Mahmood Shaam Remembers Fatehyab

Legendary journalist Mahmood Shaam recently remembered Fatehyab Ali Khan and Rana Justice Bhagwan Das (who only recently passed away last month). Mr Shaam mentioned the great loss that the country suffered when Fatehyab Ali Khan passed away but said that his transparent politics will never be forgotten.

 

Dr Masuma Hasan: In Memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan: I.A. Rehman’s Address on ‘The Politics of Dissent’

Fatehyab did not give up. Perhaps he did not know how to do that …

The beautiful and historic library of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs was packed to capacity when Ibn Abdur Rehman, better known as I.A. Rehman, spoke on The Politics of Dissent in memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan. The younger members of the audience had to stand throughout the session. I.A. Rehman is the Secretary General of The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and is one of the leading human rights defenders in Pakistan. He is the founding chair of the Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy and received the Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding in 2004. Fatehyab’s was a most powerful voice of dissent in politics in Pakistan and, therefore, it was appropriate that Rehman Sahib should have spoken on this subject in his memory.

Throughout his life, Fatehyab fought for fundamental freedoms, democratic values, political morality and decency in public life. He was only 25 years old when he led the movement against Ayub Khan in 1961, which spread throughout West Pakistan, while the political parties sat on the fence. He was interned, externed and imprisoned throughout his political career but he never lost his sense of humour. See past posts on this event here, here and here.

During the agitation against Ziaul Haq’s tyrannical regime, he was one of the nine signatories of the declaration of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD, 1981). During this movement, he sacrificed and suffered, worked tirelessly and also brought the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party (PMKP), of which he was president, into mainstream politics. He never compromised on his principles and never bartered his political ideology for any material gain. Contrary to the familiar custom in Pakistan, he never switched political parties and remained president of PMKP until his death in 2010.

According to Rehman Sahib:

The politics of dissent began on the very morrow of independence with stirrings in both religious and non-religious camps. The challenge from the religious right has run through all the six decades of independence from success to success for its warriors have followed a policy of nibbling at state power bit by bit. Its 22 points won it the Objectives Resolution; it won a major battle when Islamic provisions were inserted in the 1956 constitution and again when it forced Ayub Khan to restore the words ‘Islamic Republic’ that he had deleted from the constitution-like document prepared and enforced in his personal discretion; it persuaded the PPP founders to string democracy, socialism and religion together in their rosary; it facilitated the government’s acquisition of authority to decide who is a Muslim and who is not and it cheered Ziaul Haq as he created religious courts with powers to usurp the functions of the legislature. The holy warriors’ march has not ended. Now the religious groups claim to have raised a madrassa force that, according to them, could seize the reins of power any time. Still, the politics of the religious parties does not fully qualify for the label of dissent; it is more in the nature of catalytic action in support of the religious strand in the ideal of Pakistan.

He stated that the religious right was successful because, to a considerable extent, the non-religious centrist parties were reluctant:

to challenge the state’s drift.

Rehman Sahib traced the narrative of evolving dissent among centrist and leftist parties, leading to the formation of the Pakistan National Party in 1956 and later of the National Awami Party. By 1957, an alternative narrative had emerged due to the ground work done by provincial and regional parties. The PPP government, which took over what was left of Pakistan in 1971, offered a promise of change for dissidents but its own lack of tolerance for other political parties closed the space for the politics of dissent. Since 1977, this dissent has been confined to agitations for restoration of democracy. The politics of dissent has now been taken up by the small left of centre parties and nationalist parties in Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The politics of dissent, said Rehman Sahib, has not been the exclusive concern of opposition parties. A great part has been played by persons and groups “that have done politics without assuming the title of political parties” such as poets, and four categories of activists – students, lawyers, journalists and women. He mentioned the fire of dissent which was kept burning by poets like Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Gul Khan Naseer, Sheikh Ayaz, Amir Hamza Shinwari, Qalander Mehmand, Habib Jalib, Ahmad Faraz, Fehmida Riaz and Kishwar Naheed and others who have sustained “the dignity of dissent and the beleaguered forces of sanity” with their songs of freedom, resistance, justice and hope.

Rehman Sahib described Fatehyab Ali Khan as a “restless activist who succeeded in carving out a role for himself in any situation for challenging the status quo and the conventional wisdom behind it. He was a star in the extraordinarily brilliant galaxy created by the National Students Federation and his stewardships of the Karachi University Students Union is one of the glorious chapters in Pakistan’s history of students movements.”

He brought his zest for change into politics which he preferred to making money as a lawyer and he supported any political cause which sought support. During the Zia period, he was one of the most consistently active leaders of the MRD and he propped up the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party when the Hashtnagar agitation had fizzled out and the party broke into factions:

Fatehyab did not give up. Perhaps he did not know how to do that.

Rehman Sahib spoke about Fatehyab’s “long and distinguished career in the politics of dissent,” saying that “I pay respect to Fatehyab Ali Khan not only because he was the head of the Institute that has hosted this event, and which he saved from being gobbled up by sarkari qabza groups, but because I can present him as a representative” of those“ who stood their ground in the face of tyranny and refused to succumb to blandishments and bribe.”

