24 March 2008

The Pakistan Emergency: Update!

Faisal in United4justice's Weblog announces:

Congratulations Pakistan!

Chief Justice Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary Released after months of illegal detention from 3rd November 2007 by the dictator’s government.

The newly elected Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gillani issues his first order as PM of the release of all the judges who refused to surrender in front of the dictator.

The genuine CJ of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhary thanked the society (while addressing a large number of members of civil society, lawyers community and political parties) of their great support for him and all the deposed judges and showed his expectation that they will also support them in future.... [read more]

In "comments" to an AOC post dated 16 March, Faisal says:

I am really happy to share this news with us that Chief Justice of Pakistan is finally released from the illegal detention.
Though he is not yet reinstated but i hope by the grace of Almighty(Who is the Lord of everyone) this will soon happen....

Thanx alot! for your support in the cause for the Justice and rule of law in Pakistan.

Also thanx alot for showing us a different or probably the real America(which supports justice,protection of basic rights and freedom for all without any discrimination).

Thank you Faisal, for the update and for the gracious "pat on the back."

21 March 2008

The aroma of AXE wafted from inside the metallic gray four-wheel drive Extra Cab Chevy Silverado pickup as the driver powered down his window. I had crossed the street from the opposite corner of the intersection, where about 90 of us were standing in vigil to observe the fifth anniversary of the onset of ground operations in Iraq. I wanted to engage the owner of the truck and see what he had to say about this sign, posted above the grill of his imposing vehicle.


A bright-eyed red-cheeked young man with a trimmed beard looked questioningly at me. I told him that I liked his sign and he seemed pleased. I asked him what it meant, and he replied conspiratorially and with gusto that it meant just what it said! Because I had sincerely been unable to divine the meaning (nor was I even certain that he was not acting in solidarity with our vigil), I asked, "Well, are you demonstrating with the people across the street, are you against them, or is it some sort of 'third angle,' like an anarchistic - or Performance Art kind of thing?" In reply he began an enthusiastic rant about how he couldn't believe we were going to bring them all home. The fire in his eyes intensified as he went on, "The Muslims are just going to come over here and kill us all!" He told me that he remains in regular contact with his best buddies serving in The Special Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq (it's always Special Forces with these armchair warriors, isn't it?), that they are perfectly OK with the job they're doing, and that even after three tours, they don't want to come back home.

A this point, I introduced myself, he gave me his name, and we shook hands. I exhorted him to write his congressional representatives and he assured me he had been. Just before I could ask him why he was not serving in the military, he informed me with all earnestness that he would have been over there with his buddies himself if his back hadn't blown out on him. I assured him that I already knew that, and that I would pray for his friends overseas. We shook hands again and I returned to the vigil.


I wish I could remember his name. I'd bet that if I "googled" him, I'd find a blog post somewhere recounting his brave stand against the traitors in Memphis, TN.

[PS - In retrospect, perhaps the young man was coining a malapropism of an imperative to "Wage War!" That could explain his failure to see why I needed clarification of his meaning.]

UPDATE from
Mike13833 in comments:
This one seems like old times revisited .
http://tinyurl.com/2ksmw7

My mother was passing through and ended up in the middle of it . As far as she can tell, a verbal exchange between 3 or 4 protestors(out of ~60) and a couple police officers , over the advisability of crossing such a busy road,resulted in the police breaking up the whole thing. Of course chaos ensued. It was complicated by an accident on the other side of the road .
The shoulders are wide , and students have to cross the road, individually , on an everyday basis, so shouldn't have been that much trouble. My mother's opinion was that some were incautious, and the police overreacted. As usual , disorderly conduct charges were filed to justify it .

18 March 2008

McCain: Iran is training Al Queda agents and sending them into Iraq

CNN has video of remarks John McCain made in Jordan, where he accuses Iran (predominantly Shia) of training agents for Al Queda (Sunni) and sending them into Iraq. See the two minute mark of the video.

Several blogs are reporting that Lieberman then corrected McCain by whispering into his ear, and he amended his comment to say Iran is training extremists. That is the version being carried in AP stories. It's nice when the press allows a candidate to gloss over such a bad mistake.

