In the Duma introduced a controversial bill to protect journalists

In the Duma introduced a controversial bill to protect journalists

Picket to demand found beaten Kashin

Impunity for perpetrators of attacks on journalists – one of the serious problems in Russia

State Duma deputies on Friday will consider a bill involving increased penalties for attacks on journalists – up to 15 years imprisonment.

"The current penalties for crimes against journalists are not sufficient" – quoted by Interfax one of the sponsors of the amendments to the bill Irina Yarovaya from the "United Russia".

A new bill introduced in 144 of the Penal Code (obstruction of lawful professional activities of journalists "), the third part, which stipulates that if the offense is committed with violence dangerous to life or health, or the threat of such violence, the perpetrator could face deprivation liberty from 6 to 15 years.

In addition, the document sets out the responsibility for the fact of the use of violence to obstruct the activities of a journalist.

Now, for violence against media workers, that will not cause harm, or caused minor injury, faces from 2 to 5 years Imprisonment. Under current rules now, this crime May Not result in Imprisonment.

The document was submitted to the Lower House on the initiative of Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ).

The reason for this Has Been a series of attacks on Russian Journalists. Among the latest Incidents – Brutal Beating of a Correspondent of the Newspaper "Businessman" and the well-known blogger Oleg Kashin on the Night of November 6.

The journalist Received a Concussion, He HAD a Broken Finger, Leg and Jaw. Kashin underwent Several Operations.

Opinions in the journalistic Community about the Bill is divided. Some Welcome the new Legislative Initiative, others Fear That Will Expose These amendments Journalists’ Relatives.

Expectations and fears

If perekosobochit legislation so that an attack on a journalist would be considered a felony, and assault on journalists’ children, parents, wife, his girlfriend would be considered disorderly conduct – this is where it all shut up

Valery Panyushkin,
journalist

"A journalist – he certainly must be counted among the public figures, and the attitude to him in the society should be, respectively, to create a normal environment around the work of journalists. If such a law is passed, the law enforcement services will be in a different way to relate to these crimes, "- said in an interview with BBC chairman of the Russian Journalists Union Vsevolod Bogdanov.

Glavred Kommersant’s Mikhail Mikhailin his part expressed his doubts about the need for additional legislation to protect journalists.

"I believe that the current law is enough for the state to protect its citizens, who are its taxpayers. The main thing is that the punishment was inevitable for their crimes against the person. Stronger or weaker than to punish … two or three years difference in a big role do not play "- he said in an interview with the BBC.

In addition, Glavred Kommersant noted with regret that the authors of the bill did not discuss the amendments with the professional community.

"Journalists’ Union did not consult with us. It is a strange organization that is taking some action without consulting with the department. At the publishing house" Kommersant "no one asked his position, Alexei Alekseevich Venediktova Nobody asked, but he is against. I do I do not know what the reaction would be in the society after this law is adopted and reviewed, "- said Mikhailin.

Journalist Valery Panyushkin criticized the initiative of deputies, which may, in his opinion, endanger the children of journalists.

"Stop mad! If perekosobochit legislation so that an attack on a journalist would be considered a felony, and assault on journalists’ children, parents, wife, his girlfriend would be considered disorderly conduct – here is everything and shut up" – wrote in his column Panyushkin on Radio Liberty.

Russian human rights activists call one of the main problems in Russia impunity for perpetrators of killings and attacks on journalists.

