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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman, Imran Khan Tuesday said he would take on former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in the court of law.

Talking to media persons prior to his departure for Peshawar from Bani Gala, Imran Khan said in light mood that Rs20 billion is a quite a big amount and, if needed, he would take some assistance in this regard from Arsalan Iftikhar, son of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

He said till now he acted upon whatever the government had asked him and he was still allowing government time to constitute the judicial commission tasked to conduct a probe into the alleged rigging of elections 2013.

“The government had better form the judicial commission soon or else we will shut down the whole country,” Imran Khan warned.

He said the country would not have faced petrol crisis today, if his party’s sit-in had continued to go on.

Imran Khan said increasing the power tariff despite the unprecedented decline in international oil prices is nothing but a ‘Jagaa Tax’ (extortion).

Image Courtesy: Movement For Rule of Law

ISLAMABAD: Former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has filed a Rs20 billion defamation suit against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.

The sessions Judge, Islamabad, sent a notice to the PTI chairman to submit his reply to the court on January 29.Imran Khan had accused Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry of involvement in rigging in the general elections 2013.

The former CJ, in his petition filed through his lawyers Sheikh Ahsanuddin and Taufiq Asif in the court of Sessions Judge Nazir Ahmed Gujjana, stated that Imran Khan had alleged that the former chief justice was involved in rigging in the last general elections in which the Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) emerged as the ruling party.

The former chief justice in the petition stated that the PTI chairman levelled baseless allegations against him, which had damaged his credibility. Now Khan should either ask for pardon or pay Rs20 billion as damages as the PTI chairman has not been able to prove his claims so far.

The judge issued a notice to Imran Khan to submit his reply to the court on January 29.Talking to media persons outside the court, lawyers of former chief justice said the PTI chairman had levelled baseless allegations against Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in his speeches and he had not proved any allegation yet.

“The former chief justice is ready to appear before a judicial commission,” the lawyers said.Sources in the PTI confirmed that the legal team of the party had also started preparations to submit a reply to the court from Imran Khan.

Agencies add: The petition was filed under Section 9 of the Defamation Ordinance 2002 through a group of lawyers, comprising Nayaab Hassan Gardezi, Toufique Asif, Sheikh Ahsan-ud-Din, Aamir Mughal, Razaullah Niazi and Raja Zahid.

The petitioner demanded Rs15 billion as damages from the PTI chief for defaming him at home and abroad by hurling baseless, mischievous and malicious allegations through his speeches.

He also accused the respondent of using slanderous and disparaging language in his interviews against him.The ex-CJP’s counsel also claimed Rs5 billion as damages for mental agony, torture, harassment, etc, caused to him and his family.

The amount recovered as damages shall be dedicated to an honourable cause for furtherance of a national institution and welfare of the downtrodden, the counsel added.Moreover, the erstwhile CJP pleaded the district and sessions judge to allow him to become a party in the proposed judicial commission (JC) demanded by the PTI chief to probe the alleged rigging in the last general elections.

“I make a categorical statement that PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s allegations of my involvement in rigging in general elections 2013 are not only false, baseless, yet defamatory, slanderous and are based on no evidence, therefore, action against Khan is called for under the law and if judicial commission is constituted, I be also allowed to become a party,” he added.

Iftikhar Chaudhry stated that as per his knowledge, so far no commission — in response to a letter by the Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights on August 3, 2014 addressed to the registrar of the Supreme Court to constitute a commission of enquiry under the Pakistan Commission of Enquiry Act, 1956 (Act No. VI of 1956) — had been constituted by the apex court.

If the commission was constituted, he be allowed to become a party so that he could prove that Imran Khan’s allegations of his involvement in rigging were false, baseless, defamatory and slanderous, and based on no evidence, he noted.

The ex-CJP maintained that in the proposal, which was available with the media about negotiations between the PTI and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to resolve the controversy relating to rigging in the 2013 general elections, not a single term of reference was proposed to probe into the allegations against him (Iftikhar Chaudhry).