This man has no right to be president if he can't distinguish Shia and Sunni.

Update: After this post went up, the AP article in the link has magically transformed into a story on McCain's error. It's likely there were just too many reports on McCain repeating the lie three times before Lieberman finally corrected him, so AP had to report it.

Are We a Nation of War or Peace?

The upcoming presidential election will hinge on a variety of issues, but with the Iraq war now entering its sixth year, this is a good moment to look at the positions of the remaining candidates regarding the war. The war is increasingly unpopular with the general public, as noted by USA TODAY:
In the USA TODAY poll, six in 10 Americans said the United States should set a timetable for withdrawal and stick to it no matter what. Just 35% said U.S. troops should remain until the situation in Iraq gets better, a number as low as it's ever been.
Barack Obama, although not serving in the US Senate when the war began, has opposed it from the very beginning:
"A war that should have never been authorized, a war that should have never been waged. I've been against it 2002, 2003, 2004, 5, 6, 7, 8. And I will bring this war to an end in 2009."
Hilary Clinton voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force, but has defended that vote by saying that President Bush was claiming to need the authorization as a negotiating tool. She now is clear about her intentions to end the war if elected:
Clinton said that if elected she would begin bringing troops home within 60 days of taking office. She said she would push for legislation reducing the length of troops' overseas deployments.

"No more talk of permanent occupation, no more policing a civil war, no more doing for the Iraqis what they need to be doing for themselves," she said.
John McCain, on the other hand, says that staying in Iraq for 100 years would be fine with him:


With the war now costing our country $12 billion a month and with our economy now in a recession that, according to Alan Greenspan, is "the most wrenching since the end of the second world war", the war position of the new President will have a huge impact on the economy over the next several decades. From an economic view alone, our country simply cannot afford a McCain presidency.

Of course, from a moral standpoint, the US already has lost significant stature in the world as a result of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. With hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead and millions displaced from their homes, Iraq faces a staggering job of recovery. With the US nearing its 4000th death in Iraq, its costs are much more than economic, as well.

Finally, in case anyone thinks that John McCain would be a good choice to lead us out of the quagmire that is Iraq, we should never forget that he also has chosen our next war for us:

16 March 2008

What's Next?

Yesterday was the end of Black Flag Week in Pakistan, though interest in - and solidarity with - the cause of Pakistani Rule of Law will continue. In the U.S. the project brought various web authors and blog sites together, yielding a gratifying by-product of the work we engaged in: friendship. I feel that many of us at AOC deepened our friendships with each other, and we gained new friends among the participating blogs around the world. Look for periodic updates concerning Pakistan's noble struggle to hold onto its cherished constitution, even as we in the U.S. continue efforts to rehabilitate and protect ours.
This coming Wednesday 19 March 2008 will mark the 5th anniversary of the commencement of ground operations in the Iraq invasion and subsequent occupation. Observances all around the country will honor the sacrifice of all Armed Services personnel and their families, including the ultimate sacrifice of the nearly 4,000 U.S. sons and daughters who gave their lives. The highest honor we can now accord our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines is to acknowledge their value to us and therefore bring them home, as quickly and as safely as possible. On the upcoming day of observance it would also be altogether fitting and proper to consider the millions of U.S. citizens at home contending with the myriad consequences of a mismanaged economy in their struggle to hold onto their homes, their jobs, their health, and their standard of living, while simultaneously trying to figure out how to send their children to college, fund their retirements, and care for their aging parents. It is time for all to weigh the costly Iraq occupation against other priorities.

12 March 2008

What goes around comes around? -- by ondelette

At first glance, there would seem to be no reason to turn our attention to a lawyer’s protest in a place 10 time-zones away on the other side of the world. After all, don’t we have enough on our plate in the U.S.? When it comes to rule of law, we have our current debate over amendments to FISA and NSA wiretapping. We have our debate over waterboarding and other newly fashionable U.S. approved tortures (or ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’). We have our current debate over an amorphously defined War on Terror, and our own very real problems with al Qaeda, and terrorists, and war. Why worry about the Pakistani judiciary? Why worry about the restoration of democracy there?

