Friday, July 29, 2011

A Determined Chief Justice: A Defiant Prime Minister

July 28, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

The tug of war now apace between the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Prime Minister Gilani and the PPP government is for divergent purposes. The Apex court under the chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry with a fame of absolute propriety is determined to uphold the rule of law.

On the contrary, prime minister and some of his ministers are entrenched to thwart the Supreme Court’s decisions and rulings that involve such of their close kith and even themselves.

For instance prime minister’s own son Abdul Qadir Gilani is one of the culprits involved in the huge Haj scandal. The principal character in that abhorrent scam is the former Minister for Religious Hamid Saeed Kazmi charged for money laundering, corruption of mega scale and mismanagement for pilgrims at Mecca.

The prime minister was incensed when in accord with the Supreme Court’s orders; the secretary establishment Suhail Ahmed transferred Hussain Asghar, the investigative officer in the Haj scandal case back to the FIA.

In return the prime minister immediately removed the secretary from the prestigious post and demoted him as an OSD. The Supreme Court has taken a strong notice of that action and has sternly called upon the prime minister to reverse the orders.

As similar situation arose when in the NICL (National Insurance Corporation Limited) corruption case, a former secretary establishment Rauf Chaudhry reinstated Zafar Qureshi additional DIG as the investigating officer. Mr. Chaudhry was also removed from his post and made an OSD.

It is auspicious that the Pakistan’s army is not meddling in these contentious and sordid affairs. The army might be keeping a vigil from a distance but so far all is quiet on their front.

Sometime back, the Supreme Court’s appointed benches had started reviewing the NRO cases that were swept under the carpet of amnesty. The party in power is ambivalent on the Supreme Court’s judgment on NRO and is in no mood to make any headway on the follow up measures.

The PPP government is blowing hot and cold at the same time thus emitting mixed signals of both compliance and non compliance of the court’s ruling. Initially they announced acceptance of the courts decisions what these might be. But the implicit fallout on the ministers accused of misuse of power and bribe, has provoked stiff and defiant reaction from the government.

On the whole the government’s stance has been that the accused ministers will not resign their posts. Their only recourse is left to get themselves bailed out from the relevant courts as law minister Babar Awan had done well in time. The inimitable interior minister Rehman Malik did the same.

But the situation is not that much placid: it is simmering with dormant turbulence that can explode in the time to come. Such a chaos can burst out in case of a clash between the court’s orders and the executive's refusal or foot dragging on complying with those orders.

It is foregone that the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions on various high profile and unprecedented corruption cases has rocked the government and the things are not going to be peaceful or amicable.

The government stalwarts in the recent past had been throwing hints of hostile action or interference by the forces which were outlined as ISI and the army by the then government’s defense lawyer Kamal Azfar.

This disclosure must have created strong tidal waves in the army which has so far demonstrated allegiance to the incumbent government. The pre-emptive apprehensions and anticipatory warning shots by the government look premature and childish.

The case of the defense minister Ahmed Mukhtar is indicative of the government’s resolve to fight back if there was a situation of protecting the common cause and monolithic interests of the ruling cabal.

The defiance bordering on unusual bravado displayed by the so called moderate prime minister in the brief encounter with the journalists in December 2009 betokened the mood of the government.

The prime minister was in an aggressive posture and categorically ruled out the arrest of the NRO affected ministers including the interior minister Rehman Malik. Rehman Malik showed prudence by pledging to respect the court’s proceeding and directions, whatsoever.

The PPP inner cabinet that met from time to time invariably put up defiant postures by hurling accusations at the forces that it alleged was out to derail the democratic process.

The PPP”s claim that it brought the democracy back to Pakistan rings hollow because when the civil society was up in arms against dictator Musharraf , PPP was busy in closed door rooms to strike a bargain with him under the NRO.

The PPP government later remained as hostile to the restoration of the senior judges as was Musharraf. The stormy agitation of the lawyers and political workers and media, sans PPP cadres forced president Zardari, at the last moment, to restore the sacked judges.

So PPP does not have a valid claim of fighting for the revival of democracy and restoration of the removed judges. It did manipulate its victory in the elections that were won on the slogan of changing the status quo, revival of 1973 constitution and making policies for welfare of the people and the country and exposing Benazir Bhutto’s murderers.

However, it didn’t make good its promises made to the people of Pakistan and to its own political allies. Instead it unleashed such governance which was worse even than that of Pervez Musharraf. The PPP”s performance and credentials pose a big question mark.
If PPP delays, defies, sidetracks or hinders smooth compliance of the Supreme Court orders, there is going to be a real problematic situation. If such a standoff takes place and the government keeps sacking the bureaucrats obeying the court’s orders as has been in various cases, then who is going to ensure the respectability for and compliance of the court’s fiat?

