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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Government Judiciary Row—No Signs Of Rapprochement. Situation Getting Worse

By Aijaz Ahmed

The contempt notices to PPP Sindh leaders, Taj Haider and Sharjeel Memon by Supreme Court of Pakistan are indicative of future scenario in which the ongoing tussle between the government and the judiciary is gradually being turned into a bout between the PPP as a political party and the Judiciary as an institution. Thus the future and intensity of the row will be decided with Supreme Court’s treatment to the reference the government is sending to SC to reopen Bhutto case to seek apex court’s verdict on the case that the PPP termed judicial murder of its founder.

The strained PPP-Judiciary relations have a historic back ground: the foundation of this love-hate relationship was first laid when the Judiciary became subservient to General Zia and hanged a visionary leader like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on very weak legal grounds to appease its master, observe senator Maula Bux Chandio, a diehard PPP worker from Sindh. Besides independent political and legal observers, Justice (retd) Nasim Hassan Shah, member of the Supreme Court Bench that endorsed death sentence to ZAB, had himself admitted that the endorsement was made on the whim and will of general Zia.
Presidency in Islamabad

Apart from ZAB case, there is a long list of PPP's complaints against judiciary, injustice to Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, different application of law in the same incidents with the prime ministers from Lahore and Larkana, settings of court hearings, character assassinations of BB and party leadership, cases against Asif Ali Zardari and even against Begum Nusrat Bhutto are few examples in this regard, Mr. Chandio further maintained.

In view of the bitter historical facts and strained relations between the two, PPP’s role in restoration of judiciary after March 2007 was a big U-turn. PPP sacrificed 39 lives in Karachi and 17 in Islamabad during the movement for restoration of judiciary and release of Justice Iftikhar Ch and other brother judges, he added. The first hour of PPP’s present government witnessed how the judges were released, the barriers around their houses were removed, despite a delay under pressure from different stakeholders, the deposed judges got their salaries through discretionary powers of the prime minister, said another party leader on condition of anonymity adding that the same judiciary curtailed those discretionary powers, which were used to pay heavy amount to them.

The governments’ positive attitude towards apex court judges and respect to the judiciary continued even after the Attorney General Latif Khosa and present law minister Babar Awan were intimidated in Haris Steel case. Mr. Khosa had to resign from his office on charges, which are yet to be proved, while Babar Awan proved all allegations wrong, the PPP leader added. But the government raised salaries, perks and privileges of higher judiciary many times on the recommendation of chief justice, many appointments were made on his will including that of Justice Khalil Ramday, which was in sheer violation of judicial policy announced by judiciary itself, he maintained.

The government however keeps awaiting even a single gesture from judiciary. Contrarily, NRO case taken up. The case was not an issue; the government on the signals sent decided to maintain good relations with apex court and submitted in the court room that the Ordinance may be declared void-ab initio, but the court decided to prolong the process and go into nitty-gritty. Even a person like Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim was angry on the proceedings. ‘There is no point to prolong the proceedings when the government was willing to declare the Ordinance void-ab initio’, he commented when court started detailed hearing of NRO case last year. The government during the proceedings was utterly sure that the proceedings would remain in limits, but the remarks by Justice Ramday and others pointing fingers towards president Zardari was like declaring him corrupt without a case. Justice Ramday went to the extant of very personal remarks like “apnay client (Asif Zardari) se kaho k Swiss banks main deposited 60 million dollars return karay aur apni bhi jan churai aur hamari bhi choray”. (Tell your client, Asif Zardari to return 60 million dollars deposited with Swiss banks & get himself off the hook and save us from bother).

These remarks indicated that the court is siding with the elements intending to give Mr. Zardari a bad name. Further moving in the same direction, an action was ordered against Justice Qayum, the former Attorney General who wrote letter to Swiss authorities for withdrawal of cases against Mr. Zardari on the verbal instruction of the then President General Musharraf but without formal approval of the federal cabinet. No action was however, directed against former Attorney General Ch. Farooq who himself wrote letter to Swiss authorities for legal assistance in the same cases without any order or formal approval of the cabinet of Mian Nawaz Sharif. He happened to be elder brother of Justice Ramday and this is the point of a major clash. Subsequently the statements of Khwaja Sharif, other remarks of Justice Ramday and CJP, and other brother judges further fueled the fire. The onslaught did not stopped there. The apex court and Lahore High Court at a very high pace took certain cases against the federal government and adverse judgments were passed, but there was no follow up in Punjab Bank case which was under hearing and an anti Shahbaz Sharif statement was recorded by Hamesh Khan, former president of the Bank who is under NAB custody for months and has been brought back from United States.

In these circumstances, Justice Ramday’s appointment and pressure exerted for appointments of judges in High Courts on which government had serious reservations had increased the tensions. The issue was resolved with the intervention of Ch Aitzaz, but later he was kept out of the circle close to CJP and Hamid Khan, Akram Ch and Qazi Anwar filled his place. Meanwhile former DG FIA Tariq Khosa was promoted by the government as secretary and thus had to be removed from the post. The government’s action was taken as an adverse step along with its refusal to write to Swiss authorities for reopening of the cases. The court ordered action with reference to his association with Steel Mills case but government refused. He was again ordered to be appointed investigation officer in Punjab Bank scandal, which was again regretted by the government. Moreover 18th amendment case decided in a particular manner and then the decision of parliamentary committee on judges appointment turned down, certain contract appointments, extension in service particularly of DG FIA and few other officers of Sindh Police were terminated by Supreme Court while all decisions were taken under the same discretionary powers of the PM which were used to pay salaries to deposed judges before restoration. However, the same principle was not applied on Justice Ramday. CJP recommended his name again for appointment as adhoc judge, but Supreme Court Bar Association strongly objected. This principle is also not applied on Registrar Supreme Court who is on a two years extension!

