Did Maulana Fazlur Rehman commit treason?

An allegation of treason should not be made lightly. Especially not by the prime minister of a country against a political opponent. It takes away from the gravity of the only criminal offence proscribed in the Constitution of Pakistan. It also equates a political opponent with this country’s rogues’ gallery of past authoritarian rulers. But most importantly, throwing around an allegation of treason against politicians critical of the ruling party delegitimises another part of the Constitution: the part that guarantees the freedom of speech. All these factors should have been weighed by Prime Minister Imran Khan before he expressed his desire ...

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What does Hafiz Saeed’s arrest mean for Pakistan?

In a recent development, Hafiz Saeed, the head of the proscribed Jamat-ud-Dawah, has been sent to prison for five and a half years by the anti-terrorist court in Lahore. Naturally, this news quickly made it to the the headlines across the globe since Saeed’s name is included in the list of banned terrorists by the United States (US) and United Nations (UN). Saeed is also wanted by India for his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. But one cannot understand the impact of Saeed’s arrest if one is unaware of exactly what Saeed has been up to for all these years. Saeed ...

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Public hangings: Two wrongs do not make a right

On Friday, February 7, 2020, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan, delivered an impassioned speech, proposing the public hanging of those who have been found guilty of abusing children. The resolution moved by him, which also earned him a lot of praise on both social media and in the house, was passed by the parliament with a majority vote. Fortunately, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudry and Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari immediately condemned and disowned the resolution passed by the parliament in support of public hanging. Before Khan decides to move a bill with a view to ...

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PTI’s unhealthy habit of legislating through ordinances

On January 30, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Bar Council conditionally called off a 23 day long strike being held in protest against an amendment to the Civil Procedure Code 1908 along with the enactment of a provincial anti-narcotics law.  The strike was called off after the government deferred the proposed amendment through the K-P Civil Law Amendment Ordinance, 2020 till April 15. This decision, albeit a welcome one for the lawyers, should be enough to cause alarm for those who hold the parliamentary process in high esteem. One such individual who is concerned at the government’s constant promulgation of ordinances is Member National Assembly (MNA) ...

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The Musharraf verdict: Of spin doctors and legalities

The doctrine of necessity refuses to go away.  It is something of an  extra constitutional anomaly which acts as a panacea for a whole host of unconstitutional acts and illegalities. Wherever logic fails, this doctrine comes to the fore. It gives legitimacy to unconstitutional acts, allowing the judiciary to compromise with the deep state in order to surrender institutional independence. Chief Justice Muhammad Munir sowed the seeds of this notorious doctrine in the Molvi Tameez-ud-Din case when he ruled that it was the governor general who was sovereign, not the general assembly and ever since then, it has deeply rooted itself in ...

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An in-house change will not solve the problems Pakistan is facing

The winds of change have started blowing in the power corridors of Pakistan. We recently saw how the main opposition parties, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), compromised on their so-called ideologies when the matter of giving Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa an extension was presented in the assembly. Evidently, PML-N and PPP have been trying to mend fences with the powers that be, and it seems that under Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N is ready to present itself as the new ‘King’s party’. Given the economic turmoil burdening the incumbent government, and the fact that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) does ...

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Does a loophole in Pakistan’s constitution allow foreigners to contest elections?

Pakistani citizens who hold foreign passports are not allowed to hold seats in either the national or provincial assemblies and are also barred from becoming members of the senate. However, the incumbent government is looking to change this, citing the contribution of overseas Pakistanis to the local economy as sufficient reason to do so. The first step towards enacting this proposal was taken by the cabinet in July 2019 when it approved the contesting of elections by dual-nationals. However, from a legal standpoint, it is important to remember that if the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) actually intends on successfully following ...

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How democratic are Pakistan’s democrats?

Dēmokratiā, a system of government invented by the Athenians in around 508 BC, simply means “rule by the people”; demos (people) and kratos (rule). On the other hand, the word politics means the “science of government”, which gets its connotation from the name of Aristotle’s book, “Ta Politika”. However, it appears that our elected representatives have redefined these terms, because of which a vacuum persists in our democratic system, leaving it both vulnerable and weak. In today’s Pakistan, politics connotes the appeasement of one’s party leadership; the more vocal and aggressive one is in rebutting a point asserted by a political opponent, ...

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Has the NAB Ordinance 2019 eased the process of accountability or hindered it?

A long overdue National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Amendment Ordinance was enacted by the government on the 27th of December, 2019.  As expected, it became the most discussed topic in the coming week. The promulgation of the ordinance was followed by a flood of misinformation regarding its contents and the nature of the amendments. The media and the opposition strongly criticised it, using a plethora of derogatory terms, none more so than the Pakistan People’s Party which termed it the “mother of all NROs” insinuating that it had essentially axed the accountability drive. On the other hand, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf ...

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Salman Sufi vs the Govt of Pakistan: The fight to safeguard our privacy

A series of disturbing incidents related to the invasion of people’s privacy have recently come to light. In some cases  like the Balochistan University incident, students were blackmailed after compromising footage was recorded through concealed CCTV cameras installed in the bathrooms. If this was not bad enough, the latest victims of a breach of privacy were unsuspecting women in Sheikhupura who were secretly video recorded while they were giving birth. The hospital staff then used the videos to blackmail the women. Thankfully the hospital was sealed and all the videos were taken into custody along with prominent staff.   Such incidents really force one to ponder ...

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