The Angry Media Act

Mar 28th, 2010 | By | Category: Uncategorized

The Angry Media Act

As was noted in the previous post about Zaid Hamid, it is a common misconception to believe that TV talk shows are “real.” What they are is entertainment. Just as WWE wrestling uses incredible and absurd theatrics to entertain people, so do the talk shows. Nadeem Paracha provides a behind the scenes look at this practice by TV producers (and now even other media types) of seeking out and encouraging the most sensational behaviour. For the sake of ratings, will they sacrifice the nation?

A friend of my brother’s, who is also the son of a pesh-imam, once told me an interesting incident. A bright young man doing an MBA, the imam’s son had decided to serve his father’s wish (nay holy insistence) on sporting a long beard. So, back in 2007, during Musharraf’s operation against the Lal Masjid fanatics, his university was visited by a team from a popular TV channel.

The team wanted to talk to some students about the Lal Masjid operation. After conducting a few on-the-spot interviews, the team then went looking for male and female students with beards and hijabs. One of them was the pesh-imam’s son. He was also asked by the team to become a guest on a political talk show. He agreed.

When he reached the studios he found himself among a group of about six more bearded young men and some women in burqas and hijab. They were all selected for the show by the channel from various universities and colleges.

After about half an hour, the assistant producer of the show addressed the students telling them about the format and topic of the show. The producer then told them that the channel expects them to ‘make the show interesting by exhibiting anger and disgust against the government (for its action against the Lal Masjid clerics).’

As a reference some of them were reminded (by the producer) of the way a burqa-clad guest (on the show) had hurled abuses and curses at the government ‘for killing innocent people holed-up (with guns, mind you) in the Lal Masjid.’

When the students were paraded on to the sets of the show, they were at once addressed by the host of the programme: ‘Ghusa karna hai, accha!” (You have to be angry, okay!), he reminded them.

Though the students tried their best to sound angry and offended by the Lal Masjid operation, the host did not seem happy with their performance. So, during the commercial break, he angrily asked the students to be more convincing: “Yeh log aap kay bhai aur bhenoon ko maar rahey hain,’ (These people are killing your brothers and sisters), he announced. “Kya aap ko in pe ghusa nahin araha?” (Aren’t you all feeling angry at them?).

The guest students were bemused because (according to the narrator of this incident), though they were all very ‘Islamic looking’ and conservative, none of them could relate to the militant ways of the Lal Masjid clerics. Just before the show came back on air, the host insisted that the students make a better attempt at exhibiting outrage against the operation.

So they tried again. But to no avail. The host was still not happy. He was, of course, comparing this performance with the one he got from the burqa-clad woman a few days before in which she had wailed and wept, swearing revenge against the government. This incident took place in 2007. Today, almost two years later, can we say that the ways of the Pakistani electronic media have got any better? Hardly. Things have actually gone from bad to worse. Every single day on one news channel or the other viewers can catch hours of terribly biased journalism in which, for example, one can see talk-show hosts running loathsome media trials of certain ‘corrupt’ politicians (as if the hosts and their employers were themselves in-the-clear to cast the first stones at dishonesty).

Worse still is the way some channels give an open floor to what are quite clearly mad men who unabashedly spout hatred and violence in the name of religion and nationalism. So one wonders, what is a bigger crime? A (media-confirmed, not court-proven) corrupt politician or a mad man in the disguise of a talk-show host; a preacher or an ‘expert’ glamorising hatred and violence?

It is quite a sight watching the so-called TV journalists — who would even struggle to win an election of a press club — demonstrating silly smug expressions and tones, behaving as if they were the true saviours of Pakistan. They actually believe this.

However, the truth is, if men (and some women) gladly sacrifice the concept of responsible (and sane) journalism just so they can pull off a sensational show that would win them fame and a bagful of corporate sponsors, if they are the ones claiming a ‘jihad against corruption’ and ‘patriotism,’ then God help us all.