Taliban impostor — consequences and rebuttals

Taliban impostor — consequences and rebuttals

By Ali K Chishti

In what has been described as the biggest mishap of the century, which could potentially cost the US and NATO billions of dollars and thousands of lives, the chief negotiator of the Taliban that the US, Afghanistan and NATO were resting all their hopes on turned out to be a “hoax”. The US gave a man claiming to be Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansur, Mullah Omar’s number two, “a lot of money” to engage in talks. He was also flown to Kabul to consult with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace. Karzai, terrified of looking like a laughingstock, denied the meeting.
Daily Times has obtained a version from the Quetta Shura, in which they denied any talks or links with NATO and denied having received any money from the alliance. The Quetta Shura, which is now based in Karachi, confirmed that Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansur “is in safety and had never negotiated with the Americans and the West. Only Mullah Muhammad Omar is entitled to sanction such negotiations. We will only talk after the full withdrawal of NATO and US troops from Afghanistan,” confirmed Zabiullah Majahid, the Taliban’s spokesman.
Mullah Mansur is a well-known Taliban leader and has a high profile job in the movement’s cabinet. It is not clear as to why officials would have had such a difficult time identifying him. There are a number of former Taliban in parliament and in the 70-member High Peace Council recently formed by Karzai to find a political solution to the insurgency. It was reported that the man was believed to be a shopkeeper in Quetta.
Although quite senior in the Quetta Shura, Mansur was not promoted to second-in-command of the shura following last February’s arrest of Abdul Ghani Baradar in Pakistan. The Afghan Taliban’s number two leader was arrested in a joint raid with the CIA. Mansur was passed over in favour for Maulvi Zakir Qayyum — a former Guantanamo detainee. Released into Afghan custody in 2007, Qayyum was freed four months later and rejoined the Taliban.
While different versions of the identity of the so-called ‘Taliban impostor’ are being discussed, Daily Times can confirm that some sections of the US military in Afghanistan knew about the real identity of the Taliban impostor from the start, but deliberately kept quiet. The idea was to ‘wait and watch’, while the real agenda was to prolong and sabotage the 2014 withdrawal date announced by US President Obama and recently decided in Lisbon at the NATO conference.
So who was the ‘Taliban impostor’?
“Someone the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) groomed to delay and counter check us,” a senior member of NATO in Afghanistan told Daily Times.
“We are on top of things. We know where the guy went to and deposited those briefcases,” he said.
On a different side on the border in Pakistan, the intelligence community and the ISI denies these claims, calling them “ridiculous”.
“Its there own failure, not ours”.
While it may be true that such an implant could be an intelligence asset of a rival intelligence community, it also reflects the nature of the US-Pak relationship of acute mistrust and conflicting strategic interest in Afghanistan.
The whole ‘Taliban imposter’ episode also brings to light the dubious role of the US and NATO in Afghanistan and especially that of General Petraeus.
Petraeus has been able to reap the political benefit from the fact that most journalists and the US political elite believe that it was Petraeus’ maneuvering, combined with the surge, that produced the Sunni turn towards cooperation against al Qaeda in Iraq. But the Petraeus success formula in Iraq had largely been mythical, where a lot of his critics believe that in Iraq, the Sunnis had begun shifting towards joining anti-al Qaeda militias before Petraeus took over command in February 2007.
In Pakistan last week, US President Barack Obama’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, played down reports that senior Taliban leaders were holding talks with the Afghan government.

Analysis: US Carrier Visit A Dilemma For China

USS George Washington

Analysis: US Carrier Visit A Dilemma For China

CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press

Posted: 7:31 am PST November 26, 2010Updated: 7:55 am PST November 26, 2010

BEIJING — This weekend’s arrival of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Yellow Sea poses a dilemma for Beijing: Should it protest angrily and aggravate ties with Washington, or quietly accept the presence of a key symbol of American military pre-eminence off Chinese shores?

The USS George Washington, accompanied by escort ships, is to take part in military drills with South Korea following North Korea’s shelling of a South Korean island Tuesday that was one of the most serious confrontations since the Korean War a half-century ago.

It’s a scenario China has sought to prevent. Only four months ago, Chinese officials and military officers shrilly warned Washington against sending a carrier into the Yellow Sea for an earlier set of exercises. Some said it would escalate tensions after the sinking of a South Korean navy ship blamed on North Korea. Others went further, calling the carrier deployment a threat to Chinese security.

Beijing believes its objections worked. Although Washington never said why, no aircraft carrier sailed into the strategic Yellow Sea, which laps at several Chinese provinces and the Korean peninsula.

This time around, with outrage high over the shelling, the U.S. raising pressure on China to rein in wayward ally North Korea, and a Chinese-American summit in the works, the warship is coming, and Beijing is muffling any criticisms.

"One of the results of North Korea’s most recent belligerence has been to make it more difficult for China to condemn U.S. naval deployments in the East China Sea," said Michael Richardson, a visiting research fellow at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. "I think China must be quietly cursing North Korea under their breath."

China’s response has so far been limited to expressing mild concern over the exercises. A Foreign Ministry spokesman on Friday reiterated Beijing’s long-standing insistence that foreign navies obtain its permission before undertaking military operations inside China’s exclusive economic zone, which extends 230 miles (370 kilometers) from its coast.

It wasn’t clear where the drills were being held or if they would cross into the Chinese zone.

The statement also reiterated calls for calm and restraint but did not directly mention the Yellow Sea or the planned exercises.