The rapid suo-moto notices on National Insurance Company and Haj Scams in this scenario proved to be lethal for the government-judiciary relationship, and even the son of the prime minister was contaminated. Zafar Qureshi, Director Punjab region has been given license to kill, former Haj Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi is arrested without being accused in the main FIR, simultaneously Moonis Elahi is also arrested in National Insurance Company case and his name was also not included in the FIR. Legal circles are questioning the cases, their pace, direction, way of proceedings, tone and the remarks. Zafar Qureshi is apparently settling his personal score and grievances that he had with the present set up regarding his transfer and removal of his elder brother Ismail Qureshi from the post of Secretary Establishment. No complaint against him is being entertained at any legal forum, and he is moving in a way, which does not suite to the government. Many government and allied party MNAs are scared of him, he caused damage to political deal between government and judiciary, he managed disassociation of DG FIA from major inquiries and a campaign being hatched by politician of a particular group without any evidence so far.

Indeed, FIA is an attached department of the Interior Ministry but no order of the ministry is entertained at FIA nowadays and thus the organization is enjoying the role of state with in state. The inquiries and court remarks on them spark fire in the government camps, and in this scenario a decision against Syed Deedar Hussain Shah triggered volcano in Sindh and a complete strike observed on PPP Sindh chapter’s call. The court moved rapidly and contempt notices were issued while n suo moto notice was taken against the reaction on court decision in Raymond Davis case.

Taj Haider and Sharjeel Memon will appear in the court on first April along with number of part colleagues. Whatever the decision may be, or whether or not they tender an apology but the move has brought relationship at point of no return between the largest political party of the country and the most sacred institution. PPP considers the court decision and all steps part of a game and also believes that the judiciary sides with rival PML-N or other parties having presence in Punjab and this is the alarming situation. What would be the result only time will tell, but sense of deprivation is getting stronger and PPP workers and supporters started believing that judiciary is not friendly rather is adversary towards the party and this is the real danger.

News Bytes

By: Aijaz Ahmed

Nawaz Sharif's health improved, Dr Hasnat treated him

Undoubtedly Mian Nawaz Sharif is popular leader of the country at present. He is the man who has helped the PPP government enter in its fourth year despite its weaknesses and blunders. It is good for his followers and well wishers to know that he is recovering satisfactorily from serious illness at a faster pace in London, UK. He has gone through a surgery at Cromwell Hospital, London and Dr. Hasnat Ahmed Khan, a famous Pakistani-British Surgeon and friend of late Lady Diana treated him.
Dr Hasnat Ahmad Khan

Cricket Mania

Mother of All Cricket Matches to be played today
Mohali Cricket Stadium, India
The biggest cricket match of the world cup history (a semi final) will be played today at Mohali Cricket Stadium, India between the two ‘arch rivals’ i.e., Pakistan and India. Prime Minister Sayed Yusuf Raza Gilani along with a well-represented delegation, consisting of members from coalition parties and certain other parties in the parliament including Asfandyar Wali Khan and Dr Farooq Sattar will watch proceedings at Mohali stadium in India with his Indian Counterpart. The gesture of Indian prime minister to invite Pakistani president and PM to watch the game and the response from Pakistan is being widely appreciated across Pakistan and India and being termed as a positive sign. It is interesting to note that the two major TV anchors, Talat Hussain and Kashif Abbasi, who are part of the PM delegation, left by road from Islamabad to Mohali, and all female anchors will travel with PM in his special plane!

The steps Pakistan has taken in this context can gauge the cricket fever; federal government has announced a half-day national holiday. Sindh Government has declared a complete holiday and all Universities in Sindh have announced a one-day closure for the match. In addition, Federal Urdu University has postponed all examinations to be taken today the 30th March!

Semi Final Creates Rift in PML Hamkhyal
Kashmala Tariq
Hamkhyal faction of Pakistan Muslim League was separated from Q league in the name of principles and for reunification of all the leagues and also to promote democratic culture in Muslim League but the invitation of Indo-Pak Cricket Semi Final has put all the 'principles' and the priorities on the back burner in the party. In fact Ms Kashmala Tariq, a party MNA was invited by her old friend and daughter in law of Chief Minister of Indian Punjab, and PM Gilani also offered her to be part of his delegation. Thus a rift is created in the party. She had a serious feud with her party chief Salim Saif Ullah Khan on the issue. He insisted that how could she represent his party in PMs delegation and be invited by any Indian dignitary. Kashmala is traveling to India however, on both the invitations and rest will be settled later!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Raymond Davis Case, Blood Money, ISI & Ghairat Brigade’s Sudden U-Turn: Who Arranged the Blood Money?

By: Aijaz Ahmed
Raymond Davis
Although an official word has come from a responsible provincial functionary from Punjab regarding the whereabouts of victim families, their long disappearance will still cast shadows on the brave stance taken by the provincial government in this regard.

Rana Sanaullah, the provincial law minister and a close associate of CM Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif, while commenting on the case has openly confirmed that the families of Faizan and Fahim, the two young men murdered by CIA operative Raymond Davis in Lahore on January 27th were in Rawalpindi. His statement in a TV talk show would have settled some dust about the disappearance of the two families that pardoned US undercover agent against a heavy blood money, however, the threats the two families are facing will force them to remain underground for quite some time, sources in the military quarters of Rawalpindi have maintained. 

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah
Replying to a question from a TV anchor person, Rana Sanaullah observed that the families were picked up (he however did not mention by whom the families were picked up) two days before the case was decided at Kot Lakhpat Jail Lahore. Giving more details, he further observed that the both families were present in the court that was established inside the jail due to security reasons. 

