Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ali Gilani’s kidnapping: Religious scholar held

Police on Saturday arrested Maulana Hifz-ur-Rehman, elder son of Allama Abdur Rasheed Bilal-head of religious seminary at Khan Garh area in connection with the kidnap of Ali Haider Gilani. According to media reports, Maulana Abdur Rasheed Bilal told that his son was innocent, adding he had some 500,000 rupees in his pocket at the time of arrest. Moreover, Bilal maintained that the amount did not belonged to his son, as someone else gave him the amount to keep with him as trust money. Allama Abdur Rasheed Bilal demanded of the government to release his son along with the amount.

Balochistan’s Chief Problem

The Baloch Hal
By Dr. Fouzia Saeed
Good governance in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa remains one of the critical dimensions of our approach to dealing with our biggest issue: countering militant insurgency. On the appointment of the Chief Minister in K-P, as we all know Khattak’s background and we have all witnessed his words of wisdom in his first press conference, there is really not much to say. However, the choice of Balochistan CM remains a tug-of-war. The CM in the last term, who ran the province from Islamabad for five years, was the pro-establishment Baloch sardar, Nawab Aslam Raisani, set in place by the PPP government. He had been elected to the provincial assembly four times by the Raisani tribe in his constituency of Mastung/Quetta. Running his administration by remote control, especially when the barbaric attacks on the Hazara community generated country-wide sympathy, he never even attempted to condole with them. As a result, the President had to oust him from his position. Another long sitting CM we can mention is Jan Mohammad Yusouf hailing from the royalty of Lasbela. Seeing the way the majority of the people live in Lasbela, that alone is enough to tell you about his commitment to his people. These tribal leaders each ‘ruled’ the province for five years at a stretch, while others got shorter terms. In general, there is hardly any evidence, so far, that a Balochistan CM had resolved local problems or demonstrated any commitment whatsoever to the people of Balochistan. In most cases their commitment was restricted to their tribal elites and/or to the establishments who supported them in gaining these positions. I think the decision of choosing the next CM is difficult as the new leadership of the federal government is trying to get the Baloch factions to come to a consensus on one name. The people of Balochistan have never had a single party that represented their collective interests. This provincial government has always been a weak coalition of several parties. Despite all the glaring issues Balochistan has been allowed to fester for decades under self-promoting tribal chiefs who were born into their position. The Pakhtuns, by contrast, have achieved greater success through a joint stand. The Hazaras have also organised under one main front. The Baloch however remain divided with each of the rival tribes nurturing age-old animosities, and one sardar refusing to accept another. That is the reason many are suggesting Dr Maalik, the head of National Party, as the next CM. He is not a tribal chief, but a Baloch leader who is acceptable to Pakhtuns, Hazaras and a wide range of the Baloch people. He should be acceptable to the Federal Government as well as he is clearly not a separatist and is focused on resolving the political and economic problems rather than grabbing money and power for his tribal elite. Whether the centre is interested in resolving the problems of Balochistan is a separate discussion, but these problems have become so overwhelming that they can no longer be considered local problems. Although the political problems of Balochistan are complex, the continued appointment of tribal chieftains has accentuated its problems. Balochistan needs a leader who is backed by a parliament that is serious about resolving these issues. The rest of Pakistan should be supportive of an open process of dialogue among all parties.The appointment of the next chief minister of Balochistan was never more important than it is today. If the right decision is made, this can be a turning point for Balochistan rather than another round of inept governance from the same fragmented and inept elite tribal leadership.

