Elite Pakistani Judiciary Unapproachable For Common Man

On 26 February 2014, the President and Members of the Managing Committee of the Sindh High Court Bar Association, Karachi hosted in the High Court Lawns what they described as a “Welcome Dinner” in the honour of the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.

The Honourable Chief Justice of Sindh Mr Justice Maqbool Baqar made a fine speech about constitutionalism and in making his point that Pakistan is undergoing a traumatic period in its history he went as far as quoting from the historic case of A & Ors v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004] UKHL 56.

Similarly, the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan followed his learned brother and he too made a fine speech about how Pakistan was under threat from Islamic extremism and how we needed to strengthen our resolve to get through hard times. He also made splendid remarks about how much him and his Court like exercising their constitutional jurisdiction and emphasised that the bench and bar together would bring justice and harmony to Pakistan (by upholding the fabled rule of law of course).

He also said rather fleetingly that the minorities’ rights should be protected.

What, may we please ask with the greatest of respect,  have their Lordships done about the persecution of the Ahmadis then?

Nothing it appears …

And this deceptive, misleading and misrepresentative write up in Dawn – SC empowered to intervene in public matters –  on what happened in the “Welcome Dinner” cannot conceal the honest truth. Fine words were spoken by the elite judiciary of Pakistan but in fact these pretty words lack substance.

Why?

In fighting for the little freedom that exists in this country today, we of the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party have shed our sweat and blood without hesitation or expectation of reward.

In the High Court Dinner we sent our delegate (the President Karachi Division) with our greetings and warm regards to the learned judges. We also sent a proposal to modernise the way the law is recorded in Pakistan. We would have liked it if our proposal to lobby for a “Legal Institute of Pakistan” website (to achieve parity with Legal Institute of India, a free website following the phenomenal BAILII model which records all the decisions of the courts and interlinks them) had been heard.

But it was not to be: our proposal was never heard because some people from Sindh High Court Bar Association would not allow our representative access for 5 minutes to the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.

How does the bench explain allowing individuals with well known criminal antecedents (but inexplicably enrolled as advocates of the High Court) to hover around it? They were not stopped from mingling with the senior judiciary but rather disgracefully seemed to be running the show.

But this is Pakistan (ye Pakistan hai): a corrupt and primitive country where there is no law. It is a disgraceful and pitiful place where honest advocates of lengthy standing representing public causes are not allowed to speak to the country’s senior most judicial figure (who claims to descend from the English legal system and speaks fondly about the House of Lords).

But the contradiction for the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani is that his words are hollow whereas the words of his beloved House of Lords are of great substance because its judges and the judges of its successor UK Supreme Court do actually take the time and trouble to meet everyone and don’t retreat to some VIP enclosure to talk to people of questionable character instead. Can there be a VIP area for justice? Does the judiciary also operate an exclusive domain for the very important thugs and cheats of this country?

And unlike the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan, the Gora (i.e. white) judges also don’t use the opportunity to be the Chief Guest to create media frenzy in relation to their colleague’s son’s book about the Constitution by describing him as “energetic advocate” and by singing his praises.

Overall the dinner hosted in the High Court Lawns by the President and Members of the Managing Committee of the Sindh High Court Bar Association, Karachi was a farce and it really cast serious doubts about the claims advanced by the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan and the Honourable Chief Justice of Sindh that they will somehow bring harmony to Galaxy Pakistan because they don’t even want to meet the members of their own bar; leave alone hear any proposals in respect of modernising/digitalising legal reporting which we might have.

We cannot say that we stand with the judiciary if it surrounds itself with thugs and crooks. They – i.e. the judiciary – did hang, or “judicially murder”, Bhutto and will never be able to wash their hands off his blood …

And more than the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, Pakistan’s greater challenge is that it has to save itself from endemic corruption. Of that there can be no doubt. But the bench failed to mention this point. If the point was made at all it was purely expressed as a rebuke to the country’s corrupt political elite: But what about corruption in the judiciary My Lords? Are you incapable of addressing that. Or are you just too well fed and blind to care about such things in your VIP Ivory Tower?