Sunday, January 18, 2015

The refusal of judges to hear cases against terrorists has paved the way for establishment of military courts, said Senate Opposition Leader and Pakistan Peoples’ Party senior leader Aitzaz Ahsan while talking to journalist after offering Fateha on the demise of father of PPP district President Zaki Chaudhry on Saturday.

The PPP leader said that if the courts assure disposal of cases relating to terrorism within six weeks, he would personally go to the prime minister and request him to send the cases to anti-terrorist courts (ATC) instead of military courts.

He pointed out that five judges refused to hear the case of murder of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer against Mumtaz Qadri. He said this attitude of the judges forced the government to establish military courts.

He said that after supporting the 21st constitution amendment in the All Parties Conference, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Sirajul Haq should not have expressed their reservations. He said the two leaders not only supported the National Action Plan but also led the prayers for its success. After such a support, reservations are regrettable.

He said PPP supported the military courts as a bitter pill but said these courts would not be as powerful as in the past and hear only those cases that would be referred to the by the Federal government. He made it clear that no case would send to the military courts against any student, seminary or political party not involved in terrorist activity.

The Senate opposition leader said out of eight thousand cases before the ATCs, five hundred await executions after decisions on appeals. Appeals against rest of the cases are still under hearing.

Ahsan further said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairmen Imran Khan ended his sit-in in haste and that removed pressure from the government.

Regarding rigging in the elections, the PPP leader said there should be no doubt that there was wide spread electoral fraud. He said his wife Bushra Aitzaz contested from NA-124 and during recounting 107 bags were such where the stamps were defaced while 33 bags contained waste papers instead of votes. He said when the bags of NA-124 will be re-opened, cats would come out of them instead of tigers. He said he would release a whitepaper on rigging in NA-124 at a press conference in Lahore on Monday.

He conceded that the Sindh government has failed to control the drought situation in Thar where hundreds of innocent children have died. He said this should not have happened and the Sindh government should have acted rapidly.


Friday, January 16, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The federal government is tabling its draft cyber security bill in the National Assembly (NA) today (Friday) to ensure quick implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism but the draft bill still misses several key areas like online blasphemy, cyber stalking, ‘spamming’ and ‘spoofing’ which are considered serious offences in some other countries.

“The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2014” is being presented in the parliament one year after its formulation by the Ministry of Information Technology in consultation with other stakeholders. According to a spokesman of the ministry, the prime minister has been requested to bypass the cabinet to send the law directly to the NA.

The draft law has 51 sections and it explicitly covers cyber terrorism and proposes rigorous punishments for disruption of public services or online coercion, threat and intimidation. Section 7 of the draft law deals with cyber terrorism, which proposes 14 years’ imprisonment and Rs50 million fine on offences related to terrorism.

“Whoever commits or threatens to commit any of the offences under subsections (1), (3) and (5) of section 5 and sub sections (1), (3), (5) and (7) of section 6 where- (a) the use or threat is designed to coerce, intimidate, overawe or create a sense of fear, panic or insecurity in the Government or the public or a section of the public or community or sect or in society; or (b) the use or threat is made for the purpose or motive of advancing a cause whether political, religious, sectarian or ethnic, with the intention of: (i) interfering with, disrupting or damaging a public utility service or a communications system used by the public at large; (ii) severe interference with, seriously disrupting or seriously damaging a designated payment system which interconnects with multiple financial institutions; (iii) severe interference with, seriously disrupting or seriously damaging a mass transportation or mass traffic system; (iv) severe interference with, seriously disrupting or seriously damaging a critical infrastructure that is used to serve a public function for the public at large; (v) severe interference with, seriously disrupting or seriously damaging critical infrastructure in use by the armed forces, civil armed forces, security forces or law enforcement agencies; (vi) causes injury through the acts mentioned in clauses (i), (iii), (iv) and (v); or (vii) enabling any of the things mentioned in sub-clauses (i) to (vi) to be done, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to fourteen years or with fine which may extend to fifty million rupees or with both,” states the draft bill.

