SC urged to take suo moto notice of killings

Express May 12, 2010

KARACHI: Thousands of lawyers across the country observed a ‘black day’ on Wednesday to protest the killing of 45 people in Karachi three years ago.

Lawyer leaders demanded the chief justice of Pakistan take suo moto notice of the killings. On May 12, 2007, at least 45 people were killed and dozens injured when supporters of the then deposed chief justice fought with their rivals in a clash near the Karachi airport and during the ensuing rioting elsewhere in the city. In Karachi, lawyers boycotted court proceedings and hoisted black flags in courtrooms. The Sindh High Court Bar Association and the Malir District Bar Association held separate general body meetings to remember the bloodbath.

They demanded the government form a judicial commission to properly investigate the incident and find the killers. A large number of lawyers with black armbands marched on the main MA Jinnah road carrying banners and placards. Similar rallies were also staged in other cities in Sindh. Lawyers in Balochistan also joined the countrywide protest against the May 12 carnage, boycotting courts and organising protest meetings in all major cities of the province.

Hundreds of cases were adjourned as lawyers did not appear before courts, much to the disappointment of litigants. A condolence reference was held at the Balochistan Bar room in Quetta where a resolution was adopted unanimously, calling for a judicial inquiry into the “mass killing of civilians” in Karachi on May 12, 2007. BBA President Baz Muhammad Kakar and general secretary Aminullah criticised the government and the judiciary for their “failure to expose those responsible for the bloodshed”. The Peshawar High Court Bar Association (PHCBA) passed a resolution demanding that the chief justice of Pakistan take a suo moto notice of the May 12 killings.

Responding to a call of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council, lawyers across the province boycotted courts and held protest meetings. In Lahore, the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) and the Lahore Bar Association held general house meetings in their respective bar rooms. Addressing the lawyers, LHCBA’s former president Ahmed Awais said that on May 12, 2007, the then military ruler Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf had tried to stop Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry from coming to Karachi by spreading terrorism in the city. Awais blamed the then provincial government of Sindh for the killing of “innocent people”.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Raja Zulqarnain said that elements opposed to the lawyers’ movement had tortured workers of political parties and lawyers and burnt them alive in their chambers. The LHCBA also passed a unanimous resolution demanding that the government reveal the findings of an inquiry conducted by a judicial commission into the incident. The resolution also called for action against Pervez Musharraf under Article 6 of the Constitution.

Lawyers also observed a ‘black day’ in the twin cities of Rawalpindi-Islamabad and demanded that the chief justice take suo moto notice of the May 12 bloodshed in Karachi. In a general body meeting of the Supreme Court Bar Association, lawyers demanded that federal and provincial governments unmask those responsible for the mass killings in Karachi on May 12, 2007. SCBA President Qazi Anwar, Vice President Amanullah Kanrani, Chaudhry Akram and other lawyer leaders attended the meeting. Interestingly, lawyers did not boycott the Supreme Court, Islamabad district courts and Rawalpindi district courts.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 13th, 2010.