Finally, what has the politics of dissent achieved in Pakistan, he asked? Most political dissidents have been maligned and punished for their leftist inclinations. Although they never came to power, these dissidents have left their unmistakable mark on the growth of progressive ideas, on people’s linguistic and cultural rights, land reforms and an independent foreign policy. They fought for civil liberties and human freedoms and offered an alternative to the establishment-sponsored mindset.

How different Pakistan’s history might have been, he lamented, if the voices of dissent had been heeded:

But then all those who dismiss ideas of change as heresy close the path to their progress.

The questions Rehman Sahib fielded related mostly to the victimization of leftist parties. On a lighter note, as I looked around the audience, I was delighted to see the Station House Officer of the Artillery Maidan Police Station. He addresses me as maan ji.

State’s Anti-India Posture Caused Gradual Transfer of Power to Military

nprCoverage of The Politi­cs of Dissent in Pakistan in Dawn by Peerzada Salman

Yesterday’s lecture was organised in memory of the distinguished political leader Fatehyab Ali Khan at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs’ library. The Secretary General of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Mr I.A. Rehman explained that dissent implied presenting alternatives to state narratives. Alternatives to what, he asked, and answered that it was to do with the dominant narratives that developed because of a lack of clarity and interpretation of ideas before independence. When Mohammad Ali Jinnah was asked about the nature of Pakistani nationhood, the markers that he chose to define it came from religious traditions, which created a problem. He chose to define the history of Muslims of India different from their Hindu compatriots.

Regional communities (Bengalis, Punjabis, Sindhis, etc) were ignored as well as what was common and uncommon between them, he said. Still, Mr Jinnah maintained that Islamic principles would be followed in Pakistan but it would not be a theocracy. At the time of independence, he said, there were three groups who had their opinion on the matter and a large group of which supported sharia state. Realizing the danger of the issue, Mr Jinnah called for a new nationhood on the basis of citizenship but perhaps did not take his colleagues into confidence which was why his 11 August 1947 speech was not allowed to get published.

Mr Rehman said the price was paid in 1949 in the form of the Objectives Resolution and the country moved towards becoming a theocratic state.

He said Ayub Khan tried to apply the brakes but actually strengthened the clergy. In 1965 during the war with India, people’s religious sentiments were evoked not the love of the motherland, he argued. The Centre later gained more power, he added.

Mr Rehman then touched upon the issue of foreign policy. He said Mr Jinnah wanted foreign policy to be governed by the principles of friendship with all and malice to none which was discarded in his lifetime and the country entered into western military pacts in the early 1950s, turning into a security state. The element of permanent hostility towards India followed and with conflict over Kashmir the anti-India posture was maintained, resulting in a gradual transfer of power to the military, he said.

Mr Rehman said the politics of dissent began from the time of independence, to little avail. Ayub Khan had to restore the words ‘Islamic Republic’ into the country’s name, and the process to decide who’s Muslim who’s not took root. Mr Jinnah wanted non-Muslims to join the Muslim League; it didn’t happen and it became a Muslims-only party, he said. No one opposed the Objectives Resolution, and even Mian Iftikharuddin believed nobody’s going to follow it, until General Zia aggravated things. As a result, agitation was witnessed and women came out against the Hudood Ordinance.

Going back to independence, he said, it was Begum Shaista Ikramullah who first spoke for the Bengali linguistic right but was silenced and told it didn’t befit a woman to speak on such matters. Urdu contributed to another dimension to state ideology. Carrying on with his point, he briefly talked about the Awami League, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and agitation in Balochistan.

Mr Rehman said it was in 1957 that alternatives began to emerge with the arrival of the National Awami Party on the scene, frightening the establishment as a result of which pacts were withdrawn. Things, however, didn’t change much and subsequently Ayub Khan experimented with partyless politics. The Awami League and the PPP challenged Ayub Khan a bit, but the military kept its control, he added.

According to the HRCP secretary general, the politics of dissent since 1977 had largely been confined to agitation for the restoration of democracy, and in the 1981 accord the objectives of the movement were spelled out. Yet democracy achieved little, Mr Rehman commented, adding that for the past 25 years opposition parties became indistinguishable from the parties in power.

He said the politics of dissent was not exclusive to political parties as the role played by poets, journalists, lawyers and students was no less significant. Poets, he said, had kept the fire of dissent alive and in that regard he took the names of Faiz, Sheikh Ayaz and Habib Jalib. He also lauded the part played by students’ organisation such as the Democratic Students Federation (DSF) that resisted state oppression and not just fought for the students’ community but for the people as a whole. Bar councils’ struggle was appreciated too as was journalists’ contribution to the whole situation. He claimed that journalists had the clearest voice against General Ayub Khan.

Reverting to students’ part, Mr Rehman praised Fatehyab Ali Khan’s contribution to a great struggle and called him a star in the galaxy created by the National Students Federation (NSF) and remarked:

He brought his zest of change into politics.

