A Lahore Bar Association (LBA) delegation will meet with the DCO and the commissioner on Monday to seek an alternative parking after the Punjab government announced to restore Baba Ground – which is currently used as parking for the Secretariat and sessions court – into a playground.
The decision was announced during a general house meeting held on Saturday at the Aiwan-i-Adl.
Bar leaders demanded that the chief minister arrange for an alternative parking lot before the ground is restored as a playground. The lawyers warned the government of street protests if the issue was not resolved amicably.
LBA president Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali said the Punjab government had allocated the land as a parking lot. “We did not occupy it by force,” Ali said, adding that lawyers would be “forced” to protest if the government tried to “take away” their parking space. The government should find a solution to the problem through negotiations, he said, rather than taking arbitrary decisions.
Asad Zaidi, the association’s general secretary, told The Express Tribune that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif had visited the area a few months ago and played a bit of cricket in the ground. After that he issued directions that grass be replanted and the ground be restored as a playground for the residents of the nearby areas. The Parks and Horticulture Authority, said Zaidi, has started planting grass recently and told lawyers that they can no longer park their cars in the ground.
LBA representatives said they will continue to park their vehicles in Baba Ground until they are provided alternative space. Parking is already prohibited on court premises, they said, because of security. “Where will we park our vehicles if we are barred from parking at the Baba Ground?” one remarked.
The lawyers said that the Lahore High Court was yet to decide who the land belonged to. The Punjab Printing Press, Government College University and Punjab University all lay claim to the ground.
It was also decided during the meeting that the lawyers will hoist black flags at the offices of the bar councils and associations on Monday to protest the killing of Muslims in Burma. The lawyers said they will attend court while wearing black armbands.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2012.