He further claimed that the families were assured by Imran Khan, Jamaat-e-Islami and other right wing forces of complete financial, moral, legal, political and social support, but everybody left them alone and practically did nothing for them. The behavior of these forces with the victim families was instrumental in their decision to receive blood money as these poor families were given not a single penny to bear the expenses of the case by these so called supporters. Rana shocked the viewers when he confirmed media reports that Shabana, the widow of Fahim who committed suicide, had whispered to him that the families were planning to pardon Raymond Davis and her name was excluded from the Sharai heirs of her husband. He said, he tried to assure her by showing the list of family of Faizan where name of his widow was on third number after father and mother, and also assured her that her name is included in the list on the same position, but she could not survive as her body was damaged internally, he maintained.
Shabana, widow of Mohammad Fahim
The concerning revelations by independent sources support the claim of worthy law minister of Punjab. The police sources confirm that the families made many desperate calls to US Consulate Lahore on the telephone numbers it listed in the directory, however nobody was there to respond to the calls, meanwhile CIA and ISI entered in an understanding (already revealed by IH and other independent media). As soon as the ISI got a go ahead signal, the deal was struck and families got handsome amount in blood money. The families were afraid of backlash and also anticipated threats from other relatives and thus requested a protective custody that was provided in Rawalpindi.

However, few male members of the family are currently in Dubai to explore venues for some business and settlement in UAE. It is further revealed that two members of each family will initially go to United States and than will call their other relatives if they found the society there favorable and appropriate for their other family members, sources maintained.

Another interesting information regarding the source that paid such a heavy amount in terms of blood money is also available. Contrary to the earlier claims of some media hawks that the money was paid by the government of Pakistan, it is revealed that the amount was actually arranged by ISI itself. Reports further suggest that few Lahore and Karachi based business tycoons having good relations with the state institutions like ISI, on request by the agency, arranged this money as a good will gesture. All this information regarding how the money was arranged is not a secret inside the country any more, however, the reaction and sustained attitude of Ghairat Brigade is quite astonishing for the independent political observers in the country. Few renowned journalists and a particular media group in their initial response cautiously took line that the issue is resolved in the national interest and in accordance with the laid down principles of Islamic Shariah and the statuary book. Later the said journalists and their colleagues, all part and parcels of Ghairat Brigade, took a complete U-Turn and are constantly making all out efforts to provoke people’s sentiments, but no body is ready to shed his blood on the call of Ghairat Brigade members in media and the political parties as they are aware that apart from the governments at center and province, the ISI, military top brass and Judiciary were taken into confidence before moving ahead to settle the issue. 
A protest against Raymond Davis

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pakistan Army To Restore “Peace” in Bahrain?

By: Aijaz Ahmed
Pakistan and Bahrain are seriously considering ways and means and possible repercussions of Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies’ help to the later in restoring “peace” in politically disturbed areas. Foreign Minster of Bahrain Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa is to arrive in Pakistan on Tuesday to discuss the matter, highly placed sources have confided to Indus Herald. The Saudi led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has already approved deployment of Peninsula Shield Force in the Kingdom of Bahrain to crush the movement for democracy that is getting stronger with every passing day. Assurances from King Hammad to introduce some reforms with regards to civil liberties and democratic and human rights have not succeeded so far to calm down anger among people demonstrating for a democratic system. Interestingly the reaction of the world community, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is totally different on the situation as compared to the reaction demonstrated on the situation in Libya.

Pakistan has already expressed its support for the GCC decision, and that too on Saudi pressure, a source at the foreign office revealed. The economically hard-pressed Pakistan had no other way but to follow the Saudi demands as the holy kingdom has assured a sizable support in meeting the economic challenges ahead, the foreign office source added. However, Pakistan’s nauseating defense of its endorsement to GCC intervention in Bahrain to deploy Peninsula Shield Force isn’t finding any takers. Majority of foreign policy commentators and experts are not ready to buy Pakistani endorsement but people having close relations with PML-N including the likes of Shamshad Ahmed Khan, Tariq Fatmi and Riaz Khokhar are intriguingly silent on the support that Pakistan has diplomatically provided to Bahrain on the behest of Saudi Arabia. The sole reason for the silence of these former ‘babus’ of Foreign Office and some other “well informed experts” lies behind the special relationship that PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif enjoys with the Royal family of the holy land.

Pakistan desired return of peace, security and stability to Middle East that had been hit by political upheaval, the newly designated foreign office spokesperson Ms Tahmina Janjua observed while briefing the media the other day. “As far as Bahrain is concerned, it was an internal decision of the GCC. The GCC decided on the basis of its founding principles that security forces would go to Bahrain,” said Foreign Office Spokesperson in her stammering voice while replying to hard hitting questions on Bahrain though her words did not match the principles of ‘non-intervention and non-interference in domestic affairs of others’ that she had painstakingly learnt during her 27 years long diplomatic career. This was not the first time that Foreign Office stood up for Bahrain’s monarchy. Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir had earlier praised the Bahraini Monarch on March 1. While the protestors were being tear-gassed and shot at, he had said: “We … admire the progress made by Bahrain under the leadership of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.”
King Hamad of Bahrain
The current political upheaval is a geniune cause of concern for Pakistan as there are some 65,000 Pakistanis in Bahrain, some of whom are working with Bahraini security services, the FO sources maintained adding that the security of King of Bahrain, the major installations, the Royal Family and the state dignitaries is prime responsibility of the Pakistanis employed in the Bahraini security services. Perhaps this was the reason that a number of Pakistanis became vistims of the public anger and some of them were seriously injured earlier this month during the violent protest of people on streets. Reports received from the tiny Gulf Kingdom suggest that the xenophobic attacks against Pakistani expatriates earlier this month were commited as Pakistani policemen had been at frontlines of riot police that attacked demonstrators.

In an atmosphere where common Pakistanis are quite unsafe in the Kingdom, Pakistan  has not only quietly endorsed the intervention, but allowed the welfare wings of its military forces – Fauji Foundation and Bahria Foundation – to recruit about 1000 guards to bolster Bahrain’s security apparatus and the recruitment was not made secretly, instead the process was completed in very open way.