Sorry, but our country cannot be a dictatorship of the judiciary. With the greatest of respect that is unacceptable to us citizens of Pakistan; the Mazdoors and the Kissans. We fail to see why the learned and respected senior judiciary could not take the trouble to dedicate some time to answering some questions from a large and vibrant audience of advocates? In comparison, the senior judiciary in the UK or the US always allows some time for questions from the audience. This is only logical because if not why make a speech at all then?

We were very disappointed by the dinner hosted in the High Court Lawns by the President and Members of the Managing Committee of the Sindh High Court Bar Association in the honour of the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.

It was a Real Joke but at least the Chief Justice of Sindh Mr Justice Maqbool Baqar managed to mention A & Ors v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004] UKHL 56. Or was he talking about A & Ors v. Secretary of State for the Home Department (No 2) [2005] UKHL 71?

Guess we will never know because the venal thugs of the Sindh High Court Bar Association would not let our workers, who are accomplished advocates of the Sindh Bar Council, to ask him which case he was in fact referring to? Our workers/members were abused and manhandled by the goons of the Sindh High Court Bar Association.

There is no justice in Pakistan and we at the bar would like to take this opportunity to inform the bench of this in our post today. Indeed we rely on our right to freedom of expression under the Constitution of Pakistan.

We are informed by advocates across the border in neighbouring India that their judiciary does in fact meet the common advocate of the local bar. Shame on our country where choori and badmaashi are the Order of the Day. Nevertheless, even for insulting our representative, we would like to thank the venal thugs of the Sindh High Court Bar Association for their lovely “Welcome Dinner”. Cheers for the invite.

The “Welcome Dinner” in the honour of the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani was disgraceful and scandalous.

Grand words are not enough: the bench needs to show much more commitment to fighting corruption and nepotism rather than tolerating such vile behaviour and promoting it. Because it has a nexus with the Sindh High Court Bar Association (some elitist club claiming to be furthering the rights of the advocates of Sindh) rather than the Sindh Bar Council (the appropriate licensing authority for all provincial advocates), the senior judiciary was unapproachable for the common man on the day.

Fatehyab Ali Khan, Advocate High Court of Sindh

President, Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party

Fatehyab’s Third Anniversary In The National Press

23Fatehyab never compromised his principles and upheld the ideals of secularism and equality between people.  Here are some recent extracts from the Urdu newspapers about his legendary leadership and how his heroic figure is celebrated. These two reports focus on this third anniversary function in Karachi. 

In Memoriam: Fatehyab Ali Khan (1936 – 2010): 3rd Anniversary

Fatehyab Ali Khan, President of the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party and a legendary figure in the public and national life of Pakistan, passed away on 26 September 2010. A visionary in politics, his relentless struggle for democracy, fundamental freedoms, justice in society and the rule of law forms a glowing chapter in the history of our country. His support for the cause of the oppressed and under-privileged will long be remembered.

Today is his third death anniversary and Mr Justice Rana Bhagwan Daas (R) and Senior journalist Mahmood Sham oversaw a debate competition held in Karachi University (please see further details below) in Fatehyab’s honour.

Fatehyab’s family migrated from Hyderabad Deccan to Pakistan after the Partition and settled in Shikarpur and Karachi. His bold stand against injustices in the local education system made him prominent at a very early age. Gifted with unusual organizing skills, persuasiveness and charm, he joined the National Students Federation and soon assumed leadership roles in the student community. He was elected as Vice President of Islamia College Students’ Union (at that time the president of the union used to be an official), President of Karachi University Students’ Union and Chairman of the Inter-Collegiate Body. He was a brilliant debater in both Urdu and English.

During the students’ movement against Ayub Khan’s martial law, when political parties were quiet spectators, Fatehyab shot to fame as a national figure and the leader of the movement. He was tried as Accused Number One and convicted by a military court in 1961. After he had served his sentence in Bahawalpur Central Jail, along with other activists, he was twice externed from all parts of the country, except Quetta. He was denied a passport to study abroad by the regime and ultimately took up law as his profession in Karachi.

