Lawyers demand end of assault on media, judiciary

In all Pakistan lawyers’ convention on Assault on Judiciary and Media, senior lawyers and bar leadership have called for stopping attacks on journalists and ending interference in civil matters by military and intelligence agencies.

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June 21, 2021

Bureau Report


ISLAMABAD

In a fiery convention on the issue of assault against judiciary and media, held on Thursday, at the Supreme Court Bar Association (SBCAP) Complex, the All Pakistan.

Lawyers Convention reiterated its demand for the immediate cessation of attacks on journalists and an end to the interference in civil matters by military and intelligence agencies.

Around 500 lawyers representing provincial and district bar associations attended the event which had been organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA).

The President of SCBA Latif Afridi, on the issue of rising restrictions on media in the country, said that the era of curbs on the media and dictatorship by the military had come to an end across the world now, but in Pakistan, the situation was the opposite.“

Journalists who do not flatter, and do not sell their conscience are declared traitors and wajib ul qatal (worthy of being murdered), just because they want to write the truth for Pakistan and get rid of lies,” he said.

He also warned that if peace was not established in Afghanistan after the US withdrawal, at least three million refugees could cross over to Pakistan.

“I want you to tell in advance that if a mechanism is not devised to ensure peace in Afghanistan after US withdrawal from there, millions of refugees can enter Pakistan which will bring lots of destruction that Pakistan will not be able to handle,” he stressed.

He urged the government to give proper attention to this issue and if anything went wrong then the PTI-led federal government would be held responsible.

Afridi also spoke about conspiracies being hatched to prevent Justice Qazi Faiz Isa from becoming the Chief Justice but said that the lawyers would continue to stand by him.

“Justice Isa gave two landmark judgments: one on the attack on lawyers in Quetta, and the other on the Faizabad dharna case. He was not ready to bow before anyone, nor was he ready to sell his soul. And that is why we will stand by him so that he becomes the next chief justice,” added Afridi.

Meanwhile, an impassioned Ali Ahmad Kurd, a senior Quetta based lawyer, invoked emotions with his traditional style of speech.

He openly expressed his sheer disappointment in the political parties of the country.

“I used to be associated with political parties, but now I have parted my ways from them because they have never stood up for their duties,” he said. “These are the political parties who give a man an extension when he asks for it, within ten minutes,” Kurd said.

Meanwhile, Vice-Chairman Pakistan Bar Council also highlighted the issue of rising militancy in the area of former FATA in his speech. He mentioned the ongoing sit-in in Bannu’s area of Jani Khel against the targeted killing of a tribal elder.

“Look at what is happening to the Jani Khel. Four children were martyred and buried in shallow graves. A dog found their dead bodies. Where is the justice? Who should we hold accountable for their murder?” questioned Khan.

He added that Talibanisation is on the rise in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and people were being threatened to give them extortion money.

Khan said that now the Pashtuns would not allow anyone to kill their women and children.

He also made it clear that the lawyers would only stand with those judges who were fighting for the rule of law and will completely abandon those who give rulings against the interest of the masses on the behest of these institutions.

Member Pakistan Bar Council Amjad Shah in his address said that a committee consisting of former Chief Justices of indisputable reputation should be constituted to investigate the allegations leveled by former Judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui.

He said that the lawyers had always stood for independence of the judiciary but opposed judicial activism. He proposed that the rules of Article 184-3 must be formed to ensure that there should be no misuse of suo moto powers of the supreme court.

Former Chairman PBC Abid Saqi said that a joint platform of lawyers, civil rights activists, and journalists must be formed to achieve the collective goals.

“I suggest that all stakeholders present in today’s conference should form a united front and take our message to every corner of this country. Today’s conference is not an end in itself but a first step,” Saqi added.

Senior Lawyer and PML-N senator Azam Nazir Tarrar said that today Asma Jahangir was not with them but he assured the journalists that her colleagues would carry forward the fight for freedom of press like the late human rights defender.

At the end of the ceremony, a declaration was read out by secretary SCBA Ahmed Shehzad Rana which was unanimously approved by the audience.

The declaration called on the military and agencies to stop interfering in civil affairs, remove obstacles to freedom of the press and withdraw black laws such as the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

The statement also called for an independent inquiry into the allegations made by Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui.