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India-Pakistan
Hamid Mir booked in kidnapping case
2017-11-06
[DAWN] Police on Saturday started the paperwork but haven't done much else against senior journalist and TV anchor Hamid Mir on kidnapping charges, Dawn has learnt through sources.

The case has been registered in the light of the decision of the Islamabad High Court. The court had issued the order a few days ago on a petition filed by Shamama Malik, the widow of Khalid Khawaja, who had allegedly been kidnapped from his house in Islamabad’s G-10/2 sector in March 2010.

The FIR has been registered at the Ramna cop shoppe of the capital in response to the complaint lodged by Ms Malik in which she had alleged that Hamid Mir and Usman Punjabi with the help of their "hooligans" had kidnapped her husband Khalid Khawaja.

Later, Mr Khawaja was taken to North Wazoo, it stated, adding that on April 30, 2010, his well perforated carcass was found in Karam Kot. The body was brought to Islamabad but autopsy was not conducted, the complainant states, adding: "my son lodged a complaint at Shalimar cop shoppe over the incident, but no action was taken, except registration of a report."

"The police also did not record the version of my son," Ms Malik alleges in her complaint. She claims that her deceased husband and Hamid Mir had differences over the Lal Masjid
...literally the Red Mosque, located in Islamabad and frequented by all sorts of high govt officials. The proprietors, Ghazi Abdul Rasheed and Maulana Abdul Aziz Ghazi, unleashed their Islamic storm troopers on the city, shutting down whorehouses and beating people up who weren't devout enough. The Musharraf govt put an end to the nonsense by besieging the place. Abdul Aziz Ghazi was nabbed while he was trying to escape dressed up like a girl. BBC reported that the corpse count at 173, but other claims, usually hysterical, say there were up to 1000 titzup. Among their number was Abdul Rashid Ghazi. Everyone then said tut-tut and what a nice guy he had been...
operation.

Due to the same reason, Hamir Mir and Usman Punjabi got Khawaja kidnapped and murdered, the FIR alleges. An audio conversation allegedly between Hamid Mir and Usman Punjabi over the issue has also been made part of the record at the Shalimar cop shoppe.

When contacted, Hamid Mir said it seemed to be a politically-motivated case aimed at blackmailing him. He complained that the court had issued the orders to the police without giving him an opportunity to present his viewpoint.

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India-Pakistan
Wife of former ISI operative claims Nawaz Sharif received money from Osama Bin Laden
2016-03-01
[Khaama (Afghanistan)] A new book authored by the wife a former operative of Pakistain’s spy agency has once again made the claim that Nawaz Sharif
... served two non-consecutive terms as prime minister, heads the Pakistain Moslem League (Nawaz). Noted for his spectacular corruption, the 1998 Pak nuclear test, border war with India, and for being tossed by General Musharraf...
received money from al-Qaeda leader the late Osama bin Laden
... who used to be alive but now he's not...
The book, Khalid Khawaja: Shaheed-e-Aman, is authored by Shamama Khalid, the wife of former ISI operative Khalid Khawaja.

"Chief of PML-N Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif received funding from Osama bin Laden, founder of Al-Qaeda, to contest elections against Benazir Bhutto
... 11th Prime Minister of Pakistain in two non-consecutive terms from 1988 until 1990 and 1993 until 1996. She was the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, founder of the Pakistain People's Party, who was murdered at the instigation of General Ayub Khan. She was murdered in her turn by person or persons unknown while campaigning in late 2007. Suspects include, to note just a few, Baitullah Mehsud, General Pervez Musharraf, the ISI, al-Qaeda in Pakistain, and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who shows remarkably little curiosity about who done her in...
’s led Pakistain People’s Party (PPP) after the end of Zia regime," the book states, as per the report Pakistain’s Dawn news agency.

The book claims that Mr Sharif’s pledge of introducing an Islamic system attracted Khawaja as well as Bin Laden. But even though the Al Qaeda head honcho funded Nawaz Sharif heavily, the latter backtracked from all his promises after coming into power.

Book by slain spy’s wife claims Al Qaeda leader backed Sharif against Benazir Bhutto

The book also carries a note from former ISI director general, retired Lt-Gen Hamid Gul
The nutty former head of Pakistain's ISI, now Godfather to Mullah Omar's Talibs and good buddy and consultant to al-Qaeda's high command...
, which also claims that Khawaja was very close to Nawaz Sharif for some time. The book claims that Abdullah Azzam introduced Khawaja to Bin Laden.