Fatehyab was in the forefront of all movements against dictatorship in the country. His greatest contribution to politics came during the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD). He was a fearless fighter against Ziaul Haq’s dictatorship. The Mazdoor Kissan Party, of which he was president, was a member of the MRD alliance. On 12 August 1983, he courted arrest in Empress Market Karachi as part of MRD’s civil disobedience campaign. He worked tirelessly to organize and spread the movement and to develop a consensus for the alliance to work from a common platform in the future, which was not to be. The decade of the 1980s was a period of internments, externments, and numerous prison terms for Fatehyab. He was the only signatory of the MRD declaration who was tried and convicted by a military court. However, he never yielded to pressure and never compromised on his political principles.

Fatehyab served his prison terms in the 1980s in Karachi and Sukkur jails but whenever he found respite, he turned his attention to The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, of which he had become a member in 1972. In 1980, Ziaul Haq had taken over the Institute through a presidential ordinance, turning it virtually into a government department. Between prison terms, he led a determined and courageous legal campaign to get the Institute restored to its original independent and non-official status. After many setbacks, his persistence triumphed and the presidential ordinance was declared ultra vires of the Constitution by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1993.

In 1995, Fatehyab was elected as Chairman of the Institute’s Council, a position he held until 2009. As Chairman, he jealously guarded the independent character of the Institute, countering all pressure with the strength of his own personality. Free from traditional prejudices, Fatehyab was a great supporter of the rights of the marginalized, including the women’s movement, and stood by every initiative for women’s empowerment.

He was a prolific writer and has left behind a rich archive consisting of numerous constitutional petitions filed by him against martial law, articles on constitutional and international issues, political analyses and statements. These documents reflect not only his own commitment and contribution but also the dilemmas of the times in which he lived.

fatehyab Ali Khan invitation

Ishrat Ghazali, Advocate High Court, President Mazdoor Kissan Party, Karachi Division

E-mail: ghazaliishrat@gmail.com

Mob: 0300-2854142

Raja Rental Bites The Dust

ImageAs Pakistani politicians endlessly hark on about what ought to be done about the crisis in the country (by raising their concerns and also their voices on live television), yet again the answer has come from the Supreme Court. In the past – for example in the 1950s –  the Court has been accused of destroying Pakistani democracy. In recent times, however, the apex Court has certainly found its feet in fighting against the corrupt politicians of our country.

It is common knowledge that the current president Mr Zardari, who no longer enjoys the immunity of the NRO, must remain in power to be able to avoid criminal proceedings for his corruption and crimes. So it is not at all surprising that he desperately wants to cling on to his presidential seat so that he can keep up his venal designs. Otherwise, outside of the president’s house, Mr Zardari will have to leave Pakistan but ordinary Pakistanis will want to see his name placed on the Exit Control List.

And it is also no secret that “prime minister” Raja Parvaiz Ashraf (in inverted commas as Mr Raja Parvaiz Ashraf’s name is now on the Exit Control List) is in reality no longer the prime minister. Raja Rental, as he is popularly known, is finally being hauled up for his venal role in impoverishing our country by bilking the taxpayer for $5 billion. It was about time the avaricious figure of Mr Ashraf paid for his sins. Raja Rental should be tried in a criminal court and awarded a harsh criminal sentence that matches his grave crimes.

Today’s Order, in respect of the rental power plants case, passed by the Court made clear that:

5. We may clarify here that the Chairman NAB is already under contempt notice for non compliance of the judgment in the RPP Cases and copy of the same had been delivered to him as back as in the month of March, 2012, therefore, he should have been careful, however, under the circumstances, we issue notice to the Chairman NAB to explain as to why he has falsely used the name of the Supreme Court with a view to remove the IOs namely, Asghar Ali and Kamran Faisal. It is added that prima facie above said two IOs remained associated with the Investigation Reports under the supervision of the Col (R) Subeh Sadiq, D.G against Raja Parvaiz Ashraf, Ex-Minister for Water and Power and 15 others in Case No.2(3-RPP)/SOD/2012/NAB and Mr. Shahid Rafi and 21 others in case No.2(4-RPP)/SOD/2012/NAB.

7. It appears that prima facie the Investigating Officers are not being allowed to ensure the implementation of the judgment of this Court in letter and spirit, therefore, we direct the Additional Prosecutor General, NAB that he should undertake all the necessary steps during the course of day and submit Investigation Reports to the concerned authorities and to get approved the challans/references against the accused persons and to cause their arrest without any hesitation and put up report on 17.1.2013.