State media have been virtually silent. An editorial in the nationalistic tabloid Global Times worried that a U.S. carrier would upset the delicate balance in the Yellow Sea, ignoring the fact that the George Washington has taken part in drills in those waters numerous times before.

North Korea, by contrast, warned Friday that the U.S.-South Korean military drills were pushing the peninsula to the "brink of war."

A more passive approach this time helps Beijing raise its credibility with Washington and trading partner South Korea, and puts North Korea on notice that its actions are wearing China’s patience thin.

"The Chinese government is trying to send Pyongyang a signal that if they continue to be so provocative, China will just leave the North Koreans to themselves," said Zhu Feng, director of Peking University’s Center for International and Strategic Studies.

Sending signals is likely to be as far as Beijing goes, however. China fears that tougher action – say cutting the food and fuel assistance Beijing supplies – would destabilize the isolated North Korean dictatorship, possibly leading to its collapse. That could send floods of refugees into northeastern China and result in a pro-U.S. government taking over in the North.

"What China should do is make the North Koreans feel that they have got to stop messing around," Zhu said.

China may also be mindful of its relations with key trading partner Seoul, strained by Beijing’s reluctance to condemn Pyongyang over the March ship sinking. Raising a clamor over upcoming drills in the wake of a national tragedy would only further alienate South Korea.

Beijing’s mild tone also shows its reluctance to spoil the atmosphere ahead of renewed exchanges with Washington. President Hu Jintao is scheduled to make a state visit to Washington in January hosted by President Barack Obama – replete with a state dinner and other formal trappings that President George W. Bush never gave the Chinese leader.

Before that Gen. Ma Xiaotian, one of the commanders who objected to the George Washington’s deployment earlier this year, is due in Washington for defense consultations. Those talks are another step in restoring tattered defense ties, a key goal of the Obama administration.

Chinese fixations about aircraft carriers verge on the visceral. U.S. carriers often figure in Chinese media as a symbol of the American government’s ability to project power around the world. The Chinese navy is building a carrier, and keeping U.S. ones out of China’s waters is seen as rightful deference to its growing power.

The U.S. is worried about a key principle: the U.S. Navy’s right to operate in international waters.

While China doesn’t claim sovereignty over the entire Yellow Sea, it has become assertive about its maritime territorial claims and sensitive to U.S. Navy operations in surrounding waters. In the South China Sea, which China claims in its entirety, China has seized foreign fishing boats and harassed U.S. Navy surveillance ships.

In light of such trends, China’s protests of the September drills virtually compelled the U.S. Navy to send the George Washington this time, said Alan Romberg of the Stimson Center think tank in Washington, who met with Chinese military commanders in the summer.

"The People’s Liberation Army thinks it achieved an initial victory in keeping the U.S. from deploying the George Washington in that first exercise. That guarantees that the George Washington will go there at some point, probably sooner rather than later," Romberg said in an interview in September.

Even if China’s reticence holds this time, Beijing is not likely to cede the U.S. Navy carte blanche to range throughout the Yellow Sea.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei has stated that China’s stance on U.S. naval action in the Yellow Sea remains unchanged. The politically influential and increasingly vocal military is also likely to keep the pressure on the leadership to take a firm stand.

Any affront to Beijing’s authority or intrusion into Chinese territorial waters would inflame the Chinese public and require a government response, said Fang Xiuyu, an analyst on Korean issues at Fudan University’s Institute of International Studies in Shanghai.

"We hope that the U.S. can exert restraint and not cross that line," Fang said.

___

EDITOR’S NOTE – Christopher Bodeen has covered Chinese foreign policy in Beijing and Shanghai since 2000.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

China issues warning ahead of U.S.-South Korea drills

China issues warning ahead of U.S.-South Korea drills

Main Image

People look as smoke rises from South Korean Yeonpyeong Island after being hit by dozens of artillery shells fired by North Korea November 23, 2010 in this picture taken by a South Korean tourist.
REUTERS/Yonhap

 

By Ju-min Park and Miyoung Kim

SEOUL | Fri Nov 26, 2010 9:50am EST

(Reuters) – China warned on Friday against military acts near its coastline ahead of U.S.-South Korean naval exercises that North Korea, days after shelling a South Korean island, said risked pushing the region toward war.

Beijing’s warning came as the Seoul government named a career soldier as its new defense minister amid mounting criticism of the response to Tuesday’s attack by North Korea, its heaviest bombardment since the 1950-53 Korean War.