Azzam, who is also known as the ‘father of global jihad’, was a Paleostinian Sunni. Azzam raised funds and recruited jihadis from the Arab world, known as Afghan Arabs. A mentor of Bin Laden, he is said to have persuaded him to come to Afghanistan.

The book claims that Khawaja was killed by a splinter group of the Pak Taliban while he was on a peace mission in the restive tribal areas.

Khalid Khawaja went to North Wazoo along with retired Col Imam and British journalist Asad Qureshi. Khawaja and Col Imam were killed while Qureshi was released in exchange for a ransom.

The Asian Tigers group, that grabbed credit for the crime, had never been heard of before.

The book alleged that the Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were behind the killing of Khawaja and Col Imam.
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India-Pakistan
Lal Masjid operation: Dead man blamed for sabotaging talks
2013-01-22
[Dawn] Perhaps inspired by the proverb 'dead men tell no tale' the Islamabad administration is now pointing finger at a former official of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) for his role in sabotaging the negotiations with the Lal Masjid administration that led to the military operation in 2007.

According to the written reply the Islamabad administration submitted to the one-man commission of Justice Shehzado Sheikh of Federal Shariat Court (FSC), Khalid Khawaja, the former spy, was a close friend of Lal Masjid chief holy man Maulana Abdul Aziz and his brother Ghazi Abdul Rasheed.

He disrupted the negotiations between the local administration and the management of the mosque which led to the military operation in which 103 people, including 11 military personnel, were killed, said the reply.

"Khawaja had very strong and effective influence over the management of Lal Masjid/Jamia Hafsa particularly Ghazi Abdul Rasheed, Maulana Abdul Aziz and Umme Hassan. This fact transpired when after a successful negotiations with Ghazi Abdul Rasheed regarding handing over of the children library to the ministry of education, the local administration officials reached Lal Masjid in the evening.

All of a sudden, Khawaja along with 10-12 female students appeared on the scene and opposed the decision. His refusal prevailed upon both the brothers and the possession of the library could not be restored to the ministry of education."

The reply added, "Khawaja was also requested to intervene and resolve the issue of the children library but he responded negatively. He used his influence upon the brothers just to add fuel to the fire."

It said the district administration tried its level best to persuade Khawaja as well.

On failure, he was jugged
... anything you say can and will be used against you, whether you say it or not...
in June 2007 (a month prior to the operation) under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) and Security of Pakistain Act 1952. The management of Lal Masjid always demanded his release.

According to the reply, Khawaja was released on June 23, 2007, and after his release some Chinese nationals were kidnapped by the students of Lal Masjid.

The Islamabad administration also referred to the capture and murder of Khawaja by the Taliban and added: "Before his murder, Khawaja delivered a speech, which was also uploaded on 'Youtube' by his captors. In the speech, he admitted that he played a double role in the Lal Masjid incident. He further disclosed that during the operation he had advised Maulana Abdul Aziz to come out of Lal Masjid by wearing a Burqa," the reply added.

When contacted, Osama Khalid, son of Khalid Khawaja, told Dawn: "Because my father is a dead man and could not rebut the allegations, the administration wanted to shift the responsibility on him for the Lal Masjid operation."

He said his father sacrificed his life for a cause and the nation knew him very well.

"We don't care about any allegation but the government should bring truth before the nation," he added.

In the statement, the Islamabad administration also gave a chronology of the incident in which the Lal Masjid management and students took the law into their own hands.
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India-Pakistan
Pakistan's Godfather of the Taliban dies
2011-01-24
A retired Pakistani spy known as "the godfather of the Taliban" has died in captivity in Pakistan's north-western tribal belt, 10 months after he was kidnapped with a British journalist working for Channel 4.

Pakistani news channels reported that Sultan Amir Tarar, a legendary figure in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, had been killed by militants in Waziristan. The Taliban issued a statement saying he had died of a heart attack. An army spokesman could not confirm the reports. But a senior officer said that "all indicators are that this unfortunate incident took place".

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to the US, tweeted yesterday: "On Col (R) Amir Sultan Tarar aka Col Imam's death: Prayers for the departed and for the bereaved family."

Tarar was kidnapped in Waziristan in March 2010 alongside Asad Qureshi, a British journalist of Pakistani origin, and Khalid Khawaja, a former ISI official turned human rights activist. Qureshi was released last September, reportedly on payment of a ransom; Khawaja was killed by his captors in April.

