Archive for the ‘chief justice’ Category

Pakistan’s Tyranny Continues

December 23, 2007
December 23, 2007
Lahore, Pakistan

THE chief justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and his family have been detained in their house, barricaded in with barbed wire and surrounded by police officers in riot gear since Nov. 3. Phone lines have been cut and jammers have been installed all around the house to disable cellphones. And the United States doesn’t seem to care about any of that.

The chief justice is not the only person who has been detained. All of his colleagues who, having sworn to protect, uphold and defend the Constitution, refused to take a new oath prescribed by President Pervez Musharraf as chief of the army remain confined to their homes with their family members. The chief justice’s lawyers are also in detention, initially in such medieval conditions that two of them were hospitalized, one with renal failure.

As the chief justice’s lead counsel, I, too, was held without charge — first in solitary confinement for three weeks and subsequently under house arrest. Last Thursday morning, I was released to celebrate the Id holidays. But that evening, driving to Islamabad to say prayers at Faisal Mosque….

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Deposed Pakistan judge urges defiance

November 6, 2007

By ROBIN McDOWELL, Associated Press Writer 
November 26, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -I n Islamabad, the ousted chief justice
Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, called for mass protest against the government.

“Go to every corner of Pakistan and give the message that this is the time to sacrifice,” Chaudhry, who is under virtual house arrest, told lawyers by mobile phone Tuesday. “The day will come when you’ll see the constitution supreme and no dictatorship for a long time.” Pakistan‘s deposed chief justice called on lawyers nationwide to defy police and protest President Gen. Pervez Musharraf‘s imposition of emergency rule, while the Cabinet debated whether to delay parliamentary elections by as much as three months, a minister said.

In the lawless northwest, Islamic militants seized a town from outnumbered security forces who surrendered without a fight.

Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 coup, said over the weekend he was declaring a state of emergency to respond to a growing Islamic militant threat. He suspended the constitution, put a stranglehold on the media and granted sweeping powers to authorities to crush dissent. Thousands of people have been rounded up and thrown in jail.

In the Swat valley near the Afghan border — a focus of a wave of militant violence — about two dozen police officers and several troops offered no resistance to militants who seized three police stations and a military post in and around the town of Matta.

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Pakistan: Musharraf Imposes Martial Law

November 3, 2007

The Wall Street Journal (Online)
November 3, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on Saturday, suspending the constitution, replacing the chief justice before a crucial Supreme Court ruling on his future as president, and cutting communications in the capital.

Pakistan’s main opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, flew back to the country from Dubai and was sitting in an airplane at Karachi’s airport, waiting to see if she would be arrested or deported, a spokesman said. Dozens of paramilitary troops surrounded her house.

Seven of the 18 Supreme Court judges immediately condemned the emergency, which suspended the current constitution.

By MATTHEW PENNINGTON, Associated Press Writer 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on Saturday, suspending the constitution, replacing the chief justice before a crucial Supreme Court ruling on his future as president, and cutting communications in the capital. Paramilitary troops and police swarmed the capital.

The opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was flying from Dubai on Saturday. Her spokesman in London said she was already sitting in a plane at Karachi airport, waiting to see if she would be arrested or deported. Another party official said her flight was due to arrive later Saturday.

Seven of the 17 Supreme Court judges immediately rejected the emergency, which suspended the current constitution. Police blocked entry to the Supreme Court building and later took the deposed chief justice and other judges away in a convoy, witnesses said.

The government halted all television transmissions in major cities other than state-controlled Pakistan TV. Telephone service in the capital, Islamabad, was cut.

A copy of the emergency order obtained by The Associated Press justified the declaration on the grounds that “some members of the judiciary are working at cross purposes with the executive” and “weakening the government’s resolve” to fight terrorism.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged restraint on all sides and a swift return to democracy in Pakistan.

The United States “does not support extraconstitutional measures,” Rice said from Turkey, where she was participating in a conference with Iraq’s neighbors.

Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup and has been a close ally of the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has struggled to contain spreading Islamic militancy that has centered along the Afghan border and spread to the capital and beyond.

Pakistanis have increasingly turned against the government of Musharraf, who failed earlier this year to oust Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry — the chief justice replaced Saturday.

Rice said that to her knowledge, U.S. officials had yet to hear directly from Musharraf after his declaration.

“Whatever happens we will be urging a quick return to civilian rule” Rice told reporters traveling with her, and a “return to constitutional order and the commitment to free and fair elections.”

Crucial parliamentary elections meant to restore civilian rule are due by January. Musharraf himself was overwhelmingly re-elected last month by the current parliament, dominated by his ruling party, but the vote was challenged. The Supreme Court had been expected to rule imminently on whether he could run for president while still serving as army chief.

Bhutto, seen by many supporters as key to a possible return to democracy, went to Dubai after being targetted by assassins in Pakistan last month. Suicide bombers attacked her homecoming parade after eight years in exile, killing more than 140 people.

She was sitting on a plane at Karachi airport Saturday after returning from Dubai, said Wajid Hasan, a spokesman.

“She is waiting to see if she is going to be arrested or deported,” Hasan said from London, adding that he had spoken to the former Pakistani prime minister by telephone while her plane was on the tarmac in Karachi.

But Fahmida Mirza, an information secretary for her Pakistan People’s Party, said Bhutto had not yet arrived. The discrepancy could not immediately be explained.

Musharraf’s order allows courts to function but suspends some fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution, including freedom of speech. It also allows authorities to detain people without informing them of the charges.

Military vehicles patrolled and troops blocked roads in the administrative heart of the capital. Paramilitary troops behind rolled barbed wire blocked access to an official compound housing lawmakers — barring even wives, children and even a ruling party senator from entering.

In Karachi, about 100 police and paramilitary troops surrounded Bhutto’s house and a bomb disposal squad searched the building, witnesses said.

There were reports of gunfire in several districts of the city, but it appeared to be aerial firing, police said.

The emergency was expected to be followed by arrests of lawyers and other perceived opponents of the government, including civil society activists and possibly even members of the judiciary itself, a ruling party lawmaker said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Private Geo TV reported the arrest of the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Aitzaz Ahsan — a lawyer for Chaudhry in the case that led to his reinstatement in July.

With telephone lines cut, it was not possible to contact government spokesmen for confirmation.

Chaudhry and other judges drove out of the court building in a convoy of black cars over two hours after the emergency was declared, under police escort. They were being shifted to their official residences nearby. Officers stopped reporters from approaching.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was deported in September as he tried to return from exile, condemned the emergency and said Musharraf should resign. He also urged the people of Pakistan to rise against Musharraf.

“If you don’t do it today, it will too late then,” he told Geo TV from Saudi Arabia.