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Dec 8th, 2007

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The Emergency Times Quote of the Day
"Cowardice asks the question "Is it safe?" Expediency asks the question "Is it politic?" And Vanity comes along and asks the question "Is it popular?" But Conscience asks the question "Is it right?" And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right." (Martin Luther King Jr)

Student Action Committee, civil society groups protest arrest of students
Around 100 students from the Student Action Committee Lahore gathered outside the Camp Jail on Ferozepur Road on Friday afternoon, to protest the arrest of their colleagues from outside Justice Shahid Siddiqui's house on Thursday night. The students were joined by several people from the academic and legal community and civil society groups, including Syed Muhammad Shah, Lahore Bar Association president Firdaus Butt, Lahore High Court Bar Association Vice President and Justice (r) Nasira Javaid Iqbal, who were present in support of their cause. The protestors chanted slogans demanding the release of their fellow students who had committed no known crime, as well as slogans chastising the brutality of the Musharraf regime and his puppet judges, on whose orders the arrests had taken place. They also distributed flyers, posters and stickers amongst the ongoing traffic, from within which many people stopped to join the procession. The protestors vowed not to discontinue their vigil until the students and other activists were released. After dispersing, the students chalked up plans to continue their protest in the form of a hunger strike at the Press Club on Saturday.

Victims of Conscience
Thursday, December 06, 2007 The serving of notices to the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) by police in Lahore on Tuesday, informing the administration that at least four faculty members and two students were wanted for questioning regarding charges against them under regulations against assembly and for disturbing public order, indicates that the authorities are unwilling to abandon their ruthless crushing of dissent. The police tactics are part of an obvious effort to intimidate the staff and students at LUMS who have been engaged in civil society's protests against emergency rule and the measures taken under it, since November 3.Barricades were erected on Tuesday outside the university gates to prevent students joining the daily protest for civil liberties held outside the Lahore Press Club. Till now, different groups of students had been taking part in the hunger strike camp set up by journalists and the rallies organized there. A senior police official is also reported to have visited the LUMS campus, and warned people present not to take part in any further protest action, as there were already FIRs against them. The police action created considerable panic on campus – as indeed, it was intended to do. Rumours, which later proved unfounded, of arrests from the campus, added to this. It is obvious that the charges, which include that of wall-chalking, levelled against senior faculty members and students are absurd. It has also been apparent that the involvement of students, not only from LUMS but also other educational institutions, against the curtailment of basic liberties, have taken police by surprise, and fears that the movement could quickly widen have led to the latest acts of harassment. The fact is that the students, and indeed the professors at LUMS, deserve applause for standing up in favour of civil society and against dictatorship and imposition of emergency rule in the country. That they are now Disclaimer: This publication is not affiliated with or does not endorse any political party or social group. It is a humble effort to inspire and make aware- for we together can make a difference in these troubled times. Write to us at theemergencytimes@gmail.com. Our online version is on pakistanmartiallaw.blogspot.com

The News Editorial

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Dec 8th, 2007

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being punished for their stance reflects the true face of authority today in Pakistan. But the fact also is that the protests that have been flickering across civil society, with vigils outside the homes of judges, at the offices of banned television channels and at other places will not easily die away. The 'renaming' of a busy city square along Lahore's Mall Road after deposed chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry by students and lawyers on Dec 4 is just one example of the innovative, and colourful, dimensions assumed by this unusual protest movement. Cowardly actions, such as those taken by police at LUMS, will not be able to easily crush the ongoing campaign. Indeed, the police presence outside the university best depicts the situation of this tussle between state and a peaceful civil society, which has so far refused to be cowed down by the tactics used against it. And, the involvement of students in this effort highlights the fact that Pakistan is fortunate to have young citizens who care deeply enough about their country to stand up for the rights and freedoms of its citizens, even in the face of heavy-handed state repression.

Update on the ‘GOR 10’

Last night, ten people were arrested from outside Justice Shahdi Siddiqui's house at the GOR, Lahore, while holding a peaceful vigil. Amongst those arrested were two FAST students, a LUMS alumnus, Amanullah Kariapper, and a member of the LUMS law faculty, Saima Khwaja. The latter’s brother was also harassed upon requesting to see his sister. Upon hearing the news, about 25-30 students form LUMS left for the Racecourse police station. Civil society activists and lawyers had already assembled outside and were joined by students from LUMS, BNU, and FAST. The protestors chanted slogans, sang songs, and recited poetry after forming a peace sign with candles. About 4 am, it was decided that the crowd should disperse and return with reinforcements at 8am. Once the protesters left, those arrested were moved to an unknown location. After hours of trying to locate them, it was discovered that their hearing was to be held at the Cantt Kutcheri at 11:30 am. The protestors arrived at the kutcheri and learnt that the 'miscreants' had been charged with disturbing the peace. They were not allowed bail. The prisoners were then divided and some were shifted to Kot Lakhpat jail, while others were taken to Camp Jail on Ferozepur Road. The protestors continued their protest outside Cantt Jail, joined by the parents of those arrested, until police pressure became too great to remain. They dispersed and then met at Lawrence Disclaimer: This publication is not affiliated with or does not endorse any political party or social group. It is a humble effort to inspire and make aware- for we together can make a difference in these troubled times. Write to us at theemergencytimes@gmail.com. Our online version is on pakistanmartiallaw.blogspot.com

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Gardens to discuss plans for Monday, specifically for the protest to be held outside the high court to mark International Human Rights Day (10th December).

