Saturday, April 18, 2015

Important background on the military courts constitutional crisis in Pakistan

Asma Jahangir
The Express Tribune has run this powerful, unanswerable op-ed by Lahore attorney Saroop Ijaz about the complicated and toxic political and legal context from which Pakistan's 21st Amendment military courts emerged. The whole essay is highly recommended; this brief extract will give you a foretaste:
The challenge to the fast-track, hashtag military justice-style executions had to come from Ms Asma Jahangir and in this case also, the Supreme Court. The Pakistani ‘patriots’ are having a field day attacking Ms Jahangir for ‘defending terrorists’ and other assorted nonsense. One does not feel worthy to speak for Asma Jahangir, she speaks for herself and does so compellingly and eloquently. In any case, her credentials both domestically and internationally do not require a certificate from these loudmouths. When Ms Jahangir for many years asked for action against militants by the Pakistani state in a rights-respecting manner, the same cadre cried about these being ‘our estranged brothers’ and that people like Ms Jahangir wanted ‘Pakistanis to fight Pakistanis’, etc. The ‘bleeding green patriots’ have the benefit of not being shackled by any principles; a luxury that Ms Asma Jahangir and Mr I A Rehman don’t have. Mian [Nawaz Sharif] Sahib may (or certainly should) remember October 1999 when it seemed that all of Pakistan was falling over each other to welcome the Commando and it was only Ms Jahangir and Rehman sb, who despite their vocal criticism of Mian Sahib’s bid to become Amir-ul-Momineen, recognised and called an unconstitutional coup as what it was and opposed the Commando throughout his reign. Yet, when it seemed that General [PervezMusharraf might be denied a fair trial, it was Ms Jahangir who spoke out for his right.

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