Will it be done via street protests by the lawyers, the civil society or through pressure from the armed forces? It is possible that the court in that situation under the constitutional caveat 190 asks the army to pressurize the government for enforcement of the court’s orders with regard to the detention, arrest, or jailing the indicted cabinet ministers or similar stalwarts.

That should be a simple application of pressure by the army and not take-over. As a matter of fact, the Supreme Court can only issue orders. It doesn’t have physical force to get those orders complied with. The army’s pressure can be viewed as a kind of intrusion as variously pointed out by the PPP ministers and party leaders.

The Sindh card is a very clumsy and counterproductive bid to demonstrate PPP’s prowess to counter-attack the political adversaries. But if late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto could not cash on the Sindh card that he had also threatened to use against his incarceration by the military regime of General Ziaul haq, how can Mr. Zardari or PPP burdened with innumerable controversies and myriad corruption scams and bad governance can use it to their advantage.

This would be injurious to the national unity and may even backfire against its promoters. At least MQM would never be part of it because it being an ethnic entity can also become one of its targets.

Presently for all indications the incumbent federal government is under siege. It appears doubtful that despite its making lowly compromises to stay in power, it can complete its term of five years.

In retaliation to the government foot dragging on seriously abiding by the apex court’s various orders, the PFUJ, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMNL) and Imran Khan chief of Tehrik-i-Insaf among other civil society segments have vowed to launch an anti-government movement and in support of the supreme court, for rule of law and constitutional ascendancy.

There is no visible way-out for the government to dither or suppress cases such as Harris Steel Mills case, the Swiss Bank accounts of the president of Pakistan, the Pakistan steel mills sale at throw away price, and later cheap selling if its products to hundreds of buyers causing an accumulative loss of Rs. 43.25 billion from 2009 to June 2011.

The Haj scandal, the NICL gubernatorial money making scam and pending follow- up action on NRO stare in the face of the incumbent government.

In view of the Supreme Court’s blurring verdicts and the pronounced call of agitation by various civil society groups and political parties, the government is proverbially caught between the devil and the deep sea.

If the government keeps bracing against the Supreme Court and goes on stalling the follow-up administrative measures, it has no future.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Someone There to Rescue Pakistan!

July 25, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

Is there someone who can rescue Pakistan and its hapless people from the bloody clutches of Wolves and predators in the garb of humans? A massive deep drift and deadly decay is caving into the fabric of Pakistan and debilitating it like slow poisoning.

If you have a heart then tell me honestly: is it possible to survive in a monthly earning of Rs. 5000(if you have job) in a country where cabbage is 100 rupees a kilo and a watt of electricity cost Rs. 10. On the other far extreme of this bleak sight, there is a prime minister who spends millions on the visit of American philanthropist Angelina Jolie to take her around the shelters of the displaced Pakistanis ravaged by the last year’s flood and living under the open sky.

She was rightfully incensed and left with eerie feelings about the sincerity of leadership in Pakistan. She was stunned to see the extravagant and lavish lives of the people in power, contrasting their starving and hopeless millions. The prime minister threw away millions of rupees on his son’s wedding.

His son is arraigned for a mammoth money scam that is pushed under the carpet in brazen defiance of legal obligations. Every minister is busy in amassing money and making hay during their tenure of power.

There is a president whose pastime is to roam from one world capital to another in presidential jet for purposes that are as questionable and mysterious as his bona-fides. You have a president who is laden with the crime and delinquencies and is scot free. He is totally alienated from the people whom he is supposed to serve. The Pakistan People’s Party that was hoisted to the roost of power on the crest of a people’s revolution is now sunk in the bottomless abyss of wickedness that one can think of.

The government has discovered an easy and most handy way-out to provide more voltage to the harassed people of Pakistan now growing old and shrunken under the sweltering heat and grinding poverty. It is to rent the second hand or used power units from foreign countries. These are leased on unusually high prices that also carry their fabulous commissions.

The burden of payment to the lessor( the seller) and the commission of the lessee (the minister of power or brokers) are passed on to the consumers who are already turning hunchbacks because of unbearable burgeoning economic burdens.

Lawlessness in Pakistan and pointedly in Pakistan’s leading city Karachi seems to be a blood soaked legacy of the Rwandan massacre. There is no let-up in bloodletting between the rival factions or by the trigger happy shooters. One can draw the only conclusion from incessant wanton killings that either the government is an accomplice or it is not concerned about such manslaughters and target killings that have become the order of the day.

Where is the hope for a secure and placid future? The misnomer is being peddled that a worst democracy is better than the best autocracy or dictatorship. Do the people want the incumbent democracy to continue and keep spilling disaster every day, every hour and every minute?

