January 11th, 2021
By Ahmed Saeed
The Independent group also known as the Asma Jahangir group has won the elections of the Lahore District Bar.
Candidate of the Independent group, Malik Sarood, clinched the seat of President, Lahore Bar after defeating Hamid Khan-led professional group candidate Rao Sami, after a nail-biting contest. Sarood bagged 2,544 while Sami managed to get 2,503 votes.
On the two seats of secretary, Ahmed Saad of the Professional group and Muddasir Butt of the Independent group were elected with 2,894 and 2,760 votes, respectively. Rana Shahid Hussain and M.H Shaheen grabbed the seats of Vice President with 2,410 and 2,201 votes, respectively. Rana Kausar Sulehri and Ifran Kitchi were elected as Vice Presidents from Model Town courts and Cantonment courts by bagging 2,112 and 2,617 votes, respectively.
The district Bar, Lahore is Pakistan’s biggest bar association, with more than 25,000 lawyers registered as members. Over 10,500 members cast their votes in the elections held on Saturday, January 9, 2021.
Earlier, the Asma group won majority seats in the 23-member house of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), paving the way to elect its vice-chairman consecutively for the 5th year.
Insufficient representation of women
Out of 23 seats, no woman was elected as a member of the PBC. Likewise, in the elections of the Lahore district bar, no woman has been elected as an executive member.
Only one woman, Syeda Uzma contested the election on the seat of secretary but she only received 157 votes which was the lowest number among all the candidates vying for different slots.
Speaking on the issue of under-representation of women in bar politics, senior lawyer and longtime companion of late Asma Jahangir, Hifza Aziz said that over the years it has become very difficult to contest the elections.
“The election campaign has become so expensive and rigorous, that it is impossible for a professional woman lawyer to run in the polls,” she said. “One has to sacrifice his or her professional career to enter into bar politics and then win any election.”
Aziz further added that if she was ever offered to contest the bar elections, she would plainly refuse. Advocate Alia Malik, who is associated with the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell (AGHS) shares Aziz’s opinion on the matter. But in her opinion, there would neither be a separate electorate for women, nor a special quota for them in bar politics.
“We want to compete as equal members because we are as qualified and competent as our fellow male lawyers are,” she said. However, she suggested that every group contesting the elections should place women candidates on at least 40 percent of the total slots.
“A large number of women are now entering into the legal profession every year, hence it is very important to have their representation in lawyers’ bodies. said Malik”