LAHORE: Lawyers across the country plan to boycott the courts on Monday in protest at the police action against lawyers in Lahore.
The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), Punjab Bar Council (PbBC) and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) have called strikes and asked their members to stage rallies.
The Lahore Bar Association, whose members bore the brunt of police teargas and sticks in clashes on The Mall on Saturday, said it would participate in the boycott but did not plan any rallies out of respect for the Supreme Court. “It would be proper to wait for the decision of the Supreme Court,” said LBA vice president Qasim Buttar.
The Supreme Court took suo motu notice of the police-lawyers clashes and has summoned senior policemen to the court for Monday.
Buttar said all LBA officials were agreed that they should not join rallies out of respect for the SC, but they had been unable to contact the bar president, Sajid Bashir, to get his view since his mobile phones were switched off. He said they would put the matter before the general house of the bar on Monday morning for the final decision.
Buttar said Federal Law Minister Babar Awan was trying to gain the sympathies of the lawyers by issuing statements in their favour, but he would not succeed. He said the LBA had already passed a unanimous resolution at its general house meeting deciding not to invite Awan to the bar.
“His statements in favour of the lawyers might be his personal view but he has nothing to do with the LBA. Some politicians are trying to meet political ends with the lawyers’ protest,” Buttar said.
Supreme Court Bar Association secretary Raja Zulqarnain said the association would go on strike on Monday across the country. He condemned the “police torture” of the lawyers and demanded that they be prosecuted for injuring lawyers.
PbBC executive committee chairman Rana Muhammad Akram Khan said lawyers across the country would boycott the courts and hoist black flags over bar rooms in protest at “the brutality of the state machinery”.
“The way the lawyers were tortured under a democratic regime … they were not beaten like that under any dictatorial regime,” he said. Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) secretary Babar Murtaza said lawyers were wary of becoming tools in the hands of political parties. “Some politicians are trying to incite the lawyers for personal gain but they will not succeed. The lawyers are fully aware of their motives and will not let them exploit the situation,” he said.
Sources in the police told The Express Tribune that any rallies on Monday would experience a much softer policing after the Supreme Court’s suo motu notice. Police contingents would be deployed outside the Aiwan-e-Adal, the Lower Mall and The Mall the routine route for lawyers’ rallies but would stay at a distance from the rallies, the sources said.
Senior superintendent of police (operations) Rao Sardar Ali said the police would do its duty to protect public property.
Published in The Express Tribune October 4th, 2010.