By SYED ADEEB
(InformPress.com) – Many Pakistani-Americans held a car rally and a
protest demonstration in front of the Embassy of Pakistan in
Washington DC, USA on Wednesday, 11 March 2009 to publicly demand an
independent judiciary; reinstatement of Pakistan Supreme Court Chief
Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and all other illegally deposed
judges of Supreme Court and provincial high courts; freedom for all
Pakistani advocates, political dissidents and civil society activists
recently arrested by the Zardari-Gillani corrupt tyranny; rule of fair
& just laws; human rights; and equal justice for all Pakistani
citizens in Pakistan.
Leaders of Pakistani American National Alliance (PANA), Pakistan
American Democratic Forum (PADF), Human Rights Justice Forum (HRJF),
Pakistani American Citizens Council (PACC), Friends of Pakistan (FOP),
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI VA) and Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N VA-
DC) enthusiastically participated in their car procession and protest
march to express solidarity and support for the lawyers Long March in
Pakistan led by Ali Ahmed Kurd, Aitzaz Ahsan, Muneer A. Malik, Hamid
Khan, Athar Minallah and other eminent advocates.
Pakistani-American community activists – including Agha Khalid Saeed,
Muhammad Ashraf Toor, Muhammad Salim Akhtar, Raja Muhammad Yaqub,
Zahid Hameedi, Mansha Khokhar, Shahzad Chaudhry, Junaid Bashir, Chand
Iqbal Dodhy, Narjis Bokhari Ali and Uzma Qureshi – addressed the
protestors in front of the Pakistan Embassy.
This reform movement for real reforms in Pakistan was oganized by PANA
Executive Director M. Salim Akhtar and HRJF Executive Director M.
Mohsen Bashir. It was endorsed/supported by Friends of Pakistan (FOP)
DC-VA Chapter President Yousuf Choudhry, Pakistani American Leadership
Center (PALC) Director Mossadaq Chughtai, Pakistani American Congress
(PAC) President Khawaja Ashraf, Pakistan USA Freedom Forum (PUFF)
President Mohammad Shafique, PUFF General Secretary Shahid Comrade,
Nationwide President Muhammad Akbar and National Lawyers Guild (NLG)
Mid Atlantic Region Vice President and Rule of Law Institute (ROLI) Co-
Founder, Civil Rights Attorney-at-Law Ryan Allen Hancock.
The caravan of cars traveled from the Smithsonian Institution to the
Voice of America (VOA), to the U.S. Congress, to the U.S. Supreme
Court, to America’s National Press Club, to the U.S. State Department
and then to the Pakistan Embassy.
One PANA poster, with a photo of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry,
pasted on all cars in the car rally states: “President Obama, Win
Hearts & Minds. Support Pakistan’s Independent Judiciary.” Another
PANA poster reads: “Pakistani-American Long March in Washington DC
(From National Mall to Pakistan Embassy) in Support of Long March in
The PANA poster, with a picture of protesting Pakistani advocates,
quotes an excerpt from page 218 of “Pakistan – Between Mosque and
Military”, a book written by PPP envoy to Washington DC Husain
Haqqani, which states: “[Benazir] Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari,
continued his [corruption] business while she was in office and took
an active interest in government contracts involving his friends.
Despite the absence of conflict of interest laws in Pakistan, there
was sometimes a clear sense of impropriety.” The same PANA poster also
quotes former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark as saying to Chief
Justice Chaudhry in a telephone conference call on 16 June 2008: “What
you and your colleagues have done has never been done in the history
of the world. The whole world is indebted to you. Your are an
inspiration to all of us.”
During the protest demonstration, two diplomats of the Pakistan
Embassy, Faqir Syed Asif Hussain (Minister) and Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri
(Counsellor & HOC), came out of the Embassy and talked to HRJF
President Syed Adeeb, PML-N Chicago, IL President Raja M. Yaqub and
several other Pakistani-Americans about various US-Pakistan issues.
Shortly after this 4-hour long assembly of protesters ended, PANA
Chairman Dr. Muhammad Ashraf Toor met with Faqir Syed Asif Hussain
(Minister) in the Pakistan Embasssy. Dr. Toor demanded that the
Pakistan Government must take all legal actions to quickly release
Pakistani political prisoner Dr. Aafia Siddiqui from the U.S. jail,
who was illegally kidnapped from Afghanistan or Pakistan, unlawfully
tortured and illegally charged by the U.S. Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) with some ‘crimes’. Dr. Toor presented the two
PANA posters and the following two PANA documents (a PANA Press
Statement and a Letter of U.S. Congressman Andre Carson) to Faqir
Hussain, who told Dr. Toor that all the PANA papers will be sent by
the Embassy to the Government of Pakistan very soon:
PANA LONG MARCH PRESS STATEMENT:
The Pakistani American National Alliance (PANA), a coalition of
Pakistani-American organizations, has decided to hold US-wide rallies
in support of the independent judiciary movement; also to seek repeal
of Article 270AAA and other illegal amendments [to the Constitution of
In the coming weeks, members of the PANA will hold US-wide rallies,
meetings, seminars, press conferences and teach-ins to inform and
mobilize the international civil society in support of the Pakistani
civil society’s struggle for the rule of law.
