Sad State of Pakistan’s lower judiciary

The recent Judge Arshad Malik saga that is playing out in the media, social media and parliament reflects the utterly sad state of Pakistan’s lower judiciary. In 2018 Judge Malik convicted former PM Nawaz Sharif in the Al Azizia case and was accused by the PML-N of “delivering the verdict under pressure.” In support of this argument, Maryam Nawaz Sharif released videos to prove her claims. The judge, however, denied acting under pressure, and made counter allegations that Nawaz Sharif and the PML-N were seeking to bribe him. Las week the Islamabad High Court (IHC) removed the accountability court judge and then Law Ministry temporarily barred him from working.

According to veteran journalist Zahid Hussain, “The Judge Arshad Malik saga is a tragicomedy. His affidavit submitted in the Islamabad High Court is being seen as a testimony of his compromised character. It also exposes the sad state of our lower judiciary and its apparent vulnerability to manipulation. In his statement, the judge confesses to being blackmailed and claims that the Sharif family tried to bribe him. But in a purported video conversation, he reportedly talks about convicting the former prime minister under duress. While the credibility of the video has yet to be established, Judge Malik did not deny talking to the persons in the video. The whole episode is scandalous. The judge may have been removed from the accountability court but no disciplinary action has been taken against him as yet.”

Further, Hussain notes, “it is not just a legal matter; the scandal has become an explosive political issue with both the opposition and the government trying to use the controversy against each other and engaging in a toxic blame game. The incident has brought into question the entire accountability process, given the alleged susceptibility of judges to pressure from state elements and from the rich and powerful. True, it’s not the first such case in our judicial history, but there is greater notoriety attached to it on account of it being a politically high-profile incident. The real issue related to the credibility of the entire judicial system has been lost in the cacophony of political point-scoring. The case of Judge Malik epitomises the ugly face of our judicial system.”

Finally, “The case of Judge Arshad Malik must not be seen in isolation. Judges like him are the product of a system where the judiciary is pulled into a vicious power game that compromises its independence. A tainted judiciary would be in danger of being seen as the biggest threat to the rule of law and democracy.”

Media trial instead of actual investigation

Another media trial appears to be in the making this time around former Chief Minister of Punjab and senior leader of PML-N, Shahbaz Sharif.

According to a story in The UK paper Mail “Shahbaz Sharif during his tenure as Punjab chief minister embezzled millions of pounds out of around £500m that Britain’s Department for International Aid has poured into the province for upliftment projects. According to the report, a substantial chunk of the money for the rehabilitation of the victims of the 2005 earthquake was also diverted into the personal accounts of the PML-N leader and his family through an elaborate money-laundering scheme.”

Shahzad Akbar, special assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan, “at a press conference on Monday displayed copies of pay orders as evidence that millions of rupees had been illegally transferred from the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority to a company owned by Mr Sharif’s son-in-law.”

According to an Editorial in the Dawn “If proven correct, they could call into question DFID’s oversight mechanisms and imperil its development aid to Pakistan, which is the largest recipient of its international funding.”

The Dawn’s questions are relevant, “one wonders why the government did not hand over what it believes is incriminating evidence for NAB to investigate, rather than extending robust cooperation to a British tabloid — that too one which has been successfully sued several times. when the government has taken a strong position against media coverage to convicts and prisoners under trial, why was the writer of the MoS story given access to an individual arrested by NAB on suspicion of money laundering? And why was DFID’s earthquake rehabilitation funding directed towards Punjab at all when the brunt of the disaster was borne by people in KP and Azad Kashmir? One also hopes the government will be more forthcoming about how money was allegedly siphoned from funds handled by Erra, a federal authority, for the benefit of the then Punjab chief minister.”

And Dawn warns, “the matter seems to have become yet another media trial which does not strengthen the perception of an accountability process free of political bias.”

HRCP on Allegations of Rana Sanaullah being ill-treated in jail

In the crackdown against dissent the establishment seems to have decided they will lock up every politician they can. Senior politician and PML-N leader, Rana Sanaullah was arrested by the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) and according to reports by his family is being ill-treated in jail.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) recently issued a statement expressing deep concerns “over the grave allegations it has received regarding senior PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah’s treatment in detention. HRCP was approached by his wife, Nabila Sanaullah, who claims that her husband, a diabetes and blood pressure patient, shows visible signs of ill health. After an initial meeting the day he was arrested, Mrs Sanaullah says she was not allowed to see him until three days later. She found that his voice was very low, his hands were trembling and he could not walk without support. He told his wife he had not been given anything to eat for 48 hours following his arrival at the District Jail in Lahore. He added that he had been kept in solitary confinement in a small cell and made to sleep on a mat on the floor. According to his wife, he was told by the jail authorities that no family member had been to see him.”

The HRCP notes that the charges by his family “are serious charges and need to be investigated swiftly and independently. HRCP has applied for permission to visit Mr Sanaullah, but this has not been granted yet. We have been told that the authorities concerned have directed the jail staff to issue a report on the state of his health. However, given widespread allegations of political victimisation, independent observation and assessment is necessary. Internal reports alone will not inspire confidence. Indeed, if there is no reason for public concern, then the government’s apparent reluctance to grant HRCP permission to visit Mr Sanaullah only increases the anxiety over his treatment in detention. HRCP would like to remind the state of its obligation to ensure that all prisoners have access to the food and medicine they need. To deprive any prisoner of this basic standard of care amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. HRCP strongly advises the government to take urgent action in this regard if it is to refute the claims of political victimisation.”

FM Qureshi Gets Heckled in London while Lying about Freedom in Pakistan

During a recent trip to London, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi decided to participate in a seminar on defending media freedom. Not only was his session boycotted by journalists, in protest against the increasing repression inside Pakistan, but Mr Qureshi was heckled. Instead of being statesmanlike, the Foreign Minister preferred to lie blatantly about how there was no media repression inside Pakistan.

While Pakistan has always ranked low on press freedom, the last two weeks have shown blatant disregard for any pretense. “Pemra suspended transmission of three private TV channels a couple of days ago for airing an interview of PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari who is in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau and facing a trial in a fake accounts / money laundering case.

The authority also took off air an interview of the former president which was being conducted by anchor Hamid Mir on July 1, on the premises of the Parliament House where the former had come to attend a National Assembly session after the house’s speaker had issued his production order.”

This week on Wednesday the government announced a media ban on “convicted politicians.” As per news reports, the federal cabinet “decided to block media coverage and interviews of politicians who are convicts or under-trail prisoners and directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regula­tory Authority (Pemra) to fulfill its “responsibility” to discourage airing of such programs by electronic media.”

As an Editorial in Dawn stated “The muzzling of the media is becoming more brazen, more dictatorial by the day. No longer is there even any pretense of a level playing field for media outlets.  It is ironic for a regulatory body to not be following its own SOPs — that too while making flimsy allegations about the ‘offending’ channels having violated the electronic media’s code of conduct. In fact, one could more plausibly argue that Pemra is guilty of breaching its mandate, which includes expanding the choice available to the public for accessing the news and optimising the “free flow of information”. Indeed, the regulator seems to have become a handmaiden to the repressive forces micro-managing print and electronic media.”

The Dawn Editorial warned “A divided media is all the more susceptible to being coerced and hounded into submission; that is one of many good reasons for the media to forge unity among its ranks. Capitulation should not be an option.”

Pakistani Psy-Warriors Churn out Trash for Blogs & Websites

The piece below was submitted for publication to a U. S. website. It had no author’s name or detailed address. It was submitted in hopes that it would slip past an inattentive editor. It is one example of how Pak’s psy-warriors use submission forms of international media and think tank websites.

It will probably end up in one of several outlets that routinely run unverified stuff …

Imran, the next Erdogan?
By Kelton High

When your nation is in peril, the armed forces and God is summoned. For when the security threats elapse, soldiers are belittled and God is history.

Understanding and being well informed about your enemy is an indispensable part of any style of warfare and governance. The renowned and long-lived Chinese strategist and military general Sun Tzu spelled this in his literature roughly two and a half millennia’s ago, around 500 BC. It is challenging to gain triumph in wars devoid of reliable and valuable intelligence regardless of any type of warfare being directed. Countless lives are saved with strong incessant intelligence in the War of Terror can precede to triumph. Only when politicians are well-informed can effective decision making prevail in a state. This information is circulated by the intelligence agencies. Several countries globally are on one page together collectively embroiled combatting the war on terror (WOT), yet it is unheard in these nations undermining the endeavors of their very own intelligence agencies. The establishment’s agencies strategic and tactical benefits are never abraded by politics. Then, why is Pakistani politics self-destructive in itself that it emasculates its defense forces? The question that arises is why Pakistan culminates in pampering social media as a weapon but also to demoralize the achievements of its own intelligence agencies.

Pakistan is made a unique nation with the predominant dynastic politics where the fresh immature leaders occupy their father’s seat or portfolio. With inexperience and great power come reckless speeches which are anti-establishment most often against state agencies lacking extensive evidence and suffering from impulsiveness instead of creating authoritative and controlling incentives creating nationalistic harmony in the country. Our nation is only deceived with such politically inaccurate speeches.

Are our politicians’ duty bound to take a political position that improves the competences of our foes and destabilizes our own? The MNA’s supported by Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) namely Ali WazirandMohsinDawarwho piloted and motivated a military check post attack. The military’s work at a tactical level is no concern of theirs and should not have pried into military affairs. Their position drives them to engage politically at a macro and not micro level being members of the National Assembly.

This act by these MNA’s executed was predicted and forthcoming, but it is unfortunate to perceive what Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League- N is ensuing is politically pathetic and piteous. Politicians anywhere in the world do not confront and oppose their very own organizations. Post 9/11, the US has disbursed billions of dollars just to circumvent another attack of such magnitude on the US soil. Many blunders were caused by the US intelligence agencies and its military establishment but never have they been sneered at instead they were accredited by every American citizen for sacrificing their lives for their nation to avert any other attacks on the US home soil. Several political analysts are deeming this age to be the most efficacious stage in the history of American intelligence. However, on the other hand, what are the Pakistani politicians executing and accomplishing? As a nation, have we forgotten the vis-à-vis sacrifice, integrity, self-worth nobility, and national dignity? Do we still believe in the following values, ethics, dogma’s to pursue common ends of the nation? Perhaps, the answer can be established.

In Europe, centralized Monarchies existed during the period of 16th and 17th century Phillip II of Spain and King Louis III of France. All they were occupied in was ruling over mindless empires and consolidate power. The period of Enlightenment subsequently emerged and the princesses and rulers were no longer Europeans, amidst many changes slavery was abolished and women rights were safeguarded. The courts of Europe ended the need for clowns and court jesters. The clowns and the court jesters and the rich laugh instigators had a confident determination as they were aware of their meaningful existence as the Emperor’s happiness and joy had to be taken care of with sheer amusement and entertainment these court jesters presented. These clown jesters are the characters identified as Shakespeare’s fools part of Shakespeare’s works notable plays i.e.‘A midsummer night’s dream. As the empires crumbled these court jesters retired and democracy spread across the world and so did the dangers escalate.

Circumstances are not similar in Pakistan, over the last decade politics in our country has sustained to yield princes and princesses and emperors rather than leaders those who have a perspective on the world which is poles apart; ‘a wingchair, lounger and sitting room’ vision of the milieu and surroundings of the poor people’s lives they rule. The several court jesters that enclose them are similarly uninformed of the masses sorrows and woes and they provoke the Princes, Emperors and Princesses gratification and smiles to remind them how truly loved and popular they are amongst the grassroots. The work environment, vacations, schooling, living standards, and income disparity has no similitude to the lower class that bear the brunt under their authority. While they ascend to the peers of the realm is the upholding and means of safeguarding of their empires and throne they govern from the periphery is ruled by the core as the incompetent state that has been constructed by aristocrats have inherited nothing but poverty in return.

We don’t need to delve for the jokers of today and the court jesters in the courts of the emperors. They concede themselves to be found all over social media i.e. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. They repeatedly do the same thing their ancestors and forefathers did, to pacify the leaders and the lordships. They were qualified to raise repeated political contentions for the justification of their masters therefore, responsible for boundless enjoyment to their spectators. Will, we ever become serious-minded and like the Europeans or Chinese politically abandon our Emperors along with their clowns. The question to be answered is when will these so-called emperors conclude their unpopular drama and depart from the political ambit to be governed by the leadership intrinsically from the poverty-stricken populace of Pakistan.
It is has been revealed the emperors who are still surviving after Eid, are probably going to exhibit a grand political performance. The write of the government will be defied and also the armed authorities by perhaps integrating Pashtun Tahafuz Movements protest group in their ranks also.

The only plausible suggestions for Prime Minister and his administration; walk in Erdogan’s footsteps- be self-confident, be hard-nosed and monocratic. Prior to democracy, social order needs to be instilled in the country. It’s long overdue for the Emperors to resign and retire; for the clowns to pursue new courts. It’s a dawn of a new beginning for Pakistan to improvise and advance in the right direction.