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Law and Disorder: Radicalization of the legal community

By Abdul majeed Abid:

Greek philosopher Aristotle famously remarked “The law is reason unaffected by desire”.

Going by that description, lawyers should be the most logical/reasonable people in a society. In context of Pakistan, lawyers have played an important role in both creation of Pakistan and evolution of society. Founder of Pakistan Mr Muhamad Ali Jinnah and national poet Allama Iqbal were both lawyers. Lawyers are also the most politicised section of the society. Every major party in Pakistan has its legal wings. A disturbing trend of increased religious intolerance has been witnessed in the last few years. One basic reason for this has been the increasd influence of student wings of right-wing parties in law colleges across the country. Even the historic lawyers’ movement was almost hi-jacked by the right wing elements among lawyers. According to Saroop Ijaz, a lawyer and partner at Ijaz Co in Lahore,

“The lawyers’ movement in 2007 started as one of the most principled revolutionary movements that this country has ever witnessed. The primary reason for its initial success was the organisational structure of the district Bar associations. Hence it was possible to mobilise the lawyers in most cities in the country, almost simultaneously. The realisation that a movement restricted to lawyers is unlikely to culminate into a movement of the masses in the true sense resulted in accepting assistance from anyone who was willing to offer it. The religious right was the first to see an opening and seize the opportunity. Initially, it was the religious political parties like the Jamaat-i-Islami but this degenerated into the appearance of members of the Sipah-i-Sahaba and other banned outfits at protests.. The not-so-subtle irony here was that groups that did not believe a constitutional form of government to be permissible and longed for “Sharia” rule were cheering on for the restoration of the Chief Justice. It was the classic example of not being ‘Hub-e-Ali’ (‘love for Ali’) but ‘Bugz-e-Muawiya’ (‘opposition to Muawiya’) and the enemy of the enemy being a friend etc. I am certain that the leadership of the lawyers’ movement smugly believed that the rational utilitarian choice at that moment was to garner support from whatever quarter it emanates to pursue the immediate objective of the restoration of the judiciary and of kicking out Musharraf. While both these aims were not only honourable but desirable, nevertheless there was definitely myopia displayed by the leadership of the lawyers’ movement. Faustian bargains once made cannot be undone”

A unique achievement on part of the increasingly radicalized lawyer community was the funeral prayers that were offered after the death of Osama bin Laden at Lahore High Court, Peshawar High Court and Rawalpindi Bar Association.(Despite the fact that 66% Pakistanis do not even believe that OBL was killed by US SEAL team Six that night) . This act is described as unique because these funeral prayers preceded those at either Mansoora or Qadsia Mosque(the fortresses of traditional sypmathizers of Osama i.e. Jamaat e Islami and Jamaat ad Dawaa). As if this was not disturbing enough, lawyers in Rawalpindi went a step further and showered rose-petals on the murderer of Governor Salman Taaseer in Rawalpindi.Those lawyers probably did not know that one of their own-Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti-was murdered on the same issue in 1997 in his chambers in Lahore or that two of the very well-esteemed members of Judiciary over the years i.e. Justice Alvin Robert Cornelius and Justice Bhagwan Das were non-muslims. The image of Qadri being showered with  rose-petals by Lawyers projected to the world how insecure our minorities are and highlighted the level of religious intolerance. Later, when Qadri was sentenced to death, the judge who gave the verdict faced threats to his life and had to flee the country. Haider Imtiaz, from the Rawalpindi Bar, wrote,

