Archive for the ‘Law & Justice’ Category

Repost – QnA: Lahore shootings – unanswered questions

BBC’s Shoaib Hasan pretty much summarizes the whole story…

A court in Pakistan has delayed a hearing to decide whether an American who shot dead two men in Lahore last month has diplomatic immunity. The arrest of Raymond Davis has severely damaged relations between the countries. Much of the detail in the case remains unclear – the BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan looks at some of the unanswered questions. A rally against Raymond Davis in Lahore
The killings threaten to derail US-Pakistan ties

Is Raymond Davis a diplomat?

If you are thinking of a suavely dressed man in a three-piece suit who holds meetings with local officials to further or broaden his country’s agenda, you would be wrong. Mr Davis was definitely not employed for his diplomatic skills – he is more a “hands-on” person, working in what the US embassy says is its “administrative and technical affairs section”. Reports from the US say he is a former special forces soldier who left the military in 2003 and is working for the US embassy in Pakistan. As such, the US insists he is covered by the Vienna Convention which guarantees immunity from prosecution for all diplomatic staff.

Could he be a spy?

Many Pakistanis believe he is – there seem few other credible explanations as to why he was going around Lahore with a Glock pistol in a car with local number plates without informing local authorities.

It is a requirement for embassy staff – especially those from Western embassies – to inform local police of their movements, simply because they are prime targets for militants in Pakistan.
Raymond Davis
Mr Davis insists he was acting in self-defence

Mr Davis’s department in the US embassy is widely seen in Pakistan as a cover for Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operations. Mr Davis himself said he was a consultant employed by the US government. Researchers in the US say that since leaving the military, Mr Davis worked for a security firm called Hyperion LLC. But subsequent investigations by the US media have now shown that Hyperion exists only as a website. The offices that the company says it has in Orlando have been vacant for several years and the numbers on its website are unlisted.

Can Mr Davis be convicted for the murders?

Maybe. It all depends on how eager the Pakistani authorities are to punish him. The fact that he is possibly a spy does not mean he is not covered by diplomatic immunity. It is common practice for intelligence services across the world to send operatives under the cover of assignments to embassies.

Both Pakistani and US “diplomats” have been caught in such situations – and every time have been asked to leave the host country immediately with no possibility of a return. That is the maximum punishment that has been levied in the overwhelming majority of cases in countries which have signed the Vienna Convention. However, in some countries there are exceptions for serious offences committed, such as murder. Pakistan is one of those countries. The matter is now in the hands of the judiciary. But it is important to remember that Mr Davis has been charged with murder – the maximum sentence here is the death penalty.

Should Mr Davis have been carrying a gun?

Legally speaking, only Pakistani citizens with licences issued by the interior ministry are allowed to carry arms. No foreigner is allowed to carry arms, except soldiers or guards within the premises of an embassy. Both Pakistani nationals and foreigners caught carrying arms can be charged under a Pakistani criminal law which stipulates a jail term of six months to two years in addition to a fine. Mr Davis has also been charged under this law.

Was he acting in self-defence?

That was the initial plea made by Mr Davis and the US embassy. However, subsequent investigations by the police, forensic labs and the local and international media suggest that the two men were driving away from Mr Davis when they were shot. In February Lahore’s police chief said that Mr Davis was guilty of “cold-blooded murder” – he said that no fingerprints had been uncovered on the triggers of the pistols found on the bodies of the two men.

Shumaila, widow of Mohammad Faheem, in hospital before her death
Matters were further inflamed by the suicide of the widow of one of the men killed by Mr Davis
Furthermore he said that tests had shown that the bullets remained in the magazines of their guns, not the chambers, suggesting they weren’t about to shoot him. On the face of it, this leaves Mr Davis’s claim that they were robbers – with one even apparently cocking a gun at his head – looking very thin.

In addition, police say ballistics evidence shows that the pair were shot in the back – which again suggests they were moving away from Mr Davis, rather than about to attack him.

Who were the Pakistanis that Mr Davis shot?

In his initial statement, Mr Davis said they were robbers who were trying to steal his valuables. He and the US embassy have maintained this story. However, the men have no criminal records as such. Both have been identified as residents of Lahore by the police. The pair were carrying licensed pistols – a fact which led many to believe they might indeed have been robbers. However, security sources in Lahore say that they were part-time or low-level operatives for the local intelligence services. Although reports are sketchy about what they were doing in relation to Mr Davis, security officials believe it could be the case of a surveillance operation gone horribly wrong. Pakistani intelligence services routinely tail and monitor all embassy staff, Western or otherwise.

What about the second car and its victim?

