Posts Tagged ‘supreme court’

Babar Sattar vs. Babar Sattar on transparency

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Babar SattarIslamabad based lawyer Babar Sattar is a regular columnist on legal issue for The News (Jang Group). As a respected legal mind writing for the nation’s largest media group, he has a special ability to influence public opinion on important issues. Mr Sattar is entitled to his opinons, of course, but we believe it is fair to note when inconsistencies in his pieces suggest that the positions he is projecting may be influenced by something other than facts.

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Writing about Asma Jahangir’s critique of the Supreme Court’s interim order in the ‘memogate’ fiasco, Babar Sattar called the Court’s actions “a welcome development” for expanding the scope of fundamental rights.

Why should a matter be consigned to the dustbin merely because it involves national security, the holiest of all cows? Does it not bode well that national security has finally stepped outside the exclusive domain of the khakis? When was the last time that the army chief and the DG ISI (or any serving general for that matter) submitted himself before a court of law in Pakistan? Why should the court be expected to look away when asked to determine whether or not Pakistan’s envoy to a foreign state made an offer that compromises Article 9 and 10 rights of Pakistanis under the constitution? Would it strengthen rule of law in Pakistan if instead of being adjudicated before courts of law in full public view, the ‘troikas’ and such illegitimate centres of power in our polity continue to brawl over and resolve differences related to national security behind closed doors?

In questioning the Court’s actions on the ‘memogate’ case, Babar Sattar suggested, the Supreme Court was being treated unfairly by assumptions that the Court would treat civilians and military officials differently.

The misgivings against the Supreme Court are a product of the premature (and uncharitable) conclusion that the apex court is incapable of doing justice in a matter wherein the army chief and the DG ISI have exhibited personal interest. And these fears have not singularly been nurtured by the court’s actions or orders in the memo case, but by its omissions and indifference vis-à-vis other cases wherein the allegations of abuse of fundamental rights are much more blatant. For example, what would it take to get the Supreme Court to fix for hearing the Asghar Khan case and adjudicate the alleged involvement of the ISI in distributing funds and cobbling together the IJI?

Though he could not have predicted it, Mr Sattar got his wish and the Supreme Court took up the Asghar Khan case earlier this year. So what does Babar Sattar have to say about the importance of transparent investigations and fundamental rights now?

It is thus important that the Asghar Khan case leads to a wider disclosure of facts. Such disclosure need not be public.

Perhaps the Supreme Court is not treating civilians and military officials differently under the law, but it certainly looks like someone is.

Ansar Abbasi vs. Ansar Abbasi on 18th Amendment

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Ansar AbbasiThere is a famous saying that no man has a good enough memory to be a perfect liar. Ansar Abbasi could never be a good liar because his memory is so short that he cannot remember even what he has claimed the day before. Within the past two days, Abbasi’s statements in his columns about the SC verdict on 18th Amendment come into direct contradiction.

Yesterday, in a bit of irony that did not go unnoticed by many, Ansar Abbasi claimed that the government was unhappy with the SC verdict because they were hoping to cause a conflict between the government and judiciary.

The otherwise aggressive Presidency, whose men unleashed unending scathing attacks on the judiciary following the apex court’s NRO decision, has gone on the backfoot as the Supreme Court’s latest decision has won more sympathisers for the judiciary, even within the government and in the Presidency.

According to a credible source, a president’s top aide and federal minister, whose advice really matters a lot in the Presidency’s decisions, did not show any appreciation after getting the details of the interim order. The source said that the minister wore a sullen face as soon as he got to know as to what the apex court had ruled.

The source said that the negative reaction of such grim faces was expected to be reflected discreetly through the media. “Some panic phone calls have already been made to certain friends in the media to encourage media persons to pick up holes in the judgment,” the source said.

In only 24 hours, Ansar Abbasi must have forgotten his talking points, though, because his column for today makes the opposite claim.

Sardar Latif Khosa, a former cabinet member and one of the legal aides of the president, has already welcomed the SC decision, terming it as well considered and well thought-out. He added that the SC order suggested the best way to deal with the issues that were brought before the judiciary. Yet another presidential aide and President Zardari’s political aide Faisal Raza Abidi had also termed the SC order as “excellent” and “judicious”.

Generally, the PPP legislators and even the government representatives are excited about the decision as it has successfully averted the much-feared confrontation between the judiciary and parliament.

So how does such an experienced journalist as Ansar Abbasi make such an error? Actually, he gives himself away today. Here is what Ansar Abbasi explains:

There are fears amidst political and journalistic circles that the Presidency and its top legal mind and Law Minister Babar Awan have some reservations about the Supreme Court’s interim order because of which they are not coming up with their response.

It is alleged that some of the presidential aides are instead encouraging their friends in the media to pick up holes in the SC’s interim order and raise the question if it interferes in the legislature’s domain.

Whether he intended to or not, Ansar Abbasi has exposed himself and too many of his media colleagues, though they may be unnamed here. There is no evidence that the government is trying to cause a conflict with the judiciary, and there is no evidence that the government or the President himself is unhappy with the verdict. Actually, this is all only the gossip among political and media elites.

Recent events have already suggested that there are some media elements fueling the executive-judiciary tensions. Ansar Abbasi has just given more evidence. It is time for the media to stop playing games and reporting their office gossips. Please, stick to the facts.

The News Report on Constitution Contains Factual Error

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Ahmad Noorani, journalist or political operative?A front page report in The News today by Ahmad Noorani contains a factual error about how constitutional amendments are treated in other countries.

The article claims that:

In different countries with developed political systems, including US and India, apex courts have struck down constitutional amendments.

This is not true. No constitutional amendment has ever been struck down by a US court. Actually, that would not be possible as in US law the written constitution is considered the supreme law of the land.

Daily Times Condemns Media Rumour Mongering

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

The following editorial appeared in today’s Daily Times and echoes our analysis of yesterday on the issue of media’s role in the executive-judiciary tensions. Of particular interest is the statement by the Daily Times editorial staff:

Even the prime minister’s statement that this was a conspiracy to pitch the two institutions against each other was not considered enough.

It is worth taking a moment to consider what it means to our country if unsubstantiated rumours are considered more authoritative than the word of the Prime Minister. Let me tell you, that is not a good situation.

EDITORIAL: Media’s rumour mongering

The Supreme Court’s “restraining order” to stop government functionaries from any moves to undermine the judiciary have brought to the fore the unsavoury role being played by a section of the electronic media in the political arena. On Thursday, the chief justice of Pakistan felt compelled to call an extraordinary session of the Supreme Court past midnight, acting on rumours spread by a TV anchor in his programme that the government plans to de-notify the restored judges who had been sent home after General Musharraf’s imposition of emergency on November 3, 2007. During yesterday’s hearing, the attorney general tried his best to convince the apex court that no such move was being contemplated by the government. Even the prime minister’s statement that this was a conspiracy to pitch the two institutions against each other was not considered enough. The surprising factor was that the honourable court took the rumours, not backed by any evidence, seriously and acted promptly.

Unfortunately, the media group from where these rumours originated, through its opinion pieces presented as news items and highly partisan anchors, has time and again attempted to provoke the judiciary to declare the president illegal and dismiss the government. One might recall the September 27 hearing of the NRO verdict implementation, when this channel stopped its routine transmission and this same anchor started painting a doomsday scenario only to eat his words later when the Supreme Court partially accepted the government’s plea and postponed the NRO verdict implementation hearing for two weeks. The media generally, and this media group in particular, has crossed all limits and ridden roughshod on any and every thing we knew as ‘media ethics’.

There has been tension between the government and the judiciary since the judges’ restoration. If this kind of yellow journalism and rumour mongering is allowed to provoke the august court and create confusion and chaos in society, how can we expect sanity to prevail? Intellectuals and saner elements of society, who care for the future of the country, consider a clash of institutions to be extremely destabilising. Seeing a section of the media working on an agenda to somehow incite this clash in order to throw out an elected government is disturbing. When already there is so much strain between the government and the judiciary owing to several cases before the court involving the government, this kind of scare mongering is intolerable. Disseminating unsubstantiated claims and calling opinions upon them on the powerful medium of television and manipulating public opinion to accept a certain view is a coup of sorts via the media. If state institutions start reacting to each ‘breaking news’, it might lead to more confusion and chaos than there already is. It is neither in the interests of such media groups, nor in the interests of the institution of journalism nor the country. Whether one likes a particular party or regime or not, weakening the system by inciting a clash of institutions is not in the country’s interest. We are engaged in a belated effort after many years, under a democratic dispensation, to strengthen the institutions of the state and get them to work within the parameters prescribed for them in the constitution. To establish their limits and define their relationships is a work-in-progress. This kind of journalism is definitely not helping that cause.

Is Media Intentionally Fueling Executive-Judiciary Tension?

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Is media generating court panic?Imagine how much could be done towards actually rooting out corruption, overhauling the tax system, and all the other issues supposedly important to the media intelligentsia if they would quite wasting time on rumours and conspiracy theories. Just last night there was another emergency that turned out to be a non-emergency only because of some media personalities reporting rumours and gossips and everyone’s complete unwillingness to think sensibly. I am talking, of course, about the rumour that the government was planning to withdraw the notification to restore the Supreme Court justices.

Sohail Khan reports today for The News that:

The issue became serious when a late night press release issued by the Supreme Court informed the nation that the SC had taken notice of the reports on TV channels and had registered a case which will be heard by a full 17-member bench of the SC on Friday. A notice had been issued to the Attorney General to appear before the bench.

There were strong speculations in the media in the evening that the government was considering the move to remove the SC judges by cancelling the notification which had been issued after the Long March of March 16 to restore the judges.

As a result of this “strong speculation”, Supreme Court judges and their staff rushed to the court to issue a press release and make emergency preparations for a hearing, summoning the Attorney General to appear and give some explanations. Explanations of what? The government never did anything. Nobody did anything except some media personalities who once again spread some rumours or “specualtions” with no basis in any evidence.

No matter that the Prime Minister himself issues a statement at 8:30 pm assuring that there was no such conspiracy and that such speculation was all non sense.

“These kind of reports are incorrect and baseless and there is no such thing, and through these kind of statements efforts were made to create misunderstanding between the institutions,” said the PM House spokesman while quoting Prime Minister Gilani.

The spokesman said the prime minister had stated that the government respected the judiciary as the PPP had struggled and given the sacrifices for the independence of the judiciary. “Those who spread such kind of reports do not want strengthening of institutions,” the spokesman said, quoting the prime minister. Gilani said all the conspiracies will be foiled regarding the confrontation between the government and judiciary.

Even Supreme Court Bar Association President Ali Ahmad Kurd has stated that the Supreme Court judges acted hastily and would have been better to wait until the light of day to determine the facts.

But the issue is not the actions of the judges, which may be understandable as they heard about this on the news. It raises the more serious question of the role of media in the affair.

According to a report on the Geo website today:

The Supreme Court in its short order in the case regarding withdrawal of judges’ restoration notification reports stated that the government has failed to satisfy the Court and any attempt to remove the judges would be tantamount to treason, Geo News reported Friday.

The apex court ruled that judges restoration notification cannot be withdrawn. The court said that the executive order of 16th March 2009, restoring the sacked judges has lost its effectiveness after the 31st July 2009, verdict and heads of all constitutional organs must abide by the judgement.

The order also restrained all the heads of constitutional organs of the country including the president from restoring it.

What the Geo article fails to report, however, is that the government immediately and explicitly stated that it had no plans to withdraw judges restoration and has made no move to do so.

With the group of nations known as ‘Friends of Democratic Pakistan’ meeting with Foreign Minister Qureshi in Brussels today and the PM and President meeting to discuss preparations for Pakistan-USA strategic dialogues, the timing of this media report must be considered.

As the government has issued a strong denial of this rumour and, in fact, no such withdrawal has taken place, perhaps the Court should inquire as to who is behind the “strong speculation” that was reported on TV and whether the media that reported the rumours took the time to check with government representatives before they reported such.

With the ongoing tensions between the judiciary and the executive, it is common to evaluate the intentions of the justices and the government officials. Perhaps it is finally time for an official evaluation of the intentions of media also.

LHC Assassination Conspiracy Theory Threatens Jang Group's Believability

Monday, September 20th, 2010

The News (Jang Group)The News (Jang) finds itself in a rather embarrassing situation today as the Supreme Court has issued a public statement that an article in Sunday’s newspaper is misleading and requested Jang to publish a correction “prominently, preferably at the same spot on the front pages of the two newspapers in order to set the record straight.”

