Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ottoman Empire had de-criminalized homosexuality in 1858

Believe it or not, but it was not the Republic of Turkey that de-criminalised homosexuality in Turkey. Homosexuality was de-criminalised vide Ottoman Sultan's decree in 1858.  This was part of the Tanzimat-e-Fermani which were enacted through the Hatt-e-Seriff or the Imperial Edict. This pre-dated de-criminalization in most western countries- revolutionary for its time.

Now here is the interesting part. The Ottoman Sultan was also the Caliph of Islam and God's vicegerent on Earth.

I wonder what Hizbut-tahrir's geniuses have to say about that. After all they make a whole lot of hue and cry about the end of Khilafat in 1924.   Not exactly what they make it out to be is it?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Secular Pakistan as the only viable option

The secularism debate has taken off in recent days. An increasingly diverse group of people drawn from almost all walks of life have begun to agitate for a secular state. The violence against religious minorities as well as sectarian minorities has convinced many people that secularism in Pakistan is the only option left.

US Supreme Court and the Surveillance Law - questions Group's locus standi

Yesterday the US Supreme Court struck down a challenge from a group of lawyers, journalists and human rights researchers, including ACLU and Amnesty International, who had challenged the constitutionality of the law that allows US government to detect and track the messages of the suspected foreign terrorists.

The US Supreme Court said that the party complaining must have suffered the injury "actual or imminent" which is "fairly traceable" to the challenged action and where a favorable order would redress the damage done.

On these grounds the challenge was struck down.

US Supreme Court DNA Privacy v. Crime Solving- Update

US Supreme Court's Samuel A Alito called it the "most important criminal procedure case" in "decades".  The basic question is whether taking DNA swabs from arrested accused and matching them against a data base of unsolved crimes constitutional or not. As I said yesterday, it is likely to be constitutional.

The government's lawyers have come up with an interesting argument. They say having a DNA test can have a positive impact on how bails are decided by the courts. I think this argument holds a lot of water. As one of the lawyers for the government said  - this is the finger printing for the 21st century "only better".

Monday, February 25, 2013

US Supreme Court and the DNA civil rights issue

The US Supreme Court is finally hearing arguments on when or how taking DNA samples from a suspect can become constitutional.  Alonzo King's lawyers are arguing that DNA samples and linking them to other crimes on the data base without a warrant (as is the case under Maryland law) from suspects violate Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

The facts briefly are that Alonzo King arrested in 2009 for assault was subject to DNA testing that linked him to a 2003 rape.  The American Civil Liberties Union argues that this is a violation of privacy and that at the minimum a warrant should be required.

My comment:

I don't see how a swab test taken as a result of an arrest which comes out to be a DNA match with another unsolved outstanding claim would be considered a violation of privacy or due process. In fact it provides that perfect balance.  What my take is that taking a DNA test from a person arrested for an assault charge is neither an unreasonable search nor seizure. If x y z breaks the law and is then put on a database and matched with another crime, it is an exercise in state efficiency and not unreasonable search or seizure.

It would be unreasonable search or seizure if people were randomly tested and recorded. A person who breaks the law does so knowing that he or she would now be on a database and that database may be cross referenced and matched.

I expect the US Supreme Court to uphold the Maryland Law.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Memorandum of Understanding Sample

DRAFT: Memorandum of Understanding

This Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) has been entered into on this the ____ day of____________2013 (the “Effective Date”)

by and between

1.      ____________a company incorporated under the laws of  [name of the emirate/DAFZA/JAFZA/RAKIA] acting through its [Director] duly authorised in this behalf by a Board Resolution dated [ ] (“ABC”, which expression shall be deemed to mean and include its successors in interest and permitted assigns), of the first part.


2.      [ ], a company incorporated under the laws of the State of Singapore, having its principal place of business, acting through its [ ], Mr. ____________, duly authorised in this behalf by a Board Resolution dated [ ] (hereinafter referred to as ‘XYZ’ which expression shall unless repugnant to the context or meaning thereof shall mean and include its subsidiaries, successors and assigns), of the other part.

(ABC and XYZ are hereinafter collectively referred to as the “Parties,” and singularly as a “Party,” as the case may be).

Deed of Agreement


THIS AGREEMENT is made on _________________ day of ______________at[         ], ,  
 [ ] incorporated under the laws of Pakistan, with its head office  through its [], [Mr/Ms []] duly authorised vide [](here in after called the First Party which expression shall include  its representatives, successors in interest and assignees).
 [ ] incorporated under the laws of United Kingdom, with its head office situated at [] through its [], [Mr/Ms []] duly authorised vide [] (here in after called the Second Party which expression shall include  its representatives, successors in interest and assignees).
(Both the First Party and the Second Party are collectively referred to as the “Parties” where the context so permits).

Monday, February 11, 2013

Why are Fakhra Hassans and Nabihas of Pakistan unwilling to take on the Mullahs?