The reasons for the uprising in Bahrain are said to be more than just the political, the sources further revealed. The detailed analysis of the situation reflects that the political upheaval is being financed by some external factors and the sources point their fingers towards some hard core religious elements having strong presence in Pakistan and also towards the Iranian Government, thus both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain intend to use good offices of Pakistan Army and its intelligence wings to play their ole in bringing in peace and stability in the Gulf State.
Protests in Bahrain have been handled with brute force in Bahrain
Foreign Office has confirmed that the The Foreign Minister of Bahrain will discuss security cooperation and internal political situation of the country with Pakistani leadership. During his hectic visit, he will meet President Zardari, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the military leadership in a very short span of time. The two sides will discuss further strengthening security cooperation and additional steps, sources revealed. Bahrain may formally furnish a request for Pakistan army contingents to be deployed with the GCC Shield Force in troubled areas as well as a request to ISI and Military Intelligence (MI) for using their good offices to establish contacts and facilitate parlays between the Bahrain Government and the right wing forces as well as in direct talks between Iran and Bahrain, sources confided with confidentiality. ‘Pakistan is the only country that can help Bahrain in bringing in the political stability in the country and thus a request is expected to be made for an active Pakistani role in the greater regional and trans regional interest’, sources said. But any decision will be taken keeping the sensitivities and threats in mind, the sources assured.

Meanwhile some brain storming is being done between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for revival of an already expired defense agreement between Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and an initial discussion has been made during the recent visit of Saudi National Security Chief, however few changes will be made in the previous agreement if any progress in this regard is made, sources in the diplomatic circles maintained.  

Friday, March 18, 2011

Release of Raymond Davis: Ghairat Brigade Activated Against the System. US Revives Ties with Pakistan. Government Retreating to its Shell?

By Aijaz Ahmed
Raymond Davis, undated photo. Courtesy AP
How important was Raymond Davis for United States or its interests in the South Asian Region is evident from the developments, which  started taking place within 24 hours of the secret deal that saw CIA spy flying off from his detention cell in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore on charges of double murder. Strong signals are received in Islamabad that US has started working on modalities to resume the high level interactions with Pakistan that had been held up because of the row. However, much water has flown under the bridges and the situation is not as easy as Establishments of both sides would presume it to be. Reason is very simple: the 'ghairat (honor) brigade' is activated to grab the advantage and cash in the public anger against the democratic system in the country and some sections of the traditional anti democracy elements in the agencies are said to be providing behind the scene support to keep pressure on the federal and the provincial governments and the United States. 
Following the release of Davis the Pakistani mission in Washington has become center of activity for revival of stalled Pak-US relations, sources confirmed. It is being said that on Thursday both sides (State Department and Pak Embassy) resumed their interaction after almost six long and tryring weeks and the first thing they took up was rescheduling of the meetings that could not be held —  Strategic Dialogue and other bilateral engagements. Trilateral meeting and Zardari’s delayed US visit also came under discussion. Pakistan government, however, faces intense pressure at home to fully disclose the deal that earned Davis freedom.

The new dates of Trilateral meeting were fixed and the schedule of Zardari's US visit was about to be announced, while the deadly Drone Attack in Datt Khel (North Waziristan) added  fuel to the fire which was already burning very strong on the issue of the release of Mr. Davis in dubious circumstances.

It is interesting to note that nobody at the GHQ, the federal government or Punjab is ready to take responsibility of the deal that had been struck between the families of the deceased Faizan and Fahim shot by Mr. Davis in Lahore on January 27th. The reaction of ruling party of Punjab, the PML-N is quite interesting. The CM and the Law minister Punjab are said to be direct part of the activities that were going on behind the scene to convince aggrieved families for accepting blood money are not just refusing their role, but they along with the party leadership in the parliament are demanding a public statement from prime Minister Gillani on the release. Reaction of Ch. Nisar, Ahsan iqbal, Pervez Rasheed, Zafar Ali Shah, Khwaja Asif and Khwaja Saad Rafique was quite interesting. While terming the release a big crime, Ch. Nisar Ali Khan the PML-N central leader and leader of the opposition in National Assembly threatened the government that his party will agitate the issue in the parliament and launch a protest during President Zardari’s speech to the joint sitting of the Parliament on 22nd March.

On the other hand , sources strongly confirm and the media sticks with the revelations that Punjab Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah had reportedly visited the Kot lakhpat Jail early morning Wednesday. The Punjab Police sources have revealed that the law minister arrived in the jail at 3:30 early morning, followed by Judge Mr Ojla who is said to have held his court in jail compound on Charpai’s (local made beds), and completed the whole proceeding before 6 in the morning.

Nisar and his coterie while in their reaction ignored another fact that the prosecution was under their own government in Punjab; Raymond Davis was in their custody and IG Punjab himself was conducting an inquiry. The case was within the provincial jurisdiction, but nobody in the PML-N hawks takes these facts into account. They have become part of the chorus demanding disclosure of details of new agreement on CIA-ISI cooperation. The only information in the public knowledge is that ISI and CIA reworked their parameters of cooperation. But, what would be its implications in the long run remains to be seen. On the other hand, the PPP hawks like faisal Raza Abidi and Law Minister Sindh Mr Ayaz Soomro have joined certain PML-N leaders’ demand for a suo moto action on the release by Chief Justice. PPP has maintained a position that it has accepted the court decision as per commitment and that was also accepted by the Punjab Government. The provincial prosecution department under chief prosecutor and law minister Rana Sana Ullah failed to file an appeal against his bail on other charges like illegal arms and spy gadgets.

In fact PML-N intends to control the damage done by its direct involvement and not let the 'ghairat brigade' to destabilize its government in Punjab, as the traditional ghairat (honor) brigade (including some TV Anchors) ran amok after CIA operative Raymond Davis’ release through payment of blood money accusing the federal and provincial governments and military and intelligence services of bartering national interest and a secret sell out.

