Tuesday, August 14, 2012
The Express TribuneDespite announcement by the federal government, Afghan refugees in Peshawar are not willing to return to their homeland by December 31, 2012 deadline. “Our people are more comfortable here and we have established our businesses here… to leave Pakistan is impossible for us,” said Sardar Wali, who hails from Afghanistan’s Ningahar province. Working at a carpet shop in Karkhano Market, he said that while Afghanistan was their elders’ homeland, Pakistan is the homeland for his generation, adding that he was not ready to leave it. Sardar’s family migrated to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) in 1980 during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and settled at the Shamshato Camp. “I was born and brought up in K-P, this is my hometown,” he maintained. Sardar claimed he felt like an alien when he visited Afghanistan. “No one knew me,” he said. Afghan carpet merchant Yousaf said a large number of shopkeepers and businessmen started their business in very difficult conditions. UNHCR Pakistan spokesperson Dunya Aslam Khan told The Express Tribune that currently 1.7 million registered Afghan refugees lived in Pakistan and estimated over a million more were living here unregistered. One million registered refugees live in K-P. She said that so far around seven million had willingly returned to Afghanistan. Talking about the December 31 deadline, she said that according to Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, the repatriation of refugees would only be voluntary. “Afghan refugees that take part in the voluntary repatriation programme are given $150 per person in order to cover transportation costs and initial costs of settling back home.” Each family will also be given a card that guarantees them financial aid in Afghanistan. Afghan Refugees Commissioner Syed Zaheerul Islam, however, said that after December 31 every Afghan national living in Pakistan would be doing so illegally. He said that voluntary repatriation began on May 25 this year and a large number of Afghans returned to their country. District Coordination Officer Javed Marwat said police have begun searching for illegal foreigners. He also said that the government, Afghan Commissionerate and UNCHR would hold a meeting soon to decide the future of the refugees. The DCO hoped the government would find a mutually beneficial way to return the Afghans to their country.
http://www.bakhtarnews.com.afIn Kandahar province, for the first time 7 women obtained driving license. Kandahar traffic department chief, Mohammadullah told BNA that the women after attending 6 month training course on driving and successfully passing the exam, received the license.
BY:On the 65th anniversary of Pakistan's independence, the best homage to the Muslims of the subcontinent who sacrificed all they had for the creation of a separate homeland under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah would be to sincerely rededicate ourselves as a nation to the ideals of the founding fathers. Pakistan was established as a nation-state with democracy as its polity in which people of Pakistan were to be the sole arbiters of power to be exercised through an elected sovereign parliament. All other institutions were to be subservient to the dictates of parliament. None could over-ride the general will of the people as manifested in the sovereignty of the parliament. Today, Pakistan stands at crossroads of history once again after having established an electoral democracy and supremacy of the parliament. It is a defining moment in its chequered history. The sovereignty of the parliament is being challenged by forces that have been in cahoots in the past in derailing democracy whenever they found it taking firmer roots. Any independent student of Pakistan's history would bear witness to the fact that what is happening in the country is much more of the same that it has suffered since its inception - an unending conspiracy not to allow Pakistan to become a progressive liberal democracy ensuring empowerment of the masses as sole arbiter of power expressed through an elected sovereign parliament not subservient to any other state institution. Our history has been a catalogue of intrigues, conspiracies and extra-constitutional interventions sanctified by the judiciary to convert Pakistan into a security state rather than allow it to get established as a social welfare nation-state. Pakistan was pushed into a roller-coaster existence by the dismissal of the mother parliament by dementia-afflicted Governor General Ghulam Mohammad upheld as legal by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan late Justice Munir when Sindh High Court had declared it illegal and unconstitutional. Same was repeated by Chief Justice Munir when he sanctified first Martial Law under General Ayub Khan. Successive dictators were supported by the Supreme Court for their acts of treason in subversion of the Constitution. The overthrow of the elected government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto by General Ziaul Haq in July 1977 was once again endorsed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan with Justice Anwarul Haq as Chief Justice. While democracy was in the blood of our people, the Praetorian conspirators receded some what following the awakening of the masses to fight for their democratic rights. As such a new approach was adopted for elimination of popular leaders through judicial support. Its first victim was ZAB who was judicially murdered through a Supreme Court conviction on the basis of 4-3 judgement-four judges from Punjab upholding the conviction while three from the smaller provinces rejecting it. The abuse of judiciary continued ever after. The most popular leader spearheading the movement for the restoration of democracy-Benazir Bhutto and her husband--were embroiled in fabricated cases of corruption and twice PPP government was dismissed through judicial-establishment staged coups against Bhutto. Strangely for the first time the Supreme Court-in the absence of substantive evidence-- accepted as admissible plethora of allegations unleashed by the media at the behest of its invisible wire-pullers and upheld her unconstitutional dismissal by the then President. As a consequence of this orchestrated campaigning against her, rigorous persecution and long incarceration of her husband on unproven charges-she had to spend long years in exile including the long dictatorship of General Musharraf once again sanctified and supported by the apex judiciary. Only civilian exception was former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif who was declared guilty for hijacking