The unstoppable human rights lawyers

Given the law and order situation in Pakistan, it is not easy to fight for social causes

Komal Anwar November 05, 2015

I have always believed that one must be kind and helpful towards others, no matter how senior one’s position is. Advocate Faisal Siddiqi, along with several other human rights lawyers serving the country, is one example of a person who has truly inspired me in this way. After all, only a person who cares for the weak and helpless can fight dangerous cases like the criminal case of Shahrukh Jatoi and Shahzeb Khan or the major gang-rape cases of Kainat Soomro and Naseema Lubano. The documentary Outlawed in Pakistan broadcasted by the PBS programme Frontline in the US on the Kainat Soomro gang-rape case broke the silence on the sensitive topic.

Mr Siddiqi specialises in pro-bono human rights litigation and has worked for landmark cases including the Baldia factory fire case, seeking justice and compensation for the 255 deceased workers of the factory. He is also a board member of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research.

Alongside being a lawyer, he has made a mark in the field of education as well. Currently, he is a visiting fellow at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Given the law and order situation in Pakistan, it is not easy to fight for social causes. However, as the saying goes, where there’s a will, there is a way. Mr Siddiqi is the man behind the case for provision of security to schools after the Peshawar incident, and for the recognition and enforcement of the right to electricity after the heatwave related deaths seen in Karachi earlier this year. He has also dealt with multiple karo kari and free-will marriage cases and fought for the rights of disabled people.

Mr Siddiqi is currently representing Zeeshan Lashari, whose brother was killed in 2014. For all young aspiring lawyers aiming to make a difference in people’s lives, Mr Siddiqi has set a great example for them. He is an unstoppable man who has dedicated his life for a noble cause, which is to protect the human rights of people. He is in the process of setting up a centre for legal aid, for victims of sexual assault and rape in Pakistan.

Mr Siddiqi isn’t the only brave lawyer taking up the cause of the marginalised. There are others like him who are doing a lot for the advancement of human rights, such as Asma Jahangir (founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan), Hina Jillani (an advocate of the Supreme Court and a human rights activist) and Asad Jamal (a Lahore High Court lawyer, legal researcher and human rights activist). The road ahead might be long and difficult for them but I wish them all the best.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2015.


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