The Court’s judgment and order in the Rental Power Plants case – also known as HUMAN RIGHTS CASE NO.7734-G/2009 & 1003-G/2010 and HUMAN RIGHTS CASE NO. 56712/2010 – are available below. The Urdu version of the judgment is available here.

The Court’s Order of 15 January 2013 is available below.

The full judgment of the Rental Power Plants case is available here and below.

Supreme Court Approves Swiss Letter

Today, Wednesday, 10 October 2012, the Supreme Court has approved the letter to be written to the Swiss authorities to open the corruption case against the President Asif Ali Zardari.

The irony, of course, is that Zardari looks set to win the election again! So the writing of the letter is something which is likely to take second place to that fact.

But, despite the emollient effect of the letter in the short-run, it is equally likely that the standoff between the government and the judiciary, will not disappear anytime soon.

A five-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Asif Saeed Khosa J, approved the draft of the letter in the implementation of the NRO case.

The vetted draft highlights that the Swiss authorities should consider the letter – sent by former attorney general Malik Qayyum – null and void and that it should be assumed that the letter had not been written and sent at all.

Whilst the draft set that all cases be reopened, it was emphasised that – subject to Pakistan’s 1973 Constitution – President Zardari had the right to defend himself in legal proceedings.

The Court noted that the draft document was satisfactory and that it was the first time that a genuine attempt had been made to write the letter.

The case was adjourned until 14 Nov 2012.

Apex Court gives Government until 10 October for Swiss Letter

Today, Friday, 5 October 2012, the Supreme Court of Pakistan extended the time to prepare a final draft of the letter which is to be sent to the Swiss authorities so that the case against President Asif Ali Zardari, can be reopened. 

A five-member bench of the court headed by Asif Saeed Khosa J vetted the letter’s draft submitted by Law Minister Farooq Naek but the Court took the view that the draft was not in spirit of its Order. According to Dawn News, the Court thought the:

[T]he first and second paragraphs of the draft were in accordance with the court’s order but the third paragraph conflicted with the first two paragraphs as well as with the court’s order.

Khosa J remained that the last paragraph of the draft letter needed to be rewritten and he was optimistic that the matter was close to being resolved.

The Court did not entertain a request by Naek to protect the contents of the letter from public disclosure but, instead, granted his request by giving the government a few more days.

Granting the minister’s request, Justice Khosa said the matter was nearing a resolution which was why the court would give the government more time. It seems that the government and the judiciary are getting on a bit better these days.

Let’s wait and see ..

Anwer Mooraj on Dr Kamal Hossain’s Talk

It was an enjoyable experience listening to Dr Kamal Hossain, a former foreign minister of Bangladesh, who spoke at a recent function. The occasion was the death anniversary of Fatehyab Ali Khan, a tireless campaigner for liberty, dispensation of justice, the rule of law and the establishment of a democratic system in Pakistan. The venue was the library of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs in Karachi — an institution whose log over the years has swelled to an embarrassment of riches in the field on book launches, talks and lectures. After the death of her husband Fatehyab, the institute has been ably run by Dr Masuma Hasan, a former ambassador and cabinet secretary who spoke about her late husband and introduced Dr Hossain to the city’s literati. Mercifully, there were no other speakers, just a clutch of men and women who subsequently asked questions. This was in refreshing contrast to the normal practice in Pakistan where an average of eight orators feel it is their bounden duty to loosen their vocal chords in public.

Not only did Dr Hossain speak extempore, he was articulate. It would not be an exaggeration to say that from the moment he made his introductory remarks the audience was absolutely riveted to what he had to say. There were none of the usual cornball clichés and gross generalisations that are spewed out by politicians with a grudge, vast resentments and huge egos. Perhaps a few members of the audience were a little disappointed — but for the wrong reasons. Many older Bangladeshis still harbour a deep resentment against a former senior partner that has been accused of colonising them. And perhaps, these listeners expected him to commence with a spirited defence of why the eastern wing felt a need to break away, and the mass rape of Bengali women during the occupation and war against the Mukhti Bahini. But Dr Hossain would have none of that. He displayed no anger or antipathy or felt the need to exhume the sepia tints of history.  He spoke about the future and only briefly hinted at events in the past, assiduously avoiding issues that might have caused offence.

