SCBA polls and politics

The allegations floating around cast Asma Jahangir as a candidate of Babar Awan and President Asif Ali Zardari.

Editorial October 10, 2010

The election of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president, at the end of the month, should be one that concerns only lawyers. The community is capable of choosing its own representatives. Instead, the matter has been turned into a nasty battleground — with the tussle between the judiciary and the government projected onto it.

The allegations floating around cast Asma Jahangir, one of our country’s most courageous spokespersons for the rights of people, as a candidate of Law Minister Babar Awan and President Asif Ali Zardari. Some of the more absurd insinuations suggest she will work against an independent judiciary. This conspiracy theory would appear to have little basis. All the old talk that the former UN rapporteur and HRCP chairperson is ‘secular’ or ‘anti-Islamic’ have resurfaced in some places as part of an effort to build support for her opponent, Ahmed Awais, a man closely associated with the PTI .

All this is unfair to both candidates. They deserve to be able to fight the battle on the basis of professional merit and suitability for the prestigious post, rather than being dragged into a distasteful confrontation essentially between two political parties and sections of the media which have their own agenda. The post of SCBA president is an important one. It should be held by someone able to represent the legal community strongly and with dignity. This requires experience and integrity. Lawyers should be allowed to make their choice without attacks being launched on senior members of the profession on the basis of whom they choose to support. People like Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood, Abid Hassan Minto, Muneer Malik, Aitzaz Ahsan and others stand above politics. Their decision on whom to back should not be given a political colour as part of a campaign against the government.

Published in The Express Tribune ,October 11th, 2010.


T. Ali | 10 years ago | Reply It seems that Asma, inspite of her shortcomings is a better candidate than her opponent. However let me remind Mr Naushad, that this government is trying to make a mockery of the Supreme court of Pakistan by seeking adjournments on flimsy concocted excuses. The law must apply to all citizens of Pakistan. Politics of reconciliation should not mean protecting the corrupt and therby encourage others to do the same. Those who seek election to SCBA should keep aloof of politics and be seen supporting the Rule Of law, irrespective of political affiliations.
Naushad Shafkat | 10 years ago | Reply Ms. Asma Jahangir has always spoken her mind without fear or favour. It is sad that just because she has warned about 'judicial dictatorship' being worst than even a military dictatorship she is being dubbed as 'the President's woman'. Was she wrong? Just see what the judiciary is doing; Firstly interfering in the discretionary powers of the President/Prime Minister. Just today it has asked the government to take back for 'a few days' its notification appointing Mr. Kamal Azfar as an advisor to the Prime Minister. Where has the Supreme Court derived such powers from and is this not blatant over-stepping of its domain? Secondly is the President of Pakistan the sole beneficiary under the NRO or is it his domicile that is the irritant? It seems so looking to the proceedings in the Supreme Court. After all why has Air Marshall Asghar Khan’s case not been taken up even though it has a far greater bearing on our state than any other? Thirdly the Supreme Court seems to have forgotten that it lays down the law for the people at large and not just the litigants before it. This casts a duty on it to take into consideration all the legal issues that arise in a case and not just those pleaded before it. It was therefore the duty of the Court to rule on Article 248 of the Constitution and the question of sovereign immunity in the NRO judgment even if the Federation put in no defence and these questions were not raised. Is it a matter of ego or is the habit of summoning top officials difficult to shove off? An anchor has said this on TV that the VERY HONOURABLE Chief Justice was summoning top officials of various ministries left right and centre but when he came to a man in uniform he quietly said ‘Ask him to file an affidavit’. But then as the late Mr. A.K. Brohi once told the Supreme Court: "The Constitution only says that the Supreme Court shall decide a matter finally. It is not the mandate of the Constitution that the Supreme Court shall decide correctly." Ms. Asma Jahangir's utterances can only be called prophetic. She spoke her mind in the dark days of Pervez Musharraf even at the risk of personal harm. She has earned a name for herself internationally not for nothing. This contest should be a walk over for her - barring the baseless propaganda of those who seek to divide the Bar for personal and ulterior motives. Only balance among the pillars of State can save the system which is much more important than any individual including individuals who have a past of granting unbridled powers of amending the Constitution to dictators. And Ms. Asma Jahangir is one such person who understands this.
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