“The future of laws depends on political struggle and the society. Response to political challenges greatly affects the legal landscape,” said Barrister Fawad Chaudhry on Saturday.
He was addressing the Future of Law Conference arranged by the Law Review Society of the Institute of Legal Studies.
Chaudhry said if the legal fraternity did not respond to the challenges faced by Pakistan, it could lead to a complete collapse of the society.
Commenting on laws based on Sharia, he said the problem lay in its interpretation. He said a conservative approach to interpretation of the Sharia law tended to leave little room for democratic rights, especially for the weaker segments of a society.
Chaudhry said, “The adage ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ conveniently ignores the fact that justice rushed is justice crushed.”
“We need to create a system where delays can be reduced without effecting due process. This cannot be done by legislation but by better case management,” he said.
“The future of law and lawyers depends whether we can overcome and win the war on Talibanisation and terrorism. Social impact of this war is huge,” he said.
He said civil society in Pakistan had been threatened.
“Unless Pakistan’s political leadership takes a stand and recognises the threat, the future looks bleak,” said Chaudhry.
Human rights activist IA Rehman said, “I find chaos everywhere, even in the realm of law.”
He said the government should table laws addressing human right.
He criticised Islamization of General Ziaul Haq’s era.
Maira Sheikh, a research fellow at Research Society of International Law, said “As a lawyer, always say ‘it depends’ when advising your client; it will save you from a world of trouble. Don’t be afraid to email or call people in your area of or desired area of expertise. If there isn’t a market for what you want to do, then don’t be afraid to create a market. What you choose to do now will not determine the rest of your career. Try to find a career that you are willing to wake up everyday for.”
Justice (r) Nasira Javed Iqbal said “This isn’t the democracy or judiciary we envisioned in 2007. When we started the lawyer’s movement, we thought the law will prevail and democracy will reign supreme. When the judiciary was restored, we realized that perhaps this isn’t what we wanted.”
She said many new lawyers had joined the field seeing the success of the movement but found it hard to operate within legal ethics.
She criticised General Ziaul Haq for “completely destroying the legal system and laws of Pakistan” and for “taking back to Stone Age where women became third grade citizens.”
Advocate Salman Akram Raja, said Sharia was divine law as interpreted by man.
He said its application differed in various countries.
He said there was a dichotomy in Pakistan’s legal system.
He said the generation raised under the Islamisation era was had favoured Talibanisation.
He criticized Zia for making objective resolution a part of the constitution.
He advised young lawyers to continue to fight for democracy.
SAFMA Imtiaz Alam and lawyer Rafay Alam also spoke on the occasion.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2014.