“It is clarified that the above-mentioned caption is misleading in so far as it gives the impression that the judges of the Superior Courts have direct clear threats from administrative officials, which is not the true reflection of the issue discussed in the above mentioned meeting nor the press release issued in this regard refers to any such threats. In fact, the meeting discussed the security related situation in view of the purported information ‘emanating from administrative authorities’ in relation to the alleged plot to target the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Lahore High Court as mentioned in the report of the Special Branch of the Government of Punjab.

“Unfortunately, your above-mentioned captions portray the totally different message as if the Hon’ble judges of Superior Courts are being threatened by the administrative officials, which is not the case. It is expected that an appropriate clarification may please be published prominently, preferably at the same spot on the front pages of the two newspapers in order to set the record straight.”

The Supreme Court should be commended for pointing out the misleading nature of this headline, possibly chosen for its sensationalism.

It should also be noted that the truth of the underlying story – that there is a plot to assassinate the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court – is questionable in its own right.

Ansar AbbasiThe article which originated this claim, “Plot to kill Justice Sharif unearthed,” was written by Jang reporter Ansar Abbasi on 11 September and contains several items which call into question the claim’s legitimacy.

First, according to Abbasi,

The report titled “PLAN TO ELIMINATE A VALUE TARGET” was recently submitted to the Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif as “Most Immediate” and “For the CM’s eyes only”.

If a high-level intelligence report labeled as “For the CM’s eyes only” has fallen into the hands of Mr Ansar Abbasi, a skeptical reader must ask himself what the purpose of this leak could possibly be. Sending a “Most Immediate” and top secret intelligence report to a newspaper reporter would be a serious breach of security.

Furthermore, though Mr Abbasi claims that

The report also contains the names of the hired assassins but this information is being withheld by The News on the request of the source, who insisted that the disclosure of their names would make it hard for the provincial government to get hold of them.

This claim is difficult to believe. After all, regardless of whether or not the names of the individuals are reported, surely the alleged assassins know who they are and, seeing that their plan was published in the newspaper, would immediately destroy all evidence and probably flee the country.

Of course, this basic common sense did not stand in the way of a good story for Ansar Abbasi especially as it of course concludes by accusing an unnamed federal minister of participation in the plot as a means to advance PPP power.

But even this claim undermines this conspiracy theory. If Ansar Abbasi or anyone else has evidence that a federal minister is plotting the assassination of the LHC Chief Justice, should not that evidence be made public immediately so that the individual can be removed from position of power?

Of course this has not happened, rather Ansar Abbasi and his fellow “reporters” at Jang continue to concoct the most outrageous tales with none of the characters – either good or bad – named. It is simply rumour and innuendo hiding behind the crass exploitation of journalistic privilege.

Ansar Abbasi and Jang Group were handed a ‘black eye’ over the week end when it was reported that Special Branch has denied the legitimacy of the report completely.

Former chief of the Special Branch of Punjab Police, Col (retd) Ehsanul Haq, finally broke his silence on Friday and said that neither he nor his subordinates had authored a report about a plot to assassinate Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Mohammad Sharif.

“I have nothing to do with this report. The report that appeared in a local newspaper is not that of the special branch. My department did not issue any such report,” Col Ehsan said while talking to Dawn.

This did not stop Jang from continuing to peddle the conspiracy theory, however. Instead, they changed the byline from Ansar Abbasi to Sohail Khan and published the article titled, “CJs express concern over judges security; threats from administration

Finally, even the Supreme Court has seen that Jang Group has gone too far by making patently false accusations and requested them to immediately and prominently admit their fault.

Despite Ansar Abbasi’s insistence that he received the report from a reliable (anonymous) source, why did he not verify the authenticity of the report with the Special Branch before he wrote his article? Why did he not consider the very common sense questions that are mentioned above and call into question the validity of the report? Was it because the story fit a particular political agenda that he, or his employers at Jang Group are trying to promote?

If Col Ehsan from Special Branch is correct in his claims that he is being pressured by political operatives in Punjab to produce a report that accuses PPP officials, is this not the actual news story?

[Col Ehsan], however, appeared to be under immense pressure because sources say that the Punjab government wants him to give a statement of its liking.

