Why is Athar Minallah causing panic to The News? Why now? – by Fawad Manzoor



This is with reference to Ahmad Noorani’s rejoinder titled “Why is Athar Minallah so panicky?” which was published in The News on 19 June 2010.

About face by Ahmed Noorani on Mr Athar Minhallah is so panicky. Even though I don’t agree with the lawyers movement the way it has gone but I do agree with how Mr. Minhallah has said it has turned out to be.

It is abundantly clear that the way media aka journalists see independent judiciary and democracy is different from how experts and people see them. Mr. Noorani along with his pro Taliban sympathizing journalists has a personal agenda that he (and his cronies) are working on, i.e., to pitch judiciary against democracy. Mr. Minhallah should be panicky the way situation is brewing.

Journalists who have absolutely no formal training to be journalist are trying to be constitutional and judicial experts. A few months back when one of the leading lights of lawyers’ movement gave his opinion about presidential immunity, same journalists along with certain like-minded lawyers started jumping on him that he is about to join Zardari camp. According to media, the only people who are for independent judiciary are the ones who are towing their line. Yellow journalism is ripe in Pakistan.

It is not only that Athar Minhallah is upset, what about Aitizaz Ahsan, Munir Malik, Ali Ahmed Kurd; all of them have taken long leave of absence from the scene. Now we have new comers like Qazai Anwar, SC Registrar Faqir Khokhar and Hamid Khan trying to run the show the way they see it fit.

All of a sudden, Mr. Noorani and other right wing journalists have started paying attention to the background of Mr. Athar Minhallah that he was Musharraf’s provincial cabinet minister.

Dear Noorani, you knew about it earlier but you were all praise for him, why talk about his background now? Noorani Sahib, if Mr. Minhallah’s credentials are upsetting you so much that you have started a malicious campaign against him, do take a look at the credentials of the judges you are trying to defend.

I always said that the so called lawyers movement was only a mix of opportunist. Judges, lawyers, politicians, journalists all had their own ulterior agendas that they wanted to serve.

The real force behind the lawyers movement’s success was the camera tricks of the media, how camera covered the event being held by 20 people but they showed it to the people at an angle to make it look like there were 2000.

Today, judiciary is overstepping its limits and putting undue pressure on the newly elected democratic government, while media is running away with concocted stories. Everyday we read and hear stories by these journalists about how government is trying to topple judiciary.

I agree with Mr. Minhallah that if we had the patience for dictatorial illegitimate long rules of Ayub, Yahya, Zia and Musharraf and we lived with the supreme court and chief justices who gave numerous judgments defending military dictators, we should also give some time for democracy to settle down and bring its house in order.

After nine long years of Military cum Judicial Martial Law in which all institutions were destroyed to keep Musharraf in power, we only had three years of so called democracy. We still have people in places who served their military bosses and we still have people who have worked with dictators and defended their actions.

Democracy and political parties in Pakistan need our full support against the unholy nexus of the right wing media, judiciary and the (real) powers in khaki.


3 responses to “Why is Athar Minallah causing panic to The News? Why now? – by Fawad Manzoor”

  1. Here is the article referred to in the above post:

    http://thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=245903

    Why is Athar Minallah so panicky?

    Saturday, June 19, 2010
    By By Ahmad Noorani

    ISLAMABAD: Senior leader of the lawyers’ movement Athar Minallah in his article “Who are betraying the unsung heroes of the lawyers’ movement?” published in The News on June 16 and in Daily Jang on June 17 has mentioned my three stories as biased and unethical reporting, which in his views is corruption. At one stage he said it is yellow journalism.

    Athar Minallah echoed exactly the same line as the Zardari Camp – that some of my colleagues and I are destabilising the institutions and pitching the judiciary against Parliament to achieve the objective, which could not be achieved by democratic and constitutional means. Athar concluded that the mindset of these journalists has ravaged the institutions and has brought Pakistan to the brink of devastation we are facing today.

    The style of writing shows the writer was extremely emotional, was not in proper frame of mind and thus wrote and commented on baseless assumptions.

    While reading his remarks the real thing must be kept in mind that everything written by him was in response to The News report that he was supporting Asma. Athar was neither abused nor was accused of any corruption or any wrongdoing. In the story nothing else was attributed to him or any other lawyer.

    A few days back when Athar shouted at this correspondent in response to The News story, he was asked whether his negative behaviour was because of the media’s changed opinion about him.

    Let the people judge if Athar is a hero; he should not indulge in self-praise. The News stands by all the stories except one “Athar threatens the Supreme Court”, which was never written by any one at The News. During the lawyers’ movement Athar and I were on the same page.

    After the movement I maintained the same position and never compromised with the rulers on the issues of supremacy of constitution, rule of law, strengthening of the democratic institutions and independence of judiciary.

    Athar Minallah is among those senior lawyers whose credibility and financial honesty could never be doubted. But at the same time it is also true that he has started feeling as if he was the only person behind the success of the lawyers’ movement.

    Athar Minallah openly demonstrated his views on the issue of appointment of judges and eighteenth amendment, which were clearly against the apex court’s judgments. No doubt Athar has the right to have his own views and interpretations but he has started thinking that the apex court should act in accordance with his ideas and interpretations, which obviously is not possible and for this he has been criticised in some of the news items.

    I don’t feel it necessary to reply to the countless allegations levelled by Athar in his article but his argument that if as a nation we have tolerated Ayub, Yahya and Musharraf, why we could not tolerate democracy is strange in the sense that democracy and corruption are not synonymous. Athar Minallah became a minister in the provincial cabinet soon after Musharraf abrogated the Constitution and become the chief executive of the country after October 12, 1999 coup. Where were his principles then?