The only endorsement I need for the fact that I do not have a misogynist bone in my body (despite what appears to be my threatening masculinity) came a woman who is 100 times the feminist the three above named self styled feminists can ever be-  Aisha Fayyazi Sarwari, who happens to be - as a sheer coincidence- my wife.  I had imagined that given that marriages are between contracting counterparties,  Aisha would the last person who would publicly endorse me but she did and I must have done something right.  She wrote:
Never has control been an issue, nor has interference, neither power. I am free in the real sense of the word, to chart my own course in life and in the day. What I have to come home to is unconditional support and understanding.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Selling feminism for a living

Mullahs of all kinds have done it since time immemorial. Sell religion for their own petty gains. You have a property dispute, accuse your opponent of blasphemy. You want to become the Emperor of India, accuse Dara Shikoh of heresy... can't win electorally, declare a kafir-e-azam here, a kafiristan there. Maulana Maududi and Majlis-e-Ahrar did it unsuccessfully at first but then succeeded mightily after 1947.  Such is the nature of power politics in religious societies.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Imminence Doctrine, US Department of Justice and Extrajudicial Killing of US Citizens


For those of you who are stumped by the news that US Department of Justice has come up with the immence docrine to justify drone attacks against Al Qaeda and associated leaders with an American citizenship, I'll endeavor to explain the same briefly.

What the USDOJ memo purports to argue is simple:  If a US citizen is a leader of a terrorist group which posed an imminent threat to the US, he or she may be targetted. In doing so it is said to expand the definition of an imminent threat. Hogwash. Either a group is at war or it is not. If it is at war with the US, there is imminent threat to US' national security.  Therefore I disagree with those criticizing the USDOJ Memo.

Lord Tariq Ahmad and the Pakistani Media

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

So mainstream Pakistani media is reporting that His Excellency, President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari  was received by Lord Tariq Ahmed who is of Pakistani origin. The News especially seems to have made a big deal about the fact that it is the first time a peer of Pakistani origin has received a president on behalf of the Queen.

What our media omitted is that Lord Ahmed is an Ahmadi, a community that is terribly persecuted, abused and humiliated by the state and society in Pakistan. A diplomat once asked me if the discrimination against Ahmadis is a popular discrimination. It is a populist discrimination I told him. It is a denial of human rights and individual freedoms. You may amount to nothing in life, you may be a soulless and corrupt human being but so long as you are an officially sanctioned "Muslim" in Pakistan, you have a copyright on Islam and using that copyright you can justify anything done against Ahmadis.


Yasser Latif Hamdani on PTV Global

YLH&Co's Yasser Latif Hamdani will make an appearance on Fasi Zaka's PTV GLOBAL show at 6:05 Pakistan Time on 6 February, 2013.

Please tune in.

Court of Requests

Court of Requests was an equity court that existed in a formal manner during the 16th Century in England. The court itself is said to have been created by Richard III (yes that evil monarch so demonised by Shakespeare at the behest of his Tudor patrons). 

Originally it was conducted through Lord Privy Seal, but under the modernizing King Henry VIII, two Masters of Request Ordinary were appointed as judges to preside over this court.  The Court of Requests was a remarkable court in so much as it provided equitable relief to small landowners, tenants and yeomen against major landowners and feudal elite of the time.

The court was very effective in providing justice so much so that there was a major backlash against it by the Common Law Courts which began overruling its decisions and stopped it from imprisoning anyone.  Ultimately, after the English Civil War, the seal under which it existed became invalid and the Court of Requests was allowed to fade into memory and history.

Monday, February 4, 2013

David Bernick: The Devil's (Successful) Advocate

This is the stuff of the movies.

W R Grace, a giant corporation, was accused of contaminating a town in Montana with asbestos. It became one of the biggest cases of contamination by asbestos in US history.

In what looked like a sure loser of a case, W R Grace hired the services of David Bernick. This master litigator got them acquitted in 2009 after arguing that the EPA special investigator had a "special relationship" with one of the star witnesses.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What is corporate law?

What is corporate law? This is a question I get asked a lot. Corporate law and practice corporate law may refer to the following:

1. Corporate, company law compliance, including general mand board eetings, forms and elections of directors.

2. Transactional law:  Agreements, documentation, licenses, policies. A transactional lawyer may be involved in IPO offerings, floating bonds and securities etc.

3. Regulatory complaince: In specific fields of business - such as telecommunications- a corporate lawyer may undertake compliance with regulatory policies of that field.

4. Coporate commercial litigation: This can be litigation in the field of company law, competition law or banking law.

5. Legal advice: Legal opinions and advice in matters pertaining to the aforesaid.

Maria Zulfiqar Khan's Illegal and unconstitutional raid

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

It is a tragedy that seemingly reasonable young women in the media have taken to acting like vigilantes. I do not wish to comment on what compulsions there exist for these women to resort to such behavior, but I will comment on the patent illegality of TV Vigilantes.