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  1. One by One every character [Lawyer] of “Free Judiciary Movement” will be fixed because more than 50 innocent lives were “LOST” due to this “ACCURSED” Movement which was launched to provide safe exit to GENERAL MUSHARRAF/MILITARY ESTABLISHMENT to restore it’s “NON EXISTENT HONOUR” and restoring its PRE 12 OCT 1999 POSITION I.E. SOLE POWER IN PAKISTAN

    LATIF KHOSA [ONE OF THE CAMPAIGNERS OF CJ’S PUNJAB TRIP] WAS THE FIRST: Latif Khosa dissatisfied with Justice Ramday Updated at: 1344 PST, Thursday, November 05, 2009 http://www.geo.tv/11-5-2009/52432.htm

    ISLAMABAD: Former Attorney General Sardar Latif Khosa filed a petition at Supreme Court (SC) for the exclusion of Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday from the bench constituted to hear the corruption case filed against him (Khosa), Geo News reported Thursday. The petitioner Sardar Latif Khosa said in his plea that Justice Khalil is biased, as he passed antagonistic remarks during the hearing of a case relating Benazir Bhutto. Latif Khosa also attached with the petition a resolution of Lahore High Court Bar passed in 1998 against Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday. It should be mentioned that corruption case against Latif Khosa is scheduled to be held tomorrow with a five-strong bench headed by Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday. Earlier, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry also separated from a bench hearing the same case.

    RASHID RIZVI IS FIXED YESTERDAY, KURD WAS FIXED SOME DAYS BACK, WAJIHUDDIN AHMED IS SILENT NOW, TARIQ MEHMOOD IS SILENT AS WELL, MUNIR MALIK IS TO LOOK AFTER HIS PRACTICE AND “PRECIOUS CLIENTS” AND PRACTICE AS WELL …

    Athar Minallah and Swat Flogging????

    The video was a fraud [prepared by the sister of a Lawyer who was Chief Spokesman for the Former Defunct CJ Iftikhar M Chaudhry] no doubt and created to Restore the Status of Armed Forces in the Eyes of Pakistan as a Force which can restore peace [whereas they are themselves responsible for Bloodletting in FATA and NWFP]. Shouln’t Mr Athar Minallah be brought to Justice as well because abetting in a crime is tantamount to committing a crime. Athar was appointed Minister for Law, Local Government, Parliamentary Affairs and Human Rights by the Provincial Government of NWFP (2000-2002) by General Musharraf Military Regime. REFERENCE: Musharraf Consolidates His Control With Arrests By JANE PERLEZ Published: November 4, 2007 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/04/world/asia/04cnd-pakistan.html?_r=1&hp

    Jang Group is quite strange because it keeps everybody happy: Swat video is genuine, claim activists Sunday, April 05, 2009 By Usman Manzoor http://thenews.jang.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=21338
    And if that was not enough the group which was supporting the Flogging Video was also supporting Mr. Ansar Abbasi who was the harshest critique of that Video: Meanwhile, the civil society, traders and common citizens, who have been protesting in the twin cities and Murree to show solidarity with Ansar Abbasi, once again staged a protest demo in front of the Geo TV Building. The participants of the Monday’s sit-in were holding placards favouring the daring journalist of Jang Group. Arshad Abbasi, Jamil Abbasi, Aziz Satti, Sawar Satti, Ather Minallah, Tahira Abdullah and Jahangir Akhtar were prominent among the participants. Addressing the participants, Arshad Abbasi paid rich tributes o the editor investigations, The News, and said media was not a governing authority anywhere in the world but it was the duty of media to highlight the malpractices, and this was what Ansar Abbasi was doing. Journalists protest threats to Ansar Abbasi Wednesday, January 07, 2009 our correspondent Islamabad http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=156056

    BUT TODAY JANG GROUP TOOK ANOTHER SOMERSAULT!

    Video of girl’s flogging in Swat was ‘fake’ Monday, March 29, 2010
    http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=231461

    PESHAWAR: A resident of Swat, who claims to have prepared the fake video of flogging of a girl in Swat, has termed it drama and revealed that he received Rs0.5 million for doing so before the launch of military operation ‘Rah-e-Rast’. Before the operation ‘Rah-e-Rast’, an NGO financed preparation of fake video of flogging in which they portrayed the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) members flogging a woman. The provincial government and Malakand Commissioner Syed Muhammad Javed ordered investigations and sought report from the authorities concerned.

