Thursday, October 10, 2013
With the SC granting bail to Pervez Musharraf in the Akbar Bugti case, the legal thicket that the former president and army chief found himself in upon his return to Pakistan continues to clear, presumably opening a path to his exit from Pakistan for a second time. Unhappily, though perhaps predictably, the legal thicket Mr Musharraf had been dragged into had little to do with the central problem of his rule: that it was illegitimate from the very beginning. Instead, the former military strongman has been pursued on other fronts: the dismissal of judges in November 2007; the assassination of Benazir Bhutto; the Lal Masjid episode; and the Akbar Bugti death. To be sure, each of those episodes was deeply troublesome and created a host of political and security problems from which the country is still struggling to recover. But legal liability and culpability is a separate matter from disastrous decisions with devastating consequences. Seen from the perspective of what best strengthens the democratic and constitutional system in Pakistan, it was Mr Musharraf’s overthrow of an elected government in 1999 for which he most obviously ought to stand trial. Of course, while the former army chief may have been the face of the new regime in 1999, there were many others who both abetted his takeover and validated his rule. Those other individuals too have much to answer for. So why has Mr Musharraf so far escaped having to answer the most obvious of charges? The answer appears to lie in a combination of the old order still having much influence and the new, democratic order being unable to muster the courage or conviction to take up the past that truly matters. Since Mr Musharraf’s exit in 2008, the country has gone some way in shutting the door on extra-constitutional takeovers. But whatever the practice of continuity and the cleaned-up text of the Constitution may offer, it would send a powerful message to have the protagonists of a military takeover held to account in a court of law. Sadly, that chance appears to have been squandered.
Afghanistan's aid donors should use their leverage to force the government to ban human rights violators from competing in a presidential election next year, a human rights group said on Wednesday. Afghanistan's allies will be hoping the election, due next April, will set the country on a firm path to stability as it takes over responsibility for its security with the withdrawal of most foreign troops by the end of 2015. Among the candidates who registered for the election by a Sunday deadline are several who have faced accusations of rights abuses during many years of war and turbulence. The U.S-based group Human Rights Watch called for rights violators to be excluded as candidates. "Had the Afghan government in the last decade properly addressed crimes of the past, several current candidates would now be disqualified from seeking office - or would even be serving time," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Foreign donors should press the Afghan government to ensure future elections are not being contested by serious rights abusers." One political leader accused of rights violations, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, in an apparent response to public pressure, this week took the unprecedented step of apologising for past bloodshed. He has been accused of mistreatment that led to the death of enemies during the civil war in the 1990s and early the next decade. "I want to be step ahead on this path and say that I apologize to all those who have suffered on all sides in the conflict," Dostum said on his Facebook page. The apology did not convince some. An analyst for the Afghanistan Analysts Network think-tank said it was aimed at forging an alliance for the polls. "The statement was overtly linked to the election," wrote the analyst, Kate Clark. The election is considered the most crucial since the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban regime in 2001, with more than a decade of Western-led reforms resting on its outcome amid increasing Taliban violence. President Hamid Karzai is barred by the constitution from running for a third term but his older brother, Qayum, has registered as a candidate. Foreign concern about Afghanistan was underscored last week when Norway took the rare step of cutting aid on the grounds that Afghanistan had failed to meet commitments to protect women's rights and fight corruption.
At least four persons were killed and several others injured in a blast near city police station in Liaquat Bazar on Thursday. Police and rescue teams reached the sport and the wounded were shifted to hospital while emergency was declared in Civil Hospital. According to police, the bomb was implanted in a motorcycle. Security forces cordoned off the area and started search operation. Earlier, an explosion killed one person and injured several others near a restaurant in busiest area of Lahore’s Old Anarkali. Meanwhile, another explosion targeting polio team at Peshawar’s Ring Road injured three Khasadar Force officials.
The Express Tribune NewsPakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head by the Taliban last year for campaigning for better rights for girls, won the European Union’s annual human rights award on Thursday, beating fugitive US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden. Malala, 16, who was attacked in northwestern Pakistan by a group of gunmen who fired on her school bus, is also a favourite among experts and betting agencies to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought is given by the European Parliament each year since 1988 to commemorate Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov. Its past winners include Nelson Mandela and Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi. Snowden had been nominated by the Green group in the parliament for what it said was his “enormous service” to human rights and European citizens when he disclosed secret US surveillance programmes. Yousafzai was chosen as the winner after a vote among the heads of all the political groups in the 750-member parliament.
In recent years, Pakistani authorities have been blocking some websites accused of blasphemy or threatening internal security. But critics say those efforts are expanding, and the government is trying to shape online political discussions, curbing the public's access to information and broadening online surveillance.
http://www.rferl.org/Tensions are mounting in a southern Pakistani town after Islamic fundamentalists dug up the grave of a Hindu man. Police said on October 8 that the unrest in the town of Pangrio in the southern Sindh Province flared after an Islamist party, Ahle Sunaat Wal Jamaat, objected to the burying of a Hindu man in a Muslim graveyard. Local police chief Shaukat Ali Khatian said a Muslim crowd dug up the body and dragged it through the streets of Pangrio. Hindus and Muslims have coexisted in Sindh for centuries. They have lived side by side and shared graveyards but the rise of Islamist extremists in rural Sindh has inflamed tensions. The province is home to most of Pakistan's small Hindu community. They number an estimated 2 million among a population of 180 million.
Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) Communication Officer Farhad Khan told The Express Tribune the two people infected with the disease were brothers Muhammad Bilal, 26 and Bakht Jamal, 20, both residents of Gulbahar. Khan said the brothers were administered treatment and their condition is stable. He added 38 patients with dengue fever had been brought to the hospital from across the province. According to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Health Department, 340 patients are still admitted in various hospitals, while 30 people have died. According to official records, 7,242 cases of dengue have been confirmed from Swat, 112 from Mardan, 223 from Malakand, 111 from Lower Dir, 48 from Shangla, 31 from Mansehra, 20 from Buner, 18 from Abbottabad and five from Haripur. However, according to the district health office in Mingora, 81 new cases of the disease were reported by late Wednesday evening, increasing the total count to 8,040.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Wednesday criticised the Election Commission of Pakistan for not being fair with the issues faced by the minority voters and candidates. HRCP Director I. A. Rehman, launching the report titled, ‘Religious minorities in elections – equal in law not in practice’ said that extra efforts needed to be made by the political parties and the system to enhance the participation of minorities in election process. “Many reports of malpractices have been filed by the candidates belonging to minority communities at the election commission, but not much has been done for them,” Mr Rehman added. While lauding the joint electoral system, he said that the political parties still have to show maturity and field more candidates at general seats, “This has not done even in constituencies where the minorities are in a sizeable number.’ The report was based on the study of six national assembly constituencies, five in Sindh and one in Punjab. The report highlights that the voting pattern shows that the minorities have been voting on party lines and not on religious lines. But he added that there have been reports of prejudice, threats and structural problems faced by the minority members. “We have reports from certain areas that pamphlets were distributed by religious elements directing people not to vote for the candidate of minority community at general seat,” the Director HRCP added, “But no action has been taken against the persons by the authorities.” The report also highlights the security problems faced by the candidates of minority communities, but Mr Rehman also added that most of the issues were localised. “These oppositions were mainly class based and not based on religious grounds” he added and said there are reports that the upper class Hindus do not want to give chance to lower class Hindus to become politically active. Meanwhile, Hussain Naqi, senior member HRCP said that if the situation has to be change the Election Commission has to be more proactive in this regard. “They only had one liner policy statement for the minorities and that was - ECP will think about minorities in net five years.” Mr Naqi also criticised the policy makers of the country for distorting the history and said that the key role played by Christians in establishment of Pakistan has been deleted from the history books. “The key role by Christians in Punjab to get the province vote in favour of Pakistan has been forgotten – this is bad and it should not happen,” he added.
By DECLAN WALSH- A Pakistani court granted bail on Wednesday to Pervez Musharraf, the country’s former military ruler, clearing the way for him to leave the country as early as Thursday, his lawyers said. Mr. Musharraf, 70, has been under house arrest at his villa outside Islamabad since April, facing criminal charges in three cases related to his nine years in power, from 1999 to 2008. The prospect of a former army chief facing potential imprisonment appeared, for a time, to signal new limits to the unofficial immunity from prosecution that Pakistan’s top generals have long enjoyed. Mr. Musharraf had already been granted bail in two of the three cases, and the decision on Wednesday to grant bail in the third — related to the death of Akbar Khan Bugti, a Baluch nationalist leader killed in a military operation — opens the door for him to avoid prosecution entirely. Mr. Musharraf’s lawyers said that his bail payment of $20,000 could be processed as early as Thursday morning; he could then leave Pakistan immediately. Ahmad Raza Khan Qasuri, the vice president of Mr. Musharraf’s political party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, said that Mr. Musharraf might go to see his 90-year-old mother. “He’s a free person — he can go out whenever he likes,” Mr. Qasuri said in a telephone interview. “His mother, who is a very aged lady, lives in Dubai. He might go tomorrow or the day after to see her. But his base will continue to be in Islamabad.” Still, Mr. Musharraf has rebuffed previous entreaties from his advisers, and from senior military leaders, to leave Pakistan, particularly if doing so would prevent him from returning to fight his battles in court. Aides say that Mr. Musharraf, a former commando with a famous stubborn streak, insists on clearing his name and does not want to spend his retirement in exile. But for the military, his case has become an unwelcome distraction, complicating relations among the army, the civilian government and the courts, and raising the prospect of a troubling precedent. Mohammed Amjad, secretary general of Mr. Musharraf’s party, told reporters outside his home that if Mr. Musharraf leaves Pakistan, it will be only temporarily. “He will not escape from Pakistan,” Mr. Amjad said. Mr. Musharraf has been detained at his luxurious farmhouse outside Islamabad rather than in prison for security reasons, following Taliban threats to his life. Aides say he has been confined to two rooms in the house, which has a swimming pool and sweeping lawns, and has had limited access to his friends and family. Still, in a country where senior military officers are generally considered to be above the law, the sight of a former military ruler facing justice in a civilian court is a startling novelty. Besides the three current criminal cases, Mr. Musharraf faces potential treason charges over his role in suspending the Constitution in 2007, though few analysts believe that the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is likely to go ahead with those charges. Mr. Musharraf was disqualified from running in the general election in May, in which his party performed poorly. More generally, few Pakistanis have shown much enthusiasm for returning him to power. One factor in Mr. Musharraf’s present calculation might be the position of his nemesis, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, whom he tried to fire in 2007. With Mr. Chaudhry due to retire in December, analysts say that Mr. Musharraf might be waiting until then to decide whether his long-term future lies in or out of Pakistan.