Pakistan: Lawyers threaten, force High Court judge to change his ruling
A judge of the Lahore High Court changed his decision less than two minutes after ruling in favour of the accused in a blasphemy case when lawyers and members of fundamentalist groups threatened him. The judge, in the fear of the dire consequences, quickly withdrew his decision of granting bail to the accused persons. May 19, the arrested persons of a printing press were presented before the Lahore High Court (LHC) for their bail applications. The persons were arrested on January 7, 2013 on the charges of Sections 295B (defiling the Holy Quran) and 298C (an Ahmadi calling himself a Muslim or preaching his faith) of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 24A of the Press and Publications Ordinance. The arrested persons were simply the employees of a printing press which was owned by an Ahmadi, the most hated Islamic community in Pakistan. The Government of Punjab has once again pounced upon the Ahmadiyya Newspaper, 'Al Fazl' which is the only paper the community has in Pakistan for the education and information of its members. Al Fazl is completely apolitical and extremely particular to publish items within the framework of the restrictions imposed upon it by the infamous Ordinance XX, issued during the military government of General Zia ul Haq. A group of fundamentalists, Khatme-Nabuwat, supported by the local police and vandals, attacked the Black Arrow Press in Lahore. Whilst the owner of this press is an Ahmadi the employees are not. During the hearing the courtroom was full and some lawyers had to stand while the judge heard the arguments, after which he approved bail for the suspects. This announcement nearly caused a riot in the courtroom and the judge had to withdraw the order barely two minutes after he had pronounced it. He then referred the case to the Chief Justice for fixing it before another judge. A group of 35 lawyers came to oppose the bail application of the printing press employees because the lawyers claimed they were from the Ahmadi sect. The judge had to withdraw the order after harsh remarks from one particular lawyer who was part of the group who had appeared before the court to argue the case against the Ahmadis. When this lawyer used harsh remarks against the judge the other lawyers and some people from a fundamentalist group shouted slogans against the judge and verbally insulted him with malicious remarks. According to the Daily Express Tribune, some jurists said it was 'improper' for the judge to withdraw his order, whether verbal or written. He should have considered the repercussions, they said, before announcing the order rather than withdrawing it later. They appear to be missing the entire point which is that when a judge makes his decision the lawyers should respect it. Any judge should make a decision based on the merits of the case and for reason of personal security. For the lawyers to verbally abuse and threaten a judge makes a mockery of the law. The defendants who were initially granted bail should be released as the justice system permits. Just one month before this latest incident a similar situation was faced by another judge of the Lahore High Court. On April 9, the said judge, after hearing the arguments on the bail petition of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy, referred it to the chief justice for fixing it before another judge. The hooliganism of the lawyers has become common in the country since the successful movement for the independence of the judiciary. Since the year 2010, when Chief Justice Iftekhar Choudry and other judges were restored after the heroic struggle of the lawyers and masses, the lawyers formed groups which take decisions in their favour or force the judge to accept their dictates. In not one single case has the Chief Justice of Pakistan or the Judicial Reform Committee taken any action to stop such hooliganism. In one appalling case which happened in 2010 a lawyer physically beat a judge of a Session Court of Faisalabad, Punjab province. When the judges went on strike due to this incident the Chief Justice, rather than support their stand, ordered them to settle the issue with the attacker. The judges then had to apologise to the offending lawyer as the other lawyers went on strike in his support. This is nothing more than vigilantism and has become a disease in the lawyer's community. In the case of the assassination of the former governor of Punjab, Mr. Salman Taseer, who was shot by his guard, the lawyers defending the killer made him a hero of Islam and attacked the court rooms to stop the hearing against him. Later the judge that sentenced him had to leave the country after receiving threats to his life from the lawyers. The religious fanaticism in the country has now reached the point where it has destroyed the very fabric of the society. The judiciary for whose independence people have sacrificed their lives has become hostage before the lawyers and the fundamentalists and acts on the dictates of bigots. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has always stood up for the independence of the judiciary and supported the lawyer's movement as a vanguard of change in the society. We are saddened to see the state to which the law profession appears to have fallen. Rather than relying of the rule of law and the supremacy of the judiciary the lawyers themselves have resorted to the same terror tactics of the Taliban and the fundamentalists. The AHRC urges the Supreme Court, the Judicial Reform Committee and the Pakistan Bar Council to act quickly to stop the rot which has taken the form of the hooliganism by the lawyers. If the lawyers are allowed to dictate terms to the judges they are sworn to respect then the entire purpose of the courts ceases to exist. At the moment the people still respect the judiciary. However, if the judiciary continues to pay lip service to the rule of law and caters to the whims of the hooligans then the respect of the people will soon fail and the society will resort to anarchy.

