Archive for war on terror

WPC: Resolution on Peace-disturbing role of USA in Pakistan

Posted in International Affairs with tags , , , on November 14, 2009 by Umer

The EC meeting of WPC strongly condemns the Anti-people role being played by USA in Pakistan. Imperialism has adapted hostile policy of creating war hysteria after tilt of world power balance in 1991 in favour of war mongering imperialist forces headed by USA. This policy is being continuously followed.

Iraq and Afghanistan have been occupied in the name of so- called war against terrorism. Pakistan is rapidly becoming the next target. Imperialism’s own creatures, the Taliban, have created an atmosphere of terror across the Pakistan. This situation is being utilized as a justification for American open and covert activities of destabilizing the area.

Drone attacks deep inside Pakistan are been carried out. US Embassy and Consulates in Islamabad, Karachi and Peshawar are being converted into military complexes. Private armies like Black Water and XE are openly working in Pakistan under American Patronage. This meeting of WPC demands that Pakistan’s independence and sovereignty should fully be respected. It demands immediate evacuation of bases and withdrawal of regular and private military forces from Pakistani soil and cessation of Drone attacks


OCTOBER 24, 2009


World Peace Council (WPC)

Towards theocracy

Posted in Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2009 by Umer

Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy

Frontline on net

Note: This article appeared in the Frontline magazine of India. Therefore, the contents of the article and the message is addressed to the Indian audience. The article, nevertheless, is highly essential for us living in Pakistan.

Towards Theocracy: State and Society in Pakisan Today 


Women in burqas and children from the Bajaur and Mohmand agency areas wait to be registered at a refugee camp near Peshawar in January. Today a full-scale war is being fought in FATA, Swat and other “wild” areas of Pakistan, with thousands dying and hundreds of thousands of displaced people streaming into cities and towns.  

FOR 20 years or more, a few of us in Pakistan have been desperately sending out SOS messages, warning of terrible times to come. Nevertheless, none anticipated how quickly and accurately our dire predictions would come true. It is a small matter that the flames of terrorism set Mumbai on fire and, more recently, destroyed Pakistan’s cricketing future. A much more important and brutal fight lies ahead as Pakistan, a nation of 175 million, struggles for its very survival. The implications for the future of South Asia are enormous.

Today a full-scale war is being fought in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), Swat and other “wild” areas of Pakistan, with thousands dying and hundreds of thousands of IDPs (internally displaced people) streaming into cities and towns. In February 2009, with the writ of the Pakistani state in tatters, the government gave in to the demand of the TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the Pakistani Taliban Movement) to implement the Islamic Sharia in Malakand, a region of FATA. It also announced the suspension of a military offensive in Swat, which has been almost totally taken over by the TTP. But the respite that it brought was short-lived and started breaking down only hours later.

The fighting is now inexorably migrating towards Peshawar where, fearing the Taliban, video shop owners have shut shop, banners have been placed in bazaars declaring them closed for women, musicians are out of business, and kidnapping for ransom is the best business in town. Islamabad has already seen Lal Masjid and the Marriot bombing, and has had its police personnel repeatedly blown up by suicide bombers. Today, its barricaded streets give a picture of a city under siege. In Karachi, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), an ethnic but secular party well known for strong-arm tactics, has issued a call for arms to prevent the Taliban from making further inroads into the city. Lahore once appeared relatively safe and different but, after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, has rejoined Pakistan.

The suicide bomber and the masked abductor have crippled Pakistan’s urban life and shattered its national economy. Soldiers, policemen, factory and hospital workers, mourners at funerals, and ordinary people praying in mosques have been reduced to hideous masses of flesh and fragments of bones. The bearded ones, many operating out of madrassas, are hitting targets across the country. Although a substantial part of the Pakistani public insists upon lionising them as “standing up to the Americans”, they are neither seeking to evict a foreign occupier nor fighting for a homeland. They want nothing less than to seize power and to turn Pakistan into their version of the ideal Islamic state. In their incoherent, ill-formed vision, this would include restoring the caliphate as well as doing away with all forms of western influence and elements of modernity. The AK-47 and the Internet, of course, would stay.