Tarar's death marks the brutal demise of one of the most colourful and controversial figures in the shadowy world of spy games along the troubled borderlands between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Dressed in his trademark outfit of a tight, white turban and a shabby second-world war paratroop jacket, Tarar personified the complexities of Pakistan's multi-faceted policy towards militant Islam. Tarar trained in guerrilla warfare at an American special forces base in the 1970s and spent the next decade at the heart of Pakistan and America's covert war against Soviet forces occupying Afghanistan.
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India-Pakistan
TTP kills Asian Tigers chief for Khawaja's murder
2010-10-04
[Pak Daily Times] The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistain (TTP) has killed the main chief of the banned bully boy group, the Asian Tigers, in North Wazoo, a private TV channel reported on Sunday.

According to details, the body of Sabir Mehsud was found early morning in the main market of the Razmuk area in North Wazoo.

A letter, stating that Mehsud was the leader of the Asian Tigers, and the TTP had killed him, along with two other aides after kidnapping them, was discovered from the body.

The letter also revealed that the Asian Tigers had kidnapped and killed former Inter-Services Intelligence official Khalid Khawaja in March, and the TTP had taken Dire Revenge™ of his murder by killing the Asian Tigers' chief.
So the TTP is protecting the ISI? Interesting.
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India-Pakistan
8 die as bullets settle militants' argument over widow
2010-08-30
The argument over an Arab militant's widow last weekend became so heated that gunfire broke out among insurgent factions, leaving eight people dead, militant sources told AKI from the Pakistan's North Waziristan.

The dead include Usman Punjabi, the abductor of British journalist Asad Qureshi.

Tension mounted between the Punjabi (non-Pushtun Pakistanis) and Mehsud (local tribe) militants after an Arab militant was killed in a drone strike, leaving behind his widow.

'The widow was rich and after the incident of husband's death she was alone. The local Mehsud tribesmen took her into their custody and were aiming to arrange her marriage to one of their own men. Usman Punjabi objected and insisted she must be left to her own free will to select whether she wants to marry into the Mehsud tribe,' said a source who witnessed the event.

After the Muslim Ramadan breakfast Saturday morning, all militants belonging to Mehsud tribes and the Punjabi camp gathered in a local school in Dande Darpa Khail in North Waziristan near Afghanistan to discuss the widow.

The argument between the two parties intensified until both parties pulled out their guns and opened fire. A total eight people were killed, including Usman Punjabi.

'We have killed the spy', Mehsud's members cried after killing Usman Punjabi.

Usman Punjabi was the abductor and assassin of former ISI official Khalid Khawaja and also abducted former ISI official Colonel Imam and British journalist Asad Qureshi.

Usman refused to release those he abducted despite the instruction of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar. The fate of abducted is still unknown.
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India-Pakistan
Punjabi Taliban leader dies but threat still looms large in Pakistan
2010-08-30
(Xinhua) -- Infighting between two groups of an infamous militant organization "Punjabi Taliban" had left eight dead including leader of the group Usman Punjabi, but the growing threat of rebrand terrorists still looms large in the country plagued by devastating floods and terrorism.

Usman Punjabi was central figure in kidnapping of two former Pakistani intelligence officers and a British journalist, in North Waziristan tribal areas of Pakistan and was nominated in several incidents of terrorism across Pakistan.

The two groups of Punjabi Taliban disputed and killed each other in a bloody clash over the work distribution on Saturday evening in Haji Muhammad Kot area of troubled North Waziristan, about 65 kilometer from Wana. Six militants including group leader Usman Punjabi were killed while two people lost life from the disputing group of militants generally comprising ethnic Punjabi speakers from eastern Punjab province, local sources told Xinhua.

The killed militants were activists of the Punjabi Taliban group also infamous as "Asian Tigers", a splinter group of disbanded extremist Sunni sectarian organizations Lashkar-e- Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba and jihadi rebrand Jaish-e-Muhammad.

Previously unknown, Punjabi Taliban and its leader Usman Punjabi were famed after he had been named in kidnapping of three important people on March 26 this year. One of the abducted men Khalid Khawaja, a former Pakistani intelligence agency, Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) operative was killed by Punjabi as government failed to meet kidnappers' demand. Khawaja's body was found on April 30 in Karam Kot, 7 kilometers south of Mirali in North Waziristan.

Probably, Khawaja had been killed for his offer of organizing Taliban's talks with government, local analysts believe, as it might have raised suspicions about him. A note was reportedly found on Khawaja's body saying that he was working for Americans and anybody working for them would find the same fate. Khawaja had been persuading Taliban to give up suicide bombing and stop attacking in mainland Pakistani cities.

