The Pakistani nation is kind of sick and tired hearing about the independence of judiciary and the wonderful job that the media is undertaking in promoting democratic values and strengthening rule of law.
The courage of both these institutions was exposed when Inamur Raheem, a retired military lawyer, on November 14, 2012, while returning from a family funeral to his home in Rawalpindi was stopped by three vehicles. Six unidentified men leapt out and attacked Raheem, raining blows on his head and upper torso. “I resisted, so they attacked me with punches and sticks,” he said during an interview at a nearby hospital, where he was treated for cuts to the nose and head. “They said they were teaching me a lesson for what I was doing.”
What was Raheem’s fault?
He started a legal challenge this week seeking to end the tenure of Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff in the Islamabad High Court. The 57-year-old retired colonel has challenged the validity of a three-year extension of service for Gen. Kayani in 2010. General Kayani, the army chief, turned 60 this year, which Raheem argues is the age limit for his post, thus rendering the remainder of his term extension invalid.
Raheem believes the beating, which occurred just 200 yards from the military’s general headquarters, was a clear attempt to force him to back off. “No one except the army chief and his military intelligence chief can be behind this attack,” he said.
The army spokesman was not available for comment, but another military official, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the sensitive issue, described to New York Times Raheem’s account as “baseless.” “No security official was involved in beating up of Inam ur Raheem,” he said.
The investigation into the assault is now in police hands. But there’s little doubt that Raheem had entered perilous waters — particularly at a time when the military leadership faces an array of legal actions that challenge several pillars of the army’s longstanding grip on power in Pakistan.
Raheem, a retired military lawyer, and a religious-minded man has a history of challenging the military. In 2007, he sought the release of detainees being held in intelligence custody. In 2012, he defended a brigadier who was later court-martialed for spreading Islamist propaganda inside the military.
Raheem told the New York Times that he was attacked by operatives from Military Intelligence because, six months ago, the head of that organization, Maj. Gen. Naushad Kayani, personally warned him to abandon his legal activism. “Give up all these cases. Anything can happen to you,” Raheem recounted the general as telling him.
Now his petition against General Kayani is expected to be heard by the Islamabad High Court next week. Mr. Raheem says he intends to press ahead — after being released from the hospital, he went immediately to a police station to file a complaint that named the army chief and military intelligence chief, whom he accused in writing of mounting an assassination attempt against him. The police has not taken the case up. But Raheem said he was undeterred. “There is no question of giving up,” he said.
Raheem’s colleagues went on strike on Nov 17 and the lawyers of the Rawalpindi District Bar passed a resolution against what they termed the army chief’s interference in politics. “The army, as an institution, has not only failed to hold its corrupt officers accountable but is supporting them,” stated the resolution.