North Korean artillery shells rained down on the small South Korean island of Yeonpyeong on Tuesday, killing four people and destroying dozens of houses.

"The situation on the Korean peninsula is inching closer to the brink of war due to the reckless plan of those trigger-happy elements to stage again war exercises targeted against the (North)," the North’s official KCNA news agency said.

The aggressive language is typical of North Korean state-owned media, but the heightened tension was enough to depress the won as much as 2.2 percent. The stock market closed 1.3 percent down, in line with the wider region.

The United States is sending in an aircraft carrier group led by the nuclear-powered USS George Washington to the Yellow Sea for military exercises with South Korea starting on Sunday.

Planned before this week’s attack, the four-day maneuvers are a show of strength which, besides enraging North Korea, have unsettled China, its neighbor and only real ally.

"We oppose any military act by any party conducted in China’s exclusive economic zone without approval," China’s Foreign Ministry said in an online response to a question regarding China’s position on the George Washington participating in joint naval exercises.

The exclusive economic zone is a maritime zone up to 200 nautical miles from a country’s coast.

Washington is pressing China to use its influence to rein in Pyongyang to help ease tension in the world’s fastest-growing economic region.

GOVERNMENT CRITICISED

South Korea’s presidential Blue House appointed Kim Kwan-jin, 61, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, to replace Kim Tae-young, who had tried to resign the defense portfolio in May following criticism of the government’s response to a torpedo attack on a South Korean warship blamed on the North.

"(We) think nominee Kim, well-respected for professionalism and conviction, is the right person for the post in order to restore trust from people and boost morale in the entire military," presidential secretary Hong Sang-pyo told a news briefing.

There was brief panic in the capital Seoul in the afternoon when television reported sounds of artillery fire near Yeonpyeong. But the military said the artillery fire was distant and no shells landed in South Korea.

"Investors are growing more jittery ahead of the joint military exercise," said Kim Hyoung-ryoul, a market analyst at NH Investment & Securities. "The key concern is, whether North Korea will again take unforeseen, rash actions."

Reclusive and unpredictable North Korea has defied international efforts to halt its nuclear ambitions. But Tuesday’s artillery barrage was a major ramping-up of tension between to two Koreas, who remain technically still at war.

South Korean troops fired back 13 minutes later, causing unknown damage. Members of Lee’s own party and opposition lawmakers accused the military of responding too slowly.

Hundreds of former South Korean soldiers held a protest rally in the border town of Paju on Friday, accusing the government of being too weak. A small anti-North Korea protest was held in Seoul.

"The lazy government’s policies toward North Korea are too soft," said Kim Byeong-su, president of the association of ex-marines, in Paju. "It needs to take revenge on a bunch of mad dogs."

(Additional reporting by Yoo Choonsik, Jack Kim and Jeremy Laurence; Editing by Nick Macfie and Alex Richardson)

The Perfect Division of Pakistani Society

The Perfect Division of Pakistani Society

Peter Chamberlin

“When asked what he aspires to become in the future, Wasifullah replies ‘God willing, I will join the Taliban.’

In what some ways represents the burgeoning civil war within Pakistan, Wasifullah’s best friend Abdurrahman believes it’s the Taliban who are responsible for the destruction.”

This quote, from two boys from the Kachegori IDP (internally displaced persons) Camp in Peshawar reveals perfectly the awesome split, running down the middle of Pakistani society, much more clearly than any attempted explanation that could be given. The Pakistani people are of two minds, both of them extremely patriotic, one school of thought blames the local terrorists for all their grief, the other side insists that it is the military which has killed their loved ones. Outside forces, which are hostile to Pakistan’s survival, have every intention of aggravating those divisions to the point of civil war.

The Christian Bible has a teaching: “A house divided against itself shall not stand.” This is the reality that the people of Pakistan today; in order to avoid the bottomless pit of civil war they must find ways to work through those differences of opinion.

The greatest threat to Pakistan’s survival is not the Taliban, or the Americans, or even those sneaky Indians—the most deadly force you face is your willingness to see everything in black and white. In an environment where so many people seem so certain about the source of their common misery, even though half of the country disagrees with them, there is no such thing as “benefit of the doubt.” You are right and the other guy is absolutely wrong. Something has to give—there has to be room for another possible explanation to be discussed. Until then, you face grave danger from certain dark quarters. Someone has to tear-down the barricades which divide the two camps.