India cautious about giving weapons to Kabul

Afghan President Karzai has formally requested New Delhi to provide military equipment to his war-torn country as NATO troops prepare to leave and Kabul's ties with Islamabad deteriorate. Afghanistan and India are trying to further strengthen their relations before international troops withdraw. The two regional allies hope that the radical Taliban won't come back to power in Afghanistan once the NATO soldiers leave the country in 2014. "We have a wish list that we have put before the Indian government. It is now up to India how they want to respond to our request," President Karzai told the media in New Delhi at the end of his three-day official tour. "There was no discussion on the deployment of Indian troops in Afghanistan, and there is no need of doing that," he added. So far, there has been no official comment on Karzai's request from the Indian government.Afghanistan's request for lethal military equipment comes at a time when Kabul's relations with Islamabad are at their worst. Pakistani border guards and Afghan security forces have had several clashes along the Pakistani-Afghan border in recent months. Karzai has repeatedly accused Islamabad of backing Taliban militants to create unrest in Afghanistan and of using the Islamists as a bargaining chip to demand more influence in the his country. Pakistan refutes these allegations.
Development aid
So far, Indian involvement in Afghanistan has been mostly limited to the training of Afghan security forces. India has provided little military equipment to Afghanistan in the past. India has invested more than two billion US dollars in Afghanistan - the largest amount of external aid given by India to any country. Most of this investment has been done in Afghanistan's infrastructure, including construction of highways and hospitals, and electricity projects for rural areas. Enhanced military cooperation between India and Afghanistan, as demanded by Karzai, would entail the supply of sophisticated weapons, fighter planes, armored vehicles, heavy artillery, and a range of other equipment. "We will have to assess the situation carefully before committing to any combative military aid. There is a whole range of issues which must be looked at. At the moment, we can send transport helicopters and trucks to Afghanistan," a senior Indian security official told DW on condition of anonymity.
Regional dynamics
Defense and security analysts say that India's military involvement in Afghanistan would be viewed with distrust by India's regional rival and Afghanistan's neighbor Pakistan, even though Afghan officials have long been insisting that they are short of military equipment. Indian Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, however, says the possibility of exporting "military equipment" to Afghanistan in the future cannot be completely ruled out. "For sure, it is not going to happen for now. Also, there are important stakeholders in Afghanistan and this will not go down well with them. It could exacerbate the situation. First, we have to see how the incoming government in Pakistan is going to tackle the Afghanistan issue," Kak told DW. But international diplomacy expert Amitabh Mattoo sees no problem in giving military equipment to the Afghan National Security Forces. "Karzai has, after all, been a dependable Indian ally for over a decade now," Mattoo told DW. Security expert Hartosh Singh Bal is of the opinion that India will have to wait and see how the situation in Afghanistan unfolds after the withdrawal of NATO troops. "India and Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership agreement in 2011 that allows India to provide only non-lethal military aid to Afghanistan," Bal said in an interview with DW. New Delhi, however, is clear about what it wants in Afghanistan. Experts say that India is keen to see peace and political stability in Afghanistan, which it hopes will increase its influence in the country and will also defeat Islamist militancy in the region.

President Zardari first ever president to address the parliament for fifth time

President Asif Ali Zardari is all set to set a new record in the parliamentary history of the country by addressing the joint parliament session for the fifth time, Pakistan Today has learnt. The joint session of both the houses of the Parliament is likely to be called by June, as on May 29 the first formal session of the Lower House of the parliament will be held during which the new prime minister, leader of opposition, speaker and deputy speaker for the National Assembly would be elected. After the first session of the Lower House, a joint session of the parliament would be summoned for the presidential address as per Clause 3 of the Article 56 of the Constitution. It states that at the commencement of the first session after each general election to the National Assembly and at the commencement of the first session of each year the President shall address both Houses assembled together and inform the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) of the causes of its summon. President Asif Ali Zardari will be the first ever president who would address the parliament for the sixth time in the parliamentary history of the country. Special passes would issued for those desirous to attend the address of the president where as there would be beefed up security in the Red Zone. Rangers and Frontier Constabulary would be there to assist law enforcement agencies and police to prevent any untoward incident whereas aerial surveillance of the area would also be maintained on the event. Keeping in view the current law and order situation, special security cameras would also be installed on various spots whereas choppers would stay in the air for surveillance and security to foil any bid of terror. Sources said that no bicycles, motorbikes or vehicles would be permitted to enter the Red Zone during the presidential address whereas special media passes would be issued to the media persons who would cover the event. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) head Maulana Fazalur Rahman, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, all services chiefs, prominent political and diplomatic figures and ambassadors would also be invited to the joint session of the parliament through special invitations for the event. Earlier President Zardari had addressed the joint session of the parliament five times within the period of four years. Former President Rafique Ahmed Tarar had addressed the joint session of parliament on Feb 28, 1998 in the second term of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. Former president and military dictator General (r) Pervez Musharraf, during his eight-year reign after 2002 general elections addressed the joint session of the parliament on January 17, 2004 once for 45 minutes but was disturbed by the opposition raising slogans ‘Go Musharraf Go’ and after that he did not address any joint session.