,274 in-camp IDPs and over 100,000 off-camp IDPs were being supplied.

The NWFP government requested the Pak Army to provide troops for protection of foreign engineers and other staff at under-construction Lowari Tunnel in Upper Dir district, he added.

The provincial cabinet was told that 119 police officials were killed while fighting against militants during last seven months while 53,000 kg explosives and over 400 rocket launcher shell were seized.

The NWFP IGP informed that 5,000 rifles, LMGs and 2,000 Kalashnikov (AK-47) rifles had been recovered from the militants and some 51,000 kg detonators and 4,000 dynamites were also seized. Likewise, 256 militants were killed and two were arrested, the cabinet was told.

The provincial minister said that the NWFP cabinet appreciated the role of law-enforcement agencies in the crisis-hit areas and agreed that the terrorist network had almost dismantled while the terrorists were on the run. “The militants were regrouping in some parts of the Malakand, but with the passage of time they would eliminated,” he added.

He said that 85 per cent of the IDPs from Buner had reached their hometowns while the rest of the displaced persons from Buner would reach their house after obtaining smart cards and registration. He said that the security forces were conducting search operation in some union councils of Buner whereas officials of police and Frontier Corps were patrolling in the area.

The minister informed that some 40,000 internally displaced persons had returned to affected districts of Malakand till Sunday last while some 12,000 more were expected on Monday.

He said that Sheikh Shehzad and Sheikh Yaseen camps in Mardan district had had been officially ceased to exist from where all the IDPs had gone back to their respective towns.

The IDPs camps in Jalala and Mazdoorabad would be closed within the next few days while repatriation from schools and other government buildings would start from July 22, he added.

Judiciary responsible for army takeovers: Chief Justice

ISLAMABAD :Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Monday held judiciary responsible for military takeovers, saying that validating their decisions through 'law of necessity' was erroneous as well as regretful.

If judiciary had stood up against the imposition of repeated martial laws from Mulvi Tameezud Din (1954) case to Iqbal Tikka Khan (2007) petition, the incident of November 3, 2007 (PCO and emergency promulgated by former President General Pervez Musharraf) would not have taken place, observed the Chief Justice while hearing the case filed by Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) against non-confirmation of two additional judges Justice Zafar Ahmed Khan Sherwani and Justice Abdul Rasheed Kalwar of the Sindh High Court (SHC).

A 14-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising judges who did not take oath under the PCO on November 3, 2007 has been constituted for hearing the matters regarding appointment of judges.

Other members of the bench included Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan, Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tassadaq Hussain Jilani, Justice Nasirul Mulk, Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed, Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmed, Justice Ghulam Rabbani, Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmani, Justice Muhammad Sair Ali, Justice Mahmood Akhtar Shahid Siddiqui and Justice Jawwad S Khawaja.

One elected Prime Minister was executed then one more dictator came and threw out the elected prime minister and the incident of October 12, 1999 took place. "We all are responsible for all this", he added. "It is very sorry state of affairs, and we have to set our house in order," he observed.

He further said that it is responsibility of the judiciary to show firmness to the constitution for sustainability of democratic order in the country. Meanwhile, the court accepted a petition seeking removal of judges appointed without consultation of the Chief Justice for hearing.

Advocate Akram Sheikh had filed the petition on behalf of Advocate Nadeem Ahmed with the prayer "to declare all those persons, both in Supreme Court and high courts, regardless of whether they have taken oath under PCO or the Constitution, who have been appointed without 'consultation' of Chief Justice of Pakistan as not judges and therefore, not entitled to function as such."

The Chief Justice issued notice to the Federation and observed: "the case would decide the future of democratic order of the country." Rashid A Rizvi, president of the SHBC arguing the case before the bench said recommendation for appointment of these two judges were made by the de jure CJ of SHC to de facto Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar. The preference should have to be given to the de jure CJ, he added.

Did the President considers, Justice Dogar as de facto judge? Observed Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan. Responding to the question, Rizvi referred to the notification issued on March 21, 2009 regarding reinstatement of deposed judges including the CJ and said by not asking for a fresh oath the President had admitted Justice Dogar as de facto.

