Osama Bin Javaid's Blog

GUILTY – Until Proven Innocent in Pakistan

Posted in News, Pakistan Curent Affairs by osamabinjavaid on April 10, 2014

Pakistan’s government has passed the Protection of Pakistan bill into law refusing all suggested amendments by the opposition. Members of the national assembly boycotted proceedings as the government used its higher numbers to pass the bill. Some MPs tore copies of the bill, calling it a black law. Opposition members will be challenging the unconstitutional clauses of the law in court and build a public campaign against it.

 

Pakistan’s government is adamant to press ahead with a stricter new law which it says will help fight “terrorism” and criminal elements.
The proposed legislation, which treads the path of US’s homeland security act and other pieces of legislation, is raising unease among civil rights activists, who consider it a license to kill for Pakistan’s security forces.

Lawyers at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) have studied the ordinance and are concerned about the implications of some of the provisions.
“The extension of detention period from 30 days to 90 days is unrealistic. HRCP considers even 30 days is too long,” the group’s said in a statement. “Law enforcement agencies have been given powers to fire on suspicion (earlier it was in self-defence). We have already witnessed trigger-happy Rangers in Karachi, it will only make matters worse. We believe it legitimises disappearances. While it requires the authorities to inform families of those in custody, they are not bound to reveal the location. Denial of bail is another major concern.”

Although it’s believed that the law was actually drafted by the prime minister’s office but most influential members of the ruling Muslim League Nawaz party are reluctant to speak on the subject of protection of Pakistan ordinance. “Many believe it is due to not just the harsh provisions but also because of wringing from agencies.” Arshad Sharif is a senior security and political analyst. “PMLN is acting as if it’s president passed the law on gunpoint. The controversial law is a difficult one for a politician to attach his or her name, so you can imagine why senior members are being elusive. They’ve made a mistake in succumbing to pressure by issuing the ordinance, now they are looking for an honourable exit from the fiasco so they can blame the opposition for burying the PPO”.

Some members of the ruling party have brushed aside the concerns of activists. “They’re making noise and it’s their right to have their opinions. PPO was needed and it’s the prerogative of the president to issue an ordinance. Due to the ongoing security situation in the country, we urgently needed a comprehensive law to empower security forces to deal with various challenges”.
Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani is part of the ruling PMLN government and a member of a parliamentary committee. Vankwani says the introduction of this law does give the security forces powers to arrest anyone but now they have to bring those arrests on record. “There is political consensus for peace in the county and for that PPO is necessary, it just shouldn’t be misused. There are proper checks and balances to ensure no excesses are committed against anyone”. 

But that’s precisely what analysts fear will happen. Mirza Shahzad Akbar, co-founder of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, interprets the provision as cover for using torture and other means to force confessions.“Agencies will torture you to make a statement and that will be treated as admissible piece of evidence in court. It further brings in reverse burden of proof, which means the arresting agency will only put an allegation on probabilities that you are a terrorist and you will have to prove that you are not,” says Akbar.
Pakistan is a signatory of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). But the proposed legislation makes any statements given to law enforcement agencies admissible in court.

Some activists also disagree with the special provisions of the ordinance granting powers to take away the citizenship of residents once they are proven guilty. Critics say the language is vague and builds the case with “reasonable evidence” and puts the onus on the accused to prove themselves innocent.

The law seems to clash with the independence of judiciary. Under this ordinance, the executive will appoint fresh judges of their own choice which means the government can hand pick judges to protect its interests rather than them being independent adjudicators.

In February the lower house temporarily extended the ordinance despite protests from opposition parties. “Ordinances – we have always opposed them,” says Zohra Yusuf, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. “All bills should be placed before parliament which can be summoned if emergency legislation is needed.”

Legal experts believe he law could create a parallel judiciary in the guise of trying to quickly settle  cases.
“Nationalists [including separatists in Balochistan, Sindh, FATA and some areas of Punjab] are worried because they are the ‘usual suspects’ for Pakistan’s military, paramilitary and intelligence agencies. Because they demand rights based on their regional/ethnic interests, the Pakistani establishment sees them as ‘traitors’” says Zohra.

But Vankwani disagrees “Before the PPO security forces had no right to arrest or take custody, now all arrests will be in the knowledge of the government and address issues like that of missing people.”


New laws needed?

Opposition lawmakers say tough laws already exist to tackle political violence. Pakistan’s government needs to focus on implementing and improving existing laws, they say, rather than distracting itself by creating new ones. Many argue that current political and religious violence is due to the failure of basic policing and governance issues which cannot be fixed with more pieces of legislation.

Activists say they can understand the government’s desperation in confronting militancy but don’t agree with the proposed solutions.

Last month, Pakistan drew up its first ever National Security Policy. The government says it means business when it comes to reshaping the security environment in a decade old conflict which has claimed more than 50,000 lives.

 “There is no doubt that the government would want and actually does want to work on securing Pakistan but the approach doesn’t seem to be right. With laws like PPO the risk of creating more dissent is far greater than actually solving any issue.” says Akbar.
A senior government advisor likened the PPO to the US Patriot Act, an imposing law passed over a decade ago. 

Members of the PMLN say the law is meant to provide checks and balance on the activities of security forces. Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani says it is still being deliberated in the lower house. “By that time if talks with Taliban are successful, the law and order situation improves there might not be the need for this legislation and the government can pull the ordinance or law”

Rafia Zakaria is on the board of directors of Amnesty International. She disagrees with the direction taken by Pakistan’s government. “In a general sense the law represents the legacy of the war on terror… Reduction of rights for defendants, longer periods of detention without charges and the suspension of procedural safeguards,” she said.  “It also creates disproportionate criminalisation of impoverished communities with the poor, ethnic and religious minorities bearing the brunt of their burden.”

This is not the first time Pakistan’s government has tried to pass controversial security legislation.

In 2011, a presidential decree (which was later made into law) issued two similarly regulations to provide legal cover to the armed forces’ actions during the military operations in the tribal areas called the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation, 2011 for FATA and PATA.

Recently, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered a meeting between a man booked under these laws and his family. Tasif (alias Danish) was picked up two years ago and his father-in-law says he seems to have been badly tortured during his incarceration. The security forces had been denying custody of Tasif when he went missing. Then he suddenly appeared in detention.

“What kind of fraud are you committing with the people?” a judge said to the Additional Attorney General representing government agents. “For the last two years we kept on asking about him and you kept denying you knew. What will the people think? Are our intelligence agencies always lying? What kind of country is this?”

Human Rights campaigners believe that toughening of laws is not a solution. There are enough terror-related laws as well as anti-terrorist courts. The main issues are of enforcement and prosecution. The evidence against those charged with terrorism is usually so poor that over 60 percent are acquitted by the courts 

Vankwani is confident that the PMLN government will not tolerate if random people are picked up by agencies but he feels that it’s worth facing opposition in giving a free hand to security forces to take action on targetable intelligence. “PPO is not meant to allow violation of human rights but to improve the current situation and an attempt to bring those (like the ones responsible for missing people) under a system of accountability.”

But those fighting to keep civil liberties say that concrete steps are needed to establish the writ of the state, until then, the crutches of ordinances to stumble clear of tough decisions will be ineffective in saving lives or providing any lasting solution.  