Television bulletins and talk shows are still filled with emotional talk of capitulation without anyone giving consideration to the fact that the country could have ill afforded the continuation of the dispute, which during the past two months had brought the entire Pak-US relationship to a standstill and was ominously threatening the strategic partnership. The US Embassy and its Consulate in Pakistan have been closed for indefinite period, and one thing was quite evident that the outburst of emotions pushed the government into shell. There was no comment from the government – not a single line from presidency, or the foreign office on this very important development, except a single liner from the prime Minister Gillani that court order is accepted as per commitment.  Fear of a backlash was so intense in the government circles that Foreign Office canceled its Thursday weekly media briefing. This gave a field day to right wingers, who used the opportunity to the hilt and lashed out at the government and the military.

It is quite obvious and is reported by Indus Herald earlier and is being confirmed by the global media reports that the two spy agencies had first resolved their own differences before the jailed CIA spy flew from Lahore to Bagram Airbase. One thing could be said with surety is that the deal, which had President Obama’s nod, could mark a serious change in the ISI-CIA collaboration parameters. ISI is said to have got advantage to a certain extent, but there are indications that military leadership has also agreed to address the American concerns that in the first place pushed it to developing its own network inside Pakistan for infiltrating jehadi groups.

One obvious indication in this respect came from ISAF Commander Gen Petraeus in his testimony before the US Senate Armed Services Committee, where he said: “we are coordinating closely with the Pakistani Army to conduct ISAF operations that will provide the anvil on the Afghan side of the Durand Line against which Pakistani Taliban elements can be driven by Pakistani operations in the border areas.”

This, military sources, confirmed implied that Pakistan had agreed to prioritize military operations against extremists having safe havens in its tribal belt, which had so far been not possible because of military compulsions. Would that mean Pak army operation in North Waziristan? It could be anyone’s guess.

Closing Note: Following the strong reaction by General Kiani on US drone attack killing forty five civilian jirga members in Data Khel, the government of Pakistan lodged strong protest with Unted States. In a rare incident, the US Ambassador was summoned at Foreign Office to lodge a protest and was handed over a written complaint in this regard. The government has also announced boycotting the upcoming trilateral meeting and has also indicated another delay of President Zardari’s visit until an apology is tendered by United States Government and a commitment is given for not making such attacks. Sources in the government are of the view that the boycott is decided in “consultation” with the military leadership and in the context of the pressure being exerted by the Ghairat brigade. The Foreign office first time in recent history issued two separate statements over a single issue. The first statement issued by Foreign office said:

“In pursuance of the directives of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, the US Ambassador, Mr. Cameron Munter was summoned to the Foreign Office today by Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and a strong protest was made regarding yesterday’s Drone attacks that caused many casualties.”

According to the statement, ‘Ambassador Munter was categorically conveyed that such strikes were not only “unacceptable” but also constituted “a flagrant violation of humanitarian norms and law”. It was evident that the fundamentals of our relations need to be revisited. Pakistan should not be taken for granted nor treated as a client state. It was for the White House and the State Department to hold back those who have been trying to veer Pakistan-US relationship away from the track.

‘Ambassador Munter was also conveyed that under the current circumstances, Pakistan would not be able to participate in the Trilateral meeting between Afghanistan-Pakistan-US, proposed by the US in Brussels on 26 March 2011. The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, was initially expected to participate in the trilateral meeting.

Ambassador Munter said that he understood clearly that this was not a proforma demarche. He will rush to Washington to convey Pakistan’s message to the US Administration at the highest levels.’

Second statement issued on behalf of newly appointed state minister for foreign affairs, Ms. Rabbani Khar stated:

“Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar has strongly condemned the Drone attacks in which a number of innocent lives were lost yesterday.

“Minister of State stressed that yesterday’s Drone strikes were not only counter productive but also in flagrant disregard of Pakistan’s sovereignty and international principles and norms. Such strikes constitute a matter of serious concern and raises issues regarding respect for human rights and humanitarian law. Irresponsible and unlawful conduct cannot be justified on any grounds.

“Minister of State added that in view of the Drone attacks, Pakistan would be unable to participate in the trilateral meeting between Pakistan-Afghanistan-US, proposed for 26 March 2011 at Brussels.”

Notes From My Memory, Part V, by Mir Thebo: 4th March 1967: A Day That Gave Sindh A New Beginning

During Ayub era, divisional commissioners were more powerful than the ministers. They were all powerful and behaved like kings in their divisions. They wanted to exert complete control over everything under their ‘domain’ including the universities. Bureaucrats never have any regard for the educational institutions though they were students themselves once before reaching their positions of authority. There is always a conflict between bureaucrats and heads of educational institutions. Some educational administrators including Vice Chancellors of universities never allow the bureaucracy to interfere in their institutions. They have high regard for the highest seats of learning. They keep the dignity above everything. They never allow the police or army to take over the educational institutions or interfere in the policy matters of the institutions.
General Ayub Khan

In the Ayub regime, commissioners were also the members of university syndicate with governors being the chancellors. At that time the governor of West Pakistan was the Iron-Man, the Nawab of Kalabagh, Malik Amir Mohammad Khan. During a Sindh University syndicate meeting, Vice Chancellor of Sindh University, Hassan Ali Abdul Rehman, a highly educated man from a reputed educationist family, put forward a proposal that commissioners should not be members of the university syndicate. The Commissioner Hyderabad Division, Masroor Ahsan and the Governor didn’t like VC's proposal. After the meeting, the governor used a bad word for VC. Though Nawab Kalabagh was also student of Atchison and Oxford but rulers damn care about the education.