“When the verdict[against Qadri] was given, it reminded me of the age-old phrase, ‘Let justice be done, though the heavens fall’. The heavens have indeed fallen upon the judge who had, until a few weeks ago, enjoyed a reasonably good reputation. Expecting violent reprisals, he was forced to take leave and stop performing his duties. The day after the DBA resolution was passed, the same lawyers who had attended the ‘emergency’ session vandalised his office. Keeping in view the threat to his life, he was eventually transferred by the authorities. It was indeed a sad and shameful day in the history of the District Bar Association Rawalpindi which had, only a few years ago, played the role of the vanguard in the lawyers’ movement for rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.”
Azhar siddique is the poster boy for the born-again religious lawyers. He submitted an appeal to the Lahore high court praying that Facebook be banned. In may 2010, facebook was banned for a few days by PTA. Recently, Lahore high court ordered the authorities to block blasphemous pages on facebook. He was also leading the effort by certain quarters to declare Sherry Rehman ineligible for the post of of Ambassador to the United States. According to those people, Sherry Rehman introduced a bill in the parliament to amend the infamous blasphemy law and took a courageous stand on the matter of Aasia bibi which somehow justifies her to be killed or at least be declared non-muslim.(That appeal was ultimately dismissed by the Lahore High court)

The founder of Pakistan would be turning in his grave due to these “stunts” by certain sections of our legal fraternity. The only positive thing is that there still are prominent lawyers with progressive thought and all is not lost yet. Law colleges across the country should try to negate the influence of radical parties and fatctions upon the students. Similarly, progressive lawyers need to unite and form a bulwark against the rising tide of extremism in society in general and particularly in lawyers.
It is time for the “reason” to rise above “passion”.

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13 Responses to "Law and Disorder: Radicalization of the legal community"

  1. I JAWAID IQBAL GEOGFFREY AM JUST A FRAUD THROWN OUT OF UNITED STATES FOR MALFEASANCE United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I have filed a writ against the author in all Pakistani courts for bringing my and my colleagues’ most high and most noble crookery (read that word again!) into disrepute.

  2. TO RAZA RUMI

    Please remove such blatantly evil/Libvellous/fitna and patently false stuff from PTH dilligently. Some filthy-deviates (from whatever country or faith) should not be allowed to use PTH columns for Libelling.

    please, Let me know the email address of this deviate or rather fiend using the name GEOGFFREY as criminal appropriation..

  3. AKB Pakistan Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ SARDAR GUNNDASINGH GUNNDAYRE-YAWNNWALA OF SUCHCHA-SAUDA

    Tussi theek aakhday ho…..laikin wakeel vee tay vaddee shay nein na!!
    PTH katchra banda ja reha vay….. unbiased articles likhan walay kithey turr gaye ne????

  4. Amjad Cheema United Kingdom Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    For how long we will keep on telling lies to our children
    Founder of Pakistan sowed the seeds of what we r seeing today. He also used religion & he was the one who contested Ilm Din case which led to production of a society full of Qadris. So Khawaja Sharif is just following in the foot steps of Muhammad ali Jinnah. Look at Jinnah, no problem marrying a parsi but could not accept her daughter marrying a parsi. What a hypocrite he was. With Iqbal both were instrumental in the production of Islamofascism we r facing now.

  5. RHR United States Internet Explorer Windows says:

    @ Amajd Cheema

    You have forgotten that after Jinnah- who was alive for just one year and who has been called secular even by right wingers like Advani in India- many came and used Islam for political purposes…What we are saying today owes more to people like ZAB (sorry I can never forget second amendment and 1973 constitution), Zia ul Haq and even Ayub Khan..

    I will not include benazir here because she never used Islam as a political weapon…

    And Jinnah not allowing Dina to marry a parsi does not mean that he was radical Muslim…

    Yes you can argue that he should not have stopped his daughter..but those times were different..after all Rutti’s father also stopped his daughter from marrying Jinnah..

    Allowing or disallowing a daughter to marry someone else and that too in 1940s is NOT radicalism…yes though fro modern days standard you can arguably call it hypocricy.

    Regards

    Raza

  6. Thomas United States Mozilla Firefox Mac OS says:

    Is shooting at foreign Invaders of another faith radical.. When they are killing citizens of Pakistan in extra-judicial murders like Raymond Davis…??

    Is turning a blind eye to foreign invaders who kill Muslim CHILDREN and dishonor Allah, Mohamed and the Umah radical..??

