Asma Jahangir’s victory in the Supreme Court Bar Association elections is a momentous event in the country’s political and legal landscape. Even the worst of her critics grudgingly admit that her principled stance has remained consistent in a country where intellectual honesty and integrity are in short supply. More importantly, her reasoned approach to recent bouts of judicial activism has been a source of strength for stakeholders in the democratic process. Almost every progressive Pakistani has been overjoyed with her election as head of a professional body which was on the verge of losing its credibility due to indulgence in partisan politics.
Since the lawyers’ movement created a stir in 2007, the bars had started to assume the role of a political party with an exaggerated notion of their power. Instead of focusing on what ailed legal education and the maligned profession, the regulators had turned into rowdy mobs, televangelists and spokespersons of the free and restored judges. Encouraged, a Supreme Court judge reportedly remarked how ‘popular will’ was above the Constitution. The pinnacle of this approach was the judgment in the NRO case. Asma Jahangir and a few other sensible lawyers highlighted the problematic aspects of the verdict. This was a game-changer and Jahangir was at the centre of this rational discourse. Continue reading
Asma Jahangir’s victory in the Supreme Court Bar Association elections is a major development in the legal and judicial history of Pakistan. She is the first woman to hold this office, and a progressive rights activist as well. Her struggles against injustice, discrimination and oppression have spanned over nearly forty years and are globally acclaimed. PTH wishes her all success and hopes that she is able to fulfil the mandate for which she has been elected: To transform the apex Bar into a professional, neutral and non-partisan body and operating at a healthy distance from the judges. At last some sanity might prevail. This take by lubp is worth a read.
I took the picture on the right after the victory and more can be found here
We are also posting a well considered view from HRW below:
Pakistan: Prominent Rights Advocate to Lead Supreme Court Bar
Asma Jahangir’s Election an Advance for an Impartial Judiciary
(New York, October 28, 2010)—The election of a prominent human rights activist to the presidency of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan is a victory for human rights in Pakistan and for the country’s transition to genuine civilian rule, Human Rights Watch said today. The election of Asma Jahangir on October 27, 2010, will make her the first woman to lead the country’s most influential forum for lawyers. Continue reading
This is a terrible way to squander the benefits of a revolution. Shame on the Lawyers- YLH
From the Daily Times
Lawyers go unbridled, breaking rules in routine
By Rana Tanveer
LAHORE: The lawyers’ ruthless attitude towards media in the city on Thursday is not the first such instance. Continue reading
While much of Pakistan’s civil society celebrated a famous victory in the restoration of the judges it continued to display suicidal indifference to the existential threat to itself.
President Zardari’s misjudgment and Mian Nawaz Sharif’s ambition brought welcome relief to the jihadi apparatus at the precise moment when the international noose around it appeared to be tightening. The road map to democratic transition was obscured, and the contours of the abyss became a little clearer. Extraordinary acts of leadership are needed. Unfortunately, it is not clear if they will be forthcoming or sufficient. Continue reading
[TFT] A partisan media is biting the hand of democracy that feeds it, says Raza Rumi
It was hoped by many that the electronic media following its exponential growth during the last few years would take stock of its roles and responsibilities. However, the years 2007 and 2008 were not the best of times for such an introspection to materialise into a self-regulation process. Authoritarian or transitional environments are not conducive to a culture of informed debate and the evolution of sound regulatory regimes. Nevertheless, there have been scattered noises and appeals by many observers, analysts and concerned citizens even within the media community.
From the brutality of displaying dismembered limbs on television screens to creating a panic-oriented news culture and relegating the status of objective ‘anchors’ to partisan political players, the trends were and continue to be, disturbing. Against the backdrop of the events of March 2009 the role of the electronic media was far from gratifying. The self congratulatory hysteria that now pervades the various channels betrays their utter inability to look back and introspect. Continue reading
By Raza Rumi
The triumph of a popular movement on March 16 has marked a new beginning. The retreat of an intransigent government and the wise response by the PML-N and the lawyers averted a major crisis that could have been violent, and also a potential recipe for harming the parliamentary system in its infancy. There was a sigh of relief among the public for a long-standing issue appeared to have been resolved. This has been a monumental achievement by all standards.
However, the inherent imbalances within Pakistan’s power structure and the state of its polity are yet to be addressed and the contradictions of how our power is exercised stared us as the good news rolled out through the ubiquitous TV channels and their zealous presenters. The way quintessentially political issues and turf-wars between the PPP and PML-N were battled and resolved through a stage-managed process only concealed the bitter power-realities of Pakistan. Continue reading
Foqia Sadiq Khan writing for The NEWS raises some pertinent issues that require attention. PTH
Winning in lower courts too
Has David won over Goliath? It seems so. The principled, courageous, and vigorous lawyers’ movement for the independence of the judiciary in the last two years seems to have succeeded. The lawyers’ movement has been unique in its moral underpinnings and spirited protests. But does that mean timely justice will be delivered to common people in the lower courts? This is essential as the lack of it in the lower courts has a potential to give rise to religious militancy in Pakistan. Continue reading