A side event to the main drama concerning Mr Davis was the fact a third man was also killed during the incident. He was an innocent bystander run over by a US embassy vehicle, which was initially said to have arrived to rescue Mr Davis. The fact that an embassy vehicle was able to get to the spot so quickly was a source of astonishment to anyone who is even vaguely aware of the geography of Lahore. Given the incident was over within minutes, it seems incredible that anyone could negotiate the 12km (7.4-mile) 40-minute drive in peak traffic in less than five minutes.

The motorbike of the third man killed in the incident
A third man on his motorbike was killed in the incident by a mystery US car
But subsequent investigations have now shown that the second car – a Toyota Landcruiser – was with Mr Davis at the time of the incident. In fact, according to eyewitnesses, Mr Davis was leading and clearing the way for the Toyota when the incident took place.

In the light of what happened afterwards, it seems Mr Davis was in “protective mode” and opened fire to “secure” whoever or whatever was in the Toyota – the interior of this vehicle was not visible as its windows were tinted. It is evident in local TV footage that the second vehicle is going away from Mr Davis at the time of the incident. As it disappears into the dust, Mr Davis calmly pulls over and gives himself up. Pakistani authorities have asked for the Landcruiser and its driver to be handed over – a request with which the US has yet to comply.

What about behind-the-scenes negotiations?

As well as public pressure, US officials have also privately warned Pakistan’s government of far-reaching and severe consequences if Mr Davis is convicted. Unnamed US officials have also used the media to issue veiled warnings to Pakistan that diplomatic ties could be cut and all aid stopped. Despite Islamabad’s public stance on Mr Davis, Pakistani officials are said to have privately assured Washington that he will eventually be released. However, public pressure means that at the moment this could lead to a massive anti-government backlash. Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, has hinted that blood money could be paid to the families of the two men Mr Davis admits shooting, which could enable his release. There is speculation that US officials may try to establish contacts with the families in this regard. However, it is not clear that Mr Davis has been charged under laws which would allow blood money to be paid.

Source –

Caution: Double Sawari during Muharram!

Double Sawari

The least Punjab Government could do to ensure security between 8-10 Muharram-ul-Haraam (December 26-28). It’s good to see at least they realize the inconvenience caused to general public. We hope they really mean it and try to be as accommodating in other issues as well.

Let’s be vigilant of our surroundings and neighborhoods to ensure a peaceful Ashura this year.

Image Credit: Imtiaz Taqi’s Facebook

LUMS student case update

As reported here in a previous post, a LUMS student was killed in a road accident when the car he was traveling in was smashed by a Cruiser being driven by drunk men a few days back. Two of the accused were arrested with their vehicle while the third person fled the scene.

Efforts of late Waheeb Alam’s supporters are bearing fruit as the fugitive and the third culprit has recently been arrested while two men in earlier custody have been sent to Central Jail under police remand with no preferential treatment awarded.

Students of LUMS, in a remarkable display of unity, strength and solidarity with friends and family of the deceived soul, had staged a peaceful demonstration against police inaction and meddling of the evidence on scene at Club Chowk and Masjid Chowk, DHA. This led to intervention from higher political and police authorities with assurances to the students that their case will be proceeded in a fair and transparent manner.

LUMS Vice Chancellor, Faculty, Administration and fellow students have been instrumental in achieving whatever success we have been able to observe so far. Though any good news cannot bring Waheeb back to his family, we pray that the perpetrators be brought to justice without any compromise or conditions.

LUMS Students protest killing of their fellow

Early morning on April 20, at about 4:00 am, a group of three drunk men, driving in ecstasy through empty lanes of DHA Lahore, lost control of their Land Cruiser and crashed into a car on the other side of the road after knocking down a lamp-post and tumbling over the road divider. The incident happened at Club Chowk near H-Block Market and resulted in the sad demise of Waheeb Alam, an undergraduate student of 2010 batch at LUMS (Innalillah-e-wa-inna-ilaihe-rajioon). Waheeb and his two friends had been out driving their Cuore to have an early morning breakfast when a speeding four-wheeler in good speed slammed into their unfortunate vehicle.

Police controlling the protest

Police controlling the protest

Waheeb sccumbled to injuries, dying on the spot, while both of his friends were injured of whom one was in a serious condition. One of the accomplices driving the Cruiser fled the scene while the other two were held and later arrested by the Police. Considering the fact that the perpetrators had a very influential background, immediate steps in collection of evidence and registration of an initial FIR were delayed unnecessarily by the Police authorities. This led to a protest demonstration by hundreds of LUMS students who blocked the one-way road at Club Chowk to demand immediate filing of the FIR and securing original evidence without tempering.

Students praying for the deceased soul

Students praying for the deceased soul

Students were later joined by the LUMS Vice Chancellor, Mr. Ahmad Jan Durrani, Dean Suleman Dawood School of Business, Mr. Shaukat Brah and several other university faculty members. Negotiations with the authorities continued for about six hours during which students ignored continued requests by the Police officials to end the sit-in and move back to university campus until their demands were fulfilled.

