17th January 2022
By Asra Haque
Pakistan’s first two-day Urdu moot court concluded on Sunday at the Business and Law School (BLS) with an award ceremony in which members of the judiciary and bar councils awarded shields and certificates to law students who impressed judges with their confidence, persuasive ability and in-depth understanding of the laws and role of the courts.
The moot, which was organized by the Youth General Assembly (YGA) Legal Forum, saw the participation of 23 teams from various law colleges and universities across Pakistan. The YGA, an organization that seeks to instill political awareness and promote public participation among the youth of Pakistan, hopes that the event will prove to be the first in a series of moot courts that not only sharpen the skills of aspiring students poised to enter the legal profession, but also encourage widespread use of pure Urdu in the courts.
Students of the Punjab University Law College (PULC) clinched the first place as the defense for a hypothetical case against the President of Pakistan for not having submitted an antique gift to the Toshakhana. The final round was decided by a five-member bench of the moot-court, comprising former Justice of the Lahore High Court Nasira Javed Iqbal, Standing Counsel for Pakistan at the Department of the Attorney-General Tahir Gondal, former Special Prosecutor for Anti-Terrorism cases in Punjab Barrister Salman Safdar, advocate of the Supreme Court Haris Azmat, and Board Director of the Punjab Population Innovation Fund Barrister Aamir Zafar.
Rida Ahmed, a fourth year student of PULC whose team won the final, told Voicepk.net that the event was her first moot competition. She said while preparing for it did she understand the political and legal depth of events that the media only highlights the surface of.
“I am glad I participated in this event, because it was through the study and research that I did [for the competition] that I found out what law really was,” Ahmed, who is planning on appearing for the Central Superior Service (CSS) Exam, said.
The judges were impressed by the legal knowledge, wit and persuasiveness of all participants.
Justice (R) Iqbal expressed hope that these students would help shape the socio-political landscape of Pakistan for the greater good of its citizens.
“Lawyers have had a historic significance in creating and shaping Pakistan. The next big phase is the upcoming local government elections in which I am hoping the youth and lawyers will play an important role,” she said while also urging women to come forward and contest elections.
Barrister Safdar held that moot courts are an essential exercise for law students before they enter the legal profession.
“It is [a law student’s] first insight into the experience of being a lawyer,” he stated. He further added that the fact that the moot was held entirely in Urdu was wholly unique. “We have Supreme Court judgments in the Urdu language. The way students performed and presented their case in Urdu was remarkable.”
Founder and director of the YGA Legal Forum, Hania Riffat, told Voicepk.net that there is a growing awareness of the importance of Urdu, signified by the concerted effort by some members of the judiciary to give judgments in the national language. She added that the moot hoped to contribute to this effort, as well as impart the necessary knowledge and skills to future lawyers to successfully argue their cases in Urdu.
Riffat said, while also commending the institutions for their interest in the competition and polishing their students’ Urdu to a mirror sheen.
Participants, observers and judges were all of the view that not only is Pakistan’s national language on the decline, but that decline also points to an inherent class difference.
“There is a chasm that exists between the two classes of society, particularly among law students in Pakistan,” said Sohail Ahmed, a graduate of PULC and an Assistant Director for the Federal government. “We have to work on this by giving students better opportunities in either language to remove this ever-growing distance.”
“When we exit the student phase and enter the practical field, it takes us a year or so just to grapple with the shift in language,” a graduate of and Research Executive at the Quaid-e-Azam Law College Lahore, Umm-e-Aimen, explained. “I am grateful for the people who take such initiatives to bring Urdu forward because, irrespective of the fact that our courts tend to be bilingual, most cases are heard in Urdu.”
Mohammad Ali, who did his undergraduate in Legal Studies from New York University, lauded how participants were able to present their argument in Urdu with the same sophistication as those in English in the program he attended.
“Law, literature… they are not bound by any language or country. They are bigger than both things, they have their own grand identity,” he said, capping off the spirit of the event.