Daily TimesThe Supreme Court Wednesday granted bail to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf over the death of Baloch nationalist Akbar Bugti, his lawyers said, bringing closer his possible release after nearly six months of house arrest. Musharraf has now been granted bail in three major cases against him, including one relating to the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. His lawyer said the ruling meant he was a “free man”. But he is likely to remain under heavy guard at his villa on the edge of Islamabad, where he has been under house arrest since April, because of serious threats to his life. Musharraf was head of state in 2006 when Akbar Bugti was killed during an army operation. His lawyer Ibrahim Satti said a three-member Supreme Court bench had granted bail in the Bugti case in return for surety bonds worth two million rupees. Another counsel for Musharraf, Qamar Afzal, said bail was granted due to lack of evidence. “Pervez Musharraf is a free man now after getting bail in the Bugti case,” Afzal said. As well as the Bugti and Bhutto cases, Musharraf also faces cases over the suspension of judges during emergency rule, which he imposed in 2007. The Taliban have threatened to kill the 70-year-old former general. After getting bail in the Bugti case, the sub-jail status of Musharraf’s residence will likely end as the court has already granted him bail in judges’ detention and Benazir murder cases. The bench, headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk and comprising Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani and Justice Musheer Aalam Khan, asked Musharraf to submit two surety bonds of Rs 1 million each. The court observed that substantial evidence was not available to establish that Musharraf was involved in the criminal conspiracy regarding the murder of Bugti. “This is a case of criminal conspiracy for which solid evidences are required, and due to their unavailability, there is no justification for rejection of the bail plea,” the court ruled. It asked Balochistan Additional Prosecutor General Tahir Khattak about the evidences which had been gathered against Musharraf and whether anyone had witnessed him conspiring against Bugti. Khattak told the court that according to the statements of co-accused, Musharraf had ordered action against Bugti. He stated that a CD recording was also available to prove this. Khattak said that Bugti was killed on the directives of Musharraf.
The Spokesman for ANP Zahid Khan has said that both federal and KP governments are too afraid of Taliban, to criticise Taliban openly. Talking exclusively to Online on Wednesday , he said that hesitant attitude of both these governments had fostered, encouraged militancy and terrorism in Country , while he also challenged PTI to account for countless dead and wounded in KPK. He also acknowledged the helplessness of government to provide gas to masses due to depleted resources, while he defended the provision of commodity to household consumers as of being topmost priority of government; besides urging for paying more attention towards public transportation. He also confirmed that both Prime Minister and opposition leader have reached consensus over a recommendation for NAB chairmanship, which, considering the past 5-year dismal and obdurate record of only government’s whims, forcing regular opposition references in Supreme Court, was a good omen. Zahid Khan also expressed his annoyance over PTI’s reservations over almost everything, every issue, which PTI always translated into “hidden deals”. “Take our (ANP’s) example, having maximum reservations, complaints about polls-riggings, backed by adequate proofs; yet we did not allow democracy to be derailed, and accepted all results with an open mind and heart”, he said. He also berated government’s indecision and (yet) claims of progress in dialogue bid with Taliban, after every meeting with Maulana Fazl-Ur-Rehman, which was always denied by Taliban. “These very aspects were responsible for bombings and killings in KPK”, he complained, wondering “and who would be responsible for all the resulting destruction and mayhem”. He was chagrined over lack of understanding by both governments, about Taliban’s intention and reputation, who never even acknowledged the Constitution of Pakistan. “Earlier we were always told that we are fighting America’s war, so why don’t we simply call this American war off?” he lamented. He also said that PTI-led KPK government had no plans to block NATO supplies.
By Ben Brumfield and David Simpson, CNNA year ago Wednesday, Malala Yousafzai was riding the bus home from school when a Taliban gunman climbed aboard and shot her in the head. She nearly died. Now, the 16-year-old advocate for girls' education is a popular favorite for the Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded Friday. To mark the anniversary of the shooting, her memoir, "I am Malala," came out Tuesday. The phrase has become a battle cry for the right to an education around the world.