Mr Rehman said the politics of dissent did cause a rethinking on some matters such as land reforms, language issues (belatedly in the case of Bengali) and the involvement in the non-aligned movement. Also, today every politi­cian was using the slogans that dissenters had used.

After the presentation, the floor was opened for a question-and-answer session.

Earlier, PIIA Chairperson Dr Masuma Hasan introduced the speaker to the audience and briefly shed light on the achievements of the late Fatehyab Ali Khan, including his role in restoring the PIIA to its original position after General Zia tried to turn it into a government institution.

Objectives Resolution Bade Farewell To Quaid’s Ideals: I.A. Rehman

Fatehyab Ali Khan was the brightest star in the galaxy of progressive politicians …

The Objectives Resolution of 1949 bade farewell to the Quaid-e-Azam’s ideals of equality for all citizens and his principles of fair governance. This was stated by I.A. Rehman while addressing The members of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) and the media in his talk, “Politics of dissent in Pakistan” as part of the series of the Fatehyab Ali Khan Memorial Lectures on Saturday evening. He said all governments had slowly capitulated to the dictates of the religious parties. “Today, even the Shariat Court has pronounced a verdict against land reforms terming them against the spirit of religion,” he said.

As for dissent, he defined it as presentation of an alternative to the ruling government. However, in our case it was construed as rebellion or treason. According to Mr Rehman, there has been a lack of clarity about Pakistan’s ideals. For instance, in the beginning, there was a view in Pakistan according to which, Islamic principles would govern the country it would not be a theocratic state. It was stipulated that Islamic principles were compatible with democracy.

He said Mr Jinnah’s position that Pakistan would follow a neutral foreign policy with friendship for all and malice towards none was violated by successive rulers.

Dissent, said Rehman, made an appearance in 1954 with the Cold War having taken birth only a few years earlier. He therefore said that:

Pakistan started going straight into the lap of the US through the US-sponsored anti-communist military pacts which brought about lots of dissent not only between the government and the political parties but also within the ruling circles.

Citing the election of communists to the then NWFP, now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which motivated the government of the day to ban the Pakistan Communist Party.

The dominant voice of dissent, he said, came in 1957 with demands from all leftist parties and others to walk out of the US-sponsored military pacts. According to him, the situation was compounded when Ayub Khan grabbed power in 1958 and started off his rule of party-less politics.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Awami League (AL) emerged as forces of dissent but the PPP also generated into intolerance.

“During the Zia Years, the role of dissenters suffered most, especially those who spoke up against Pakistan’s involvement in the Afghan Jihad,” he said. “The politics of dissent has not just been the domain of political parties.”

In this context, Rehman cited the valiant role of the student organisations, Fehmida Riaz, Shaikh Ayaz, Habib Jalib, and last but not least, women’s organisations like the Women’s Action Forum (WAF). He also showered accolades on journalists and lawyers for their resistance to dictatorial and oppressive regimes.

In essence, Mr Rehman, a redoubtable champion of human rights in Pakistan, was of the view that the late Fatehyab Ali Khan was:

The brightest star in the galaxy of progressive politicians and student leaders, struggling to bring about democracy and socioeconomic justice.

Slightly edited version of article published by the News as Objectives Resolution bade farewell to Quaid’s ideals: IA Rehman.

In Memory of Fatehyab Ali Khan: ‘The Politics of Dissent in Pakistan’

Fatehyab Ali Khan, who served as Chairman of the Council of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs from 1995 to 2009, passed away in September 2010. He was a legendary figure in the public and national life of Pakistan. A visionary in politics, his 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 underprivileged will long be remembered. I. A. Rehman, Secretary-General, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, will address the members of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on ‘The Politics of Dissent in Pakistan’ on Saturday, 24 January 2015 at 4:15 p.m. sharp in the Library of the Institute. The Chairman and members of the Council cordially invite you to attend this session which is being held to honour Fatehyab’s memory and political struggle for democracy.

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 used to be an official), President of Karachi University Students’ Union and Chairman of the Inter-Collegiate Body. He was a brilliant debater.

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

Fatehyab’s greatest contribution to politics came during the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD) as a fearless fighter against Ziaul Haq’s martial law regime. The Mazdoor Kissan Party, of which he was president, was a member of the alliance. 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, trial by a military court and numerous prison terms for Fatehyab.

Whenever he found respite during the 1980s, Fatehyab 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 and other commitments, Fatehyab 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. He followed an open door policy and generously allowed access, especially to young people, to its rich library holdings. Free from traditional prejudices, he was a great supporter of the women’s movement and especially encouraged the young women researchers at the Institute in their careers.

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.

Admired for his cultured and gentle manner, Fatehyab was a literary connoisseur and a lover of all music forms. He was universally respected for his integrity and never compromised on his principles or sought any favours. Wealth and material assets, which bring security to many, meant nothing to him. We will miss his wisdom, civility, and wit – for example, musing about his life, he would smile engagingly and say:

Mein aik nazaryati admi hun (I am a man of ideology).

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.

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