Monday, January 14, 2008

Democracy is not a box of cookies to be munched on when in the mood. Either we all have it and protect it all the time, or we all risk losing it. There are some Pakistani names Americans who care about their democratic liberties should know. We should know their names, what they have been doing, how they have been treated, and what they stand for…because they stand for ideals we share.

1) Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who resisted Musharraf’s Nov 3, 2007 coup.

2) Muneer A. Malik , ex-President of the Supreme Court Bar of Pakistan, who wrote last summer:

"...what are the objectives of our movement? Firstly, it is about changing the
mindsets of our people. Throughout our history, the masses have viewed the
bureaucracy, the military and the judiciary as part of the same ruling elite,
cooperating with each other to subjugate the people. The minds of the
masses have been inoculated against the concept of true justice. We were
taught obedience at the cost of our liberty and independence.

This mindset
is a hangover from our colonial past. These institutions were created by the
British as a means of controlling the civilian populace. They were manned by
Englishmen from the same background taught to venerate the same ideal — the
preservation of the Raj.

Judges and ICS officers were not meant to empower
the masses and improve their lot, they were there to keep the peace so the
British could continue, unhindered, with their commercial exploitation and
empire building. Likewise, the army’s primary role was internal not external. Their job was to quell local rebellions that could threaten British dominance. Alas! This role remains the same.

Decentralisation and separation of powers were never on the

3) Ishtiaq Hussain Shah, the deputy superintendent of police who was alongside former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s vehicle when she died and who, from his hospital, is reportedly being kept incommunicado.

4) Justice (retd) Rana Bhagwandas of the Supreme Court, who has reportedly just been put under house arrest, despite the official announcement that the emergency martial law period was terminated last month.

There are many more.

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