A few important demand points included:

– An assurance by the Police that evidence should not be tempered or distorted

– Official blood sample reports of the accused be produced and shared with the students as soon as possible

– The third accomplice should be arrested within 24 hours of the incident

As the wait for blood sample reports prolonged, officials informed the protestors that the reports will be produced within two weeks time. Infuriated, the group of students peacefully moved from Club Chowk to the main Masjid Chowk blocking one-way lane in front of the masjid.

Sit-in continues at the Masjid Chowk, DHA

Sit-in continues at the Masjid Chowk, DHA

Later intervention of the higher authorities and visit of the PML (N) MNA from the constituency Khawaja Saad Rafiq paved way for the peaceful dispersing of the protesting crowd. The assurances made by Mr. Rafiq included a resolve to bring justice to the family of the deceased soul as soon as possible in the form of arrest of the third man, delivery of blood sample reports within an hour (at 5:00 pm) and transparency and urgency in the whole process.

PML (N) MNA, Khawaja Saad Rafiq at the spot

PML (N) MNA, Khawaja Saad Rafiq at the spot

Overall, students of this institution made sure to stand by Waheeb’s family in their hour of grief as they peacefully campaigned and protested to get the responsible party duly charged and arrested.

We pray for our fellow Waheeb Alam’s deceased soul (May Allah grant him peace and salvation), his family and for the speedy recovery of his injured friends. Please join us in condemning use of influence and power by those who cause innocent deaths and then easily escape from the grips of law.

The latest

Classes were cancelled at LUMS today. Death has struck this institution again, barely a year after a student took his own life, and at least one student’s life has been taken right outside the gates of the university.

Here are the bare facts. Early this morning, around the time of Fajr, three students of LUMS, in their junior year, walked out of the gates for a trip. A drunk driver in a Pajero crashed into all three of them and took off. One student has passed away (Inna lillahi a inna ilaihi’ raji’oon), another is critically injured, and another suffered ‘relatively minor injuries’ according to the mail.

One last piece of information: the student that is critically injured is at the hospital right now and they are refusing to treat him, as it’s a ‘police case’, whatever that is supposed to mean. I don’t know the hospital’s name right now, but student and teacher protestors have been staging a protest against this and against the person who committed this act. The drunk driver is a very influential person; hence it will be very difficult to launch a case against him.

I have nothing else to say, except to ask for your prayers and to spread the word so that at least something can be done to help the people that are still living.


Punjab Police given much deserved relief

In an unprecedented move, the Punjab Government has substantially increased the pay and allowances of all cadres of policemen and officers in the Punjab Police Department. Mian Shahbaz Sharif, the Chief Minister of Punjab, announced this landmark decision while addressing jawans at Lahore’s Qila Gujjar Singh Police Lines.

The new package includes a risk allowance equal to the policemen’s existing pay, a ration allowance and compensation and guaranteed employment for families of the martyred men.

Making the remuneration package of the Punjab Police equivalent to that of the prestigious Motorway Police, is a highly appreciable decision. For a Police constable earning Rs.6,000/- as base salary, it will be a blessing and a matter of survival for his/her family members.

Police forces in most of the developed countries are highly funded as they are responsible for protection of the people and their possessions. In Pakistan, however, abnormally low pay levels have fueled bribery, corruption and inefficiences in the Police department.

This much needed move will help provide financial security to thousands of men and women serving in the Provincial force who mainly belong to lower-class urban and rural families. It will also help curb corruption, contain the menance of bribery and will surely increase the morale and motivation levels. All of this will result in a Police force that is mentally and moraly better prepared to perform and protect the citizens in the current insecure times.

Lahorified; the Long March proceeds towards Islamabad

As Lahorites defied a virtual curfew in the city; Nawaz Sharif, his followers and the lawyers broke through all obstacles in their resolve to continue with the long march towards Islamabad’s Constitution Avenue.

Police baton-charging protestors on the Mall

Police baton-charging protestors on the Mall

The day had started with whole city celebrating the kite-flying festival of Basant while the security forces cracked down on lawyers and protestors gathering at GPO Chowk near the Lahore High Court. All prominent political activists and lawyers’ leaders including Mr.Nawaz Sharif and Barrister Aitezaz Ahsan were put under house arrest by official orders from the capital.

Nawaz Sharif addressing before leaving his Model Town residence

Nawaz Sharif addressing before leaving his Model Town residence

Nawaz Sharif after addressing his followers at his Model Town residence flouted the house-arrest and by people’s force on his side, proceeded towards Yadgar via Model Town Morr, Kalma Chowk, Muslim Town Morr, Ichhra, Mozang Chungi, and Data Darbar. Procession of lawyers followed under the leadership of Ahsan. Police after showing considerable resistance later backed off giving clear way to thousands of vehicles, motor-bikes and people on foot who continued their march in full zeal and spirit.