    After the successful operation in Malakand division, the law-enforcement agencies had arrested the children who were present in the video while a resident of Swat was apprehended by Kohat administration. The children and the arrested man revealed that the video was fake and said that it was made on the demand of Islamabad-based NGO which provided him Rs0.5 million.

    Sources revealed that woman who was flogged in the video was also arrested and she revealed that she had received Rs0.1 million while Rs50,000 were given to each child. Sources said that the NGO produced the video to defame the country’s integrity and respect. Sources stated that the law-enforcement agencies dispatched the report about the arrests of the culprits and proposed action against the NGO. They also said that the security agencies also apprehended the TTP workers who flogged the people.

    Punjab Bar Council rejects Supreme Court National Judicial Policy.
    PBC rejects National Judicial Policy Updated at: 2230 PST, Tuesday, March 30, 2010 http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=101847

    LAHORE: Rejecting the National Judicial Policy, Punjab Bar Council Vice Chairman Mumtaz Mustafa, Chairman Executive Committee Rana Muhammad Akram and other members of Executive Committee said that the policy was not delivering justice to people and it was only accelerating the process for disposing of cases. Addressing a joint press conference, Mustafa, Akram and other senior members of the bar council said that hastening the disposing of judges was equal to the burial of justice. The judiciary should give rulings on merit without making any haste, they said. They said not even five percent judges are honest in lower courts, whereas the remarks of Lahore High Court Chief Justice suggest as if judges of Khilafat-e-Rashida have been appointed. Qazi Anwar, the president of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), is not the representative of lawyers, they remarked.
    Tuesday, March 30, 2010, Rabi-us-Sani 13, 1431 A.H
    http://www.jang.com.pk/jang/mar2010-daily/30-03-2010/u25900.htm

    Punishment of Qazaf for the Judiciary:

    CJ takes notice of girl’s flogging Saturday, April 04, 2009 – Orders production of victim in court on Monday; constitutes eight-member larger bench; president, PM condemn, order inquiry into incident By Sohail Khan & Asim Yasin http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=21319

    ISLAMABAD: The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, on Friday took suo moto notice of a girl’s flogging in Swat and issued notices to the federal interior secretary and the chief secretary as well as the inspector general police, NWFP, to personally appear before the court on Monday.

    He also directed the federal interior secretary to procure and produce the victim (girl) before the court on the date fixed. According to Reuters grainy video footage, which emerged on Friday, apparently shot with a mobile phone camera shows militants making the burqa-clad girl lie on the ground on her stomach. One man holds her feet and another her head while a third man with a black beard and turban flogs her with a leather strap. Men can be seen looking on.

    “For God’s sake, stop it … hang on, hang on,” the girl cries as the man beats her across the buttocks. A militant commander off-camera can be heard giving orders as the girl squirms and whimpers under the blows: “Hold her feet tightly, hold her hands tightly.” Human rights activist Samar Minallah said the girl was from a poor family and was flogged after a neighbour told the Taliban she had had an affair.

    “They did this brutality just on suspicion. There was no trial. No evidence, no witness was produced,” she said. The chief justice ordered fixation of the matter under the Article 184(3) of the Constitution before an eight-member larger bench of the Supreme Court to be headed by him (CJP) on Monday. The larger bench consists of Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan, Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, Justice Faqir Muhammad Khokhar, Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed and Justice Ch Ijaz Ahmed. In this respect, notices have also been issued to the attorney general (AG), NWFP advocate general and Peshawar High Court Bar Association president to appear on the fixed date to assist the court. The CJP took a serious notice on a video clipping screened on private television channels. In his suo-moto notice, the CJP said the matter was a serious violation of fundamental rights, guaranteed under the Constitution.

    The CJP observed that the exact place/venue of the incident and the circumstances under which the punishment by whipping was administered was not known, it certainly constituted a serious violation of law and fundamental rights of the citizens of the country.