Taliban frequently execute people on suspicion of espionage in the tribal areas of Pakistan. On Saturday evening two sons and a pedestrian were killed as shop of a local resident Shahbaraz Khan was destroyed in a bomb blast in Angorada, Waziristan tribal area.

The other two including former ISI officer Col. (retired) Amir Sultan Tarar alias Col. Imam and British journalist of Pakistani origin Asad Qureshi were released on May 6. It was not known whether any ransom was paid or what had led to their release. Militants had demanded U.S. 10 million dollars in ransom for the British journalist, but keeping mum about Col. Imam.

The Punjabi Taliban phenomenon is seen as a growing threat in the country. Pakistani government had accused them of conducting various terrorist incidents including the July 1, triple suicide bomb attacks on "Data Darbar", a widely revered 11th century Sufi saint shrine in eastern city of Lahore. Over 50 people were killed and another 200 injured in the widely condemned incident.

The group was also held responsible for attack on visiting Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore on March 3, 2009 and bombing of Ahmadi temples in May 28 this year in Lahore that killed over 100 people and a number of other subversions. However, a spokesman of Punjabi Taliban has denied the allegations.

According to Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, 44 percent of the 20,000 madrassas or religious seminaries in Pakistan are located in Punjab province. The Pakistani government has banned 29 faith-based extremist or jihadi organizations. 729 of the 1,764 people on government's most wanted list also are from southern part of Punjab, the stronghold of extremist militants.

Washington had also expressed serious concerns over the growing threat of Punjabi Taliban in Pakistan, particularly with reference to the U.S. led war against terror in the rugged northwest tribal areas of Pakistan.
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India-Pakistan
North Waziristan's terrorist soup
2010-05-09
North Waziristan is a counterterrorism nightmare zone, a place where the dead come back to life and the living come back dead.

Pressed against the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan, this mountain wilderness has been the cause of arm-wrestling between Washington and Islamabad for years. At issue is the latter's reluctance to move against the thousands of terrorists and insurgents who hide out locally; and, until recently, the latter's reluctance to allow the former to launch its own attacks against them.

Word that the Pakistani-born American citizen charged with an attempt to explode a car bomb in Times Square, New York, last weekend had undergone training in the region has pushed North Waziristan even higher on the Americans' counterterrorism to-do list. Previously the Taliban groups have confined their violent attacks to the region.

But knowing who is who in this Waziri terrorist soup and, more importantly, just what they are up to and with whom, is a challenge.

In January, US and Pakistani security sources ''confirmed'' the death in a US drone attack of the ruthless Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

But last week Mehsud popped up, hale and hearty, on a propaganda video. Threatening terrorist strikes on the American homeland, he might well have been alluding to the bungled Times Square attack. Just as confounding was the murder last week of Khalid Khawaja, a former Pakistani intelligence officer who was close to Osama Bin Laden and others in the world of terrorism.

Khawaja might have expected a warm welcome to North Waziristan - instead, he was accused of working for the Pakistani government and executed by a group calling itself the Asian Tigers, which is said to have originated in the Punjab region of Pakistan.
Punjab, not Pashtun/Pakhton? Interesting.
The fighters have been corralled in North Waziristan by dint of Islamabad's readiness to pursue them in the adjoining border zone - for which it has won the praises of Washington. But, at the same time, the Pakistani security forces have refused to pursue them into North Waziristan - for which they have been under rising US pressure.

The problem is reluctance by Pakistan to attack the fabled
*sigh* Really, people, the word is notorious. When talking about bad guys, no matter how romanticly piratical they might be, one simply must use words that have at least the slightest whiff of evil and danger, not words that suggest fairies and unicorns gambolling over the greensward.
terrorist networks of Jalaluddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, both of whom were originally engaged in the Afghan conflict, but now contribute to the ructions in Pakistan.

Also, says the Pakistani scholar Ahmed Rashid, the Pakistani security forces have done a deal with the militants, under which neither will attack the other in North Waziristan.
Leaving all those nice bad guys for the UAV teams to hunt. The Pakistanis really are generous hosts.
Also in the North Waziristan mix are breakaway cells of the Pakistani-trained Kashmiri extremist groups, which ordinarily confine their activities to the Kashmir region on the border between India and Pakistan. But the combined impact of the US drone attacks and Pakistani military campaigns in neighbouring districts has been to eliminate key leadership figures and disrupt their lines of command and control, leaving a fractured and undisciplined mob in the mountains.