History has proven whenever people of this city take it to streets, change comes following. After today’s show of the people’s power, we might hear good news of political stability and reconciliation soon…

Images Courtesy: BBC News

Long March as it happens

Police block a street in Lahore ahead of Long March

Police block a street in Lahore ahead of Long March

Photo Courtesy: SeeNReport

The Government has literally let lose all patience in stopping lawyers, political activists, members of the civil society and the common people from reaching Islamabad for the lawyer’s mass sit-in. In Karachi, the launchpad of the march, we saw authorities blocking highways, baton-charging marchers and mass arrests of the participants. Situation may spiral out of control as there are reports of further clashes, protests, arrests and cars being set on fire in the metropolis.

Situation might not be different in Punjab and rest of the Sindh province, where Section 144 was imposed restricing public gatherings and processions of any sorts, as the march proceeds towards Islamabad.

Bloggers around the country are providing hand-on news of the Long March as it happens. Teeth Maestro is doing live coverage of the march by getting updates from people using wide number of sources and means including Twitter.

You can watch further citizen journalism updates on SeeNReport‘s Long March page.

Far from the “maddening” crowd…

Lahore is brimming to its maddening political edge as political parties battle it out in the streets. Loyalists branding party emblems are gathering everywhere. The Mall is a political boulevard where all parties deem it necessary to make their presence felt.

Such a “battle” brought me to an eventful PML-N rally on The Mall on 26 February. Armed with my camera and its bag; I walked hesitantly into the rally, a potential terrorist strike target. I freelance as a photojournalist, an interesting but risky job.

                                                                 The loyalists meet...

Here, the workers of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had blocked The Mall for over five hours in their protest against the Supreme Court (SC) verdict that disqualified the Sharif brothers from contesting the general elections.

Unrest prevailed as the protest intensified when aggressive party workers marched towards the Punjab Assembly building to break the locks after PML-N parliamentarians had to sit on the staircase to conduct the session.

Anti-Zardari slogans were chanted, tyres were burnt tyres and banners containing pictures of PPP leaders were brandished. The protesters held placards and banners that condemned the SC and the PPP-led government.

Burning tyres...

During the protest, a worker climbed a streetlight to hoist a PML-N flag.

Flag hoister

Addressing the workers, PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz said the SC had disqualified PML-N leadership on the directives of President Asif Ali Zardari and alleged that “The decision was a raid on democracy”.

Hamza Shahbaz

The other side:

Amid the noise at such ralies, a series of fortunate and misfortunate events also take place. A rally is a world in itself, in addition to the main political activity, there is a lot that goes on.


Pickpockets have a field day, robbing unsuspecting spectators of their cell phones, wallets and whatever they can get their hands on. I lost my cellphone as a man smuggled his way into my pocket and disappeared into thin air. 

Hawkers scramble about the gathering, selling water, food and the bare necessities. You’ll find people munching on goodies, browsing lottery tickets and offering free political analysis to everyone around them.


Amid  the commotion...

Pushy people:

Amid the commotion, one also gets assaulted by “pushy” people who force their way towards the stage. I was elbowed and my sunglasses fell to the road. Before I could pick them up, a “footful” of people stomped their way through and reduced it into a mere wire mesh! Why was I wearing sunglasses? Well the smoke from the burning tyres can be quite tearful at times!

Shattered shades...

“Zardari chuha”/Zardari Kuta

Animal rights everyone? Protesters hanged a live mouse from a board that read out “Zardaru chuha” (Translated: Zardari is a mouse). I couldn’t help but capture this one. Is this freedom of expression of abuse of expression? The little mouse was trembling and paying with its life for someone else’s crimes.

Zardari Chuha

Zardari Chuha


Men wearing horror masks and holding placards inscribed with Zardari Kuta (Translated: Zardari is a dog) are rampant throughout these anti-PPP rallies. These men get a lot of press attention, though such images may not be published, but they remain an irresistible catch for any photographer.

Seems familiar?

Seems familiar?

The ‘acting’ activists:

The political circus brings with it many characters. Activists try to steal the show by using their theatrical abilities to catch everyone’s attention. Here men beat their chests, “mourning” the SC verdict.

PML N-autanki

PML N-autanki


 It seems that as things become increasingly complicated in this political turmoil, it is advisable to witness the events from the safety of your house. The Mall shall remain choked and tense until things settle down. Lets hope the anarchy simmers down and Lahore is restored to its glory.

Transformers exist!

Blame it to transformers

Maybe the ceiling of the Ferozepur Road Underpass got scratched by heavy vehicles that exceeded the height limit prescribed for the tunnel or maybe it’s an act of transformers. Similarly, in Islamabad brand new vehicles on top of a truck got damaged when the truck driver tried to squeeze his vehicle through an underpass a couple of days ago.

What a shame!  So who would you blame?

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