Lawyers’ brief

January 25, 2008

With the father of the nation, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, himself a lawyer, the legal profession has a certain resonance in Pakistan that it does not have elsewhere. But the lawyers’ movement which led the opposition to President Pervez Musharraf last year had slipped off the front pages with the death of Benazir Bhutto. This week, a number of people have pushed the issue forward again.

In a column in the Daily Times,  called Who is Afraid of Aitzaz Ahsan, former foreign secretary Tanvir Ahmed Kahn argues that the history of the British empire in India showed that imprisoning the leaders of protest movements never helped. 

File picture of Aitzaz Ahsan

Ahsan, pictured right, the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, is under house arrest after being detained when Musharraf imposed a state of emergency in November. He wrote about his detention late last year in a column in The New York Times.

The Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong said this week it was giving an award to Ahsan and his predecessor, Muneer Malik, in recognition of their fight for an independent judiciary.  British lawyers and human rights groups also called for the release and reinstatement of lawyers and judges hit by the constitutional upheaval in Pakistan, according to the Times in London.

At a news conference in London, Musharraf said it was wrong to believe that the judicial crisis in Pakistan, in which judges and lawyers have been dismissed or detained, was a human rights issue. It was, he said, “a legal issue that was converted into a political issue and then further converted into a crisis for the nation.”

So how big a role will the lawyers’ movement play both before and after the February 18 election?


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What were Benazir Bhutto’s feelings towards the lawyers’ movement?

Is the movement important enough to affect the outcome of the elections? Can the elections still go ahead with Ahsan under house arrest?

Posted by Mary Walder | Report as abusive

Aitzaz Ahsan could be the saviour of Pakistan. He is not only highly intelligent but is honorable and has common sense. He and his wife, Bushra, have tried for many years to place Pakistan on the right track. They thought they might be able to do that in association with the Bhutto family business, otherwise known as the Pakistan People’s Party. AA tried hard for reforms as BB’s Interior Minister but was up against mighty opposition.

When BB returned to Pakistan, Aitzaz continued to be a loyal supporter — but was let down in spades when she struck a deal with the very people she professed to distrust. He had no alternative but to distance himself. But many of us thought and hoped he would be the natural successor.

What a pity that the PPP is now the fiefdom of a boy who can barely speak Urdu or Sindhi, and of his father, about whom nothing needs to be said in elaboration of the fact that his past behavious was nauseating.

It is Pakistan’s loss that Aitzaz Ahsan is not being allowed to offer himself as its leader.

Posted by beecee | Report as abusive

[…] Jan. 25 I wrote about how the lawyers’ movement had a special resonance in Pakistan not easily understood elsewhere. Now the release and fresh […]

Posted by Pakistan’s defiant lawyers – Pakistan: Now or Never? | Report as abusive

There should be a movement by the public against the
lawyers and the judges who are posing as the so called heroes of Pakistan. Few glimpses of their performance during last sixty years is as under.
1.They failed to evolve a system whereby cheap and quick justice could be provided to common man.For instance it is common practice to take adjournments in cases for 30 to 45 days and there is no rule that a judge can grant how many such adjournments, Glaring example is of ppp Co Chairman’s whose cases have nt been decided after a passage of more then a decade, what to say of pending cases of common man.
The lower staff at courts openly take bribe from the common man in front of all these lawyers who in most of the cases guide their clients as to how much amount of bribe they have to pay at each level. Most of the current and past Judges are ex
lawyers. All these facts are well known to the Judges and Lawyers.
A common man can not afford to engage a good lawyer at higher courts . The exploitation of common man by the lawyers in the ordinary cases is well known to everybody.
Charity begin at home. First they should look at their own affairs and make sincere efforts to improve the system which is well in their control before making efforts to save whole of Pakistan

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