From AlJazeera Website 

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Musharraf: a landmark indictment for Pakistan’s democracy and constitution

Posted in News, Pakistan Curent Affairs by osamabinjavaid on March 31, 2014

Pakistan’s once most powerful man – a dictator, former military chief and president – has been indicted of high treason under the constitution of Pakistan. A first indictment for a military dictator in a country which has been predominantly ruled by them. When Musharraf ended his exile many wondered why he would give up an easy life in Dubai and London – maybe it was fate.

The former commando was adamant – saying he came back to save his country.”I was thinking the government would call me back, and would say ‘Save Pakistan’ but that did not happen. Today my nation ordered me to come back. I came back, putting my life in danger, to save Pakistan.” said Musharraf after landing to a small crowd in Karachi.

He failed to see that it wasn’t the same Pakistan which he ruled ten years ago – the judges who forced him out, were now powerful. Many were amazed at the stunt because Musharraf was forced out of power by the judiciary he tried to rule. And court cases piled up against him. Political analyst Mosharraf Zaidi says Musharraf represents a huge baggage  for the military and it’s unlikely he’ll spend any time behind bars.

Musharraf faces criticism for shortcomings ranging from
Benazir Bhutto’s killing , killing a Baloch separatist leader Akbar Bugti, mishandling of Lal Masjid ,  allowing U.S. drone attacks on Pakistan, sending Pakistanis for torture abroad , selling detainees for dollars , depriving Pakistan of economic boom at the start of the millennium and systematically destroying Pakistan’s institutions and many many more.

He had taken refuge in his farmhouse (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fvrxd812huk) and avoided several court hearings to escape indictment. Bombs were found, a Taliban letter was produced and in the most dramatic of the moves he fell “sick” during a drive to the court. Now Musharraf’s ailing mother has been taken to hospital in Dubai – and his lawyers are preparing a case to get his name off the exit control list to allow him to leave Pakistan.

But controversy was nothing new for Musharraf. In 1999 Indian and Pakistani troops came close to war in the Kashmiri area north of Kargil. During that conflict General Musharraf was plotting how to rule Pakistan. And he took power in a bloodless coup and later named himself President.

Then, two years later, after the September 11 attacks, Musharraf decided to align Pakistan with the so-called U.S. war on terror. Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the Former Jamat i Islami chief  said the general buckled. “General Musharraf is under American pressure, this is not a war against terror this is a war against Islam”

Musharraf then supported the invasion of Afghanistan…though he later said the US had threatened to bomb Pakistan unless it joined the fight against al-Qaeda. Musharraf was in a fine balancing act. Managing a US-Pakistan relationship on one hand and trying not to completely sever ties with tribal fighters on the other.

Believed to have given approval for U.S. drones to operate from Pakistan, Musharraf also had to sign agreements with tribal fighters in the north. But his approach failed to stop the resurgence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda –whose attacks killed more than 50,000 Pakistanis in the last ten years. For the first time Pakistan had to deploy troops to the north to stop fighters from operating in Afghanistan. On the eastern border the relationship with India also saw some major lows.

And all his efforts to improve the economy were forgotten when Musharraf came under fire at home. The suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry in March 2007 triggered street demonstrations by lawyers and the civil society. And opposition parties also joined the protests. His political legitimacy was under attack – and the movement eventually led to Musharraf’s humiliating resignation.

And that’s where the spiral to the ground began. Musharraf returned to Pakistan despite these and many legal and political problems including from Taliban fighters – who tried to assassinate him three times during his time in office. He also found the hard way that he had very little support on the ground and all those who support him on social media aren’t voters in Pakistan.

Here are the formal charges he faces.

General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf may be formally charged as under:

a) Firstly, on 3rd November, 2007 at Rawalpindi as Chief of the Army Staff, he issued an unconstitutional and unlawful “Proclamation of Emergency Order, 2007” which, unconstitutionally and unlawfully, held the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 in abeyance and he thereby subverted the Constitution and thus committed the offence of high treason punishable under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 (Act LXVIII of 1973), which is within the jurisdiction of the Special Court established under section 4 of The Criminal Law Amendment (Special Courts) Act, 1976 (XVII of 1976).

b) Secondly, on 3rd November, 2007 at Rawalpindi as Chief of the Army Staff, he issued an unconstitutional and unlawful “Provisional Constitution Order No. 1 of 2007” which, unconstitutionally and unlawfully, empowered the President to amend the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 from time to time and he also suspended the Fundamental Rights enshrined in Articles 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 19 and 25 of the Constitution and he thereby subverted the Constitution and thus committed the offence of high treason punishable under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 (Act LXVIII of 1973), which is within the jurisdiction of the Special Court established under section 4 of The Criminal Law Amendment (Special Courts) Act, 1976 (XVII of 1976).

c) Thirdly, on 3rd November, 2007 at Rawalpindi as President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, he issued an unconstitutional and unlawful “Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2007” whereby an oath was, unconstitutionally and unlawfully, introduced in the Schedule which required a judge to abide by the provisions of the Proclamation of Emergency dated 03.11.2007 and the Provisional Constitutional Order dated 03.11.2007 to perform acts and functions in accordance thereof and this order also resulted in removal of numerous judges of the superior courts including the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan and he thereby subverted the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 and thus committed the offence of high treason punishable under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 (Act LXVIII of 1973), which is within the jurisdiction of the Special Court established under section 4 of The Criminal Law Amendment (Special Courts) Act, 1976 (XVII of 1976).

d) Fourthly, on 20th November, 2007 at Rawalpindi as President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, he issued an unconstitutional and unlawful Order 5 of 2007 “Constitution (Amendment) Order, 2007” whereby Articles 175, 186-A, 198, 218, 270B and 270C were, unconstitutionally and unlawfully, amended and Article 270AAA was added to the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 and he thereby subverted the Constitution and thus committed the offence of high treason punishable under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 (Act LXVIII of 1973), which is within the jurisdiction of the Special Court established under section 4 of The Criminal Law Amendment (Special Courts) Act, 1976 (XVII of 1976).

e) Fifthly, on 14th December, 2007 at Rawalpindi as President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, he issued an unconstitutional and unlawful Order 6 of 2007 “Constitution (Second Amendment) Order, 2007” whereby the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 was, unconstitutionally and unlawfully, amended and he thereby subverted the Constitution and thus committed the offence of high treason punishable under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 (Act LXVIII of 1973), which is within the jurisdiction of the Special Court established under section 4 of The Criminal Law Amendment (Special Courts) Act, 1976 (XVII of 1976).

The special court set up to try Musharraf has rejected his plea to visit his sick mother and seek cardiac treatment abroad. The court says removing his name on the exit control list is the prerogative of the government.

Stephen Cohen is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a South Asia Analyst. He says if Pakistan’s judiciary becomes vengeful, it will lose all the ground it’s recovered since ousting a dictator from power.” I’d hate to see the Pakistani system turn into a revenge system. The courts, judiciary and even the military should let justice take its course. But not treat him abusively. He’s been humiliated, he’s been disgraced but you don’t want to begin a process of hanging people of charges many others are guilty of.” said Cohen.

And that’s his defence so far. His supporters insist that it was necessary at that time to remove a democratically elected prime minister and Musharraf did not act alone. Legal experts agree that the constitution is clear that whoever “aided and abetted” in the acts of treason must face justice. Some argue that Musharraf’s case should be the beginning and all those politicians, judges, bureaucrats and generals who helped Musharraf subvert the constitution must now face the music. But the trail must not become a farce and individuals must be given a fair chance to defend themselves.

