Chief Justice of Pakistan

The case against conduct of electronic media in Pakistan

Posted on November 17, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan, Electronic media in Pakistan, Lal Masjid, Martial law |

Cable news just got unplugged in Pakistan. I for one am supporting the government here and will shed no tears for the likes of Talat Hussain, Mushtaq Minhas, Hamid Mir, or Shahid Masood.

I will point out a few instances where, I as a viewer was disturbed by the partisanship, unprofessional attitudes, and loose ethics of the cable news industry in Pakistan. I shouldn’t say ‘in Pakistan’, because these channels were being run from the UAE where they could escape Pakistan’s taxation system. They like to profit from our country but would rather not pay taxes. Ok, I am getting side tracked here. My complaints follow:

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I told you so – imposition of martial law in Pakistan

Posted on November 7, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan, Electronic media in Pakistan, Enlightened Moderation My Ass, Martial law, Politics |

I am not bragging but I did forsee this one coming. The imposition of martial law seemed imminent even two months ago.  Actually, fellow chai-lover Harris called it first in private conversation with me. We were talking after the Bhagwandas led bench had restored Ch. Iftikhar to the head of the apex court about the possible scenarios developing after that. He thought the CJ was going to over estimate his power on the street and go after Musharraf with a vengeance. That would have forced Musharraf to take stronger measures, read: martial law, to restore the pecking order. His argument was that Pakistanis as a whole are a people given to abusing power. Your age, gender, education, socio-economic background, political leanings, field of influence, …. none of that matters. They will abuse power for personal agendas.

And that is what Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and his merry court did for months. The ran amok. They put thousands of existing cases on the back burner and decided to become a thorn in Musharraf’s side. Their interests spanned all issues of media interest. If a story was on the news media one day, the court was taking suo moto notice of it on the second day. Be it the flooding and consequent traffic jams on Karachi roads after heavy rainstorms, price of tomatoes, shutting down of terrorist breeding madrassas, and what not. If cable news thought an issue was inflammatory enough, the court thought it was worthy of their interest. The court was infact trying to be popular with the ignorant masses who are swayed by these media hyped issues. I will go in detail of this false hype in the next posting. Seeking popularity by activism is the domain of the politician, not the court.

That president Musharraf ward it off for as long as he did is credit to him. That the ex-Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, brazenly led his motley crew of judges down the path of direct confrontation with the president shows his foolhardiness. Still, I think the president is not without blame in this year of crisis. He has managed to go back on too many promises and estranged too many of us in the silent majority who supported him through the last eight years. We have sat on the sidelines and wondered what exactly kept him from doing the needfull to move the country towards his promised land. Defeats and back paddling on one issue after the other has confused and disheartened the moderate majority of Pakistanis who want a prosperring and peacefull Pakistan. The biggest blow came with the ill advised attempt at removing the CJ. It has been a downward spiral since then. Again, I will compile these issues in a detailed chargesheet against Musharraf here in a post to follow.

And here we are. Two wrongs have made a massive wrong. Sadly, it seems there is not one person of honor and integrity left in the higher echlons of Pakistan. What we have is either dumb asses at best, or manipulative opportunists at worst. Oh, and I told you so.

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Some observations of GEOs’ coverage of the CJP rally in Lahore

Posted on May 6, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan, Electronic media in Pakistan |

I have spent the better part of this saturday, dos equis (viva mexico) and chicken tikka in hand, eyes glued to GEOs’ coverage of the Chief Justices’ 24-hour journey from Islamabad down the GT road to Lahore. There is a lot to be said about the process and spectacle that should have been an essentially constitutional issue. But right now I have a couple of observations about the tv coverage of the event.

  • Firstly, kudos to Geo for giving precedence to this event over regular programming.
  • Geo should seriously think about acquiring a helicopter or two to cover such events from the air and give its subscribers a birds eye view. We could use that perspective. In the short term maybe they can charter such aircraft.
  • There was evidence of fatigue in the Geo production teams.
  • At times the newscasters/hosts came back from commercial breaks only to send us back on commercial breaks without uttering a word.
  • At a couple of other instances the programme would come back and the cameras catch the hosts anawares and not ready to be on air.
  • Still on other occasions the breaks would run a lot longer than usual with the Geo graphics being played on a loop. I am guessing this was caused to prevent the above two scenarios.
  • One suggestion I have for such instances would have been to shift the viewers to the cameras accompanying the CJ or at location in Lahore, even without the camera team saying anything. The event was powerful and interesting on its own and just some raw camera coverage would have brought that ambience home to the viewers.
  • For an event that lasted hours, there was a paucity of video clips and the same clips was being looped on itself tens of times for many hours.
  • I don’t know if Geo has tv Vans with uplinking ability as they do in western countries. That would have helped in providing us the atmosphere on the road live. If they do maybe such assets could be used more effectively.