Rizvi said the decision in Iqbal Tikka Khan's case was illegal but a 13-member larger bench (to hear review) was constituted to purge it from illegality. Review order was manipulation of the bench to overcome the lacuna. Describing it further, he said that in Zafar Ali Shah's case the 12-judge bench had laid down a principle that in future a judge would not be removed from his office except following Article 209 of the Constitution.

However, a seven-member bench in Iqbal Tikka's case violated the order, therefore, a 13-member bench was constituted and review was settled merely in a single day proceedings, he added. Rizvi said that Article 270-AAA was never discussed in Tikka's case and said though it is a settled principle that an executive cannot amend the Constitution, General Musharraf (Retd) was permitted to do so.

Do you want us to declare 270-AAA unconstitutional? Asked Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmani. Rizvi replied in affirmative saying a general cannot amend the Constitution in the presence of parliament. Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmani observed: "if you want to bring all those responsible for proclamation of emergency (2007) to book, those behind it should also be held accountable for that."

The Chief Justice asked Rizvi to give background of events, which led to November 3, 2007 emergency. Rizvi read out the speech delivered by the then President Pervez Musharraf regarding imposition of emergency. He said that he delivered speech as President but emergency was proclaimed as Chief of Army Staff (COAS). Justice Nasirul Mulk observed that nine out of 12 allegations for proclamation of emergency are against the judiciary.

One of the allegations against the judiciary was that it was delaying some cases (holding dual office: President and COAS) and a judge was blamed for adjournment as he had to attend marriage ceremony of his daughter. Justice Javed Iqbal observed that Attorney General (Malik Muhammad Qayyum) and Sharifuddin Pirzada were responsible for the postponement of the case.

"The basis of emergency was judiciary's refusal to deliver as desired by the government. There is a big difference between personal gain and Pakistan first (slogan of Pervez Musharraf referred during proclamation of emergency)," observed Justice Javed Iqbal, adding We - judges are also Pakistanis and have patriotism and we decide cases according to the Constitution.

Seventeen militants killed in Swat

MINGORA: At least 17 militants were killed in fierce clashes with security forces in Swat on Monday. A soldier lost his life and two others suffered injuries.

According to military sources, eight militants were killed during an operation in Imam Dherai, the headquarters of Taliban’s Swat chieftain Maulana Fazlullah, and nine in Shah Dherai area of Kabal. The soldier was killed when security personnel came under attack in the area.

The bodies of four tribesmen whose throats had been slit were found in a deserted place in Koza Bandai.

Sources blamed local militants for slaughtering the four men. They were apparently killed for supporting the military operation. Their names could not be ascertained.

In another incident, a local cleric and his nephew were gunned down on Sunday night. Their bodies were found on Monday morning. The cleric was identified as Maulana Fazl Haq.

Meanwhile, about 300 displaced families returning to Matta and Kabal tehsils have been stranded on the Ayub Bridge for three days. They took shelter in a school in Naway Kallay after security forces stopped them from going to their areas because of the search operation.

In Mingora, about 50 per cent of shops and markets have reopened and with a relaxation in curfew, life is limping back to normalcy. A large number of people visited bazaars during the relaxation in curfew.

Iftikhar A. Khan in Islamabad adds: Security forces claimed to have captured two wanted terrorists, Fazal-i-Haq and Khair-ul-Ghafoor, during a search operation in Talgai, near Madyan, in Swat.

Two militant commanders, Taj alias Zarqavi and Zulqarnain, were killed in the village of Gul Shah. Army Major Zahid lost his life during and exchange of fire.

Two camps for IDPs in Mardan closed

PESHAWAR: The NWFP government announced on Monday that two major relief camps were closed after over 60,000 displaced families had voluntarily returned to Swat and Buner.

Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said at a press conference after a meeting of the provincial cabinet that the Sheikh Shehzad and Sheikh Yaseen camps in Mardan, the district which hosted the highest number of displaced people, had been closed because most of the inmates had left for their homes.

He said the camps in Jalala and Mazdoorabad were also likely to be vacated in a few days.

In Islamabad, the Special Support Group put the number of IDPs who have returned to Swat and Buner at 300,000.

