Mush to lift emergency a day earlier
India, Pak poised to resolve disputes: Haq
Mush to lift emergency a day earlier
President Pervez Musharraf has advanced the date for lifting of the emergency by a day to December 15, apparently to avoid an ominous comparison with Pakistan Army’s surrender in Dhaka in 1971.
All actions taken under the cover of the emergency to purge the judiciary and curb media freedom would be given full protection through a constitutional amendment already in place that bars courts to question their validity.
The constitution will be restored in the amended form, attorney-general Qayyum Malik told reporters here.
The amendment incorporated in Article 270 AAA indemnifies Musharraf’s violation of the constitution by his own admission by imposing the emergency and promulgating the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) that required selected judges to take oath of allegiance to the emergency provisions. The PCO would also be withdrawn and the judges of the reconstituted courts would be asked to take fresh oath under the amended constitution.
Malik said Musharraf no longer needs to indemnify his actions by Parliament with two-thirds majority that he is unlikely to get in the elections.
“The Supreme Court has already validated his actions,” he said. Lawyers, journalists and civil society activists are continuing the prolonged agitation for restoration of independence of the judiciary and reinstatement of all deposed judges, who refused to take oath under PCO or were not invited to do that in order to get rid of independent-minded judges.
Several political parties led by Nawaz Shaif and Imran Khan have vowed to make it as a key election issue. The jailed president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, plans to launch a “judicial bus” for a countrywide campaign to keep the issue alive.
The revival of the constitution would restore provisions relating to fundamental rights that were suspended under the emergency. But nobody would be entitled to invoke these rights to challenge the actions taken during the emergency in violation of the constitution, Malik said.
Musharraf has begun meeting his legal advisers on a daily basis to plug all possible loopholes and pre-empt legal challenges before the constitution is revived. Some more legislation is expected in this context during next one week.
In an interview with the BBC, Musharraf admitted that the imposition of emergency and the PCO were ultra-constitutional measures but said he did so in the national interest to save the country from chaos and total collapse of the government.
The attorney-general said a presidential order would be issued on December 15 announcing the lifting of emergency and repeal of the PCO.
Earlier, Musharraf had declared on November 29 that the emergency would be lifted on December 16, which happens to be the anniversary of Pakistan Army’s surrender to the Indian General in Dhaka in 1971.
Musharraf’s critics, who claimed that he would be surrendering his illegally acquired powers on the infamous date before allowing political parties to launch their election campaign, immediately picked up the cruel analogy.
Asked about the status of the deposed judges after the lifting of the emergency, the AG said, “They have already ceased to hold their respective offices and their cases are past and a closed chapter.” He said a legislation is on the anvil to allow these judges retirement benefits.
He denied reports that the deposed judges have been kept under detention since November 3 but explained that politicians, including Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, were not allowed to meet these judges for security reasons because they had come with a large number of their supporters.
India, Pak poised to resolve disputes: Haq
India and Pakistan are poised to resolve two of the major contentious issues-- disputes over the Siachen Glacier and the Sir Creek maritime boundary, when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Islamabad early next year, Pakistan’s foreign minister Inamul Haq said.
“These are the two issues that look ripe for resolution. They may be ready for approval by the time Prime Minister Singh visits us early next year,” he said in an interview with Dawn.
Haq, who met India’s foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee on the margins of a two-day ministerial conference of the SAARC states in New Delhi, admitted that the overall talks between the two countries had slowed down somewhat due to the domestic circumstances of Pakistan. “And yet we are on course and I wouldn’t say anything has been derailed at all,” he added.
Singh is expected to visit Pakistan soon after a new government is installed in Islamabad after the January polls. “We’ll need a month for the new administration to settle down and we can expect the Prime Minister to make his visit soon after that,” he said.
Haq’s optimism about the way ahead appeared to flow from what sources said was a positive first meeting with Mukherjee.
The sources said Mukherjee made two important observations. He told Haq that India acknowledged Kashmir was a dispute between the two countries. He also recalled that India had applied “restraint” in its public approach to Pakistan’s domestic difficulties, particularly by not raising the issue of the state of emergency on any public forum.
Haq acknowledged that the stance had “gone down well” with the Pakistan government. In bilateral issues he raised with Mukherjee, Haq listed three issues in Kashmir that India could pursue with ease.
These include an improvement in human rights situation in Kashmir, demilitarisation of the region and seeking a greater involvement of the Kashmiris in the peace process.
Mukherjee said the issue of demilitarisation was linked to the level of violence in the valley, which had a tendency to go up and down at will.
“Immediately after installation of a new government in Pakistan, the foreign secretaries will complete the fourth round of composite dialogue after which we will launch the fifth round. We will have to wait till regular government is in place in Pakistan,” Haq said.
Toronto, December 8
Prof William Leiss in the University of Ottawa, a risk analysis expert, submitted before the commission presided by Justice John Major that a series of telexes and tips before the bombing, suggesting Air India flights would be targeted should have led to a more dramatic response.
In particular, the June 1, 1985 telex sent by Air India’s head office in Bombay to the Toronto Air India outlet “should have set off alarm bells,” Leiss testified before the inquiry commission.
The telex, revealed at the inquiry last May, said, “assessment of threat received from intelligence agencies reveal that the likelihood of sabotage attempts are being undertaken by Sikh extremists by placing time delay devices in the aircraft or registered baggage” of the Air India flights.
Leiss said the RCMP and other Canadian agencies should have considered stopping all Air India flights leaving Canada until the threat had been properly assessed.
Instead, a BC-built bomb made its way onto Air India Flight 182 when it left Toronto, killing all 329 persons aboard. A second bomb the same day exploded in a Vancouver suitcase at Tokyo’s Narita Airport, killing two baggage handlers.
“For this business, airline security, it is extremely rare to get such a specific piece of information,” Leiss said of the June 1, 1985 telex.
Leiss said, "The intelligence has not always been so good, so this should have leapt off the page. Why didn't the alarm bells just go off everywhere and what did the RCMP do with the information?"
Inquiry lawyer Brian Gover told Leiss that many believe the RCMP didn't share the information widely enough. He asked Leiss to consider the number of threats to Air India that were coming in to the police in the year before the bombing.
Leiss said the cumulative effect should have led to an evaluation of the risk. "Just to dismiss (the threats) is a catastrophic misunderstanding of what it means to do a risk assessment," he said and added that by June of 1985, the number of threats showed "you are off the end of the scale." — PTI