People’s Protection and Mercy Season
Omer
As the sun sets over 14 Tollington Road, GOR Lahore, outside a posh bungalow, people are chanting slogans against the government and vowing to protect an old, ailing gentleman-judge who has refused to take oath under the much-maligned PCO. The Registrar loyal to the government has threatened eviction, but the people who still consider “Justice Sahab” a legitimate sitting judge of the Lahore High Court stand guard outside the house, at all times of the day and the night. They vow that they shall not let anyone evict the judge. He is under the People’s Protection, as they continue this drama-cum-vigil. Any astute and seasoned observer of Pakistani politics will tell you that in the heart of a leafy elitist district of Lahore, outside a posh residence of a High Court judge, people sitting on charpoys and staging protest is a very surprising phenomenon. But the fact remains that the people are extending support to those who seek it. On God’s earth, there is no protection greater than that offered by his people, when they stand united, and in defense of principles they hold sacred. Today, the public believes that the judges stand for their inalienable rights against an increasingly lawless and barbaric state. The people now believe that protecting the judges is key because it is they who act as society’s bulwark against the fierce onslaught of totalitarianism. It is important to remember that this is not an old phenomenon. People have had a lot of scores to settle with the judiciary. Not long ago, the judiciary was considered part and parcel of the civil-military establishment that upholds the system of capitalist exploitation in this country. The lower judiciary still lingers under that stigma. As for the higher courts, it took no more than a few concerted gestures of honest, principled commitment from a majority of the higher judiciary – and khalq-e-khuda(God’s people) forgave all their past sins. More that that, khalq-e-khuda is actually holding them in a warm, protective embrace. Standing outside the Judge’s residence, today no one would even bear mention of those embodiments of judicial sins that extend from Dosso to Zafar Ali Shah and Nawaz Sharif v State and countless others. Those cases are history, and today is another day. Everyone explains this by saying that this nation has a very limited political memory. I think that the real explanation lies elsewhere. For one, we are a people who were raised to suspect everyone and criticize all. We are given to weaving conspiracy theories, to ridiculing policies, laws, ideas, anything and everything except, of course, if it is an order backed by the threat of immediate sanction from a power that currently prevails. One after the other, the nation’s hopes and the heroes who embody those hopes (political leaders, entrepreneurs, sportsmen, and nuclear scientists) have all been seriously, and often maliciously, discredited. People are desperate for just about any straw of hope that they may cling on to. And if, in such a time of crisis, the higher courts, despite their tarnished history, extend a full helping hand, nay a strong arm, why wouldn’t the people respond. Add to that the fact that in harder times, people, like their God in heavens, become oftforgiving. No one should ignore the public’s new-found, infinitely magnanimous and reconciliatory mood. Talking of reconciliation, it is one thing to reconcile your disputes with the powers-that-be in the state and quite another to seek reconciliation with the people’s fury. In all honestly, the latter is worth more – particularly for any politician or officer of the state with a pretence to serving the people. Now is truly a time of National Reconciliation. The example of the judges proves that God’s people, just like him, have opened the floodgates of mercy. Political parties should not lose this opportunity to clean the very many stains of their past by openly embracing the people’s demand for the restoration of judiciary and Disclaimer: This publication is not affiliated with or does not endorse any political party or social group. It is a humble effort to inspire and make aware- for we together can make a difference in these troubled times. Write to us at theemergencytimes@gmail.com. Our online version is on pakistanmartiallaw.blogspot.com

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fundamental freedoms. It may be a bit premature to say this, but it appears that the same offer is open to the police. If today the people have embraced the higher judiciary, what stops the police from doing a just a little to deserve the same treatment. Even the army and all other organs of the states, who are taking a severe beating in their respective jobs and wouldn’t mind some help, should seriously reconsider their options. Wouldn’t it be better if the strongest state institution of Pakistan, instead of locking horns with the people, joined them in their march towards a better, freer future? A proviso must be added to this discourse: the current Mercy Season may end anytime soon. As soon as the first is fired against them and their first martyr falls, ranks will frozen and people on the other side would be become ‘others’. Any political party or institution of the state that wants to close ranks with people should do it now, when they still can. You can shop for the People’s Protection before blood is spilled; after that, the Sale will be over and the price to pay for missing a historic opportunity will be very high.

