Lawyers’ movement launched in Pakistan in 2007, primarily for restoration of the chief justice, turned into a movement for “rule of law” with the passage of time. This movement had raised hopes of ordinary Pakistanis that they would get justice at their doorsteps. This hope did not materialize but this movement strengthened hands of hyper-active judiciary. This also raised the price of lawyers, notably leaders of the movement. For ordinary lawyers, the movement granted an unqualified license to the legal community to play with law of the land. Lawyers’ hooliganism, vandalism and their beating up of police and media went unnoticed by the vigilant apex court who takes sou motto notices at the drop of the hat. The ugliest scene was witnessed when the lawyers’ community garlanded assassin of Punjab governor, Salman Taseer and blocked the legal proceedings against him.
According to a recent story of The Washington Post, Pakistani lawyers have gone from heroes to “gangsters”.
The repercussions of the movement are so grave that it has become virtually blasphemous to question the personal or professional conduct of any member of the apex judiciary, particularly the top judge. Nobody can question the blatant violation of rule of law if the conduct of a family member of the top judge is treated favorably by the judiciary. The damaging remarks of the top judge against the security establishment and his unsubstantiated observation about the “death squads” of security agencies and his insistence on his right to define the parameters of national security are all the negative fallout of lawyers’ movement, which otherwise was a popular movement having sympathies of everyone across the board.
Whether or not the army chief was firing warning shots when he talked about institutional boundaries, uniform application of law, delinking of wrongdoers from their institutions, need for public support of army in the times of war and gravity of the consequences of driving wedge in the rank and file, it was perceived to be a shut-up call for the judiciary, who in view of even the civil society and leaders of the lawyers’ movement is crossing all the institutional limits. The direct consequence of this statement was a rebuke in the open court giving clear signal to the lawyers’ community that their chief takes offence of otherwise a very balanced statement.
The lawyers’ community, dubbed as gangsters is up in arms again, this time against Pakistan’s armed forces. The resolution of Rawalpindi Bar to condemn the statement of army chief, SC’s readiness to disarm the COAS to enforce discipline and IHC’s recent admission of a petition by a disgruntled ex-army petitioner give very serious indications. Not only the Taliban or US or India, even Pakistan’s legal community is out to discredit the armed forces when these forces are engaged in a serious war. While the anti-Pakistan media was very skillfully using Pakistan’s judicial system against the armed forces, the lawyers have, in a very crude manner, assumed the role of foot soldiers of the CJ. They are doing no service to rule of law or Pakistan’s national interest. They are doing no service even to the most controversial CJ of Pakistan’s history who is accused by many for playing to the gallery and getting cheap popularity through the obliging media. On the other hand, the masses at the grass-root level remain deprived of justice and no amount of populist decision-making and judicial rhetoric can alleviate their pain inflicted by the corrupt and insensitive executive and lower judiciary.
- Who Will Rule Pakistan: The Generals Or The Lawyers? (warnewsupdates.blogspot.com)
- From Heroes to Gangsters: The Tale of Lawyers in Pakistan (blogs.the-american-interest.com)