Tag Archives: Activism

A step towards a progressive Pakistan

Raza Rumi

Asma Jahangir’s victory in the Supreme Court Bar Association elections is a momentous event in the country’s political and legal landscape. Even the worst of her critics grudgingly admit that her principled stance has remained consistent in a country where intellectual honesty and integrity are in short supply. More importantly, her reasoned approach to recent bouts of judicial activism has been a source of strength for stakeholders in the democratic process. Almost every progressive Pakistani has been overjoyed with her election as head of a professional body which was on the verge of losing its credibility due to indulgence in partisan politics.

Since the lawyers’ movement created a stir in 2007, the bars had started to assume the role of a political party with an exaggerated notion of their power. Instead of focusing on what ailed legal education and the maligned profession, the regulators had turned into rowdy mobs, televangelists and spokespersons of the free and restored judges. Encouraged, a Supreme Court judge reportedly remarked how ‘popular will’ was above the Constitution. The pinnacle of this approach was the judgment in the NRO case. Asma Jahangir and a few other sensible lawyers highlighted the problematic aspects of the verdict. This was a game-changer and Jahangir was at the centre of this rational discourse. Continue reading

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A letter to the youth of Pakistan

Usama Khilji, a young activist from Islamabad addresses his contemporaries in Pakistan
Dear Young Pakistani!
I understand how these times are testing of your patriotism, but let me tell you how these times are actually a golden opportunity for you to prove your worth, your love for the country, and desire for a better future.

You must have been hearing a lot about how Pakistani society has degenerated into moral chaos, how we as a nation are worthless ‘cockroaches’, and how we as a nation are deserving of calamities such as the catastrophic flood. These are all baseless generalizations that you as the youth should take up as challenges, and rather than accepting such fatalism, prove them wrong instead.

For those of you who were disheartened by the beating to death of two brothers in Sialkot by a mob, don’t be disheartened. Use this event to realize the importance of justice, the importance of rule of law. Many of you went out on the roads of different cities of Pakistan demanding justice to the deceased brothers. Excellent. Be involved. Stand up and question any wrong that you see happening around you. Refuse to consent to injustice; otherwise you are one of the spectators of the mob-justice scene in Sialkot. Continue reading

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ASR Institute must be saved at all costs

Raza Rumi

ASR Institute of Women’s Studies, Lahore is not a run of the mill NGO or a donor-sponsored institution. Pakistan, not unlike other developing countries has enough of such makeshift, quick-fix research institutions that advance the Eurocentric and inappropriate agendas of those who want to liberate and enable the natives to come at par with the ‘civilized’ world. Since 1983, ASR has held its own – under dictatorships, quasi-democratic charades and amid the rise of Islamism. Not content with radical research and speaking the truth, in 1997 ASR went ahead and set up the first women’s studies institute in the non-state domain. This institute is open for South Asians and boasts a curriculum and faculty that would compete with any similar outfit in the international arena.

In February 2010, ASR organized a national seminar entitled A Celebration Of The Women’s Movement 1947-2010. The seminar honoured women who have struggled for women rights, and especially to pay tribute to the valiant struggle of the women of Pakistan who have consistently challenged all forms of oppression since 1947. This occasion also paid tribute to the women of Lahore and the Women’s Action Forum (WAF) who resisted the dictatorship of General Zia ul Haq on the 12th of February 1983. This historic day will always be remembered as a shining moment in our troubled history, when a few women faced large contingents of brutal police and marched their way through lathi charges and tear gas to protest against the anti-women, dubious ‘Islamization’ under Martial Law.

The sad part is that the process that was unleashed by the Ziaist mock-theocracy has turned into a national disaster. The rise of the Taliban and other Wahabi-Salafist groups are a danger not only to women and minorities, but also spell doom for the future of a plural Pakistani society. In this milieu, ASR’s bold stance and unwavering commitment to an equitable, progressive Pakistan is therefore heartwarming. At the same time, ASR is also facing existential crises that concern its basic survival. Continue reading

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The current judiciary-executive standoff

We are posting Marvi Sirmed’s bold and controversial piece that made waves today in Pakistan’s media. This piece entitled “Let reason prevail” has a clear line and PTH does not necessarily subscribe to this point of view (editors).

There is a judicial crisis, the media says. This claim seems to be correct if one realises the level of urgency the Supreme Court showed in responding to a presidential notification. This notification was nothing bigger than the elevation of the senior-most judge of the Lahore High Court (LHC) to the Supreme Court and the subsequent appointment of the second senior judge as the Acting Chief Justice of the LHC. Those having objections to the president’s notification say it violated Article 177 of the Constitution. The said Article provides for a consultation with the Chief Justice (CJ) of the Supreme Court prior to making such appointments, but it does not give a definition of the “consultation”. It is also true that the CJ Supreme Court sent a summary to the president who subsequently rejected it and sent it back. The allegation of “not consulting the CJ” thus becomes irrelevant. Article 177 does not make the CJ’s recommendation binding on the president. Continue reading

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Pakistan’s Supreme Court versus the democratic government

– by Abdul Nishapuri

In a (not so) surprise move, top judicial bureaucrats sitting in Pakistan’s Supreme Court and Lahore High Court have declared war against a fragile democracy in Pakistan. The (right-wing) establishment has taken its dagger out for a final attack on the democratic government of the (left-wing) Pakistan People’s Party.

In a decision announced in the after hours on Saturday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended the appointment of two judges by President Asif Ali Zardari.

According to Iftikhar A. Khan of Dawn newspaper,

The build-up to the suspension of the presidential order packed more suspense than a thriller. A three-member bench of the Supreme Court first suspended the operation of notifications for elevation of Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court, Justice Khwaja Sharif, to the apex court and appointment of Justice Saqib Nisar as acting chief justice of the LHC.`The Supreme Court staff was called in the evening before the bench hurriedly constituted by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry took up the matter, leaving most observers baffled. Continue reading

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“Lahore Bachao Tehreek” Press Conference

Lahore Bachao Press Conference tomorrow 17 July 2009 at 5pm at the Lahore Press Club

The Lahore Bachao Tehreek will be holding a press conference at the Lahore Press Club at 5pm tomorrow Friday 17 July 2009.  LBT will be issuing a press statement against the LDA’s proposed commercialization of 58 roads in Lahore.  It will also address the recent news that the Chief Minister of Punjab has directed that the Canal Bank Road widening project be re-examined. Continue reading

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The Shanaakht Fiasco

CROSSPOST

 

{I started writing this post before the [heart]Breaking News of the cancellation of the festival hit me. Despite my criticism of some of it’s flaws, I think that nurturing it would, over time, have had it evolve into something more sensible and sensitive. The closing down bodes badly for art and many other activities … but the organizers were left with no options, given the to-ing & fro-ing of the PPP and governmental commitments.}
The incident at CAP’s Shanakht Festival yesterday should convince people that all 17 crore hearts do not beat as one all the time. Oh, of course they do, sometimes. But NOT when an identity is being forced, instead of being allowed to develop. Continue reading

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