…the more they remain the same
The ISI – a proxy for the Army, since Z.A.Bhutto’s creation of ISI’s infamous Political Cell – seems to be making it clear that it (too) is beyond accountability. After Malik Qayyum tried to show he still had some nuisance value by declaring to Hamid Mir that ‘a former head of a powerful intelligence agency had confirmed to him that (the missing person) Mr Janjua was dead’, there were news items about the police (possibly) investigating a handful of former and serving intelligence and army officers in relation to missing persons. Mrs Amina Janjua promptly responded to the possible muddying of the intelligence agency’s name by writing to The News.
She declares in this letter that she does not seek investigation against any ‘valuable’ national agency and does not wish their ‘good name’ to be called into question. She still considers her quest for justice for her missing husband to be noble, just as noble it would seem as she considers our national agencies to be. She declares that she holds the US responsible for her family’s woes and only seeks justice against the US… in a Pakistani court, one must add.
Both the petitioner and the court had a very different view of the same state and its agencies under the dictator Gen Musharraf. The tone and tenor with which this view was expressed was very different too. Indeed, one of Musharraf’s (completely fake) complaints against the SC was that it ‘had been setting free suspected terrorists’.
Mrs Janjua need not have bothered writing the letter. The 3-member SC bench had already declared, back in February, that the court “will not examine evidence against intelligence agencies in the missing persons’ case.” I guess she just wanted to make sure.
She might have good reason to do so. Perhaps, the letter was written under duress. In all this murky, mysterious mess, one thing is sickeningly clear: there are those in Pakistan who are and openly claim to be above the law and intend to remain so; democracy better learn to live with it, or else…, and, the Pakistani citizen should have little hope from even the highest judiciary to challenge that right of the mighty… no matter how much that citizen might have struggled and suffered in the cause of the very same judiciary, to have it resurrected and have the best chance in decades to choose to be independent.
Here’s the full text of Mrs Janjua’s letter:
Monday, April 12, 2010
This is in response to the news report “Missing persons’ case takes a dramatic turn” by Umer Cheema (April 8). I am the leading petitioner for the cases of missing persons, including that of my husband, Masood Ahmed Janjua (an educationist and famous businessman of Rawalpindi), in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. I wanted to draw your attention towards another angle of this high-profile case being heard in the Supreme Court these days. I feel like giving my version and conveying my respect for all the valuable institutions of my beloved country. We belong to a family of educated, cultured and most patriotic individuals who have served in the army and the air force. Although I have been seeking justice and continuing my dignified struggle for the release of my husband desperately on all possible platforms it was never my intention to hold anyone accountable or disgrace any of my country’s valuable institutions — most particularly the forces that are the lifeline of Pakistan and have rendered great sacrifices for the nation.
As the more important half of the fact remains hidden I believe that it is my obligation to throw light on it. Recently, renowned lawyers of the UK, Clive Stafford Smith and Asim Qureshi, visited Pakistan. They addressed a press conference here and referred to the proof of CIA’s involvement in the illegal abduction and continuous human rights violations of Masood Janjua. A deadline was given to the US ambassador (March 12) to disclose CIA’s involvement, failing which a lawsuit would be filed in the US. I have also handed these documents as well as the CD of the proof to the JIT constituted under the orders of the Supreme Court for investigations into Masood’s case. The organisation of these lawyers, i.e. Reprieve, is going to file a habeas corpus petition against the government of the US for the recovery of Masood Janjua. Therefore, I would say forcefully that since 9/11 our institutions have been pressurised to take unconstitutional measures, follow illegal procedures and indulge in human rights violations — all carried out in the name of the war on terror. I would rather blame the US for the illegal kidnapping of my husband and for the miseries, agonies and sufferings inflicted upon the entire family of my husband, me, three vulnerable teenage kids and aging parents-in-law on their deathbed since July 30, 2005. Since the pressure is mounting on the US government, making it accountable in front of its own public for running notorious prisons like Bagram and Guantanamo, it is better to undo the barbaric acts of illegal abduction and torture by letting these detainees go. Only measures such as the release of all detainees would save the US from accountability and international embarrassment it is facing today.
You can read the news item Mrs Janjua refers to here [opens in a new window].
Here’s a little write-up on the development on the Critical PPP blog:
Despite Justice Muhammad Sair Ali’s rhetoric in January that the missing persons case was more serious than the NRO, since the three member bench of the current Supreme Court was formed to decide the missing persons case we have seen numerous delays in the verdict and bizarre developments such as Justice Javed Iqbal declaring in March that no action would be taken against the intelligence agencies in the course of the case.
Now another interesting development has occurred when Mrs. Amina Masood Janjua, the leading petitioner in the missing persons case, conveyed, via a letter to The News that she too does not want to spoil the good name of the “valuable” institutions of the country especially the armed forces:
“Although I have been seeking justice and continuing my dignified struggle for the release of my husband desperately on all possible platforms it was never my intention to hold anyone accountable or disgrace any of my country’s valuable institutions — most particularly the forces that are the lifeline of Pakistan and have rendered great sacrifices for the nation”
Instead she wants to simply pursue the role of the US in the missing persons issue, without holding the Pakistani army or agencies to account:
“therefore, I would say forcefully that since 9/11 our institutions have been pressurised to take unconstitutional measures, follow illegal procedures and indulge in human rights violations — all carried out in the name of the war on terror. I would rather blame the US for the illegal kidnapping of my husband and for the miseries, agonies and sufferings inflicted upon the entire family of my husband, me, three vulnerable teenage kids and aging parents-in-law on their deathbed since July 30, 2005.”
Now since both the lead petitioner and the Bench have stated that they do not wish to malign the good name of our “institutions” it would seem that the missing persons issue is dead and buried forever. Those missing persons who do not have the good fortune of having such close ties with the valuable institutions of the army and establishment (unlike Mrs Janjua and the members of the judiciary) will have to understand that the individuals who represented their cause have simply changed their minds.
Baloch political activists, for example, have already voiced their concerns relevant to both parts of the last paragraph. The ISI is adamant on performing these acrobatics, no matter how awkward, in order to preserve its power. Sadly, many people will still put their trust in the ‘agencies’ (read ‘the Army’) when it comes to the future of Pakistan rather than democracy. Indeed, they would put the military establishment even ahead of their new favourite judiciary. They do not realise that by damaging and devastating rule of law, these actions of agencies like the ISI are serving to weaken the very state they claim to be first and foremost protectors of.
Recently, a group demanding release of senior Taliban commanders has released a video of their hostages. Intriguingly, the hostages include the pro-Taliban ISI veterans Col. ‘Imam’ and Khalid Khawaja. They claim, between them, in the video that they were sent on their ‘mission’ by (at one time DG ISI) Lt Gen (retd) Hamid Gul, a serving ISI Col Sajjad, and former Army chief Aslam Beg. With so many non-state, quasi-state and psuedo-state actors, what hope a legitimate and strong state? In a normal country, Aslam Beg would be in court explaining his role in the Mehran Bank case, not playing spymaster for a bit of excitement in his life as a retired ‘government servant’.
‘Ummatein’ Aur Bhi Hein, Is Mein Gunaahgaar Bhi Hein
….. Sainkrro’n Hein Jo Tere Naam Say Beezar Bhi Hein
Rehmatein Hein Teeri …… Ke Kashaanon Per
barq girti hai tu bechaaray siyasatdano’n per
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