First of all these actions of TV Vigilantes violate Article 14 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Privacy of a private premises is inviolable under the constitution as well as under Islam.  The Supreme Court of Pakistan had struck down on the Hasba Bill on the grounds that it violated human dignity, liberty and privacy. In what is a landmark judgment on privacy rights,  the Supreme Court ruled that an Islamic state has no mandate in infringing personal space, liberty and privacy. Maria Zulfiqar Khan not only violated the privacy of what was a private premises but enlisted the help of the state i.e. police officials in doing so.

Best Lawyer in America

The best lawyer in America in our opinion is David Boeis. For those of you who are old enough to remember the Recount saga of 2000's President Elections and Bush v. Gore would know the name. He is more famous however in the business world for his role on behalf of the US Department of Justice against Microsoft in the Microsoft anti-trust case.

Here is an excerpt from an interview from Wired about the Napster case in which he represented Napster.

The first issue is: Are Napster's users engaged in copyright infringement? If they are not, that's the end of the matter, because nobody alleges that Napster directly infringes any copyright. Napster's only alleged liability is for contributory or vicarious infringement. You cannot have contributory or vicarious infringement without having some underlying infringement. So when Napster's users engage in noncommercial sharing of music - noncommercial copying of music - is that activity copyright infringement?

Sample Will and Testament

This document is a very basic template of a will. Consult a lawyer to prepare a proper will.

1. This is my last Will and Testament, all other Wills and Testaments of mine stand cancelled.

2. I appoint [         ] as my executrix and executors and also my trustees.

3. All shares, stocks & securities and current accounts now standing in the name of my [                                ]are [              ]

4. I now hereby bequeath [ REAL PROPERTY  ]  as it stands absolutely and he/she can dispose of it in any manner she pleases by will, deed or otherwise.

5. I also direct my executors to pay [            ] over [         ]

6. I direct my executors to pay the following by way of gifts to the institutions/charities mentioned below:

7. Subject to above, all my residuary estate including the corpus that may fall after the lapse of life interests or otherwise to be [              ]


Attesting witnesses

You may also contact YLH&Co for a Will and Testament especially if you are unwilling to dole out heavy amounts to your Lawyers or Solicitors in the US or UK.


Is Pakistan like 16th Century England?

Is Pakistan like 16th Century England. I endeavoured to answer this question in my latest article in Daily Times. I think there is hope still for Pakistan because our social and material conditions are very similar to Europe during reformation, especially England. There have been monumental changes made that will take their effect in good time.

The coming elections will be decisive in the sense that they would determine whether Pakistanis are willing to allow democracy to work or not. In the opinion of this writer, it is very important for democracy, Pakistan and Pakistan People’s Party itself that the PPP loses the next election — which it seems poised to do — so that people get to vote out an unpopular government and the PPP goes back to the drawing board to reinvent itself as a true people’s party. Such a defeat will be a reminder to whoever is in the saddle next that there is no mightier sword than the sword of public opinion that the people have forged in this country primarily through their own effort and their faith in democracy.

Things you need to tell your lawyer when preparing a will

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

Following documents and lists are required for the will:

a. A complete list of all your assets, including bank accounts, securities, bonds, business ownership, money owed to you as well as your valuable personal effects such jewelry, furs, art objects and the like.

b. An itemization of your real estate together with its value and any joint ownership.

c. A list of your obligations i.e. mortgages, loans etc.

d. Any inheritance your expect to receive before your death.

e. A statement of any instruments such as trusts and wills of others in which you have the power to appoint.

f. A statement of approximate income and general standard of living over the past few years.

g. Records of insurance of all kinds.

h. Family information, such as ages, state of health, adopted children, marital problems, family feuds etc. 

The Importance of Lawyer in your will

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

This pertains to US Law.

Writing a will is tricky business, fraught with pitfalls for the unwary and the untrained. To be certain that your will will stand up legally and that your property is disposed off according to your wishes, it is essential that you have an attorney draw up your will and testament.

A good lawyer will do far more than simply write your will, as if taking dictation with embellishmens. He will help you prepare an itemized and serialized list of your real and personal property and other assets so that you can determine what your worth is.  He will advise you about the legal requirements for disposal through will which you may not be aware of. He will explain the dangers of certain provisions which you may want to include. He will shape the will in a manner that takes advantage of the current estate for the greatest benefit to your family. He will shape the will in a manner that takes advantage of current estate tax provisions so that your estate will not find that because of oversights it has to pay more than the minimum amounts of taxes required.

US Law: Property you cannot dispose off in your will

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

(This information applies only to the US)

Through your will and testament you cannot dispose off the following:

1. Life Insurance Benefits

2. Pensions

3. US Government Savings Bonds

4. Jointly owned property with the right of survivorship.

5. Exempt property which by law go to your widow/widower and children.

6. Property you expect to inherit but do not inherit before your death.

7. Life tenancy for a house or an accommodation.

8. Income from a trust fund.

An exception to the rule governing the proceeds of a life insurance policy occurs when you name your estate as a beneficiary (one of the many reasons you ought to consult a real estate lawyer).