This is slightly above nitpicking but its the little things that make for the highest quality product. Kudos to Geo for having the stamina to hang in there for the duration of such a marathon event, especially when it seems to have dragged on for much longer than expected.

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Letter to General Musharraf

Posted on April 4, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan, Politics, Talibanization |

I wrote a letter to General Musharraf today. I have intentionally kept it brief since I wrote it at work. I will write a detailed article (may be 100 since the issue is very big) at later stages.

Mr. President,

Today I want to write to you about an issue that has been bothering me for a while. I had sent you an e-mail regarding this subject before but I am sure you never got to read it and this e-mail will eventually fall on deaf ears too but I feel obligated to say something about it even if no one hears my cries.

Last week when you were on a trip to Saudi Arabia trying to find solutions for the problems of “Ummah” a menace was rearing its ugly head less than 5 kilometers from the presidency. The observers found it quite ironic that you were actively participating in the summit for long term peace in the Middle East while the lawlessness ruled the streets of Islamabad clad in burkas and wielding batons. In one afternoon the whole “soft image” you have been trying to promote throughout the world disappeared.

The nation has heard you numerous times promising the writ of the law being imposed. We have in fact seen the writ of the law doing wonders when it comes to manhandling the Chief Justice of the nation and torturing the innocent protestors who demand to know where their loved ones are but in this case no law enforcement agency had the courage to stop the blatant violation of the law. The whole nation was held hostage by a few fanatics living so close to the parliament.

Today in Dawn, the interview with the principal of the institution is a clear picture of what these extremist elements plan to do to our country. The principal openly admitted that his students have in the past gone to Afghanistan to take active part in Jihad and will go in the future as well since that is what they are taught there. My question to you sir is that what can possibly a two bit mullah have over the government that he can train jihadis practically a stone’s throw away from the Presidency and your government is unable to stop him? How can he wield so much power that his students can take over land and buildings in the name of protests and your minister has to go and assure that all the illegally built mosques will be built again? How can he mock and threaten the government on T.V and not a soul of law enforcement moves a muscle?

You need to take difficult decisions and eliminate this extremism now before it destroys Pakistan completely. Our children deserve a country free of religious zealotry and bigotry. If this trend continues like this then mark my words Pakistan will be at the receiving end of Tomahawk Missiles very soon and history will blame you for brining Pakistan to this point of no return when you had the power to slay the dragon of Islamic extremism.

You are standing at the fork of history that every leader before you reached at one point or another during his/her political career. There is a hard way to your destiny and there is an easy way. The ones who took the hard way left their legacies for all humanity to cherish. People like Julius Cesar, Jinnah, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ata-Turk to name a few while the easy way is littered with graves of leaders no one remembers. You need to decide if you have what it takes to carry a nation on your shoulders to the bright future our people deserve or if you want to be a casualty of changing times never to be heard from again.”

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Cell Phone (mobile) snatching in Pakistan

Posted on April 2, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan, Humour |

A while ago, while probing the matter of our hidden mehdi – the Justice Rana Bhagwandas, I and many others were perplexed by the seeming inability of all to get in touch with him much less find the man. We wondered aloud if the judge had a cell phone. If yes, could someone please give him a call and apprise him of the situation at home. Some said, he was an old fashioned person and did not carry a cellular phone. Others said he had a phone but wasn’t answering it. I asked if his phone was snatched on the street. The one good news, or lack thereof of any news, out of that suspense was that the judge hadn’t become a victim of street crime after all.

He wouldn’t have been the first person in Pakistan or India to have had their cellular (mobile) phone snatched. Mobile snatching is in vogue among the small time street criminals of the sub-continent. Surprisingly, friends and family who have been victims feel more inconvenienced than victimised. The majority comment considers the snatched mobile phone a Sadqa.