In his modest, scholarly and balanced fashion, he struck a completely different chord and harped on a theme that was once successfully employed and needed revamping. This involved young people in the affairs of state. The youth are the agents of change, he said with certain emphasis. How true. They can be the instruments of a political osmosis. Since their parents apparently don’t want to get involved they should take up the banner. For starters, they should badger their representatives in parliament and ask them what they are doing and have done to make their country a better place to live in. In a way, Dr Hossain was speaking from a position of advantage. He was representing a country that has moved ahead while we in Pakistan seem to have relapsed into a state of medieval intolerance and anarchy from which there doesn’t appear to be any escape. In Bangladesh they speak only one vernacular language. They have only one province, one common political cause — democracy and a fierce sense of nationalism. This is a country that has had elections from the word go, and which declared itself to be a secular republic. It is also a country whose exports are higher than those of Pakistan and whose currency fares far better against the dollar. Chou-en-Lai once told Dr Hossain “You should form a Commonwealth of South Asia”. Now who is going to connect the dots on the map?

Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2012, see here

Anil Datta on Dr Kamal Hossain’s Talk: Only the Youth Can Bring About a Fruitful Revolution …

We have to harness the energies of the young people to bring about a change in the destinies of the South Asian countries and give our people a life free from hunger and want. It is the young who are the real agents of change. 

These observations were made by Dr Kamal Hossain, former Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, former UN Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan from 1998 to 2003, and currently a member of the UN Compensation Commission, while speaking on the occasion of a lecture in memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan, former Chairman, PIIA, at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) Monday evening [24 September 2012]. 

“I would like to address you, the young people, because the future lies in your hands. You are the agents of change”, he said.

He said that his and his party’s most valuable asset during the 1970 elections (the last elections in the united Pakistan) were the young, almost a thousand of them who most painstakingly, without expectation of material rewards and fired by idealism, worked day and night for the party writing campaigns and disseminating the party manifesto among the masses. “We did in 1970 what Barack Obama did in 2008”, he said.

Unfortunately, he said that today, the young were victims of disinformation.

“Let the voices of the young be heard over the electronic media. Let them ask the children particularly in the rural areas, ‘are you happy with your school’, if you want meaningful and lasting change. Let them go to the grassroots level and interact with the masses”, he said.

“A revolution is waiting to happen in South Asia”, Dr Hossain said.

In Bangladesh, he said the voting age was brought down from 21 to 18 which resulted in a larger turn-out of the young at polling booths and said that the results of this positive step had begun to manifest their results.

It was the youth, he said, who could steer the country clear off past acrimony and bickering and jointly guide the ship of state in a harmonious direction, thus bringing about change and prosperity. He said that the young people today had far greater access to information than in the 1960s, but they lacked motivation. They did not have the role models that his generation had.

He said that there was absolutely no substitute for democracy and that it was the most viable, just, and egalitarian system of governance ever devised. It was a system that fully assured citizens justice, egalitarianism, dignity, and human rights. However, he said that today, in many cases, democracy had come to be diluted and instead of being a system of governance of the people, for the people, and by the people, it had come to be a governance of the 1 percent, for the 1 percent, and by the 1 percent. It was this eventuality, he said, that we had to guard against.

As for South Asia, he said that the region was laden with resources but unfortunately the countries of the region had not been able to harness them. What was needed, he said, was greater cooperation among the nations of the region to exploit them jointly for the common good of our masses. In this context, he quoted the late Chinese Premier Chou En Lai when he said, “In light of new realities in the region, the countries should now think of forming a commonwealth of South Asia and move from confrontation to cooperation.

Lauding the media, he said that while they had played a commendable part in mitigating

misunderstanding and acrimony among the countries of the region, more still needed to be done in this regard and said that the media could be made real agents of change in a region where even today, per-capita income was less than half that of the rest of the world and there was mass poverty. Positive change, he said, had to come in the bottom 50 percent of the population. Only then could we claim to have ushered in egalitarianism.