PANA is supporting lawyers and civilians in Pakistan who are taking
part in a country-wide protest to demand the reinstatement of senior
judges [unlawfully] sacked by [illegal, self-appointed] President
[Pervez] Musharraf, but have yet to be reinstated by [PPP] President
[Asif Ali] Zardari.
PANA is calling on the Obama Administration and the [U.S.] Congress to
support this week’s “Long March” in Pakistan, a civil society movement
begun in 2007, by expressing consistent support for an independent
judiciary, supremacy of the Constitution, rule of law, due process,
equal justice, transparency and accountability.
On March 12 , the people of Pakistan will be traveling by car
and bus from Quetta and Karachi simultaneously to support the long
struggle, which began in 2007, to repair the nation’s judiciary.
Unfortunately, the Zardari Government has placed all major opposition
leaders under [unlawful] house arrest, imposed Section 144, a
throwback to the British rule over India, to prohibit exercise of the
freedom of expression and “the right to assemble peacefully” as
guaranteed by Article 16 of the Constitution of Pakistan, and to
petition the Government for a redress of major socio-political
Pakistan Peoples Party [PPP], a major party that had imbued the
Pakistani mainstream with progressive ideas and values in the
seventies in now fast becoming a reactionary, repressive and
We call on the Zardari Administration for (1) full and formal
restoration of all judges [unlawfully] deposed by General Musharraf on
November 3, 2007; (2) repeal of unconstitutional amendments
promulgated between Nov. 3, 2007 and Dec. 15, 2007; and (3) retraction
of arbitrary and person-specific clauses in the PPP-proposed
The present struggle for the rule of law in Pakistan marks a defining
moment in the history of Pakistan, akin to the American Revolution,
civil war and the civil rights movement of the sixties. Perceptions
and affinities formed in this process will last for several
It will be disastrous, therefore, for the Unites States to be seen
once again supporting the wrong side and opposing the Pakistan’s march
towards democracy and the rule of law.
We call on the Obama Administration, [U.S.] Congress and all Americans
to stand in solidarity with Pakistan’s civil society movement by
showing consistent expressions of support for an independent judiciary
in Pakistan, supremacy of the Constitution, rule of law, due process,
equal justice, transparency and accountability.
LETTER OF U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ANDRE CARSON
THE LONG MARCH – A CALL FOR THE RULE OF LAW
“As lawyers who value freedom and the rule of law, we at Harvard Law
School want Chief Justice [Iftikhar Muhammad] Chaudhry and all of the
courageous lawyers in Pakistan to know that we stand with them in
solidarity. We are proud to be their colleagues in the cause of
justice, and we will do all we can to press for the prompt restoration
of constitutionalism and legality in Pakistan.” — Harvard Law School
Dean Elena Kagan awarding Chief Justice Chaudhry the Harvard Law
School Medal of Freedom, the school’s highest award, November 13,
I write to draw your attention to the upcoming National March in
Pakistan. The march, led by the Pakistani bar association, continues
the ongoing struggle for respect for the rule of law and an
independent judiciary in Pakistan. On March 12 , lawyers, civil
servants and everyday Pakistanis will march from throughout Pakistan
to the capital of Islamabad to demand the reinstatement of former
Chief Justice Iftikhar [Muhammad] Chaudhry and a government commitment
to respecting the rule of law.
During last year’s constitutional crisis, Chief Justice Chaudhry was
illegally removed from office by former President Pervez Musharraf. In
response to President Musharraf’s unconstitutional and undemocratic
actions, the people of Pakistan, led by Chief Justice Chaudhry, rose
up in protest. As a result, democracy was restored. Although democracy
prevailed, Chief Justice Chaudhry has still not been reinstated to the
Pakistani Supreme Court.
As Pakistan struggles to move back to the vision of its founding
father, renowned human rights lawyer Mohammad Ali Jinnah who
envisioned a democratic state that respects the rule of law and an
independent judiciary, we must remember that the principles being
fought for now in Pakistan are the same as those espoused by our own
nation’s founding fathers. By respecting the wisdom of an independent
judiciary, America has kept a basic promise of our democracy: the
peaceful resolution of disputes by the rule of law rather than by
force, economic sway or appeals to prejudice. A Pakistan grounded in
these same principles represents an opportunity to replace the growing
threats of extremism and terrorism.
US Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts stated, “Every week at
the [Supreme] court, we have a delegation of judges or justices from
an emerging democracy around the world… They are striving to
establish an independent judiciary that can defend the rule of law in
their country. They come to our country, and they come to the Supreme
Court because they draw inspiration from the role and stature of the
Third Branch in our democracy.” On March 12th, I ask each of you to
reaffirm our nation’s principles and ideals and to stand with the
people of Pakistan in their quest for a better, more just and fairer
system of governance.
ANDRE CARSON (D-IN)
Member of the U.S. Congress
Washington DC, USA
[Mr. Syed Adeeb is an investigative journalist, Chief Editor of the
Information Press, TV-Video Documentary Film Producer, IT Consultant
and Human Rights Advocate based in Virginia, U.S.A.
www.SyedAdeeb.net - www.AdeebPress.com - www.AdeebMedia.com -
Thursday, 12 March 2009]
[Copyright: Information Press - www.InformPress.com - 2009 - USA]
PHOTOS taken by M. Mohsen Bashir, Reporter-Photographer – Information
Press – USA.
NLG Philadelphia Chapter:
Pakistan Human Rights
Lawyers in an anti-Musharaf
demonstration © Wally Santana/
Judges, lawyers and human rights activists remain forcefully silenced in Pakistan. General Musharraf continues to refuse to restore the rule of law and to reinstate the judges who were dismissed during a “State of Emergency” (November 3 to December 15 2007). Shamefully, the US government has failed thus far to use its influential position as a major provider of military aid to successfully pressure General Musharraf to revoke the damage he has caused to human rights and civil liberties. A return to full rule of law is essential for restoring democracy, human rights, and stability in Pakistan.
Law students and professionals in the US and around the world have been among the most vocal advocates on behalf of their counterparts in Pakistan. Your voice is critical to maintaining pressure on the government of Pakistan and in shifting American policy.
New! Check out our action pack
- Urge the US Government to pressure Pakistani authorities to reinstate judges and restore the rule of law in Pakistan
- Call on the Senate and the House to speak out about ongoing harassment of judges and lawyers
- Express your outrage to Pakistani authorities over the ongoing shutdown of the independent judiciary
- Become educated about the recent developments in Pakistan and encourage others to take action
Human Rights Concerns
See the interview with Mohammad Akram Sheikh, former President of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association, about the crackdown on human rights in Pakistan.
On November 3, 2007, a “State of Emergency” was declared in Pakistan and much of the Constitution was suspended. Within hours, hundreds of lawyers, human rights activists, and other perceived opponents of General Pervez Musharaff’s government began to be arrested under provisions allowing detention without charge or trial. Courts were expressly prohibited against issuing any order against the President, Prime Minister or any person exercising powers under their authority. Lawyers opposing these measures were arrested en masse, and a number of Supreme Court and Provincial High Court justices were suspended and placed under house arrest for refusing to take an oath to uphold the new Provisional Constitution Order. Meanwhile, human rights activists have also been targeted and imprisoned, and peaceful demonstrations met with violence. All private local and international news broadcasts were suspended, and new laws impose heavy restrictions on all forms of media.
This crisis has occurred amidst longstanding concerns about human rights in Pakistan, including patterns of arbitrary detention, torture in custody, imposition of the death penalty, and abuses committed during the course of the “War on Terror.” Vulnerable and marginalized groups, including women and religious minorities, have faced particular threats. As a major recipient of US military aid, Amnesty International USA has also opposed American military assistance that may contribute to these human rights violations. US assistance since 9/11/2001 has totaled about $9.6 billion, plus an additional $5.3 billion in reimbursements for assisting with US military operations in Afghanistan.
» More information
» Take action!
Sisters in Struggle
In 1981 Hina Jilani co-founded the first all-female law firm in Pakistan and later established a women’s legal aid program for Pakistani women, including for those seeking to divorce abusive husbands. As a result Ms. Jilani became the target of violent attacks, including the “honor killing” of a client in her office. In recognition of her work, she was appointed the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, and won a Ginetta Sagan Award from Amnesty International USA in 2000. Amnesty International has worked for many years to ensure that Ms. Jilani and others like her are able to carry out their work freely and safely.
On 3 November 2007, following the crackdown on perceived political opposition in Pakistan, a 90-day order was issued to detain her. She happened to be visiting London at the time, so managed to avoid arrest. Following outcry from Amnesty International and others, the detention order against her was lifted and she was able to return home safely.
View Hina Jilani’s comments on the November 2007 Crackdown »
Ms. Jilani’s sister, Dr. Asma Jahangir, was among those placed under house arrest in early November. Dr. Jahangir is Chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP); she has also been appointed UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, serves on the Board of Directors of the International Crisis Group, and is co-chair of South Asians for Human Rights. Following international outcry from Amnesty International and others, Dr. Jahangir was released in mid-November. Hundreds of others, however, remain under house arrest, in prison, or have “disappeared.”
Your letters helped to free Dr. Jahangir. Help other victims of the crackdown in Pakistan!