But, perhaps paradoxically, in spite of the fact that the dead bodies and shattered lives are almost all Muslim ones, few Pakistanis speak out against these atrocities. Nor do they approve of military action against the cruel perpetrators, choosing to believe that they are fighting for Islam and against an imagined American occupation. Political leaders like Qazi Husain Ahmed and Imran Khan have no words of kindness for those who have suffered from Islamic extremists. Their tears are reserved for the victims of predator drones, whether innocent or otherwise. By definition, for them terrorism is an act that only Americans can commit.

Why the Denial?


To understand Pakistan’s collective masochism, one needs to study the drastic social and cultural transformations that have made this country so utterly different from what it was in earlier times. For three decades, deep tectonic forces have been silently tearing Pakistan away from the Indian subcontinent and driving it towards the Arabian peninsula.

Continue reading

War in FATA – The Marxist View

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Marxism, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2008 by Umer

Let us begin from the first premise: What is the class character of the various forces that are in combat with each other? What are their aims? The position of the party of the proletariat must be clear; it can not consist of half-baked slogans, semi-support for one group and semi-support for the other—no it cannot be anything of the sort. Such positions, if taken to the masses, can only befuddle their minds.

“In any given situation, says Prachanda,”it is best in general terms to divide the struggle into its component parts—the forces of reaction (that seek to pull back the wheel of history), the forces of the status quo, and the forces of progress.”

I will use Comrade Prachanda’s rule of thumb as the benchmark—it is simple to grasp and easy to understand.

The present status quo is composed of an alliance between international finance capital, the comprador bourgeoisie and a section of the Pakistan Army that benefits from international finance capital. I will henceforth refer to this historical bloc simply, as the “status quo”.

1- The Taliban:

The Taliban represent the forces of reaction; let us be clear that they are not fighting a war against finance capital, or a war for national liberation. Let us also be clear that they are not even fighting a war for oppressed religious minorities.

Under what circumstances can the party of the proletariat support them? None.

2- The Pakistan Government

That a complete transition to bourgeois democracy has been made is un-dialectical. I agree. However, that is not the question that we are addressing.

As long as there is a temporary alliance between the class interests of the comprador bourgeoisie and a section of the army—leading to the formation of a new historical bloc—-they will jointly wage a battle against the Taliban.

To suggest—or to require—from contending class interests to always pursue their own course independently of other classes, even when there interests temporarily align against a common enemy is to reduce the class struggle into children’s playing field.

Yes, each class pursues a course of action, in the final analysis for its independent class aims and not for the aims of the allied class. But that does not imply that they will not ally against what they consider a common enemy. Contradictions are not immutable; antagonistic contradictions may metamorphisize into non-antagonistic ones and vice versa.

Coming back to the point—the Pakistan government at present is governed by the Pakistan People’s Party which historically represented the interests of the national bourgeoisie. That there has been a significant internal metamorphosis within the People’s Party, converting it into a party representing the interests of the comprador bourgeoisie is an important and objectively plausible hypothesis.

In either case, it is clear that they represent the forces that seek to maintain the present status quo as it stands.

3- The Pakistan Army

Does the Pakistan Army represent monolithic class interests? Or is it composed of different ideological strands?

If indeed, the Pakistan army is composed of different ideological strands, does this then imply that we can label its entire body under one caption: “Reactionary”. No it does not. Does it imply that we can label the entire Army as a force of the status quo? No it does not. Neither analysis is correct, in my opinion.