Upcoming Events and Information
VIGIL TODAY AGAINST PEMRA ORDINANCES, 5-7 PM, KARACHI PRESS CLUB - GEO BRINGS BANNED TALK SHOW HOSTS BACK ON AIR via satellite; network still blocked on cable in Pakistan - LAWYERS, STUDENTS SENT TO CAMP JAIL LAHORE - The Students Action Committee sit-in and hunger strike for release of 'The Gor 10', at Lahore Press Club 11 am onwards today, Saturday 8 December - BLACK DAY PLANNED FOR MONDAY 10th (Human rights day). Call for a rally at the Lahore High Court by HRCP. (12 pm) - JUSTICE SIDDIQUI STILL IN HOSPITAL; G.O.R. OUT OF BOUNDS FOR `OUTSIDERS' - US-BASED STUDENTS INITIATE AD TO SUPPORT STUDENTS IN PAKISTAN see http://www.actpakistan.org - VIGIL AT SIUT FOR MUNEER A. MALIK - INFORMATION FOR THOSE WANTING TO CONTRIBUTE TO MEDICAL COSTS - DEPORTED FROM PAKISTAN, US PEACE ACTIVIST ARRESTED AT US SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE HEARING ON ASSISTANCE TO PAKISTAN Details at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/beena-issues/message/921

CODEPINK activist Barry arrested in United States
On December 6, Tighe Barry, a CODEPINK activist who along with Medea Benjamin was deported from Pakistan at gunpoint for supporting pro-democracy forces, was arrested at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on US Assistance to Pakistan. Barry and Benjamin, deported on December 5, flew directly to Washington DC to attend this hearing. They had asked for the opportunity to testify about their firsthand experience with the heroism of Pakistan’s civil society and the brutality of the government, but were told that the witnesses had already been selected.

Disclaimer: This publication is not affiliated with or does not endorse any political party or social group. It is a humble effort to inspire and make aware- for we together can make a difference in these troubled times. Write to us at theemergencytimes@gmail.com. Our online version is on pakistanmartiallaw.blogspot.com

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The first to testify was Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs. His testimony was infuriating to Barry, Benjamin and the 10 other CODEPINK activists who were in attendance and holding up signs saying “No Money To Musharraf”. Mr. Boucher gave the impression that Pakistan was on the path to democracy and that our billions of dollars in assistance was being well used. He called the state of emergency a mere “bump in the road.” The travesty of sacking the independent Supreme Court judges and replacing them with Musharraf allies was called a “Supreme Court reshuffling.” While admitting that the elections would not be “perfect,” he asserted that the State Department was working closely with Pakistani officials to ensure that the elections are free, fair, transparent and credible. He went on to say that democracy also requires accountable government institutions, including an independent judiciary, protection of individual human rights, a free and dynamic press, an atmosphere promoting open debate, and a vibrant civil society. “Pakistan is making progress toward those goals,” he claimed. Having just witnessed firsthand the thuggery of Musharraf’s regime, Barry could not believe his ears. He stood up in protest, saying that the Assistant Secretary’s testimony was full of lies. “Musharraf has beaten lawyers and students, destroyed the judiciary, and censored the press,” said Barry. “The U.S. must freeze all funding to this military government until emergency rule is lifted, the independent judiciary is reinstated, the censorship of the media is lifted, and all judges, lawyers, students and human rights defenders are released.” Barry was pulled out of the room, handcuffed, and put in a paddywagon. “I felt compelled to do this for the sake of my friends in Pakistan,” he said, as they took him away. “Pakistanis risk their lives standing up to their government; I have to stand up to mine.” Barry was cited and released, and must appear in Court on December 27 to face charges of Disorderly Conduct.

The Beacons of Hope
THE public does not realise the magnanimity of the sacrifice that some of the judges have made in refusing to take the oath under the PCO. I can tell about one of these judges. Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman took the oath just four days before he refused to take another one under the PCO. He has 11 years to retire. This is just one more sacrifice that he has made for Pakistan. He comes from a leading family of Bengal. His maternal grandfather was the deputy speaker of the Bengal assembly and a big landlord in East Pakistan. His mother lost her inheritance when the family decided to remain loyal to Pakistan instead of shifting to Bangladesh. His father, Justice Hamoodur Rehman, was one of the most honest judges we ever had. He first lost property in Calcutta when he opted for Pakistan. Then he lost property in Dhaka upon opting for Pakistan again. When he retired, he had to work to make his ends meet. This family has sacrificed for Pakistan so many times only because they believe in its ideology. Can the so-called civil society reward such men? AZHAR ZIAUR REHMAN Abu Dhabi ( The above piece was posted on 'Dawn' newspapers' 'Letters to the editor' page of the Dec 7th issue.)

Disclaimer: This publication is not affiliated with or does not endorse any political party or social group. It is a humble effort to inspire and make aware- for we together can make a difference in these troubled times. Write to us at theemergencytimes@gmail.com. Our online version is on pakistanmartiallaw.blogspot.com