After more than an hour of deliberations with the chief executive of Sindh, the bar associations called off their strike after the chief minister agreed to six of their demands at CM House on Tuesday. They had been on strike since Saturday after four lawyers were killed in drive-by shootings. So far this year, 11 lawyers have been murdered.
The president of the Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA), Anwar Mansoor Khan, its honorary secretary Abid S. Zuberi, Muhammad Aqil and Syed Haider Imam Rizvi of the Karachi Bar Association (KBA), Muhammad Ashraf Samoo of the Malir Bar Association (MBA) and Iftikhar Javed Kazi of the Sindh Bar Council (SBC) called upon the CM on his invitation.
From the government’s side came Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro, Home Minister Manzoor Wassan, Sindh Minister for Local Bodies Agha Siraj Durrani, Prosecutor General of Sindh Shahadat Awan, Inspector General of Sindh Wajid Ali Khan Durrani, the DIG and investigating officers working on the cases of slain lawyers Fahim Riaz Siddiqui and Muhammad Saleem Bhatti.
The lawyers have six demands. They want a proper and efficient investgation into the double murder and arrests as soon as possible. The delegation proposed three names - SP Raja Umar Khattab, AIG Farooq Awan, and Irshad Ali Sehar to do the job. The group decided to entrust the investigations to two former officers and formed a committee, including the CM’s assistant Waqar Mehdi, with a DIG to head and supervise the investigations. The CM has given them 15 days to solve the case, the SHCBA’s Anwar Mansoor Khan told the media.
The second point was adequate compensation to the families of the victims and compensation of five million rupees. The government said that it would provide a plot and compensation in cash to the heirs but the amount would be decided in the next four days. The compensation for injured people was demanded at one million rupees. But here too, the government sought time to arrive at a figure.
The government agreed to establish a judicial commission headed by a sitting judge who would look into the killings of the lawyers as well as citizens. To a demand that this commission would be allowed to make its findings public directly, the government assured the delegation that it would be publicised.
The government also agreed to issue any lawyer who is threatened an arms licence upon the recommendation of the president of the respective bar association. The licensed advocate would be exempted from Section 144, enabling him or her to remained armed around the clock and in all situations.
The group also decided to increase security at city courts, the SHC and other places and the IG was asked to increase the number of policemen with directions to keep them deployed even if there is VVIP duty.
After successful negotiations, the lawyers announced that they would call off their strike and would go back to court Wednesday.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2011.