Monday, January 9, 2012
Pakistan Today In yet another twist in the memo scandal, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani today suggested that the replies submitted to the Supreme Court by the chiefs of the army and ISI were "unconstitutional and illegal" as they were sent without obtaining the government's approval. The responses given by the army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha to the Supreme Court in connection with the alleged memo did not have the approval of the competent authority as required under the rules of business, Gilani said. No summary or formal proposal seeking the approval of the competent authority for these two replies was initiated by the Defence Ministry, Gilani said during an interview to a Chinese newspaper. Any official action by a government functionary without the prior approval of the government is "unconstitutional and illegal", he said. Gilani pointed out that the Supreme Court Chief Justice had observed that any act of a government functionary without the government's nod is unconstitutional and therefore illegal. The prime minister said in both the memo controversy and the recent NATO air strike on Pakistani military border posts, the civil and military leadership of Pakistan had held detailed meetings and taken immediate decisions. He said both issues were referred to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and the government had accepted the resignation of Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's former envoy to the US. After the memo issue was referred to the parliamentary committee, the Supreme Court took suo moto action, he said. Gilani described the memo as a "letter written by one American national to another American". This is not the first time that Gilani has criticised the army and ISI for their handling of the memo issue. Gilani was recently angered by an affidavit submitted to the apex court by Defence Secretary Khalid Naeem Lodhi, a retired general considered to be close to the army chief. Lodhi's affidavit had contended that the civilian government had no control over the operational matters of the army and the powerful ISI. Gilani responded by saying it was unacceptable for the army to act like a "state within a state". The civilian government and the military adopted divergent stands when the apex court took up the memo issue. The government challenged the court's jurisdiction to hear the matter, saying it was already being investigated by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security. The chiefs of the army and ISI urged the court to conduct an independent probe. The alleged memo, made public by Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, sought US help to stave off a feared military coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May last year.
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EDITORIAL:DAILY TIMES Of late, a chorus of voices is clamouring for early general elections. The ruling PPP had not seen fit to respond to this clamour until recently, except to endlessly repeat its mantra that the government would complete its tenure, i.e. that the elections would be held in February 2013. However, responding to the rising crescendo of demands for early elections, and perhaps seeing that the post-March 2012 Senate elections scenario would give it political advantage, the PPP has recently discussed the issue in its core committee and indicated through hints and suggestions that it was contemplating elections in October 2012. That would be only a few months before its scheduled end of tenure and could be informed by the perception that incumbency in the face of continuing serious problems afflicting the country may not be conducive to its interests beyond that. Given this change of view, it is surprising to note that Nawaz Sharif in Quetta the other day came out with one more of his ‘either/or’ ultimatums. This one makes even less sense than some of the other choice ones the PML-N chief has delivered in the past. Nawaz says he cannot wait till October and wants the elections ‘now’. He goes on to assert that October 2012 would be too late, but fails to explain too late for what? Further, if he is taken at his word that he cannot wait till October, what does he intend to do between now and then if the PPP sticks to its view? Statements by prominent political leaders and prime-ministers-in-waiting should be better considered and weighed than this. As to the rumoured attempt by Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Aslam Raisani to arrange a meeting between Nawaz Sharif and President Asif Zardari, the PML-N chief says he knows nothing about it. So much for that. To add fuel to the fire, his younger sibling, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif delivered himself of the wisdom on his return from Turkey that he was ruling out any talks with Mr Zardari. In a democratic system, doors are never shut on discussion, even with political rivals. The younger Sharif should therefore stop spewing such vitriol, which can only exacerbate tension in the polity at a time when cooler approaches are required. In contrast to the Punjab chief minister’s ‘can’t play, won’t play’ attitude, the PPP has initiated discussions with all political parties to forge a consensus around the elections date. Although this is not required by any constitutional or even democratic political norms, it speaks well of the PPP’s continuing efforts to take the polity along on such fundamental decisions. The PPP would obviously like a consensus around holding the elections after the Senate elections, preferably in October 2012. The PML-N and Jamaat-i-Islami are pressing for an earlier date, if not immediate polls. The PTI of Imran Khan seems inclined towards September/October 2012, but only after updating the electoral rolls and eliminating the 35 million invalid votes identified, along with the registration of new entrants, amongst whom it counts on the youth. PTI is also tilting against elections under President Zardari, although this does not sit squarely with its demand for a credible, independent Election Commission (EC). If this demand gets fulfilled, what does it matter who is the president, who then will have little say in the electoral process? ANP and the PML-Q still adhere to the original position that the government should complete its tenure. The PPP’s view is that the MQM will go with the tide, its only core interest being maintaining its hold on Karachi. Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the JUI sets three conditions for early elections: an independent EC, agreement on the caretaker setup to conduct the elections, and updating and correcting the electoral rolls. A mere iteration of these respective positions of the biggest players in the field indicates the need and wisdom in conducting consultations amongst all stakeholders to agree a mutually acceptable date. Nothing stops the incumbent government from taking this decision unilaterally, but its approach is clearly intended to avoid ruction over the decision. All parties should therefore welcome any such initiative and come to the table to sort out the elections date.
