Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bangladesh: Jamaat islami leader Quader Mollah executed

In the first ever execution of any war-criminal in the country’s 42 years history, Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah was executed at 10.01 pm on Thursday hours after receiving the copy of the order of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court (SC) that dismissed the petitions filed by defence lawyers. Till the filing of this report at 10.10 pm the jail authorities were taking preparation to send his body to his village home in Faridpur.
Earlier, after meeting Mollah in the central jail at 7 pm, his son Hasan Jamil told the media that Mollah wanted to meet his lawyers to discuss the issue of filing mercy petition. “He told us that as per the jail code he has seven days for filing mercy petition and he would finalise his decision by this time. He wants to meet his lawyers,” Jamil said.
Earlier, SC on Thursday rejected the review petitions of Mollah, clearing the way for the execution of the Jamaat leader. Of the two petitions, defence counsels sought stay on the death warrant passed by the International Crimes Tribunal. The other plea sought a review on SC verdict that sentenced Mollah to death. On September 17, the apex court had awarded death penalty to Mollah for crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War. The government decided to execute Mollah on Wednesday at 12.01 am, but his execution was halted following the defence petition moved on Tuesday night at the residence of Supreme Court chamber judge Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain. The chamber judge stayed the operation of the execution order till 10.30am, following the defence petition. After hearing the two petitions, the five-member bench of the Appellate Division, led by Chief Justice Md Muzammel Hossain, dismissed the pleas, saying, “Both the criminal review petitions—No. 17 and No. 18—of 2013 are dismissed.” However, the reason for dismissal could not be known immediately. “There is no legal bar to execute Mollah following the apex court’s order,” attorney general Mahbubey Alam told reporters soon after the top court’s dismissal order. However, barrister Abdur Razzak told reporters: “The jail authorities cannot take any action without getting the copy of today’s Supreme Court order as the court did not reject our petitions. The apex court may give its observations in the full verdict.” Soon after the dismissal order was pronounced, pro-Jamaat lawyers brought out a protest procession on the SC premises and chanted slogans: “If Quader Mollah is hanged, every home will be set on fire”. Pro-AL lawyers brought out a procession, hailing the SC ruling at the same venue. There was tight security in and around the Supreme Court premises to avert any untoward incident ahead of the review petition hearing and its verdict. Earlier, in the morning, the SC resumed hearing on the review petition of death row convict Quader Mollah around 9.20am. The court first heard arguments whether the petition could be accepted and asked the chief defence counsel, barrister Abdur Razzak, to start hearing on the merit of the review petition.
Razzak asked the court if it had accepted the review petition. The court replied that it was yet to take any decision on the maintainability of the petition.
Later, the defence counsel sought time from the court to take preparation for review hearing. Afterwards, Razzak began to put forward arguments on the merit of the review petition. During the hearing, Razzak raised a question regarding the acceptability of the statement of witness Momena, as her statements at the tribunal and before the investigation officer were different. “If the statement of a witness was not same, his/her statement cannot be acceptable and the court cannot deliver sentence to the accused person,” he added. Then Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha told that the court had accepted her statement and awarded the death sentence to Mollah. Referring to Article 104 of the Constitution—the Appellate Division shall has power to issue such directions, orders, decrees or writs as may be necessary for doing complete justice in any case or matter pending before it, including orders for the purpose of securing the attendance of any person or the discovery or production of any document—Razzak said that the tribunal had issued the death warrant against Mollah by violating the jail code provision. In response to Razzak’s submission, Justice Sinha said that the tribunal had issued the death warrant as per the apex court’s directives. Razzak told the court that as per the jail code provision, after issuing the death warrant against any convicted person, the jail authorities cannot implement it before 21 days. But, it did not follow the jail code provision in Mollah’s case, he said. Responding to Razzak’s submission, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain said that the sentence of the tribunal would be implemented in accordance with the government order's as Section 20 (3) of the ICT Act states that any sentence awarded under this Act shall be carried out in accordance with the orders of the government. Opposing Razzak’s submission, attorney general Mahbubey Alam told the court that as per Section 47 (A) (2) of the Constitution, Mollah would not get any remedy for filing a review petition against the apex court verdict. After that the court went for tea break for 30 minutes at 11am. The court resumed hearing at 11.35. Mahbubey Alam told the court that Mollah did not get remedy to file review petition against apex court order as the constitution does allow it for him. Barr ister Razzak urged the court to accept the two petitions to ensure justice for Mollah. Later, the court concluded the hearing at 11.47am and said that it would deliver verdict after 10 minutes. The court sat at 12.05pm and the verdict was delivered in one minute. Then the judges left the courtroom. After coming out of the court, advocate Khandker Mahbub Hossain, another counsel for Mollah, told reporters that Mollah could not be hanged till the defence receives the full text of the order on the review petition. “The jail authorities would not be able to execute the verdict till we receive the full text of the order,” he said. Appellate Division shall has power to issue such directions, orders, decrees or writs as may be necessary for doing complete justice in any case or matter pending before it, including orders for the purpose of securing the attendance of any person or the discovery or production of any document—Razzak said that the tribunal had issued the death warrant against Mollah by violating the jail code provision. In response to Razzak’s submission, Justice Sinha said that the tribunal had issued the death warrant as per the apex court’s directives. Razzak told the court that as per the jail code provision, after issuing the death warrant against any convicted person, the jail authorities cannot implement it before 21 days. But, it did not follow the jail code provision in Mollah’s case, he said. Responding to Razzak’s submission, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain said that the sentence of the tribunal would be implemented in accordance with the government order’s as Section 20 (3) of the ICT Act states that any sentence awarded under this Act shall be carried out in accordance with the orders of the government. Opposing Razzak’s submission, attorney general Mahbubey Alam told the court that as per Section 47 (A) (2) of the Constitution, Mollah would not get any remedy for filing a review petition against the apex court verdict. After that the court went for tea break for 30 minutes at 11am. The court resumed hearing at 11.35. Mahbubey Alam told the court that Mollah did not get remedy to file review petition against apex court order as the constitution does allow it for him. Barrister Razzak urged the court to accept the two petitions to ensure justice for Mollah. Later, the court concluded the hearing at 11.47am and said that it would deliver verdict after 10 minutes. The court sat at 12.05pm and the verdict was delivered in one minute. Then the judges left the courtroom. After coming out of the court, advocate Khandker Mahbub Hossain, another counsel for Mollah, told reporters that Mollah could not be hanged till the defence receives the full text of the order on the review petition. “The jail authorities would not be able to execute the verdict till we receive the full text of the order,” he said. However, Mahbubey Alam said that the jail authorities do not need the order’s copy as the Supreme Court did not provide any observation in the verdict. Replying to a query, Alam said the government can execute Mollah any time. Barrister Abdur Razzak, however, said that Mollah still has time to seek presidential clemency till December 23. He said, “We still have time to seek the President’s clemency till December 23. We will meet Mollah on December 21 or 22 and a decision on seeking presidential clemency would be taken,” he added. On Tuesday, state minister for law Quamrul Islam, at a press briefing, said Quader Mollah had refused to seek the president’s clemency in the presence of two magistrates.


