November 5th, 2020
By Ahmad Saeed
The newly elected president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Abdul Latif Afridi strongly hintsed that lawyers will actively participate in the rallies being held by Pakistan Democratic Movement (PMD).
In an interview with Voicepk.net, Afridi said that the lawyers’ role in the 2007 movement for the restoration of the judiciary or in the case of Justice Qazi Faez Isa, gave a very clear message that they would be part of every such movement which would run for the independence of the judiciary, rule of law and protection of basic rights.
“The opposition is challenging the previous (2018) general elections and saying that the votes were theft in the polls and there is no honour of vote. If there is no respect of vote then there is no respect of public representation either,” Afridi said.
He added that if there was no honour for public representation then the whole exercise of elections, through which specific people are brought either through coercion or rigging, becomes meaningless.
“Without legitimately elected people representatives, the supremacy of constitution and a powerful parliament, the elections will not be more than a joke.”
Afridi belongs to the Independent Lawyers Group also commonly known as the ‘Asma Jahangir group’ and won the elections by bagging 1,236 votes while his rival Abdul Sattar Khan, who was backed by the Hamid Khan Group (Professional Lawyers Group), recieved 959 votes.
Talking about his election, Afridi said that it was a difficult process as agencies also intervened in them.
“A propaganda campaign against us was run and we were labelled as traitors, anti-Pakistan but we still able to win the polls through hard work of our supporters. Our rivals had no program or narrative while we had a clear stance regarding the supremacy of the constitution, rule of law, and independence of the judiciary.”
Afridi is a veteran lawyer and throughout his legal career, he always remained in the forefront for the rule of law and enforcement of fundamental human rights enshrined in the constitution.
He has been an active petitioner in the cases of enforced disappearances and always urged the authorities to end this practice.
He says that as president of SCBA, he will try to give the right advice to the government on the issue of forced disappearances because the legal advisors of the government are not giving better advice to the government.
“We will talk to the government about why people go ‘missing’. This is unconstitutional and brings a bad name for the government. If some people within the folds of the government are involved in such instances then the situation will only get worse with each passing day.”
The newly-elected lawyers’ leader criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent statement in which he while hinting towards Justice Isa, said that the opposition is trying to bring forward one specific judge in the apex court.
“Justice Qazi is a fearless and independent judge who has pinpoint responsibilities in the Quetta Inquiry Commission report and in Faizabad Dharna case that’s why the government is trying to pressurize him and make him a coward,” he said.
He also rejected the notion that opposition is favoring any judge as in the Supreme Court the judges become Chief Justice only based on seniority.“But this tells us about government intentions that they want to award their favourites or they want to punish credible and honest people by making false cases against them.”
Afridi also criticised the government for appointing Firdous Ashiq Awan as a special assistant to Chief Minister Punjab on information despite the Supreme Court’s adverse remarks against her in the detailed judgment of Justice Isa case.
The apex court in its verdict held that Awan committed contempt of court and suggested that contempt proceedings should be imitated against her.
Talking about the role of women lawyers in bar politics, Afridi admitted their role is very limited which needs to increase. However, he vows to convene an all Pakistan women lawyers’ conference to address their problems.
“During my tenure, it is my firm resolve to arrange such conference to resolve the issues of our female colleagues and I will dedicate that conference to late Asma Jahangir,” Afridi said.