Now we have a cell phone snatching to top all cell phone snatchings. Turns out the entire political drama being played out in Pakistan started with a cell phone snatching. The paklaw blog allerted me to Friday Times quoting a fly on the wall of the infamous camp office where and when the CJ was asked to resign. Instead of blinking he whipped out his cell phone. Maybe he was about to play his cards. The prime minister and his goons at that point realized that Justice Iftikhar was still the CJ and could turn the tables on them from the offices of the apex court. Lacking a plan B following the failure of their forced resignation plan they went into panic mode and we know the rest of the story. They snatched the cell phone thus effectively cutting him off from his office, detained him illegally against his will, and perpetuated this whole shambolic affair. The half-assed petition, the raggeddy supreme judicial council, the multiple acting chief justices, what a farce.

What is surprising is this discovery that mobile phone snatching is a gateway crime. You can start with a phone snatching and end up breaking not just one law but the whole constitution. Good job! king of thieves, lord of dacoits, prime minister of Pakistanis. If the snatched mobile phone of the chief justice is a sadqa, it better have averted our nation a biblical catastrophy.

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Talaash-e-gumshuda sehvum

Posted on March 20, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan |

Police officer who led attack on Geo TV goes missing

I did not start off on this blog to carry the mantle of finding the missing people in Pakistan. That was a challenge taken upon by our chief justice. His bravery in the face of the unscrupulous agencies of the government of Pakistan was admirable. No one in Pakistan had ever dared question them or their authority. On the one hand our CJ earned the gratitude of the relatives of the missing and the praises of the interested observers. On the other hand his activism in the cause of human rights in Pakistan earned him the scorn of the government and its long arms and big mouths. This was a man they needed to shut up if they are to continue the abhorrent masquerade that their rule has been for nearly a decade. And they did try shutting him up, and failing that they are now going to try to discredit him and roll back his agenda of enforcing answerability.

However, with the chief justice under house arrest, the least I can do is jot down my feelings here and hope someone reads and agrees. Another person of interest in this thriller has gone missing. The ghayab (missing) person is the police officer who allegedly led the attack on offices of the Geo television network in Islamabad.

This revelation about the missing inspector came direct from the mouth of the president himself. El presidente was trying to kiss up to the Geo TV Network in the aftermath of the attacks on Geo during the course of their reporting of the current judicial and constitutional crisis in Pakistan. The announcement came during a protracted appearance on the now un-banned Kamran Khan show amid contrived apologies and promises of swift justice and all.

Even with the president himself issuing the APB (all points bulletin), most observers in Pakistan are going to take this development with an extra pinch of salt. No one believes the junior police officer acted out of his own volition. We have a history sprinkled with the corpses of junior police officers who are killed off after they have served the illegal purposes of their political bosses.

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Talaash-e-gumshuda dovum

Posted on March 20, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan |

Justice Bhagwandas found in Lucknow, India

Residents of Islamabad were awaken from their slumber yesterday with the local mosques blaring an update on the sub-continent wide search for our beloved judge Rana Bhagwandas on their loud speakers. He has been located. Yes, lets rejoice, serve everyone mithai, breakout in a little shimmy.

Times of India has reported locating Pakistan Supreme Court Judge Rana Bhagwandas who is visiting on an annual pilgrimage. I think it was my cajoling the Indian media and Intelligence agencies that finally prompted the successful search. And both groups now vie for space and credit in the TOI news article linked above. I was only doing my duty. Still, I humbly accept the nations gratitude for having played a part in finding the missing person. More than what the government of Pakistan did.

Iftikhar Gilani at the Daily Times is speculating an early return. I certainly hope so. He is the man of the hour. He is the one who can extricate the nation from this abyss of a constitutional crisis that Generalissimo Mushy and cronies pushed us into. But no pressure, Sir. Just do your duty to the satisfaction of your conscience.

The return of the judge to the country, and the processes of the apex court will bring forth further problems, discussions, theories, what not. At least the man on the street is getting a few new lessons on our constitution. We and legal eagles of our government will learn our constitution together. I bet, I can score 11 more marks than Wassi Duffer. And I am still failing.

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Sheikh Rashid’s Prayer

Posted on March 17, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan, Humour, Politics, Sheikh Rashid |

“ Oh Allah, how humble I feel before your grace today. My knees are shaking, my head unable to erect and my eyes unable to shut off tears. Today I bow to your infinite wisdom, for it is only you who gives and takes away all worldly things; fortune, fame and hair.

