Stories about legislation

Is suo motu action the only way to get justice in a country like Pakistan?

The concept of justice is the bedrock of Islam and the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In this regard, the recent suo motu actions taken by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Mian Saqib Nisar, should be greatly applauded for the simple reason that he stood up for justice. The power to take suo motu action stems from Article 184(3) of the Constitution regarding original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court which states as follows: “Without prejudice to the provisions of Article 199, the Supreme Court shall, if it considers that a question of public importance with reference to the enforcement of any of the Fundamental Rights ...

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The 24th amendment does not benefit anyone but Nawaz Sharif

A few days ago, a blog published on this website argued that the proposed 24th amendment by the government was the correct political and legal step in the current environment. Firstly, the author claimed that due to the exceptionally high stakes in the current Panama leaks proceedings, it is necessary that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is allowed a chance to appeal in the case of an unfavourable decision. Secondly, it was asserted that the 24th amendment, all political considerations aside, was a legal necessity to ensure that the requirements of justice and a fair trial were guaranteed. I respectfully disagree on both accounts. It is pertinent ...

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Pakistan’s grim tales of custodial torture and coerced confessions

Did Aftab Ahmed’s death bring custodial torture into the limelight or did a can of worms just open up in Pakistan? What puzzles me is the inquiry ordered by the Chief of Army Staff. What is there to inquire now; the fact that he was tortured? Yes, he was. Isn’t it too obvious from all the marks on his body and report of the medico-legal officer (MLO)? Will the inquiry probe into reasons why the Rangers deemed it necessary to torture him? Are there any reasons which necessitate torture in the first place? These are questions our government should have ...

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The importance we (don’t) give our country

When one thinks about Pakistan, what is it that comes to mind? For some, it’s a land with troubled tribal areas or a cradle for terrorism. For many, it’s a haven for corrupt politicians, backed by a corrupt legislation and a flawed constitution. And for others, it’s just a mistake that Mr Jinnah made 67 years ago. If you ask a young, college-going boy about what Pakistan is to him, he will probably say that it’s, “A country in which I was born, raised and taught the tricks of getting my way in the world either by hook or by crook. A ...

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Go ahead, beat up the woman, they do it in Indian movies too!

The incident, in which a female bus conductor in India was beaten up, on June 6, only proves that the country has learnt from history that it has learnt nothing from history. Even after the global hue and cry over the gang rape of the student in 2012, the Indian male populations’ attitude towards women hasn’t undergone any significant transformation. In fact, it has gotten worse where even the politicians are desensitised to the extent of calling rape ‘right in some cases and wrong in others’, as stated by Babulal Gaur, the home minister of Madhya Pradesh. Given that caste ...

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Protection of Pakistan Ordinance: Always guilty unless proven innocent?

The government tightened the anti-terror legislation of the country last month, as President Mamnoon Hussain approved the Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPO). It declares all peace-disrupting elements as ‘enemies of the state’ and states protection of life to be the state’s top priority. However, many clauses of the PPO remain controversial. One such clause is clause 14 on burden of proof which reads, “An accused facing the charge of a scheduled offence on existence of reasonable evidence against him shall be presumed to be engaged in waging war or insurrection against Pakistan unless he establishes his non-involvement in the offence.” The drafters of the legislation appear to be ...

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The right to write: Denied!

Journalism – a profession of disseminating news – has attained the status of an endangered profession globally. Incidents of violence and state sponsored prosecution attempts against journalists have become a de jure way of life for many. Prosecution and persecution to some degree, comes with the territory, if you will. This is unfortunate considering the burden that falls on a journalist’s shoulders. On January 29, 2014, there were several news stories of the Egyptian government’s decision to file charges against 20 journalists working with Al Jazeera on the pretext of risking national security. In my opinion, suppressing the voice of one journalist is akin to suppressing the ...

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Elections 2013: Did you forget about minorities?

With election season in full swing, political parties have set their stages for the May 11 battle. The media lens has shifted its focus from ‘who has been qualified or disqualified for being saadiq and ameen’, on the pretext of Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution, ‘to the coverage of corner meetings and campaigning of different political parties’. Unfortunately, none of the parties have anything attractive enough in their manifestos to appeal to the non-Muslim voters. All the parties have been singing the same mantra of equal rights, equal representation and equal treatment as shown by all our news channels. It baffles my ...

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Why ban alcohol when it is consumed openly?

While on one hand we hear declarations like, “sharaab haram hai!” (alcohol is forbidden in Islam) at the mere mention of alcohol, we have MPAs like Saleem Khursheed Khokhar who campaign to make it as easily available as regular soft drinks.   Celebrated Muslim poets like Omar Khayyam and Rumi often wrote about wine and intoxication, while there are claims that Allama Iqbal and Jinnah used to indulge in a little ‘suroor’  (intoxication) themselves. The modern Muslim world isn’t any different; the Middle East experienced a 70% growth in the sales of booze from 2001 to 2011. It has a high Muslim population ...

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Child rights not important enough for you Mr Prime Minister?

Last year in September, I was told that the Ministry of Human Rights would table a draft of the first ever commission on children’s rights in parliament within six months. Adviser to the prime minister on human rights, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar had claimed that the ministry was working on a draft round the clock to get it finalised, that the draft was almost ready and that they would present it in the National Assembly to make it part of legislation without further delays. However, last week, I attended a seminar where I was astonished to see Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf ...

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