Recent days have seen a concerted effort by the lawyer’s community in Pakistan to organize itself in preparation for launching a movement to demand Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation. On Friday, Lahore High Court Bar Association President Chaudhry Zulfiqar informed the press that a lawyer’s convention is being planned to take place on 13th of May. In the wake of the Panama verdict, the LHCBA had demanded that the Prime Minister step down within 7 days however they failed to garner country-wide consensus for the ultimatum.
Ex-Chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry held a press conference on Saturday where he told the media that the growing dissension of the Prime Minister will lead to his downfall.
On 22nd of April, The LHCBA’s President had threatened the government with a lawyer’s movement “bigger than that of 2007”. However, the ultimatum met resistance from the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), which regarded the move as “premature”.
Mr. Zulfiqar stressed that this move was not political, stating that lawyers may be affiliated with political parties but their loyalty to the bar is above everything else. He also expressed reservations about the JIT’s ability to hold an impartial investigation of the Prime Minister and his family.
Addressing the multiple controversies surrounding the Prime Minister reiterated LHCBA’s stance that PM Nawaz Sharif had lost his moral authority to govern after the Panama verdict. However, PML-N representatives have still not budged on the issue and continue to insist that the Supreme Court has cleared Nawaz Sharif.
Ex-Chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry held a press conference on Saturday where he told the media that the growing dissension of the Prime Minister will lead to his downfall. Predicting another uprising of lawyers, the ex-CJ stated that the outcry against PM will leave him no choice but to resign.
The government’s political strategy seems to exclusively consist of personal attacks directed at their adversaries.
The unanimity of the lawyer community on the loss of the Prime Minister’s moral authority indicates a growing momentum of their movement and is reminiscent of the events surrounding the 2007 lawyer’s movement. Following Musharraf’s declaration of emergency in 2007 and the sacking of then Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry along with over 60 judges, lawyers initiated a movement that led to widespread protests across the country. The movement was a significant contributing factor in President Musharraf’s eventual resignation.
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In the past, lawyers have played a crucial role in Pakistani power politics. One significant achievement of the community was the 2009 long march from Karachi to Lahore to put pressure on the PPP government to reinstate the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry which was, ironically, led by Nawaz Sharif.
The current political situation is incubating a growing tension in different sections of the civil community. The lawyers are no strangers to organizing movements to protect the judiciary and the constitutional rights of the public and the growing consensus among them for the PM’s resignation spell trouble for the PML-N establishment.
Meanwhile, the government’s political strategy seems to exclusively consist of personal attacks directed at their adversaries. Abid Sher Ali, Minister of State for Water and Power, held a press conference today where he disparaged the character of opposition leaders but failed to make any comment on the demands of the LHCBA.