Thousands of Pakistanis missing: Is anyone listening?


Published in Express Tribune Blogs

The families of missing persons have been unsuccessfully campaigning to have their loved ones return.

The families of missing persons have been unsuccessfully campaigning to have their loved ones return.

As I write this blog, I sit in my living room miles away from Pakistan. I miss my loved ones; my parents, my siblings and acquaintances a lot.

But thank God, despite being away from them, I am in constant touch with them and they know about my life and the freedom I have.

But as I write all this, I think of those unfortunate people whose loved ones are lost – or rather haver been snatched away. I thank God and feel blessed.

Since the time I wrote my last piece on missing persons, which was nearly three months ago,  I have seen that no progress has been made on the issue. Thegovernment has been incompetent in following the orders of the Supreme Court, whereas the SC has been indecisive in making the government follow its orders. The country, therefore, hangs in a strange system of democracy and justice. Between this two-sliced fudged sandwich of democracy and justice are the ingredients of missing persons. Who is cooking this savory-for-some and bitter-for-many sandwich?

Someone with the authority to rebuff the orders of the court and certainly has the authority to violate the constitution of Pakistan. Eleven people were allegedly picked up by intelligence agencies from the Adiala jail, despite their acquittal by a court in a terrorism case. Dawn reported that the federal government contacted all departments including secret agencies, but they declined their possession. This leads to a simple query: who is holding them? Who is lying?

A number of times, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has submitted its report on the issue of missing persons to the Supreme Court, but it has yielded no results. In the words of Amina Masood Janjua at a rally held in the support of missing persons on November 2,

“Certainly, I stand at the same place where I stood five years ago in search of my husband. It seems to me that we are still living in a dictatorial era. Democracy and independent courts are delivering us the same thing: injustice.”

In my opinion, the judiciary and the so-called democratic government can be compared to George Orwell’s Ministry of Love. It seems that love for the nationally-powerful Big Brother is holding those two departments from easing the pain of thousands.

Besides, in my considered opinion, I daresay that the amount of support by civil society for the cause of missing persons has increased substantially – though not adequately. From the south to the north of the country, Amina Masood Janjua has commanded good support from civil society. In spite of this fact, 11 abducted prisoners were relocated to secret locations in broad day light. If civil society were to stand against such injustice more passionately, we could address it more effectively.

In October 2009, the government amended the country’s anti-terrorism laws through a presidential ordinance to further curtail the legal rights of terrorism suspects. Under the ordinance, suspects can be placed in ‘preventive detention’ for a period of 90 days, without the benefit of judicial review or the right to bail. What does the government have to say about people held for 91 days-or seven years, for that matter?

Gone were the days when the same reinstated judges alarmed the establishment and a military dictator and thence earned a pretty penny. More hope, more sweating and more patience is demanded of the families of missing persons and in Pakistanis at large. How much time is too much time? Chief Justice of Pakistan, I ask you again: are you listening?

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Executive vs. Judiciary



Yesterday, a presidential order was passed to elevate Lahore High Court Justice Saqib Nisar to an apex court Justice. Within four hours of the presidential order, the apex court slammed the presidential order, besides, terming it a serious violation of article 177 of the constitution.


The article 177 of the constitution of Pakistan states: The Chief Justice of Pakistan shall be appointed by the President, and each of the other Judges shall be appointed by the President after consultation with the Chief Justice.


In a wake of this donnybrook between the lawyers or Judiciary and federal government or Executive, it’s also said that president did consult the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry before the presidential order was passed. Simply following a formality and consulting the Chief Justice of Pakistan within this formality border isn’t a right way. Our constitution doesn’t speak about the further solution lest there’s a dissonance between the CJP and president. So here something called a ‘common sense’ needs to be used that both CJP and president should unanimously agree over the decision of appointing the Judge. One agreeing and other disagreeing isn’t viable specially when Judiciary and Executive are important part of country’s edifice and their tussle would surely create more problems in an already troubled country.


Hence, it’d be letter-perfect to say that the presidential order by Zardari was an overhasty act which lead to a quick brouhaha in the country. Had Zardari consulted the CJP in order to deduce a unanimous decision, the today’s melee amongst the custodian of country’s edifice would have not happened.


Another controversy is the Al-Jihad Trust Case. Former Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui has also said that at no point the Al-Jihad Trust Case judgment binds the Chief Justice to recommend the Chief Justice of a high court to be elevated as judge of the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice could recommend number two or even number three senior most judge for this elevation.


Confusion in this regard has been created because of intermixing of the Al-Jihad Trust Case with Malik Asad Case by some people. In Malik Asad case, Justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui himself gave the verdict in 1997 that senior most judge of a high court will become the Chief Justice of that high court and senior most Judge of the Supreme Court will become the Chief Justice of Pakistan. What needed to be understood is that the seniority principle is not applied in the issue of elevation of High Court Judge to the Supreme Court.


This means that if Chief Justice recommends Justice Saqib Nisar, who is second in seniority, for elevation to the Supreme Court and ignores the Chief Justice of the same High Court, neither the Constitution nor the Al-Jihad Trust case bars him from doing so.


