PPP in control of all important bars after Asma’s win


LAHORE: With the victory of Asma Jhahangir’s group in the SCBA elections, all active bar associations and bar councils of the country have come under the control of pro-government and pro-Pakistan People’s Party lawyers’ leadership.
It were bars and black coats of Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad that led the rest of the lawyers in the country over the years, but the same are now positioning in favour of the PPP men (lawyers) in a shift that will impact the future relation of the executive and the government and the fate of the constitutional petitions being heard in the Supreme Court.
The candidates of the Hamid Khan group, supporting the newly-restored judiciary in establishing its authority against the executive, was countered and defeated in 2010, first by Sajid Bashir at the LBA polls, and now by Asma Jehangir in the SCBA polls.
Earlier, PPP Senator Muhammad Kazim Khan secured the top seat of the vice chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council and then Mumtaz Mustafa, again a PPP man, was elected vice chairman of the Punjab Bar Council, as the entire PPP-affiliated panel won polls in a landslide victory.
The Hamid Khan group, that controlled bars across the country in the Musharraf era, has now become a thing of the past. A robust but silent battle started between pro-judiciary and pro-government lawyers for occupying bars after the SC struck down the NRO and corruption cases were reopened against PPP leaders.
The biggest bar of the country is the Lahore bar Association (LBA) with over 19,000 members. Surprisingly in 2010, PPP-backed lawyers won the LBA elections, Punjab Bar Council (PbBC), Pakistan Bar Council and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) one after other, establishing complete control of the Khosa group-led People’s Lawyers Forum in bar politics.
The perception prevails in the legal community after the SCBA elections that the change of leadership in the bars was a breather for the PPP government. The SCBA is also a party in some political cases and it will be interesting to see what fate they meet with the change of guard. Bar rooms are discussing whether the SC, or Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, without the support of a friendly bar, will confront the government or take a back seat.
Showing apprehensions in the changed scene, a number of lawyers told Pakistan Today that the SC may now be unable to proceed with sensitive cases relating to the NRO, the 18th Amendment, written-off loans and Swiss bank cases.
They said new SCBA leadership may withdraw its petitions challenging Articles 175-A, as the petition against parliamentary committee for judges appointment was filed by the SCBA through it former president Qazi Anwar.
Talking about the post-SCBA election scenario, SCBA member Azhar Siddique said the PPP had literally “hijacked” all leading bars of the country for its agenda in order to protect its leadership from corruption charges. He hoped Asma Jehangir, being a person of international fame, will try to remain impartial.