The Pakistan Army is composed of sections that represent the forces of the status quo, and forces that represent the forces of reaction. This corresponds to the historical evolution of the Pakistan Army over the course of the past 3 decades. During Zia’s military regime, the Mullahs were a part of the ruling historical bloc. As a result, a process of Islamization was conducted not only in the country, but within the Army as well. Professor Colonel Abdul Qayum was appointed as the Chief Advisor to the President, and was given the task of presenting a series of lectures on “iman, taqwa and jehad fi sabillillah” to young army officers. These three words became the motto of the Pakistan Army. Further, Abdul Qayum recalls in his book “Zia ul Haq and I”, that the process of Islamization was aimed at creating an ideologically Islamist army, though “a large chunk of officers resented and wanted a largely secular Army”. (Zia ul Haq and I, page 31)

Did the reactionary lobby within the Pakistan Army enjoy the same ascendancy within the ensuing 20 years after Zia’s death? No it did not. Does this imply that the reactionary lobby was annihilated? No it does not. The reactionary lobby continues to exist within the Army as a junior partner; however, the changing international situation and the corresponding crack in the hitherto existing historical bloc have changed the balance of forces not only in the country but within the Pakistan Army itself. During the course of the past 12 years the Askari Financial conglomerate has established itself as the leading financial body operating in Pakistan. Its interests are directly aligned with the interests of Imperialism. Therefore, it directly benefits from the dictates of imperialism.

Its ascendancy within the ranks of the Army corresponds to the emergence of the new historical bloc; the dethroning of the reactionary lobby within the Army corresponds to the fact that the new historical bloc has amputated relations with the forces of reaction. The dethroned forces exist and continue to agitate from within the ranks of the Army. Dozens of right-wing officers were forcefully retired during Musharraf’s period; hanged upon plotting his assassination thrice.

What should the Party of the Proletariat Do?

The Party of the proletariat has to decide its course of action given the situation. It cannot ask “what if” questions when the battle has already begun.

First, let me say at the outset that any moral headcount of the number of children and men being killed because of the war does no good to us. Casualty and injury are the byproducts of war; they are unfortunate but unavoidable. This is precisely why Marxist-Leninists have been the greatest advocates of peace; however, we understand that in order to make peace an objective reality the system of antagonistic classes that lies at the root of war must be eliminated. Any talk of peace without an objective appraisal of the situation and the balance of forces between the various classes amounts to pacifism. Furthermore, is it not juvenile to expect contending antagonistic class interests to “not get messy in war” when an opposing class has already taken up arms?
Second, as far as the operation and its logistical dynamics are concerned, it is obvious that the civilian government neither has the manpower nor the necessary skills to wage a battle itself. Military combat is an art and science; it is acquired through years of training. The only force capable of leading such an operation is the military itself. That the democratically elected government (both in the Federal capital and the Pakhtunkhwa province) supports the operation and has willingly given the military control of the operations (through a decision of the Pakistan People’s Party and the Awami National Party) suggests that even if the hegemony of the operation lies with the military its armed action cannot be called “unpopular” by any stretch of the imagination. The election campaigns of both the Pakistan People’s Party and the Awami National Party were replete with positions in support of an active struggle against the “Jehadi’s”. The Pakistan People’s Party contingent was targeted on numerous occasions by suicide bombers precisely because of its support for the Lal Masjid operation.

Given then that:

1- The war has already begun, and that it is pursuing a course of its own, independent of our subjective desires.
2- The Pakistan People’s Party (the party of the centre) and the Awami National Party (the party in the province) are openly and actively pursuing the war.
3- The Taliban have violated the terms of the peace negotiations and are plotting suicide bombs almost every week.

It is a matter of secondary importance (although not unimportant) then whether the hegemony of the operation lies with the elected government or with the army. Our support for the operation should be based on whether or not it seeks to annihilate the forces of reaction or not. Our Party supported the Lal Masjid operation at a time when even a partial transition to democracy had not been made. It supported the operation for its class aims; the routing of the forces of reaction by the forces of the status quo. A similar mode of analysis must be utilized to analyze this operation. Instead of falling into the abyss of pedantics we must support the operation since it takes on a head-on collision with the forces of reaction; forces which have most consistently been the enemies of progress, reason and science.

