Published On: Sun, Oct 21st, 2012

Challenging the traditional hierarchies

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Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani,
Secretary General – JKCHR.

It is for the first time in the history of Pakistan that Presidency, Army and ISI have been challenged by a distinguished and honest Pakistani of Kashmiri origin

The State machinery of Pakistan though after a considerable and unfortunate delay has been ordered by the Supreme Court to return to the commands of the Constitution of Pakistan, prescribing that, “it is the will of the people of Pakistan to establish an order wherein the State shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people, wherein the principles of democracy, freedom and equality etc; shall be fully observed, so that the people of Pakistan may prosper and attain their rightful and honoured place amongst the nations of the world, and make their full contribution towards international peace and progress and happiness of humanity”.

It is an interesting irony that it has been a Kashmiri who became instrumental in helping the people of Pakistan to challenge the traditional hierarchies which insisted to perpetuate a subservient role of the many. Supreme Court decided upon the petition filed by Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan in 1996, accusing the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of distributing money among politicians to manipulate the general elections of 1990. Supreme Court has ordered the government to take action against former Army chief Aslam Beg and former ISI chief Asad Durrani.

The civil society and the common man in Pakistan woke up to a new Saturday on October 20 to be told that “The general election held in the year 1990 was subjected to corruption and corrupt practices”, that “an Election Cell had been created in the Presidency, which was functioning to provide financial assistance to the favoured candidates, or a group of political parties to achieve desired result by polluting election process and to deprive the people of Pakistan from being represented by their chosen representatives”.

The hierarchy that had succeeded to operate  over and above law and the constitution, may have been embarrassed to the core when it was told by the Supreme Court that “The President of Pakistan, Chief of Army Staff, DG ISI or their subordinates certainly are not supposed to create an Election Cell or to support a political party/group of political parties, because if they do so, the citizens would fail to elect their representatives in an honest, fair and free process of election, and their actions would negate the constitutional mandate on the subject.
More important than all is that the people of Pakistan came to know about some institutions (Presidency, Army and ISI) and people who had and are still reserving a role for them which is unconstitutional and outside the ambits of the law of the land.

The findings in the Friday October 19, 2012 Supreme Court Order that,  “It has also been established that late Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the then President of Pakistan with the support of General (R) Aslam Baig, General (R) Asad Durrani and others, who were serving in MI and now either have passed away or have retired, were supporting the functioning of the ‘Election Cell’, established illegally”, and finding that “The Armed Forces of Pakistan, under the directions of Federal Government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war and, subject to law, are to act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so under Article 245 of the Constitution, thus, any extra constitutional act, calls for action in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan and the law against the officers/officials of Armed Forces without any discrimination”, are all going to impact the behaviour and character of the working habits in the Presidency, Army Headquarters and ISI and the people of Pakistan shall have a reason to believe in their right to safeguard the expression of their ‘free will’ during elections.

It is for the first time in the history of Pakistan that Presidency, Army and ISI have been challenged by a distinguished and honest Pakistani of Kashmiri origin (still a State Subject) Air Marshal (Retired) Muhammad Asghar Khan. It is for the first time that a vigilant citizen has taken law of the land into the dark alleys, where even angles in the past had no will to go. Supreme Court judgement has observed that, “ISI or MI may perform their duties as per the laws to safeguard the borders of Pakistan or to provide civil aid to the Federal Government, but such organisations have no role to play in the political activities/politics, for formulation or destabilisation of political Governments, nor can they facilitate or show favour to a political party or group of political parties or politicians individually, in any manner, which may lead in his or their success.”

The people of Pakistan have more to celebrate from this new development in social awakening of the common citizen.  The three institutions debated in the decision have a case to answer beyond the text of Supreme Court decision in respect of many other elections in the past in Pakistan and in Pakistan administered Kashmir. Supreme Court has made life much easy and has ordered that, “Any Election Cell/Political Cell in Presidency or ISI or MI or within their formations shall be abolished immediately and any letter/notification to the extent of creating any such

Cell/Department (by any name whatsoever, explained herein, shall stand cancelled forthwith.”
The duty to an “Action in aid of Supreme Court” is covered under article 190 of the Constitution of Pakistan. All executive and judicial authorities throughout Pakistan shall have to act in aid of the Supreme Court in this and all other regards. The case, its debate, revelations and the decision have set the wheels of a confident citizen’s revolt into motion in Pakistan. It has exposed an elite State within the territories of a poor Pakistan.

Shivers would have travelled down the spines of every person in charge of various disciplines entrusted to secure  the respect for the constitution and rule of law to read the Court findings that, “Late  Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the then President of Pakistan, General (R) Aslam Baig and General (R) Asad Durrani acted in violation of the Constitution by facilitating a group of politicians and political parties etc, to ensure their success against the rival candidates in the general election of 1990, for which they secured funds from Younas Habib. Their acts have brought a bad name to Pakistan and its Armed Forces as well as secret agencies in the eyes of the nation, therefore, notwithstanding that they may have retired from service, the Federal Government shall take necessary steps under the Constitution and Law against them.”

There is a lesson for the people of Kashmir, who are engaged to be treated for ‘equality’ and self-determination and have so far decided to remain Pakistan specific in seeking support, and have ignored the benefits embedded in the universality of Kashmir case. Our leaders who have affiliations across the border and have been exposed to the luxury of Pakistan’s hospitality, should be cautioned by the Supreme Court Order which orders, “Similarly, legal proceedings shall be initiated against the politicians, who allegedly have received donations to spend on election campaigns in the general election of 1990, therefore, transparent investigation on the criminal side shall be initiated by the FIA against all of them and if sufficient evidence is collected, they shall be sent up to face the trial, according to law. Younas Habib shall also be dealt with in the same manner.”

As we have been often writing, reading and saying that crime never pays, Supreme Court has ordered that, “Proceedings shall also be launched against the persons specified hereinabove (in the Order) for affecting the recovery of sums received by them with profit thereon by initiating civil proceedings, according to law.”

JKCHR on behalf of the people of Kashmir joins the men and women in Pakistan to celebrate a new beginning which will restore the stolen dignity of their vote. Our efforts at the United Nations at great risks to support the case of restoration of democracy and independence of judiciary in Pakistan during Musharraf regime have not been a waste. The distribution of justice is a common case for all humanity.

Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.  He could be reached on email

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