Bollywood Songs: "Dhoom Machale Dhoom"

Joyless Justice: The Unhappy Legacy of Pakistan's Newly 'Independent' Judiciary

By Bilawal Bhutto
Plato's philosophical discussion, the Crito, illustrates the dilemma faced by those of us who yearn for an independent judiciary in Pakistan. Too many of us had to suffer at the hands of a judiciary so independent that it often acted independently of both the basic principles of jurisprudence and the very constitution it swore to uphold and protect. Plato's Crito is a dialogue written about Socrates, who was imprisoned on trumped up charges. His friends come to him in prison, and try to convince him to escape. He refuses, stating that he had lived by the city's laws while they benefited him, he would live by these laws too even if it kills him; he could not pick and choose. His position was that one has to buy into the city and its laws in their entirety or not at all. In essence, it is ever good to respond to injustice with injustice? Can a state exist in which the law becomes optional?
Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto worked tirelessly for almost a decade, leading the fight against the military dictatorship of General Musharraf. The major instrument used to hinder the movement for the restoration of democracy was the judiciary. The courts were deployed to hound democrats by having politically motivated cases framed against them.
The judiciary, in fact, suffered severe embarrassment ,when tapes emerged showing judges of the High Court receiving instructions from the Government to convict Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, and her husband Asif Ali Zardari, in these politically motivated cases.
By 2007, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto's mission to restore democracy had picked up enough momentum that success seemed inevitable. With elections looming and the former Prime Minister's soaring popularity, a PPP victory was all but guaranteed; the dictator was forced to the negotiating table.
One of the primary demographic support bases of the dictator was a portion of the conservative, urban middle class, who benefited from the dictator's patronage. This support base began to erode when the dictator fell out with the Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. The judge was sacked, violating the constitution, which stipulates that the removal of judges of the superior courts can happen only through the Supreme Judicial Council. This was a rather drastic transformation. For a judge who had originally legitimised the dictator's coup and rather extraordinarily granted him unprecedented powers to amend the constitution; a power even the dictator did not ask for. Overnight, the very same judge turned into a symbol against the general.
The Lawyers' Movement pushed for the restoration of the Chief Justice. The movement was given broader support when political parties joined the movement. With the Bhutto's and her Pakistan Peoples Party's ability to gather large crowds all over Pakistan, due to its status as the country's only national and largest political party, the movement truly started to pick up steam. The PPP flags were the most numerous and visible at the Chief Justice's rallies. The PPP suffered the most casualties during the movement; the two most harrowing incidents being a bomb blast that targeted a pro-CJ rally in Islamabad, and during the infamous May 12 massacre in Karachi, where supporters of the Chief Justice were shot at by militants supporting the dictatorship. The entire time however, Bhutto was wary of the politicisation of the judges. We often had heated debates about the amount of support that should be extended to the Lawyers' Movement. She believed that, as a politician, it would be inappropriate for her to meet with these judges. She would say, "I am a politician, if the judges want to join politics and negotiate with me they should form the Judges Party and I would be happy to meet". Bhutto was completely justified for having these reservations. PPP founder, and our country's first democratically-elected Prime Minister, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was sentenced to death and hanged for a crime he did not commit. The court decision was, and still is, universally condemned as judicial murder. Shaheed Benazir Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zadari spent 11 1/2 years in prison as a political prisoner. He was finally released in 2004 after waiting 8 years to be granted bail in a case pertaining to whether he paid duty on an imported car. While the Chief Justice's recent stance against the dictator was appreciated, it did not exonerate his actions as a judge either who supported the 1999 coup of General Musharraf or who allowed the political victimisation to continue, as he was sitting on the high courts of the land.
In addition, by taking up the National Reconciliation Ordinance, the Chief Justice almost sabotaged the freeing of political prisoners and the return of exiled prime ministers before the elections.
Exploiting the immense public pressure, using the incentive of future co-operation as well as international pressure from the dictator's biggest supports and donors, the United States of America, Bhutto demonstrated her mastery of Real Politik by convincing Musharraf to shed his second skin and remove his military uniform. Musharraf was now an illegitimate president who no longer enjoyed absolute power, both as head of state and chief of army staff. Curiously, the Chief Justice still allowed Musharraf to reman unconstitutionally elected, and even swore him in as President following what the opposition called an illegal presidential election.
However, once Musharraf imposed emergency rule and effectively launched what was dubbed a second coup , it became clear he had no intention of giving up his illegal power. The Chief Justice and his fellow judges were placed under house arrest, and the Lawyers' Movement was fully embraced by the PPP, despite its prior principled reservations.
On December 27th 2007, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. Subsequently the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won the elections, formed government and freed the judges. Under threat of impeachment, Musharraf resigned and fled the country. However, the newly-elected Government faced a quandary. How would it restore the former Chief Justice without setting the precedent that a government could sack and replace a sitting chief justice? In addition how were they to get around the fact that the former Chief Justice had been politicised? How, for example, would the restored Chief Justice hear cases from lawyers who lead the movement to give him his job back?
