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 Raza Habib Raja
Due to the proposed “Burn a Quran Day” by Pastor Terry Jones, Muslim world is once again under scrutiny and for reasons pertaining to their faith and extraordinary reverence they attach to it. However, it is not just the Muslims, but the USA’s democracy and its ideals of freedom of action which are also under the critical microscope. The world has become a strange place and in this environment of deep polarization and mistrust even the action of a previously obscure Pastor can light the fuse.
But even more important than the issue of burning are the underlying questions which need to be addressed both by Islamic and the Western World.
Some of these questions are deeply philosophical and challenge our current understanding of ideals like freedom of expression and ethnic sensitivity. Some of the questions pertain to the extreme sensitivity of the Muslims and their more than necessary response.
By Raza Habib Raja
Democracy is much more than majority
Right now, after 28th May, an issue being increasingly discussed is the status given to Ahmedis through the controversial Second Amendment.
Frankly I would like to say at the onset that I think the Second Amendment is one of the blackest and most shameful acts of legislations ever passed in the National Assembly. Its reprehensible content is reinforced by the fact that it was not an ordinance imposed by a dictator but actually passed by majority through legislative process.
The Second Amendment was passed unanimously and compared to other controversial legal ordinance such as Hadood, appears to have a “democratic’ semblance. In fact at times more than the religious arguments the supporters of the Second Amendment come up with the “democratic” defense.
Supporters say that after all democracy is a game of numbers and if the law was passed unanimously then it reflected the entire collective will of the people. They also say that democracy has to be consistently interpreted and applied. They say that you cannot be “selective” about democratic norms and apply it to your own wishes. The votes cast by the representatives are the most appropriate approximation of the public will and if a bill is passed unanimously then public will has to prevail. The art of legislation is the way of ensuring prevalence of public will.
Though apparently supported by “democratic” credentials, a critical look would reveal that actually this argument is flawed on at least two major accounts. Continue reading
This is an old article written in the relatively immediate aftermath of 9/11. As someone observed on a Pakistani TV talkshow a year or so ago, jurists and theorists like Abu Hanifa, al-Shafi’i etc. would be shocked to know that people in the 21st century were still taking their interpretations as law – indeed, ‘Divine’ law. They would have been surprised enough to see that their views had not been updated, renewed and replaced within a century or two. The speaker claimed, given such freezing of thought, the shocking ideology that we saw glimpses of in Sufi Muhammad’s public address last year ought not to surprise us. In fact, Sufi Muhmmad types are ‘neo-Kharajites’ – they can be likened to the original kharijites in some essential traits at least – who may or may not have been the product of a thousand and more years of stagnation of thought and critical enquiry in most parts of the mainstream.
The situation in relation to ijtehad is different within shia Islam… at least within Usuli Twelver Shia Islam. The heirarchy of marja and its unambiguous place in the ‘vilayat e faqih’ (to borrow from Khomeini’s spin) is hardly an improvement but is at least contemporary, albeit in (almost) purely chronological terms only. But I digress. Here’s the article. (Bciv)
By Ziauddin Sardar
Serious rethinking within Islam is long overdue. Muslims have been comfortably relying, or rather falling back, on age-old interpretations for much too long. This is why we feel so painful in the contemporary world, so uncomfortable with modernity. Scholars and thinkers have been suggesting for well over a century that we need to make a serious attempt at ijtihad, at reasoned struggle and rethinking, to reform Islam. At the beginning of the last century, Jamaluddin Afghani and Mohammad Abduh led the call for a new ijtihad; and along the way many notable intellectuals, academics and sages have added to this plea – not least Mohammad Iqbal, Malik bin Nabbi and Abdul Qadir Audah. Yet, ijtihad is one thing Muslim societies have singularly failed to undertake. Why? Continue reading
By Naeem Sadiq
In September 2009 I wrote to two Sindh government departments seeking harmless information on matters of education and pollution that should anyway be available to all citizens. I was confident that a formal request under the much trumpeted and much ‘seminar’ed Freedom of Information Act will do the trick. The law requires a response within 21 days. When nothing happened for 4 months, in Jan 2010, I approached the Sindh Ombudsman (as suggested in the law) to ask the concerned departments to do the needful.
After digesting my request for 3 months, the Sindh Ombudsman finally asked the concerned departments (Education and Environmental Protection Agency) to appear and explain why they did not provide the information that had been asked for. I too was asked to appear.
So I spent the 1st of April (like a fool) in the Ombudsman’s office, hoping that the real culprits would make an appearance. Nobody turned up and the helpless Ombudsman gave a new date of April 6, for all parties to appear again.
On 6th April I wasted another day waiting in the Ombudsman’s office, but again neither department put in an appearance.
Clearly I was now being given a taste of my own medicine. The Ombudsman could keep calling. I could keep appearing. The departments violating the freedom of information Act could keep not turning up. Life could keep going on as normal. Continue reading
Filed under Citizens, civil service, Conservation, Democracy, Education, Environment, executive, Law, Pakistan, Rights, Sindh