Lawyers of Pakistan must now rise

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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The way out for Pakistanis

Lawyers of Pakistan must now rise

By Justice Markandey Katju

After the recent verdict of the Pakistan Supreme Court depriving former Prime Minister Imran Khan's PTI party of its election symbol, which has almost murdered democracy in Pakistan by ensuring that there will be no free and fair parliamentary elections on 8th February, the question now arises what is the way out for Pakistanis to restore democracy?

In my opinion, the leadership in this connection will have to be taken by the lawyers of Pakistan, who have a heavy responsibility on their shoulders in this connection.

In modern times, lawyers in various countries have given leadership to their nations. In the great American Revolution, many of the leading figures were lawyers e.g. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, etc. Abraham Lincon, the great American President during the American Civil War of 1861-1865 was a lawyer, and so were Robespierre, Danton, Billaud Varenne, Claude Lagarde, etc, the great French leaders during the French Revolution of 1789. Lenin, the great leader of the Russian Revolution of 1917 was a lawyer (though only for a short time). During the Indian Independence Struggle, many of the leaders, like Gandhiji, Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Deshbandhu Chitaranjan Das etc. were lawyers.

The reason why many great leaders in various countries were lawyers is that the legal profession is objectively in the best position of giving such leadership. This is due to two reasons: (1) lawyers belong to an independent profession, they are not subordinate to the Government or to anyone else, and (2) they are directly in contact with society in its entirety as they have to deal with all kinds of problems of people from all sections of society, unlike say, doctors who are confined to medical problems or engineers who are confined to technical problems. Hence lawyers are the people who are most conversant with the problems of society as a whole, are most closely connected to people, and have the pulse of society.

The lawyers of Pakistan bravely fought against the dictatorship of Gen Parvez Musharraf who made the judiciary servile by dismissing judges who refused to take an oath of allegiance to the army, and by their massive campaigns of demonstrations, protests, etc ultimately succeeded in ousting him from power.

So similarly the Pakistan lawyers today should discharge their duty to the country by staging massive protests. In particular, they should:

(1) Boycott the Courts of the 3 biased judges who gave this infamous and disgraceful judgment, socially boycott crooked judges, and demand their resignations. Also, they should ostracise biased judges who are taking orders from the Pakistan Establishment (meaning the army) and dancing at its tune, not invite them to any function or honour them in any way, and call upon the people to do the same.

(2) They should launch a massive campaign for restoration of democracy in the country and release of the 12,000 or more people arrested and jailed in inhuman conditions on trumped up and concocted charges after the events of 9th May last year (which many believed were stage-managed). For this campaign, the lawyers should use their creativity, and adopt various methods, e.g. holding public meetings and demonstrations, issuing and distributing leaflets and pamphlets to inform and educate the public, etc as was done during the Great American and French Revolutions, and the Indian Independence Struggle.

(3) They should ensure free and fair parliamentary elections on 8th February by forming vigilance committees to keep a close vigil on election day so that no rigging is done.

Lawyers of Pakistan must now rise to the occasion.

(Justice Katju is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. These are his personal views.)

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