Category Archives: Justice

2008-2013 Democratic Annals

by Rifaat Hamid Ghani

The government and the Parliament of 2008 completed a full term: a democratic first. But it could be more because interventionists have matured than because politicians demonstrated a reassuring capacity to learn on the job.

If we step outside the trite paradigm of democracy and dictatorship and the polarities of the civil and military public political interest, we might not see any polarities: Both want power and there is a competition for it. For most Pakistanis Pakistan is home, not a cow to be milked dry. They need and want their country. The touchstone for legitimacy then becomes pragmatic for them: How is the power of government being used?

guest-contributorIf asked about the 2008-onwards use of democratically mandated power there would be more than carping complaints about law and order and safety in daily life. The common perception is the state itself is increasingly endangered by the vice and folly of the politically empowered. In 2013 despite democratic freedom a question is suppressed: Is it a myth, which local democratic experience exposes each time, that democracy is invariably the better formula? As soon as there was no self-perpetuating incentive in maintaining or reaching a consensus, political rivals needed arbitration on the caretaker PM. When mainstream parties so evidently mistrust each other’s motives and nominees they also need unusually skilled spin masters to tell the electorate why it may place faith in their candidatures and avowals. Continue reading 2008-2013 Democratic Annals

Please follow and like us:

Death penalty should end

By Zubeida Mustafa

LAST Thursday Pakistan reported its first execution in four years. Muhammad Hussain was hanged in Mianwali jail thus ending the tacit moratorium the government has observed since 2008 when Gen (retd) Musharraf’s rule ended.

The convict was a soldier of the Pakistan Army who was accused of killing his senior — a havaldar — with whom he was embroiled in a personal dispute. This came as a shock to human rights activists who have been campaigning against capital punishment. This execution took many aback because only a fortnight ago the president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar had disclosed that the government was working on a bill to abolish capital punishment before the elections. The bill will convert the death penalty into life imprisonment. Continue reading Death penalty should end

Please follow and like us:

Enigma of voters’ list

By Zubeida Mustafa

PRIME Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has said that fair and free elections offer the only way out of the present constitutional crisis. He is right, but only if the elections are truly fair and free.

Given the state of the recently released electoral rolls it is difficult to believe that the exercise will be flawless. No one doubts the integrity of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Fakhruddin Ebrahim, who has an impeccable reputation. But how much can he do? The mantle of the CEC has fallen on his shoulders so late in the day. I.A. Rehman of the HRCP had a point when he reminded us that authentic electoral rolls are basic to adult franchise. The numbers game is baffling and political parties are disinterested. Continue reading Enigma of voters’ list

Please follow and like us:

Looking ahead: Making headway

By Zubeida Mustafa

As the curtain falls on the year 2011, one wonders what promise 2012 holds in store for the women of Pakistan. The fact is that most of the tangible progress that has come in empowering women has been in the shape of laws that have been adopted. The induction of a large number of female legislators in the Assemblies and the presence of an active National Commission on the Status of Women have helped them coordinate their efforts to bring about change. But in a country where governance structures are weak and the implementation of laws is weaker still, legislation may not be enough to transform the situation on the ground. Continue reading Looking ahead: Making headway

Please follow and like us:

The task before Justice Chaudhry

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

WHAT prompted the government`s change of heart at the eleventh hour that led to the announcement about the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry?

Whatever other factors may have been at play, we also know that America, Britain and the Pakistan Army were active behind the scenes.
Continue reading The task before Justice Chaudhry

Please follow and like us:

Where have they vanished?

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

MANY would remember Argentina’s ‘dirty war’ in the late seventies when thousands of people who challenged the government’s ideology ‘disappeared’ without a trace. Augusto Pinochet’s Chile set a similar record when dissidents were picked up by security forces never to be heard of again.

Is Pakistan following suit? According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), nearly 600 people are reported to have disappeared in the last two years, of which 170 cases have been verified.

This phenomenon started in the wake of 9/11 when Pakistan was deemed to be the breeding ground for terror and was under pressure to catch “terrorists” and “earn bounties totaling millions of dollars” as admitted by President Musharraf. What was initially a carefully planned operation under the law of the land has grown into a no-holds-barred adventure in which the police, the intelligence bodies and the military agencies pick up people on the slightest suspicion without observing the legal processes. It is difficult to imagine the agony it causes the family of the disappeared. They have no idea if the missing person is dead or alive, and if alive, in what condition.
Continue reading Where have they vanished?

Please follow and like us:

We can do without the death rows

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

TWO high-profile executions — one in India and the other in Pakistan — were stayed last week. Had they been carried out, both would have created ripples beyond international borders. One was the hanging scheduled for October 20 of a Kashmiri man in India, Mohammad Afzal Guru, who had been convicted for his role in the storming of the parliament house in New Delhi in 2001.

The other case was that of Mirza Tahir Hussain, a British national, accused of murdering a taxi driver 18 years ago in Chakwal. These hangings have not been set aside. They have only been postponed — the first indefinitely and the second until December 31. In the coming weeks human rights lobbies can be expected to mount pressure on the governments in New Delhi and Islamabad to commute the sentences.

Guru’s case has deep implications for India’s politics and foreign policy. It is highly political — the 2001 event brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war and the opposition party, the BJP, is baying for blood. Yet objective opinion believes that Guru’s conviction was flawed. As his mercy petition awaits a decision by the president of India, his lawyers have said they will approach the Supreme Court in an attempt to get the conviction overturned.
Continue reading We can do without the death rows

Please follow and like us:

Commission Report too good to be real

By Zubeida Mustafa

The women of Pakistan have received the best gift they could have wished for on the golden jubilee of the country’s independence. A commission headed by the Supreme Court judge, Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid, has presented a report to the government on the status of women. If its recommendations are accepted and implemented it would be like a dream come true. But will that happen?

Continue reading Commission Report too good to be real

Please follow and like us:

Who is the real criminal?

cplcBy Zubeida Mustafa

In August 1994, my car, an old Suzuki, was snatched at gun point. It was recovered the next day by the police after an encounter they claimed. This experience of my car being taken away by force and then the tedious process of obtaining it back from the custodians of the law was a traumatic one. Had the CPLC and the Deputy Commissioner (South) not intervened I might have remained deprived of my car.

The situation is no better today for the unfortunate ones who fall victim to car robbers. And there are still far too many of them. Athough the statistics released by the CPLC, which has an excellent computerise records system, show wide fluctuations in the incidence of this brand of crime. Continue reading Who is the real criminal?

Please follow and like us: