Court Revives Investigation on ISI Money for Politicians

Air Marshal (Retd) Asghar Khan
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday fixed February 29 to hear the petition filed by Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Asghar Khan 16 years ago pertaining to Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) distributing money among politicians.

Meanwhile, the former ISI chief Gen. (Retd) Durrani submitted an affidavit confirming the accusation.

The petition has called upon the apex court to punish the politicians and political groups who have been receiving pots of money from the agency.

Various politicians had demanded the petition to be heard.

Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan, in 1996, wrote a letter to then chief justice Nasim Hasan Shah against former army chief Mirza Aslam Baig, former ISI chief Lt-General (retd) Asad Durrani and Younis Habib of Habib and Mehran Banks, relating to the disbursement of public money and its misuse for political purposes.

Aboard the Democracy Train Excerpt  (P. 27)

Elections Were the Tip of the Iceberg

As a guest of the interim Prime Minister Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, I had witnessed how state funds and propaganda were used to defeat Benazir.  But I was still an onlooker, without inside knowledge of what had transpired in the inner circles. Then still an inexperienced reporter, I couldn’t guess how the establishment defeated the PPP, which, right or wrong, had the support of the masses.

In 1996, some clues emerged.  Retired Air Marshal Asghar Khan filed a case in the Supreme Court, alleging that the powerful secret service wing of the army – the ISI – had rigged the 1990 election. Based on Asghar Khan’s petition, former ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani took the stand in the Supreme Court and provided an affidavit that the army had indeed distributed Pkr 140 million (USD 1.6 million) to anti-PPP candidates, only a few months before the October 1990 election.

The anti-PPP candidates banded in the IJI comprised feudal, Islamic and ethnic parties that resolutely opposed Benazir’s populist rule. Subsequently, we learnt that the care-taker President Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, who had stayed mum while Chip probed him – had actually taken PKR 5 million (USD 59,000) from the ISI. Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif – who was ushered in by the military to succeed Benazir as prime minister – was revealed to have received PKR 3.5 million (USD 41,000) from the spy agencies.

Apparently, the army was so scared that Benazir would be elected back into power that their IJI coalition distributed state funds among various interest groups to prevent her return.

As I covered national politics, Asghar Khan talked to me in earnest, as though I was a player rather than a reporter. Then in coalition with the PPP, he told me that Benazir and Nawaz ought to unite to repeal Article 58-2(b). This was the constitutional clause introduced by Gen. Zia ul Haq that allowed presidents like Ghulam Ishaq Khan to dissolve the assembly.

Although, I shared Asghar Khan’s desire for principled politics, it surprised me that he seemed clueless about Benazir’s approach of doing whatever it took to return to power.

Secretary’s Ouster in Pakistan Adds to Tension with Army

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani fired his defense secretary, a retired general and confidant of Pakistan’s army chief, on Wednesday as the civilian government appeared headed for a collision with the country’s powerful military leadership.

Mr. Gilani accused the dismissed secretary of defense, Naeem Khalid Lodhi, a former general and corps commander, of “gross misconduct and illegal action” and of “creating misunderstanding between the state institutions.” He replaced Mr. Lodhi with a civilian aide, Nargis Sethi.

Military officials warned on Wednesday evening that the army would be likely to refuse to work with Ms. Sethi, signaling the possibility of a serious rupture between the army and the civilian government. “The army will not react violently, but it will not cooperate with the new secretary of defense,” said a military officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the situation.

Tensions between the government of President Asif Ali Zardari and the army leadership have grown worse since the publication of a controversial memo purportedly drafted by the government shortly after an American raid last year killed Osama bin Laden. The memo appeared to solicit help in stopping a possible coup by the humiliated Pakistani military.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the army chief, called an emergency meeting of his top commanders for Thursday.

Ordinarily, the defense secretary here is appointed with the consent of the army chief and acts as a bridge between the government and the military. The role is more powerful than that of the defense minister, a position filled by a politician from the governing party.

The military has warned the prime minister that his recent statements against General Kayani would have “serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country.” Mr. Gilani had accused General Kayani and Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the director general of Pakistan’s intelligence service, of acting as a “state within a state” and reminded them that they were accountable to the Parliament. Those statements were seen as suggesting that they could be removed from power.

The defense secretary’s signature is required for any appointment, or termination, of a member of the military leadership. By installing a defense secretary of his own choice, Mr. Gilani appeared to be seeking greater leverage for his government in dealing with the military.

Speculation about the government’s intentions to dismiss the two commanders was fueled by news reports in the stridently anti-American press in Pakistan, where many people view the United States as an arrogant adversary instead of an ally. That view has spread in the months since the Bin Laden raid last May and the deaths of 26 Pakistani soldiers in an American airstrike near the border with Afghanistan in November.

Pakistani analysts said the firing of Mr. Lodhi might signal that the festering conflict between the army and the government was reaching a critical stage.

“It is a desperate measure,” said Ikram Sehgal, a defense analyst and a former army officer. “They want the army to react and to make a coup.”

Hasan-Askari Rizvi, a military and political analyst, said the firing would only exacerbate the situation for the civilian government. “If the prime minister now tries to fire the army chief, it will have very dangerous consequences,” Mr. Rizvi said.

Mr. Lodhi, who retired from the army last March and became defense secretary in November, became embroiled in a controversy last month after he submitted a statement in the Supreme Court on behalf of the Defense Ministry, saying that the civilian government had no operational control over the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, Pakistan’s powerful spy agency. Saying that Mr. Lodhi had overstepping his authority, Mr. Gilani objected to the blunt statement, a public acknowledgment that while the intelligence services are technically answerable to the prime minister, they are widely perceived to act independently of civilian control.

A military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly said that the relationship between Mr. Lodhi and Mr. Gilani broke down after the prime minister’s staff pressed Mr. Lodhi to contradict statements about the controversial memo by the army and intelligence chiefs, Generals Kayani and Pasha. The two told the Supreme Court last month that the memo — said to have been orchestrated by a former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani — was authentic, and pointed to a conspiracy against the military. The government and Mr. Haqqani have said that they had nothing to do with the memo, which came to light in October.

“The government had prepared a draft that stated that the Ministry of Defense does not agree with General Kayani and Genera Pasha’s opinions about the veracity of the memo,” said the military official, who was present during the discussions. “General Lodhi refused to sign the document, saying those were not his words.”

J. David Goodman contributed reporting from New York.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 11, 2012

An earlier version of this article referred imprecisely the writing of a memo, which solicited help in stopping a possible coup in Pakistan. The facts of its creation are in dispute, with some accusing the former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, of orchestrating the controversial memo, a charge he has denied. Also, a summary for this story on the global edition home page incorrectly stated that Mr. Gilani had fired General Kayani. In fact, as the article correctly stated, Mr. Gilani fired his secretary of defense, Naeem Khalid Lodhi.

‘Pakistan Deadliest Country for Journalists for a Second Year’

Slain journalist Saleem Shahzad

NEW YORK: Pakistan remained the deadliest country for the press for a second year, while across the world coverage of political unrest proved unusually dangerous in 2011, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in its year-end survey of journalist fatalities. CPJ’s analysis found notable shifts from historical data: Targeted murders declined while deaths during dangerous assignments such as the coverage of street protests reached their highest level on record. Photographers and camera operators, often the most vulnerable during violent unrest, died at rates more than twice the historical average.

At least 43 journalists were killed around the world in direct relation to their work in 2011, with the seven deaths in Pakistan marking the heaviest losses in a single nation. Libya and Iraq, each with five fatalities, and Mexico, with three deaths, also ranked high worldwide for journalism-related fatalities. The global tally is consistent with the toll recorded in 2010, when 44 journalists died in connection with their work. CPJ is investigating another 35 deaths in 2011 to determine whether they were work-related.

CPJ’s survey identified significant changes in the nature of journalist fatalities. Sixteen journalists died while on dangerous assignments, many of them while covering the chaotic and violent confrontations between authorities and protesters during the uprisings that swept the Arab world. The victims included Hassan al-Wadhaf, a Yemeni cameraman shot by a sniper while covering antigovernment protests in Sana’a, and Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud, an Egyptian reporter gunned down while filming a protest in Cairo.“Journalists working in this environment are in no less danger than war correspondents covering an armed conflict,” said Ahmed Tarek, a reporter for the Middle East News Agency who was assaulted by police while covering protests in Alexandria, Egypt. “The greatest danger journalists are facing today in post-revolution Arab countries is the targeting of journalists by political forces hostile to anyone who exposes them.”

The 19 murders recorded in 2011 were the lowest total since 2002. Targeted murders—which historically account for nearly three-quarters of journalist deaths—constituted less than half of the 2011 toll. But murders were reported in both Russia and the Philippines, two countries long plagued by deadly, anti-press violence. In the southern Russian republic of Dagestan, an assassin waited outside the offices of the critical independent newspaper Chernovikand gunned down its founder, Gadzhimurad Kamalov. In the Philippines, CPJ documented the work-related murders of two radio commentators. One of them, Romeo Olea, was shot in the back while riding his motorcycle to work. CPJ is waging a Global Campaign Against Impunity that focuses particularly on these two countries.

Eight journalists died in combat situations in 2011, most of them during the Libyan revolution. The victims included the internationally acclaimed photojournalists Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington, who were killed by a mortar round in the western city of Misurata, and Ali Hassan al-Jaber, a cameraman for Al-Jazeera who was shot outside Benghazi by forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi. The Libyan conflict was “one of the truly televised revolutions,” said James Foley, an American video journalist for Global Post who was detained there in April. “Everyone was using a camera—and a camera is much more recognizable.”

Photojournalists suffered particularly heavy losses in 2011. Photographers and camera operators constituted about 40 percent of the overall death toll, about double the proportion CPJ has documented since it began keeping detailed fatality records in 1992. Among those killed was Lucas Mebrouk Dolega, a photographer for European Pressphoto Agency who was struck by a tear gas canister fired by security forces trying to quell a massive January protest that led to the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Eight online journalists were killed for their work during the year. Among the victims was Mexican reporter Maria Elizabeth Macías Castro, whose decapitated body was found near the city of Nuevo Laredo, along with a note saying she had been killed for reporting news on social media websites. Her murder was the first documented by CPJ worldwide that came in direct relation to journalism published on social media. The online death toll also includes Mohammed al-Nabbous, founder of the website Libya Al-Hurra TV, who was killed while covering a battle in Benghazi. Al-Nabbous had been streaming live audio from the scene of the battle when his feed was suddenly interrupted by gunfire.

Internet journalists rarely appeared on CPJ’s death toll before 2008. But since that time, as online journalists constitute an ever-greater proportion of the front-line reporting corps, the number of victims who worked online has increased steadily.

CPJ’s analysis also found a high proportion of freelancers among the 2011 victims. Nearly one-third of the toll was composed of freelance journalists, more than twice the proportion that freelancers have constituted over time. Azerbaijani freelance reporter Rafiq Tagi died in November after being stabbed on a Baku street. He had been threatened over his critical coverage of both Islamist politics and government policies.

Journalists protest the murder of Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad. (AP)

Anti-press violence continued at high levels in Pakistan, where 29 journalists have died in direct relation to their work in the past five years. The 2011 victims included Saleem Shahzad, a reporter for Asia Times Online, who was murdered after exposing links between Al-Qaeda and Pakistan’s navy. Five of the seven fatalities in Pakistan were targeted murders, and all are unsolved. Long-term CPJ research shows Pakistan to be among the worst countries in the world in bringing the killers of journalists to justice. “The solution is simple and very difficult at the same time,” said Pakistani reporter Umar Cheema, who was himself abducted and brutally assaulted in 2010. “The government should be taking it seriously and realize it is their duty to protect journalists. If a journalist is threatened, the culprit should be brought to justice. Even if in one case the culprits were brought to justice, that would be a clear message that the crime will not go unpunished.”

The death toll in Libya, while high, was unsurprising given the armed revolt and overall level of violence. That Iraq, with five deaths, matched Libya’s fatality rate illustrates the entrenched level of violence in that country. After record death tolls in the middle part of the last decade, fatalities in Iraq began dropping in 2008. But deaths have levelled out in recent years as journalists continue to die in both targeted murders and insurgent attacks such as the March assault on a provincial government building in Tikrit that took the lives of reporters Sabah al-Bazi and Muammar Khadir Abdelwahad.

In Mexico, CPJ documented three deaths in direct relation to journalism and is investigating the killings of four other journalists. Mexican authorities appear paralyzed in their efforts to combat pervasive anti-press violence; Congress continued to debate legislation in late year that would federalize crimes against free expression, taking the cases out of the hands of local officials who have been corrupted and cowed by criminal gangs. Mexican journalists continue to face a dark choice: Censor their own work or be at risk. Noel López Olguín, whose newspaper column “With a Lead Pen” took on drug trafficking and official corruption, was found in a clandestine grave in Veracruz state in May, two months after gunmen had abducted him.

Afghanistan and Somalia, two conflict-ridden countries with persistent levels of anti-press violence, each recorded fatalities in 2011. CPJ documented the deaths of one journalist and one media worker in Somalia, along with the killings of two journalists in Afghanistan.

The deaths, though a continent apart, bore similarities that illustrate the extreme danger of covering conflict. In Somalia, African Union troops fired on a humanitarian aid convoy, killing Malaysian cameraman Noramfaizul Mohd. The AU called the shooting accidental but released no details. In Afghanistan, a U.S. soldier shot Ahmad Omaid Khpalwak, a correspondent for Pajhwok Afghan News and the BBC, during an insurgent attack in Tarin Kot. The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan concluded that the soldier mistook Khpalwak’s press card for a bomb trigger.

Two journalists died in Bahraini government custody. Karim Fakhrawi, a founder of the independent newspaper Al-Wasat, and Zakariya Rashid Hassan al-Ashiri, editor of a local news website in the village of Al-Dair, died within a week of each other in April. Although the government claimed the two died of natural causes, there are widespread allegations that abusive treatment led to their deaths. Al-Wasat co-founder Mansoor al-Jamri said the death of Fakhrawi was a message from the government to its critics: “This could happen to you, and no one will protect you, and no one can do anything for you.”

Here are other trends and details that emerged in CPJ’s analysis:

  • The heaviest losses occurred in nations across the Middle East and North Africa, where CPJ documented 18 work-related fatalities in all. Thirteen work-related deaths were documented in Asia, seven in the Americas, three in Africa, and two in Europe and Central Asia.
  • In two countries, Tunisiaand Syria, CPJ recorded the first work-related deaths since it began compiling detailed data two decades ago. In Syria, freelance cameraman Ferzat Jarban was tortured and slain in Homs province after he had covered antigovernment demonstrations. “The work of a reporter in Syria before and after the protests is much like working in a minefield,” said Karim al-Afnan, a freelance journalist who was forced into exile in 2011. “The state views a journalist as a rival and their battle with journalists is one for survival.”
  • Five media support workers were killed worldwide. They include the Ivorian Marcel Legré, a printing press employee who was killed by supporters of Alassane Ouattara who at the time was locked in a presidential election dispute with incumbent Laurent Gbagbo. Legré’s newspaper was seen as pro-Gbagbo.
  • At least two journalists were reported missingduring the year, both in Mexico. At least 11 journalists have been reported missing in Mexico over the past decade, by far the highest number worldwide. All are feared dead.
  • Among murder victims, more than 70 percent had reported receiving threats in the weeks before they died. Long-term CPJ research shows that physical attacks are often preceded by phone or electronic threats.
  • Other places with confirmed, work-related fatalities were Brazil, Nigeria, Thailand, Peru, Dominican Republic, and Vietnam.
  • Of the 35 deaths in which CPJ has yet to confirm a work-related motive, a large number, 20, are in the Americas. In much of the Americas, the web of crime and official corruption, combined with a lack of effective law enforcement, makes the determination of a motive exceedingly difficult.

CPJ began compiling detailed records on all journalist deaths in 1992. CPJ staff members independently investigate and verify the circumstances behind each death. CPJ considers a case work-related only when its staff is reasonably certain that a journalist was killed in direct reprisal for his or her work; in crossfire; or while carrying out a dangerous assignment.

If the motives in a killing are unclear, but it is possible that a journalist died in relation to his or her work, CPJ classifies the case as “unconfirmed” and continues to investigate. CPJ’s list does not include journalists who died from illness or were killed in accidents—such as car or plane crashes—unless the crash was caused by hostile action. Other press organizations using different criteria cite higher numbers of deaths than CPJ.

CPJ’s database of journalists killed for their work in 2011includes capsule reports on each victim and a statistical analysis. CPJ also maintains a database of all journalists killed since 1992. A final list of journalists killed in 2011 will be released in early January.

This report was compiled by CPJ staff with additional reporting by Kristin Jones and Dahlia El-Zein.

‘Memo gate’ Smoking Gun in Pak Show Down against US

'Memo gate'

The vitriolic exchanges between a US businessman of Pakistan origin, Mansoor Ijaz and Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani – which have played out as infotainment in Pakistan’s lively television channels – are tell-tale signs of a civilian government in trouble.

The incident known as `memo gate’ unfolded when a secret American mission killed Al Qaeda’s most wanted leader Osama Bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan in May 2011. Six months later, ambassador Haqqani resigned – in what can only be described as  collateral damage from the covert mission.

Shortly after the incident in which US Navy seals had intruded into Pakistan’s air space without clearance, Ijaz reported that Haqqani funneled a memo through him to the Pentagon. In it, the journalist turned ambassador – negotiating between warring intelligence agencies – allegedly solicited US assistance in preempting a coup against the Zardari government.

The confirmation by the former US national security adviser Gen. James Jones that Ijaz did pass on the memo through him to then serving Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, has deepened suspicions within Pakistan’s army about the role played by its government in Washington.

The Pakistani media has delved deep into why Haqqani – a well-connected emissary with good communication skills – needed a crutch to get his memo across to the Pentagon. The picture they draw is of an ambassador who relied on verbal messages to cover his tracks… leading back to his fragile government.

In Pakistan, shooting the messenger has had the intended effect of getting President Asif Zardari and prime minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani to distance themselves from their ambassador and deny that they solicited any help from Washington.

But the petition filed in the Supreme Court by Pakistan’s chief opposition politician, Nawaz Sharif for an investigation into `memo gate,’ and court orders to Haqqani to remain in the country till the matter is resolved,  has implications for the PPP government.

Sharif’s petition not only names Zardari but also the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani and the ISI chief Shuja Pasha. The  basic question raised by the opposition leader is  how the US flew over Pakistan air space to nab Bin Laden, without the knowledge of its government.

In Pakistan, `memo gate’ has struck at a time when President Zardari’s ill-health and sudden flight to Dubai has ignited rumors of an `in-house change.’ The PPP government’s  flat denials have done little to assuage the uncertainty.

Separately, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US has been asked to appear in a parliamentary approved commission set up to investigate the Abbotabad incident. That commission is scheduled to release its findings at the end of December.

The `memo gate’ scandal is only one more example of ebbing Pakistan US relations. These relations reached a critical point after last month’s incident in which NATO troops killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers at a border post of Afghanistan.

Since then,  Pakistan’s evacuation of US troops from Shamsi air base, its blockade of NATO supplies, boycott of the Bonn conference and refusal to participate in the NATO investigation that killed its soldiers, signifies a shift in its strategy in the region.

Quite tellingly, Pakistan’s envoys  were recently summoned from overseas to  review the nation’s agreements with the US and its allies.

With Haqqani’s departure, President Zardari has nominated another former journalist and Benazir loyalist, Sherry Rehman as his successor. Rehman’s appointment has taken onlookers by surprise because of the differences she has had in the past with the Zardari government, and which had led to her resignation as federal information minister.

However, before Pakistan’s new ambassador can come to Washington, questions remain on how it will respond to gestures by the Obama administration for damage control on the NATO bombings – which have stopped short of a formal apology. The US reportedly awaits  the results of the NATO investigation  before making any further moves toward Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s investigation into the `memo gate’ scandal has the potential to further impact Pakistan’s ties with the US.  More importantly, it holds the key for the PPP and future elected governments.

Haqqani – Between Mansoor and Military

ISLAMABAD | Tue Nov 22, 2011

ISLAMABAD(Reuters) – Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States resigned on Tuesday, days after a Pakistani-American businessman said the envoy was behind a memo that accused the Pakistani military of plotting a coup in May.

Envoy Husain Haqqani said in a Twitter message that he had sent his resignation to the prime minister. State television said his resignation had been accepted.

“I have resigned to bring closure to this meaningless controversy threatening our fledgling democracy,” he said in a statement released after his resignation.

“I have served Pakistan and Pakistani democracy to the best of my ability and will continue to do so.”

Businessman Mansoor Ijaz, writing in a column in the Financial Times on October 10, said a senior Pakistani diplomat had asked that a memo be delivered to the Pentagon with a plea for U.S. help to stave off a military coup in the days after the May 2 U.S. raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Ijaz later identified the diplomat as Haqqani.

No evidence has emerged that the military was plotting a coup and the Pentagon at the time dismissed the memo as not credible. Haqqani denies involvement in the memo. (

“I still maintain that I did not conceive, write or distribute the memo,” Haqqani told Reuters shortly after he resigned. “This is not about the memo,” he continued. “This is about bigger things.”

He declined to comment further.

Haqqani’s resignation followed a meeting with Pakistan President Asif Zardari, the nation’s powerful army chief General Ashfaq Kayani and its intelligence head, Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha.

A spokesman for the prime minister’s office said Haqqani was asked to resign and there would be an investigation into the memo.

Haqqani is a former journalist who covered Afghanistan’s civil war and later wrote a book on the role of radical Islam and the military in Pakistan.

With his crisp suits and colorful turns of phrase, he has developed close ties with Washington’s top power brokers as Pakistan’s envoy since 2008.

In the past year, he has sought to ease tempers in both capitals and find common ground during an extraordinarily tense period in U.S.-Pakistani relations that included the bin Laden raid, the jailing of a CIA contractor, and U.S. accusations that Pakistan backed a militant attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

He is close to Zardari but estranged from Pakistan’s military.

Tensions between Pakistan’s civilian government and military have bedeviled the nuclear-armed South Asian country for almost its entire existence, with the military ruling the country for more than half of its 64-year history after a series of coups.

Haqqani’s resignation was seen by many analysts as further weakening the civilian government, which is already beset by allegations of corruption and incompetence.

“They (the military) may expect much more from the government, much more beyond the resignation of Husain Haqqani, because they see that everybody perceived to be involved in this affair will be seen as anti-military and by implication anti-state,” said Imtiaz Gul, a security analyst in Islamabad.


Haqqani’s successor might include a diplomat with a less complicated relationship with the military, perhaps Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir or Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations, Hussain Haroon.

“Whether Pakistan’s people or its military will be represented in DC will become evident when Husain Haqqani’s replacement is announced,” Ali Dayan Hasan, representative for Human Rights Watch in Pakistan, said on Twitter.

Vali Nasr, a former senior State Department official who worked on Pakistan, said the crux of the affair was not Haqqani’s role but whether Zardari would come to be seen as having directed the memo, which would imply the president had gone outside Pakistan to request urgent assistance against his own military.

“At what point would the issue escalate to Haqqani was acting on Zardari’s behest? That would really create massive tension between the military and Zardari.”

Nasr said the issue would be unlikely to have a major impact on the strained U.S.-Pakistan relationship unless it seriously weakened or toppled the civilian government.

As U.S. officials focus on thorny diplomatic and security issues with Pakistan, Haqqani’s departure did not immediately make many visible ripples in Washington. The State Department said it had not been notified of Haqqani’s departure and the Pentagon declined comment.

Democratic Senator John Kerry, who has been heavily involved in U.S.-Pakistani relations, said he was sorry to learn of Haqqani’s resignation.

Kerry said he respected the Pakistani government’s decision but that Haqqani would be missed “as we continue to work through the ups and downs of our relationship.”

Ijaz said initially he believed Haqqani was acting under the authority of Zardari, but said later he was not sure how involved Zardari was in the affair.

Mark Siegel, a lobbyist who represents the Pakistani government in Washington, said Zardari called him when the Financial Times story appeared, asking his law firm to initiate libel proceedings against the newspaper and Ijaz.

Siegel advised Zardari against filing a case because he judged it difficult for a public figure to win a libel case in a U.S. court.

“He was irate and said the memo was a total fabrication,” Siegel said. Siegel, who has known Zardari for 25 years, said he was absolutely certain that Zardari had known nothing about the memo.

(Additional reporting by Zeeshan Haider, Qasim Nauman and Augustine Anthony in Islamabad and Missy Ryan in Washington; Editing by Peter Graff, Jon Hemming and Peter Cooney


Photographer Zahid Hussein Gives Views on the Bhuttos

An accomplished photographer, Zahid Hussein, who has captured evocative images of Pakistan’s most famous political family – the Bhuttos – shared the last images of Iranian born Nusrat Bhutto when she passed away last week.

The founder of the Pakistan Association of Photo Journalists – and photographer of the cover image of my book and website – ‘Aboard the Democracy Train’, – Zahid shared his impressions of how Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, his wife Nusrat and daughter Benazir Bhutto symbolized an entire era of resistance to autocratic rule.

The author of three solo exhibitions on the Bhuttos, Zahid brings a sympathetic eye that has captured the sentiments of the masses as they have thronged to the Bhutto rallies. When Gen. Zia ul Haq declared martial law on July 5, 1977 – and arrested Pakistan’s elected prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto – Nusrat Bhutto appears addressing a historic gathering in Nishtar Park, Karachi.

In the two years that Nusrat Bhutto spearheaded the opposition to Gen. Zia, the veteran photographer witnessed Benazir to be a silent resister. Nowhere is this more apparent than his photo of Benazir at Kotri Railway station in Sindh in May 1979 – seen on this website as the background image – where crowds turned out in sympathy as she traveled to Larkana after her father’s execution.

In order to capture that epic image, Zahid climbed an iron railway ladder and flattened himself on the roof top. It was no less a challenge to cross the sea of people and make it back into the train before it left.

“All along the platform stops to Larkana, Benazir stood up and silently waved to the crowds,” he recalled.

Being a photographer for the PPP newspaper Musawat until it was banned by Gen. Zia in 1979, he adds:

“For them, she was an ‘orphan’ girl whom they loved and treated with respect.”

Over the years, Zahid’s photographs would capture Nusrat Bhutto’s grief as her son Shahnawaz died in France in mysterious circumstances and then his elder brother, Murtaza was gunned down in Karachi. Nusrat would drop out of the limelight as she contracted Alzheimer’s disease, and moved to Dubai in 1996.

He recalls that when Benazir returned to Pakistan in 2007, even the massive bomb blasts and certainty of being killed did not stop her. Instead her rallies in Sindh and refusal to keep a distance from the people “showed she was afraid of nothing.”

Having photographed the Bhutto family for so long, Zahid found the populist element missing at Nusrat Bhutto’s funeral. For one, the public was kept outside and prayers were offered inside the bungalow. He attributes this to the threat of bombings, which have affected the rallies of all political parties.

Indeed, as the last Bhutto to resist autocracy was lowered to the ground last week, there were signs that a great deal is changing.

Traders Respond to Government’s Energy Saving Measures

The Gillani Cabinet had to designate three Ministers to explain why two off days every week would bring about monumental savings in power consumption. Like always, no industrialist or businessmen will do what the government so desperately desires. Factories would run as usual, markets would be humming with the hustle and bustle, and the economic activity would continue on weekends just like before.

We industrialists are determined to earn foreign exchange for the nation, we are all geared to provide quality employment, and we are dedicated towards our goal of making Pakistan an economic powerhouse.

Meantime, the Cabinet and the Parliamentarians can enjoy their weekend holidays and let us industrialists do what we do best. Keep the wheels of industry running.

Musharraf’s emergency upends Pakistan’s courts

KARACHI, Pakistan — A month after President Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan, the country’s once-independent judiciary is in disarray and still under attack, making it unlikely that America’s closest ally in the war on terrorism will have a functioning democracy anytime soon.

Police lines surround the principal courts, unfit judges are taking over the judicial apparatus and the enormous number of lawyers on hunger strikes has slowed the wheels of justice.

When Musharraf handed down his “Provisional Constitutional Order” on Nov. 3, the federal Supreme Court was about to declare unconstitutional his plan to run for another term as president while remaining the army’s chief of staff. Musharraf said he couldn’t find a solution within the Pakistani Constitution, so he took “extraconstitutional measures,” with the judiciary a prime target. “Some judges by overstepping the limits of judicial authority have taken over the executive and legislative functions,” he said in the order.

Even though he’s given up his post of army chief of staff, donned civilian clothes and promised to end the stat of emergency by Dec. 16, Musharraf has said he won’t reverse his takeover of the judiciary.

He put Iftikhar Chaudhry, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, under house arrest and demanded that all other judges swear under his order that they don’t have the power “to make any order against the president or the prime minister.”

Out of 17 Supreme Court judges, 12 refused to take the oath, a pattern that judges in the country’s four provinces followed. Musharraf’s military government has had to devise unusual ways to fill the vacancies. In Sindh province — whose chaotic capital of Karachi, population 15 million-plus, is Pakistan’s biggest city — the process usually begins with a telephone call from military intelligence to leading lawyers, according to Sindh High Court lawyer Shaukat Hayat.

Sabihuddin Ahmed, who’d been the chief justice of Sindh, said he’d rejected “overtures” from the government to remain in his post because the army chief of staff wasn’t allowed to issue emergency orders under Pakistan’s Constitution.

When Sabihuddin stepped out of his home to drive to the Sindh High Court on Nov. 5 — two days into the emergency — he found police cars barricading his street.

The officer in charge was apologetic but told him that the police “were merely following orders.”

The authorities quickly installed new judges who were willing to promise that they’d never challenge the president or prime minister, in some instances abandoning the usual appointment process and administering the oath “within half an hour,” said Justice Majda Rizvi, a retired judge of the Sindh High Court.

Rizvi, the former head of the government’s Commission on the Status of Women, was offered a ministerial post in Musharraf’s caretaker Cabinet, but said she told the authorities, “I couldn’t accept, after what you’ve done to the judiciary.”

In other instances, the military has resorted to severe arm-twisting. In Sindh, where less than a third of the judges took the oath under the emergency, the intelligence agencies have taken the lead role in what critics say amounts to blackmail. Rizvi said government officials had even made use of files they kept on corruption cases pending against lawyers in Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau.

After Sabihuddin was ousted from his post as Sindh chief justice, the government hurriedly appointed three other High Court judges: Khawaja Naveed had been the advocate (attorney) general, Qazi Khalid an additional (assistant) advocate general and Rana Shamim an officer in a government institution before they took their oaths as judges.

Other lawyers in the Sindh High Court often have criticized the flamboyant Naveed — known for his cheerful smile and mop of curly hair — for his attempts at humor: giving a “thumbs up” sign and uttering phrases that television presenters use, such as “be back soon.” Human rights groups aren’t amused by a remark he made while presiding over a rape case: “Where was I?”

The biggest scandal surrounds the new chief justice in Sindh, Afzal Soomro. According to several former judges, Soomro was forced to resign as a judge from the Sindh High Court about nine months ago because of psychiatric problems. Justice Wajihuddin Ahmed, a retired Supreme Court judge, described Soomro as “mentally deranged” in a speech Nov. 14 before the Karachi Press Club.

Lawyers nationwide are astonished at the new appointees’ lack of qualifications. The secretary general of the Sukkur High Court Bar Association, Shabbir Shar, said there was “anarchy” in the courts, since lawyers refused to appear before judges who were appointed under Musharraf’s state of emergency.

Sindh Bar Council member Noor Naz Agha, released after 18 days of house arrest, said lawyers wouldn’t rest until the emergency was revoked.

Still, economic pressures and the pressure by clients to get their cases resolved are slowly forcing lawyers to appear before the new judges. That’s plunged the legal community into disarray.

Outside the Sindh High Court building — a British-built brownstone that still has its colonial grandeur — baton-carrying police seated under leafy old trees keep a vigilant eye out for protesters. Not long ago, the police had been there to protect the court. But after the new directives passed, police officers rounded up large numbers of lawyers and bundled them off to nearby jails. Most of them have been released now, according to the government.

Two streets away from the High Court is the Karachi Press Club. Military vehicles and police cars are parked outside, and plainclothes intelligence officials watch the movements of leaders. Every day there’s a peaceful hunger strike by journalists outside the club. Inside, civil society groups hold protest rallies; street protests are put down by force.

The news media and the judiciary are being forced into a virtual alliance. Private television channels filming the “humiliating treatment” meted out to judges and lawyers have been blacked out, said Faisal Aziz, the secretary general of the Association of Television Journalists.

Meanwhile, the government’s reconstituted Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, has dismissed petitions challenging Musharraf’s eligibility to be president and has validated all his orders. A caretaker Cabinet will oversee parliamentary elections scheduled for Jan. 8.

(Hoodbhoy is a special correspondent for McClatchy.)

Source: McClatchy

Pakistan: Identity Crisis

Pakistan is one of the Bush administration’s close allies in the war against terrorism. Yet anti-American sentiment there has been growing with unprecedented force since the US conducted a war in Iraq, another Muslim country in the neighborhood.

In March, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to oppose the start of the war. While the coalition of Islamic parties in the United Council for Action (MMA) led the opposition marches in major cities, they won considerable support from secular forces. The anger has been growing since 2001, when hundreds of ordinary Pakistanis living in the North West Frontier Province lost their lives in the US-led military operation against the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.

Even President Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf and his rubber stamp parliament, led by Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali, have been forced by public pressure and opposition politicians into condemning the US invasion. Although certainly not pro-Saddam, most Pakistanis see the war as an assault on another Third World Muslim country. That has temporarily united the opposition and the government, otherwise at odds over the military’s attempts to consolidate its grip over the nation.

Musharraf’s government has played a front-line role in the war against terrorism since September 11. Faced with anti-American sentiment, however, the military has grown more secretive about its role in helping the US ferret out al-Qaeda elements. Public resentment centers on Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence, which picks up locals at the instigation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and interrogates them about their possible links with the terrorists.

In picking up al-Qaeda suspects, the Pakistan military has attempted to prove links with the nation’s leading Islamic party, the Jamaat-i-Islami. The government stepped up efforts to portray the party as having terrorist ties after a senior al-Qaeda leader, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, was captured from a Jamaat supporter’s home in a middle class suburb of Rawalpindi. Earlier, the FBI had picked up Jamaat member Ahmed Javed Khawaja and his family for alleged al-Qaeda links. Their case is in Pakistan’s courts.

However, Qazi Hussein Ahmed, the Jamaat-i-Islami chief who heads the MMA, has argued that the government is using the current scare to crush the Islamic alliance because of its opposition to US policies in the region. He claims that individual members of Jamaat, not the organization itself, have lent support to al-Qaeda elements in Pakistan.

Avoiding the Issues

Apart from picking up terrorists, the US appears to be paying little attention to rising anti-American sentiment. This superficial approach ignores the fact that the country is currently fertile ground for Islamic militancy directed against the West. For example, the Bush administration has ignored Pakistan’s request to replace thousands of madressahs (Islamic schools) by strengthening its education system. Instead, public education deteriorates, while madressahs thrive with the help of Zakat (Islamic charity) and Saudi funds. They are a by-product of the last two decades, particularly the need to infuse youth with Islamic fervor during Pakistan’s proxy war in Afghanistan.

Reversing two decades of support for Islamic militancy, Pakistan’s Western-educated army demonstrated its flexibility after September 11, arguably becoming the US’s closest ally in dismantling the schools. On the other hand, the military also maintains its hold on Kashmiri militants, supported by sectarian extremists, who are waging a war against Indian forces in the disputed Kashmir territory. Local militants have become cannon fodder for al-Qaeda extremists who have shifted to the region since their ouster from Afghanistan.

Despite its political inconsistency, Musharraf’s regime has earned the support of the Bush administration through its cooperation in hunting down al-Qaeda. Thus, since 9/11, no embarrassing questions have been asked about democratizing the country. Instead, Pakistan’s strategic usefulness in bolstering the pro-US regime in Afghanistan has allowed it to win $305 million in US aid and debt relief totaling $1 billion.

In a thinly attended April 2002 referendum, General Musharraf had himself elected President for the next five years. As in Turkey, a Legal Framework Order (LFO) gives the army a constitutional role in politics. Amending the 1973 Constitution, Pakistan’s LFO authorizes Musharraf to dissolve the Cabinet, National Assembly and Senate, dismiss the prime minister, and hold fresh elections. Opposition politicians are demanding an end to the LFO, but the government has warned them personally to back down or face the consequences.

Just before the October 2002 elections, the LFO disqualified the other major politicians and former premiers, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chief Benazir Bhutto and Pakistan Muslim League (PML) head Nawaz Sharif along with Mohajir Qaumi Movement chief, Altaf Hussein. At the same time, the military helped to create the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) by offering incentives to former supporters of Nawaz Sharif who were willing to defect from his party and support Gen. Musharraf.

Nevertheless, the PPP won the most votes in the October elections. In response, the military encouraged party defections within the PPP Ñ effectively stopping Benazir Bhutto’s supporters from being elected to cabinet posts in the national government and preventing it from forming a government in Sindh, its home province in the south.

The army has also increased its meddling in domestic politics. As the Senate elections were about to be held, a leader of the PML, the party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was kidnapped by the Inter Services Intelligence, the external secret service agency, which is also interfering in domestic politics in hopes of forcing him to change his loyalties. Other opposition politicians allege that the government attempted to intimidate them into supporting Prime Minister Jamali.

After 10-15 days, during which there were rowdy scenes in the National Assembly, the opposition took the oath of office, but privately replaced LFO wording with the 1973 constitution.

Losing Control

Since the 2002 election, the army-backed government doesn’t have enough opposition support to pass two laws that could curtail press freedom Ñ namely the Code of Ethics and Press Council. As if anticipating this problem, the military imposed an Anti-Defamation Ordinance just before the October elections, mandating a fine of $900 and three months imprisonment to journalists whose writings offend the government.

In March, Brig Ijaz Shah, Home Secretary of the Punjab, summoned the editor of the Weekly Independent, an English newspaper, then pressured him not to run anti-government reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists wrote to the government, expressing concern about the Home Secretary’s threat to act against the paper for opposing the “national interest.” Sindhi newspapers, which tend to be far more critical of the military, allege that attempts are being made to control them by withdrawing government advertisements.

As anti-US sentiment approaches epic levels, opposition political parties, led by the MMA Islamic alliance, are set to mount their biggest challenge yet to the Musharraf government. For the first time, the MMA has been able to bring hundreds of thousands of people into the streets to protest Pakistan’s support for the Bush administration. Just before the US invasion of Iraq began, nationwide protests climaxed with a million man march, convened by the MMA in Lahore.

Faced with rising anti-Americanism, state authorities cancelled a visit by US-supported Afghan president Hamid Karzai at its Pakistan Day celebration on March 23. A meeting between President Bush and Prime Mminister Jamali was also cancelled.

US war in Iraq raises the specter of increased support for Islamic extremists throughout the Muslim world, including Pakistan. TV images of civilian casualties in Iraq, beamed daily into homes through cable and satellite, has already provoked anger and fueling increased Islamic militancy.

Once upon a time, support for al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden was confined to Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province and Balochistan provinces. Conservative Islamist Pashtuns live in these provinces and contiguous tribal areas which border Afghanistan. They form the bulk of supporters for the Taliban Ñ which sheltered al-Qaeda during their six year rule of Afghanistan. Now Islamic extremism is growing in other parts of the country.

In the face of armed aggression in Iraq, more and more people are reaching the conclusion that Islamic militancy is justifiable. How ironic. The Bush administration used the threat of terrorism to attack Iraq, but its policies are also fueling the urge to retaliate, in the US and abroad.

Source: Toward Freedom