The Lawyers' Movement did not acknowledge these complexities and continued with the same tactics against the democratic government that they had used against the dictator. Despite immense public pressure, the PPP Government held its ground and only restored the former Chief Justice once the sitting Chief Justice retired. It started to become clear, almost immediately, that the Chief Justice was not interested in any greater ideals of justice, rule of law and democracy, but unfortunately was in fact hostage to his own personal vendettas. Those of us who had suffered at the hands of the biased judiciary had high hopes of finally receiving justice. But to no avail.
In his first major decision after his restoration, the Chief Justice did exactly what the Lawyers' Movement were protesting against; he did not abide by the constitution. He did this by not referring the case of the PCO judges who had not resigned with him in solidarity, or the new appointments, to the Supreme Judicial Council. And instead, with the stroke of a pen, the newly restored judges expelled judges opposing them from the court. In the run up to the election the two major political parties had signed the charter of democracy, in which they had agreed on judicial reforms. One of these reforms was to improve the manner by which judges were appointed. The prevailing process at that time allowed judges to appoint other judges with no binding input from either Parliament or the Executive. The new, democratically-elected Government unanimously passed the 18th Constitutional Amendment. Through this, a parliamentary committee was set up with representatives from every political party in Parliament, along with retired judges and renowned lawyers, that would appoint judges to the courts. The Chief Justice first exerted extraordinary pressure on the parliament, by threatening to strike down the 18th Amendment, and, as a result, to make the changes he desired and pass a 19th amendment. The pressure resulted in the consequent 19th Amendment, which allowed more judges to be involved in the committee. In spirit of good will, we complied and passed the 19th Amendment. However, in a matter of months, the Chief Justice, through court rulings, hollowed out the committee, effectively making it powerless and keeping the appointment powers with himself. Thus he returned us to a system of appointment that was of the judges, by the judges and for the judges.
Delay in justice, inefficiency and corruption of judges was seen as major reason for the eroding of the writ of the sate, and increase in support for illegal tribal courts, and even Taliban shuras. All judicial reforms aimed at addressing these issues were aggressively resisted by the CJ. In fact, the judicial system overall has been steadily degraded, debilitated and dissembled. By removing judges who disagreed with him from the court, the number of judges in the country effectively halved overnight. In addition, a system contrived upon the excessive use of suo motu powers to pick up cases, was abused; populist issues drawn from our sensationalist cable television shows, and even from conservative newspaper editorials, increased the courts' work load and further hampered the efficiency of the judiciary.
During the term of this Chief Justice, Pakistan saw a massive expansion of judicial overreach, hyper-judicial activism and frankly a quasi-judicial-dictatorship. This resulted in a situation where the courts frequently interfered in domains in which they had no constitutional jurisdiction; namely, the Parliament and the Executive. The courts hampered the Government's economic policies by intervening in the pricing of commodities and reduction in subsidies, to which the GOP had agreed, in order to acquire a loan from the IMF. The Supreme Court, under CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, regularly interfered in matters of public policy; for example, ordering the Government to slash sugar, flour and gas prices at different times. It started when the CJ/SC declared privatization of the steel mills as void and illegal. In 2010, the SC interfered to effectively strike down LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) contracts. Post restoration, the SC's interference in economic matters has progressively increased in scope and intensity. In the RPP (Rental Power Plant) case, the SC went a step further. Whereas in the Steel Mills and LNG cases, specific contracts were declared illegal, in the RPP case the SC declared the National Power Policy as a failure. The SC also came up with its own judicial economic analysis, declaring that the cost of production through RPPs was much higher, and that electricity can be produced at a cheaper cost by rectifying and developing the already installed electricity generation and distribution system. The articulation of an alternate economic policy is not just blatant disregard of the universally accepted norms of judicial conduct, but it is also unprecedented not only in Pakistan, but in almost all other jurisdictions.
The NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) proceeding had one legal question; that is, whether the NRO was a valid piece of legislation or not. The Supreme Court wrote 290 pages, most of which had no connection with the question at hand. The implementation and contempt proceedings were completely without judicial precedent. In the implementation proceeding, the Court firstly avoided tackling the question of the immunity of the President under Article 248 (which is complete immunity, however one tries to look at the language). Secondly, a legal point was that the charge initially framed against PM Gillani did not include "scandalizing" the Court, yet the final judgment charged and convicted him for that. Thirdly, the court in the original judgment, which did not disqualify PM Gilani, constituted a seven member bench. This disqualification was subsequently enacted by a three member bench. This amounts to an overruling of the seven member bench by the three member bench; a legally and logically preposterous situation. Finally, the Court itself, by disqualifying the PM, rendered the Speaker of the National Assembly, whose prerogative it was alone, as redundant. That is right, our independent judiciary, which has never even given a single decision against a military dictator, dismissed a democratically-elected Prime Minister.
