Stories about memogate

The Supreme Court is the ‘apex’ court not the ‘only’ court!

The perception of the Supreme Court as an all-encompassing court is leading to a fundamental misunderstanding of the judicial system. Just recently, Sharmila Farooqui, a prominent politician who holds a Masters Degree in Law, mocked Imran Khan and Shaukat Khanum for not going to the Supreme Court for their defamation suit against Khawaja Asif. Such statements were not only in poor taste but were legally erroneous as the Defamation Ordinance reserves jurisdiction for defamation cases to the District Courts with the High Courts being empowered to hear appeal on such cases. Sharmila Farooqui’s poor understanding of the law exhibits a ...

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Want more controversy? Use the word ‘gate’

Nothing speaks controversy like suffixing ‘gate’ to a word. Memogate, Mehrangate, Familygate, Mediagate, Khybergate, Gategate? Sure, the last two ‘gates’ aren’t real, but the Pakistani media has seen enough gates recently to make one wonder where all these gates are coming from. The term originated in 1972 with the Watergate scandal, according to Oxford English Dictionary (OED). In an article explaining the origin of the term, the OED said: One of the most significant episodes in modern US politics, Watergate has since reshaped the language of scandal and controversy.” Within a year, the –gate suffix had been isolated from Watergate and ...

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Husain Haqqani’s story

Perhaps no individual in Pakistan has had a rise as steep as Husain Haqqani. As an ordinary journalist, he climbed the ladder of success to become first a respected academic and then Pakistan’s envoy to the United States within a couple of decades. Before becoming an ambassador, he was a staunch critic of the Pakistan Army and its US support. His books, opinion pieces and articles in various newspapers are ample evidence of his pro-democratic mindset. The notorious Memogate scandal, accusing Haqqani of seeking US help against the Pakistan military unfolded in a very strange and unbelievable way. As a ...

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Why the Pakistan Army makes state policies

It is difficult to assess whether the Pakistan Army is naïve or strategically calculated to step in the Supreme Court on the Memogate scandal. Obvious, however, is the fact that the critical step has brought the Army out in public, where previously only politicians and bureaucrats were mocked and sorted out. The Pandora’s box has popped open and an influx of articles criticising the unlimited power of the armed forces on defense, foreign and domestic political policies of Pakistan have been unleashed. While political pundits have declared the notion that the army makes the foreign, defense and domestic political policies of Pakistan as a ‘fact’– ...

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Judicial activism and democracy

Recently in the backdrop of the ‘memogate’ controversy, the honourable apex court hearing a petition regarding the possible removal of the ISI chief and the army chief sought “assurances” from the government that the two would not be removed. Some would think that this is an example of one pillar of state, the judiciary, overstepping its boundaries and encroaching on the mandate of the executive. In Yale Law Professor Owen M Fiss’s essay The Right Degree of Independence, which deals with the idea of political insularity for the judiciary, an independent judiciary acts as a “countervailing force within a larger ...

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Why democracy should stay

Pakistan’s administrative setup was modeled after the British system: an elected legislative assembly was to give form to an executive government headed by the prime minister. The president was to hold a symbolic role while the judiciary was set to be independent. It remains a reality that despite the narrow scope in the electorate, Pakistan was a product of democracy, and will only thrive and succeed if it is democratic in structure and spirit. The continuous hampering course that Pakistan is passing through is not helping it become a truly democratic nation which can grow strong economically and deliver welfare to ...

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Has the PPP learnt any lessons?

From day one, this country has seen a topsy-turvy relationship between the military and various civil administrations. The security establishment shares equal blame, if not more, for the dwindling fortunes of this country after having ignored the far-sighted advice of their country’s founding father delivered in the Quetta Staff College — ‘of not intervening in the political affairs of the civil government’. However, civilians, too, have not been able to deliver the goods of astute political governance. The only exception is the Bhutto government of the seventies where ‘real’ and ‘meaningful’ political change did arrive at the fore — the ...

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Media matters

It seems all that the media can seem to cover is the so-called memogate case and issues related to it. For example, for the past two-three days headlines on news channels have been dominated by speculation regarding whether Mansoor Ijaz will come, or not come, to Pakistan to testify before the commission set up by the Supreme Court to investigate the authenticity of the memo. Surely, there must be other issues for the media to cover. After all, one can argue that how does the issue of the memo affect the lives of ordinary Pakistanis who are finding it increasingly ...

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The media made a mess of Memogate

In the last couple of months our country has been plunged into a self created crisis that our media has dubbed ‘Memogate’. Everyone who is anyone has an opinion on the issue, which has become the most discussed topic in the country. However, throughout this discussion on the memo issue, majority of the people have either failed to understand what it actually is, or have simply taken the media for its word without putting all the facts in perspective. In this blog, I am not going to give you an opinion on this issue. What I am going to do is ...

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Photoshopping the prime minister

A photograph circulated by the Press Information Department across newsrooms recently had Yousaf Raza Gilani standing in the middle, chatting with General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and General Khalid Shameem Wynne, with his fingers stationed uncomfortably near his chest — a pose we normally won’t stand in. But then again he is the prime minister. A sub-editor’s journalistic curiosity and an acute eye for detail led to a legitimate inquiry. Experts were called in. Professional advice was sought. No one could figure out this enigmatic conundrum: What happened to the prime minister’s fingers? “They are hiding something,” screamed one over-worked editor. ...

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