    Geo TV, which showed the video of the incident, has also been directed to produce the CD of the incident. Three private TV channels have also been asked that they may jointly compile the video material of the incident and arrange to display the same before the court on Monday.
    According to a press statement, issued by the Supreme Court registrar office, Geo News Television Channel released a video film on Friday of a 17-year-old girl being whipped in public. The punishment was administered by some unknown persons.

    In the film, one person had held the girl from hands, the other from feet and the third one was beating her with a whip. The victim girl was continuously crying/screaming. The charge was that she went out of her home with a “Namahram”. The exact place of incident was not reported; however, it appears to be some place in Mingora or some village in Swat. Probably, the said news was also released by the foreign media, the statement said. It said that it is a very cruel act, violation of the fundamental rights and gives a very bad name to the country. The treatment is also in violation of Islamic norms/principles.
    It further said the Constitution of Pakistan guarantees fundamental rights of its citizens. No person can be deprived of life, liberty without due process of law. The dignity of person is inviolable. No person can be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment/punishment. Whipping is prohibited by law. The incident, therefore, constitutes a serious violation of the Constitution/law.
    “It may be pointed out that according to Article 247 of the Constitution, the executive authority of the Federation extends to the Tribal Areas, including the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (Pata). The federal/ provincial laws do not automatically apply to the Tribal Areas; however, such laws can be extended to it with the approval of president/governor,” the statement said. It said the relevant portion of the Article 247 says: “Subject to the Constitution, the executive authority of the Federation shall extend to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and the executive authority of a province shall extend to the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas therein.”

    Neither the Supreme Court nor a high court shall exercise any jurisdiction under the Constitution in relation to a tribal area, unless Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) by law otherwise provides: “Provided that nothing in this clause shall affect the jurisdiction which the Supreme Court or a high court exercised in relation to a Tribal Area immediately before the commencing day.” It is pointed out that in the 1970s, the Supreme Court and high court jurisdiction was extended to Pata. So, in view of the above, the CJP may consider taking action in this matter under the Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

    Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly denounced the flogging in public of a young woman and called for a report from the government and apprehending those involved in the heinous crime. Spokesman for the president Farhatullah Babar said the president was shocked over this act of barbarism and had asked for a report from the government and the local administration.The spokesman said the inhuman and barbaric punishment meted out to the woman had made the heads of the people hang in shame. “For its sheer atrocity, the incident will continue to haunt the people and the country even in a distant age and clime,” he said.

    He said the perpetrators of the crime had done a great disservice to humanity, religion and morality. “Such barbarism is unpardonable and cannot be tolerated; it will not be,” he said. The prime minister also ordered the authorities to inquire into the incident and submit a report.
    He said, “The incident was also contrary to the Islamic principles, as our religion teaches us to treat the women politely and gently.” The prime minister said, “The government believes in the rights of women and will continue to take every measure to protect their rights.”

  2. Good Old Day of Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry [During Martial Law of General Musharraf] Courtesy Dawn Wire Service [Complete PCO Bench] Read how Martial Law was Justified by the Judges and Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was part of the bench:

    Politicians in power try to be dictators, says CJ Bureau Report [ DAWN WIRE SERVICE Week Ending : 4 March 2000 Issue : 06/10 http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/2000/mar04.html

    ISLAMABAD, March 1: The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Irshad Hasan Khan, on Wednesday observed that when the politicians are in power, they try to become dictators but when they are out of power, they become champions of the rule of law.

    Presiding over a 12-member bench seized of the seven petitions challenging the military takeover, the chief justice directed the attorney general to provide details of the expenditure on holding elections, including the expenses made by the candidates on their election campaigns. The Supreme Court announced that it would decide the issue of maintainability and merits of the case simultaneously. The chief justice said the court had entertained the petitions. The bench started regular hearing of the petitions on Wednesday. The court first took up the petition of Syed Zafar Ali Shah, suspended MNA of PML from Islamabad. The representative petition of PML would be taken next and Khalid Anwer would argue the case on behalf of the party.