The “so-called” special branch report which does not even have the signature of any official or seal claims that three PPP personalities – a federal minister, a federal government’s nominee in Punjab and a PPP Punjab office-bearer – has planned to assassinate Justice Khwaja Sharif.

Why has this angle been ignored by Jang reporters? As in the past, we are forced to ask whether Jang has stopped being a legitimate news source, choosing instead to work in political propaganda.

This story is more important than simply one misleading headline. It raises serious questions about the believability of all news items reported by Jang Group’s media companies, particularly by reporters such as Ansar Abbasi who have a long history of reporting questionable material with a specific political bias. The proper response for Jang Group is not to simply issue a headline clarification and continue to operate in the same manner.

Jang should immediately begin a public, internal investigation into this case to determine if its star reporter Ansar Abbasi took proper journalistic steps to verify the authenticity of his story, or whether he has acted outside his role as a journalist and begun performing the work of political propaganda. Until answers are provided for why this continues to be a problem at Jang, the validity of Jang’s reporting must be viewed with extreme skepticism.

Ansar Abbasi For the Prosecution: Part II

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Ansar Abbasi cannot seem to stop play acting as a Supreme Court Advocate. One can imagine him walking around his house in a black robe and wig taking suo moto notice of kabobs. Today, though, he has taken up his mighty pen to duel with Kamal Azfar, who is a real Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court.

Actually, the Court is very well staffed with Advocates who can argue for the government also and argue against the government’s positions also. It does not need Mr Ansar Abbasi to make any case before it. After reading his column today, it is rather obvious why this is the case.

Abbasi tries to find some contradiction in the statements of Kamal Azfar and the Asif Ali Zardari. What he finds, though, is only proof that he should leave the law to real lawyers and go back to doing his own job which is journalism.

Ansar Abbasi’s claim is that by saying that the Swiss case “was closed on merit after the Swiss prosecutor general examined and analysed the evidence on record,” Kamal Azfar has contradicted the president. First, let’s look at Kamal’s statement.

A Reuters article from 26 August 2008 backs up Kamal Azfar’s statement:

Swiss judicial authorities said on Tuesday they had closed a money-laundering case against Pakistani presidential candidate Asif Ali Zardari and released $60 million frozen in Swiss accounts over the past decade.

Daniel Zappelli, Geneva’s chief prosecutor, said that he had no evidence to bring Zardari, 55, the widower of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, to trial.

Ansar Abbasi says that Kamal Azfar’s statement is contradicted by previous statements by Asif Ali Zardari. For these, he points to a February 2008 petition filed before the Sindh High Court.

Contrary to Kamal Azfar’s claim, Asif Ali Zardari’s February 2008 petition filed before the SHC had stated that after the issuance of the NRO, the government of Pakistan continued to pursue the corruption cases against him both in Switzerland and in Britain.

Abbasi’s problem, here, seems to be one of reading comprehension. The petition filed before the SHC does not refer to open cases in Switzerland, but to the insistence of elements in Pakistan to continue pursuing cases that had been closed by the Swiss.

This appears to be the same problem with the current insistence by some that the government open cases in Switzerland again, despite the fact that the Swiss continue to insist that they will not open them.

Therefore, the contradiction is not between Kamal Azfar and Asif Ali Zardari, but between Ansar Abbasi and the reality of the legal situation being debated.

The other question that seems to be asked at least once a week is why Ansar Abbasi’s opinions are published as news and not opinions, which they most certainly are. Whether the government is correct in its arguments is a decision for the courts and the parliament.

This is important for more reasons that basic journalistic ethics, though. In complex legal cases like the one discussed in this column, the people look to media for some explanation of the facts. By reading about what each side presents, each person can form his or her own opinion on the matter. By confusing the difference between fact and opinion, Ansar Abbasi runs the serious risk of having an improper influence on the outcome of a legal question that goes far beyond any person’s personal feelings about the president.

Certainly everyone is entitled to their own opinion on the matter, but please let’s leave the legal debate to the Advocates before the court. Ansar Abbasi should be doing his job of reporting, not trying to do someone elses job as Advocate. And The News should publish opinions clearly labeled as such so that readers are not misled into thinking that Ansar Abbasi’s opinions are actual facts.