His critics call Musharraf a victim of his own vanity and arrogance. And now he faces the possibility of the death penalty. Although most commentators do not believe that he will face the death penalty BUT this indictment has set a precedent for future adventurers in the garb of patriotism and doctrine of necessity.

For Musharraf perhaps it’s the legacy he wanted to have – that of insisting on defiance with not much defence in the face of obvious repercussions.

 

Afzal Guru: Justice or blotch on India’s justice system

Posted in News by osamabinjavaid on February 9, 2013

No formal curfew but cable and internet service is suspended in Indian occupied Kashmir.

The steps have been taken after the man accused of plotting to attack the Indian parliament (in 2001) has been hanged.

Many believe that  Afzal Guru’s trial does not meet international standards for a fair trial.

He should have had due process, legal counsel and the presumption of innocent until proven guilty – all elements which were denied to the accused.

Afzal Guru was a fruit vendor from a small Kashmiri town alleged to have links with the banned group Jaish E Muhammad.

He was arrested with four others in 2001. One of the accused was acquitted and the death sentences of the other two were commuted.

The accused who was acquitted says the Indian machinery has carried out a grave injustice.

SAR Geelani says Guru was not provided a lawyer and even his family wasnt informed.

Guru’s wife Tabassum says she did not know that her clemency appeal had been rejected.

Under the law she has the right to meet her husband before the execution.

She insists the family has been threatened for years and her husband was tortured in jail.

But apart from the family and co-accused, rights groups have also blasted Indian authorities.

Human Rights Watch has condemned the execution. The group said in a statement that ‘the hanging of Afzal Guru, following closely behind the hanging of Ajmal Kasab in November, shows a very worrying trend by the Indian government.’

And the trend is deep entrenched in jingoistic media which has cheered executions – even in muddled circumstances.

Zee TV and others, with the consent of the government were involved a long media trial and even a film which falls under trying to prejudice an ongoing trial.

The police used the media to build their “guilty” plea by forcing Afzal Guru on a TV confession.

Sensible journalists’ pleas that he was disturbed and questions about a Bollywood-style confession were not heard by the courts.

Even Afzal Guru’s retracting his confession didn’t matter.

Questions will continue to haunt the dispensers of justice about the evidence and confession under duress which they used to build a case against Guru.

The death sentence is based on circumstantial evidence shrouded in procedural irregularities.

It’s unclear why Delhi High Court acknowledged that the investigating agency fabricated evidence yet upheld the verdict.

Opinion in India itself  is divided on whether a death penalty was warranted.

Dealing with terrorism is tricky business and involves treading a fine line between justice and joining the extremes.

Whether it was Kasab or Guru, they were both executed in a build-up to elections and the budget. Political considerations have played a huge role in these executions as the BJP and Congress fight for votes.

Justice in the world’s largest democracy remains shady despite India signing the International convention on civil and human rights back in 1979.

As one of my favourite authors aptly puts it “Democracy without justice is Demon-Crazy”

——————

Another good read: Clemency — for the right reasons http://www.hindu.com/2006/10/09/stories/2006100901901000.htm

Protected: South to North; Pakistan in 20 days

Posted in News, Pakistan Curent Affairs by osamabinjavaid on January 26, 2013

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ZulfiLeaks: MQM Secretariat address

Address on MQM.org

Address on MQM.org

MQM International Secretariat Address on Altaf Hussain's Letter

MQM International Secretariat Address on Altaf Hussain’s Letter

MQM International Secretariat Address on WhoIs Search (Note the address on top)

MQM International Secretariat Address on WhoIs Search (Note the address on top)

MQM International Secretariat Address WhoIs Search URL

MQM International Secretariat Address WhoIs Search URL

MQM says the address is incorrect on Altaf Hussain’s letter to Tony Blair that was provided by Zulfiqar Mirza. Interestingly the same address on MQM.ORG is registered till 2014. MQM’s secretariat address on their official website is 54 – 58, First Floor, Elizabeth House, High Street Edgware, Middlesex, HA8 7EJ, United Kingdom while the address on the letter is 70 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5ES. The latter address is registered to handle MQM’s official website.

The address is also present on a press release on MQM.org http://www.mqm.org/English-News/Dec-2000/news001208a.htm

In case it is removed:

The header is — MQM SEEKS VIEW OF THE WORKERS AND PEOPLE WHETHER TO REMAIN PART OF THE ALLIANCE FOR RESTORATION OF DEMOCRACY (A R D).

Dated: Karachi-8 December 2000
The address says — The workers and the public could also send their views to the MQM International Secretariat, London on the following address. MQM International Secretariat
70 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5ES, United Kingdom.
Phone No: 00 44 20 8358 9000, Fax. No: 00 44 20 8905 9527
Email:
mqm@mqm.org

As the guns of Karachi continue to incinerate, the torture on the streets is ongoing and innocents continue to fall; so does the bickering between the power echelons. The PPP and the MQM are the beneficiaries of the Karachi vote bank and so are responsible for its tribulations. In the past nine months at least one person has been killed every hour on the streets of Karachi – NON STOP! Someone, somewhere must feel the pain….as my city continues to bleed!!!

 

PS: Here is the full letter…worth reading

 

AltafLetter

For the record; The infamous Benazir-Peter Letter

Here is the letter MQM’s Mustafa Kamal referred to and  an email I received from Peter Galbraith (Not Gabriel) when I came across this letter. Peter Galbraith calls it a forgery and a crude hoax. I had forgotten about this until today when Mr Kamal made a reference to this letter asking why the media doesnt pick on this and continues to play on Zulfiqar Mirza’s allegations that Altaf Hussain wrote a letter to Tony Blair offering him support of thousands of followers. I havent heard from Mr Blair’s office yet but will share it as soon as we can verify or deny the contents of the letter.

From: Peter Galbraith <>
To: Osama Javaid <>Dear Osama,

This letter was exposed as a crude hoax 20 years ago. I cannot imagine why this forgery is being recycled today. There are many obvious signs of forgery and I won’t go through all of them. But, here are a few:

1. The forger misspelled my name. It is “Galbraith” not “Gailbraith”. Benazir and I were very close friends. She was also very close to my family, including my father who was a well known personality at Harvard and in South Asia. It is impossible that she would misspell the Galbraith family name.

2. I worked for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1990, and have never worked for the National Democratic Institute. Benazir knew this very well since she had practically lived in my office at various times in the 1980s.

3. Benazir was a Pakistani patriot who never advocated cutting off aid to Pakistan and would never have wanted Indian troops on the Pakistani border.

I was amazed that there were journalists and editors in Pakistan who actually fell for this hoax. I am sure you and Dawn are sophisticated enough to spot this obvious fraud which leads me to wonder why you have written me about it.

All the best

Peter Galbraith

Of “STEALTH” swimsuits and defence through press releases…

Cassius said in Julius Caesar, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars — but in ourselves…”

A spokesperson of the ISPR has strongly refuted reports in the media quoting unnamed US sources that elements in Pakistan security forces tipped off terrorists helping them to escape the purported IED factories in Waziristan. This assertion is totally false and malicious and the facts on ground are contrary to it. Explaining further the spokesperson said that intelligence information was received regarding four compounds suspected of being used as IED making facilities. Operations were launched on all. Two were found to be used as IED making facilities and have been destroyed. Information on other to proved to be incorrect. Some persons have been arrested and they are under investigation.

