Leaders of Lawyer’s Movement Oppose Strike

If there was any question that the Supreme Court’s handling of the NRO verdict is causing unnecessary polarization of all aspects of Pakistani society, this should put an end to the questions. The leaders of the lawyer’s movement have announced that they oppose the strike against the courts proposed by Qazi Mohammad Anwar. Actually, their claim is very straightforward: This proposed strike would harm democracy and constitutionalism, and would divide the legal community.

ISLAMABAD: A number of senior lawyers who were at the forefront of the movement for the independence of judiciary have opposed the strike call given by the National Coordination Council (NCC) for Jan 28, warning that the move would harm democracy and constitutionalism and divide their community.

“This is premature and we are not going to boycott courts on Thursday,” Sindh High Court Bar Association president Rasheed A. Razvi told Dawn.

Mr Razvi was the petitioner in the case in which a 14-judge Supreme Court bench had declared Gen Pervez Musharraf’s second coup through the emergency order of Nov 3, 2007, unconstitutional and held appointment of Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar as the chief justice illegal. The verdict had also determined that Justice Dogar’s appointment was in defiance of a stricture issued by a seven-judge bench the same day.

On Sunday, the Supreme Court Bar Association’s president Qazi Mohammad Anwar, claiming to be the new chairman of the council, had issued a call for a countrywide lawyers’ strike on Jan 28 to press for implementation of the apex court’s verdict on the NRO.

During the two-year struggle for an independent judiciary, lawyers used to boycott court proceedings and hold demonstrations every Thursday.

“We had a meeting of the SHCBA on Monday. Although we believe that all the decisions of the Supreme Court, especially on the NRO, should be implemented by the executive in all sincerity and seriously, we will not boycott court proceedings on Thursday,” Mr Razvi said.

He said the association had also endorsed his demand that seniority should always be the criteria for elevating a judge to the Supreme Court.

“Therefore, Justice Saqib Nisar of the Lahore High Court should be appointed as the LHC chief justice and Chief Justice Khawaja Mohammad Sharif should be elevated as a Supreme Court judge,” he said.

Aitzaz Ahsan, the pioneer of the NCC, told a television channel that he still was the chairman of the council and he had not been invited to the meeting.

None of the senior members of the council, including former SCBA president Ali Ahmed Kurd, Tariq Mehmood, Muneer A. Malik and Anwar Kamal, was asked to attend the meeting.

Mr Ahsan termed the decision premature, warning that it would divide the lawyers community.

He said the call would not even get a positive response in the NWFP from where Qazi Anwar had succeeded as the SCBA president with a very thin margin.

“We used to announce decisions after holding detailed discussions and consulting all members of the council and every bar association of the country,” he said.

He said Sunday’s decision had been taken in spite of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s assurance that the NRO judgment would be implemented.

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