They do not have the ability to mount complex attacks. But their crude bombings cause havoc daily in Pakistan and in Afghanistan and they have become magnets for what are known internationally as ''home-grown'' jihadists: Pakistanis who have migrated and their foreign-born offspring, whose passports and familiarity with Western cultures make them valuable as foot soldiers abroad.

US and British security experts estimate that as many as 100 Westerners have been trained in the militia camps in the region in recent years. The man accused in the Times Square incident, Faisal Shahzad, 30, reportedly made more than a dozen visits to Pakistan from the US in the past decade.

This home-grown element was present in the deadly bombings in London in July 2005 and a foiled plot to use liquid bombs to destroy trans-Atlantic aircraft in 2006. Five young Americans - two of them of Pakistani descent - are facing terrorism charges in Pakistani courts.

Pakistani security officers have told reporters there are three concentric circles of militancy in the region.

There is a core al-Qaeda leadership of perhaps 100 Arabs, remnants of those who fled Afghanistan with Osama Bin Laden after the US-led invasion in 2001. In a second circle there are hundreds of fighters from other countries, including Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Uzbekistan. The outer circle consists of maybe 10,000 Pakistani militants who fight for the various Taliban groupings.

Islamabad has said repeatedly that its forces are spread too thinly to mount a campaign in North Waziristan.

The Times Square attack will probably make it that much harder to continue resisting Washington's pressure. A successful future attack in the US would make it impossible.
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India-Pakistan
Ex-ISI spy Khawaja found dead in North Wazoo
2010-05-01
Follow-up.
The bullet-ridden body of former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official Khalid Khawaja -- who was kidnapped in March -- was discovered in North Waziristan on Friday, with his captors warning that the others kidnapped with Khawaja would meet the same fate if the government did not meet their demands, officials and the captors' spokesman said. "Khalid Khawaja is no more... we had given a deadline for the acceptance of our demands. The ISI and the government didn't take it seriously," said a mail from the Asian Tigers -- a group unheard of before that had claimed to be holding Khawaja, former ISI official Col Imam alias Sultan Amir Tarar and a British journalist of Pakistani origin, Asad Qureshi.

Political authorities in Miranshah told Daily Times by phone that Khawaja's body was discovered seven kilometres south of Mir Ali. "His body was dumped in Karam Kot. He received several bullets in the head and chest," the authorities said. A letter was also found with the body saying, "He (Khawaja) was a US agent and whoever spies for America will meet the same fate."

Separately, Khawaja's wife said she was proud of her husband's 'martyrdom'. "This is not a bad news. This is martyrdom," she told Daily Times by phone.

Separately, police arrested JUI-S leader Shah Abdul Aziz in Bannu where he was involved in negotiations with captors of the three men, local police said. "He was arrested for disrupting peace in the district," a police official said, declining to give more details.

Khawaja was kidnapped in March with militants later claiming responsibility for the kidnapping, accusing the three captives of spying. They demanded the release of Afghan Taliban commanders detained in Pakistan in exchange for them. The kidnappers had earlier released a video in which Khawaja had admitted to spying. In recent years, Khawaja had set up a human rights group focusing on religious causes. A court in February barred the government from sending abroad captured Afghan Taliban leaders, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, on a petition filed by Khawaja.

Both Khawaja and his fellow kidnapped colleague were known to have close links with the Taliban and other extremist groups. Col Imam was known to have worked with the US Central Intelligence Agency during the Afghan jihad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1990s. He had trained many freedom fighters and leaders, including the Afghan Taliban's elusive chief, Mullah Omar. He also served as Pakistani consul general in Herat in western Afghanistan during Taliban rule and only left the country in 2001 when Pakistan officially abandoned the Taliban and joined the US-led campaign against militancy.
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India-Pakistan
Militants release video of former ISI officers
2010-04-20
ISLAMABAD: Videos of two former ISI officers, who went missing last month, were released by unknown militants in the tribal areas of Pakistan on Monday.

Col (retd) Amir Sultan, widely known as Col. Imam and Squadron Leader (retd) Khalid Khawaja went missing in the tribal areas last month while they were accompanying a journalist to assist him with a documentary on militants.

In the video, both hostages introduced themselves as former ISI officers. They claimed that they were visiting the tribal areas following an advice by former Army Chief General Aslam Baig and former DG ISI Lt.General Hamid Gul.

However, Khawaja also mentioned the name of a serving ISI official, Colonel Sajjad and said that he visited the area on his direction.

