LAHORE: Society is seeking justice. There is a dire need for bars to be independent so they can keep the judiciary on track.
This was stated former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Ali Ahmad Kurd during a session on the “Independence of Judiciary and Legal Profession Including the Role of Bar”. The session was part of a two-day “Asma Jahangir Conference” which was held at a local hotel. The conference will conclude on Saturday.
The speakers included Supreme Court Advocate Ehsan Wyne, Programme Manager for Strengthening the Rule of Law UNDP and Pakistan Bar Council Member Akhtar Hussain, former Attorney General of Pakistan Munir A Malik and Ali Ahmad Kurd. It was moderated by SC Advocate Mansoor Usman Awan.
Kurd said he was certain that Asma Jahangir would be resting peacefully as she played a pivotal role in improving the lives of people and overall conditions in society.
Ehsan Wyne, on a question about Article 184 (iii) of the Constitution of Pakistan, said the law protected national fundamental rights. “It was not about individual rights,” he added.
Akhtar Hussain said that for decades, layers had been demanding law schools for legal education to produce specialized lawyers – as was the case for doctors and engineers. “For that, it is mandatory that only a person who has properly studied law join the profession.”
Talking about Article 184, he said that the legislation was appreciated worldwide. However, Pakistan faced many social, economic, cultural and governance issues. When the court exercised its power, it was criticised.” He added that Supreme Court needed to devise parameters for exercise of Article 184.
Former prime minister of Pakistan Khaqan Abbassi also spoke on a session called “The Role of Civil Society in Promoting Democratic Values”. Abbasi said he was not acquainted with Asma Jahangir and only held two or three meetings with her. However, he was familiar with her strength and conviction.
The former PM was impressed with her bravery. “There are different types of bravery. The journalist who does not compromise his [or her] writing and only presents the truth is brave. The judge who made decisions according to law and not by watching TV headlines is brave. The politicians who do their job despite severe criticism and hardships are brave.”
Abbasi saw Asma as a person who did whatever she considered right. He added people would often ask him what the gravest issue Pakistan faced and his reply would be that it suffered from a leadership crisis.
The former PM said it was a crisis of leadership which spanned civil administration, military and the judiciary. “In short, it is a crisis of collective leadership”, he added. He said it was unfortunate incompetent people were sitting in important positions. “Asma had leadership qualities,” he contended. “She was the voice of the voiceless. She did not just talk, but act. Dictators and democrats were both threatened due to her voice,” he concluded.