The so-called 'memogate' saga was effectively the establishment's attempts to topple the civilian Government. The court was happy to oblige, by taking up the case. The basic legal problem in the Memo proceeding was that the CJ and the Court violated a universally established principle of Jurisprudence, generally called "Political question doctrine", which is a simple principle which establishes that the courts will not interfere in matters political, or in the case foreign policy etc. The Court obviously violated the principle of separation of powers, and attempted to bring about an institutional conflict. The Court expressed its opinion prematurely in the proceedings, and lowered any dignity that the judiciary was supposed to have by forming an unprecedented, high-powered commission (having three provincial Chief Justices) to beg and plead a foreign national, Mansoor Ejaz to present himself, who had no inclination of coming before them and never did.
The role played by the SC in missing persons case is uncritically praised by the media and human rights activists, as the court is persistently pressing on security agencies for recovery of missing persons. However, apart from some high-minded talk, it has achieved very little. The Inspector General Frontier Core (FC) has routinely disregarded orders summoning him to court, without much concrete action by the CJ in response. It can starkly contrasted to the PM's contempt case, since the FC and the intelligence agencies have more blatantly and routinely violated orders of the court, yet still no contempt proceedings have been initiated against them. In the Asghar Khan case, the SC directed the Federal Government to take necessary action under the Constitution and law against Gen (Retd) Aslam Baig and Lt. Gen (Retd) Asad Durrani, for facilitating success of IJI over Pakistan Peoples Party by distributing funds and effectively rigging the 1990 elections. The Judgment left a lot to be desired, and the SC put the ball in the Government's court to take action against the ex-Generals while not articulating the specifics of any such action. This is in glaring contrast from the NRO case, as no implementation proceedings have been started for the Asghar Khan case.
Finally, one of the most egregious examples of corruption, bias and mockery of justice was the case of the Chief Justice's own son. The CJ's son was publicly accused by a business tycoon of blackmailing him, both demanding and accepting money, lavish trips and gifts in exchange for favourable court decisions. The taking of suo motu notice of a case involving his son is "gross misconduct" irrevocably, and a direct violation of the code of conduct of Judges. This alone is grounds for a reference to the Supreme Judicial Council and removal from service. Furthermore, all governmental investigations were stopped, the independent anti-corruption watchdog was not allowed to complete investigation and in fact, months later, the NAB (National Accountability Bureau) chief was dismissed by the chief justice. The case quietly disappeared form the limelight, and to this day I am unaware as to what happened to the son of the Chief Justice. Even the Parliamentary Accounts Committee was banned from auditing judicial accounts.
While the country celebrated the restoration of democracy, it mourned the loss of freedoms associated with democracy. Freedom of speech, a fundamental value which was promoted by the civilian Government, the Chief Justice attacked and repressed. Moreover the CJ banned any criticism of the judiciary in the media so he could not be held to account. Journalists, television channels and newspapers were hounded with costly contempt of court proceedings, if even a guest on a show said anything critical against the judiciary. Lawyers who challenged him had their law licences suspended and were left unable to earn a living.
As Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry retires, he leaves the court with a sullied reputation once again. The Chief was restored, but when will justice be restored? If I had written on this subject while My Lord was still in office, I would have been charged with contempt of court, perhaps disqualified from running for elections and possibly imprisoned. How is it reasonable that in a country, purporting to be a democracy, I am not permitted to speak freely? Why, as a politician, should I be banned from expressing political opinions? Why, as a student of history, can I not present the facts as I see them, without fear of reprisal? The CJ often used the constitutional provision that makes it illegal for anyone to ridicule the judiciary as justification. The irony, of course, being that it was not the courts' critics, but the Chief Justice himself who brought the court into disrepute. The court can, and must, only maintain its legitimacy through the dispensation of justice, not by coercion and censorship.
However, I am hopeful with the retirement of the infamous Chief Justice, Pakistan will not only have an independent judiciary but an unbiased one as well. Unlike Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the remaining Justices are the true heroes of the Lawyers' Movement. They joined the movement not because they were ousted from office, but because they believed in justice. They volunteered to resign for the greater good. They did all this without receiving the fame and the glory enjoyed by the Honourable Former Chief Justice. I am confident Pakistan will now get justice. I trust the constitution is now in safe hands. Perhaps the newly independent, and currently untainted, court would like to start by restoring the so-called PCO judges who were illegally removed? Surely they, along with the rest of Pakistan, deserve long awaited justice.
wo jin k hont ki jumbish se, Those, who with a quiver of their lips wo jin ki aankh ki larzish se, Those, who with a flutter of their eyes
qanoon badalte rehte hain, Change our laws
aur mujhrim palte rehte hain, bread and shelter criminals
in choroon kay sardaron se the leaders of these thieves
insaaf kay pah're darn se the gate keepers of justice
main baghi hoon main baghi hoon I am a reble, I am a reble
jo chahe mujh pe zulm karo! Punish me as you wish