PML-Q President Shujaat Hussain has said the PML-N will not manage to get any seats outside the Punjab in the Senate polls whereas the PML-Q will successfully manage to bag representation in every province. “I had advised Nawaz Sharif during his tenure as prime minister to avoid being proud and not to pay any heed to liars and sycophants, but he turned a deaf ear which eventually led to his fall,” said Shujaat while talking to the media on Sunday at a reception hosted by former PPP MPA Shabina Riaz Sheikh and her husband, a close confidant of President Asif Zardari, Ahmed Riaz Sheikh, over the acquittal of Moonis Elahi from court. It was the first interaction of the central cadre of both parties — previously rivals — with the media in Lahore after coming up in coalition. Pervaiz Elahi, the former chief minister, Senator Jehangir Badr, the PPP Secretary General, Governor Sardar Latif Khosa, PML-Q leaders including Basharat Raja, Ch Zaheeruddin, federal minister Manzoor Wattoo, Evacuee Trust Property Board Chairman Syed Asif Hashmi, Ch Shafaat Hussain, Naveed Chaudhry, Qasim Zia, PM’s son Abdul Qadir Gilani, Aurangzeb Burki, Khurram Latif Khosa and a large number of members from both sides attended the reception. To a query about the recent interview of President Zardari, Shujaat stated that the positive thing was the use of word ‘we’ by the president instead of ‘I’. He said Nawaz Sharif and even Musharraf were advised by him to avoid arrogance. To another question about the unification of the Muslim League and his chance of meeting with PML-N President Nawaz Sharif, he said that like other leaders, he would also meet Nawaz at the moot. “Does anyone trust Nawaz Sharif?” replied Shujaat when asked to comment over the statement of the PML-N leadership that the party didn’t trust Zardari anymore. He said he had discussed the Senate elections with the president and dates for the polls would be announced soon. Regarding the memo issue, he said the PML-N would continue to live in a dream world without realising that dreams were dreams, not reality. To a query about the revelation made by President Zardari during his interview that in 1989, Benazir Bhutto had a dialogue with the Chaudhrys while she was the prime minister, Shujaat confirmed it but stated that the process later got postponed. Shujaat went on to say that the ‘champions of justice’ should also cite the example of the court that had acquitted Moonis Elahi. He said when Moonis was under detention, there were suggestions from lawyers to get bail but Moonis insisted on fighting the case and was finally acquitted of all charges. Governor Sardar Latif Khosa, in his address, congratulated the PML-Q leadership on the acquittal of Moonis Elahi and called for legislation over the registration of fake cases against a person. He said Asif Zardari was kept in prison for 11 years but nothing was proved against him and similarly, Moonis Elahi, who was proven innocent, remained in captivity for nearly a year. He said in the case of Moonis, an investigation officer was appointed again and again while Moonis’ constant media trial was carried out as if he was the biggest culprit in the country. PPP Secretary General Jehangir Badr said that democracy was the only purpose of the PPP and it would continue to make efforts to strengthen it. He said in the past, PML-N President Nawaz Sharif had left no stone unturned to target the PPP leadership but for the sake of democracy, it forgot bitterness and signed the ‘Charter of Democracy’. He also said that Musharraf had offered PPP Co-chairman Zardari to form governments in all the provinces and Centre and let him continue to hold the office of president but he not only managed to form provincial governments but also forced Musharraf to quit the presidency in a democratic way. Federal Minister Manzoor Wattoo said it was the fruit of democracy that there wasn’t a single political prisoner in the country contrary to the past, when victimisation of politicians was quite common. Criticising the PML-N leadership, he said politicians full of vanity were isolated whereas all democratic forces had joined hands to save the country. INP adds: Chaudhry Shujaat said self-centred politics had damaged Pervez Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif, while President Asif Ali Zardari was the only politician who used the word ‘we’ instead of ‘me,’ as used by Nawaz and Musharraf. “When Nawaz Sharif was elected as a prime minister, a number of flatterers gathered around him at a function. I came out of the function and later told Nawaz Sharif to avoid flatterers, hypocrisy and habitual use of the word ‘me’ if he wants to become a successful prime minister, but he never paid any heed and was shown the door,” Shujaat added. Similarly, the PML-Q chief said, he also conveyed to Musharraf through General Ihsan to avoid repeated use of word ‘me’ but he too never paid any heed. About the possibility of early polls, Chaudhry Shujaat said there was no ban on Nawaz Sharif having such dreams. “If Musharraf wants to come back to Pakistan, he is most welcome,” he added. To another question, Chaudhry Shujaat said there had been contacts with the PPP in 1989, but no progress was made. “Moonis Elahi was released after facing the courts and going through the due process of law,” he added. NNI adds: PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain on Sunday telephoned President Asif Ali Zardari to discuss the current political situation, especially the upcoming Senate polls. According to sources, the current political situation of the country and Senate elections came under discussion during the telephonic conversation between Ch Shujaat and President Zardari. Both leaders also discussed cases being heard by the courts and the demand by other political parties for early elections, sources added.