Why is it that these claims are repeatedly being made? Why is the Pakistani military establishment under the microscope after the Abbottabad incident? How many of us were surprised when the actual story surfaced alleging Panetta showed the Pakistani military of the militant factories CIA tipped them about and then before they could attack, militants fled.

PNS Mehran was a classic example where the finger pointers forgot that it was their own inefficiencies that led to the attack and failure to protect their assets. Why was there a 50 yr old barbed wire protection for billions of rupees of taxpayers money? why werent there CCTV cameras? why weren’t the checkposts manned? why did no one pay heed to the previous attacks on navy? why was there no intelligence? why were the lights switched off rather than everything being lit up to identify attackers?

Stop pointing fingers and identify your failures first. Not saying that the US and India might not take advantage but unless you plug the loopholes, everyone else will take advantage too.

This the message forwarded by a friend from a US-fault-finder…

Where do we go from here?!

I met an officer of my unit at a wedding on Sunday 29 may ’11.  As my unit is in Malir, I asked him if he had any knowledge of the Mehran attack. He said, his company was the one called in for the operation as it was on rapid deployment force duty. He gave me a blow by blow account of what happened. I shall only give the gist of what he said.

The runway of Shahrah e faisal is shared by the Navy as well as the PAF. The runway is the dividing line.

At the perimeter of the naval base is a nullah about 15-20 meters wide. This is full of shrubs and trees and bushes.  The terrorists had parked their vehicles about two KMs down and walked along the far side of the nullah. At exactly 90 degrees from the Orions they built a proper infantry fashion Assault Bridge. They crossed the nullah over the assault bridge, and  made a bee line to the Orions. Four of the attackers went round from the PAF side and took up positions facing the Orions, across the runway.

They fired all the seventy rocket launchers they had brought onto and into the two parked Orions. The destruction was total. The officer said except for two pieces of tyres of  an aircraft which he saw, everything else was total ashes.

The attackers had come in totally undetected. When they fired the rockets simultaneously, the local naval security forces rushed to the point. They ran in along the runway. The firing went on for about 12-15 mns. Immediately after the fire the attackers on the Naval side withdrew across the assault bridge and disappeared. No one knows how many they were. Figures quoted are only conjectures.

When the local security forces rushed along the runway, they inadvertently cut off the route of withdrawal of the four attackers. And a cross fire started between the two sides.

In the meantime, this officers company had reached the mehran base by about 11 pm. However, they had orders ‘from above’, to not to enter the base. They could hear the firing but were not allowed to move in.

At 1:30 in the morning they were allowed to move in but were prohibited to open fire. At this stage I asked him if they had been sent in to sell pakoras! He was quite cut up and said the troops were very upset about it too. But their orders were very strict – no fire.

By this time all fire had stopped before they were allowed to move in.

They knew that four attackers were still there in the PAF area. An area search was carried out but no one was found because of the night. After first light along with the Zarrar company of SSG the grounds were scoured. An officer with a jawan were searching for a lost magazine, as they neared a large bush, they were fired upon. The sepoy was injured. The officer fired back and killed the attacker. Thereafter three more were killed in an exchange of fire. No more bodies were found

While this company was being held outside the Base, the officer said he saw Rahman malik on the TV giving a running commentary on the action as if he was standing in the witness stand!! He also stated that before they were allowed in, RM was announcing very happily “all the terrorists have escaped. No one has been killed or captured”. The troops and officers were all aghast at his attitude and his glee!!

All the weapons and equipment found on the site and attackers was of Russian origin.

The attackers were in the middle of two bases and all the aircraft of the PN and PAF were within their beat. They could have destroyed or incapacitated most of the PAF aircraft and helicopters including Lamas. But nothing else was touched.. They had concentrated their total fire power onto the total destruction of the two Orions only.

The Americans on the base were flown out the same night.

I have tried to reproduce what the officer said, verbatim.

My observations.

These Orions had been used for surveillance in Baluchistan where the Americans are actively involved in terrorist activities. All their activities were monitored and the wireless messages were recorded. This is the capacity of the Orion. And therefore that could have been a great embarrassment for the Americans if it leaked out. Hence the Orions had to be destroyed so much that the recorders and black boxes were destroyed too along with the nefarious evidence.

The attackers came direct onto the two parked Orions because they were guided through Satellite GPS. The Americans at the base were acting as FACs to direct them. They had finished their jobs and were no longer required. Their safety demanded they be not available for any interrogation etc.

RM was in charge of the operations, and thus the peculiar orders to the army unit,  ostensibly for the safety of his American friends

Another revealing news I got was that the Americans are paying USD 500millions each annually to Asif, Rahman and Nawaz  Sharif to keep their mouths shut and look after US interests. One of the bankers being quoted said he had been involved personally in the transaction of $500 M in the case of Nawaz!

The photo of one attacker killed shows a full tattoo on his left arm fro stout shoulder to hand. This excludes the person being a Taliban, a Muslim, Pakistani or even Indian. Its not part of our culture. Russian or Europeans would have a single tattoo. The full arm or body tattoos are only American culture. Draw your own conclusions.

I thought you should know.

( Name removed )

 

Can we just stop blaming other and fix our own problems first. How long before we are mature enough to  take responsibility for the ambit we’re responsible for. Maybe we all should read Cassius’ comments again…

 

Brutal Killing in Karachi – The SC Verdict

SC HEARS SUO MOTU CASE NO. 10 OF 2011 REGARDING BRUTAL KILLING OF A YOUNG MAN BY RANGERS IN KARACHI.

A five member bench headed by Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan
Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and other Hon’ble members of the Bench Mr.Justice Javed Iqbal, Mr. Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, Mr. Justice Tariq Parvez and Mr. Justice Amir Hani Muslim heard the Suo Motu Case No. 10 of 2011 regarding brutal killing of a young man by Rangers in Karachi.

Maulvi Anwar-ul-Haq, Attorney General for Pakistan, Mr. Shafi Ahmed Memon, Additional Adv. General Sindh, Mr. Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, Secretary Interior. Mr. Abdul Subhan Memon, Chief Secretary, Govt. of Sindh, Mr. Fayyaz Ahmed Leghari, Provincial Police Officer Sindh, Mr. Muhammad Ejaz Chaudhry, Director General, Pakistan Rangers, Mr. Muhammad Riaz-ud-Din, Acting Home Secretary Sindh and Mr. Anwar Subhani, Acting AIG (Legal) appeared before the Court on Court notice. The Bench disposed of the matter by the following order:-

“Pursuant to incident of murder of one Sarfraz Ahmed at the hands of Sindh Rangers in the vicinity of Benazir Park, Block-VI, Gate-II, Karachi, video clips were shown by most of the prominent TV Channels, same have been watched in Court today, which prima facie establish that about 5/6 persons in uniform initially caught hold of Sarfraz Ahmed (deceased) from his hairs and thereafter one of them opened fire, due to which Sarfraz Ahmed sustained injuries and fell down, crying for his life, begging them that he should be removed to hospital.