There were days when I was the minister of information. My nation was fortunate to watch my rugged Kashmiri looks everyday on T.V and newspapers. My manly voice made many a women shake, for I was the liaison between the government and the people of Pakistan. Main mouthpiece they called me, a distinction I wore with honor and pride. I was “the man” of the government. You tested my skills with many in swinging yorkers, the nationwide agitation of MMA, Kalabagh Dam and Taliban to name a few, but I flicked them with no more than a small movement of my tongue straight to the boundary. Every night when I came home (sometimes even my own home) I used to unwind by turning the T.V on and watching myself on the screen. It not only soothed me but my servant tells me that it soothed millions of people in Pakistan as well. I will always be thankful to you for choosing me to become your gift to Pakistan.

I had held many other portfolios before Information ministry. Most important of them probably my assignment as the minister of culture. I had the film industry under me, both literally and figuratively. I am thankful to you for that but Information ministry always felt like my real calling. I was made to do that.

Then that awful day came when I was told that I would no longer be the information minister of Pakistan. I felt as if my life had come crashing down. I was angry, I was hopeless and I felt cheated. How can I be replaced? Have they found another Kashmiri to take my place? Whose voice will keep the men informed and women dreaming after I left? I had questions and concerns regarding the serious mistake the government had made.

I thought complaining to you then thought better of it. How can a mere mortal complain to you Almighty? My Pir told me that I could in fact complain to you. If it is okay for Alama Iqbal to do so then it must be okay for me since Alama and myself are both Kashmiris by your grace. I could not argue with that logic even though I had a lot of practice arguing against logic from my previous job. I came to you, I complained, I cried. I even begged for a good appointment next. I went to my Pir and told him that I had complained to you. In response he said that there must be some divine logic behind the decision. Now I am a very, very intelligent person but I could not see how there could be a silver lining behind this cloud. I was humiliated especially when other cabinet members started mocking me in cabinet meetings by making the sounds of whistling train engine. It was over for me. I knew that you didn’t listen to my begging and praying.

Then came March 9th, 2007. A day that will forever live in infamy. General sacked the Chief Justice. All the mouthpieces of the government were busy explaining the constitutionality of the decision and trying to justify the actions. A little voice inside told me that maybe this is the divine reasoning my Pir Sahib was talking about, but being very, very intelligent I shrugged it off. Now being so very, very intelligent I knew that this thing will be over soon. No one would care and the issue will die during the weekend. Boy o boy was I wrong!

March 13th, 2007 started normally. I woke up, stared at myself in the mirror for an hour like I do everyday. Had my usual breakfast of a dozen puris and went to the office. What happened between 11.45 A.M and 2 P.M made my jaw drop. First time in my life my mouth was open so wide without having food near it. The screams of divine reasoning, divine reasoning, divine reasoning rang in my mind. My knees buckled and I dropped on the floor. All I could recite was I am glad I am not the information minister over and over again. How could I have defended that in the media? I was humbled my lord, by your divine intervention designed to save my dignity or whatever I have left of it. Just as I was about to stand up after three days of thanking you profusely I heard the news of GEO office been raided and vandalized by the police. Oh lord seems like another three days of thanks are due.

I am planning on wearing a torn black jacket to the next cabinet meeting to mock Mr. Durrani who used to make fun of me with the whistle. Now I would love to see what you have in the box for him. As for me, I will never find enough courage to complain to you again. Even if I am granted the ministry of religious affairs.”

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Long Arms of Wasi Zafar

Posted on March 16, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan |

A wise man once said that the character of a nation is defined by its leaders. If that is true then we must be the most vulgar and ignorant people on the face of this planet. Everyone who heard our Minister of Law arguing with a journalist on VOA radio would agree with me. In a few words of broken English, he was able to convey to the whole world the nature of the people who elected him and of the government who made him the guardian of the law of the land.

The whole episode began with the minister’s inability to comprehend a simple phrase “long arms of the law” and with his infinite wisdom, he was somehow able to turn it into a sexual reference. If this is not a good ad campaign for the advancement of education in Pakistan then I don’t know what is. Just imagine billboards on major highways stating “ save your children from becoming ministers, send them to school”.