In truth, it is probably always a smaller world than we imagine. Black Flag Week, which starts Monday, is set to commemorate the deposition of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry last year on March 9, 2007, the catalyst of a courageous lawyers' movement - and a political firestorm - that has engulfed Pakistan for months. Along with the subsequent State Emergency declared by President Musharaff on November 3, 2007, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007, and the free elections of February 18, 2008, it was a pivotal event, with implications, as things have turned out, worldwide. In Pakistan, many tens of thousands have protested in solidarity with the lawyers, and over the course of the turbulence and the elections, hundreds, like Ms. Bhutto, have lost their lives.

As Aitzaz Ahsan has noted, Iftikhar Chaudhry was at first an unlikely figure to serve as a rallying symbol for human rights and against the military government. The bench in Pakistan is generally conservative, and has gone along with the President Musharraf, the military and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). But Justice Chaudhry decided to begin looking at human rights cases: he looked at the rights of women (80% of the women in prison are there for ‘illegal fornication’) and took on forced marriages and the rapes that were behind some of the detentions. He started looking at the plight of the Pakistani ‘disappeared prisoners’, hundreds of people, mostly men, many of whom were activists (some militant) who have been swept up on the premise of the War on Terror and held incommunicado and without charge. It would be as if the U.S. government had arrested hundreds of Americans and whisked them off to Guantanamo.

Justice Chaudhry ordered the government to produce the prisoners in court, and to either charge them or release them. Meanwhile the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Amnesty International, and other human and civil rights watchdog groups documented the various cases of prisoners who had been released and subsequently intimidated into not speaking of their detainment, neither to the advocacy groups, nor to the press. Nevertheless, some did speak, and as time went on a picture emerged of detentions that included harsh interrogations, deprivation of food and medicine, and, ominously, many released prisoners said they had been interrogated in the presence of American CIA. Other human rights groups have documented that some prisoners were sent to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan into United States' custody.

All of these actions gave Musharraf and those around him the feeling that Justice Chaudhry could not be trusted to allow Musharraf to change the rules and run for another term. Furthermore, he was questioning some privatization deals that were rushed through. So Musharaff sacked Justice Chaudhry. The lawyers protested throughout the summer, and Justice Chaudhry refused to go gently into that good night. When the case made it to the Supreme Court, they unanimously voted to reinstate him. The court ruled against Musharraf numerous times, and ordered him to produce documentation about the disappeared prisoners in court by November 13th . On November 3rd President Musharraf suspended the Constitution and arrested thousands, including the lawyers, and judges, and the human rights commissioners. He constituted for himself a new court - and a new verdict - and got himself elected to a new term. HRCP Chairperson Asma Jahangir wondered rhetorically, when called during her house arrest, if President Musharraf was so concerned with terrorists that he suspended the Constitution, why were the people being arrested secular lawyers and human rights activists, while the President made deals with militants, many of them sworn to al Qaeda?

In the end, it really is a small world. Preventing the release of the disappeared prisoners protects our government from charges of mistreatment and torture in the same way that the FISA retroactive immunity does – it prevents cases from coming to court. The torture, the waterboarding? Many of its victims were arrested and disappeared in Pakistan. Detention without charge at Guantanamo? The same goes on in Pakistan, and some prisoners in Guantanamo were arrested there. And the justification? Why, the War on Terror, of course. It’s the Pakistanis country and their struggle for democracy.; but no small part of what they’re struggling with is related to what we question over here.

Aitzaz Ahsan, Newsweek: Pakistan’s Forgotten Man

http://www.newsweek.com/id/107546

Frontline Rough Cut. Pakistan: Disappeared

http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/rough/2007/09/pakistan_the_di.html

Carlotta Gall, New York Times: Picture of Secret Detentions Emerges in Pakistan

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/19/world/asia/19disappeared.html


10 March 2008

Reprinted from Blawgletter® - Open Letter: US Should Support Pakistani Lawyers and Rule of Law

November 06, 2007

General Musharraf ordered his forces to beat and jail protesting lawyers.