Iran’s Border Violations in Balochistan

The Baloch Hal
Tensions are brewing on Pakistan-Iran border in Balochistan. To explicitly explain the situation, on needs to borrow a term or two from the contemporary Pakistani political lexicon. The Iranians are violating our “sovereignty”. The Pakistanis routinely use the term “sovereignty” only to refer to the drone strikes launched by the United States. But there are two reasons why the Pakistani media does not report the violation of our sovereignty on the Pakistan-Iran border.
One, sovereignty, according to the Pakistani official narrative, is something only a non-Muslim country such as the United States violates whereas Iran is an Islamic republic which cannot be involved in breaching the sovereignty of a brotherly Muslim country. Secondly, it indeed sounds absolutely ludicrous to call for Islamabad’s help considering the fact that Pakistan itself has been involved in violating people’s sovereignty in Balochistan for decades.
For the past one month, the Iranian security forces have been excessively firing rockets from their side on the bordering towns of Panjgur and Mashkil located in Pakistani Balochistan. The unprovoked cycle of rocket attacks has caused significant outrage as well as fear among the local population. While one rocket attack on November 25 killed a three-year old Baloch girl and injured her parents and two siblings in Kech district, another citizen, Nasir Ahmed, a resident of Paroom area in Panjgur district, was shot dead by the Iranian authorities on December 10th. Mr. Ahmed’s killing took place only a day after the Iranian security forces fired nine rockets on Mashkil town of Washuk district while they shot another four rockets on Panjgur district. Local residents say the the attacks killed several goats and cows which are the primary source of livelihood for the poor Baloch families in the border areas. Last week, when the Iranians fired four more rockets on Baloch towns, Mir Mujeeb-ur-Rehman, a member of the Balochistan Assembly from the frontier towns, described the attack as a ‘border violation’. He said that a memorandum had been shared both the Iranian Foreign Ministry and the embassy in Islamabad against previous such unprovoked rocket attacks. On November 25, Balochistan Chief Minister Dr. Malik Baloch expressed his anguish over the Iranian aggression and repeated violation of the border. The head of the provincial government “condemned” the attacks and said he had raised the issue with Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Pakistan’s Interior Minister.
Contrary to the Chief Minister’s condemnation of the Iranian aggression, Balochistan’s Interior Secretary, Akbar Hussain Durrani, ironically, has been insisting that the Iranians did not fire the rockets. Mr. Durrani may only be attempting to cover up the issue but the matter is rapidly getting so serious that even officials in his own department have begun to leak information to the media about the unfolding situation.
For example, Dawn, on December 9, 2013, quoted a Home Department official confirming that the Iranians had violated the border and fired rockets on 11 to 12 occasions within a month. The official added that the Iranian helicopters were also flying in Balochistan’s airspace. In the wake of these alarming activities, the Balochistan government, according to the same report published in Dawn, has written a letter to the National Crisis Management Cell while the Frontier Corps (F.C.), whose primary responsibility is to guard the border, has written a separate letter to the Interior Ministry.
Pakistan’s foreign office and relevant departments have not uttered a single word to protest the killing and terrorizing of the Baloch population by the Iranians. The federal government’s indifference is deeply disappointing but still understandable, as stated above, because Islamabad is known for killing, not protecting, the Baloch people within its own borders. In the backdrop of absolute silence observed in Islamabad, one is compelled to agree with the assessment of the situation by the Baloch Republican Party. Headed by Switzerland-based pro-independence leader Nawabzada Bramdagh Bugti, the B.R.P. has alleged that Iran is carrying out these operations inside Balochistan with the support of Pakistan as a continuation of their longstanding anti-Baloch nexus.
“Iranian attacks on the Baloch population have become the order of the day,” charged the B.R.P. in its statement which also condemned the recent unfortunate incidents.
Pakistani Urdu columnist Saleem Safi may not even be acquainted with what Iran is doing inside Balochistan but his observations about Iran’s changing role in the region that he has mentioned in his column on December 10 in Daily Jang merits attention. Mr. Safi, an ethnic Pashtun and an expert on Afghan affairs, predicted that Iran would follow an aggressive policy toward Pakistan as soon as it improves its relations with the United States. That time has not fully arrived but Iran’s behavior indicates that it has already started asserting its hegemony in the region.