The proletariat cannot stand aloof in times of war; it does not impose pre-conditions on the bourgeois democrats for its historical struggle against pre-democratic forces. It supports every measure that challenges the forces of reaction and criticizes every move towards reconciliation. It is the most militant and consistent representative of progress; it can under no circumstances show any sympathy for forces of reaction either in the name of peace or under the guise of half-baked slogans. We must support any attempt, however imperfect, by the ruling status quo to annihilate the reactionaries. The criteria for support or opposition must be the class character of the contending forces and their goals in the broader historical context. The criteria for support must be: Does this in the broader view of history advance the cause of the proletariat by annihilating or making a dent in the ranks of all or at least one of its class enemies?

In my view, the present operation does indeed advance the cause of the proletariat by taking a head-on battle with the forces of reaction. Yes, it has many imperfections, like all political battles which are seldom in line with pedantic.

We must support the operation.

CMKP Lashes US Gunboat Diplomacy

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Pakistan with tags , , , on September 17, 2008 by Umer

The following statement has been issued by the Central Secretariat of the Communist Mazdoor Kissaan Party Pakistan (Communist Workers Peasants Party – CMKP) on the American or NATO military incursions into the sovereign territory of Pakistan:

Increasing horrendous and horrifying wanton American military intrusions into the sovereign Pakistani territory smack of imperialist gunboat diplomacy for US hegemony in the region in order to perpetuate its military occupation of Afghanistan where the NATO forces or US-led coalition soldiers have actually failed to subdue the indigenous resistance in whatever form that is another issue. The crux of the matter is foreign invasion and military occupation of Afghanistan that was an independent and sovereign country which has been enslaved by the US imperialism. US off and on military incursions into the tribal belt of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan are yet another manifestation of US evil designs against Pakistan under the umbrella of targeting militants and eliminating them through savage aerial and artillery bombardments. Such brutal military actions witness death of innocent people having no links with militancy and terrorism of either Taliban or Al Qaeda. Their houses are destroyed and they are forced to migrate to safer places.

The people of Pakistan are enraged over the US military aggressions against them, who are also bewildered on Pakistan’s military operations in the garb of hunting terrorists and militants under the US instructions. The present US military intrusions and killing of the people in Waziristan are a calculated move to bring the area into US custody for two ulterior motives: complete occupation of Afghanistan with no resistance and occupation of the FATA bordering Afghanistan. The Bush administration is getting frustrated and desperate over the failure of US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan where resistance against the foreign occupation is gaining momentum. The trick of US military intrusions into Pakistan are just to blame this country for not doing enough against what the US calls them Pakistani militants, although the fact is that all the foreign forces deployed in Afghanistan are totally failure in suppressing the resistance against foreign occupation. It seems the Bush administration is so far planning to land US troops in the FATA for its new strategy in the region.

American imperialists are violating the territory of Pakistan that is also against the UN Charter on the sanctity of sovereignty of a nation, while the military establishment of Pakistan and PPP-led coalition government are not taking proper and adequate measures to practically prevent the foreign troops from violating territory of Pakistan. The people of this country want retaliation against the aggressors. But the government lacks courage and spirit to reply foreign invaders in befitting manner because it does not rely on the people’s power but depends on the US patronage and support.

The Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party Pakistan (CMKP) takes the US regular military intervention and sheer violation of the Pakistani territory as a part of occupation of this part of Pakistan. It strongly refutes and lashes US aggressive designs in this area of South Asia, and such menace could be nibed in the bud only through the power of the people in one hand and with support of the anti-imperialist democratic forces of the region and the world at large on the other.

Complete Unity over Fighting the Doctrine of HATE

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Pakistan with tags , , , , on July 14, 2008 by Umer

The recent military operations by Frontier Corps (FC) on the religious extremist groups around Peshawar led to a series of debates and discussion amongst the CMKP members regarding the position to be adopted on the question of Taliban and religious-extremists. The conclusion of the debate has been summarised by Ali Jan that is being presented as follows with minor  editions:

1) First and foremost, we agreed upon the fact that religious extremism is an extremely retrograde force that has to be fought to DEATH. This means: MOBILIZING ALL THE RESOURCES AT OUR DISPOSAL TO MOUNT A RELENTLESS STRUGGLE ON ALL FRONTS – POLITICAL, SOCIAL, ECONOMIC, AND MILITARY – TO END THIS MENACE. The process of the decline and eventual death of religious extremism will invariably lead to the creation of greater democratic spaces for democratic politics, and will create an even greater space for socialist politics if Communists are able to be at the forefront of this struggle. We should therefore wholeheartedly support the death of this doctrine of hate in complete unity.

2) THE MILITARY OPTION: Some commentators feel that the military option is a bad one IN GENERAL; such an opinion can only arise if one holds one or a combination of the following views:


a) THE VISION OF THE TALIBAN IS ANTI-IMPERIALIST AND WE SHOULD SUPPORT THEM INSTEAD: Such a position is a result of complete confusion over the meaning of Imperialism. Imperialism is in essence a set of fundamental economic relations between the ruling classes of the core capitalist countries and those of the periphery. I recommend the article by Samir Amin entitled ‘Political Islam in the Service of Imperialism’ (available at the Monthly Review website) for all those who believe that the Taliban represent an Anti-Imperialist force. In short, only a political culture based on the broad unity of the popular forces (especially the working masses) with the aim of breaking or at least mitigating the exploitative relations of Imperialist capitalism can be called Anti-Imperialist. The Taliban’s project of exclusion based on religion, their dismal treatment of women is absolutely antithetical to the forces needed muster an Anti-Imperialist Movement. They are opposed to modernity in all its forms and are stuck in primordial and medieval times. THEY ARE ANTI-WEST, ANTI-MODERN but NOT ANTI- IMPERIALISTS!

The TALIBAN have to stop being the TALIBAN for any alliance with them!

The confusion on this point is confusion between form and content: people feel that just because the Taliban are ‘Fighting’ the American and NATO forces, and since America and NATO represent Imperialism, on face value, anyone fighting it is Anti-Imperialist. By the same token, we can call German Fascism Anti-Imperialist since it fought British and French Imperialism, or why it did so and with what vision becomes immaterial. Likewise, the Taliban have only in mind a tribalist, anti-modern, medievalist and highly repressive STATE rather than a State that can fundamentally alter the subordinate relations between oppressor and oppressed nations, which is the essence of Imperialism.

b) WE ARE NOT CAPABLE OF FIGHTING THE TALIBAN: This amounts to complete capitulation and we might as well give up all hopes of democracy, let alone socialism and hand over control to the Taliban. The Taliban can go on wreaking havoc on the helpless citizens of NWFP and the Tribal areas, slitting throats and burning down schools and all we can say is that their should make peace deals. Of course, talks should be pursued, but only with those who recognize the democratically elected government of the country, do not go around breaking peace deals, disarm and resort to peaceful propagation of their ideas. Since the ideology of the Taliban does not recognize the state to be “Islamic” and calls for a JIHAD against them, we doubt that they would disarm and become peaceful, as they have proven time and again.


Moreover, it must be clear to the government that no PEACE DEAL be made with any group engaged in violence; NOR should any peace deal be made that subordinates itself too to the interest of these religious-militant groups (I have in mind primarily the Taliban, but we know that there are a number of other groups, some even hostile to one another that are operating). This means that if the condition put forward by these groups is the implementation of ‘TALIBAN STYLE SHARIA’ then the government should reject such a peace outright. We already suffer from ‘Zia-style Islamization’ as it is, we can’t slip further. Also, part of the Awami National Party (ANP) vote is also for a more tolerant version of Islam, if not secularism, and the ANP should stick to desires of its constituency. The Taliban, who hold little popular support compared to the ANP, MUST NOT be allowed to force the government to capitulate through bullets and bomb jackets.