The draft law calls for establishment of a “Cyber Authority” for implementation of the law. The bill also calls for protection of intermediaries and service providers and experts believed to be paving the way for restoration of video-sharing website Youtube as the management of website had demanded the legal protection for opening its server in Pakistan.

However, the draft fails to address several issues like cyber stalking, ‘spamming’ and ‘spoofing’. Legal experts believe amendments should be made in the proposed law to prevent misuse of social media to ridicule and defame the respected religious and social personalities.

It is pertinent to mention that filthy and baseless campaigns are launched on a daily basis by the social media users against those who do not suit them, including the Prophet (PBUH), Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam and other credible persons.

Abusive and ridiculous fake pictures of credible persons drawn by manipulating graphic design software is disseminated by the unscrupulous social media users. These people also make poisonous propaganda against Pakistan, other religions and spread untrue allegations of moral and financial corruption against those who do not fit in their frame of mind. It is shocking that the draft law does not propose any punishment for such perpetrators of immorality.

The draft law also ignores the ground realities and values of Pakistani society while ignoring the clauses on blasphemy and defamation. The bill, formulated by MOIT in consultation with the Law Ministry, includes a provision on the protection of women but does not propose any punishment for persons involved in spreading blasphemous material or religiously offensive content on the internet.

When contacted by The News, a spokesman of the Ministry of Information Technology Sagheer Ahmad said amendments can be made in the draft bill by the parliamentarians to include clauses like cyber stalking and spoofing.

“We have prepared the draft law in consultation with the legal experts, FIA, and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) but this law is just a beginning. More legislation is coming to cover all the areas dealing with cyberspace,” he said.

He said the input of parliamentarians and members of the standing committees will be taken to improve the law before its approval by the parliament. He said the cases related to blasphemy are already covered under penal code.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court’s former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said on Tuesday that it was unconstitutional to set up military courts.
“Independent judiciary is already present in the country so there is no need for military courts. Such courts are illegal because the basic structure of the constitution guarantees an independent judiciary,” he said.

Justice Iftikhar was talking to journalists at the residence of High Court Bar Association’s former secretary general Siddique Awan after condoling the death of his father-in-law.
After the terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, parliamentary parties have decided to set up special military courts headed by army officers to try terror suspects.

In reply to a question, the former chief justice said that even if law was amended it would be against the basic structure of the constitution. Parliamentarians could not change the basic structure of the constitution, he added.
“If government wants speedy trial of terror suspects it should increase the number of judges and courts. Courts cannot be blamed for a delay in dispensing justice. Courts only give decisions but it is the job of the administration to implement the orders,” he said.

Talking to Dawn, Lahore High Court Bar Association’s former president Sheikh Ahsanuddin, who accompanied the former chief justice, said military courts were against the basic principal of the constitution as well as independence of judiciary.
There are two judgments of the Supreme Court – Sheikh Liaquat Ali versus the federation and Mehram Ali versus the federation in 1999 – against the establishment of military courts.

“I feel that even if the parliamentarians amend the law and set up military courts, they (courts) will be rejected by the Supreme Court if someone challenges them in the court,” Mr Ahsanuddin said.
Moreover, he added, there were already three acts – Suppression of Terrorist Activities (Special Courts) Act, 1975; The Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997; and Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014 – which dealt with terrorism. “There is no requirement for military courts because these three acts fully address all issues relating to terrorism,” he said.

He said civil courts had so far announced as many as 8,400 death penalties while military courts only 18. “It shows that the performance of civil courts is much better than military courts.”
He said he believed that “we are heading towards civil marshal law by establishing military courts”.