and given life imprisonment by the court. He was pardoned by President General Musharraf on foreign intervention and released on ten-year agreement that he would not return to Pakistan. The Supreme Court remained a silent witness to it and did not question General Musharraf's action. His Presidential power to pardon a convicted person was recognised by the Supreme Court on the age-old concept of "King can do no wrong". Despite odds and threats to her life by the dictator, Benazir Bhutto returned to lead the democratic movement. She made a historical return home welcomed by millions of people only to be assassinated by the perpetrators of dictatorship. Benazir's assassination set the entire country on fire. It was saved from sure disintegration by President Zardari when he defused the violent masses by telling them that Benazir Bhutto had laid down her life for saving Pakistan and not destroying it. It was in most challenging circumstances that President Zardari was elected and entrusted with the responsibility of saving Pakistan. He brought the emotionally charged nation back onto a course that was to culminate in the achievement of the cherished destiny of democracy as envisioned by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. President Zardari translated into action the essence of the Charter of Democracy by adopting a policy of national reconciliation and sharing power with all the stakeholders so that there was no room for discontent that provided opportunities for extra-constitutional forces to intervene. This was Bhutto legacy which had spelled that Pakistan could only survive as a democracy ensuring just resolution of the thorny issue of provincial autonomy that had been responsible for the division of the subcontinent in 1947 and break up of Pakistan in 1971. Ever since return of democracy, anti-people forces got into action to derail it. It had a unanimously elected prime minister who had survived a rollercoaster existence with parliament reposing confidence in him on several occasions, including the passage of five budgets as well as standing by him through thick and thin only made to exit what was described by the Wall Street Journal as a "judicial coup". The President, his party PPP and his coalition partners -in order to sustain democracy under threat-accepted the decision of the apex court. In UK and abroad there has been mixed reaction to all that has been happening since. Some leading lawyers and experts have described it as an ominous development not good for the country. The Wall Street Journal called disqualification of Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani "unnatural death of another civilian government. While less dramatic than the military variety, this judicial coup...perpetuates the cycle of unelected institutions "rescuing" Pakistanis from their own chosen leaders." The Wall Street Journal's conclusion should serve as food for thought for the democratic forces to act above self interests. It says: "Having stepped in to overthrow so many civilian Presidents, the judiciary and military view coups as their prerogative and even duty. If there's a silver lining, it's that this time democratically elected leaders managed to stay in power for an impressive four years..." with "coup-makers felt constrained by public revulsion at a return to military rule." All through since 2008 all machinations to derail the electoral system were countered effectively by democratic forces who have made it clear that they would not be a party to any extra-constitutional intervention nor would they accept a judicial coup. After all Pakistan had suffered an irreparable loss by the judicial murder of a prime minister and Praetorian coups in the past. They were opposed tooth and nail to repetition of the previous mistakes to avoid being condemned by history. At this defining moment the existing Parliament-having to its credit 18th, 19th and 20th amendments-should not allow to go in vain untold sacrifices in blood in thousands at the hands of dictatorial forces. It must pass yet another amendment prohibiting criticising democracy as a failed system much in the manner constitution protects the armed forces and judiciary. The nation has had enough of extra-constitutional interventions initiated by the Praetorian, civilian and judicial bureaucratic troika that had constantly played foul with the Quaid's vision of a democratic and egalitarian Pakistan. The best tribute to martyrs of freedom movement would be for all the democratic forces to unite and oppose all ongoing conspiracies to derail democracy, challenging the supremacy and sovereignty of parliament.
EDITORIAL: DAILY TIMESOusted Prime Minister (PM) Yousaf Raza Gilani has delivered a strongly worded message to our overactive judiciary. He says if another PM is ousted in similar fashion, the PPP will not take it lying down and will resist, since it considers the repetition of such a move would be tantamount to destabilising, dividing, and arguably disintegrating the country. He went on to sarcastically remark that if the judiciary wants to take all the decisions, we should dissolve parliament, send all the elected representatives home, and let the judiciary take charge of the government. He said he had appeared before the judiciary as a mark of respect, but this was not reciprocated. He accepted the court’s decision for the sake of democracy and the country, he added. He left the question of appearance before the Supreme Court on its summons to his successor, Raja Pervez Ashraf’s judgement. It was time, Gilani argued, for the judiciary to correct past mistakes such as the ‘doctrine of necessity’, which contributed to the disintegration of Pakistan in 1971. The judiciary was not a political party, he continued, and therefore should not have (or be seen to have) any political agenda. The judiciary’s activism could trigger an intervention by a ‘third force’, he warned. The contempt law was only being used against politicians who respected the verdicts of the judiciary, and not against those elements or forces that didn’t give two hoots for its orders. He said further that he would suggest to the PPP a train march from Lahore to Karachi in support of the supremacy of parliament, and implied that if even that did not work, the party would resort to street protests and take the matter to the people. The MQM chief Altaf Hussain has added his voice to those troubled by the present scenario of confrontation between the government and the judiciary. Addressing a rally of his party in Karachi, Altaf Hussain appealed to both sides to ‘accept’ each other and reconcile for the sake of democracy and the country. And in an interesting aside, the