As for the view that we are incapable of fighting the Taliban, well, ITS NOT TRUE because our establishment has helped create these monsters and knows how they think. The speed with which Mangal Bagh resumed talks with the government after the operation showed that our Army knows how to fight this war. It is true that the government MAY not want to completely eliminate these elements, since they have always acted as ‘dogs on a leash’, nurtured by the government and mobilized against progressive forces. However, since 9/11 a split occurred between these groups and U.S. Imperialism. The Pakistani client state, under pressure from US Imperialism, reluctantly decided to act against the monsters it had created in unison with Imperialism. In that situation, the manner in which the operations in the tribal areas and Swat was carried out was problematic; all the Taliban got away and innocent people were massacred, many innocent people were picked up and sold to the Americans as Taliban. We even mentioned that close to 900000 people have been displaced from SWAT alone.

However, this was to point out precisely the conduct of the war hitherto fought and not a call to stop military option altogether. It was to show that the Musharraf government was unable to eliminate the Taliban due to sheer incompetence and also due to the presence of religious extremists inside the Military Intelligence and Establishment who want to keep the Taliban alive; As a result, Musharraf simply went on to score cheap points with the Americans by attacking this or that village, capturing many innocent people and selling them to the Americans and the entire exercise became a grotesque ‘numbers game’. This is the reason why the Pakistani forces, initially viewed as liberators by the local population, quickly became enemies and it even led to increase in support for the Taliban, who found useful recruits in the hapless victims of the Army’s excesses.

This is why when we talk of MILITARY ACTION we do not mean F-16s, drone attacks, or heavy firing on villages, we mean precisely a low- intensity warfare that the government is currently engaged in; using locally recruited Frontier Corp (FC) units aiming to isolate the Taliban from the local population and eliminating them. The DIALECTIC of attacks on the population and support for the Taliban can only be resolved by ensuring local popular participation and the use of the FC troops is a welcome sign. This must be couples with a political, social, and cultural assault on the Taliban’s ideas. The seminaries that produce such extreme views must be reformed, their funding should be monitored, and a long-term process of incorporating the Tribal areas into the mainstream political culture should be initiated.

The legitimate question is, will the same government that helped create the Taliban be willing to do all those things?

We have already mentioned that there are two trends in the Establishment right now: Those with the Taliban and those who want to eliminate them. While the government has been nurturing these elements in the past, they elements now seem to be aggressive enough to warrant an attack from the government itself, albeit reluctantly. The People’s Party of Pakistan (PPP) has already given a detailed program of Madrassah (religious seminaries) reform, disarming of these groups, and incorporation of FATA into the mainstream political process, as well as heavy investment in infrastructural development in those areas. WE CONCEED THAT THE GOVERNMENT will not be able to complete all these tasks to the end, given its class nature. However, given that A CONTRADICTION HAS ARISEN BETWEEN THE EXTREMISTS, OUR STATE
AND IMPERIALISM AND CERTAIN SECTIONS OF THIS STATE DO WANT TO ELIMINATE THESE GROUPS, what progressives need to do is to mobilize people on the basis of holding the government to its words of eliminating religious extremism through struggles on all fronts. IF WE MANAGE TO MOBILIZE POPULAR SUPPORT FOR THE PPP’s program, they will be forced to carry the struggle without reluctance but if we simply hide behind the idea that the government WON’T ELIMINATE THEM IF THEY DO NOT WANT TO. THEY WILL, IF WE FORCE THEM TO DO SO!

