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.