From our experience in our own Civil War, Americans can tell you the truth about the power of differences of opinions, differences so great, that one side feels compelled to take-up arms to force submission from the other side over the primary issues, while the other side is eager to do the same. Soon, you too, will hear the tanks and jackboots marching through your streets, pretending that they are defending your free Republic from subversion. Americans will soon hear the same sounds in our own streets, as the avoidable issue of martial law becomes an inevitable consequence of our reactionary avoidance of the dark forces rising amongst us.

Like you, we too, have to gird ourselves for our own patriotic battlefield of opinions, as we, who refuse to submit to the omniscient State, must defend American ideals from those who believe in the lies of he State, and stand ready to fight against our own ideas as a form of subversion. The world is caught between those who believe that war is the answer to everything and those like myself who believe that war is the answer to nothing.

The schizophrenic nature of Pakistani public discourse (or public discourse in any of the frontline countries) is quickly revealed by a quick perusal of articles and comments to them in Pakistani papers. Comments from the people are sharply divided by a line of false “patriotism,” with people on one side clearly defending the Army as Pakistan’s great patriotic hope against either the terrorists or the Americans, and folks on the other side see the Army violating the basic human rights of thousands of Pakistani citizens instead of protecting them, making the Army the greatest threat to the Nation.

With the Army in virtual control of all of society, it is no small thing to publicly accuse the Army of killing Pakistanis. To do so will quickly get you “disappeared.” The same can be said about publicly speaking-out against the Taliban—it will also get you killed. Why look to blame either America or India for the killing of ordinary Pakistanis, when you can stand in the middle of the street and slander both India and the United States at the top of your lungs and no bullets will fly at you—but you might just get a few handshakes or hugs.

While it is certainly true that both India and the United States have been hiring lots of people to wage war inside Pakistan, those people were all Pakistanis—Pakistanis waging war against their fellow Pakistanis. The point is, hundreds, or thousands of Pakistanis have been willing to kill their countrymen for a few bucks, all for a cause that most of them probably felt no kinship for. How easy would it then be for the Imperial powers to pay these mercenaries just a little bit more to ignite open civil war?

The greatest danger to Pakistan’s pressure-cooker national scenario is not so much from the dangerous differences in opinion, the real, impending danger is from those who would pay enormous sums to push a few provocateurs across that dangerous dividing line.

It is against this great provocative danger that the real patriots of Pakistan must organize and find ways to heal the great rifts which have been created and amplified. Take away the magnifying glass which the great powers use to amplify the natural divisions occurring among you. Stop the fight over who is to blame for the terrorism afflicting the Pakistani people, whether it is the Army or the Taliban and recognize the American influence in each organization. Stop teaching your children your own prejudices. Learn to see beyond the divisive labels. You need to organize to stop the violence—all of the violence, all kinds of political or religious violence.

The war on terrorism must take a new turn in Pakistan, onto a road of peace. You must fight the spirit of war with the desire to wage peace. Waging peace isn’t just an old hippie phrase dusted-off for our era; it is a meaningful life change. Waging peace has nothing to do with armaments; it is a struggle to change human behavior itself. It is a concept found in the Christian Bible, just as it is in the life-altering teachings of the Quran. It is the personal jihad, “the ijtihad,” or struggle against the self. It is our selfless better nature waging war against the primal reactions of the primitive “self.”

We must fight the urge against violent reactions to our own opinions that are so alien to our own that they drive us to madness. Everyone understands this urge, to silence those “ignorant” fools who encourage opinions that we consider to be harmful to our own causes. In any election season, we are all certain to encounter loud, obnoxious, ”talking-heads,” who we would like to shut-up. It is the urge to react in the face of obvious, even dangerous, ignorance, that we all must struggle against.

We must follow the civilizing urge, instead of the emotions of the inner cave man. Only in this way can we wage peace against those who have their rifles ready at hand. What Pakistan needs is a peaceful agitation, an arousal of the patriotic urge to defend Pakistan against all adversaries, even from the State itself.

In a normal article or essay of this type, it would be unavoidable, at this point, to go off in a tangent, producing a stream of facts to support my position, but that is not what is needed here.