To release the tension in the country that doubles every second day, president of Pakistan needs to act prudently and adopt a strategy of balancing things in order to restore the harmony. If anything, challenging the apex court is as equal to showing the red reg to the bull. This is right to say: Once the Supreme Court gives a judgment after scrutinizing the constitution profoundly, it’s not open to any authority to defy or ignore it. While there is room for criticism of the judgments, there is no room for defiance.

NRO Thrashed


17 Members Bench Of Supreme Court

17 Members Bench Of Supreme Court


Since the promulgation of NRO to date, it has always been confronted by absolute majority of Pakistanis. Now it’s adjudicated by 17 members bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan, after 5 hours of long discussion in a meeting room, to ultimately drub the NRO. A host of argle-bargles had kept on brewing in at times to prove and disprove if NRO was really an ordinance to subscribe to.


The controversy has now come to an end. A long standing issue is finally settled with a strongly yearned for decision.


Today again, I’ve started believing that the ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ — that has always been a part of Judiciary in the past — is now buried deep under the ground. This is the same de facto ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ that has ruined Pakistan all the time in the past. This decision of Supreme Court is lauded by everyone by and large. Some exceptions — when ‘Jiyalas’ are concerned at this particular event — are always there.


The recent decision has opened new horizons of Justice, and that how Supreme Court will adjudicate so many cases against the so many beneficiaries of NRO. Supreme Court should adjudicate the long standing cases imminently. But there are problems with the initial velocity of the proceedings at this beginning stage against the culprits since the hierarchy begins with the name of incumbent president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari who’s said to be the top banana amongst the NRO beneficiaries.


The Article 248 of the constitution of Pakistan gives legal immunity to the president of Pakistan. But there’s something startling in the same constitution under the article 25 of the constitution which guarantees that every citizen is equal before the law and is entitled to the equal protection of law. The startling thing is now about to begin that no ‘reference’ has been made in the article 25 of the constitution that can disjoin or conjoin article 25 with the article 248 and vice versa. So, if anything, it has in some manner become an oxymoron. However, at different places, there are quite a number of references mentioned in the constitution just in case that it wouldn’t become double-barreled.


Whatever the case see may, but the question is simple: why a president can’t be summoned before the court?


Once, Hazrat Omar RA appeared before the court of Medina. Somebody had made a complaint against him. The judge stood up to show respect to the Caliph as he entered the court. “This is the first injustice you have done to the plaintiff,” said Omar RA, addressing the judge.


Modern democratic states have yet to reach this level of democracy. Their heads cannot be summoned before an ordinary court.


Not long since the article 248 of the constitution has been challenged in Supreme Court — the petition of which was filed by Communist Party of Pakistan — which says that the article 41 of Chinese constitution gives courts the right to summon any leader including the president of China before the court. A socialist country can summon its president, democratic countries can’t. Gee whiz!


In a wake of this donnybrook, we should be thinking that why such looters and plunderers like Zardari hasn’t been punished ever in the past. Perhaps or rather we don’t have any quick response to this question — only when the de facto ‘greatest national interest’ is concerned — yet we’ve so many responses suddenly lining up one after other once the de facto explanandum is snubbed from the mainstream politics of Pakistan. One big response would be the uncontrolled state of accountability which, to all appearances, is now attempting to get back on the track.


The journey to provide justice to Pakistan — by Supreme Court judges restored after 2 years of interminable efforts and exertion of awaam — hasn’t finished after the annulment of NRO. The rejoicing is effective at the moment, but subject to change depending upon the performance of Judiciary in future, as I’ve an urge to remind this again and once again. Supreme Court must again prove its commitment to the Justice by rendering the Justice — again, in a manner which gives evidence about Justice. Justice is all we need.

This is for the genuine beneficiaries of NRO: for how long could you save yourself now? Your time’s up.

Tribute to Amina Masood Janjua


Missing Person & Awaited Justice

Missing Persons & Awaited Justice


Whenever her name comes in my mind, whenever I thought of Missing Persons, tears streamed down my eyes. Amina Masood Janjua — wife of one missing person Masood Ahmed Janjua and Chairperson Defence of Human Rights Pakistan — is struggling for the missing persons in Pakistan. She has endlessly and doggedly strived hard for the Missing Persons of Pakistan who were nabbed by Pakistani Intelligence Agencies in collaboration of United States of America — our best ally.


The case of Missing Persons was petitioned in Supreme Court of Pakistan in veteran president General Musharraf’s era and justice was highly foreseen, but during that time Musharraf took the phenomenally outstanding performance of SC as his insult — as the decisions of SC were going against the idiotic moves of Musharraf’s government — so he imposed emergency in Pakistan and purged the Chief Justice of Pakistan and put him under house arrest. The hope of getting justice was vanished.


Now since the time Judiciary has been restored back and Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is reinstated, the case on Missing Persons wasn’t heard in SC for long, or rather SC didn’t take any serious notice, until last month a protest outside the Supreme Court led by Amina Masood Janjua against inaction on the issue of Missing Persons drew the ire of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who then ordered the interior secretary to submit a report about the missing persons.


