Monthly Archives: June 2012

Supreme Court sacks Prime Minister

In an unprecedented show of judicial independence and strength, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has dismissed the Prime Minister Mr Yousaf Raza Gillani for contempt of court. In an earlier post this blog debated what Mr Gillani’s fate might be? Mr Kadri QC and I concluded that by breaching a court order and acting contemptuously, Mr Gillani was destined to get into trouble. And it seems that our prediction was correct! 

Mr Gillani was convicted of contempt and did not appeal the Supreme Court’s decision.

Stripping the prime minister of his office, a measure of last resort used by the judiciary to maintain constitutional order, was a difficult step to take and Mr Gillani’s successor will face the even harder task of writing to the Swiss authorities (pursuant to, and in implementation of, paragraphs 177 and 178 of the NRO Judgment) to restart the corruption cases against the President Asif Ali Zardari and his cronies.

In order to replace Mr Gillani, who will be departing from his official residence today, it is expected that the National Assembly will elect a new prime minister on Friday 22 June 2012.

Exercising its original constitutional jurisdiction, the Supreme Court ordered that:

Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani guilty of contempt of Court under Article 204(2) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 read with section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment till rising of the Court under section 5 of the said Ordinance, and since no appeal was filed against this judgment, the conviction has attain finality. Therefore, Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani has become disqualified from being a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) in terms of Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution on and from the date and time of pronouncement of the judgment of this Court dated 26.04.2012 with all consequences, i.e. he has also ceased to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan with effect from the said date and the office of the Prime Minister shall be deemed to be vacant accordingly

The Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party is pleased with the Supreme Court’s approach to the issue of Mr Gillani’s contempt. No one is above the law: especially not the prime minister. Pakistan’s citizens deserve that people with public power should be held accountable for their actions. Our country’s politicians ought to respect the rule of law and refrain from using the law of the jungle for their own political ends.

A free and fair judiciary is in Pakistan’s interest and decisions such as this one, if consistently made and respected, might help our country restore constitutional order. It is hoped that such actions will help Pakistanis make strides towards freedom.

The people of Pakistan are universally embracing the ruling: they complain that Mr Gillani was not working in the interests of “good governance”. The people, who have no water, electricity, sanitation and food are rejoicing at the prime minister’s demise/dismissal because he failed to act in accordance the constitutional role allocated to his office.

The Court’s Short Order is available below

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Supreme Court condemns Haqqani

On 30 December 2011, exercising its constitutional jurisdiction, the Supreme Court of Pakistan constituted a Commission for investigating the matter of Mr Haqqani’s authorship of a memo which was addressed to the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. The memo was delivered to the Admiral through General (Retired) James Logan Jones (former US National Security Advisor). 

The Commission reported back to the Supreme Court in relation to Mr Haqqani who, in the wake of the memo scandal, resigned as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US on 22 November 2011. The following paragraphs of the Commission’s report were published in the Supreme Court’s Order

Final Conclusion and Findings:

(1) The Hon’ble Supreme Court appointed this Commission to probe, “to ascertain the origin, authenticity and purpose of creating / drafting of Memo for delivering it to Chairman of the Us Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.”

(2) It has been incontrovertibly established that the Memorandum was authentic and Mr. Haqqani was the originator and architect of the Memorandum. Mr. Haqqani Sought American Help; he also wanted to create a niche for himself making himself forever indispensable to the Americans. He lost sight of the fact that he is a Pakistani Citizen and Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States of America, and therefore his loyalty could only be to Pakistan.

(3) Mr. Haqqani’s by offering his services as part of a proposed ‘national security team’ to a foreign government, voicing the ‘great fears’ that ‘Pakistan’s nuclear assets are now legitimate targets’ and thus seeking to bring ‘Pakistan’s nuclear assets under a more verifiable, transparent regime,’ stating that ISI maintains ‘relations to the Taliban’ and offering to ‘eliminate Section S of the ISI and to help ‘ pigeon – hole the forces lined up against your interests’ created fissures in the body politic and were acts of disloyalty to Pakistan, that contravened the Constitution of Pakistan.

(4) The purpose of the Memorandum was to show that the civilian government was friends of America, but needed to be strengthened to prevail upon the army and the intelligence agencies, and to be able to do so American help was required to set up a civilian national security team, to be headed by Mr. Haqqani.

(5) There can be no two views that terrorism must be contested, terrorists fought, nuclear proliferation opposed, civilians (and not the military) determine foreign policy and the ship of State guided by civilian hands at the helm; however, what is not acceptable is for Pakistan’s Ambassador to beseech a foreign government to with impunity meddle in and run our affairs.

(6) We may observe that Mr. Haqqani has chosen not to live in Pakistan, has been working in USA, where he appeared to have made his life, held no property or asset in Pakistan, held no money (save a paltry amount ) in a Pakistani bank, but despite having no obvious ties to Pakistan was appointed to the extremely sensitive position of Pakistan’s Ambassador to the USA, and in addition to being paid a salary and accompanying emoluments was handed a largesse of over an amount of two million dollars a year.

Mr Haqqani was allowed to exit Pakistan with the leave of the Supreme Court and is now expected to return to Pakistan at the agreed time for appearance which, according to the Court, was four days’ time. Under the Order, the case has been adjourned for two weeks’ time.

Opponents of Pakistan’s free judiciary would consider the text of the order to be siding with the military. But it is clear that Mr Haqqani was acting outside of his mission, to represent Pakistan as a sovereign nation, as Ambassador in America. The battle between the judiciary and government will continue and is an interesting contest to observe.

It is pretty disgraceful how people with no real connection to Pakistan can serve in high offices of the state. The Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry CJ presiding, explained at paragraph 7 of the Order that

Prima facie it seems that Mr. Hussain Haqqani, former Ambassador of Pakistan in USA has to answer about the findings so recorded by the Commission. He was allowed to leave the country with the commitment vide order 30.1.2012 that whenever the Court requires, he will appear in person within a period of four days, therefore, we direct his presence on the next date of hearing, which shall be intimated by the office according to the rules.

In the meantime, the people of Pakistan, who suffer the multiple problems of inflation (increasing petrol and food prices) and unemployment will probably just be happy to have some water and electricity to get through the hot summer.

The Court’s Order is available below

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