The militants have demanded the release of at least two arrested Taliban leaders in Pakistan's custody for the release of the two officers. The demand was made through an email which also contained the footage of the two officers.

The militants have threatened that if Mullah Kabir and Mullah Mansoor Dadullah were not released, the officers would be killed.

The unknown militants who sent their email late Sunday night also mentioned that they would issue another list of their demands soon.
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India-Pakistan
Two former ISI officers, journalist missing from Kohat
2010-04-06
[Dawn] Two former officials of the premier intelligence agency, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), and a free lance journalist have gone missing in suspicious circumstances from Kohat.

Family sources of the missing ISI officials Col (retired) Imam and Sq Leader (retired) Khalid Khawaja revealed that these officers were assisting the free lance journalist Asad Qureshi who was making a documentary on Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

They were on way back to their homes after having a meeting with the Taliban leadership in tribal areas when they were allegedly picked up by unknown people. It is yet not clear who kidnapped them.

However, it is pertinent to mention that both the former ISI officers were having close relations with Taliban and Al-Qaeda leadership.
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India-Pakistan
Two petitions on president's immunity
2009-12-20
[Dawn] The constitutional provision granting immunity from prosecution to the president was the subject of two petitions filed in the Supreme Court on Saturday. One of the petitions contended that even a foreign court cannot try the president while the other called for doing away with the immunity clause.

The Watan Party filed in the Supreme Court a constitutional petition challenging the reopening of Swiss cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, saying the president also enjoys 'sovereign immunity' against foreign courts, besides constitutional immunity under Article 248 against local courts.

The petition was filed at the Lahore registry of the Supreme Court.

Barrister Zafarullah Khan, counsel for the Watan Party, said that previously the cases were pending in Swiss courts for the recovery of laundered money in favour of state and Mr Zardari appeared in those cases as a private individual, along with his wife Benazir Bhutto. But now Mr Zardari had become the president and state immunity was attached to his office, the counsel said, adding that the president could not be summoned or sued in any case whatsoever by any court of any country during his term as president.

Barrister Zafar said the Supreme Court verdict reopening cases against President Zardari was beyond its jurisdiction.

He requested the court to review its decision and declare it as void because it undermined the sovereignty and independence of the nation.

On Dec 16, the Supreme Court annulled the National Reconciliation Ordinance and ordered reopening of money laundering cases being heard in a Swiss Court. The case was withdrawn under NRO, which was promulgated by former president Pervez Musharraf.

Immunity challenged
A former officer of the ISI on Saturday filed in the Supreme Court a petition seeking an end to the protection available to the president under the Constitution, saying the immunity was against fundamental rights.

"Article 248 of the Constitution (presidential immunity) be declared ultra vires as it is in infringement of the fundamental rights of citizens/persons guaranteed in chapter I of Part II of the Constitution, the norms of natural justice as promulgated in Quran and Sunnah," said the petition moved by Khalid Khawaja, chairman of the Defence of Human Rights Organisation.

This is the third such petition filed in the apex court after the Dec 16 verdict on the NRO. The two previous petitions were filed by Engineer Jamil, of the Communist Party of Pakistan, and Syed Mohammad Iqbal, of the Human Rights Commission for South Asia, seeking to do away with Article 248 which provides immunity to the president and governors.

Senior lawyer Naseer Ahmed Chaudhry said that Clause 3 of Article 248 prevented courts from issuing any order for the arrest or imprisonment of the president or the governor during their time in office.

Khalid Khawaja, who will appear in person to plead his case, contended in his petition that Article 248 in its entirety was against the Constitution and the norms of Islam that guaranteed equality, dignity and respect for humankind.

"The protection is also not in consonance with Article 25 (equality of citizens) which guarantees equal protection of law to all citizens. It means that the president and the governor are free to commit any crime or rob the public treasury and could even commit high treason, but they would not be answerable to any court or forum during the term of their office," the petition said, adding that they could even flee the country after committing crimes like former president Pervez Musharraf.

"It is only because of Article 248 and the protection to our rulers, our homeland has been degraded in the eyes of the world."

The nation, the petition said, was divided on this issue as many people, including members of parliament, were agitating against this protection which should not be available to dignitaries. "The Islamic concepts as envisaged by the objective resolution under Article 2-A of the Constitution should prevail to ensure a just political system and an Islamic welfare state."

The petition said that the Supreme Court should resolve the protection issue by declaring the provisions not only in contravention of Articles 227, 25 and 2-A, but also ultra vires of the Constitution and its principles enunciated by the apex court from time to time.
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