The Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) and Lahore Bar Association (LBA) took out a joint rally on Thursday to show their support for Superior Courts.
The LBA also banned Advocate Zahid Bukhari, the counsel for Malik Riaz Hussain, from entering the bar premises for an indefinite period. The bar adopted a resolution assuring its support to the Supreme Court and announced a two day boycott of work.
Some LHCBA members forced their president Shahram Sarwar Chaudhry, who is considered pro government, to lead the rally. Apparently Chaudhry did not want a rally and advised the bar members against it.
The LHCBA’s general house meeting started at 10:30 am at Kiani Hall with lawyers chanting slogans in favour of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry (‘Chief Teray Jan Nisar, Beshumar Beshumar’). The lawyers also demanded that their president lead the rally.
The president asked the lawyers to listen to the speeches first. He said a decision could be made about the rally.
Later, Advocate Ahsan Wyne said no one would be allowed to ridicule the judiciary. He said the lawyers would defend the judiciary whenever it was assailed. Wyne said the lawyers should realise that the incumbent CJP is like former chief justice Mohammad Munir, who validated then governor general Ghulam Muhammad’s order of dismissing the constituent assembly in 1954. Many lawyers started chanting slogans in favour of the chief justice and against Wyne on hearing this comment. The lawyers then refused to hear more speeches and clamoured for the rally.
Chaudhry, who belongs to the Asma Jahangir Group, tried to calm the lawyers and invited Advocate Rana Zia Abdul Rehman to speak. Rehman said Malik Riaz’s allegations against Arsalan Iftikhar were part of a conspiracy against the judiciary. He said lawyers would defend the judiciary at all costs. The lawyers, however, continued with their chants.
Advocate Ahmed Awais, speaking next, said the legal system and legal community were being tested. The lawyers should develop consensus and act collectively, he said. The lawyers interrupted him with their slogans.
The bar president next took the rostrum and tried to persuade the lawyers to forgo the idea of a rally. He said it would not be an effective rally as they lacked in numbers. He said they should postpone the option for a few days. The president said they could take out a rally on their own but he would not go with them.
Most of the participants supported the rally. The bar president then said they would only go up to the GPO Chowk.
Some pro-government lawyers tried to stop the others from going for the rally but they were not successful. After the lawyers reached GPO Chowk, the bar president did not follow those who had started marching towards the Lahore Bar Association office at Aiwan-i-Adl. A group of about 100 lawyers joined the LBA general house meeting followed by a protest rally that marched to the Lahore High Court.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2012.