Amina Masood Janjua’s entrance in the red zone, and camping in front of the Supreme Court, made Chief Justice of Pakistan take the notice of the protest; hence, the longstanding case of Missing Persons was reopened again.


Interior Ministry says that it’s doing hectic efforts to trace the Missing Persons and 241 people had been traced while 175 are still untraced. Where are the untraced ones isn’t an inconspicuous and covert thing. Veteran president General Pervez Musharraf sold them to CIA. In the words of one of my American friend Prudence: YES! I have heard of the innocent Pakistani people nabbed by the CIA. It is my understanding that your President Musharraf took advantage of the widespread paranoia after 9/11 and got rid of most of his political “enemies” by literally selling them for around $20,000 each to the CIA for rendition purposes.


People from the US — the state government that’s committing heinous crimes — are ready to accept the fundamental reality and truth, but ineptly many of the Pakistani people — the victim nation of such atrocities — are even now not having sufficient strength to realize and acknowledge some of the evilness of the so-called best leaders.


On 23rd November 2009, all the cases of the “Missing Loved Ones” were fixed for hearing in CJP’s Court room number 1.


On the eve of recent Eid-ul-Azha 2009, 5 Missing Persons have returned back home safely after Supreme Court’s interference.


It’s yet sad that none of the prominent political party beefed up the cause of Amina Masood Janjua — which is after all a cause of our country Pakistan. The self-righteous and double-tongued political leaders and their respective parties are always up for power, but often not for powerless people to emancipate them.


The edgy yet high-mettled activist Amina Masood Janjua’s efforts will never run out InshaAllah. May Allah help her and all of us in this cause. Ameen.


It’s again a high time for us to at least understand and decry the bad side of our shameful leaders and advocate the cause of Amina — a cause to help her get the justice to the Missing Persons and their families — and a cause to render Pakistan the services it has always sought for. I ask judiciary an additional time, are you listening?

Haunted NRO


NRO & Supreme Court

NRO & Supreme Court


Body Politics of Pakistan needs no definition for diligently alert and watchful people of Pakistan. The others who are affiliated to respective political parties are quite cantankerous to accept any kind of blame on their political parties. And when the question arises that who looted and still looting the nation — interestingly and engrossingly everyone becomes so innocent that they start calling Rooti as Choochi. Not so good, but still worthy enough of causing shame. National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) is one such thing that has again made our leaders substantiate with evidence that either they really are infants that they call Rooti as Choochi or awaam is still in a state of infancy. Possibility of both could also be the case, by chance that it’s Pakistan.


Since the time the list of NRO beneficiaries has been made available to the general public on the directives of Prime Minister Gilani, every political party is asserting that they’re falsely accused of being the beneficiary of NRO. Some 8,041 people have benefited from NRO, out of which 34 are well known and threadbare politicians.


NRO was promulgated on the name of greatest national interest of Pakistan, but is that a way to acquit the criminals of nation without means of a decision making echelon, or without proper justice; is that the way to let go the looters of nation and maintain the status quo each time by giving immunity to the looters of nation? How can this nation progress when the nation itself is bestowing amnesty to the looters. What more disgrace it could ever be that a robber is robbing our home and we’ve set ourselves free to watch the robber and allow him to rob as much as his ability allows him. We’re too generous without principles, no?


An American friend of mine was saying: I actually wanted to write a movie about missing person from Pakistan — and show the world how messed up this whole Bush-created War on Terror has become. My husband is a screenwriter. But he told me that “nobody in Hollywood wants to make movies about the war on terror.” And I am afraid he is right. Americans just want to keep on shopping and living their lives like nothing is wrong. But, Absar, everything is wrong!


After reading her, I gave her words a second thought. Are we not doing the same thing, I ask? We’re living our lives as if nothing is wrong. Yet everything is wrong. We’re still living our lives in a phenomenal disorientation — and the macho-paranoia of saving the grace of our affiliated political parties while always treating them as superior than others. Consequentially, the looters of Pakistan are safe on account of our choice.


The Ghairat Brigade — the people of Pakistan — and the incriminated politicians are, for the most part, still reluctant to accept that they’ve never been a part of corruption; they’ve never sought illegitimate personal gain through actions such as bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, and embezzlement. . If none of the politician robbed the nation — and I say again, if those politicians aren’t the troublemakers — then who did? A poltergeist very likely, no? If everyone is guiltless, then we can always be skeptical about a poltergeist. People missed this fact. This could be the case when Pakistan is concerned since the blame game is a favorite political game of Pakistani politicians, political activist, and the Ghairat Brigade i.e. awaam.


National Reconciliation Ordinance bestowed the would-never-come-again opportunity to our leaders; it bestowed them a license to loot once again. The flippancy of awaam should come to an end, besides. When will the Pakistanis get relieve from the corrupt apparatus? There’s a way out of this, I can see: That’s “Justice” — our Supreme Court. The ball is in the court of our judiciary and only judiciary can adjudicate the fate of the looters of the nation. We’ve strived hard for the freedom of judiciary for this day — to see the justice. Justice is all we want, we want to see a new system in Pakistan while penalizing by law the looters of nation. Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, are you listening?