Apart from that proposal, they both were against the introduction of Sindhi language in M.A. examinations. Punjabis are a curious nation. They love Pakistan but they don’t like their own mother tongue. Punjabi language never developed or introduced even in Punjab. They love conquerors, Iranians, Arabs, Central Asians and Afghans, who butchered and robbed the people of the Indian sub-continent. They hate heroes who resisted foreigners. Any way, the idea of choosing and imposing Urdu as a national and official language, has a link to the policy to rule and subjugate other nations in Pakistan. In 1952, Bengalis resisted imposition of Urdu and sacrificed their lives. Government ultimately bowed down and accepted the Bengali language as a national language. But Sindhis were not so politically aware to put forward the demand forcefully.
Gov. Amir Mohammad Khan

Commissioner Masroor Ahsan couldn't tolerate VC Hassan Ali Abdul Rehman and wanted to get rid of him. When university students came to know of the moves to remove the VC, the activist students started to wake up the politically ‘sleeping’ Sindhi students.

Politically Unaware, Raw Youth:

At that time, Sindhi students were not politically charged as they are today. They were like ‘raw youth’ in Dostoyevsky’s short story of that name. They were never engaged in any political activities in the past. If you would go to them asking for boycotting the classes, they would be very reluctant and would say ‘no, our parents have not sent us for politics’. Many students would not feel happy if in a class when a teacher was giving them a lecture, some students came and asked them to boycott the class. In such conditions, we have to do some ugly things for the greater cause. Political workers are trained for this so we knew the art of exploiting the emotions of our politically virgin students.

In 1967, Yousuf Laghari was a very popular student leader. He was the president of the Sindh University Students Union. He was also president of Hyderabad Students Federation (HSF) affiliated with Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP). Jam Saqi was General Secretary and I was the Press Secretary. Yousuf was not the member of CPP but he was a sympathizer of the party. We always tried to put him under party discipline but Yousuf never cared about the rules. He was free like a bird. He was the student of political science. Though he didn’t have money, he never cared about that. Sometimes he couldn’t pay the mess bill. He was staying at very shabby hostel in Guru Nagar in a barrack like room with four other teacher students in MED. He would always be smiling and make jokes with everybody. Every one liked him very much. To show love for him, students used to call him Mama (maternal uncle). The people who knew him then would vouch that he still is the same whether he is a renowned lawyer or advocate general of Sindh. (He recently resigned from that position). Sometimes he uses vulgar language with friends but they don’t mind.
Yousuf Laghari

When Yousuf Laghari knew that the government was planning to replace the VC, he took in confidence the students of Sindh University, Liaquat Medical College (now university) and SU Engineering College (also a university now) and took out every day a procession with students inside the buses because he knew they were shy and also a little bit in fear and will not come on the streets. He was a good tactician. So everyday, the students shouted slogans from inside the buses, Masroor Kuta (DOG) Hi Hi. Buses would come from Jam Shoro through the city to the commissioner's office. Sometimes raised advanced slogans like One Unit Murdabad. Students would become mad at us and will say: 'you people will put us in a hell. Don’t raise such slogans. We are not political'.

4th March 1967:

It became an everyday routine. It was a very peaceful movement: no strike, no shops closed and no violence. It was like “Intifada” of Sindhi students. After some time the city administration became tired and irritated, so they decided to stop it with force. It was the morning of 4th March, 1967 when as the students coming from Jam Shoro on the buses, reached near the place where now Rajputana Hospital stands (in those days both sides of the road were nothing but water logged land filled with saline water), huge contingents of police blocked the road and stopped the buses and very ruthlessly started taking the students out of the buses and beating them mercilessly. Some students ran into the dirty water to get away but police caught them and beat them up.
General area where the 4th March incident took place. Photo from Internet
 Many students were injured and admitted in the city hospital. 207 students were arrested and sent to the central prison. Yousuf Laghari, Yousuf Talpur, Masood Noorani and Kamil Rajpar were among the arrested students. In the evening, rumors spread that many students were killed but in fact no one was killed. It was a gloomy evening. SU old campus looked like a ghost place. Jam Saqi was arrested from the old campus. I was not arrested on that day and as the press secretary of HSF, I went to the press offices to condemn high handedness of the authority. For the first time, the press was very much sympathetic and expressed sorrow at the event. In those days, the press was not as outspoken as it is today. The newspapers were afraid of the administration and journalists would not even like to meet or have a cup of tea with us. Today many newspapers give a look of political pamphlets. Sometimes it is more political than the politicians and more nationalist than the nationalists.
Sindh University, Old Campus

Two days after the incident, all Sindhi papers wrote editorials in support of students. Two Urdu journalists, Mubin from Huriat and Iqbal Hamid from Jang also sympathized with us but a line was drawn between the Urdu and Sindhi students because the commissioner was Urdu speaking and VC was Sindhi speaking. The party (Communist Party) tried hard to unite the students. In this connection, we arranged a joint demonstration at Gari Khata, Hyderabad to break the 144 rule with trade union workers and students. Most of trade union workers were Urdu speaking. Because of the harassment, we were only two students in the demonstration, me and Ghulam Qadir Palijo. He was student of Agriculture College Tando Jam (now university). We all were arrested. Authorities never liked to see students unite with the workers. After arresting us, S.P. said in a hatred: 'you stupid, why are you with the workers'? They didn’t like solidarity between students and workers.

The news of the incident spread throughout Sindh like wild fire. All sections of the society, lawyers, Doctors, shopkeepers and some landlords were sympathetic to us. R.B. Palijo became very active for the release of the students. Lawyers Defense Committee was formed. The most inspired section of the population was the writers and poets. They started writing poetry and stories with full of national sentiments. Shaikh Ayaz wrote the famous verse "Sindhri Te Sir Ker Na Deendo Sahando Ker Mayaar O Yaar, Jhol Jhali Jadehn Bhitai, Kiranda Kandh Hazaar O Yaar'. It was really a new beginning in Sindh with people rising from a long slumber.