  7. Before marrying Mohummed Ali Jinnah, RA, Rutti Jinnah converted to (Isna Iashiri School of jurisprudence) Islam. She is resting in peace in the Isna Ishiri Mosque of Bombay.

    Jinnah did NOT disallow his daughter to marry into a Parsi family. That was not his modus operandi nor his bailiwick. Those who feign or pretend otherwise are misdirected and are misbehaving.

  8. Iqbal Geoffrey of Jhootha Sauda of Confiscated American License for Malpractice United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    When military’s hired guns become ‘lawyers’ then radicalization becomes normalization, hoodwinking and misbehaving more common than breathing.

  9. rex minor Germany Google Chrome Windows says:

    What does the author recommend that qoolies in the street should revolt against those who have brought chaos and lawlessness in the country, if not the students and the lawyers. The only mistake was to let Musharaf the incompetent one to leave the land safely. The guy should have neen tried for treason allowing the Americans the bases to murder Pakistani citizens( he now says that they were meant for logistics, and not for military operations)and shamefully ordering an assault on the house of God and later the judiciary of Pakistan(he calls it legal). For as long as the students and the custodians of law and the lawyers community remain independent and protected, there is a hope for the communities in a country!

    Rex Minor

  10. lady Guinevere United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Here we go again! Either you blame Jinnah or the Americans for all of Pakistan’s troubles. I fail to comprehend that Pakistan would be a place of Nirvana if either of the two had never been involved with the dear motherland of Pakistan!
    @Rex Minor. So you believe Musharraf should have been tried for treason for allowing the Americans in with their bases to, and I quote you, “murder Pakistani citizens”. Perhaps you have a very short memory. I believe he saved the state of Pakistan from being “bombed back to the Stoneage”; wasn’t that the alleged quote/threat??? I also believe it caused him to shift around his army, “Generally”, to sort of clean up a few minor infractions (just a few minor details that we shall not mention here but all are aware of) that caused the U.S. to intervene in the first place. Oh well, we all tend to remember what we want to historically when things just don’t go the way we wanted them to. If I remember correctly, Musharraf had inherited quite a mess in the first place and had only been in power for a short time. He was Chief Martial Law Administrator from 99 to 2002, but was President from only June 2001 thru 2008. Gee, June 2001, just 3 months before the infamous 9/11! Now how things went after that infamous date can only be guessed at. Up was down and down was up……..sideways anyone? Pakistan was the bullseye on the map and got the blame for everything! You people had been living under horrific dictators for some time and frankly, Musharraf was one of your better ones. I just feel that trying to “put the blame” game on one or two people is an effort in futility! So where shall we start in the U.S.? Clinton for missing all of the opportunities to get bin Laden and ignoring all of the warnings from really reliable people? Bush for doing same? Bush for bombing parts of Afghanistan back almost to the Stoneage where in some places they still were already, and then causing the major disaster in Iraq and leaving the AF/PAK border open to the growing terrorist threat? Gonna blame whom? Now we got that old dog Raymond Davis! Let’s just kick him a few more times. I noticed his name come up a few times here on PTH lately! Gonna blame him for finding out that you innocent Pakistani’s have been hiding old bin Laden out there right near Islamabad for the past few years? Then you holler about him murdering 2 people. I BELIEVE HE WAS BEING SHOT AT FIRST! HOW MANY OF YOU SEEM TO FORGET THAT DAMNED FACT! But never mind, you did get your Shariah law enforced and people got money and then the government made sure that the Kerry-Luger Bill kicked in some more of that promised money when they U.S. came in and got old bin Laden. Nice Dragon, Nice Dragon! Everyone got a payday! Get serious here and quit your holier than thou crap! Kiyani seems determined to kick out the Americans, so let him. It seems to be what you all want. We’ll see when the whining starts when your begging bowl comes back out looking for the rest of that money from the Kerry-Luger Bill. Uhhh, I believe it had a few strings attached and that is the part nobody liked but you all seemed to accept when you wanted the money. Funny thing; when someone else is paying your bills, they do have a say in how you spend the money.
    Oh yes; nothing personal here. Just my “ancient” observance of human nature!

