November 2nd, 2020 

By Asra Haque 


Vote count of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) elections, which were held on Thursday, October 29, revealed that senior advocate and former Peshawar High Court Bar Association President, Latif Afridi was successfully elected President of the SCBA, while advocate Rana Shehzad was elected Secretary. Both lawyers belonged to the Independent Lawyers Group (also known as the Asma Jahangir Group).

On the matter of the superior judiciary’s perceived silence over the creeping martial law, which the Sindh High Court Bar Association and the Pakistan Bar Council have been on the forefront of blockading any such development in the legal sphere, reached out to Mr. Shehzad for what he saw was a denigration of the “principle of trichotomy”.

“The ingredient of creeping martial law is the move to curtail the principle of trichotomy, that is, to curb freedom of expression. We all saw very recently that the government introducing legislation which will criminalize any voice critical of the army. Such legislation is in violation of the Constitution. Moreover, no institution can be above the Constitution. The purpose of curtailing Constitutional liberties, especially freedom of speech and freedom of press is the definition of creeping martial law, which the SCBA is poised to oppose at any cost.”

On the matter of the internal rifts between the superior judiciary and the legal fraternity, Mr. Shehzad was of the view that more important than the independence of the judiciary is the strengthening of the judiciary as one of the pillars of the state.

“Our judiciary displayed weakness when it came to the matter of the three-year extension of General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure as Chief of Army Staff,” he opined. “It is the need of the hour to strengthen the judiciary, and the way to do this is to revise the 19th Amendment, Article 175-A, which has blockaded the path of several qualified and fair judges to be appointed within the superior judiciary.”