Asma Jahangir’s victory in the Supreme Court Bar Association elections is a major development in the legal and judicial history of Pakistan. She is the first woman to hold this office, and a progressive rights activist as well. Her struggles against injustice, discrimination and oppression have spanned over nearly forty years and are globally acclaimed. PTH wishes her all success and hopes that she is able to fulfil the mandate for which she has been elected: To transform the apex Bar into a professional, neutral and non-partisan body and operating at a healthy distance from the judges. At last some sanity might prevail. This take by lubp is worth a read.
I took the picture on the right after the victory and more can be found here
We are also posting a well considered view from HRW below:
Pakistan: Prominent Rights Advocate to Lead Supreme Court Bar
Asma Jahangir’s Election an Advance for an Impartial Judiciary
(New York, October 28, 2010)—The election of a prominent human rights activist to the presidency of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan is a victory for human rights in Pakistan and for the country’s transition to genuine civilian rule, Human Rights Watch said today. The election of Asma Jahangir on October 27, 2010, will make her the first woman to lead the country’s most influential forum for lawyers. Continue reading
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
… And thank god that they have not dabbled in that horrible theory of the basic structure which would have meant closing the door on any future prospect of democratic reform in Pakistan (in my personal view).
I think this is an important middle ground which has atleast restored some of the faith I had lost in our judiciary to do the right thing.
Now it is upto the democratic government to meet the judiciary half way. Continue reading
By Adnan Syed
This two part series revisits one of the pivotal events of the early Pakistani history; the riots by the religious right wing parties to get Ahmadis declared as non-Muslims, and the subsequent Munir-Kiyani inquiry commission report into the causes behind the riots. The report went on to interview the religious leaders of the newly formed state of Pakistan regarding their motives and their ideas of Pakistan as a pure Islamic state. As the interviews revealed the incongruous replies of various leaders, they also showed vague but chilling ideas that the right wing parties harboured to turn the newly formed Muslim nation into a political- Islam-dominated theocratic nation. The interviews reveal the role of democracy, non Muslims, Jihad and punishments like apostasy that would be practiced in an ideal Islamic state.
The interviews are as relevant today as they were 56 years ago. If anything, they foreshadowed the violence that would engulf Pakistan as the state gradually ceded to the demands of the Islamic right wing parties. Religious parties kept incessant pressure on the newly formed state to take a turn towards Islamism. At the same time the pressure was on to the governments to kick the Ahmadis out of the fold of Islam by a state decree. It was not until 1974, that another bout of religious agitation got Prime Minister Bhutto to accede to their demands and get Ahmadis declared non-Muslims. If anything, Pakistan has paid dearly for ignoring its founding father who spoke unequivocally that the newly formed state would not be theocratic, and that everyone is free to practice their religion as an equal Pakistani first and foremost.
By Adnan Syed
The existential threat comes from disowning the democratic structure, giving up on it and looking yet again for another instant messiah in face of tremendous adversity and hopelessness.
We were wrong in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1990s when the elected governments were overthrown. And if we continue with our mindless obsession with artificial stability, we would be wrong in 2010 yet again.
Filed under Army, baluchistan, Constitution, Democracy, Judiciary, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Politics, poverty, public policy, Rights
|The current situation with respect to Judiciary merits several questions. Is there any scope for Judicial activism or Parliament should have the sole supremacy? Assuming there is some scope (either through constitution or due to “necessity”) what are the desirable limits from political cum social point of view? What explains the current conservative orientation of the Judiciary? Was the lawyers’ movement a just cause or a vehicle for reactionary elements to direct the country towards further conservatism? What problems can occur due to the current ongoing tussle between Government and Judiciary? This article tries to analyze the above questions.
By Raza Habib Raja
Right now the country is embroiled in a rather destabilizing controversial tussle between increasingly hyper active judiciary and Government. Judiciary is actively pursuing a policy of activism as compared to judicial restraint and even 18th amendment which had unanimous support of political parties is right now under review and during session the remarks of the honourable judges are indicating that Judiciary may clamp the wings of the parliament.
Judicial activism obviously stands for an active court which is not exercising judicial restraint and is quite ready to even enter into the reign of executive and in fact even at times policy making domain. An important component is of judicial review through which courts can review and decide whether a certain act passed by the legislative is unconstitutional or infringes basic rights of the people. Another related issue is the Judicial orientation ( i.e. whether judiciary is ideologically moving towards liberal or conservative side).
The ongoing judicial activism is difficult to be categorized as “good” or “bad’ mainly because it is trying to affect complex and at times interconnected variables in our society. The perception about it will also vary from person to person depending on his/her OVERALL political orientation.
Within liberal community the opinion is somewhat divided but most are worried due to a string of recent decisions regarding banning of websites and releasing of controversial individuals like Hafiz Saeed. Those who support it are also cautious as Judiciary while cracking on corruption is also veering towards reinforcing conservatism. The role of Lahore High Court is particularly a cause for concern. In my personal opinion while there is some limited scope for judicial activism but at the same time the judicial orientation is a cause for concern. On the good side Judiciary is instilling a culture of some accountability but on the flip side it is also showing strains of excessive activism and increasingly conservative orientation.
The current situation merits several questions whch have been outlined in the introductory part of the article. Let’s try to evaluate these Continue reading
The debate on fake degrees has captured the middle class imagination of Pakistan’s mainstream media. True that lying and misrepresenting facts is not acceptable. Yet, discriminatory laws against the political elites are not kosher either. The debate on the issue remains sensationalist, purist and devoid of the larger context of Pakistan’s democratic history.
Each era of our existence has witnessed such campaigns. In the 1950s laws to screen out the corrupt politicians was launched with much fanfare. It was a clear tool for the unelected institutions to tame and manipulate the political class. In the 1960s such a process was institutionalized and Pakistan reeled under the ill-effects of authoritarianism leading to the break up of the country in 1971.
The establishment continued the policy throughout the 1980s and we witnessed the growth and proliferation of politicians who were absolutely wedded to the fortification of Pakistan as a national security state. In the 1990s, such games continued and we have cases from that decade which are yet to be adjudicated. The state as a whole has used these as bargaining chips. This is why the debate on NRO is complex and its moral simplification becomes a historical act in itself. Continue reading
Salman Tarik Kureshi Daily Times, June 12, 2010
What happened through the 1950s was the piecemeal articulation of a national narrative for the new state. Jinnah’s liberal, inclusive vision was converted into a faux Islamic exclusivism. Conformity was imposed on political pluralism and a unitary state, belying the Quaid’s crusades for provincial autonomy, was created
Pakistan, we learn, is rated among the five most unstable countries in the Global Peace Index. Scarcely surprising, given the ongoing civil war with half-savage bands of highly organised, well-financed and heavily armed insurgents, and the accompanying terrorist bombings and violent mayhem across the land. This is not to mention the internecine not-so-civil war between major state institutions, the bizarre conspiracy theories aired over the media, the bigotry trumpeted in pulpits across the land and the genocidal sectarian frenzies that are leading us ineluctably to national and civilisational suicide. The most unstable list includes Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan, in addition to our beloved homeland. Continue reading