Posts Tagged ‘Asma Jahangir’

The News for the Prosecution

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

The News (Jang Group)Is The News (Jang Group) reporting on court proceedings or trying to influence an issue that is sub judice? This question must be asked in light of a report by Ahmad Noorani of 31 December, ‘Asma focused on army bashing, not maintainability of petitions.

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The short, four paragraph piece in Saturday’s newspaper contains a sensational headline and opening paragraph which can only be read in a way that will influence the readers to believe that Asma Jahangir is anti-military – a dangerous accusation in these times.

Mr Noorani’s article appeared on the same page as another piece that terms the respected international human rights NGO ‘Human Rights Watch’ as taking ‘a highly objectionable and partisan position against the superior judiciary of Pakistan’ after Pakistan Director Human Rights Watch Ali Dayan Hasan expressed concern about the Supreme Court’s verdict. According to The News, the ‘highly controversial statement’ insisted that “all arms of the state must act within their constitutionally determined ambit and in aid of legitimate civilian rule”. Does Jang Group really find the Constitution ‘highly objectionable’?

Just below this piece, in fact, was another piece attacking Human Rights Watch, this time terming it as ‘a foreign organisation working in Pakistan under the cover of human rights’. In an utterly bizarre and inexplicable practice, The News then goes on to quote its source against Human Rights Watch – none other than Mr Ahmad Noorani!

The News goes on to attack the person of Human Rights Watch director Ali Dayan Hasan. After printing his statement:

“No one from the government approached me to issue this press release and it was issued by my organisation considering the fears and threats to constitution, democracy and human rights in Pakistan”

The News injected a rumour that “It was also being said that he had issued this press release on directions of the federal government”. As with very many Jang Group sources, these cannot be verified and The News offers no evidence to support the claims their mysterious ‘sources’.

It should be noted that the person who appears to behind a few of these biased and sensational articles, Ahmad Noorani, has a track record of reporting incorrect information and biased articles attacking the present government.

As the issue of the memo case is presently sub judice, journalists should report only the facts and not attempt to influence proceedings or to anticipate the course of the inquiry or predict the outcome. Let the court do its work. It does not need Jang Group prejudicing the courts statements and decisions and thereby undermining the very independence of the court itself..

A Tale of Two Courts

Friday, April 8th, 2011

A visitor from another country who learned about the judiciary from Pakistani media might be forgiven for believing that there are two high courts in the land.

One court is made up of innocent angels who are incessantly bullied by a power-obsessed strong man in the presidency. This court is described by Taj M Khattak in a column for The News. In case you are wondering what are Taj M Khattak’s qualifications for commenting on judiciary and government relations, he is a retired military officer. Here is how Vice Admiral (retd) Khattak describes things.

Back on Nov 28, 1997, during Nawaz Sharif’s second term as prime minister, charged political workers of his PML-N stormed the Supreme Court on Constitution Avenue in Islamabad. The judges inside had to scramble for safety to their chambers.

The PPP continues this undesirable practice of intimidation of the higher judiciary. It began with the appearance of Law Minister Babar Awan in the Supreme Court in July 2010, accompanied by a large posse of cabinet ministers and party politicians. One of the judges on the occasion remarked that the law minister had not been summoned but invited.

According to Vice Adm. (retd) Khattak, political workers storming the court in 1997 is the same as the government ministers appearing at the court per an invitation by the justices – a threat to order.

But there is a competing view of the courts which is less popular among media talking heads. This view, expressed by President Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir in Dawn earlier this week, describes a Supreme Court that, driven by a desire to demonstrate its independence, has been acting outside the boundaries of its legal mandate.

Simply grabbing more and more authority does not enhance independence. It only makes the judiciary controversial and partisan. Two recent judgments of the SC, ousting the constitutional powers of the Parliamentary Committee (PC) from decision-making while appointing judges to the superior courts and suggesting that the chief justice of Pakistan be consulted while appointing a chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) indicates that the SC wishes to assume the role of legislating and in running the affairs of the state.

Which is the more accurate representation? That is a complex question that requires more space than is available here. But it should still be asked why the opinions promoted by some media groups so closely follows the opinions of retired military officers while the opinion of the President Supreme Court Bar Association is resigned to reports on her own remarks.

When editors request columns for the opinion pages, they have the power to shape public opinion by molding people’s perceptions of reality. When people read several individuals taking the same view on an issue, they are inclined to agree with the popular viewpoint. Therefore, the question should be asked why the opinions of retired military officers are more popular in the media than the opinions of legal experts?