ISLAMABAD: Former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Tuesday said the establishment of military courts in the country to try terror suspects in the presence of an independent judiciary is unnecessary and unconstitutional.
The former chief justice was speaking to media representatives in the federal capital. “Military courts are illegal and unconstitutional. The basic structure of the Constitution guarantees an independent judiciary, and military courts cannot be established in the presence of an independent judiciary,” Iftikhar Chaudhry said.

The former chief justice said no amendment or law can be made by the lawmakers which challenges the fundamental basis of the Constitution.He said the judiciary is not responsible for any delay in terrorism-related cases. However, he said, the existing judicial system should be strengthened.
Iftikhar Chaudhry said he would move the court against the allegations levelled by PTI chief Imran Khan against him. However, he refused to comment on the accusations levelled by the PML-Q leader Pervaiz Elahi.The former chief justice also refused to offer any comment on the high treason case against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, saying that the matter is sub judice.


PESHAWAR: Niaz Mohammad, a former Pakistan Air Force junior technician, convicted in the Pervez Musharraf assassination attempt case, was executed early on Wednesday, DawnNews reported.
He was hanged at the Peshawar Central Prison. Niaz was sentenced to death for making an attempt on the life of the former Chief of Army Staff General (retd) Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi in 2003.
Niaz Mohammad was a resident of Swabi district. He was kept at the Haripur Central Prison until Tuesday, from where he was shifted to the Peshawar Central Prison in a helicopter.

Earlier the administration had deployed the police and army personnel in and around the prison amid terrorist threats. The Sher Shah Suri Road, where the prison is situated, had already been closed to the traffic at night.
A source said the superintendent of the prison had sent a letter to the Peshawar district judge on Monday requesting him to depute a magistrate for supervising the execution.
He said in response to the letter, magistrate Johar Ijaz was given the duty to supervise the execution.
The last death sentence was carried out at the Peshawar Central Prison on June 6, 2006, when a condemned prisoner Mawas Khan of Sufaid Sung area in Peshawar was hanged to death.

In the first attempt on the life of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, which took place near Jhanda Chichi bridge in Rawalpindi on Dec 14, 2003, six PAF personnel were convicted by a field general court martial at the PAF Base Chaklala on Oct 3, 2005, after they were kept in detention for over 20 months.

Besides Niaz Mohammad, four personnel were also sentenced to death including former junior technician Adnan Rashid, who later escaped during the 2012 Bannu jailbreak; former chief technician Khalid Mehmood; former senior technician Karam Din, and former corporal Nawazish.
However, the sixth convict, Nasrullah, also a junior technician, was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Their joint appeal was dismissed in Feb 2006. Later on March 28, 2006, the Lahore High Court dismissed their petitions.
A Supreme Court bench headed by the former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry rejected the appeals against the high court verdict on Sept 25, 2006.

The bench held that under Article 199 of the Constitution, civil courts had no jurisdiction to issue writ against orders passed by military courts.
The convicts’ review petitions were also dismissed by the apex court in 2011. In petitions, Niaz Mohammad and other convicts had alleged they had falsely been implicated in the case.
They claimed they had voted against General Pervez Musharraf in the 2002 referendum and therefore, they were picked up after the December 2003 bid on his life, and were kept in illegal detention during which they were severely tortured.
A soldier of Pakistan Army, Abdul Islam Siddiqui, who was separately tried in the same case by a court martial, was executed on Aug 20, 2005 after conviction.

Similarly, seven people were on death row in the second attempt on the life of Musharraf in Rawalpindi on Dec 25, 2003. Five of them, including former Pakistan Army Naik Arshad Mehmood, Zubair Ahmad, Rasheed Qureshi, Ghulam Sarwar Bhatti and Russian citizen Akhlaque Ahmad, have already been executed after the moratorium on death penalty was lifted in the wake of the Dec 16 Taliban attack on a Peshawar school, which left 151 people — mostly children — dead.