In reply to a question about galloping extremism in some of the region’s countries, he said that it was not extremism for the sake of extremism but that it was manipulated by vested interests who exploited the simplicity of the unsuspecting to achieve their personal ends.

In reply to a question about the dilemma of the Rohingyas in Myanmar, he expressed utter dismay over the sordid episode but held the Myanmar government responsible which in 1980 passed a new citizenship act rendering those Burmese citizens whose ancestors had immigrated into Burma from other places stateless.

Earlier, welcoming Dr Kamal Hossain, Dr Masuma Hassan, Chairperson PIIA, most nostalgically and touchingly recalled the era prior to the creation of Bangladesh, her association with Dr Kamal Hossain’s family, and their trip to a conference in New Delhi as representatives of a united Pakistan.

This article originally appeared in the News, please see here.

Peerzada Salman on Dr Kamal Hossain: “Young People are Agents of Change”

KARACHI, 24 September 2012: It is important to engage the energies of the young people if South Asia is to prosper and become peaceful. This was the thrust of the arguments eloquently presented by former foreign minister of Bangladesh Dr Kamal Hossain during his talk titled ‘Building a peaceful South Asia responsive to the aspirations of all our peoples’ at an event held in memory of the late revolutionary Fatehyab Ali Khan organised by the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs at the institute’s library on Monday.

Dr Hossain started off by paying tribute to the late Khan whom he said he admired at a distance. The late politician was more than a human rights activist; he was in the frontline of the struggle for democracy, he said. From 1958 to 1971, people like him (Dr Hossain) and Fatehyab Ali Khan had common aspirations. He referred to the students’ movement in which he also took part and as a result of which many suffered persecution and went to jail. He said the revolutionary leader struggled for democracy, for justice and for the rights of the ordinary people till he breathed his last. He said today politics was not seen in a favourable light, but in those days people were drawn to politics in the best sense of the word.

Dr Hossain said he’d have liked more young people in the audience because his talk was more about them than anything else. At the time when the late Khan was in the thick of things, young people took a stand for justice. He said youths were the agents of change and they should be questioning their representatives as to why there was injustice, why they were disorganised, what they could do to set things right and what things had let them down. He reiterated that change could only be brought about by the younger lot. This was the strategy that US President Obama used during his election campaign and in the last election in Bangladesh one-third voters were from that age bracket which made a huge difference and left a lot of people staggered.

Dr Hossain said there were issues that needed to be resolved (like the kind of money used in the elections), because people were uninformed or misinformed. Here the role of the media was of the essence to provide them with correct information, he said. He added that one had to look back and learn from experiences in order to look forward. “It’d been 65 years since we gained independence but we are to date looking for a future in which there would be rule of law, independent judiciary and good governance.” He touched on the issue of equal opportunity and said before the 1970s, 56 per cent of country’s population lived in East Pakistan. “In the ‘70s we started afresh.” He lamented the level of poverty and the asymmetry that existed between the provided-for and the disadvantaged in South Asia.

Dr Hossain iterated election promises always had the same factors related to real change and development but they’re seldom fulfilled. He argued that one needed to see whether basic issues such as access to food, health and education had been addressed. He quoted from a 2007 UNDP report on South Asia which had discussed in detail the challenges the region was faced with. According to the report, there was intense form of poverty in South Asia and health-related matters (such as high infant mortality rate and highest number of TB patients) were still unresolved.

He said that instead of blaming the British, who had left 65 years back, for everything, the energies of young people must be utilised. “We will not change unless you participate,” he noted.

“Power belongs to the people. They have the right to judge what their representatives are doing. They represent you, you must ask them the right questions,” he emphasised.

He again highlighted the role of the media and termed it critical. He told the audience that in some countries the media had already begun to play its part, while in some other countries it was controlled. He reiterated that if the young people didn’t come forward, no one would do anything for them. He said now that anybody above the age of 18 could vote, things were more viable for them. Today’s students were brighter than the students of the 60s, because they had access to information, he observed. “They must come out.” He said though there was no substitute for democracy, it meant much more.Dr Hossain said South Asia had huge natural resources but they were not fully harnessed. There was a need for regional cooperation. He said after Bangladesh gained independence Zhou Enlai suggested there should be a commonwealth of South Asia. He said the movement of Saarc was slow, because there were doubts and historical legacies, but time had come to put that behind. There should be regional centres now, for example the South Asia Institute of Advanced Medicine, because it was a common problem, he added.