country that gave the contempt of court law to the world, dating from the 14th century, the UK, is contemplating repealing it and modifying it to match modern day requirements. Unlike Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s contention that the concept of the supremacy of parliament inherited from Britain was ‘out of date’, the country that is considered the mother of all parliaments finds the ancient contempt law actually out of date. The reasoning behind the proposal is both conceptual as well as based on the experience gained from practice. The contempt law as it stands in the UK has not been used since the 1930s. And yet the judiciary in the UK is held in the highest esteem. That is because the prudence and restraint within the parameters of the law practiced by it has helped over time to accord it the respect and dignity it deserves. Our judiciary too could take a leaf or two out of the book of the British judiciary. Unfortunately, as former PM Gilani also pointed out, our judiciary has a great deal to rectify on the basis of its track record. Endorsing military coups and justifying usurpers of power, taking oaths under PCOs and allowing military dictators to amend the constitution at their whim and will are all wrongs that need to be relegated to a closed chapter. The defiance of the will of a military dictator by Chief Justice Chaudhry galvanised the country in a movement that finally led to the ushering in of democracy (albeit with the tragic loss of Benazir Bhutto along the way) and the exit of General Musharraf. The restored and increasingly independent judiciary has high hopes of the people riding on it. This is a great responsibility, but it must and can only be fulfilled by adhering not only to the letter of the law, but also its spirit and élan. Unfortunately, the perception is growing of partisanship by the present restored judiciary. This is not only bad for the incumbents, it could cause permanent damage to the respect and dignity of the judicial institution. The best course under the circumstances, before the growing backlash against the judiciary assumes critical mass, would be to exercise judicial restraint and try to find solutions to the impasse with the government that best suits the interests of the country and the fraught circumstances in which it finds itself at present.
EDITORIALIt is so saddening when on this day of immense rejoicings and gaieties, one has to mix joy with a sense of gloom every year over the past so many years. The gloom is what our founding fathers had visualised of us and what has actually become of us. Jinnah’s Pakistan was to be a place of mutual tolerance, accommodation, understanding and harmony. It was to be the abode of a moderate, forward-looking, egalitarian polity. Instead what has it become needs no elaboration; it is not even a poor parody of the founding fathers’ dream. But not all black it was, always. When Pakistan was in infancy, its citizenry with tremendous fervour and zeal collectively embarked on the gigantic task of nation-building and gave a lie to the doomsayers. From a scratch, state institutions were built into vibrant entities. The public sector and private enterprise teamed up to raise a strong industrial base to a land that had known no manufacturing existence worth the name. Its entrepreneurial class founded a booming services sector. Its hardworking peasantry with its toil and sweat rid the new nation of chronic food shortages and took it to autarky in food and surpluses in food grains and cash crops for exports to earn the country valuable foreign exchange. Not just that. Human development saw remarkable progress, with increased educational and health facilities and social services. And infrastructure saw a massive development in every segment and every field. In short, Pakistan was well on its way to becoming what the founding fathers had dreamt of it. It had gained a name in the world community. It commanded respect in the comity of nations. Globally, it was recognised as a dignified nation. But then in the midstream the nation somehow lost its way and fell on bad times. And the regret is that it is still to recoup its lost gains and reverse the downward slide it is entangled in over the past so many years. The political class blames the praetorian generals. It is their not-infrequent interventions that have brought the nation to such a sorry pass, assert the politicos. The generals blame the political tribe. It is inherent incapability of the political class for which the country is in the throes of difficulties, insist the generals. But the bland fact is that both are responsible in equal measure. Both the praetorian generals and the political clans have betrayed the citizens and let the nation down. And the dismay is that no leader is in sight to pull the nation out of the morass it has slipped into so irretrievably. The nation at this point in time needs imperatively leaders of great vision, wisdom and statesmanship to lead and guide it to the destiny the founding fathers had envisioned for Pakistan. But to its utter misfortune it has the eminences swaggering on the national political landscape that are no tall figures but mere pygmies. They are just chicaners and professional operators who on their tongues have, not the nation’s economic progress or its security, stability and solidarity, but just petty politics. But Pakistan is definitely not at all a lost cause. Its guarantors and the guarantee are those predominantly impoverished, downtrodden and deprived 180 million people, whom the political elites have reduced into mere irrelevancies and redundancies. Yet they have an abiding faith in the destiny of Pakistan. It may have fallen on difficult times. But they have full trust that it will rebound one day and regain its place of dignity and honour in the comity of nations. It is their trust that is sustaining the country in its dire tribulations. It is their trust that is scoffing at the doomsday predictions of this country’s inveterate enemies and the compulsive cynics at home and abroad. And the miracles have not ceased happening, either, even in these times. It is not unimaginable if a real leader with vision does surface from some obscure niche one day to take the rudderless polity to its destined greatness and glory. Gloom, after all, cannot be eternal. It can only be transient and just fleeting. It cannot be darkness for the nation for ever. Sunshine will certainly come to Pakistan, sooner or later. And with this abiding faith in Pakistan’s destiny, we wish our valued readers a very, very happy Independence Day
Associated Press of PakistanPrime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf