Obituary for Lawyer’s Movement


Lawyers rally for confessed killer Mumtaz Qadri

In 2007, Gen Pervez Musharraf decided the law was inconvenient to his authoritarian whims, so he infamously attacked the judiciary, suspending and detaining the Chief Justice. The dictator’s action was seen by all as a bald faced attempt to crush dissent and rule with an iron fist. Rather than solidify his regime, though, his overreach gave birth to the Lawyer’s Movement, also known as the ‘Movement for the Rule of Law’, and the historic long march from Lahore to Islamabad two years later demanding reinstatement of the Chief Justice.

The movement gained international attention for Pakistan, and international acclaim for the lawyers who were seen as the vanguard of justice and integrity in Pakistan.

The movement to restore Chaudhry, and the constitution, and the rule of law, held out the hope of disinterring the liberal tradition. In a country where politics taint everything, many of the lawyers were independents. Pakistan’s bar associations were among the few bodies that had consistently selected their leaders through democratic elections; and the country’s 116,000 lawyers had chosen through their bar associations to commit themselves to protest. Ahsan was not then an officeholder, but he worked alongside the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Munir Malik, and Tariq Mahmood, a former judge who had quit rather than accept Musharraf’s blatant rigging of the 2002 referendum. Years of disappointment had made Pakistanis cynical about politics and public life, but these were men whose integrity put them beyond question.

Today, the lawyers’ reputation has become as black as their coats.

After Mumtaz Qadri shot Salmaan Taseer in the back, a murder he freely admits to, lawyers were seen showering the killer with roses, a shameful about-face that was not missed by the international press.

Instead, before his court appearances, the lawyers showered rose petals over the confessed killer, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, a member of an elite police group who had been assigned to guard the governor, but who instead turned his gun on him. They have now enthusiastically taken up his defense.

It may seem a stark turnabout for a group that just a few years ago looked like the vanguard of a democracy movement. They waged months of protests in 2007 and 2008 to challenge Pakistan’s military dictator after he unlawfully removed the chief justice.

Whether or not any particular lawyer believed that Qadri’s actions were defensible under the law, the way that the lawyers have behaved has shown that, as Saroop Ijaz observed, “this particular case is anything but ordinary”.

What has made the case even more extraordinary were reports this week that the judge who presided over the case, Pervez Ali Shah, has fled to Saudi Arabia after receiving death threats.

“The death threats have forced Judge Pervez Ali Shah to leave the country along with his family for Saudi Arabia,” Advocate Saiful Malook, the special prosecutor in the Qadri case, told Dawn on Monday.

He said sensing the gravity of the situation the government had arranged the lodging of Mr Shah and members of his family abroad. “Although security was provided to the judge and his family members, the government on the reports of law-enforcement agencies opted for sending him abroad,” he said.

There were also unconfirmed reports that extremist elements in religious parties had fixed the head money for the judge. “There were such reports but there was a potential threat to the life of Mr Shah and his family members,” he said.

And where are the lawyers now as one of their own is once again forced from the bench by forces that refuse to accept the rule of law when it is inconvenient to their agenda? Where is the long march demanding the return of Judge Pervez Shah and defence of an independent judiciary?

While it is true that some of the leaders of the lawyer’s movement such as Asma Jahangir have remained true to their principles and demanded that the rule of law not be sacrificed to the rule of mobs, these few souls have been abandoned by their colleagues whose silence in the face of the new authoritarian threat is the public death notice for the lawyer’s movement.


Author: Mahmood Adeel


  1. They are praising a person who killed someone who said Last Prophet’s law was kala kanoon. You go ahead and speak against the people who cheered for him, I aint doing that. You live in this world as you wont die I’m guessing, but there is a day of judgement waiting for all of us. Fear it! You let your intellect tell you that you can question anything. Many dumb people who never got education are better then you. The kind of pathetic life Salmaan Taseer has spent and God knows at how many places he has disgraced Islam, this was one example where he could not keep himself from really telling the public what his views were about our religion. He said bad about our Last Prophet, BY ISLAMIC LAW COMMUNICATED TO US BY SOMEONE WHO CREATED THE UNIVERSE, we are told to kill the person who speaks anything disgraceful about the Last Prophet. You cant change it, non muslims cant change it, the 21rst century cant change it. Something tells me you already have enough of rotten views about many things that may already have earned you Hell, but fear God and dont stamp Hell on your forehead by feeling and writing poison for a person who purely killed in Love of the Last Prophet. Mumtaz Qadri had nothing personal against Salmaan Taseer, but yes, once anyone has called our Prophets’s laws a “kala kanoon”, its all personal from there on!

    • @Awais, first of all, Salmaan Taseer never said anything against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and I defy you to prove otherwise. Second, 295-C is not our Prophet’s law it is a man made law. Be careful that you do not elevate man to the level of Allah which is shirk. You are dangerously close already. Third, judgment is for Allah alone, and not for vigilantes. I put my faith in Allah, not uneducated killers. I suggest you do the same.

  2. “silence in the face of the new authoritarian threat is the public death notice for the lawyer’s movement.”

    It is much more than that. It is the worst blasphemy.
    It is the type of blasphemy which Iblees had committed
    by refusing to show respect for Adam, the human being
    incarnate. We are witnessing today the same kind of
    blasphemy by the offspring of Iblees, as certified by
    by a lawyer-poet, Akbar Allahabadi, long ago in his famous couplet:
    “Peida hua wakil to iblees ne kaha
    Lo aaj ham bhi sahibe aoulad ho gaye”.

    It is in fact worse than that. It is bolo-ram of whatever
    is human.
    end of all that is human.

  3. @mahmood .. once there was this blind sahabi, he killed his wife cuz she said something bad about the Prophet. Once the Prophet heard of it, he said there is no revenge or punishment for this. The Last Prophet himself would forgive anything done against him personally by someone (remember that old lady who used to throw garbage at our Prophet when he used to pass from that street?), but when its done by anyone in presence of any other muslim, its our duty to put that disgrace to an end. Its the Law. I dont know what man made law you are talking about, and i dont know what 295 is. Someone said something bad about our Prophet, and that had to be dealt with, instead the Governor called “kala kanoon” to something that the Prophet himself told us to do. There is NO forgiveness to the person who says bad about the Last Prophet. Btw about that “elevating” someone to the level of Allah. Na i never do that, I didnt say anything in that comment that would mean that. Last Prophet was a human being, but one which Allah himself recites darood on. He is a very sensitive matter, and Allah tells us to hold Allah and His Last Prophet in even higher esteem then your parents.
    Saying something like:
    “Today, the lawyers’ reputation has become as black as their coats.” in itself is kind of extreme. Such frustration? For the person who was forced to deal with something that was not going to be dealt with? And btw, Mumtaz Qadri did not target that woman who said stuff, he targeted Salmaan Taseer. Salmaan Taseer asked for it, and he got it.
    Judgement is for Allah, but He gave you this brain, and wrote the laws, pretty clear cut ones. Giving any logic against Mumtaz Qadri has influence of the modern world behind it. If you dont support Mumtaz Qadri, atleast dont oppose him with such extremes. Fear Allah, what if Mumtaz Qadri is really right in what he did, what if Allah really is happy with him? We already have clear things in our teaching pointing to that being true. Dont just write stuff like this so that your stupid ignorant “Intellectual friends” are thinking the same or are going to praise you for this. They are in for some pretty great shocks on that Day of Payback (badlay ka din).

    • @Awais For all those words, you still failed to provide anything that Salmaan Taseer said against the Prophet. Unless you can show anything that Salmaan Taseer said against the Prophet, you are defending the murder of an innocent Muslim. What is the punishment for that?

      You don’t know what Section 295-C is? This is the problem. Section 295-C is the blasphemy law that you are upholding. It was not written by Allah. It was not written by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). You are defending a law you don’t even know about. Council of Islamic Ideology has even recommended that the law be changed because it is too open to abuse. Next time you decide to defend something in the name of Allah, please learn what it is you are defending.

  4. No, it just seems you are deliberately trying to ignore what I’m saying. You dont even have to discuss 295-C or whatever. Send someone back 1400 years, bad mouth the Prophet in front of some muslims, you’ll be killed, and there is nothing going to be done against the killing cuz this was the right thing to do. We are not discussing if that woman really did what was made famous, whatever was said by that woman when it was being discussed if it really was true, the punishment of this sin (as laid out by the Prophet himself) was something that was called kala kanoon. Again, who taught us to punish this way? The Prophet. Who called the words of the Prophet “kala kanoon”? Salmaan Taseer.

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