I am indeed very sad and dejected over the spiraling violence that is devouring and swallowing the precious lives of the ordinary citizens without any conscious effort or plan by the government to arrest this frenzied trend and madness escalating horrendously.

The media and judiciary in Pakistan are bracing against the defiance of the government that casts media as anti state and throws supreme courts orders to the winds. How willfully and sarcastically, the administration sets aside, the apex court’s ruling on elephantine cases of corruption, dereliction of duty and gross abuse of power.

There is a litany of such cases where supreme courts have been turned into an institution of ridicule and powerless by the administration by not taking the follow up administrative measures.

Such is the abysmal state of affairs that is getting murkier by the day. Pakistan is turning into a dysfunctional state as life in that country is turning traumatic and unbearable. Agonized and panicked crowd called the people of Pakistan are hankering for water, good sanitation, genuine medicines, cure for their patients, good transportation, affordable prices of commodities, safe environment, speedy decisions, honest and responsible government functionaries such as police officials and officialdom.

Anyone can kill anyone on any pretext with remote chance of the culprits being caught or punished. This is the image and construct of a civil society in Pakistan that is worse than those existing during the middle and dark ages. We in Pakistan have put the gear of governance in reverse order while other nations are rapidly advancing on the path of progress, prosperity, unity and strength.

There is no use of projecting ourselves as nuclear power when the common man is caught in a fatiguing struggle of earning two loaves of bread for his starving children.

Why is the army fighting a war to serve the interests of other nations? It is a supportive fight for establishment of neo-colonialism whose agenda is to establish military bases, capture markets and to further their nefarious objectives of robbing and exploiting the untapped resources of the captive nations for their factories and mills.
The Pakistan armed forces are mandated to protect Pakistan and its people from external aggression. It is not obligated to fight in submission to the wishes and designs of foreign powers that nurse their own blighted concepts of self protection and priorities.

Why should Pakistan a poor and economically weak country become pawn and part of the global diabolic game that is hollowing her from inside like termite and one day the edifice would crumble to the ground?

Can the leaders of Pakistan both in power and out of power think rationally and patriotically to apprehend and foresee the horrendous dangers and threats lurking over its stability and existence? Would they continue their sinister and insidious musical chairs game of intrigue and greed to take turn in ruling the country and grabbing power by foul and dubious means?
Do they realize that Pakistan is in deep and dire straits? Do they have an iota of commonsense to comprehend the hurricanes that are ferociously blowing to tear this country into pieces?

Can they feel the pains and sufferings of the oppressed people of Pakistan passing every day through a life and death ordeal due to hunger, poverty, disease, unbridled and galloping cost of living and scarcity of items of daily use?

Do they know people are losing their lives because of bomb blasts and vendetta killings and gang wars? Do they know young girls are kidnapped on the way to schools and colleges and subjected to rape and sold to prostitute dens? Do they know every day 22000 young boys are molested by the sex predators in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan?

We call ourselves Muslims and that is what the Islamic demagogues exhort us from the pulpit and from lavishly decorated religious congregations, to become. What is the ground reality? These religious orators incite their followers and sect fellows to slander their opponents and even kill them.

These religious zealots never initiate or start a campaign or float a mission against the social crimes, against the blood-thirsty mafias, against the evil doers, the rapist, the thugs, the looters of public funds, the adulterators, the bribe takers and bribe givers, the up to neck corrupt parliamentarians, the easy to buy jurists, the corrupt bureaucrats, the sleazy generals and the robbers occupying the power corridors.
These religious preachers can interpret to hang a powerless woman for adultery but do not want to punish a muscular and powerful man who kidnaps her and ruins her life at gun point or knife. We believe in distorted version of religious injunctions that hardly bring us any relief, redemptions and justice against the heinous culprits. Where are we heading to?

How can a woman produce four witnesses to prove that she was raped or molested? How a young and teen age girl molested by savage men can brace against the perpetrators for dishonoring her? Why, in the first instance, the laws are not implemented in letter and spirit.

If there is something erroneous in these laws and injunctions then we should be able to amend these for the benefit of the weak and the dispossessed.
I have a solution to stem this swelling rot. This would be presented in the next article.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Flaws in the American Justice System


The case of Casey Anthony in which she was acquitted of the murder charge of her young daughter Caylee Marie Anthony, brings into sharp focus the flaws in the American court and justice system. The both prosecution and defense lawyers have been assiduously arguing this case for quite some time. There was a predominant perception that Casey cannot escape the indictment that could be death or at least life imprisonment.

