Fifty-five candidates are running for 22 seats of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) in the 2011-12 election which will be held on Saturday (today). The main contest is for the president where Justice (retd) Rasheed A Rizvi and Yasin Azad are neck-to-neck.
Pundits, however, give Rizvi an edge over Azad. Rizvi is a former judge of the Sindh High Court and was twice elected president of the Sindh High Court Bar Association
Fifty per cent of the 2,251 voters are from Lahore, so the presidential candidates have focused their campaign on the city.
Rizvi has been fielded by Hamid Khan’s Professional Group which was prominent during the lawyers’ movement. Azad has the support of PPP lawyers as well as incumbent president Asma Jahangir.
Rizvi’s camp is claiming that his opponent has the support of the government. Proof of this, they say, is the prime minister’s announcement to build a hospital for the lawyers and the Punjab governor’s grants to Lahore bars.
Azad’s supporters have countered that the entire ‘judiciary’ was busy canvassing for Rizvi. They allege that the Chief Justice of Pakistan addressed the lawyers function arranged by the Lahore High Court Bar Association, led by Asghar Ali Gill to show his support. Azad’s group claims that the event was a campaign event for Rizvi.
PML-N lawyers have put their weight behind Rizvi. Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Rana Mashood Khan and MNA Naseer Bhutta have announced their support for the former judge. Former presidents of the SCBA Aitzaz Ahsan and Munir A Malik are also backing Rizvi.
Azad is a sitting member of the Pakistan Bar Council and has the support of a majority of its members. Azad also has the support of the Punjab governor and former law minister Babar Awan.
Most judges removed under the PCO are also backing Azad.
Ten candidates are vying for four seats of vice presidents (VP), one from Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa.
Contest for Punjab VP will be among Imrana Parveen Baloch, Khadim Hussain Nadeem Malik and Muhammad Tahir Chaudhry. Two candidates, Jahanzeb Khan Jadoon and Mushtaq Ahmad Anjum Rajpoot, are running for Balochistan VP. Muhammad Arif Khan and Muhammad Nasir Mahfooz are aiming for the Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa VP while three candidates including KA Wahab, Shafaat Hussain, and Syed Jamil Ahmad are in the race for the VP slot from Sindh.
Chaudhry Muhammad Maqsood Ahmad, Muhammad Aslam Zar and Muhammad Iftikhar Shah are running for the single slot of secretary. Three candidates, including Abdul Haq Malik, Kanwar Iqbal Ahmad Khan and Sardar Abdul Majeed Khan, are contesting the one slot of additional secretary. Similarly, three candidates, Fiaz Ahmad Rana, Mehmood Ahmad Sheikh and Sheharyar Iqbal Kazi, are vying for the seat of the finance secretary.
For the 14 executive body seats, 37 candidates are in the run.
Two members from each province will be elected while six would be elected generally.
Nine polling stations have been set up across the country. The members can cast their vote in Lahore, Islamabad/Rawalpindi, Multan, Karachi, Bahawalpur, Peshawar, Abbotabad, Quetta and Sukkur. Afrasiab Khan Chaudhry is the returning officer for the election.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2011.
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