2) THIS IS AMERICA’S WAR: Well, YES and NO. The Americans were once part of the nexus that nurtured these elements but now there is a contradiction. Also, its not just Imperialism’s war, it is now our own. THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS THAT WHILE IMPERIALISM is conducting this war for its own interests such as oil, gas and a neo-liberal (read: neo-colonial) regime by conducting indiscriminate bombings and massacres, we must do it on our own terms and our own tactics as explained above. WE MUST REJECT ALL AGGRESSIVE MANUEVERS BY IMPERIALISM such as the threat to attack our regions, and clarify to the people that Imperialism created this monster and it will only increase it if it stays. Again, the response should not be to fold our arms and say, “Well, It is Imperialism’s war and we can’t support it”. SADLY, IT





Howard Zinn: An Illustrated People’s History of the US Empire

Posted in International Affairs, Marxism with tags , , , , , , on June 24, 2008 by Umer

Since its landmark publication in 1980, A People’s History of the United States has had six new editions, sold more than 1.7 million copies and been turned into an acclaimed play. More than a successful book, A People’s History triggered a revolution in the way history is told, displacing the official versions with their emphasis on great men in high places to chronicle events as they were lived, from the bottom up.

Now Howard Zinn, historian Paul Buhle, and cartoonist Mike Konopacki have collaborated to retell, in vibrant comics form, a most immediate and relevant chapter of A People’s History: the centuries-long story of America’s actions in the world. This short animated video explores US expansionism from Wounded Knee to the invasion of Iraq, stopping along the way at World War I, World War II Central America, Vietnam and the Iranian revolution.

Thanks to

Here is an collection of excellent video interviews with Professor Zinn with

“How are traditional American history books limited?”

“What should the next President do to get the military out of Iraq?”

“What did you learn from your experience in WWII?”

“Race in America”

“Who do you endorse for President?”

“What is the state of democracy in America?”

“What is your philosophy?”

“What is the state of the world today?”

“What do you want to be remembered for?”

(Note that each video includes more than one question…)

Do Countries Sell Their Own People?

Posted in Law, Pakistan with tags , , , , on March 19, 2008 by Umer
 Civil liberties in the age of the War on Terror


Venue: HRCP auditorium (107 Tipu Block, Garden Town, Near Barkat Market).

Map: Directions to HRCP
Date: Sunday, 23rd March, 2008

Starting Time: 3:00 pm
Organizers: Young Professionals Lahore, Students Action Committee, FastRising

About the speakers:
Mrs. Amna Masood Janjua, spokesperson of the families of the missing people. Mrs Amna Masood’s husband went missing about 2 years ago, since then she has waged struggle for the release of his husband whose whereabouts are still unknown. She has been joined by the relatives of other missing persons whose loved ones went missing during the last some years (allegedly ’sold’ to US agencies, on the pre text of war on terror). The issue made headlines when CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry took notice and ensured the release of several missing persons from the shackles of illegal detention.

We also hope to have with us a senior lawyer of the Lahore High Court who can shed some light on this issue from the perspective of human rights law and practice in Pakistan.

Rationale: We hope that this seminar will be an opportunity for ordinary citizens to engage in a constructive debate on this issue and to understand how the lack of due process and of accountability of the state machinery has caused such suffering for the missing persons and their families.

We also hope that this could lead to a deeper understanding of the ways in which the pervasive corruption of our administration has made it possible for the establishment to subvert democratic norms in pursuit of its blind obedience to foreign directives in the name of the War on Terror.

We reiterate our stance that we are against the use of violence to achieve political aims. Thus we reject the blanket cover offered by the term “collateral damage”, whether used by NATO or by their enemies. We believe in strengthening and reforming our judicial system and in vesting greater authority in the elected representatives of the people, in order that the cycle of violence and revenge be ended through a fair process of arbitration.

Spreading the word: If you wish to publicise the event, please share this link with them, or else print out our poster and post it on your notice-board at university or in your office.

R.S.V.P: aileeeNU AT gmail, 0343 – 416 74 47

Why the Emergency?

Posted in Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , on November 3, 2007 by Umer

Emergency My FootThe straightforward answer to the above question is: to set the score straight with the Judiciary. The declaration of Emergency, as has been made clear by the text of the proclamation, which also shows that General Musharraf is first and foremost the Chief of Army Staff, and his speech, is in reality a declaration of war against the Judiciary and the Constitution of Pakistan. This time around, the General has decided to play the game in a clear-cut way rather than engaging in any complex legal deliberations.