However, the jury acquitted her and she was absolved of the conviction.
While she walked out of the justice net scot-free, the question still remains to be answered who killed the toddler and else whose is responsible for killing the two years old infant. If there is no killer and she was accidently drowned in the pond then someone who hid this part of the story must be held responsible for lying and hindering the process of legal proceedings. If the case is not pursued further, then should it be construed that the murder would be treated as closed or cold case never to be probed? This would be a mockery of the justice and great reprieve to the killer if there is any.

This following article was written some time back to highlight the flaws in the American justice system. The case of Casey Antony reinforces that notion. As such the article with minor modifications is reproduced again.

July 16, 2011
By Saeed Qureshi

The constitution of the United States of America deserves the highest tribute as a beacon of light and a magnificent model for all the democracies in the world. It would continue to serve as an invaluable embodiment of all such hallmarks that constitute civil societies. However, the American justice system is yet to reach a stage of being immaculate.

An observation that I read in the New York Times so succinctly illustrates the way the American Justice is aborted. It says, “The judge’s whim is all that mattered in that courtroom. The law was basically irrelevant." (Marsha Levick, the legal director of the Juvenile Law Center, on two Pennsylvania judges who sent thousands of juveniles to detention centers for $2.6 million in kickbacks).

If any branch of the civil society is enormously independent and truly powerful, it is the judiciary in America. Now I would not endorse the kickbacks blemish but certainly there are dark shades here and there that come in the way of the dispensation of an absolutely unalloyed and sparkling justice.

There is a laudable culture and tradition of strict accountability running into the body politic of the United States. But it is seldom and once in a blue moon that a member of judiciary is held accountable. Judges in the courts are like sovereigns whose every movement of hands and eyebrows, wrinkle of the face and every word uttered and rebukes have to be swallowed by those attending the courts.

Up to this threshold, all the judges and dispensers of justice enjoy massive and rather arbitrary powers all over the world. But in the American courts, it is a different story. If judges’ powers are inhibited by someone it is the jury that has to come up with a unanimous YES or NO verdict.

Based upon jury’s yes or no consensus vote, the judge awards the sentence. But if it is exclusively up to the judge to give a verdict, he is liable to be swayed by many considerations. Now the DNA, a unique and amazing invention of the modern age has proven that many convicts of such heinous crime as rape and murder, who were put to death, were actually innocents.

Some were acquitted due to the timely results of the DNA that showed no link of the convicts with the victims. It unambiguously, goes to establish that there have been some very serious flaws in the U. S. justice system.

The empirical fact is that the prosecution is always overbearing and maintains an upper edge over the defense. Those who were electrocuted or given lethal injection got their sentence because the prosecution was dominant in the court as ever. In courts, what matters is how the lawyers can manipulate the case.

As a casual visitor to the courts for interpretation on behalf of the prosecution or the defense, I have seen some kind of bitter verbal brawls between the prosecuting and defending lawyers. In one of the cases, at the end of the day, a verdict was handed out that stunned the dumbfounded seekers of justice.

The judge swept aside tons of evidence produced by the defense and issued an order that defied all the logic and rationale of the legal debate. No questions asked. Now there are many considerations that weigh heavily in certain cases irrespective of the merits of the cases or the guts of the defense to blunt the argument of the prosecution.

As I have observed, invariably, it is the prosecution that triumphs. In predominant number of cases a plea bargain is the ultimate outcome. It means, “don’t care or press for the merit of the case, get rid of the agony and accept less punishment, in order to avoid more excruciating hassle and waste of time and money”. There is an element of fear lurking behind the verdicts that may not be in accord with the complete fulfillment of the due norms of justice.

Now race or ethnic background might be a very potent factor influencing the verdict of a case. The minority alien communities that are usually involved in violation of immigration rules, overstaying, small felonies as a quarrel between the wife and husband or a theft that can be summarily disposed off, are trapped in an adjudication system between a prosecution and the defense attorneys for years together.

Such cases mostly culminate in plea bargain which means that the accused accepts the charge against him or her. He is offered the plea bargain upon the enticement that thus he could get milder or lesser punishment.

In case of choosing the option of fine to avoid the sentence, another torturous process of rehabilitation starts, leaving a person in a mentally or physically mauled state. In a case that was being adjudicated between a white drunken driver and a turbaned Sikh from India offers a classic example of how the judge cam impose his fiat ultimately. The defense attorney took the whole day to produce eye witnesses to prove that the Indian family was beaten by the white drunken driver.

But in the evening the verdict, to the utter bewilderment, was given in favor of the driver who was not asked a single question b y the judge simply walked out of the court with triumphantly. The judge in one single utterance decreed that he did not believe the evidence or the arguments of the defense attorney.