All the students were released in a few days.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Islamic Law Saves Raymond Davis - Joint Saudi-ISI-CIA Mission Successful! Indus Herald Exclusive Report on Behind the Scene Moves

By Aijaz Ahmed
DoD ID card of US official Raymond Davis
Islamabad: Finally the cat is out of the bag! The long simmering diplomatic row between US and Pakistan is over. The two countries found a safe way out of the crisis as the joint Saudi-ISI-CIA mission was successful in saving the neck of US Embassy official, Raymond Davis who was accused in the double murder case in Lahore. And it was Islamic Sharia law of Qasas and Diyat, which came to the rescue of the US official. As the standoff, which had created tension between the two countries, came to an end, it was obvious who made the deal possible but it will be the politicians and the political governments at the center and the Punjab province who are to take the blame in the eyes of many.

“Wait, an out of box solution is finally reached and will be unleashed in a few hours” was the assertion of sources at Foreign Office of Pakistan just few hours before the news of Raymond’s release hit the media channels and social networks. Moments later, TV channels were telecasting the news through their breaking news alerts informing the public that Raymond Davis was pardoned by the aggrieved families of Fahim Shamshad and Faizan, the two young men shot dead by Raymond Davis on January 27th in Lahore, Pakistan.

Rana Sanaullah, the spokesman of the Government of Punjab, and the provincial law minister while confirming the news, maintained that US official Raymond Davis was released on court orders after the aggrieved families pardoned him after receiving blood money under Qasas and Diyat laws. He was bit confused on the amount paid as blood money and about the sources who provided that money. He, however, confirmed in a decisive tone and with surety that all the 18 legal and sharai heirs of Fahim and Faizan were present in the court and all of them in front of the judge pardoned Raymond Davis and then he was released.

A few minutes later Asad Manzoor Butt, a lawyer of the aggrieved families, claimed that he was kept in habeas corpus by jail authorities for few hours. He alleged that the signatures by the families were taken on gunpoint. It was his statement that created doubts regarding the whole story. Meanwhile along with the confirmed reports regarding the safe but a hurried departure of Raymond Davis to Afghanistan, his medical check up and a confirmation by the state department made the situation complex. The reactions were confused, and suddenly a blame game started.

Rana Sanaullah got furious when asked if Punjab Government had played the role of a facilitator instead of the prosecutor. He took refuge of the court decision and same was the position taken by the PPP government in Center. Qamar Zaman Kaira, the information secretary of Pakistan Peoples Party while terming the release a vindication of party’s stand observed that the "court has decided the Raymond Davis case in accordance with country’s constitution and law”. In a statement issued here by the PPP Central Secretariat, Kaira said that the government right from beginning of the case had been saying that Raymond’s issue was in the court and whatever decision it would take in this regard, the government would accept it. He said that the verdict was an endorsement of the principled stance of PPP. He said that the heirs of the deceased themselves appeared in the court and forgave Raymond and accepted blood money.

Assessing the situation and to control damage done by the statement of Senator Kerry earlier, The US Ambassador Cameron Munter tried to ease out the tense situation created by furious Pakistan media by saying that the US Justice Department had started investigations in to the Lahore incident. He however thanked both the central and the provincial governments for their positive roles and assured a full financial assistance in the present financial crunch the country is passing through. He and the state department spokesman in Washington denied any payment on account of Blood Money, while the sources in the jail, Punjab Police and the provincial government were telling different story. The sources while confirming the payment of blood money compensation claimed that Rs. 200 million were paid to 18 legal and sharai heirs of the two deceased. The TV Channels showed copies of the payment receipts and according to them, 10 family members of Faizan and 8 family members of Fahim received the blood money.

Family members of Fahim
Amount Paid
Father of Fahim
Rs. 11.1 million
Mother of Fahim
Rs. 33.3 million
Sisters  (2)
Rs. 5.5 muillion 55 thousand (each)
Brothers (4)
Rs. 11.1 million (each)

Family of Faizan

Mother of Faizan
Rs. 33.3 million
Widow of Fahim
Rs 25 million
Brother (3)
Rs. 7.5 million 77 thousand each
Sisters (5)
Rs. 3.7 million 87 thousand each

Grand Total
Rs. 206,851,000
Note: Widow of Fahim committed suicide and thus there was no compensation or blood money for her

Although United States denied any blood money payment, the receipts of the payments made are enough evidence of the fact that such a heavy amount was paid. But story does not end here; both the families are not in their houses. Both families shifted to some safe houses four days ago and they submitted new affidavits and changed their lawyers said the Punjab Law Minister.

As Punjab Law Minister denied any involvement of his government in settling the issue, and worthy leader of the opposition in National Assembly Ch. Nisar Ali Khan, other PML-N leaders Ahsan Iqbal, Khwaja Asif and Saad Rafique, in their vague statements tried to put all the blame on their opponent federal government and held it accountable, the sources placed in the CM House and Sharif Family are very much sure that Chotay Mian sahib the worthy Khadim e Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif played himself an important role and made it possible that a deal was struck. Senior Columnist Najam Sethi has maintained that Shahbaz had played an instrumental role in convincing the families. He was the one who also convinced families to accept US citizenship.

But the main players in the high drama of course were the army, the ISI, CIA and the Saudi Arabia. Sources in the defense sector are of the view that General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani met Admiral Mullen in Bahrain last month and it was agreed between the two that both security forces and allied spy agencies will resolve the issue and also will reduce tension between CIA and ISI. Next day the CIA Chief made a telephone call to ISI Chief General Pasha and thus road map was agreed. Siddiaq ul Farooq, a PML-N central leader confirmed that Saudi government played its role and made it possible for Punjab government actually led by Nawaz Sharif to settle the issue. It would be second time in recent history that Saudi government has played an active role in a controversial matter in Pakistan. First time it provided a safe exit to Nawaz Sharif and now Raymond Davis from custody of PML-N Government.