Earlier, PIIA chairperson Dr Masuma Hasan introduced Dr Hossain to the audience and also spoke about Fatehyab Ali Khan.

Note: Originally published in Dawn, see here.

Welcome speech of Dr. Masuma Hasan: In Memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan: Dr. Kamal Hossain on Building a peaceful South Asia: 24 September 2012

This session is dedicated to the memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan former Chairman of this Institute, whose death anniversary falls on 26 September and the members of the Institute are indeed grateful that Dr. Kamal Hossain has travelled from Dhaka to be with us today. So many memories flood my mind as I welcome him. The year was 1965, the month was January, well before the Pakistan-India war. A delegation went from this Institute to attend the unofficial commonwealth relations conference in Delhi, comprising its Chairman Professor A B A Haleem, its Secretary Khwaja Sarwar Hasan, and Dr. Kamal Hossain, a brilliant young barrister from Dhaka, who was accompanied by his wife, Hameeda Akhund. The conference was attended by representatives of institutes of international affairs from all the commonwealth countries.

Although I was not a delegate, I went along on a private visit. In the proceedings of the conference, Dr. Kamal Hossain made an outstanding contribution. But my memories are more personal, the beauty of the Taj at Agra, the magic of Fatehpur Sikri, and the other events that Kamal, Hameeda and I attended, will always remain vivid in my mind. As also their support and hospitality during my subsequent visits to East Pakistan in pursuance of my research.

A few years later, however, our country split apart. Dr. Kamal Hossain worked for the creation of Bangladesh and was detained in West Pakistan in April 1971, being released only when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was released in January 1972 and allowed to leave for London.

In independent Bangladesh, he was given important responsibilities and held high positions in the cabinet. He was minister for law and is the principal author of the constitution of Bangladesh. As foreign minister he played a crucial role, in those difficult times, in placing his country, then so ravaged by the affects of war, on the map of the world.

Dr. Kamal Hossain was educated at the University of Oxford from where, among other degrees, he earned a doctorate in International Law. His expertise in International Law has won him many important assignments and his wisdom and knowledge are much sought after in international arbitrations. He was the UN Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan between 1998 and 2003 and is currently a member of the UN Compensation Commission. Universally respected for his professional acumen and integrity, he is easily one of the leading figures in jurisprudence in the world. We are indeed fortunate that he has spared the time to address us today.

We have gathered to mark Fatehyab Ali Khan’s epic struggle for democracy, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law in Pakistan, full as his life was of incidents of brutality and injustice against him, long terms in prison, internments and externments. He was only 25 years old when he led the movement of the youth in West Pakistan against Ayub Khan, at a time when the political parties shied away from confronting the dictator. As a leading figure in the Movement for Restoration of Democracy against Ziaul Haq, he went underground to mobilize the people, and indeed he was the only original signatory of the MRD declaration who was awarded a prison sentence by a Martial Law court. These trials and tribulations did not, however, force him to abandon his struggle or even lose his sense of humour. In the political alliances in which he participated he was a consensus builder but he never compromised on his principles or changed his political affiliations. He remained President of the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party until his death. Nor, indeed, did he need to compromise, as money, power and pelf meant nothing to him. He used to smile and say in his quiet, cultured way, ‘mein nazaryati aadmi hoon’.

Fatehyab’s love for this Institute was legendary. His courageous stand saved us from the construction sharks who wanted to dispossess the Institute and had their eyes on this beautiful building. After Ziaul Haq took over the Institute in 1981 through a presidential ordinance, with his grit and determination Fatehyab kept the issue alive for over a decade in the public sphere and through his supporters in the courts of law until the Institute was returned to its independent status by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Later, as Chairman, he always jealously guarded its independence. He wrote extensively on international and constitutional issues and has left behind a large archive which I hope can be published soon.

Dr. Kamal Hossain will address us on ‘Building a peaceful South Asia in response to the aspirations of all our peoples’.

Dr Masuma Hasan, Chairperson, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs.

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