Lahore Bar goes to polls – but no issues are left to pitch | Pakistan Today

Lahore Bar goes to polls – but no issues are left to pitch

LAHORE: After the logical conclusion of the conflict between the judiciary and lawyers over former Lahore district and sessions judge Zawar Ahmed Sheikh, candidates for the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) elections have nothing on their hands to campaign for, Pakistan Today has learnt.
As the matter was resolved some weeks ago, lawyers could not find any campaign issue now, which was dampening their election campaigns. In this situation, the presidential candidates in the elections were facing many problems, as they now had to gain the support of voters in their personal capacities.
Four candidates were contesting elections for the LBA’s top slot including Abdul Latif Hanjra, who had the backing of the professional group headed by Hamid Khan, Ziauddin Ansari, supported by the Jamaat-e-Islami and backed by the Shahid Bila Hassan group, Shahzad Hassan Sheikh was being supported by the recently formed ‘lawyers voice group’ while MR Awan was contesting the election as an independent candidate.
Complex electoral politics: Despite having the backing of various groups, the candidates were trying to influence more than 70 groups of lawyers, which were formed on caste, sectarian and territorial basis. Most of the groups consisted of young lawyers who were ready to play their role in lawyers politics. It is pertinent to mention here that political affiliations and backing of prominent groups was not a guarantee for succeeding in the elections and some other factors played important roles in the success of candidates.
There was silent majority of lawyers consisting of professional lawyers who appeared on the scene only at election time and cast their votes silently. The candidate who could get the endorsement of this group was likely to be the winner. Aggressive lawyers, known for delivering fiery speeches, were always considered to be favourites in elections but this time there was no real issue regarding the judiciary and lawyers, which would allow such lawyers to take the battlefield.
In the past, voters ahd chosen the lawyers who were famous for their fiery speeches but the situation was quite different now. The past few years had provided an opportunity for lawyers to attain the focus of voters, as the campaign for the judiciary’s independence was going on with full swing. The candidates succeeded in winning the elections by showing allegiance to the lawyer’s movement, which was demanding the restoration of judges sacked by former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf. This year candidates have to show their personal credentials to win the support of voters.
Lull after judicial tussle: As soon as the tussle between the judiciary and lawyer started, all lawyers again mobilised themselves for contesting an issue-based election. But candidates failed to attain the sympathies of voters, as the tussle over the transfer of Zawar Ahmed Sheikh was not concerning the whole legal fraternity but only a selected group of lawyers. Candidates trying to follow political lines in the elections were disappointed, as the matter was resolved before the elections could take place.
The candidates needed to highlight other issues for winning the elections instead of just relying on lawyer’s politics. Some days ago, when media reports regarding withdrawal of the notification of restoration of superior court judges surfaced, candidates expressed their pleasure that they would again hit the roads and make the election an issue-based election.
But there hopes were dashed when the supreme court took suo motu notice of the situation and directed the federal government to explain its position in this regard. Now most candidates are requesting voters to vote for them due to their past record and future plans for the bar association.

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