Pakistan’s Ashraf government makes history


Raja Pervez Ashraf (June 2012)PM Raja Pervez Ashraf is facing corruption allegations
BBC

Pakistan‘s PM has hailed as “a victory” for democracy the completion of a full term by an elected government for the first time in the country’s history.

“No-one will be able to harm democracy in future,” Raja Pervez Ashraf said.

An interim government will now be installed until the next election, which is expected to be held in May.

Since Pakistan was founded in 1947, government were often overthrown in coups, toppled by political infighting or end in assassinations or murders.

But overhanging the democratic transition is the continuing militancy and growing sectarian unrest, the BBC’s Mike Wooldridge in Islamabad says.

‘No rivers of milk and honey'”There is a long history of tussle between the democratic and undemocratic forces in Pakistan, but the democratic forces have finally achieved a victory,” Mr Ashraf said in a televised address to the nation.

He added that Pakistan had finally managed to strengthen “the foundations of democracy”.

And admitting that his governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) may not have been “able to provide rivers of milk and honey”, the prime minister said it had tried its best to alleviate the country’s problems.

Residents walk through debris after a bombing in Quetta, Pakistan. Photo: February 2013Pakistan continues to be racked by sectarian violence and Taliban insurgency

Mr Ashraf also promised that the forthcoming elections would be free and fair, and said he hoped the parties would reach consensus “amicably” on which of the rival candidates should head the caretaker cabinet.

Pakistan’s parliament was dissolved at midnight local time (19:00) GMT, and the interim administration is expected to be installed in the next few days.

Two opposition parties – led by ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former cricket star Imran Khan – are expected to present the greatest challenge to the PPP in the elections.

At the same time, Mr Ashraf is facing a corruption investigation over allegations that he took bribes while he was a minister.

Mr Ashraf, who became prime minister after his predecessor was forced out amid a dispute with the judiciary, has been in the job for less than a year.

 

NA adopts resolution to declare #Malala ‘Daughter of Pakistan’


APP9 hrs ago

Malala Yousufzai-2

ISLAMABAD – The National Assembly on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution asking the government to declare Malala Yousufzai the ‘Daughter of Pakistan’. The resolution was moved by Pakistan People’s Party’s Robina Saadat Qaimkhani, who said Malala had become a role model for child education across the world. “This House gives great importance and significance to the sacrifice made by Malala Yousufzai for the sake of education. This House, therefore, recommends that Malala Yousufzai may be declared the Daughter of Pakistan,” the resolution said. Qaimkhani said owing to her struggle for promotion of peace and girls’ education, Malala deserved an applause and a special recognition from parliament. She also lauded the role of President Asif Ali Zardari in promoting child education in the country.

 

Open Letter Demanding the Release of Baba Jan Hunzai- Noam Chomsky


  • by Signed by Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky, Farooq Tariq…

    FREEBABAJAN2.jpg
  • For the past 8 months Baba Jan Hunzai and four fellow activists have languished in various jails of Gilgit. Twice in this period he has been removed from jail and tortured by military and police agents.  He and his colleagues have been charged under Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Ordinance.  Baba Jan, however, is not a terrorist.  He is a respected political activist of Gilgit-Baltistan (the mountainous north of Pakistan). He is being held due to his activism in support of the oppressed of the region and must be released immediately.

    In January 2010, a mountain collapsed into Hunza River and created what is now termed the Attabad Lake.  As the lake formed, village after village was submerged.  In total, over 1000 were displaced and over 25,000 were cut off from the rest of the country (the lake had destroyed the one road that connects the area to Pakistan).  The plight of Gilgit-Baltistanis was ignored. Baba Jan, an activist of Labour Party of Pakistan, toured the country lobbying for the government to drain the lake and create transport facilities for the affected. The Pakistan Peoples Party government acted too late.  The lake is now a permanent feature of the area. To off-set the protests of the displaced, the government promised compensation.

    For some, compensation never arrived.  An official list of those who were to receive compensation named 457 families.  However, over a hundred of these families did not receive their compensation. Allegedly, the compensation, instead, went to families who were sympathizers of the Pakistan Peoples Party.

    On 11th August around 200 people protested for the rights of those families who had not received compensation as the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, Mehdi Shah, was visiting the town of Aliabad.  The police, instructed to remove the protesters by any means, started with a baton-charge, then used tear gas before opening fire with live ammunition. Their first victim was Afzal Baig, a 22 year old student. Then, when Baig’s father tried to retrieve the body of his son, he too was shot. Both died. The valley erupted and a police station was burnt down by the protesters.