Blawgletter can't recall writing an open letter before, but the courageousness of judges and lawyers in Pakistan impelled us to compose our first.

To President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Attorney General-Elect Michael B. Mukasey:

In the British Empire's American colonies, the King of England suspended laws, fired judges, and ignored court judgments. He put citizens in jail, ransacked their homes, read their private papers, and shot public protesters. He was a tyrant.

History repeats itself today in another fomer British colony, Pakistan, where a modern King George III assumed the powers of the crown on Saturday. Unlike other countries in the Middle East, including Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan has fragile but longstanding democratic traditions, including an independent judiciary. But its President, General Pervez Musharraf, dissolved the Supreme Court after learning that the justices were about to void his third term as President, ruling him ineligible for election while acting as the military chief. The general also suspended the Constitution and delayed elections indefinitely. Plus he ordered his security forces to threaten, detain, and beat up the thousands of Pakistani lawyers who have taken to the streets to object. The gendarmes followed Musharraf's directive with gusto -- cracking lawyers' heads and putting judges under house arrest.

American lawyers, like our Pakistani counterparts, draw wills, close home purchases, defend against traffic tickets, and counsel businesses and families. Many represent companies and individuals in disputes. But all of us know a threat to the rule of law when we see it. And we see a big one in Pakistan.

Our brave colleagues in Pakistan are fighting to save a democracy. They are trying to rally the Pakistani people against despotism. They are telling the powerful that the rule of law is so precious and so fundamental to democracy that they will risk their careers, their freedom, and their lives to protest its subversion.

We can only hope we would be so brave. Can we do more?

Yes. We can, and do, urge our President, Secretary of State, and Attorney General-Elect to say plainly that the United States condemns General Musharraf's acts and demands an immediate restoration of constitutional democracy. Release the judges, restore them to their benches, and obey the courts' lawful decrees. Reinstate the Pakistani Constitution. Allow peaceful protests. And proceed with elections, on schedule, in January 2008.

Our own fidelity to the rule of law requires at least that.

If you agree with our sentiments, please send your own email -- with some, all, or none of our text, as you choose -- to president@whitehouse.gov and askdoj@usdoj.gov. Sorry, we don't have an email address for the State Department.

Barry Barnett

08 March 2008

Just Breaking....Declaration: PML-N, PPP take Musharraf Head On

From the Pakistani Spectator:
By Ghazala Khan • Mar 9th, 2008 • Category: Lead Story • (1,043 views)

Say it the the stroke of coincidence or the lesson of history that on 9th March 2007 process of deposition of judiciary was started by General (r) Pervez Musharraf, and now on 9th March 2008 though the sixty judges including Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary remains deposed and locked up, at last the newly elected winning parties PPP and PML-N has announced that the judges will be restored within 30 days after the first session of new assembly through a resolution in the parliament.

This is the one thing which is the decisive factor between the forces of status quo and the forces of change. Forces of status quo which are led by President Musharraf with the help of establishment and lotas of PML-Q and opportunists of MQM and covert JUI-F are nail bitingly fighting for their grim survival while the forces of change have signed the Murree Declaration in which they have decided on various factors for the flourish and flowering of democracy and justice.

On the eve of this joint declaration, some rifts in the PPP have also surfaced. Makhdoom Amin Fahim wasn’t present at the meeting in Murree and he was really angry and demanding at the channels that the PM should be from Sindh, while another PPP leader Ahmad Mukhtar was demanding that PM should be from Punjab. But these petty clashes within the PPP are not that much important and they fail to mar the fragrance which is coming out of the joint declaration.

This declaration charts out many pertinent and important things for the future, like the speaker and deputy speaker of national assembly will be from PPP while PML-N will hold these slots in the Punjab. Give and take policy was seen at the meeting, when PML-N conceded that though they didn’t deem it appropriate but they would take oath from Pervez Musharraf and would join the federal cabinet, and PML-N would support the PPP candidate for the premiership.