    Other petitions before the court are of Syed Imtiaz Hussain Bukhari, challenging the PCO; Fazal Ellahi Siddiqui, challenging the PCO; Shahid Orakzai, seeking restoration of Senate, office of speakers and provincial assemblies; Al-Jehad Trust, seeking restoration of Constitution to the extent of judiciary; and Syed Iqbal Haider of MWM, seeking validation of PCO. The bench consisted of Justice Irshad Hasan Khan, Justice Mohammad Bashir Jehangiri, Justice Sheikh Ijaz Nisar, Justice Abdur Rehman Khan, Justice Sheikh Riaz Ahmad, Justice Chaudhry Mohammad Arif, Justice Munir A. Sheikh, Justice Rashid Aziz Khan, Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Qazi Mohammad Farooq and Justice Rana Bhagwandas.

    The chief justice made it clear at the outset that the counsels should try to be relevant and unnecessary repetition of arguments should be avoided. He said the whole work of the court was suspended due to the present case. Chaudhry Farooq, the counsel of Mr Shah, said that on the last hearing the petitioner had apprehended that the judges of the court would be asked to take fresh oath under the PCO and his apprehensions proved to be true.

    He said the PCO (1) of 1999 and subsequent orders were unconstitutional, having no force of law.

    The chief justice asked the parties to avoid mud-slinging, and added that: “we will perform our function without intimidation.” He observed that the bar and the bench were integral part of the chariot of justice. He said his effort was to save the system and referred to the decisions of the Chief Justices Committee.

    The counsel said: “Pakistan was a gift of our forefathers, but unfortunately the rule of law had been interrupted at regular intervals. In its total life, Pakistan had suffered military rule for 30 long years”.

    He said the government in its reply to the petitions had said that the elections of Feb 3, 1997, were farce. The elections in which PML obtained heavy mandate were monitored by the observers across the globe, he said, and added the armed forces were employed to supervize the elections. On the court’s query, Barrister Khalid Anwar stated that 36 per cent of voters used their right of franchise in the 1997 elections.

    Chaudhry Farooq said if the government of Khawaja Nazimuddin would not have been dismissed, the fate of Pakistan would have been different. He said Pakistan was created with the force of vote and not through any military operation. “Both citizens and soldiers are subject to Constitution alike.”

    Referring to Article 6 of the Constitution, he said abrogating the Constitution was treachery with the country. When he stated that the respondents had not replied to the Politicians in power try to be dictators:

    CJ challenge he raised in the petition, the chief justice observed that the counsel was trying to be hyper technical. The CJ made it clear to the counsel that notice of the case to the chief of the army staff was there.
    The counsel said he was firm believer that the Kafir (infidel) could not be a friend of Muslim and Hindus being Kafir could not be trusted. When the counsel referred to a judgment from the Indian jurisdiction, the court asked him not to cite Indian judgments in the present case. When the counsel started reading an old judgment from Pakistani jurisdiction, the chief justice asked the counsel to first read the speech of the chief executive in which he had spelt out the reasons which forced him to come into power. The counsel was still reading the speech of Gen Musharraf when the court rose to assemble again on Thursday (March 2).

    JUDICIARY UNDER MARTIAL LAW

    Seniority of Chief Justices determined Bureau Report [ DAWN WIRE SERVICE Week Ending : 4 March 2000 Issue : 06/10 http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/2000/mar04.html

    ISLAMABAD, Feb 28: The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Irshad Hasan Khan, on Monday constituted the Supreme Judicial Council, and determined the seniority of the chief justices of the high courts. According to an order passed by the chief justice in his administrative capacity, the Supreme Judicial Council had been constituted. The members of the council are: Chief Justice Irshad Hasan Khan (chairman), Justice Mohammad Bashir Jehangiri, Justice Sheikh Ijaz Nisar, Justice Mian Mohammad Ajmal, and Justice Mian Allah Nawaz.