Those who find themselves caught-up in the argument to either defend the Pak Army, or to castigate it, must break free from the swift currents of national debate over this, a very large side issue. The real issue here, the ONLY issue here, is the survival of Pakistan as a cohesive state. The Army is NOT the issue, unless it surrenders Pakistan itself to the tender mercies of the controlling, interfering powers. If Kayani has surrendered to an American invasion, then he will have made himself the greatest obstacle to your self-preservation as a free people. In which case, the people would be correct to turn against the Army.

Whether or not the normally inscrutable general has surrendered to Petraeus’ demands and opened a new war front in North Waziristan and accepted widening the NATO offensive into the Tribal Regions, remains to be seen. That is your problem to figure-out, only you must do it before it actually plays-out. Such is the nature of subversive patriotism—Who really defends the homeland and who works for the Empire?

“How do we save the Islamic Republic from the war against Islam?” This is the vital issue that all sides must begin to see in the stark light of blinding reality. If you activate the citizen democracy over saving the state, then you can attend to first issues first, followed later by efforts to resolve the many side issues which are now being used by the hostile powers to blind you. Democratic action will have given birth to a flowering Islamic democracy—an impossible contradiction, according to many knowledgeable experts.

The Empire wants your minds. It is on that mental battlefield where your greatest struggles await.

peterchamberlin@naharnet.com

The “Adiala 11″ Disappeared Were Suspects in GHQ Bombing and Musharraf Assassination Attempt

[This means that this Lashkar e-Jhangvi, “Amjad Farooqi Cell has once again been brought back from the point of certain doom by shadowy government agents.  One would think that the Pakistani people would grow weary from this constant reviving of “dead” terrorists, over and over, to take the state terrorism in Pakistan to the next level.  Rest assured, the men who were taken from that Rawalpindi jail are perfectly safe and warm, nestled in the bosom of the protective ISI.]

‘Weak’ state and ‘disappeared’ people

Both the ISI and Military Intelligence (MI) have denied that they took away the acquitted men.

The attorney general of Pakistan has told the Supreme Court that the country’s intelligence agencies “could not be made respondents in any case.” He was speaking in connection with the ‘disappearance’, from Adiala jail in Rawalpindi, of 11 men acquitted by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) before they could be released. There was some evidence that they were handed over to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Both the ISI and Military Intelligence (MI) have denied that they took away the acquitted men.

Significantly, the men had been arrested and tried on the charge of an attack on the GHQ earlier this year, as well as an attempt on the life of former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. Now it is a case of habeas corpus, similar to the case of the ‘disappeared’ people that the honourable Court is pursuing, given the fact that habeas corpus is the foundation of criminal law and ensures legal process. If there is no habeas corpus, the state allowing people to be arrested without being presented before a court of law is often called fascist.

In Pakistan, ‘disappearance’ is said to be of two kinds. The first is the incompetence of the prosecuting agencies — the 11 men of Adiala jail were improperly ‘sued’ according to the attorney general — which has caused the release of known terrorists who have been killed after being released. The courts are not to blame: they must apply the principle of guilty beyond a shadow of doubt to all comers. And that applies to ATCs as well. The second reason is that terrorists are able to intimidate the legal and executive bureaucracy in letting them go. There are numberless cases where known killers were let off because the witnesses either mysteriously died or were cowed into reneging. There have been, no doubt, cases where the magistrate, unsure of state protection, saved his life by acquitting the killer.

The Supreme Court’s effort at putting the country back on the rails of habeas corpus is meritorious, but is increasingly coming up against the state’s much weakened writ in the face of terrorism. It has particularly faced a tough situation in Balochistan where the ‘disappeared’ people have belonged to all kinds of categories — members of private armies involved in acts of terrorism; people scared into escaping into Afghanistan during the insurgency; and those picked up by the security agencies — backed not so much by the legal community as by sub-nationalism in the province. Wherever in the world there has been uprising against the state, disappearances have been experienced.

The largest disappearances in per capita terms have been in Sri Lanka: 3,000. In Indian Punjab, thousands of secret cremations of individuals killed in police custody throughout the 1980s have been uncovered in just a single district. This is true of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh too. In Kashmir, in 1989 alone, some 7,000 people disappeared at the hands of Indian security forces. The United States organised the Guantanamo Bay camp to avoid habeas corpus. Aafia Siddiqi was not charged as an abettor of al Qaeda because that would have obliged the American government to produce 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Muhammad — currently at Guantanamo — in a New York court. Cases proliferate in Afghanistan, Bhutan and in the Chittagong Hills in Bangladesh.

