Pakistani Lawyers Movement By No Means Squeaky Clean

Pakistan’s Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has ben re-instated and there’s now a modicum of democracy and rule of law in Pakistan and the lawyers movemnet is patting itself on the back…

Interesting words of warning though from Kaiser Bengali writing for the South Asia’s Citizen’s Web. He isn’t impressed by the credentials of some of those aligning themselves with the movemnet….. Bengali writes

Lawyers’ struggle: another view

Full piece at

THE successful movement for the reinstatement of Iftikhar Chaudhry is being billed as a historic watershed event that has redefined the politics of the country and, in particular, the relationship between citizen and state.

Whether this conclusion turns out to be an illusion or reality will be tested in due course of time. In the meantime, however, an examination of the composition of the movement raises some disturbing questions.

The movement was started in March 2007 by the lawyers’ community and emerged as a rallying point for democratic forces opposed to Gen Musharraf’s military-backed regime. In the process, it attracted support from a broad spectrum of society — political parties of all shades, civil society and even retired military and intelligence officers. The latter formally organised themselves under the banner of the Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society.

Following last year’s national polls and Gen Musharraf’s subsequent departure, a section of this coalition lost its enthusiasm for Iftikhar Chaudhry’s reinstatement. The vast majority of dismissed judges also agreed to be reinstated after taking a fresh oath of office under the constitution. However, a core — largely centred in Punjab — remained committed to the original objectives of the movement and continued the campaign. By early 2009, PML-N — the majority party in Punjab — took control of the movement and led it to a successful conclusion.

The movement’s advocates saw themselves on a pedestal as ‘crusaders’ for justice and rule of law and couched their rhetoric in highly moralistic terms. Undoubtedly, the movement comprised eminent individuals of impeccable integrity, who have devoted their careers uncompromisingly to the cause of rule of law and democracy. Due credit in this respect has to be accorded ungrudgingly

However, a perusal of the roster of the ‘crusaders’ does not inspire unqualified confidence, as many have their past to answer for. There are questions with respect to their commitment to democracy, constitutionalism and rule of law — and their political orientation; with implications for the direction of politics in the country.

AALE has also been following Tariq Ali in the LRB. His arguments although slightly more nuanced bring the same message