DAWN.COM Zahid Hussain Bukhari, the counsel for Husain Haqqani, has said that even if any link between his client and the controversial memo is established the former ambassador to the US will not be punished. In an interview with DawnNews, Mr Bukhari however denied any link between Mr Haqqani and the memo, adding that the controversy had been created by Mansoor Ijaz, described as the main character in the episode. “But I say even if the link is proved — there is still no crime in it,” Mr Bukhari said. “We will then have to ask Mr Shahbaz Sharif and Mr Nawaz Sharif as to what did they say when Gen Musharraf was toppling the PML-N government.” Talking to Matiullah Jan of DawnNews TV, Mr Bukhari remarked: “We will ask whom did he ask for help at that time and it has to be noted who has not asked for help from the US in our history.” Sources said that Nawaz Sharif was expected to appear on Monday before the judicial commission investigating the case. Mr Bukhari has replaced Asma Jehangir, who has quit the case for not having confidence in the commission set up by Supreme Court to investigate the matter. Mr Bukhari, who is a former judge of the Lahore High Court and former president of the People’s Lawyers Forum, expressed the confidence that Mr Haqqani would not be punished under the law. Answering a question, Mr Bukhari said he would fully cooperate with the commission. “I will cooperate as long as the commission remains within the ambit of the law and the rights granted to my client Husain Haqqani under the law are honoured,” he added. He said the commission was not authorised to punish or even accuse anybody — its responsibility is only to investigate the matter and forward findings to the Supreme Court. “The case will be decided by the Supreme Court.” Mr Bukhari said the Supreme Court had only agreed to the existence of the memo. “They have not made any remarks on the status of the memo. “And it’s a fact we all agree on, that there is a memo,” he said and added: “But we say that this memo is the brainchild of Mansoor Ijaz and Mr Haqqani has nothing to do with it in any way.” Mr Bukhari said the apex court should treat Husain Haqqani and Mansoor Ijaz on equal terms. “When Mansoor Ijaz has spelt out his conditions to the court, all these apply to Mr Haqqani too,” the counsel said. “The court has restricted Mr Haqqani from leaving the country. Mansoor Ijaz should also be barred from leaving Pakistan till the case is decided.”
Khyber Pakhtun-khwa Governor Masood Kausar on Sunday said that the Pakistan People’s Party under the leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari would carry forward the mission of the deceased party leaders. Talking to reporters at an event marking the first death anniversary of the former minister for interior Maj Gen Naseerullah Babar, he said the PPP leaders had sacrificed their lives for democracy in the country. Lauding the services of Naseerullah Babar, the governor said the late PPP leader had resolved the bus hijacking issue, restored peace in Karachi and established lasting relations with Afghanistan. He said Maj Gen Babar was the first governor who initiated development activities in the tribal areas and increased the funds for Fata. He added that his services as an army general, governor, minister and party worker would be remembered for years. Maj Gen Babar had twice received Sitara-e-Jurrat during his military service for his bravery and professionalism, he said. He said his death was the third great tragedy for the PPP after the deaths of its founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Hundreds of party activists, Maj Gen Babar’s family members, MNA Tariq Khattak, Federal Ombudsman Shoaib Suddle and president of the ex-serviceman association Brig Muhammad Mehmood, Malik Attaullah of the Mohmand tribal jirga and Provincial Minister Liaqat Shabab attended the fateha Khwani.
www.pakistantoday.com Issuing a direct threat to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rahman Malik on Sunday said he has many cases against Nawaz in his brief case that could be opened. He lashed out at PML-N chief for his role in ‘memo conspiracy’ and asked him to disclose his links with Mansoor Ijaz; the protagonist of the memo case. Malik termed memogate ‘Fasaadgate’ and said that it had hurt Pakistanis. He said Mansoor Ijaz was not a Pakistani citizen and Malik suspected Ijaz had hatched the memo conspiracy to sell his article. Talking to media after a meeting with former federal minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf, Malik said the assassins of Benazir Bhutto had been exposed. Malik said he and Raja Pervez Ashraf were against the last rally addressed by Benazir Bhutto at Liaqat Bagh. Malik further said that President Zardari’s recent interview to a private TV channel helped removing misunderstandings on different issues. Speaking on the occasion, Raja Pervez Ashraf said President Zardari presented his point of view in simple words before the people.