2. Unfortunately, none of the police and Rangers officials present on the spot helped the deceased Sarfraz Ahmed (then injured) as a result whereof he succumbed to injuries in their presence. The manner, in which the death of Sarfraz Ahmed deceased has occurred, clearly indicates barbarism because once he had been overpowered, as it is evident from the video clips, he was not to be fired upon in any case and at the best the Rangers personnel could have handed him over to the police, if there was an allegation of his being involved in the commission of some offence.

3. In order to conceal/smokescreen the highhandedness of both i.e. Rangers and Police, with the connivance of each other, they registered FIR No. 225 of 2011, on 08.06.2011 at Police Station Boat Bason, District Town Clifton at 7.30 pm, against the incident that took place at 5.15 pm on the complaint of one Afsar Khan son of Gul Mohiuddin under Sections 393/353/324 PPC. As per the version of the complainant, a person armed with a pistol threatened one Alam Zeb and his wife, statedly in front of the complainant, to hand over whatever valuable they have got with them and during this, the Rangers posted at the place reached there; on seeing the Rangers the dacoit ( ) /deceased, opened fire with intention to commit their murder; therefore, the Rangers also opened fire in their self defence due to which the dacoit sustained injuries on his body and the pistol in his hand also fell down; his name was learnt to be Sarfraz. The complainant further stated that the injured dacoit was shifted to Jinnah Hospital in the CHEEPA Ambulance. His claim was that as the said Sarfraz had demanded money on gunpoint and had intervened in the official duty of the Rangers and had also extended threat to their life, as such case may be registered.

4. The above FIR was followed by another FIR No.226 of 2011 of same Police Station dated 08.06.2011 at 7.45 pm. under Section 13D of the Arms Ordinance, with regard to pistol, allegedly recovered from the deceased with magazine with three rounds and as the same was without licence, therefore, a separate case was registered against him.

5. After registration of these FIRs, on 09.06.2011 at 00.30 (midnight) FIR No.227 of 2011 was registered under Section 302/34 PPC at the same Police Station on the complaint of Syed Salik Shah son of Khameen Shah, wherein he deposed that on coming to know that his brother Sarfraz Ahmed had a quarrel at Benazir Park, where the Police and Rangers were present, he went to Boat Bason Police Station and met Zulfiqar, SI, who informed him that his brother has been injured, therefore, he had been shifted to Jinnah Hospital; when he (the complainant) reached Jinnah Hospital, he found his brother’s dead body lying in the Emergency. According to the contents of this FIR, he named two persons i.e. Muhammad Afzal and Shahid Zafar alongwith their other colleagues and two unknown persons to have committed the murder of his brother; therefore, action according to law may be taken.

6. The narration of above facts regarding FIR are entirely contrary to the video clips played in Court, as it is evident therein that one person had got hold of Sarfraz who was empty handed; that person pushed Sarfraz towards the Rangers present near a vehicle parked over there; the Rangers present overpowered him and they directed him to face upward; during this course he was caught hold from his hairs and collar of the shirt, there was a commotion that “he is the same person” and he was then moved by pushing him towards the Rangers; in the meantime, one of the Rangers personnel fired upon him as a result, he got injured and fell down and started crying, begging Rangers personnel that he should be shifted to the hospital but all the Rangers officials present over there had been watching him; meanwhile the blood started oozing out from his injuries and he succumbed to the injuries while lying in the pool of blood.

7. The Police although had registered the FIR No. 225 and FIR No. 226 of 2011 but have not stated a single word about the death of Sarfraz and in a clandestine manner stated that he had been shifted to Jinnah Hospital as injured. Even subsequent thereto, no case was registered about this murder by the police officials, until his brother Syed Salik Shah came to Police Station and got registered the case at 00:30 (midnight) on 09.06.2011 till such time the complainant had limited information about the occurrence as mentioned hereinabove.

We may mention here that it was not only the duty of the police concerned but of the Provincial Police Officer as well as Director General Rangers, to take notice of the matter, as they must have learnt about the incident which was widely aired by the electronic media and there was a lot of hue and cry regarding this incident; furthermore the family of the deceased alongwith other citizens had also started raising voice against highhandedness of these law enforcing agencies. Surprisingly, when the case vide FIR No.227 of 2011 was registered, even then except two persons, whose names were mentioned in the FIR lodged by the complainant, the custody of remaining persons, who were very much visible at the scene of crime, were not handed over nor the police demanded them for the purpose of investigation. As far as the awareness of the incident is concerned, it was very much available on all TV Channels.

When we enquired from the DG Rangers, he admitted that because only two persons were nominated in the FIR, therefore, their custody was handed over; as far as the other Rangers personnel present on the spot are concerned, according to him, they are in the custody of the Rangers. This conduct on the part of the Police as well as Rangers does not seem to be above board. When such a heinous crime has been reported by the electronic media/TV Channels, they should have come forward with all fairness and should have got arrested all the persons, who were involved in the case.

8. We do not know about the status of investigation because the things have been mixed up deliberately by the Police while registering the FIRs in the manner as it has been discussed hereinabove and this is nothing but a device to save the persons, who are apparently seems to be involved in the commission of the offence. We do believe that under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, it is the State who is responsible to provide protection and safety to the life of all its citizens, but in the instant incident facts are other way round i.e. negation of Article 9 of the Constitution.

9. Accepting for the sake of argument that the deceased was involved in some criminal case, which apparently seems to be incorrect, the Rangers had no authority to open fire upon him. Reference in this behalf can be made to Mehram Ali v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 1998 SC 1445), wherein this aspect of the case has been discussed by this Court by clearly stating that under Section 5(2)(i) of the Anti Terrorism Act, 1997, the Rangers have no authority to open fire.

10 the meeting with the Prime Minister in some other matter. Before leaving for the meeting with the Prime Minister, the Chief Secretary stated that he admits that the present incident is a case of utter violation on the part of these law enforcing agencies to enforce law and he surrenders before this Court for the incompetency of these law enforcing agencies in this regard. He assured that protection to the life and property of the cameraman of a private TV Channel “AWAZ”, who had prepared the original video of the incident, shall be provided. In view of his statement, we direct him to do the needful. Mr. Riazuddin, Acting Home Secretary, Government of Sindh, present in Court, had placed on record a copy of the notification dated 3rd February, 2010; however, this notification is silent about powers that have been conferred upon the Rangers and the manner in which the same has to be exercised.

11. When we enquire from the Provincial Police Officer about the progress of the case, surprisingly he gave reply that today remand of the two accused persons shall be taken and then the investigation will start; whereas the DG Rangers pointed out that two empties shell, fired from the service rifle by an accused, have been handed over to the police today at about 9.00 am alongwith his service rifle. Similarly, the custody of the two accused has been given yesterday at night whereas the custody of the remaining officials as well as the persons, who were Incharge of the Company has not so far been handed over.