I wonder what the President Musharraf would be thinking. One thing is clear and done that he wont’ be thinking of retreat. He has said the CJP the ‘Scum of Earth and a third rate person’. Musharraf also intends to stay for another five years. Will Musharraf allow the reinstatement of the judges? In the presence of 58 2B, and if history is any guide, then only a fool could believe that Musharraf would accept this declaration gleefully.

We can only hope that the establishment doesn’t get too excited and try to rollback this newly aligned democratic process. If it does so, it will be quick curtains for the establishment, and this time revolution is round the corner if they don’t allow democracy to have its way.

Additional BLACK FLAG WEEK Sites - From Karen M

Via email, Karen relayed the following additional sites (which will join the Resource list at left):
WATANDOST: Inside News about Pakistan and Its Neighborhood
Watandost in Urdu and farsi means "friend of the country". The blog contains news and commentaries about Pakistan (and its neighbors) that are intriguing and insightful but often are not part of the news headlines. Issues related to "Islam and the West" are also covered here.
An illuminating WATANDOST entry dated Saturday 8 March is entitled A Tribute to the Unknown Lawyer.

Karen notes that it is "
(n)ot just a tribute... also has info about efforts to set up a trust fund for lawyers to offer more substantial support.... Sounds like an idea that really needs some help."

an excerpt:
In the course of the last one year, countless lawyers and several judges stepped forward, at considerable personal cost, to fight for this cause. While some resigned from public offices as a mark of protest, there were many others who actually carried their protest onto the streets. Certainly, none of them were trained to endure the physical hardship of long arduous marches in inclement weather, arbitrary imprisonments or police beatings and teargas, or for that matter the ensuing financial hardship. Only a small number of these lawyers had the strength to carry the inevitable financial burden. A large number of them were junior, subsistence lawyers who depended upon the daily court proceedings to earn a living. Many of them belonged to the smaller districts where the opportunity to work was in any event limited and several were supporting families who depended upon them for their livelihood....

...Even more than the leaders, we must honour and salute these nameless thousands because they are the true heroes and the beacons of the lawyers' movement....
Karen refers us further to these two blog posts for some personal takes on the Emergency, the protests, and Black Flag Week:

KO: Of Judges and Hope

Anupam Chander writes about "Globalization and digitization through the eyes of a California law professor."

A tribute to the Lawyers and People of Pakistan - Protest (h/t N=1)

07 March 2008

Recent News Stories on Black Flag Week...

March 8th:

‘Lawyers will not accept any deal on judges’ reinstatement’ from International News...


From The Post:
Lawyers to start Black Flag Week
LAHORE: The Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan and other statutory bodies of the lawyers' community have finalised the programme to observe the Black Flag Week starting from March 9.
Also From The Post:
KARACHI: Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has dedicated International Women's Day 2008, being observed on Saturday (today) to party's slain Chairperson Benazir Bhutto.

And...

Munir Malik inaugurates black flag week: The Black Flag Week being observed by all sections of society on the call of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) all over the country from 9th to 16th March to press the demand to restore pre-3rd November judiciary, was inaugurated on Friday in Karachi by Munir A Malik, former President SCBA by hoisting a black flag on Karachi Press Club in the presence of journalists, lawyers and civil society activists.

March 7th:

A tribute blog to the real heroes of Pakistan...

The Emergency Times, An Independent Pakistani Student Information Initiative, posts a video of Aitzaz Ahsan's call for Black Flag Week...

Also from International News:

Lawyers stage sit-in, boycott court proceedings

Karachi

City Courts’ lawyers staged a sit-in on main MA Jinnah Road on Thursday in connection with their ongoing protest week, demanding for the restoration of Justice Iftikhar and other judges of superior courts.

The lawyers took out a procession from City Courts and marched on MA Jinnah Road in the morning, suspending vehicular traffic for an hour during peak rush time. They were carrying placards and shouting slogans against the government.

They stayed away from the court proceedings for the whole day, however, judges were present in their chambers. Oath commissioners and stamp vendors also kept their businesses partially off.