As the Baloch expect little from Islamabad to come to their rescue from increasing attacks from the Iranians, we wish to remind Tehran that the world is fast changing and it’s become a different place. Therefore, it is the time for Tehran to give up its decades-old policy of suppressing the Baloch because of their race and (Sunni) religion. There are always batter ways to win the hearts and minds of the people. By attacking the Balochs on the Pakistani side of the border, Iran, in a way, is unnecessarily provoking mass reaction within the Baloch community on both sides. Attacking the Balochs on the Pakistani side will only mount tensions and create new enemies for Tehran.
While the Balochs on the Pakistani side are fighting a non-religious, nationalist, secular battle against Islamabad for a free land, Tehran should stay away from this battle as they do not pose a direct threat to Iran’s interests. We fear that the mistreatment of the Baloch on both sides of the border could possibly lead to an unprecedented alliance between the religiously motivated anti-Iran Sunni militant groups, such as the Jundullah, and the multiple left-wing Baloch armed groups operating inside Pakistan. Intensification of the existing conflicts will not serve anyone’s interests. Both Islamabad and Tehran should end their war against the Baloch and treat them as equal citizens instead of brutalizing them.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan lies about involvement in attacks, officials say
Forensic experts link Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to attacks that the group denies involvement in, proving that the insurgents lied in what some say is an effort to rebuild their image.
The TTP has said it was not behind attacks on a Peshawar church, a passenger bus on Charsadda Road, the Qissa Khwani Bazaar and several others to protect their image, but police investigators and forensic experts say the evidence shows otherwise. "The people died from wounds caused by the same explosives we have seen in other attacks," Dr. Javaid Khan at the Khyber Medical College said. "There is complete resemblance among the explosive matter and human resources used in violent acts."
"Telling lies and concealing the truth is a glaring example" of how the militants have no regard for people, he said.
But, really, if the TTP is not doing these acts then who is behind them, he asked.
"They have mastered the art of terrorism," he said. "When one hears the word 'Taliban,' the next word that comes to mind is 'terrorism.'"
The reason for the denials is simple, he said. The TTP's image has suffered a black eye recently for its continued attacks on civilians.
"If the TTP told the truth that it carried out all those bombings, it would harm their reputation," he said.
A police official agreed.
"Denying responsibility for attacks is part of their strategy to restore their dwindling image among the public," Peshawar police investigator Khalid Khan said.
They denied involvement in the All Saints Church bombing in Peshawar, for example, only after it received international condemnation, he said. Citizens not believing Taliban claims The lame attempt at cover-up, though, is not really helping the TTP as Pakistanis are laughing at the Taliban's denials, Khan said. The TTP denying responsibility shows how ridiculous they are, Khan said, adding that further denial would erode their credibility, since it is a common knowledge that they carried these attacks. "Such untruths make them a laughing stock, and issuance of untruthful statements will not make any difference," he said, adding that the militants' attempts to absolve themselves of killing innocent people mercilessly hasn't found receptive ears.
Charsadda-based police officer Saleem Khan, one who linked the Pakistani Taliban to the Peshawar Church attack, noted that Ansar-ul-Mujahideen, who confessed to committing the act, is a known TTP faction.
"The faction couldn't have carried out the attack without out the TTP’s approval." he said. "There are about 65 groups that operate under the umbrella of TTP … with separate wings for suicide and bomb attacks, target killing, kidnapping and other crimes."
Ansar-ul-Mujahideen, which also claimed to have conducted the suicide attack that killed KP Law Minister Israrullah Gandapur, is affiliated with TTP, according to its website, which means it permitted it. The Taliban typically likes to claim responsibility for attacks, because it gives the group an opportunity to spout off its hate message.
"Taliban are part of the al-Qaeda-run terrorist network that operates in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and other places," Javaid Khan said. "The modus operandi is the same, but it denies some incidents where public sentiments tend to run high."
The stench of barbarism and brazenness and ignorance of fundamentalists is sheer example of shamelessness, he added.
Gender hypocrisy, too
The flip-flopping is not limited just to attacks. The Taliban has also voiced contradictory opinions about the treatment of women, Muhammad Rasool, a Swat-based social worker said. The militants claim they respect women, he said, but they see no problem with insulting, humiliating and flogging females, Rasool said, citing an April 2009 public flogging of a 17-year-old girl in Swat for her alleged illicit relationship with a man as an example to substantiate his claim. "First, the TTP said the decision was good and according to Islamic law, but later they termed it false after global outcry," Rasool said.

