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
The views expressed in this piece are not those of PTH. This article was sent to us as a contrarian viewpoint and in the interest of promoting a debate, we are posting it. Some of the contents are controversial; and we hope that the readers will correct the perceptions about the judicial activism that is supported by many people in Pakistan. (PTH Editors)
Once a democratic champion, the Chief Justice now undermines the elected government. (WSJ-OPINION ASIA)
By DAVID B. RIVKIN JR. AND LEE A. CASEY
When U.S. President Barack Obama sharply challenged a recent Supreme Court decision in his State of the Union address, prompting a soto voce rejoinder from Justice Samuel Alito, nobody was concerned that the contretemps would spark a blood feud between the judiciary and the executive. The notion that judges could or would work to undermine a sitting U.S. president is fundamentally alien to America’s constitutional system and political culture. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Pakistan.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, the country’s erstwhile hero, is the leading culprit in an unfolding constitutional drama. It was Mr. Chaudhry’s dismissal by then-President Pervez Musharraf in 2007 that triggered street protests by lawyers and judges under the twin banners of democracy and judicial independence. This effort eventually led to Mr. Musharraf’s resignation in 2008. Yet it is now Mr. Chaudhry himself who is violating those principles, having evidently embarked on a campaign to undermine and perhaps even oust President Asif Ali Zardari. (image above – Associated Press) Continue reading
Text of Pakistan-India joint statement SHARM EL SHEIKH: Following is the text of the joint statement issued here on Thursday at the conclusion of the meeting between Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of 15th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit. Continue reading
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
It is not uncommon for those afflicted with the “India shining” ailment to speculate from time to time on the demise of Pakistan. Sadly this has been going on for more than 60 years and we in Pakistan are now used to it. Kapil Komireddi’s article “Pakistan’s Demise is Inevitable” therefore is at best an amusing read and more seriously an insight into an Indian mind obsessed with Pakistan to the point of wishful thinking.
Lawyers bask in Pakistan victory
AITZAZ Ahsan, a leader of the Pakistan lawyers’ movement, sat in his sprawling home in Lahore basking in victory. Plates of traditional sweets were passed as well-wishers lined up to congratulate him.
A special contribution by Dr. TT Sreekumar
Jinnah’s image as an adamant fighter for a separate Muslim Homeland and hence as someone responsible for the division of India is often reinforced by Pakistan’s own constructions of his persona as father of the nation. An unkind fashioning of his politics as inherently sectarian obliterates the nuances of the strategic political positions held by Jinnah, his multiple subjectivities; the subtleties of the subaltern/minority politics he upheld and his visions of regional peace, cooperation and security.
The whirl of events in Pakistan causes concern in an historical sense. Pakistan’s political transformation has unfortunately negated a legacy, the legacy of Jinnah, inheriting which would have allowed better mediations for peace and democracy in the region. The ideals cherished by Jinnah who believed that Pakistan will progress only if they “work together in a spirit that everyone, no matter what is his color, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations” has been completely undermined both in India and Pakistan.
Jinnah’s visions of a non-theocratic democratic Pakistan are in no way inferior to the aspirations shared by Indian National Congress (INC) leaders of the time in rest of British India. Indian textbooks probably provide an uncharitable account of his role in India’s freedom struggle. After all, he was a great leader of the INC who took a profound role in re-imagining Hindu-Muslim unity, shaping INC’s Lucknow pact with Muslim League (ML) and democratizing minority politics in the subcontinent. Torn with sectarian violence, State repressions and increasing human right violations, South Asian countries in general and India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in particular, would immensely benefit from a reassessment of Jinnah’s politics and ideals.
Jinnah’s image as an adamant fighter for a separate Muslim Homeland and hence as someone responsible for the division of India is often reinforced by Pakistan’s own constructions of his persona as father of the nation. An unkind fashioning of his politics as inherently sectarian obliterates the nuances of the strategic political positions held by Jinnah, his multiple subjectivities; the subtleties of the subaltern/minority politics he upheld and his visions of regional peace, cooperation and security. Continue reading