About 300 under trial prisoners were brought at the court but they had to return without the hearing of their cases owing to the non-appearance of lawyers. [read more]

NaiTazi.com has some suggestions of things one can do to support Black Flag Week... for example, 2) Take a picture of yourself, your friends and/or your family holding a black flag or wearing black clothes and send it to blackflagweek@gmail.com. If you are uncomfortable revealing your identity you can have the picture taken from your backside or cover your face before taking the picture. You can also help us by taking pictures of your friends, family members, relatives and others who may not be able to take pictures.

March 3rd

TPS Supports Black Flag Week

From the Guardian:
[an excerpt]

Pakistani police have fired tear gas at demonstrating lawyers demanding that President Pervez Musharraf reinstate the deposed supreme court chief justice.

Police in riot gear fired several canisters of tear gas at about 200 lawyers and others who were shouting slogans outside the residence of the ousted judge Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudry.

Many of the protesters picked up the canisters and threw them back at policemen, who retreated before regrouping.

The lawyers had gathered outside the house of the deposed judicial figure after hearing unconfirmed television reports that the government had lifted house-arrest restrictions on his wife and three children.

Chaudry, the country's most senior judge, has been under house arrest along with his family since Musharraf briefly declared emergency rule on November 3. [read more]

BLACK FLAG WEEK Grassroots Work Continues

Here is the draft Press Release/Talking Points that we've been working on:
PosseComment@US
For Immediate Release March 6, 2008

Who? We are a group of active blog participants whose primary connection is based in Glenn Greenwald’s blog on Salon.com. We came together as a group to work on raising awareness on issues facing our country and the world. We named ourselves PosseComment@US.

What? We are asking people to honor Black Flag Week, March 9-15, by wearing black armbands or black clothing, to support the Pakistani lawyers’ movement. These barristers are protesting, taking legal action, and being physically assaulted and jailed by their government, attempting to restore the rule of law in their country. They began one year ago, when President Pervez Musharraf illegally sacked the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Our goal is to support these lawyers in their efforts to restore democracy, the judiciary and the Constitution in Pakistan.

Why? Rule of law and democracy are fundamental to free societies everywhere. The lawyers’ movement in Pakistan recognizes this as a crucial nexus in the evolution of their society from the tyranny of a military dictatorship to a functioning democracy. And tRestoration of justice and the voice of the people in Pakistan could very well be critical to the future safety of not only America, but also to the rest of the world as well. We in the United States have the freedom and the ability to act, to raise awareness and to show support for just causes. It is our responsibility to our own democracy to do so. It is the morally correct action to take.

How? We have been working for the past week, sending emails and flyers, making calls, contacting groups we think might wish to help and posting informational pieces on the internet. Preparations in Pakistan have been building and they are expecting a massive turnout of supporters. It is absolutely crucial that displays of support for this movement be seen not only in Pakistan, but also here and elsewhere in the world, to convince the Pakistani senate and the incoming government to act, and to restore the institutions so crucial to a just government.

Where? Our effort is based at http://AchievingOurCountry.blogspot.com. We have established contacts with law schools, lawyers, civil rights groups and bloggers in order to disseminate this critical message. As the movement in Pakistan is primarily based among lawyers and law schools, it seemed appropriate to call on their counterparts here, in the United States, and elsewhere, for support.

When? Aitzaz Ahsan, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association in Pakistan, has established the week of March 9-15 as Black Flag Week. Rallies, events and marches are being scheduled in Pakistan and we are encouraging supporting events.

For more information, please visit http://revolutionredux.wordpress.com/2008/03/02/pakistan-constitutions-and-the-rule-of-law/.