    Baba Jan arrived 6 hours later. He organised the protesters and they were promised an investigation and firm action against the police officers responsible for the killing.  The protesters waited for the government to act.

    It acted a week later.  Arrest warrants were issued for numerous protesters including Baba Jan.  While most of those arrested have been released on bail, Baba Jan and 4 activists remain behind bars.  Twice they have been picked up from jail and tortured.  First, starting on the 12th of September 2011,   for three nights for three to four hours at a time, he was beaten with sticks and had his feet crushed under boots, while, another activist (Iftikhar) had candle wax dropped on his genitals.  Again on the 28th of April 2012, Baba Jan was tortured.  Police and Pakistani Rangers (a paramilitary force) entered his jail cell and beat him up. They then whisked him to an unknown location where he was again brutally beaten, and to humiliate him, had his head shaved. He has fractured fingers and is being denied medical treatment. Further, he has been moved to Zulfiqarabad Jail, Gilgit, and put in a cell with hardened criminals.  There is reason to believe that he may be killed ‘accidentally’ while in this cell.

    Meanwhile, a judicial inquiry into the killing of Afzal Baig and his father was conducted.  Its findings have not been made public but journalists who have seen it claim it lays the blame on the police force and local bureaucracy for the incident.

     

    We, the undersigned, call on the Government of Pakistan to publish the findings of the judicial inquiry into the killing of Afzal Baig and Sher Ullah Baig.  We call on the Government of Pakistan to treat Baba Jan and fellow activists as political prisoners and kept in separate cells from other prisoners.  Further, we ask the Government of Pakistan to drop the charge it has manufactured against Baba Jan and fellow activists. We also demand compensation for the families affected by the Attabad landslide.

     

    Tariq Ali, Writer

    Noam Chomsky, MIT

    Qalandar Bux Memon, FC College

    Pervaiz Vandal, Architect

    Amanullah Kariapper, Activist

    R C Young, New York University

    Vijay Prashad, Trinity College

    Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Birkbeck, University Of London

    David Barsamian, Journalist

    Magid Shihade, Birzeit University

    Saadi Toor, Writer

    Farooq Tariq, Labour Party of Pakistan

    Simon Crithcley, New School, New York

     

    Please go sign petition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/free-baba-jan

    original post here

SC pulls up Centre for prolonged detention of Pak prisoners


Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Press Trust Of India    The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the Union government for prolonged incarceration of several Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails despite their having completed their sentences. “There is total inaction and laxity on the part of the government. “We are more concerned about the liberty of the persons who continue to be in jails despite serving their sentences,” said a bench of justices RM Lodha and HL Gokhale while ruing that some prisoners had been kept in detention even without having any case registered against them.

“Please show us the procedure under which you have detained and kept them for prolonged incarceration. We are more concerned with the question of substantial justice which should prevail over the procedures,” the bench observed.

The bench pointed out that the prolonged detention of foreign nationals was violative of the constitutional right of the life and liberty granted under Article 21 to every person in the country, including the foreign nationals, infraction of which cannot be condoned by the courts.

The apex court directed Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha to furnish to the court the government’s policy, if any, for dealing with such foreign nationals.

The apex court pointed out that the case relating to the alleged illegal detention of foreign nationals was pending with the courts since 2005 but the government was not taking any steps to deport them, even after they having completed their respective prison terms.

The apex court pointed out that the Union government has been lax in dealing with the issue inspite of several directives from it. It said while some of them were held for illegal entry into the country, others were arrested for alleged subversive activities.

“We don’t want your bureaucrats to sleep over the files and go into slumber. We don’t want clarifications from section officers, please give us comprehensive details as to whether there is any bilateral policy.

“Don’t compel us to summon the presence of a senior officer for clarification,” the bench said.

The court also termed as “infraction of human rights of the worst order” the cases relating to certain prisoners who were held under the preventive detention law under section 109 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in jail for over a year.

Citing the instance of one particular prisoner detained since October 6, 2009 under the preventive detention law, though no offence was registered against him, the bench observed that these are things that no court will countenance.

The apex court made the observation while dealing with two separate public interest litigations (PILs) relating to alleged prolonged incarceration of Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals in Indian jails.

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