Ansar Abbasi Out LBW (Learn Before Writing!)

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Ansar Abbasi Out LBW - Learn Before Writing!Poor Mr. Ansar Abbasi – he does not know how to quit while he is ahead. After his very poor showing on Friday, Mr. Abbasi has decided to have another go at writing his “news analysis” about the NRO. The column, “After Sindh card, Zardari uses Benazir,” is Ansar’s attempt at playing judge against President Zardari. Of course, he did not do his homework and is therefore out “LBW” – Learn Before Writing!

Today’s column by Ansar Abbasi is, once again, published as “news analysis.” Even though it is a rather incendiary opinion piece, The News (Jang) has not seen fit to put it properly on the opinion page. This is an unfortunate habit of the The News as it is quite misleading to readers.

But perhaps more unfortunate is the fact that Mr. Ansar Abbasi continues to believe that insulting rants are a proper substitute for research and reason.

Take, for example, his suggestion that, “Legally and constitutionally speaking, there is no way out for the government but to implement the Supreme Court’s order in letter and spirit. But practically if the government does this, it would mean political death of the PPP’s co-chairman against whom the corruption cases are too serious.”

Actually, this is not quite true. The constitution states in Article 248 that certain officials may not be tried while they are in office. Any cases against them will have to be heard once their term is complete.

248. Protection to President, Governor, Minister, etc.
(1) The President, a Governor, the Prime Minister, a Federal Minister, a Minister of State, the Chief Minister and a Provincial Minister shall not he answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions:

Provided that nothing in this clause shall be construed as restricting the right of any person to bring appropriate proceedings against the Federation or a Province.

(2) No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or a Governor in any court during his term of office.

(3) No process for the arrest or imprisonment of the President or a Governor shall issue from any court during his term of office.

(4) No civil proceedings in which relief is claimed against the President or a Governor shall be instituted during his term of office in respect of anything done by or not done by him in his personal capacity whether before or after he enters upon his office unless, at least sixty days before the proceedings are instituted, notice in writing has been delivered to him, or sent to him in the manner prescribed by law, stating the nature of the proceedings, the cause of action, the name, description and place of residence of the party by whom the proceedings are to be instituted and the relief which the party claims.

This is no secret. In fact, it has been stated quite clearly by the government that this is their position. And it is not an unreasonable position, even if it is inconvenient to Ansar Abbasi’s political tirade. The Swiss prosecutor has been adamant about his refusal to reopen a case against Zardari until his term expires.

[Geneva prosecutor Daniel Zappelli] said he can’t reopen the case against Zardari, who was elected president in 2008 after years of battling corruption allegations, because he enjoys “absolute immunity” as a head of state.

“We could go further only if the competent authorities in Pakistan decide to lift the immunity of the head of state, which I do not know whether it is possible according to their constitution,” said Zappelli, speaking in English. “If not, we can’t. Absolutely not. Period.”

Ansar Abbasi then goes on to peddle outrageous rumours including that a major political party was planning to attack the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

After the NRO decision, the unnerved PPP was alleged to be even planning physical attacks on the Chief Justice of Pakistan to embarrass Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Money was also reportedly distributed amongst some student leaders of the PSF to organise demonstrations against the judiciary.

If this is true, it is a serious charge that should be taken up with the proper authorities immediately. I ask that Ansar Abbasi immediately file a grievance and reveal his evidence. Otherwise, what are we to think except that he has made the whole thing up?

Also, wasn’t it only three days earlier that this same Ansar Abbasi was condemning a foreign newspaper for quoting an unnamed source? But notice that now Abbasi does not even pretend to have heard his rumour from some “anonymous source.” Rather, he simply says it is “alleged.” Alleged by whom? Surely Ansar Abbasi does not want to be a hypocrite. Please, sir, tell us who your source is for these serious accusations.

Ansar Abbasi’s entire column is actually a poor attempt for him to play judge, jury, and executioner of Asif Zardari. Abbasi says the Supreme Court “is serious to ensure a fair trial of past corruption cases.” Perhaps they are, but Ansar Abbasi sees no need for a fair trial. Instead, he says “Allowing a fair trial to prove his innocence would be a risky gamble that everyone in the party knows is bound to be lost…”

What is the point of bothering with a trial, when Ansar Abbasi has already judged the outcome? This blog takes no position on the issue of Asif Zardari’s guilt or innocence. There is very important legal discussion about Presidential immunity, and even if the President did not enjoy this immunity, surely the courts are the proper place to hold a trial, not the last issue of The News. Perhaps Mr. Abbasi is challenging Shahid Masood to be “Chief Justice of the Media”?