I am seriously considering starting an NGO whose sole purpose will be to provide English tutoring services to the ministers. At one stage we may extend this service to the Pakistani cricket team.

For now we must shake our heads in disgust but after the blood starts flowing through our brains due to violent shaking, we must think for a while. Is this the best we can do? Is this guy capable of representing Pakistan in international seminars on Law and Justice? What kind of jokes does he leave behind when he meets foreign dignitaries?

Would someone please inform the village in Faisalabad that is missing its idiot of the whereabouts of Wasi Zafar?
I should not have said that. God knows I am in no mood to meet his “Long Arms”.

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Talaash-e-gumshuda

Posted on March 16, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan |

Where in the world is Justice Rana Bhagwandas

This man is missing. The various long arms and big mouths of the government of Pakistan are declaring complete ignorance of the whereabouts of a 64 year old Pakistani citizen. And no ordinary citizen this one. The missing in this case is the honourable judge Justice Rana Bhagwandas, who just happens to be the second most senior judge on the supreme court of Pakistan. Family, friends, and coworkers seem to have no firm idea where their beloved is. The media have picked up on the plight of those concerned about the safety and the whereabouts of the missing person. Sadly this is not the first time someone has completely disappeared off the face of Pakistan, leaving family and friends waiting in the dark, never to be heard from again. And this is not the first time that the government, with its 17 police and secret agencies feigns ignorance of the whereabouts of the missing person. All the kings’ donkeys and all the kings’ men are unable to locate the missing old man.

Lately, the Supreme Court had become the place to seek help in locating these missing persons. But with its maverick Chief Justice, the champion of Pakistan’s‘ missing people, himself under house arrest, it does not seem available to look into the matter.

Here is what we do know. Justice Bhagwandas, took leave and went on a trip to India. He held meetings at the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. None of their justices is missing so far. But from there on, the trail of our justice has gone cold. He left for his hotel and presumably onwards to Lucknow. There have been some indications of him calling his wife from a PCO (public call office) in Lucknow. Apparently his cell phone does not answer. Why? Two theories: He forgot his cell phone charger in Pakistan. Or, he gave up his cell phone to street crime in New Delhi. Delhi-Karachi, Karachi-Delhi. Same brown skins, same ghatya crimes. But lets digress.

The matter of the Pakistani Justice of Supreme Court gone missing, in the back drop of the current constitutional crisis, is also a big news story in India. Alas, not big enough. The multitudes of Indian cable news channels, tehelkas, tamashas, dhamakas, et al, have either been unable or unwilling to find the judge.

The government of India, rightly suspicious of visitors from Pakistan, keeps a close watch on them during their travel all the way up to departure from India. The recent tragedy of the fire bombing of the Samjhota express shows the extent of this control on tourists. The passengers were locked into the train and unable to escape the inferno. The locks are apparently meant to keep the tourists from slipping away in the newly shining India. Surely, they must know if the judge is still in India and if yes, where in. The alternate scenario where they might have lost track of a 64 year old man does not shine a complimenting light on their sleuthing skills. And that does not bode well for an India wary of so called ISI-trained terrorists slipping across the border. Lets just hope they are lying to us and their own citizenry.

Pakistan itself requires government employees to give out all kinds of details when they visit abroad. Here is a senior justice of our supreme court, protocol and all. It would be safe to assume that High Commission of Pakistan in India would be aware of this visit and have means to contact His Honour should there be need. But no. Not only do they not know where he is. BBC Urdu service reported the Pakistan High Commission declaring they only came to know about the judges’ visit from reports in Indian newspapers. Read the Urdu here. An English transcript of this is at Darveshs blog. The height of ridiculousness.

There is another theory, that the judge is not so much missing as in hiding. As in self seclusion. Was he approached with the governments’ plans, and given the choices of being a party to this coup or staying away from the mess chose the later option. He had to have been, given the way his absence is unfolding. He turns 65, the age for retirement, in December. He might have seen two choices before himself. Earn a blackmark on his judicial record at the twilight ofhis long and distinguished career, for history to judge him, or try to avoid the mess. There did exist a third option. That of standing upto the dictator. And that choice still exists before His Honour.

Issuing this Talaash-e-gumshuda (missing person) alert on the internet seems our only chance at finding our justice. Anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of the judge is encouraged to contact us, the media, and lastly the government.

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