Saturday, August 22, 2009

What has gone wrong with Pakistani lawyers?

By Saeed Qureshi

The lawyers of Pakistan are running amok. They are up in arms against the other organs of the civil society especially the media. They rough-up the reporters and cameramen covering the functions. They resort to physical assaults on police officials sent by their superiors for law enforcement and maintenance of peace. Of late, the much appreciated judicial activism seems to be replaced with judicial rowdyism. These lawyers who have demonstrated themselves to be rough necks and goons, are deliberately side stepping the decency and rule of law they are supposed to cherish and safeguard.

It is such a distasteful phenomenon that of all the, the lawyers should take the law in their hands and violate the code of conduct they have sworn and obliged to serve with dignity and composure. It is again beyond comprehension that lawyers can enter into physical brawls with government functionaries or members of media. The footages that were displayed on the Television network, the advocates and custodians of law are throwing punches on cornered policeman: an eye sore spectacle, enough the sully the conduct and name of these practioners of one of the most venerated professions in the human society.

In a society already groaning under the inexorable violence and lawlessness and even terrorism, the legal community should have, with girded loins, protect and plead for weak and vulnerable sections and members of the society. But on the contrary, they seem to have joined hands with the tormenters of the society. The black coat that was looked upon as a shield and protective armor against the vile and wicked elements of the society has turned out to be a garment worn by desperadoes. The virtues of tolerance, forbearance, patience and good cheer have taken leave of our saviors of justice system in that they have starting settling their scores by violent means and physical fights. The legal profession stands debased and dishonored by these few individuals who are up to this raucous behavior either by design or by a dangerous metamorphosis in their personalities.

All said and done, it is doubtful that a legal graduate can stoop so low as to pounce upon the chosen targets like bird or beast of prey. Can it be reckoned that a fistful among the lawyers community want to over-turn the good name that the legal fraternity earned during the past two years as the vanguard in the historic movement for revival of democracy and independence and prestige of judiciary. The senior cadres of the lawyers are in a state of shock and quandary as to what was happening to some of their counterparts.

Now the catch is that if any legal action is taken by the superior or junior courts against these raucous lawyers for disorderly demeanor, they and their cohorts will raise hell and heaven against the judges. They would with mala-fide intentions, attempt to malign and slander the restored judges and all those who were in the forefront against the unconstitutional measures of the former president Mushrraf. Should we conjure that by behaving in such a crazy manner, these judges are trying to divide thus-far monolithic and cohesive brotherhood of the lawyers. Whether they are backed by the Musharraf lobby or have blessing of the incumbent government, the sordid fact has already been indelibly recorded in the legal annals of Pakistan, that a most civilized community can turn vicious for pedaling the narrow interests. This is a kind mutiny that would remain tagged with these lawyers for all time to come. Unless they recant and atone for their gross misconduct, they would be exposed as opportunist rabble rousers and fifth columnist among their peers and within the legal community.

Ironically there has not been much debate or resentment shown by the senior lawyers on this extremely bizarre behavior of their fellow payers. The muted and negligible protest has only stemmed from Aitzaz Ahsan, who in sheer frustration and perhaps in a state of helpless has suspended his membership of the Lahore Bar Association. Otherwise, it is all quiet on the front of Supreme Court Bar Association or the bars at provincial or district levels.

For a common man this eerie silence on the part of collective judicial community is disquieting and hard to be plausible or justified. Is it possible that the superior judiciary can move to rein in the felonious activities of these riotous lawyers? At the same the respective bar councils must disavow and denounce the questionable conduct of these violent and roguish lawyers. A tussle between the media and the jurists would sound a death knell for the civil society in Pakistan. In all fairness, the media, in this entire fracas, stands absolved of any wrong doing. The onus is on the inexplicable, aggressive behavior of a few unruly members of the bar.

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