Hooligans’ takeover in Quetta

When the protesters in Quetta started firing to force closure of shops on Wednesday, they lost their right to protest; rather, they created reasons for their arrests. When the protesters fired upon the unwilling shopkeepers, it became of no consequence whether their demands were just. It, however, became more important that they be held for violence and injuring peaceful citizens. Reports indicate that the protesters did not have government's permission to organise a public protest. No route or site was fixed for the protesters. They tried to forcibly close businesses in the city. They were armed, which would have been illegal even if they had permission to stage protest. In the end the protesters injured three individuals of whom two were said to be in critical condition. For Balochistan government to allow such illegalities taking place in public in the capital city, shows how ineffective Dr Malik's rule is. The protesters, who had no permission, should have been stopped even to assemble in large numbers at the very initial stage and not allowed to proceed to markets and the main road. The armed protesters should have been arrested there and then. There should have been personnel of law enforcing agencies before the violence erupted and when the protesters started firing at peaceful traders. Even after the violence, the law enforcing agency personnel just showed their presence at the site of the shooting. They, however, did not arrest even the gun toting and trigger happy among the protesters. The Balochistan government by taking none of the above steps has encouraged lawlessness in the province. The authorities' unwillingness to exercise their legal powers of using force against those who endangers the lives of citizen leaves a vacuum to be filled by lawlessness. No democratic country would have allowed the kind of violence in public as that happened in Quetta. The Balochistan government would have sent a clear warning if it had used appropriate force to stop the violence. The law enforcing agencies would have been within the law if they had used violence against the armed protesters. Not just that, it was incumbent upon them to use appropriate force and save the lives of peaceful citizens. Instead, the government let hooligans take over the capital. What separates anarchy from democracy is that in anarchy one does what one wants and when one wants. It results in confusion. In a democracy one does everything but within the norms of law. It brings order. In democracies one has the right to demand and protest even for abrogation of the constitution of one's country. Even in that case, one, however, has to organise protests within the parameters of the existing law deriving validity from the very same constitution which one wants repealed. Violence, to press for one's demands is, however, a no, no in a democracy. Balochistan, the rest of the provinces and the central governments must act timely and strongly against violence to arrest the slide of democracy in the country into anarchy.

Justice Iftikhar played like Afridi, not Tendulkar: Aitzaz

Daily Times
Senior leader of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Aitzaz Ahsan has said that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry played his innings like Shahid Afridi, not like Sachin Tendulkar. Talking to a private TV channel on Wednesday, he said, “Iftikhar Chaudhry did politics and he wants to be a politician,” he added. He said that the chief justice might not have been expecting such a reaction over permitting only one private TV channel to cover the full court reference. “Discrimination was just a no ball from the Supreme Court’s side,” Aitzaz Ahsan said. He maintained that the CJP committed a fatal mistake in the end and he did not leave as Tendulkar, “he just played like Afridi”. Meanwhile, Supreme Court Bar Association’s (SCBA) former president Ali Ahmad Kurd has said that the common man campaigned for two years to restore judiciary, but Iftikhar Chaudhry did not look back upon them after his reinstatement. Talking to a private TV channel, Kurd said that history will not remember Iftikhar Chaudhry as a successful judge. “Restoration of Iftikhar Chaudhry was a God-gifted thing and it was presented to him in a gold plate, but he kept that reward aside.” Kurd added that if the chief justice had issued directives for coverage of full court’s reference to only one channel then it was a blunder. “The chief justice was restored due to media and if media had not take a stand he could not have been restored,” he added. Another former president of SCBA, Asma Jahangir said that the legal fraternity wants a “constitutional and legal chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) rather than a political one”. She told a private TV channel on Wednesday that the CJP should “stop the role of a dramatist now” and it would be the biggest challenge for him in future. “If he fails to entertain media, the media would feel cheated and if he does it he would be inviting the wrath of bar associations,” she added. The former SCBA president said that it is a testing time for the coming judges so they should maintain a jirga system. “If judges said, ‘we are law’ it would be more terrible,” she warned. Asma also appealed to media to come forward by forgetting all unpleasant memories of the past. Ahmad Raza Qasuri, legal counsel of Pervez Musharraf, has said that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry would be remembered as a controversial personality. He said that Iftikhar Chaudhry established the tradition of speaking rather than issuing verdicts, while it has always been said that judges do not speak their decisions, he added. Qasuri disclosed that many controversial verdicts had been issued during his term and particular people have been promoted. In 2007, Justice Chaudhry rose to prominence when he increasingly questioned attempts by then-president, Pervez Musharraf, to cling to power. The military ruler asked the judge to step down. Chaudhry refused. Musharraf later fired him and hundreds of other judges by imposing a state of emergency.