Now the jury system is a legacy of the past when community involvement was deemed necessary to arrive at a decision. The jury consists of the people invited from various walks of life who would not have enough inkling or rudimentary knowledge of the legal intricacies. They are students, businessmen, employees or individuals from other walks of life.
They are briefed for a limited time both by the prosecution and defense attorneys to formulate a unanimous verdict on which depends the future of the accused person as well as upholding compliance with the imperatives of justice. Prior to the jury verdict, the case keeps lingering some time for years together.

Notwithstanding the debate, the arguments, the evidence, the merits of the cases, if the jury that cannot comprehend the essence of the case in a day or so, declares the person guilty despite being innocent, he or she would be declared as such. Conversely if a man is innocent he can be arraigned and sentenced.

The jury system is indeed like a spanner in the smooth sailing of the justice system because it is superimposed and nullifies all the work done by the attorneys on both the sides. It also makes the judge irrelevant because he is simply a dumb listener as at the end, it is jury’s one word verdict that would be final.

Even if the jury is divided a consensus is necessary to declare someone guilty or not guilty. This is all a matter of persuasion, good luck or bad luck of the accused as to what kind of opinion he gets from the jury.

If it is predominately black or white jury, they might be swayed by the racial or ethnic considerations thus tainting the legal process that should be absolutely fair as upon it, depends the life and honor of a human being or a member of society.

The Sixth Amendment stipulates that, “ In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of the counsel for his defense.”

Now so many individuals accused of fighting against NATO troops in Afghanistan have been languishing in Guantanamo concentration camp. If the incumbent administration tries to initiate their trial after decade of incarceration, the respective states don’t allow that legal process to take place on their soil.

Interestingly those captured at the time of defeat of Taliban were not all the members of despicable Al-Qaida. They were basically Taliban or their civilian cohorts. But the legal process stands so much subverted and tainted that these hapless guys are not being given the chance as per American constitution to be proven guilty or innocent.

The justice has fallen prey to an exuberant emotionalism that defies fair play and hampers due course of justice. Right or wrong, these people deserve benefit of doubt, though some of them might be friends of America.

But one exceptionally distinctive feature of this system is the right to appeal to the upper courts that give an option and a way-out for the aggrieved persons to keep exploring and seeking the justice till the final appeal is rejected or accepted.

On the whole, it is very arduous, time consuming and costly course that the economic immigrants can seldom afford. The overriding spirit and general attitude of the adjudicating authorities is punitive and not forgiving even in minor cases where a simple warning would be enough.

After 9/11 the justice system was given a new meaning and interpretation. The Patriot Act empowered the administration to bend the law in case of the persons who were labeled as enemy combatants. It is primarily for this reason that the Guantanamo inmates some of whom might have been caught by default or were even friends of America could not be prosecuted all these years.

Their trial could not be carried out in New York and in other states because of the deep hatred for these individuals whose crime is yet to be determined. Such are the pressures from the society that can force even setting aside the law to take its legitimate course for determining the culpability of an accused.

The professional ethics among the attorneys, lawyers and interpreters of law, occasionally, seems to fall short of the required benchmarks and norms. As one can look from a distance, there would be an effort by the defense lawyers to prolong the cases as long as they can because thus they keep the inflow of the fees and other charges intact.

If the private doctors are some time accused of charging high fees and keeping the patients on the tenterhooks, the lawyers too try to keep the cauldron of the cases boiling which normally ends at the threshold of plea bargain. These are the aberrations of the justice system that do not reflect any dereliction on the part of the law makers but are at play during its practical implementation.

Now how to expunge such aberrations or lacunas, as a lay man I would recommend doing away with the jury system. I plead this because with raw knowledge in legal matters, with diverse racial and ethnic proclivities and with very little time to understand the intricacies of the case, the jury cannot come up with the right decision.

This custom can be replaced with a panel of judges who as legal experts would be in a strong position to hand out a wholesome decision. If there is more than one judge, the whims and changing moods of one single judge can be effectively checked.

It should also be worthwhile if in every criminal case, the DNA evidence should be made obligatory because that is the incontrovertible way to determine one’s involvement or otherwise in the crime or that one is accused of committing.

Somehow the attitude of soft corner for some ethnic groups and hard tendencies against the others must be addressed and a viable way-out should be evolved to keep the judges on the right side of law, regardless of their personal impulses.

The judges come to the bar through elections and by votes of the community. This system speaks for the grassroots democratic culture and is praiseworthy. But the qualifications of the judges and legal arbiters some time are not up to the mark to entitle them to hold these immensely crucial and delicate public offices and also to perform in a highly professional manner.

In my view, the election of the judges should be replaced by a panel of experts who should thoroughly scrutinize the professional credentials of the candidates and recommend the most qualified or eligible among them. This is how a fully competent person can be chosen who would not take sides in favor of certain community members that were instrumental in his election victory.

