A joint meeting of bar association councils sternly warned the government about another boycott of court proceedings, on Monday.
They termed the increasing incidents of violence against the lawyers as “intolerable”. They unanimously passed a resolution which termed the killing of lawyers as ‘brutal’ and demanded speedy investigations and the immediate arrest of the killers by the authorities.
“The inspector general of the Sindh police and others paid no attention to the information about threats to Mukhtar Bukhari and the request for protection,” said the president of the Karachi Bar Association (KBA), Mohammad Aqil.
The meeting was held at the Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA).
The top leadership is avoiding contact, said Aqil. “I tried to contact the federal interior minister on the suggestion of a few colleagues but did not get any response.” Despite the presence of Rehman Malik in the city, the number of killings in a day remained the same. “We will not talk or attempt to call any officials now,” he added.
During this year, eleven advocates, Sardar Zulfiqar, Muhammad Hanif Khan, Altaf Hussain, Liaquat Qureshi, Nazar Abbas, Muhammad Kamal, SM Zia Alam, Syed Mukhtar Abbas Bukhari, Muhammad Junaid, Fahim Riaz Siddiqui and Muhammad Saleem Bhatti were killed.
Ashraf Samoo, the president of the Malir Bar Association (MBA), said that it was unfortunate that the holy month of Ramazan had begun with the terrible incidents of target killings. “From Ali Mohammad Dahri to Fahim Riaz Siddqui, the blood of innocent citizens is being spilt.”
Since no enemies of Fahim Riaz or those of other victims are known, it seems that civil society is being sent a tough message. Those who send killers to the gallows and protect the innocent, are themselves seeking justice, said the MBA president.
Practical steps should be taken to provide financial assistance of the lawyer’s families who should receive 2.5 million rupees in compensation.
Samoo asked lawyers to take risks, come forward, identify the killers and make statements before the police. He called upon the SHCBA and the Sindh Bar Council (SBC) to play an active role.
Anwar Mansoor Khan, the president of the SHCBA, said that the government and its agencies must be aware of the pitfalls of targeting lawyers. “By this joint meeting we intend to convey a clear and strong message to the hidden hands that lawyers could die but will not bow to any pressure,” he declared.
The killings are aimed at terrorising advocates because the rulers are wary of the possibility of the second phase of a movement for the judicial independence, they said. There is no difference between a ruler in uniform (Pervez Musharraf) and the present so-called democratic government, said the SHCBA president.
He said that he wrote a number of letters to the Sindh chief minister but no reply came. “He claims to be a lawyer and a member of the bar associations, but he has no courage and time to respond to the biggest bar of Pakistan,” said Anwar Mansoor Khan, amid slogans of “shame upon the CM.”
Later, the lawyers marched to Chief Minister House where they met Qaim Ali Shah. He invited a seven-member delegation to call on him on Tuesday afternoon to discuss any headway made in the double murder case.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2011.