Bilawal Bhutto: PPP looking forward to restoration of justice
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Patron in-Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that he is “looking forward to the restoration of justice” after the retirement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. On the eve of the retirement of the chief justice, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that he is hopeful that the people will have an “independent and unbiased Supreme Court” now. Bilawal wrote on Twitter, “Looking forward to the restoration of justice with the departure of the Chief Justice. High hopes we will now have a truly ind & unbiased SC”.

Pakistani Mob Kills Man After Fruit Found Wrapped In Koran Pages

Pakistani officials say an angry mob killed a man and wounded three others in the southwestern city of Quetta over the desecration of a Koran.
Balochistan's provincial home secretary, Asad Gilani, says the violence began on December 11 after a man at Quetta's Hazar Ganji fruit market found a crate of Iranian-grown pomegranates that were wrapped in pages torn from the Muslim holy book. An angry mob quickly formed and began shouting slogans against Shi'a, who form a majority in Iran, and then marched to Quetta's main market, Liaquat Bazar, in the city center trying to shut down shops. Amid the chaos, a gunbattle broke out at Liaquat Bazar that left one dead and three injured. RFE/RL's correspondent in Quetta reports that hundreds of Sunni men from Ahl-e Sunnat Waljamaat, a conservative Islamist party, were on the streets of Quetta protesting and calling for government action. That group claims that the fruit arrived from Iran already wrapped in the Koran pages. But police are also investigating the possibility of a provocation aimed at stirring up violence against Quetta's ethnic Hazara Shi'ite community. Police in Quetta told RFE/RL that they have detained at least five men for questioning. They include the owner of the stall where the pomegranates and Koran pages were found on December 11, as well as the man who reported the discovery to police. Others detained for questioning were employees of the Hazar Ganji market fruit dealer, including a truck driver who transported crates of the pomegranates to Quetta from the Pakistani town of Taftan on the border with Iran. According to a police report on the initial findings of the investigation, the truck driver told the authorities that the fruit had been bought from a private trader in Taftan who had purportedly brought them into Pakistan from neighboring Iran.

Lawyer for doctor in Bin Laden search flees Pakistan

Colleagues say lawyer received death threats for defending Shakil Afridi, who helped CIA find al-Qaida leader
The main lawyer for a Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden has fled Pakistan after receiving death threats from militants, his colleagues has said.
The lawyer had represented Shakil Afridi since his arrest following the killing of Bin Laden in a US raid in Abbottabad in May 2011. The doctor ran a vaccination programme for the CIA to collect DNA to verify Bin Laden's presence at a compound in the city.
An assistant and a colleague in Peshawar said the lawyer, Samiullah Afridi, who is not related to his client, had travelled to Dubai. "Samiullah Afridi before leaving for Dubai told me that he has received death threats from militants," Afridi's assistant said. The assistant and the colleague said Afridi had told them he was leaving the country to save his life. They spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation.
The doctor's brother Jamil Afridi said the lawyer had not informed him about the departure. He said the family had a panel of attorneys and would have to choose another lead attorney if it was confirmed.
Pakistani officials were outraged by the Bin Laden operation, which led to international suspicion that they had been harbouring al-Qaida's founder. In their eyes Afridi was a traitor who had collaborated with a foreign spy agency in an illegal operation on Pakistani soil.
But the doctor, who is being held in a prison pending retrial on a separate allegation, was never charged by Pakistan for helping the CIA, and US officials have demanded his release. The case has caused friction between Pakistan and the US, complicating a relationship that Washington views as vital for fighting the Taliban and al-Qaida and negotiating an end to the war in Afghanistan.
The doctor was convicted of "conspiring against the state" in May 2012 and sentenced to 33 years in prison. His conviction was related to allegations that he gave money and provided medical treatment to Islamist militants in Khyber. The doctor's family and the militants denied the allegations.
His conviction was later overturned by a judicial official. Now the doctor faces a murder charge that stems from a complaint over a teenage boy who died after the doctor performed surgery on him for appendicitis in 2006. The complaint, filed by the boy's mother, Nasib Gula, alleges that Afridi was not authorised to operate on her son because he was a physician, not a surgeon.