The proclamation of Emergency-cum-Marshall Law leaves no doubt about its key target: “some members of the judiciary” who are working at the “cross purpose with the executive and legislature in the fight against terrorism and extremism”!!! Although the General has completely flushed the constitutional theory down the drain, he has also expressed his misconceived perception that he is only hope left of the people of Pakistan against rampant terrorism and extremism. What rubbish! He is the one who should be carrying the burden of blame for the mounting religious militancy; for he towed the Imperialist line in the ‘war in terror’, not the members of Judiciary. If the members of the Judiciary were offsetting the role of the notorious intelligence agencies and calling for transparency in the system in the favor of fundamental constitutional rights, what was so preposterous about that – except for the fact that the higher-ups in these agencies find any interference from the ‘non-intelligent’ civilians extremely distasteful?

The upsurge of religious extremism is a threat for the people of Pakistan – conceded. However, that being said, the Military dictatorship of General Musharraf can never provide a solution to problem of raging religious militancy. One of the main reasons for the escalating terrorism in the name of religion is the “war on terror” which has victimized the innocent civilians of North Western Frontier Province at countless occasions. For the people of that devastated region, who see the army of their own country fighting against them, General Musharraf is nothing but a stooge of U.S. Imperialism.

But the thrust behind that declaration of Emergency is not the threat from religious extremism. Despite the recent events in Swat, the religious militants could have been fought well without any Emergency in place, or the Emergency could have been limited to those areas where the armed clashes were taking place. The real thorn in the way of General Musharraf’s authority was not religious militants, though it’s a good pretext to show to the International community. The real problem was the judiciary of Pakistan.

The Judiciary of Pakistan, which proudly terms itself as the ‘watch dog of the constitution’, has emerged as an anti-authoritarian institution over the last eight years due to its internal drive to find coherence in law. It has revealed almost all the hypocritical facades that the present Military regime built around itself. They shattered the myth of economic prosperity and efficient governance while exposing the corrupt privatization policies and tried to do justice with the victims of the infamous intelligence agencies. Finding it hard to tolerate the Judiciary, General Musharraf decided to mend it so that it can get back to old track of serving the Military Might.

General Musharraf tried to re-structure the institution of judiciary on March 9th this year by suspending the Chief Justice of Pakistan, but was met with a surprise. His attempts were frustrated by the massive popular protests led by the legal fraternities all across Pakistan. With the help of popular forces, the Judiciary emerged as a more independent institution even though it posed no major immediate threats to the existing Military dictatorship. Nevertheless, General Musharraf must have realized that the upcoming elections will present a number of constitutional questions – all to be decided before a court no longer in his pocket. And when the constitution could not provide any adequate way out for the General – the constitution was to give some democracy after all – he simply decided to do away with it. No constitution, no judiciary.

Moreover, the timing of the emergency is that crucial moment when a critical decision from the Supreme Court deciding over fate of General Musharraf’s election to the President’s office was due. “The Supreme Court was going to rule against him,” told Aitzaz Ahsan, the arrested president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Aitzaz Ahsan, and now there is no good reason to doubt his judgment. The Constitution of Pakistan could no longer provide a room to accommodate Musharraf as the President of Pakistan. As Aitzaz Ahsan puts it, “Constitutionally he [Musharraf] had no right to run as president while staying a general. This is the end of the road for him.”

It is also to be noted that Judges of Supreme Court immediately denounced the emergency orders, which suspended the constitution of Pakistan. Seven of the 17 Supreme Court judges signed a declaration calling the state of emergency illegal. As expected, they were all kidnapped by the Police and taken away.

With a constitution – which despite all its inadequacies proved to be an anti-authoritarian instrument when in right hands – out of the picture, the politics of Pakistan is plainly about power. It is the People versus the Military. Who will win, only time can tell? But, there is no reason to be a cynic. Let’s hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.