Or else in case of judges being appointed through voting process, a pre-screening exercise should be undertaken to approve their suitability to contest for the post of a judge. This would ensure his professional competence to rightly interpret law and dispense justice.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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How Could DSK get off the Legal Hook so Soon?

July 3, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

No one can get rid of the American justice system so soon as the former IMF boss, Dominique Strauss-Kahn did. He is indeed one rare lucky among the millions that can claim to be exceptionally fortunate.

His getting off the hook in United States, from a heinous crime as rape in barely two months’ span of time is stated to be due more to the dubious and murky background of the female accuser than his own credentials as a clean person.

I have the preponderant feeling to believe somehow that he did commit some kind of sexual mischief on May 14, with the Guinea woman in his suite number 2806 at Sofitel New York Hotel. He has been earlier involved in similar cases of unbridled sexual perversion. His past lecherous deeds and sexual exploits are widely known.

It is for the jurists to determine if the case of rape could be dropped against a hardened sexual predator. But what looks logical is that the rape case has its own merit and it could be detached from the questionable credibility of the accuser or the female fabricator.

After all a female all the more a Muslim claims to have been forcibly overpowered for a sexual act that cannot have any other definition except rape.

The American court system is uncompromisingly rigid in matters relating to sexual offences. There are countless instances in which the sexual predators have been indicted and given heavy punishments.

The non-consensual sex is treated to be a highly serious breach of law and entails condign sentences for the offenders. There are cases that people were falsely accused of rape and served several years in jail till DNA established that they were innocent.

In those cases the element of doubt was always there because in most cases, the victim would be not be able to correctly know the identity of the perpetrator.
In those doubtful or gray area cases, it would be up to the prosecution to prove a person guilty, followed by the jury to endorse or reject that. if endorsed the offender would get a few decades in jail.

In the case of DSK vs. the 32 old maid from Guinea, the case is crystal clear. The victim fully and unambiguously knows the identity of the culprit and narrates the sequence of events, as to how the sordid incident started and how it finished.

The correlation of events is not that much crucial whether she went to the side room after the assault and then came back to suite number 2806 and that she reported the matter to the supervisor thereafter. The cardinal point is: if she was attacked by the alleged person.

Let us also conjecture that if the maid had falsified or jumbled up the correct sequence of events, would it be logically and legally permissible to drop the case of rape against DSK altogether. The falsification on other cases should not be taken as conclusive pretext that in this case she was also lying. This case should be dealt on its strength.

The lies that are attributed to her inter-alia are that her husband had died by torture at the hands of police officers and soldiers in Guinea, that she had been gang-raped in Guinea, that she got asylum on made-up grounds, that she falsely got a big break on her taxes by claiming a friend’s child as her own. She was also alleged to have contacts with notorious drug dealer now in jail.

It appears that the prosecution was somehow persuaded to withdraw the cases for some reasons that should be exclusively known to the Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

Kenneth Thompson the victims’ attorney is crying hoarse for the continuation of the hearing for him to prove the case. But by the prevailing indications it appears that the interest of the prosecution seems to have waned.

One reason could be that the female victim is a devout Muslim and for the attorneys to pursue the case for a Muslim would open a leeway for others to come forward and seek justice for such immoral sexual crimes that abound in America.

Or else there should be pressure from the Jewish lobby because Strauss is a Jew and the Jewish high-ups would not like a VIP from among them to be penalized to the extent of 3o years in jail besides the enormous humiliation and disgrace that would have been heaped on Strauss for all time to come.

There seem to be some overriding and irresistible pulls and pressures loaded on the prosecution team to recoil from this case that pitted a high profile Jew celebrity against a Muslim woman, all the more an asylum seeker, that otherwise has no political or social leverage.

Otherwise there is no way and it is unthinkable that a sexual predator with a chronic notoriety and sleazy reputation of unwarranted and wild sexual escapades could be let off the legal hook so soon and so easily in the United States.

If per se, it is being found out, that the Sofitel Hotel maid has invented a case against a filthily wealthy individual as Kahn is and that she was a habitual liar, then in the same vein, it could also be argued that keeping in view DST’s loathsome backlog of sexual lewdness, the case should not be dropped and the legal proceedings should be continued until the truth is found.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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The Power of Stigma( revised)

July 2, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi
A stigmatized life is the most traumatized life. A stigmatized person carries with him shame, calumny, slur, disrespect, aversion and hatred from others. Such a person is treated by the community to be a social pariah while in return he or she turns mostly apologetic or aggressive.

It depends upon the level of the sensibilities of a person, how much miserable or wretched he or she feels or how they take the stigma attached to them.

However, not all stigmas are factual. Some are fabricated for maligning others or for vendetta. Some are genuine and some germinate from misunderstanding. These misunderstandings are caused by a word, phrase, joke or a comment that can be interpreted both negatively and positively leading to the appreciation or aspersion on one’s character.

The stigma right or wrong can seldom be erased and becomes permanent part of the name and image of the target. It follows him throughout his life like a shadow. A maliciously or wrongly stigmatized person cannot go to everyone to explain the truth and therefore, remains a victim despite being guiltless.

Once born, the bad name or stigma gets wings and reaches maximum numbers that continue rising. The humans have a propensity to exaggerate the spicy information particularly digging at some one’s character and personality. It is utterly impossible to clarify the misunderstanding to everyone.

Invariably, politicians, bureaucrats, VIPs, big business tycoons, army generals, aristocrats, clerics, poets, philosophers, journalists, writers, actors, artists and members of other groups carry some kind of stigma or infamy tagged with their names.

On the lower levels in schools, colleges, hospitals, public and private institutions and working places, there are individuals who are marked or known by some error, some habit, some felony, some mistake, some flaw or wrong doing or a statement or utterance that earned them the lifelong millstone of stigma. The kings, queens, rulers and famous personages in the past carry stigmas with their names.

The higher one is in status, the more he is talked about his questionable actions or for the particular flaws in his character. People have a propensity to talk of shortcomings more than mentioning someone by good traits.

Tony Blair, the former Tory prime minister got the nickname of a poodle of former American president G.W. Bush which he cannot never get rid of in his lifetime and even afterwards.

Social stigma is also related to the sacrosanct social taboos and customs whose violation can bring someone a bad name that keep him in lurid colors for all times. Social stigmas come to the lot of those people who defy or break the traditional norms of morality and day to day ethics.

While the religious beliefs may be condoned or occasionally overlooked, the social stigma based on misconduct or immodesty cannot be taken lightly and remain indelible blot on the character or image of the concerned individuals.

A physically deformed person such as a leper may draw more sympathy than a stigma. A rapist, a homosexual, a thief, a liar, a bad tempered or a grumpy person, a miser, a man with a incest backlog, a murderer, and individual with similar human failings and negative leanings, carry forever the disgrace of a social stigma either in their locality or on a broader spectrum depending upon their social leverage.

In human set up such remarks and strictures as “he is a serpent, don’t trust him” or “he is a shylock” or a “backbiter” or a “heathen”, “hypocrite”, “bootlegger”, “homosexual”, “pimp”, a “womanizer”, a “gay”, a “drug addict”, a “cattle lifter” , a “fake saint”, and a “swindler” are common to portray the shady, irksome or repulsive character of a person. These are the abominable social stigmas.

A sensitive person labeled with an untrue stigma based on hearsay or purposely framed for defamation suffers from a nagging guilty conscience and self condemnation. A highly placed person under the gnawing pinch of a stigma either turns socially hostile, recluse or overly obliging and forthcoming.

He tries to please the people in doling out favors by using his authority. He believes under the erroneous belief, that by placating others, the common impression about him would thus be nullified or diluted. But it seldom happens.

The recipients of his favors tend to exploit him or her more and in their private conversations they ridicule and castigate him or her more. The others stigma targets turn thick-skinned and obdurate.

Stigma can be broadly divided into three categories: the personal, the local, and the historical or universal. The kind of stigma that falls under the personal category carries such insinuations as gluttony, jealousy, drunkenness, bad temper, miserliness, loose talking, cynicism, superstition, backbiting, emotional flare-up, foul mouthing.

But more serious stigmas delve on such base attributes as incest, lewdness, financial or moral corruption, un-patriotism, treason, fornication, prostitution, secular or atheistic outlook towards religion and so on.

Some of the personal stigmas also overlap with the local stigma. Yet there are peculiar features of the local stigma that target a culture, a country, a specific cultural or ethnic group, a segment of population or a region.

In Indian and Pakistani context, there are several poltical leaders defamed and rebuked for certain gross misdeeds that will go along with their names as inerasable stigmas and disgrace. Pakistan’s first military dictator Field Marshall Ayub Khan in his waning phase of power was labeled with a nickname that cannot be mentioned for reasons of modesty.

Former, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan is demonized as selling Pakistanis for bounty money, if not for killing Baluchi leader Akbar Khan Bugti or storming an Islamic school in Islamabad.

Ziaul Haq another military dictator has gone in history for plotting and engineering legal murder of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and ushering Pakistan into a culture of drugs and Kalashnikovs.

As prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif is accused of abetting the storming of the Supreme Court building and manhandling the then chief justice of Pakistan. In India, Rajiv Gandhi would bear the stigma of bribe in the purchase scandal of Bofors Guns.

