Representatives of several bar associations in the Punjab have vowed to launch a movement against Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani over his refusal to step down despite his contempt conviction by the Supreme Court.
A resolution to this effect was passed at the All Punjab Lawyers’ Convention at Aiwan-i-Adl by representatives of 27 bar associations including the Rawalpindi and Multan High Court Bar Associations. However, representatives of another 85 bar associations were invited to the event but did not turn up, The Express Tribune learnt from organisers.
The resolution passed by the lawyers also covered the NATO supply lines, relations between bar and bench, the funding of bar associations, inflation and load-shedding.
The lawyers said that there was no room in the Constitution or in morality for a man convicted of a crime to continue as prime minister. They said that the refusal of the president, prime minister and cabinet to act upon Supreme Court judgements posed a danger to the Constitution, integrity and solidarity of Pakistan.
They also vowed to protest against the restoration of NATO supply lines through Pakistan despite the United States declining to apologise over the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers at the Salala post. To restore the NATO supply would be “a heinous crime” and would damage the sovereignty of the country, they said. The lawyers voiced support for Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and hailed his “historic decisions despite hardships and obstacles”.
Sheikh Ahsanuddin, president of the Rawalpindi High Court Bar Association, said that he was ashamed to be the citizen of a country run by a convicted prime minister. He condemned the government’s decision not to appeal the Supreme Court’s contempt conviction of Gilani.
He said that the National Assembly speaker had made a mockery of the Supreme Court’s judgement. He applauded the Supreme Court’s decisions in the rental power plants and steel mills cases, saying the chief justice had ensured the return of stolen money to the public exchequer. Lahore Bar Association President Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali said he was planning an All Pakistan Lawyers’ Convention in collaboration with the Lahore High Court Bar Association. He said that they would launch protests against the prime minister. He said that lawyers would surround Nawaz Sharif’s house if the Punjab government did not release funds for bar members’ healthcare.
Hafeezur Rehman, vice president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association, said that lawyers were unanimous on the issue of rule of law. He vowed that they would ensure the implementation of the Supreme Court’s order against the prime minister.
Chaudhry Rasool Baksh, president of the Shakargarh Bar Association, asked Rehman where the LHCBA president was. Rehman responded that he was unavailable because of prior engagements.
Bakhsh then asked if the LHCBA would stand with the Punjab’s bar associations by staging a rally against the prime minister. Rehman assured him that the LHCBA would stand in the front row of a joint rally or long march by lawyers.
Tahir Shehzad Kamboh, president of the Sheikhupura Bar Association, said that he differed somewhat with the chief justice’s statement about protecting the system. He said that when the poor were dying of hunger, there was no electricity, and prices were skyrocketing, there was no system to save.
Mehmood Ashraf, president of the Multan High Court Bar Association; Mansoor Ahmed Bokhari, president of the Muzaffargarh Bar Association; Azmat Ali Bokhari from Attock; Abul Latif Ghani from Daska; Chaudhry Irshad Ahmed Ghumman from Sambrial; Nawaz Khichi from Sangla Hill; Sharif Zafar Joiya from Depalpur; Mian Akram from Ferozewala; Chaudhry Khizar Hayat from Pind Dadan Khan; Zafarullah from Gujrat; Arshad Warraich from Samundri; Bashir Ahmed Bhatti from Hasilpur; and Mian Akhtar Abbas from Shorkot also addressed the convention.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2012.
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