    Only four cases were referred to the council in the last 52 years. The last case of the Lahore High Court judge, Justice Shiekh Shaukat, was referred about two decades ago. According to a press release issued by the Supreme Court, the chief justice has institutionalized the decision-making process relating to administrative matters and decentralized his powers. Justice Bashir Jehangiri, senior judge of the Supreme Court, has been delegated financial powers of the chief justice to sanction expenditure up to Rs30,000. Justice Jehangiri would assist the chief justice in matters relating to the administration of the Supreme Court and proposals for improving and strengthening the administration of justice.
    Other judges of the Supreme Court are also delegated different duties, such as chairmen of different committees and members of the universities’ syndicates. The chief justice also determined the inter seniority of the chief justices of high courts. They are (seniority wise): Justice Mian Mohammad Ajmal, chief justice of the Peshawar High Court; Justice Mian Allah Nawaz, chief justice of the Lahore High Court; Justice Syed Deedar Hussain, chief justice of the Sindh High Court; and Justice Javed Iqbal, chief justice of the Balochistan High Court.

    POWERS DECENTRALIZED: The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr. Justice Irshad Hasan Khan, has taken several steps to decentralise his powers and institutionalise decision making relating to administration to further improve performance and smooth functioning of the judiciary, adds APP.
    He has delegated his powers to the following judges for smooth functioning of courts.

    1- Mr. Justice Muhammad Bashir Jehangiri, Senior Puisne Judge:

    (i) Has been delegated financial powers of the Chief Justice to sanction expenditure upto Rs. 30,000/-

    (ii) To assist the Chief Justice in matters relating to the administration of the SC and proposals for improving and strengthening the system of administration of justice.

    2- Mr. Justice Sheikh Ijaz Nisar:

    (i) Chairman, Building Committee at Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Islamabad.

    (ii) Chairman, Federal Review Board

    3- Mr. Justice Abdur Rehman Khan:

    (i) Chairman, Disciplinary Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council

    (ii) Member, Building Committee of Peshawar Building

    (iii) Judge-in-charge Complaints

    4- Mr. Justice Sheikh Riaz Ahmad:

    (i) Member, Syndicate of the Quaid-i-Azam University

    (ii) Member, Building Committee at Islamabad

    (iii) Judge-in-charge of Computers

    (iv) Member, Federal Review Board

    (v) Member, Lahore Building Committee

    Continued on Page 11

    5- Mr. Justice Chaudhry Muhammad Arif:

    (i) Judge-in-Charge, Federal Judicial Academy

    (ii) Judge-in-charge of the Library

    (iii) Chairman of the Library Committee

    6- Mr. Justice Munir A Sheikh:

    (i) Judge-in-charge of Pakistan Law Commission regarding initiation of proposals for law reform.

    (ii) Chairman, Enrolment Committee of Pakistan Bar Council.

    (iii) Judge-in-charge for Welfare of retired Judges in Lahore/Islamabad

    (iv) Chairman, Election Tribunal, Pakistan Bar Council

    7- Mr. Justice Rashid Aziz Khan:

    (i) Member, Executive Council of the Allama Iqbal Open University

    (ii) Member, Building Committee at Lahore

    (iii) Chairman, Disciplinary Tribunal of the Pakistan Bar

    Council 8- Mr. Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui:

    (i) Judge-in-charge for Welfare of retired Judges in Karachi

    (ii) Member of the Building Committee at Karachi

    9- Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry:

    Judge-in-charge for Affairs of Staff Welfare

    10- Mr. Justice Qazi Muhammad Farooq:

    Judge-in-charge for Welfare of retired Judges in Peshawar

    11- Mr. Justice Rana Bhagwandas:

    Member of the Library Committee.

    A political conviction: counsel Rafaqat Ali DAWN WIRE SERVICE Week Ending : 17 March 2001 Issue : 07/11 http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/2001/mar1701.html

    ISLAMABAD, March 16: Raja Anwar, counsel for Benazir Bhutto, on Friday argued that his client was convicted only because Nawaz Sharif, the then prime minister, wanted her to leave politics. Addressing a seven-member SC bench, hearing appeals of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari against their conviction, Raja Anwar argued that the Ehtesab Bench, comprising Justice Malik Qayyum and Justice Najmul Hasan Kazmi, had convicted his client on the basis of documents which were inadmissible. The process of awarding pre-shipment inspection contract which was set in motion in 1992 during the Nawaz Sharif government, culminated in 1994, the counsel said.