Ansar Abbasi: Challenging Shahid Massod to be Chief Justice of Media?

Ansar Abbasi: Challenging Shahid Massod to be Chief Justice of Media?

Ansar closes his opinion by saying that, “Instead of being befooled by political slogans, the people of Pakistan deserve to know if there is any truth in the NAB’s claim…” Perhaps Mr. Abbasi would do us all the favour of ceasing his foolish political sloganeering, then, so that proper journalists can do their work. At the very least, sir, we beg of you…Learn Before Writing!

Ansar Abbasi's "Truth" Problem

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Just this week I posted about Jang Group’s problem with facts. Now, as if to prove my point, Ansar Abbasi writes an article filled with so many problems and errors that it’s hard to keep them all straight. The article in question appeared in Friday’s issue of The News titled, “SC’s resolve unnerves Presidency; US.”

Immediately from reading the title I began to laugh out loud. Why would the Supreme Court’s ‘resolve’ unnerve the USA? Only recently we were being told that the USA had abandoned Zardari, now the US is trying to protect him from the judiciary? Which is it?

Of course, it is no surprise that Ansar gets this confused. He also confuses quite a bit about the Americans. Let’s examine what he writes in his article:

Contrary to what the US media writes about the Pakistani rulers and the widely respected judiciary, the US takes pride in the independence of its judiciary that has not only refused to accept the question of immunity in the case of President Clinton but also did the same in the case of President Nixon.

It was primarily the US media that forced Nixon to resign without being tried or impeached. The US media also ignores the role of Washington and London in the introduction of the widely condemned NRO, which was promulgated to close down corruption cases against a select class of politicians, bureaucrats and past rulers including the incumbent president of Pakistan.

Where to begin? First, Nixon was not forced to resign by the American Supreme Court or the American media. Rather, he chose to resign when he understood that the parliament was going to impeach him. When Nixon knew that he did not have the political support to withstand a vote of impeachment in parliament, he resigned.

Mr. Nixon said he decided he must resign when he concluded that he no longer had “a strong enough political base in the Congress” to make it possible for him to complete his term of office.

Compare this to Clinton, who actually was impeached. But even though he was impeached, he was not removed from office. Again, too, this was a decision by the parliament, not the judiciary or the media.

The first vote was 228 to 206 in favour of impeaching President Clinton for perjury in front of a grand jury. Congressmen also passed another charge on obstruction of justice by 221 to 212.

However, he will not yet be removed from office.

So, we have shown that Ansar is wrong about the US impeachment of Nixon and Clinton. What else is he wrong about?

Interestingly, he is wrong about the NRO and the US. Mr. Abbasi says, “One wonders if the US media would allow the introduction of an NRO-like legislation in its own country.” Actually, the USA did just this after its civil war. The “Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction,” gave the President the “power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

Mr. Abbasi, you must wonder no longer. I have done your research for you and answered your question. You may thank me at a later time.

Not only was Mr. Abbasi wrong about this, but in his own newspaper yesterday, Mr. Shafqat Mahmood remembered history a little bit differently than Ansar might want to admit: “The media welcomed the NRO…” Perhaps Ansar just had a bad memory that day.

Ansar goes on and on with a conspiracy theory about how the US media is being dictated to from Pakistan’s Embassy in Washington. This is ridiculous fantasy. Look at some of the many stories about Pakistan in the American media. Pakistan: A Mounting Problem for Obama, Pakistan attorney general quits amid graft dispute.  Was this dictated by the Embassy also?

Even the Time article that Ansar takes great pains to point out quotes an unnamed PPP leader also quotes an unnamed source from the Supreme Court that supports the Chief Justice.

On the contrary, says a legal expert at the Supreme Court and Chaudhry associate speaking on condition of anonymity, the conflict is caused by the “government [wanting] a chief justice and court which is compliant, not independent.”