12. From the above noted facts and circumstances, it is not difficult to visualize that how this incident had taken place and the manner in which both the high-ups i.e. of the Police and the Rangers, had dealt with the same. It is a classical case of highhandedness of the law enforcing agencies and instead of feeling sense of responsibility and showing uprightness and honesty, they are, even today, concealing the facts while appearing before this Court. Therefore, under these circumstances, we apprehend that the investigation of the case would not be conducted properly and impartially, in presence of both these senior officers i.e. Mr. Fayyaz Ahmed Leghari, PPO Sindh and Mr. Muhammad Ejaz Chaudhry, DG Rangers (Sindh), as such through Attorney General for Pakistan, we direct that they should be posted out within a period of three days and in the meantime some alternate arrangements should be made. However, if after three days, the notifications in this regard are not issued, it is directed to withhold the salaries of above two officers as they would not be entitled for the same till the notification of their posting out is not issued. This part of our order shall be enforced/implemented by the Secretary Interior by proceeding according to relevant rules. Meanwhile, Mr. Sultan Khawaja, DIG Karachi, who is statedly a reputable officer, is directed to take over the charge of the investigation against all the culprits and complete the same within a period of seven days, by applying all appropriate provisions of law as the matter seems to attract prima facie Section 7 of the ATA, 1997, and shall send up challan before the Court of competent jurisdiction. He shall also submit progress report of his investigation to the Registrar of this Court for our perusal in Chambers.

13. The Court seized of the matter shall decide the same by conducing trial on day to day basis, by not taking more than 30 days, without being influenced in any manner from the instant proceedings. Ultimate result of the trial shall be communicated to the Registrar of this Court for our perusal in Chambers.

This Suo Motu Case stands disposed of accordingly.”

SHUT UP OR DIE

A dear friend, a bold journalist a brave man was killed in pursuit of the truth. Saleem Shahzad leaves behind three children and a widow. The mourners under their wails and tears still have no clue why was their father killed. Since his abduction from Pakistan’s fortified federal capital to the discovery of his bruised mortal remains, the message is to hammer home the chilling threat to all those who strive to inform.

Rest in peace, we will not be silenced.

UPDATE:

After a successful 24 hr sit in by journalists demanding justice, the ineffective government made matters worse. The journalists from all over Pakistan demanded a judicial inquiry by appointing a judge who refused to head the investigation because the GOP didnt bother to ask the chief justice before appointing one of his subordinates.

On June 17, the ISPR released the following statement after Asma Jehangir said data of calls and texts from Saleem Shahzad’s mobile was wiped out by the ISI.

“Spokesperson of ISPR voiced concern on unfounded and baseless insinuation’s being voiced in a section of print and electronic media against ISI in regard to murder of Journalist Saleem Shahzad. Such negative aspersions and accusations were also voiced against ISI in some previous cases but investigations proved those wrong.
The spokesperson strongly supported   formation of a Commission to investigate the murder of   Journalist Saleem Shahzad. The case must be investigated thoroughly and facts made known to the people, the spokesperson concluded.”

 

Here’s what happened earlier …

 

Missing people in Pakistan have become a sad reality. Wikileaks has revealed that DEMAND TO ACCOUNT FOR MISSING
DRAWS LIMITED GOVERNMENT COOPERATION

“….The Supreme Court’s activism on the issue is a brave and encouraging start, but there are a number of obstacles that will make solving the problem a serious challenge. Interior Ministry and Attorney General’s office must rely on information from Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agencies to comply with the Supreme Court’s order. So far, this pressure has generated a few releases — often abrupt affairs, in which detainees have reportedly been pushed out of cars, confused and disoriented, and left to find their way home. It remains to be seen whether the Court’s scrutiny will have a lasting effect on the way the intelligence agencies do business.…”

Here is a compilation of a very well articulated response by the Newspaper Society and the rest of the world on the sad demise of Saleem Shahzad, a courageous journalist. Will there be action, I doubt it, but still all we have are words as our weapons

STATEMENT OF PRESIDENT OF APNS

A leading newspaper publisher in Pakistan and the president of the nationwide newspapers body has reacted sharply to charges by the Inter Services`Intelligence Agency (ISI) that allegations by Human Rights Watch of the intelligence agency’s involvement in the murder of Pakistani journalist Salim Shahzad were “baseless” .

It has come to my notice that a spokesman of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) while speaking to the official national news agency in Islamabad yesterday has questioned the “baseless allegations” leveled by Human Rights Watch on the basis of an E mail from Salim Shahzad, the Bureau Chief of the Hong Kong based Asia Times Online, in their possession . Mr Shahzad was mudered three days ago near Islamabad after being abducted by unknown persons.

“I wish to state on record that the e mail in the possession of Mr Ali Dayan, the monitor for Human Rights Watch (HRW) stationed in ,Lahore Pakistan, is indeed one of the three identical E mails sent by Mr Shahzad to HRW , his employers (Asia Times Online) and to his former employer, myself . I also wish to verify that allegations levied by HRW at the Inter services Intelligence (ISI) are essentially in complete consonance with the contents of the slain journalists E mail ”

“In their denial issued Wednesday an anonymous spokesman from the ISI has questioned the “baseless allegation” leveled against ISI by Mr Dayan of HRW. I wish to state on the record for the information of the officers involved in investigating journalist Salim Shahzad’s gruesome murder, that the late journalist confided to me and several others that he had received death threats from various officers of the ISI on at least three occasions in the past five years. Whatever the substance of these allegations , they form an integral part of Mr Shahzad’s last testimony. Mr Shahzad’s purpose in transmitting this information to three concerned colleagues in the media ,was not to defame the ISI but to avert a possible fulfillment of what he clearly perceived to be a death threat. The last threat which I refer to was recorded by Mr Shahzad by e mail with me, tersely phrased as “for the record”, at precisely 4.11 am on October18,2010, wherein he recounted the details of his meetings at the ISI headquarters in Islamabad between the Director General- Media Wing (ISI) Rear- Admiral Adnan Nazir, with the Deputy Director General of the Media Wing, Commodore Khalid Pervaiz, also being present on the occasion.

The ostensible agenda for this meeting was the subject of Mr Shahzads’s story of Asia Times Online with respect to the Pakistan government freeing of senior Afghan Taliban commander, Mullah Baraadar. Mr Shahzad informed the senior officials that he story was leaked by a intelligence channel in Pakistan, and confirmed thereafter by the ” most credible Taliban s source” . The senior officials present suggested to Mr Shahzad that he officially deny the story, which he refused to do, terming the official’s demand as “impractical”

The senior intelligence official was “curious” to identify the source of Mr Shahzad’s story claiming it to be a “shame” that such a leak should occur from the offices of a high profile intelligence service. Mr Shahzad additionally stated that the Rear -Adimral offered him some information, ostensibly “as a favour ” in the following words : ” We have recently arrested a terrorist and have recovered a lot of data, diaries and other materials during the interrogation. The terrorist had a hit list with him . If I find your name on the list I will certainly let you know.”

Mr Shahzad subsequently confirmed to me in a conversation that he not only interpreted this conversation as a veiled threat to his person. He also informed me that he let an official from the ISI know soon thereafter that he intended share the content of this threat with his colleagues ..

As President of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and as head of Pakistan’s leading media group I consider the the security of journalists to be of paramount importance. At present the APNS has officially committed itself to the creation of a national body for the investigations of serious threats to the lives of journalists, a body which the Committee to Protect the Journalists in New York, and other leading organizations in the Pakistani press and human rights bodies have promised to lend vigorous support to. Pakistan has one of the high rates in the world for journalists killings and such an environment is inimical to the functioning of democracy . The government and the intelligence agencies should take the investigation into Mr Shahzad’s murder seriously and examine his last testimony closely.

