Yasser Latif Hamdani
some really warped ideas about what it means to be patriot. In my opinion you
are not a patriot if you defend the indefensible and accept status quo. The
self styled patriots in Pakistan believe that by burying your head in the sand
like an Ostrich you can evade the real and present dangers to the country but
they are misleading the people. In the process Pakistan has become the laughing
stock of the world.
separate and distinct events last week have further dented Pakistan’s image as
a state globally. It started with the ICSID decision against Pakistan on the
RekoDiq issue, which has led to $6 Billion dollars in penalty. ICSID’s decision
was a searing indictment of Pakistan’s ill thought out actions vis a vis
international contracts. This way no one will ever come to invest in Pakistan.
Fulfilling one’s contracts is the irreducible minimum of being a responsible
state. The way our Supreme Court acted during Chaudhry Iftikhar’s activist
times has cost the country dearly. No one is going to take the former Chief
Justice to task for obvious reasons. However the tribunal’s comments about the
Pakistani Supreme Court are enough to embarrass any Pakistani.
the ICJ decision on KulboshanJhadav. Pakistani government’s attempts to spin it
as a victory are as laughable as the Indian claim of downing an F-16 in
February air skirmishes. Obviously ICJ was not going to acquit Jhadav or tell
us to send him back. That would be beyond the body’s mandate and jurisdiction.
So that is no victory. It is not that we were not represented well. I do not
think we could have found a better counsel than Khawar Qureshi QC. It is just
that our case was so untenable in international law that even the best of
lawyers could not have saved us. Pakistan and India cannot bilaterally read in
exceptions to Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights. Our
insistence that some how an exception could be made for individuals accused of
espionage and terrorism amounted to defeating the very purpose of Article 36.
Such spurious arguments can only work when we read out fundamental rights from
our constitution as we often do but an international tribunal comprising the
finest legal minds of the world would have never bought it. So Pakistan was
handed a defeat at the ICJ 15 to 1 on every issue. India’s brilliant counsel
Harish Salve took maximum advantage of the weakness of Pakistan’s case. Like
Khawar Qureshi, Salve also knew that India’s prayer for acquittal was not going
to be entertained. It was more of a maximum demand. Contrary to what Pakistan’s
state officials have telling people, ICJ did not declare Jhadav a spy and it
did not accept an exception to Article 36. It also imposed a continued stay on
execution of Jhadav’s sentence till review by Pakistan’s civilian courts. In
doing so it even stated that if necessary Pakistan would have to legislate to
ensure that civilian courts have oversight. It pointed out that Pakistani
Constitution’s Article 199(3) bars the writ jurisdiction over persons subject
to military proceedings.
burden will rest on the shoulders of the lawyers and the legal who might
represent Jhadav in these review and reconsideration proceedings. For all
practical purposes there will have to be trial ab initio. It would help
Pakistan’s case if a special bench is created for this trial because simple
appellate proceedings at the superior courts might not be enough. Jhadav would
have to be treated as innocent till proven guilty. The prosecution will have to
make the case in front of the world really and lawyers defending Jhadav would
have to leave no stone unturned in discharging their duties. There is no room
for prejudgment. All angles and all theories would have to explored, including
those which might otherwise injure our national pride. In the event that the
prosecution proves its case beyond reasonable doubt, we would also have to
consider commuting the sentence from death to life imprisonment. The choice now
really is whether we are a nation of laws, justice and fairness or we are a mob
out for vengeance.
two events were not enough, then came the third major shocker for Pakistanis.
Shakoor Bhai, a bookseller in Rabwah, had been arrested a few years ago for
selling his religious books. In his 80s, he was given rigorous punishment for
three years for the crime of being an Ahmadi. Finally released after three
years he was invited by the US ministerial on religious freedom. The invitees
of this ministerial also met President Trump, where he recounted what befell
him. Pakistan’s laws targeting Ahmadis violate every single international
covenant and also the Article 20 of the Pakistani Constitution. These laws also
go against the solemn promise made by Pakistan’s founding father to Ahmadis in
the 1940s. What we have done to the Ahmadi community in Pakistan is downright
criminal. If President Trump raises the issue of religious freedom in Pakistan
during his meeting with Imran Khan, I wonder what new denial our Prime Minister
will offer. Will he say that it is okay for Pakistan to jail Ahmadis for
believing that they are Muslims?
image will continue to be hit badly so long as we keep deviating from the
solemn promises made by Mr. Jinnah to Pakistanis and especially religious
minorities. Pakistan must be a responsible member of the comity of nations
which respects rule of law, religious freedom and freedom of speech. As things
stand right now, we are not a responsible nation state. The surest way of
becoming that is to implement Jinnah’s 11 August speech in letter and spirit.
Otherwise I fear that what happened to our Foreign Minister at an international
event will continue to happen routinely. How long will we put up with such
international humiliation and ridicule? For the sake of our children’s future
rectify this situation now.
Yasser Latif Hamdani is an Advocate of the High
Courts of Pakistan and a member of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn in
Source: The Daily Times, Pakistan