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December 31, 2011

HRW jumps into memogate in controversial move

 
December 31, 2011

ISLAMABAD: The otherwise neutral and objective organisation Human Rights Watch on Friday took a highly objectionable and partisan position against the superior judiciary of Pakistan accusing the Supreme Court of indirectly “truncating parliamentary and presidential terms” and “subverting the civilian rule.”
A statement of HRW said that it had noticed a tendency for the courts to find themselves embroiled in matters that they would not otherwise be an appropriate forum to consider.
Ali Dayan Hasan, the Pakistan Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a statement issued after the SC verdict to set up a judicial commission in the memogate case said: “All parties to the memogate affair must understand that a legal dispute cannot be made the vehicle for truncating parliamentary or presidential terms through the backdoor or as a mechanism for subverting civilian rule.”
The highly controversial HRW statement said: “As the ‘memogate’ case proceeds, all arms of the state must act within their constitutionally determined ambit and in aid of legitimate civilian rule. In this context, justice must both be done and be seen to be done. Pakistan desperately needs a full democratic cycle and a peaceful transfer of power from one civilian administration to another. Should this process be derailed, the constitutional safeguards and legal rights protections created since 2008 may suffer irreparable damage.
“Human Rights Watch has long been a supporter of an independent judiciary in Pakistan and advocated for the restoration of the judiciary ousted by Musharraf in Pakistan and abroad. But we have also expressed our concern about the fear of judicial over-reach and unwarranted intrusion into the affairs of the legislature and the executive.
“HRW has noticed a tendency for the courts to find themselves embroiled in matters that they would not otherwise be an appropriate forum for, and we hope the courts will reflect on this perception. Any

perception of discriminatory treatment against one party must be speedily addressed. All parties to the memogate affair must understand that a legal dispute cannot be made the vehicle for truncating parliamentary or presidential terms through the backdoor or as a mechanism for subverting civilian rule.
“In a sense memogate is a litmus test for all actors - particularly the judiciary and the army. It remains to be seen whether the rule of law or the law of the jungle prevails in Pakistan.”

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