A fascist reign of terror has been imposed in Pakistan, over ten thousand people have been arrested and jailed on false and frivolous charges, many beaten, tortured, killed, or just ‘disappeared’. Those who took an oath to protect the people’s rights, have become deaf and dumb and have turned a Nelson’s eye to these horrors, and the media has largely kowtowed before the power center. The people are reeling before the worst economic crisis in Pakistan’s history, with record unemployment, highly inflated electricity bills, and soaring prices of food and other essential commodities.
In this situation the lawyers of Pakistan have risen to the occasion, and are fighting back, bravely leading the struggle for democracy and the rule of law.
The Pakistan lawyers have recently decided to unite, and unitedly fight against this tyranny and trampling of human rights. They have formed the All Pakistan Lawyers Convention, and held their first meeting in the Supreme Court Bar Association in Islamabad. Here are some of the speeches delivered in that meeting :
A study of history shows that lawyers have given leadership to countries which were passing through a crisis in history. Thus, in the American Revolution (1775-81) most of the American leaders were lawyers, e.g. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, etc. Abraham Lincoln, the American President who led the nation during its Civil War (1861-65) was a lawyer.
In the great French Revolution of 1789 over half the members of the French National Assembly were lawyers e.g. Robespierre, Danton, Prieur de la Marne, Billaud Varenne, etc
The leader of the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution of 1917, Lenin, was a lawyer (though he practiced only for a short while).
Most of the leaders in India’s independence struggle were also lawyers.
Why is it that lawyers were leaders of many countries in their hour of crisis? That is because among all professions lawyers are closest to the people, and have society’s pulse. A doctor deals with medical problems, and an engineer with technical problems. So their knowledge of society’s problems is limited.
A lawyer deals with legal problems, which are connected to society as a whole, and he interacts with people of all kinds and all walks of life–workers, farmers, teachers, govt servants, businessmen, people with matrimonial problems or property disputes, criminals, etc. Hence he best understands the needs and problems of society. Also, belonging to an independent profession, he does not have to kowtow before anyone. Hence he is often the best person to lead the people.
In the situation prevailing in Pakistan today, with most people living in fear, the Pakistan lawyers are the fittest to lead the people in these dark times. And they are doing their duty fearlessly, valiantly, and undauntedly. Hats off to the lawyers of Pakistan !
A humble tribute to the lawyers of Pakistan from an Indian belonging to their own fraternity.
Markandey Katju is an Indian jurist and former Supreme Court judge of India who served as chairman for the Press Council of India. He has also worked as Standing Counsel for the Income Tax Department.