05 March 2008

Events and Posts in the American Legal Community

Events:

Friday, March 7, 2008, 1:30pm
Rutgers School of Law-Camden

Sahibzada Anwar Hamid, a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan will speak
http://tinyurl.com/33czns

Thursday, March 6, 2008, 12:00pm
Philadelphia Bar Association
Civil Rights Committee Hosts Panel on Rule of Law in Pakistan March 6
http://tinyurl.com/yvlkpl

Wednesday, March 5, 2008, 5:45 p.m.
University of San Francisco
Pakistan's Democracy Derailed
A Conversation with Ahmad Faruqui, Ph.D., Defense Analyst and Energy Economist
http://www.pacificrim.usfca.edu/events/

Articles:

Michael B. Terry
http://alaiwah.wordpress.com/2008/03/03/american-lawyers-should-support-pakistani-supporters/

Caroline Wadhams
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/03/pakistani_priorities.html

(h/t Retired Military Patriot)

03 March 2008

News Flash: Aitzaz Ahsan Released, Riot Police Fire Tear Gas on Protesting Lawyers

From AP:

Pakistani police fired tear gas Monday at scores of demonstrating lawyers who were demanding that President Pervez Musharraf reinstate the deposed supreme court chief justice.
Helmeted police in riot gear fired several tear gas canisters at about 200 lawyers and other demonstrators, who were shouting slogans outside the residence of ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. He has been under house arrest along with his family since Musharraf declared a state of emergency on Nov. 3.

/snip/

The lawyers had gathered outside Chaudhry's house after hearing unconfirmed television reports that the government had lifted the house-arrest restrictions on his wife and three children. The lawyers became agitated when it became apparent that the reports were apparently incorrect.

"Free the children, Go Musharraf Go!" shouted the lawyers, who also demanded that police allow them to go inside the house, which is surrounded by barbed wire.

Earlier Monday, the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Aitzaz Ahsan, announced that lawyers will observe a "black flag week" beginning March 9 to mark the first anniversary of an attempt by Musharraf to fire Chaudhry. He said lawyers will pass out black flags to people and stage demonstrations.

Musharraf's initial attempt to fire Chaudhry failed, but he successfully dismissed him and dozens of other senior judges after declaring emergency on Nov. 3. The crackdown came just before the Supreme Court was to rule on the legitimacy of Musharraf's re-election in October by a parliament dominated by his supporters.

Several other Supreme Court judges and prominent anti-Musharraf lawyers, including Ahsan, were also put under house arrest. Ahsan was released on Sunday.

Images via AP. Above, lawyers are seen outside the home of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. Left, Aitzaz Ahsan is seen in the center of a large group of supporters after being released.

02 March 2008

Through 15 March AOC is dedicating itself to "Black Flag Week" in Pakistan. Site format is temporarily modified in honor of Pakistan's struggle.

from PosseComment@US:

Aitzaz Ahsan, head of the lawyers movement, president of the Pakistani Supreme Court Bar Association, and under house arrest since the Emergency began on 3 November, is calling for the week of March 9th to 15th to be "Black Flag Week". During the entire week, at all events which are in solidarity with the lawyers and their cause, black flags, as opposed to the usual flag (Pakistani, party flags, etc.), will be displayed and people will wear black arm and/or head bands.

Their cause is restoration of the Pakistani Constitution, the rule of law, reinstatement of the Judiciary and impeachment or, at least, deposition of President Pervez Musharraf. They are asking that, at minimum, lawyers and law students show their support.

The Bush administration, in defiance of the clear referendum of recent Pakistani election results and to the dismay of the Pakistani public, the entire region (South Asia), as well as many in our own government (intelligence agencies) and public, continues to support Musharraf and urge continuation of his power. The Bush administration acts as though Musharraf continues to exercise control of the Pakistani military, in defiance of General Kayani's clear break with him and orders for the military to remove themselves from the politics of government (considered a fundamental pro-democratic step in South Asia).

Want to get further involved? Time for action is short. Please wear a black armband or black clothing next week. If you want to really help us, we need your feedback. If you are spreading the word, write a comment (link below) and let us know.

When next week comes:

  • send us your pictures,
  • write about your events,
  • tell us what you have done, and
  • if the media cover you, send us links.

And we will share it. With everyone that helps. And with the people of Pakistan who want - and need - to hear about your support. May justice prevail.


If you want to help, you can contact PosseComment@US using the comments link below.

(Anyone who prefers to respond confidentially can send email to: ondelette at earthlink dot net)