Letting terrorists go can be lethal. Abdullah Mehsud, let off from Guantanamo Bay, went on a killing spree in Pakistan, abducting and killing Chinese engineers working in Tribal Areas. Shia leader Hasan Turabi was killed in Karachi in 2006 after he warned that terrorists let off recently by the Sindh High Court will kill him.Speaking to Newsweek Pakistan (November 15), Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer complained that “the people suspected of involvement in the murder of the surgeon-general of Pakistan, the attempts on Musharraf, the attack on the GHQ and the attack on the Danish embassy have all been released”. There is the quaint example of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi killer Malik Ishaq whom the Punjab government keeps in custody but pays his family for it because he has been released by the court!

Demanding habeas corpus is the court’s effort to bring the country back to normal. But the process of bringing this ‘weak’ state back to normalcy requires fighting the armed terrorist who thrives on the basis of intimidation. There are two kinds of states in the ‘weak’ category: the ones that belong to the Third World roll call of disorganisation; and those that have lost their writ to embedded terrorists. Pakistan’s writ is lowest among the Third World category of disorganised states, and that too after counting Afghanistan and its warlords. There is practically no writ outside a couple of cities in Balochistan; there is no writ in most of Tribal Areas, federal and provincial; there is partial writ or ‘shared writ’ in such settled areas as Kohat and Hangu in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

There are alarming comparisons here, and they outmatch other states in South Asia. Cities like Peshawar and Karachi are at the mercy of terrorists and criminals who have adopted the modus operandi of the terrorists. They have no-go areas where security agencies too are attacked. There are no-go areas in a part of interior Sindh where tribal wars take place while the police stand aside and watch. There is a 75-kilometre long stretch of River Indus before it falls into the Indian Ocean where only dacoits rule and make people disappear in Karachi for money. The dacoits from this no-man’s land actually own entire communities in Karachi where some of the ‘goths’ they established have been regularised as towns by the government.

Yet the Supreme Court’s campaign to make state agencies answerable for the people they pick up is praiseworthy and the support it has in this regard from the entire world is justified. There are additional matters pertaining to the competence of state authorities, hardened by past immunity, that are also coming to the fore. Intelligence agencies have agreed to talk to the Supreme Court to explain their position. That is the right way to go. No one is above the law.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2010.

Pak intelligence agencies “cloaked in veil of impunity”

Pak intelligence agencies “cloaked in veil of impunity”: Pak editorial

From ANI

Islamabad, Nov 26: Referring to the case of eleven missing prisoners of Adiala Jail, allegedly abducted by Pakistani intelligence agencies, a newspaper editorial has stated that these spy agencies of have once again "cleverly cloaked themselves in a veil of impunity".

"Pakistan’s intelligence agencies seem to think they are above the law. This could not have been more obvious in the case of the 11 missing prisoners who were allegedly picked up by our agencies from the Adiala Jail," said the Daily Times editorial.
It quoted Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq’s written reply to the Supreme Court (SC) on behalf of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI), as saying: "It is stated stance of answering respondents that the alleged detained prisoners are not in their custody."
In a separate reply, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) claimed the same. However, Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry, taking a tough stance, took umbrage at the ISI and MI’s reply that "an office cannot be sued. The proper party is the Federation of Pakistan through the secretary of relevant ministries".
On being prodded by the Chief Justice, Haq revealed there was no specific law under which the secret agencies were functioning, and that under Section 29 of the Civil Procedure Court, notices could be issued to the federation.
At this, the Chief Justice said the Civil Procedure Court was a subordinate legislation, while the apex court had wider jurisdiction and could issue notices to anyone, adding that no one was above the law.
"Prima facie you know about the evidence in the case, and being a high law officer, it’s your responsibility to assist the court and resolve the matter amicably," Chaudhry said.
Taking note of killings in Balochistan, the editorial said: "When extra-judicial killings are being carried out by these agencies, there is sufficient suspicion to believe that the Adiala Jail inmates are in their custody as well. It will be a real test for the judiciary to prove its mettle if it can take the security agencies to task."
It recalled that the last time the Chief Justice had threatened to bring the intelligence chiefs to court for questioning in the missing persons’ cases, he was unceremoniously removed by former President Pervez Musharraf.
"But this should not deter CJ Chaudhry who is known for taking bold steps to establish the judiciary’s independence. It is time to put an end to this culture of impunity and the intelligence agencies made accountable for their alleged crimes against humanity," the editorial added.
Copyright Asian News International/DailyIndia.com