Whether the Oct 18th incident itself or his last article in the Asia Times Online ,that alleged Al-Qaeda penetration of the security curtain for Pakistani Naval establishment in Karachi hastened his murder is for the official investigation to uncover. And nobody not even the ISI should be above the law”.

Hameed Haroon
PRESIDENT
ALL PAKISTAN NEWSPAPERS SOCIETY
KARACHI

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) fully backs a call by its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), for the Government of Pakistan to establish by June 10 a judicial commission to investigate the disappearance and murder of Syed Saleem Shahzad.

PFUJ president Pervaiz Shaukat said journalists from throughout Pakistan would assemble in Islamabad and stage a sit-in at the Parliament if the commission was not set up by this date.

The deadline was set at a meeting of senior union leaders and journalists in Islamabad on June 2, where the PFUJ also sought unity with the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS).

APNS president Hameed Haroon issued a statement on June 2 in which he confirmed Shahzad had reported receiving threatening messages on at least three occasions, allegedly from members of the intelligence arm of the Pakistan military, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

“Whatever the substance of these allegations, they form an integral part of Mr Shahzad’s last testimony,” Haroon said in his statement. “Mr Shahzad’s purpose in transmitting this information to three concerned colleagues in the media was not to defame the ISI but to avert a possible fulfilment of what he clearly perceived to be a death threat.”

The head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Zohra Yusuf, was reported as saying that although there was no conclusive evidence, “circumstances seem to point to state security agencies because there have been other cases where journalists have been picked up”, according to Reuters.

The ISI denies involvement in the murder of Shahzad, 40, who disappeared in Islamabad on May 29. Shahzad’s tortured body was found on May 31 at Mandi Bahauddin, about 150km southeast of Islamabad in Punjab province.

On May 27, Shahzad published on Asia Times Online an investigative report into alleged links between Al-Qaeda and Pakistani naval officials. It was to be the first of a two-part series. However, an editor’s note on the website says Shahzad had not completed the second part of his report and it will therefore not be published.

“The IFJ commends the courage of journalists in Pakistan at this distressing and dangerous time,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said. “We and journalists around the world will not rest until all murderers of journalists in Pakistan are brought to justice.”

Black flags have been hoisted at union offices and press clubs throughout the country, and PFUJ members will conduct a protest outside the Parliament today.

Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online, for whom Shahzad was the Pakistan bureau chief, is establishing a trust fund for his wife Anita and three teenage children.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

The United States strongly condemns the abduction and killing of reporter Syed Saleem Shehzad. His work reporting on terrorism and intelligence issues in Pakistan brought to light the troubles extremism poses to Pakistan’s stability. We support the Pakistani government’s investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.
We remain committed to helping the government and people of Pakistan as they work to bring peace and stability to the country.

Chairman Kerry Washington, DC

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) issued the following statement on the death of Syed Saleem Shahzad, the Asia Times Online’s Pakistan Bureau Chief:

“I was deeply shocked and saddened to hear about the recent abduction and murder of reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad. His reporting on critical national security and intelligence issues helped shed light on the difficult challenges confronting the region. His death is a blow to Pakistan’s fragile democracy and a chilling reminder of the dangers journalists continue to face in Pakistan. I hope that the Pakistani government’s investigation into his murder will be as a thorough as possible to hold those responsible accountable and deter another crime against members of the press.”

BRITISH Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

“I was shocked to hear of the abduction and killing of Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shazad. He courageously reported on the terrorism and extremism which has caused so much suffering to the people of Pakistan. His death highlights the dangers faced by those working for a stable Pakistan and our thoughts are with his family at this time of grief.

“I welcome the announcement of an investigation. It is vital that this is thorough and transparent and that those responsible are brought to justice.”

Joint Action: Pakistan – Thirty-five organizations call for murder investigations in Pakistan

Thirty-five organizations call for murder investigations in Pakistan

The International Federation of Journalists and 33 other members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), including co-author the Committee to Protect Journalists, endorsed the following letter at IFEX’s General Meeting held in Beirut, Lebanon on May 30 and 31. The letter was also supported by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.

Mr Asif Ali Zardari
President, Islamic Republic of Pakistan,

Mr Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani
Prime Minister, Islamic Republic of Pakistan

CC:

Mr Rehman Malik
Minister for Interior

Dr Firdaus Ashiq Awan
Minister for Information and Broadcasting

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
Chief of Army Staff

1 June 2011

Dear Mr President, Honourable Ministers and General Kayani,

RE: Journalists and Press Freedom Groups Call for Murder Investigations

We the undersigned members and partners of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) are writing with respect to express our deep concerns for the safety and welfare of journalists and media workers in Pakistan.

Representing the international community of journalists’ organisations and press freedom defenders gathered in Lebanon for IFEX’s bi-annual conference, we urge the Government of Pakistan and its law-enforcement and security agencies to take immediate and firm action to implement all appropriate measures to protect media personnel and to prosecute murderers of journalists in Pakistan.

In 2011, the tragic toll of dead and injured journalists and media workers placed Pakistan ahead of Iraq and Mexico as the world’s most dangerous country for journalists and media workers.

The killings have continued into 2011, with at least three journalists murdered in targeted attacks, including the killing of Nasrullah Afridi in Peshawar on May 10 and Syed Saleem Shahzad, whose body was found just yesterday.

We are deeply disturbed by Shahzad’s brutal murder, following his abduction in Islamabad on May 29. We note reports by Human Rights Watch that the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) may have been involved in his disappearance. We also note the potential connection between Shahzad’s murder and an article he published on May 27 about alleged links between Al-Qaeda and Pakistan Navy officials. We appeal to the Government of Pakistan and its security agencies to move with utmost urgency to identify Shahzad’s killers and bring to them to justice.

We fully appreciate the great difficulties confronting all people in Pakistan at this time. However, we also know that Pakistan has the resources and expertise to conduct credible investigations into murders of journalists and to bring culprits to justice.

Yet this is not happening and a culture of impunity prevails. Of all the murders of journalists in Pakistan over many years, the identification and prosecution of culprits has occurred only once in recent memory – in the internationally high-profile case of American journalist Daniel Pearl.

Pakistan’s law-enforcement authorities and security agencies at the provincial and federal levels have consistently failed to show the will to conduct full and proper investigations into all other murders of journalists in Pakistan.

Just a few examples where reports of investigations into murders are long overdue include the following:

• Hayatullah Khan, murdered, June 2006 in North Waziristan, after being abducted in December 2005.
• Allah Noor, murdered, Wana, February, 2005.
• Chishti Mujahid, murdered, February 2008, Quetta.
• Abdul Razzak Johra, murdered, Mianwali district, Punjab, November, 2008.
• Musa Khan Khel, murdered, Swat, February 2009.

The highly publicised investigation carried out by Peshawar High Court Judge Mohammed Reza Khan shortly after the killing of Hayatullah Khan has never been made public, despite repeated calls from the PFUJ and international media support groups.

In April 2009, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and its district affiliates urged your Government to set up a judicial commission to investigate the murder of Khan Khel. This followed an independent investigation by the Khyber Union of Journalists and the PFUJ after local authorities failed to initiate their own inquiry. We await results in this case.