Mr. Abbasi does not tell his readers this, though, instead leading many unsuspecting people to believe that the Time article is biased when it is clearly not. Why the dishonesty and hypocrisy?

Now let’s look at Mr. Abbasi’s own newspaper, which on the same day published an article by Shafqat Mahmood that points out that the judiciary has become controversial because of its actions.

There is no better example of this than the perceptions regarding Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and the judiciary. On March 9, 2007, Mr Chaudhry became a media and public hero. This happened because of the perception that Musharraf dismissed him illegally and then mistreated him and his family.

Thus began the lawyers’ and people’s campaign for an independent judiciary. This was not individual adulation, although it seemed so. The chief justice symbolised society’s protest against a wrong done. And the lawyers who were in the forefront of the struggle were champions of liberty and freedom.

Fast-forward to 2010. There are increasing voices in the media that the superior judiciary is transgressing its mandate and at times behaving like a political institution. By frequently visiting the bars, it seems to be cultivating lawyers and often senior advocates and bar officeholders speak on its behalf.

Serious transgressions by lawyers are also ignored. For a lawyer to slap a judge and for the superior judiciary to arrange a rapprochement is just not right. This man should have been behind bars.

But congratulatory sounds emanating from all levels of the judiciary indicate as if a great conclusion to the crisis has been arrived at. Earlier, too, the judiciary had ignored lawyers beating up policemen and media representatives.

This is not about the NRO or Asif Zardari. The media welcomed the NRO, and Asif Zardari does not pass the bar of morality as far as society is concerned. The problem is that the PPP’s charge of one-sided accountability is beginning to get resonance. And the language and attitude being shown in open court by the judges is creating a backlash.

Was The News under the influence of some vast conspiracy when they published this article? Obviously not this is silly. But notice that Mr. Shafqat Mahmood’s article appears on the opinion page, while Mr. Ansar Abbasi’s column appears as “news analysis.” Now who is showing some bias?

Mr. Abbasi has the cheek to criticize Time for quoting an unnamed PPP leader, but even in his same article Ansar Abbasi quotes an unnamed, “credible source in the Pakistan embassy in Washington.” Why the hypocrisy Mr. Abbasi?

Here is the point: There are articles in the international press – not only in the USA, but around the entire world, that are critical of the judiciary. There are also some that are praising the judiciary. This is also true at home. Why? Because different people have different opinions.

It is silly to suggest that there is some PPP ability to dictate to the international media. If this were the case, why can’t they even control the media at home? It is sad to see a journalist of Mr. Abbasi’s career level making such ridiculous claims.

Mr. Abbasi, I beg of you, please learn to check your facts. Learn to tell the truth. Learn to present an unbiased analysis. At a minimum, learn to put your opinion on the opinion page. You must learn to learn. Otherwise, you will continue to write pieces that are “flawed, based on half-truths, highly biased and far from the facts.” And we all know how much you hate that!

Shahid Masood is Not Chief Justice

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
Why is Shahid Masood pretending he is Chief Justice?

Why is Shahid Masood pretending he is Chief Justice?

Why is Shahid Masood pretending he is Chief Justice? As a TV talk show host, Masood could be facilitating discussions about the topic of the day in a way that brings new and enlightening information to the people. Instead, he is constantly thrusting his opinion over others, and treating his own opinion as fact. Take as a perfect example his latest episode in which he makes grand speeches about the NRO.

From the moment of President Zardari’s election, Shahid Masood has said that Zardari should not be President, and that it is only a matter of time before the army will force him out. Much of Masood’s

However, Shahid Masood’s predictions appear to be about as good as his colleague Shaheen Sehbai’s. Zardari has continued in office, and the Army has said they will not force Zardari out.

Frustrated by his inability to read the star charts, Masood appears to have become determined to create an environment where instead his wishes come true. His latest episode of Merey Mutabiq shows Masood pretending to be Chief Justice, and expecting the incumbents to come to Masood and present a case for him to judge, even while he makes such simple mistakes as to forget that NRO was promulgated on Oct 5, 2007, and Benazir did not ask for any relief during her life.

This is a major problem with these TV talk show hosts. They fancy themselves high-minded intellectuals who sit in judgment of everyone else. Actually, there is already a Supreme Court, and it is not found on Geo TV.