    Lady Guinevere

  11. rex minor Germany Google Chrome Windows says:

    @Lady G
    Sorry, but you did get personal. I am not a Pakistani but a full blooded foreigner who also happens to be a muslim!Here are the ancient and purely academic views of an outside observer.

    Fear me and no one else, is what God says to the believers!

    How can a President and a military chief let someone allow safe passage after he threatens and delivers an ultimatum to the President of a nuclear country. If the guy was scared to death, having been born in India, he could have laid down his title and asked Indian Govt for a free passage to his native land.
    What he did simply shows that Pakistan military has an aura of the colonised past, not what a leader of the independent country and the commander of the National army would do. He did nothing and thought of survival only.I am not going to follow your line of thinking nor am I the person to give my views and opinions after the fact. I have a very vivid memory, Pakistan was not the target but Afghanistan was!
    Afghanistan was at the time under the control of the so called TALIBANS, the PASHTUNS to be exact who happen to be a total of more than 40 million people made up of various tribesmen, the largest in the world.

    Pashtuns happen to be first Pashtuns and then muslims, they did not cave in to the demands of George W, and refused to hand over the wanted man without having first received the evidence that their guest was involved in some criminal act? The similar course would have been taken by the swiss Govt. George W military wanted alliances from within the region and got the traitors within Afghanistan non Pashto speaking people of so called Northern Alliance as well as Musharaf clan from Pakistan.

    Pashtuns do not negotiate with foreigners, they always set out demands. One must either meet their demands or have to defeat them and conquer them. History shows that they have never been defeated or conquered.
    Surprisingly both the USA and Pakistan militaries have one thing in common, the Americans on their own have never in their history won a war in foreign land, and the Pakistan military has never won a war either and lost a big chunk of land under their watch!

    You say, Musharaf has saved Pakistan? A nuclear country which is able to knock out any country in the world, was saved by Musharaf.You must be joking or have no idea about the lethal capability of the nuclear arsenal. The guy was unfit and should not have been promoted to the rank of a General. In my views he is a bit of a comedian As a President and military commander he shows a hand gun to a journalist and boasts that he carries this day and night for self protection. He shakes hands with the Israeli leader Mr Shamir in Davos and when questioned, claims that it was Mr Shamir who shook hands with him.

    Nothing personal against Musharaf, in my opinion he has dishonored the military, the country and the Ummah, all on account of fear and dollars. And what sort of Pakistan is left for the Pakistanis now? Everything in tatters and a former commander of the cricket team wants to head the next Govt.

    In the meantime the so called Talibans are once again in control of the large part of Afghanistan, and more american lives have been lost under Mr Obama watch. Pakistan military is finaly learning to show their teeth. Apology with cash and a free passage for the Americans to retrieve their most valuable technicaly advanced equipment or the rerun of vietnam scene. Take care.

    Rex Minor

  12. It is cute that Mush-A-Rough claimed that it was Mr Shamir who shook Mush’s hands. Interesting question that crucially arises next is: “who washed his hands first”?

  13. lady Guinevere United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Rex, my dear Rex! You missed the whole ironic commentary I made on Musharraf! He HAD to cave in to the American demands! And, as far as their nuclear arsenal goes; really! You think it was a threat to reach American shores? However, when I say he was the best of the worst, then again, you are missing my point! I said, out of all of Pakistan’s Dictators, present or past, HE was one of the better! And, I find it ironic that you would say the insulting things about him yet “laud” Karzi? Come on! And, aren’t we a bit touchy about the Pashtuns! I never said a word about them! As far as I can see, the real Pashtuns hate the Taliban and want them gone. It is the Pakistan Military and KARZI that seems to be friendly with the Taliban! Frankly, I believe you are quite confused!

    Lady Guinevere

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