In early 2010, the then Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Sumsam Ali Bukhari, acknowledged that Pakistan’s authorities and Interior Ministry had a responsibility to identify and arrest suspects. He gave an assurance to PFUJ members that the Sindh Government had been instructed to conduct a thorough investigation into the killing of Ashiq Ali Mangi in Khairpur, Sindh province, in February 2010. We await results in this case.

With respect, we remind you that your Government has a responsibility to protect and defend the rights of journalists and the media, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1738.

As a signatory to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and to the 1997 Additional Protocol on the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), the Government of Pakistan and its security forces are obliged to ensure the protection of journalists as civilians.

Article 13 of Protocol II states: “The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.”

The 2006 Security Council Resolution, which stresses the civilian status of journalists reporting in war zones and crisis areas within national borders, stipulates: “… that all parties to an armed conflict comply fully with the obligations applicable to them under international law related to the protection of civilians in armed conflict, including journalists, media professionals and associated personnel.”

Under the laws of Pakistan, the federal and provincial governments have a duty to require that law enforcement and security authorities utilise appropriate and transparent policing and judicial means to fully investigate all murders and disappearances of journalists.

We fully support the PFUJ in its recent request to Minister Malik to initiate and oversee a comprehensive inquiry and report into the killings of journalists in all of Pakistan’s provinces. We look forward to full public disclosure of all evidence and official records.

We further call on you to work with the PFUJ and Pakistani and international media support groups to establish an independent taskforce to act promptly on the findings of the Malik inquiry, including through the pursuit of full and proper investigations and prosecutions of cases.

Again, we respectfully request that you use your authority to reverse the culture of impunity and act on the grave concerns held by the international community of journalists and press freedom defenders for the welfare of our colleagues in Pakistan.

In the absence of investigations and the prosecution of offenders, the State is failing to provide the necessary deterrent to those who would use violence to silence and intimidate journalists and restrict the right of all people in Pakistan to information.

Yours Respectfully,

The Undersigned

1. Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (Alliance of Independent Journalists)
2. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
3. ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression
4. Association of Caribbean Media Workers
5. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
6. Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
7. Center for Media Studies & Peace Building
8. Centre for Independent Journalism
9. Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala
10. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
11. Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
12. Freedom Forum
13. Freedom House
14. Free Media Movement
15. Globe International
16. Hong Kong Journalists Association
17. Independent Journalism Center
18. Index on Censorship
19. International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
20. IPS Communication Foundation
21. Maharat Foundation (Skills Foundation)
22. Media Foundation for West Africa
23. Media Institute of Southern Africa
24. Media Rights Agenda
25. Media Watch
26. Mizzima News
27. National Union of Somali Journalists
28. Observatoire pour la liberté de presse, d’édition et de création
29. Pacific Islands News Association
30. Pakistan Press Foundation
31. Public Association “Journalists”
32. Southeast Asian Press Alliance
33. South East European Network for the Professionalization of the Media
34. Thai Journalists Association
NON-IFEX MEMBER SIGNATORY:
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ)

SAUDI ARABIAN INVOLVEMENT IN PAK AFFAIRS

The latest wikileaks cables reveal that the Saudi monarch, King Abdullah believes that former military dictator Gen Retd Musharraf may be the best option for Pakistan’s security. Saudi intelligence chief frankly tells the americans about Saudi preferences: “Prince Muqrin said that while the King considers both Sharif and Musharraf friends, he considers Musharraf the better person to handle anti-terror issues.”

The candid behind-the-scenes details of Mr Sharif’s return to exile in Saudi Arabia shared by Prince Muqrin with the US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ford M. Fraker, are documented in a secret cable from the US consulate in Jeddah on Sept 12, 2007.

Delving into the complexities of Pakistani politics, Prince Muqrin also “speculated that there is probably an agreement between Sharif and the Pakistani Chief Justice, adding that if the Chief Justice grants Sharif the right to return to Pakistan and Sharif wins, the Chief Justice will become President.”

The Saudi prince went on to state “that he is almost certain the Chief Justice will side with Sharif, noting that he believes the run-up to the November election will be tense.”

The cable reveals that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif “thought he might be arrested” upon his return to Saudi Arabia after deportation from Pakistan on Sept 10, 2007, but Prince Muqrin, Head of General Intelligence Presidency, Saudi Arabia, gave Sharif “two options — he could either stay at a palace that had been prepared for him, or at his home. He opted to go to his home.”

“During Ambassdor Fraker’s meeting with Prince Muqrin, the Prince first summarised the ten-year agreement, brokered by Rafik Hariri, under which Sharif would live in Saudi Arabia and refrain from participating in Pakistani politics. He added that there was a verbal agreement that after five years, they would hold negotiations to consider reducing that ten year period,” according to the secret cable.

Prince Muqrin went on to describe “how Saad Al-Hariri warned Sharif not to return to Pakistan, but how Sharif disregarded the warning and went anyway.”

After Sharif’s forcible return from Pakistan to Jeddah, Prince Muqrin received the former Pakistani prime minister at the airport at which point the two discussed where Mr Sharif would stay.

Prince Muqrin also told Sharif that there would be “some restrictions” on his activities “for a short while, at least through the November elections, to reduce the likelihood of inciting rioting among his supporters in Pakistan.”

Ambassador Fraker was also told that “Sharif will remain in Saudi Arabia until after the Pakistani elections in November.” Sharif eventually returned to Pakistan on Nov 25, 2007, by which point elections were to be held in early 2008.

“The Prince explained that, as in Lebanon, the Pakistani constitution requires individuals working within the government to be outside government for two years prior to becoming President. Therefore a constitutional change would be required for Musharraf to become President.”

In a previously released cable from 2007, the Saudi ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir boasts “We in Saudi Arabia are not observers in Pakistan, we are participants,”. A senior US official later bemoaned as “negative” the Saudi influence. Al-Jubeir added that for the SAG, stability in Pakistan is an essential strategic matter. Since Pakistan possesses both nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles, from the Saudi point of view, the policy choice to be made there boils down to a drastic choice: “We can either support Musharraf and stability, or we can allow bin Laden to get the bomb, “he told the Charge’.

In another cable from November 2008 by Bryan Hunt, the then Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Lahore, was based on information from discussions with local government and non-governmental sources during his trips to the cities of Multan and Bahawalpur.

Quoting local interlocutors, Hunt attempts to explain how the “sophisticated jihadi recruitment network” operated in a region dominated by the Barelvi sect, which, according to the cable, made south Punjab “traditionally hostile” to Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith schools of thought.

Hunt refers to a “network of Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith mosques and madrassahs” being strengthened through an influx of “charity” which originally reached organisations “such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Al-Khidmat foundation”. Portions of these funds would then be given away to clerics “in order to expand these sects’ presence” in a relatively inhospitable yet “potentially fruitful recruiting ground”.

Outlining the process of recruitment for militancy, the cable describes how “families with multiple children” and “severe financial difficulties” were generally being exploited for recruitment purposes. Families first approached by “ostensibly ‘charitable’” organisations would later be introduced to a “local Deobandi or Ahl-i-Hadith maulana” who would offer to educate the children at his madrassah and “find them employment in the service of Islam”. “Martyrdom” was also “often discussed”, with a final cash payment to the parents. “Local sources claim that the current average rate is approximately Rs 500,000 (approximately USD 6,500) per son,” the cable states.

The cable sent to the State Department stated that “financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith clerics in south Punjab from organisations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.”