Thursday, August 14, 2008

Amir Taheri Makes Me Want to Impeach Musharraf

I am not exaggerating when I say that Amir Taheri’s column criticising the impeachment drive against General Musharraf contains more factual errors than any column ever written by anyone not named William Kristol. It really is quite staggering.

To pass, impeachment needs two-thirds support in each house of parliament. In the lower house, the parties behind it can't master more than half of the 440 seats. In the upper, they may lack a simple majority.

Three errors here. One is understandable, the other could only be made by someone who has only a passing interest in Pakistani politics and I guess the third is a typo or brain fart. First, according to article 47 of the Constitution, the two houses of parliament will meet together for impeachment proceedings and the motion will have to be passed by a two-thirds majority. They don’t need a two-thirds majority in each house, just in total.

Secondly, to say that the parties behind the impeachment ( PPP and PML-N) don’t have more than half the seats in the lower house is absurd. They have 215 seats out of 340 and when you include defectors from the PML-Q and the PPP-S that number increases even further. Hell, just for fun I’m assuming the ANP sits out the impeachment proceedings.

The third error is that the lower house of parliament has 340 seats and not 440. I guess Taheri just included the 100 Senate seats as part of the lower house.

Anyway, lets move on:

His more recent eviction of senior High Court judges pushed the edge of illegality. And his decision last year to declare a state of emergency (later cancelled) can surely be painted as a violation of the spirit if not the letter of the constitution he himself wrote.

I guess it’s a matter of opinion if dismissing the Supreme Court judges and declaring an emergency is unconstitutional or not, but Taheri’s opinion is wrong. But there can absolutely no doubt that no matter how many amendments Musharraf might have made, he didn’t actually write the constitution back in 1973.

And the very next sentence:

That said, Musharraf was fairly elected president by direct (if not totally unblemished) vote.
And he's done something no other Pakistani military ruler ever did: preside over free and fair elections that swept his political enemies to power.

Yes he was directly elected to a five-year term as president back in the 2002 referendum, although not having anyone else on the ballot may be one of the ‘blemishes’ Taheri refers to. But in 2007, he had himself appointed president for another five-year term by the assemblies. It was in no way a direct election. Oh, and just for the record, Yahya Khan presided over free and fair elections but since he didn’t allow Mujib-ur-Rahman to take power you get half a point for that.

He seized power without bloodshed and didn't fill the prisons with political rivals.

For the validity of the second part of the statement just ask any senior member of the PPP and PML-N.

He's also the only military figure to secure a political constituency of his own. Polls put his core support at about 23 percent - not great, but still enough to put him ahead of any other Pakistani politician today.

Yeah, that’s more popular than any other politician only if you don’t include Nawaz Sharif, Asif Zardari and even Amin Fahim.

Speaking of Amin Fahim, we get this ridiculous paragraph:

Last winter, Sharif walked out of the coalition, threatening the government with collapse, because a coalition partner, the Pakistan People's Party, wasn't so keen on impeachment. (In fact, the PPP's elder statesman, Amin Fahim, has publicly denounced the impeachment move and served notice that he and his friends will vote against it.) Sharif rejoined the coalition only when promised an impeachment drive.

First, a small point of order. Nawaz Sharif didn’t walk out of the coalition, he just withdrew his ministers while keeping the coalition intact. More importantly it is disingenuous to say that the PPP as a whole is opposed to impeachment because Amin Fahim is. I trust all our readers know about the Zardari/Amin Fahim saga so I’m not going to bother elaborating on that.

Ironically, Musharraf arranged for both Sharif and Zardari to escape prosecution on charges of corruption, money-laundering and embezzlement. Thanks to him, the two won't face any further probe of their activities while they were in power before 1999.

This is totally false. The National Reconciliation Ordinance only covers cases that were heard between 1986 and October 1999. The cases against Nawaz Sharif were initiated after Musharraf came to power.


Anonymous said...

I think it's worth mentioning that amer taheri's piece appeared in the NY Post, as opposed to the NY Times.

The Times's neoliberal banner: "liberal democracies, democratisation, impeachment would be healthy for maturing democratised institutions"

The Post's conservative banner: "realist politics, stop messing around with who is of use to us"

These banners are not real quotes, they are this commentor's understanding of the two papers.

Ahsan said...


That may very well be the case, but surely something in print should at least PRETEND to be true? Someone (not sure who) once said that you are entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts. I'm pretty sure this piece crosses the line.

Anonymous said...

Oh yah, that's right. I believe Bilawal Bhutto said that.

Anonymous said...

Oh yah, that's right. I believe Bilawal Bhutto said that.

Riaz Haq said...

If what this post says is true, then I find it a very strange process. It means that the joint session of parliament is acting as the judge, the jury and the executioner, in the same way that Musharraf did as the military dictator. Usually, as in the US, the impeachment process is divided in two phases: Phase 1: The lower house votes on the charges and agrees to indict the president by two-thirds majority. Phase 2: There is a trial presided over by the supreme court chief justice with the upper house as the jurors who convict or acquit the president.

Rabia said...

this is the guy who wrote a completely made-up story about how Iran was going to make non-muslims start wearing special badges. I think he even made up a fake Minister of Islamic Orientation for Iran and when people checked the cabinet of Iran, no such minister existed. What a hack!

Bamir Baheri said...

Amir Taheri is one of those crazy Iranian exiles. He's one of those rented sand niggers who somehow has retained his position as a niche writer who never makes any sense.

This article isn't an exception. Most of his have so many errors.
His job is a full-time exile. What a douche bag.

Ahsan said...


Hahaha yes, that's exactly who it was. Thanks for reminding me.


How did you do that? The whole "linking within a comment" thing? Please explain for the benefit of all (or, um, one).


"Rented sand-niggers"?