    The counsel said there was no violation of Financial Rules of the Government of Pakistan in the award of tenders. He said tenders could only be rejected after assigning any reasons in writing. When he referred to rule 90 of Pakistan’s Financial Rules, Justice Bashir Jehangiri observed that in Pakistan every contract was awarded in violation of rules. At the end of every tender notice it was written that the competent authority reserved the right to reject the bids without assigning any reason.

    He said his client did not grant the contract, rather it approved it. The contract was awarded by Nawaz Sharif who had issued letter of intent before he was removed from office. The seven-member bench consists of Justice Bashir Jehangiri, Justice Sheikh Riaz Ahmad, Justice Munir A. Sheikh, Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Qazi Mohammad Farooq, and Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar.

    Responding to court’s question about Jens Schlegelmilch’s stay in Islamabad in Aug 1994, Raja Anwer said that there was nothing on record to show that the alleged frontman of Asif Zardari, Jens Schlegelmilch, met Benazir Bhutto. Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui observed whether it was possible for any official to investigate the sitting prime minister, the counsel said that his client was not prime minister at the time when investigations were being conducted.

    On conclusion of the proceedings on Friday, the court asked Raja Anwer to conclude his arguments by Monday as many other cases are suffering because of lengthy hearing of the case. The counsel, who had earlier indicated that he would conclude by Friday, said that he needed at least one more day to conclude his arguments. Raja Anwer assured the court that he would conclude his arguments by Monday next. The court will resume hearing on Monday, March 19.

    SC orders retrial of Benazir, Asif Rafaqat Ali DAWN WIRE SERVICE
    Week Ending : 07 April 2001 Issue : 07/14 http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/2001/apr0701.html

    ISLAMABAD, April 6: The Supreme Court on Friday set aside corruption convictions awarded by the LHC’s Ehtesab bench to Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari, and ordered a retrial of the case. In a short order, the seven-member bench accepted the appeals of Ms Bhutto and Mr Zardari against the 1999 conviction. The detailed judgment would be announced later. The former prime minister and the suspended senator had requested the apex court to acquit them honourably.

    Justice Bashir Jehangiri, presiding judge of the bench, announced the verdict at 10.50am: “Reason to be recorded later in the detailed judgment, we accept the appeals and set aside the impugned judgment recording conviction against and awarding sentences to the appellants, and send the case to a court of competent jurisdiction for retrial.” On April 15, 1999, an Ehtesab bench consisting of Justice Malik Qayyum and Najmul Kazmi of the Lahore High Court had convicted Ms Bhutto and Mr Zardari. They were sentenced to undergo five years’ simple imprisonment each, and pay $8.6 million fine each. The Ehtesab bench had ordered their disqualification as members of parliament for five years, and forfeiture of their property made with money acquired through corruption.

    The Ehtesab bench had held that the pre-shipment inspection contract to the Swiss company, SGS, had been awarded by the former prime minister “alone” at the behest and abetment with Mr Zardari. The prosecution case was that the contract had been awarded in consideration of 6 per cent commission of the total amount received by the SGS from the government of Pakistan. The prosecution had alleged that the commission had been paid to an offshore company, Bomer Finance Inc., owned by Mr Zardari through his fiduciary agent Jens Schlegelmilch. The ultimate beneficiaries of the commission were Mr Zardari and Ms Bhutto, according to prosecution.
    Farooq Hameed Naek, counsel for appellants, said after the judgment: “I am satisfied … but not happy. I was expecting honourable acquittal but this is the court’s judgment.”

    The military government had inherited the case from the PML government and defended the judgment vehemently, spending over Rs10 million in legal fees and other expenses. The Supreme Court bench consisted of Justice Bashir Jehangiri, Justice Sheikh Riaz Ahmed, Justice Munir A. Sheikh, Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Qazi Mohammad Farooq, and Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar.

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