Shortly after the two high profile communications and follow up meetings in Islamabad and Washington, the Saudi Ambassador Abdul Aziz al Ghader got active. He kept shuttling between Islamabad and Lahore and finally got the family of Faizan to fly to Makah Mukarma to perform Umrah and hence the families gave up their resistance in receiving the blood money. Saudi ambassador in his meeting with the President earlier this month conveyed that the deal is struck and now the authorities can move forward. Here the powers that be entered the scene again and it was decided to replace the lawyer with Raja Irshad Kiani, a Supreme Court lawyer with dubious credentials. He is the lawyer who in the missing persons’ case had presented the statement of ISI, which admitted custody of some people in front of the Supreme Court and got the issue settled. Raja Irshad Kiani implemented the script and got Raymond released!

In addition, the CIA and ISI who were not at good terms, have agreed on some basic principles, sources in Islamabad claim. The United States in the deal has admitted that Raymond Davis had committed a crime and he will have this stigma for life from now onwards. Secondly a major point of understanding was reached between the two agencies that both agencies i. e. CIA and ISI will obey the basic principles of diplomacy. No under cover agent will cross his/her limits from the agreed role and will act in accordance with the control and command agreement reached between the two governments in Musharraf Regime and they will obey the diplomatic norms and the country law. No US agent will enter Pakistan without visa and a check will be kept on their activities. Some of the dubious agents are leaving Pakistan shortly. An important question still needs the answer, that why US was worried for a DoD contractor, answer is very simple: he still holds one of the top three important positions in CIA, a source in the US Embassy claimed

Closing words:  The judge who decided the case has gone on long leave, sources claimed. The families of Faizan and Fahim are also leaving for United States where they have been given citizenship! “All is well that ends well”!       

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Raymond Davis Fiasco, Other US Spies & Operatives in Pakistan & Role of Pakistani Agencies: IH Exclusive Story

By: Aijaz Ahmed

Although the Foreign Office has confessed in the Punjab High Court of having no record that can be used to give Raymond Davis the required diplomatic immunity to save him from the charge of double murder in Lahore, the question still persists why our worthy agencies had lost his track when he was issued visa on documents of an under cover agent and also that what several other US staffers are doing in Pakistan who are presently 'working' in Pakistan but have not been issued diplomatic card so far.

The issue on the legal front was finally resolved when Pakistan’s foreign office made it clear that it had no record so far that proved Raymond Davis a US diplomat. The confession made it clear that Raymond will have to face the trial in the double murder case and meet whatever fate as a consequence. It also indicated that all earlier claims of government pressure on the FO to declare Raymond a diplomat were without a substance. Contrarily the issue still needed to answer some questions: the documents available at the Foreign office clearly show that Raymond was issued work card by US Consulate Peshawar No 481951 in category E of the staff, but how suddenly he landed in Lahore, ending up as an accused in the double murder witnessed by dozens of people.

A reminder for giving diplomatic status to the staff members at Islamabad Chancery and/or Consulates at Lahore and Peshawar was sent to Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 25, 2011 carrying the names of 48 people (list is also posted), but the name of Mr. Davis was missing from that list. The status of the people in the list was not clear; however 17 members were issued diplomatic status while cases of the rest are pending.

Three days later, on the early morning of 28th January 2011, another list containing 55 names including some from the previous list was hurriedly sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Raymond was included in the list (List is also posted. He is at no. 5 in the list). The list contained names of staffers working at Lahore Consulate. According to the list, diplomatic status was claimed for Raymond Davis on January 20th, 2010. This shows that the US Embassy in Islamabad mishandled the issue at very early stage and thus complicated the situation.

According to the second list, Raymond Davis could be covered only under Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and not under Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Since the Convention on Consular Relations does not give immunity from the criminal acts, therefore the Embassy sent another communication on January 28th. The letter No 434/11 declared Raymond Davis a diplomat and member of technical staff at the US Embassy in Islamabad.

“The Embassy itself was not clear on the issue of Raymond Davis, how come we could have issued him diplomatic status short after the Lahore incident” said a foreign office official adding that the FO, immediately after the incident took place, asked US Embassy at Islamabad to clear the situation.  Indeed, the diplomatic status was asked for Mr. Davis in January 2010, but we asked certain questions regarding his background and no response what so ever was given by the embassy, the FO officials’ maintained. Reason for posing some questions from the Foreign Office was obvious; the record provided clearly indicated that he was a contractor of the Department of Defense (DoD) with cover from the Department of Veteran Affairs.

A US Embassy official on condition of anonymity observed that the two cards provided with record of Davis, i.e., the DoD Contractor Card, and the card issued by Department of Veterans Affairs are clear indication in the US diplomatic system that the holder of the card is a retired military personnel, but now an under cover agent of CIA. The person having two cards can be moved or deputed by the CIA any where in the world, and Pakistani agencies are aware of these facts, he added.

This is the point where serious questions on the performance of the agencies arise. The record was available, but no check on his movement was placed, sources in the foreign ministry have confessed. He was an under cover agent, but was moving freely, probably under the agreement on joint command and control system made by General Musharraf, sources added. By virtue of a criminal act of the murder of two Pakistanis, Raymond Davis is nabbed, but what about other US spies/operatives? The lists attached clearly suggest few names having the same credentials are still in Pakistan, they move quite freely, but they still are waiting for some clear status. Whether a check on their movement is placed or not is not clear so far. Foreign Office sources observed that ‘around 70 to 80 more US officials with dubious status are present in Pakistan and are waiting for their status, and what these operatives are doing on our soil is still not clear'.  

List of 1-48 of 55 US staffers in a reminder sent by US Embassy on 28th January 2011 to Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking for diplomatic status for them
List of 49-55 of 55 US staffers in a reminder sent by US Embassy on 28th January 2011 to Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking for diplomatic status for them
List of 48 US staffers in a reminder sent by US Embassy on 25th January 2011 to Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking for diplomatic status for them

Copy of the Department of Defense (DoD) Identity Card issued to Raymond Davis
Copy of the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Identity Card issued to Raymond Davis