Mian Iftikhar said the cabinet had discussed the repatriation of displaced people and the law and order situation in the province.

The minister said the next phase of return of the displaced people would begin on July 22 in which families living in schools would be sent to their homes.

The cabinet approved rewards for information leading to the capture of another five militants of Maidan area of Lower Dir, in addition to 21 militant commanders whose named had been announced earlier.

The head money of Rs500,000 each has been announced for Hafeezullah, Qari Shahid, Dr Wazir, Miftahuddin and Abdul Salam.

The minister said the cabinet had decided to confiscate movable and immovable property of militants in Malakand region and to terminate the services of government employees involved in militancy or facilitating militants.

The secretaries of law and establishment were ordered to prepare a report in this regard within two weeks.

He said the provincial government had expressed satisfaction over the military operation in Malakand and praised security forces.

He admitted that there were still pockets where small groups of militants were operating, but said these would be eliminated.

He said the entire Buner district, except three union councils, had been cleared and about 85 per cent of the displace people had returned to their homes.

He said police and paramilitary forces had started patrolling and life had returned to normalcy in the district.

The minister said the World Food Programme was setting up three ration distribution centres in Buner. He said the situation had improved in Swat and children had started going to schools, adding that about 2,300 students, including 200 girls, were attending schools in Khwazakhela.

The cabinet was informed that Rs3 billion had been distributed among affected families and the National Database and Registration Authority had issued about 200,000 cash cards.

The information minister evaded a question about former commissioner of Malakand, Syed Mohammad Javed, who is under investigation for suspected links with Taliban.

He said the chief secretary had been asked to work out procedure for confiscation of property of militants.

The cabinet was briefed on the situation in Hangu, Dera Ismail Khan and other areas.

The minister said a jirga comprising Shia and Sunni elders had been set up and both groups would sign a peace deal in a few days.

He said police were preparing a plan to seize illegal weapons in Hangu.

He said police had rendered unprecedented sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and 119 officials had laid down their lives over the past seven months.

He said police had killed 256 militants in encounters and seized a large number of weapons, detonators and dynamite. They captured two militants.

Our reporter in Islamabad adds: The third phase of repatriation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) of Malakand division was completed on Monday.

A spokesman of the army’s Special Support Group, Col Wasim Shahid, told Dawn that 40,741 families comprising 285,187 people had returned to Swat and 5,256 families comprising 36,792 people to Buner.

He said 5,850 families returned to Swat and 450 to Buner on Monday, the last day of the third phase which was completed in four days.

He said the repatriation would be completed by the third week of August in seven phases. He said the number of registered IDP families had increased to 323,775.

The displaced people living in camps were being repatriated on a priority basis and their return would be completed in the next 12 days.

Col Wasim said the fourth phase of repatriation would begin on Tuesday and end in three days.

He said displaced people from Charbagh, Tiligram, Manglore, Koklia, Kamalouf and Baminkhel would return during the phase.

He said cards had been issued to 97,285 families and Rs3.57 billion had so far been withdrawn by them.

Militancy caused Rs22 billion loss, says NWFP minister

ISLAMABAD: NWFP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain says the government has suffered a loss of Rs22 billion because of militancy and the military operation against Taliban.

According to a private television channel, the minister said relief camps had been set up from Lundaki to Mingora for people returning to Swat and Buner.

He said that more than 170,000 cards had been distributed by Nadra through banks to enable displaced families to receive rations and cash promised by the government.

He said the NWFP government had set up an authority for effective implementation of the rehabilitation policy.

The minister said the IDPs were returning to Swat and Buner in large numbers and the government was now focusing on their rehabilitation.

He said there was need for a separate department to look after the mammoth task of rehabilitation.

He said the government would set up steering committees at the provincial and divisional levels to approve and supervise development programmes.

The minister said that a strategic oversight council headed by the prime minister and including NWFP governor and chief minister would be formed to ensure complete transparency in the rehabilitation.

He said that a divisional security and coordination council would also be formed with the commissioner, DIG, DCO and DPO as members to maintain the government’s writ in areas cleared of militants.