Feb 27, 2009

Lawyers’ movement gets fresh impetus

By Wajih Ahmad Sheikh Disqualification of Sharif brothers by Supreme Court has infused a new spirit into the protesting legal fraternity as it held its weekly protest rallies on Thursday with great anger against the PPP leadership for toppling the democratic government in Punjab. During their daylong protest, lawyers condemned the decision of Supreme Court against Sharif brothers by holding general house meetings, observing hunger strike and passing resolutions in favour of Sharifs. General House of Lahore High Court Bar Association also passed a resolution against the governor rule in Punjab and declared it unconstitutional. The Lahore Bar Association also held its general house meeting before taking out its rally from Aiwan-e-Adl. On reaching GPO Chowk, the LBA’s rally was joined by lawyers of LHCBA led by its President Anwar Kamal.Later, the charged black-coats started marching towards Governor’s House while chanting slogans against President Asif Ali Zardari and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer. Activists of PML-N, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Pakhtoonkhawa Milli Awami Party, Khaksaar Tehreek, Muslim Student Federation and Jamat-e-Islami also joined lawyers’ rally on The Mall. Female lawyers also showed their presence by chanting full-throat slogans against Asif Ali Zardari and Salman Taseer for, what they called, hatching conspiracy against Sharif brothers and imposition of governor rule in the province. Passers-by on The Mall praised lawyers for taking out protest rallies against the ‘undemocratic’ steps of the PPP government and expressed solidarity by waving victory sign. Upon reaching outside Governor’s House, lawyer leaders delivered speeches. They stressed the need to remain persistent on their resolve of holding long march and staging sit-in on Constitutional Avenue, Islamabad, till restoration of the sacked chief justice. They condemned the governor, saying he played havoc with the political government of Punjab and paralysed it to please President Asif Ali Zardari. Protesting lawyers remained chanting slogans “Go Zardari go”. They also chanted slogans against Salman Taseer. They also accused Zardari of killing Benazir Bhutto. The LBA lawyers were much enthusiastic in showing their aggression against the PPP-led government by chanting slogans and making their speeches for restoration of the judges. The LHCBA lawyers were holding a large piece of white cloth to have signatures from the masses in favour of their movement which they announced that it would be presented to the parliament in the end of their long march on March 16 after having 10 million signatures of people from different walks of life. After half an hour’s stay outside Governor’s House, the protesters peacefully dispersed and returned to their respective bar associations. During the rally of lawyers, the traffic police blocked all the roads leading to The Mall.Unlike previous rallies, this time heavy contingent of police was deployed on The Road. However, no untoward incident took place.Earlier, addressing the general house of LHCBA, deposed judge of Supreme Court Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday said that to have justice was fundamental right of every citizen and the nations who reject the justice lost their right to live.Stressing upon the need for independent judiciary, he said only a free judiciary could safeguard the rights of citizens and protect the constitution from undemocratic forces. Justice Ramday tagged lawyers’ movement as a movement for the establishment of rule of law and true democracy in Pakistan. So it will be successful for sure, he expressed his belief. Recalling the world history, he said till 1699 there was no concept of independent judiciary in Britain and the Supreme Court worked there in a room rented by Congress for 40 years. But the steadfast movement of their people and firmed stance taken by their judges compelled the British government to establish an independent judiciary, he said. Justice Ramday, who had refused to take oath under Musharraf’s Nov-03-PCO, urged the whole nation to leave drawing rooms and take to roads to save the country from the clutches of undemocratic forces. LHCBA Secretary Rana Asadullah Khan speaking on the occasion called Asif Ali Zardari a ‘civil dictator’ and accused him of having hand behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. He said Zardari hijacked the PPP and occupied the President House at the cost of BB’s blood. Condemning the governor rule in Punjab, Rana Asadullah called it an attempt to divide the country. Ehsan Wyne, central secretary general of the Awami National Party (ANP), said the Supreme Court by disqualification of Sharif brothers had repeated its history as it always supported the rulers.He termed it a political decision and it would cause serious threat to the federal government too. He termed it a fatal blow to the democratic process. He said all the political parties and the civil society should condemn it. He deplored that the people voted on February 18, 2008 for democracy in the country and also ousted the dictator but the verdict turned the table.Aftab Ahmad Virk, Alia Khichi, Farhad Ali, Ahmad Saeed, Azam Chohan and Zahid Riaz also addressed. At the end of the meeting, Rana Asadullah placed resolutions before the house against disqualification of Sharif brothers and governor rule in Punjab which were unanimously passed by the house.

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