Narasimha Rao, another Indian prime minister would be remembered for grafts and bribe charges and Indira Gandhi for attacking the Sikh holy shrine in Amritsar besides impostion emergency. President of United States, Richard Nixon, despite his lofty accomplishments, had to disgracefully resign due to his involvement in the Water Gate scandal.

Former American president Bill Clinton’ image remains tarnished due to lewd Monika Lewinsky affair. The Roman emperor Nero is stigmatized for his abhorrent act of playing flute while the eternal city of Rome was burning.

A famous Urdu poet of classical poetry turned a miserable wretch by uttering one sentence that patently denigrated his patron, a famous Nawab and local suzerain of wealthy state in India during the British colonial rule.

Inashullah Khan was the court poet, jester and a personal friend of Nawab Saadat Yar Khan. Nawab was the illegitimate son of one of the concubines of his father.

There was discussion going in the court about a word that connoted multiple meaning one of which was the son of a harlot. The unlucky poet in his exuberance uttered the word that aptly meant the son of a concubine. The Nwab turned the poet out of court, stopped his privileges and the he died in abject misery.

The Mongol hordes are known as the human wolves that devoured millions of human beings and pillaged countless cities. Adolf Hitler is viewed as a monster for massacring 6 million Jews in Europe. Pick up a history book and you will find almost all the luminaries besmirched for some mega or minor lapse or misdeed.

The ethnic stigma is labeled against particular races or nationalities that paint them in ludicrous or clownish colors. The people of Ireland are idiots for those living in England. The residents of England have coined countless funny jokes about the Irish people.

In Pakistan as well in India, Pathans, Punjabis, Sikhs and inhabitants of Rajputana and many other nationalities, races and ethnic entities are stamped with comic fables and amusing jokes.

Universally or historically, there are many figures that have indelible paint of stigma with their names. For instance, the person who betrayed the Muslim heroic ruler Tipu Sultan of Mysore (1750-1799) (India) in the Battle of Seringapatam (1799) against the British colonial army was his prime minister Mir Sadiq, who withdrew half of the army from the battlefield during the raging battle.

Tipu Sultan was killed and his rule came to an end. Mir Sadiq is treated as a contemptible creature and a despicable traitor by the Muslims of India for all time to come.

Mir Jaffar, the commander of the Muslim army of Nawab of Bengal Sirâj-ud-Daulah (1733-1757) has earned the lasting notoriety for his treachery. He withdrew half of the fighting force at the nick of the time in the battle of Plasey (1757) against the British army that resulted in the defeat and death of the Nawab.

The conspiracies of the grand vizier of an Ummyad caliph in 1258 prompted the Mongol warrior Hilaku Khan to attack Baghdad. The barbarian invader burnt and massacred the entire population of this bustling city.

Yazid the son of powerful Ummyad caliph Muawiyah would be cursed and condemned by Shia community for mercilessly killing the family of the prophet including his grandson Hussein, at Karbala near Baghdad in 680 A. D.

It has been observed that many stigmas come out of mere hearsay, social gossiping or misinterpretation of a certain situation, a write up, a speech or an unguarded utterance that can be variously interpreted.

For instance Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s famous comment during the 1971 crisis, “uthar tum, and ithar hum” has been interpreted by his opponents to divide Pakistan.

Another remark “eliminate him” written by him in one of the files relating to Ahmed Raza Kauri, constituted the evidence for initiating murder case against him that resulted in his death on gallows. Now “eliminate him” can be interpreted in many ways.

Currently, we are not aware or certain if Mr. Asif Zardari in effect is 10 percent or not. But it’s a stigma that goes along with his name both in Pakistan and globally even now when he is the president of Pakistan.

A powerful and prestigious position as the head of the state, instead of erasing or diminishing the onus of stigma, on the contrary, enhances it.

“The higher one goes the steeper one falls” is the adage. That is why the political and prominent figures get a heavy share of rebuke and diatribe than commoners for their follies because they are exposed and their moves and actions lay bare before the people.

President Zardari’s nickname of 10 percent outshines his good parts of personality. For instance he believes and practices the culture of friendship like an article of faith. He is famed for never ditching his friends barring poltical allies or coalition partners. He is fond of glamorous, hilarious and joyful companies.

He laughs heartily, has a knack for fascinating conversations and interjects his conversation with humor and pleasant anecdotes. In a way he is spendthrift too and prodigality is ingrained in his character. But his corruption suppresses the endearing traits of his personality.

Stigma weakens the confidence of a person and renders him docile and an escapist avoiding public places and social congregations. So the lesson is that one must always remain on guard because one slip of tongue or one carelessly or casually done act can ruin his life and turn him or her into a social pariah.

The stigma once created never recedes and instead keeps swelling. That is why sages have cautioned that “think before you speak and watch before you leap.”

Revised version

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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