ISLAMABAD: The partial strike in the district bar of Islamabad against the hanging of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassin remained a ‘mystery’ as the call was given by an ‘irrelevant’ group.

“The call for a strike against any issue can only be given by the Islamabad Bar Council (IBC), the regulatory authority of the lawyers of the federal capital,” said IBC vice-chairman Qazi Rafiuddin Babar.

He expressed ignorance about the strike call issued by some office-bearer of the District Bar Association (DBA). “I heard some unauthorised person had issued a strike call and as a result some lawyers boycotted court proceedings,” he said. Mr Babar, however, added that the IBC would investigate the matter and take appropriate action against the person responsible.

“Since there was a judicial verdict for the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, there was no reason to issue any strike call,” he maintained.

Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, the newly-elected president of Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA), told Dawn that some lawyers sympathetic to the assassin of Salman Taseer wanted the IHCBA to observe a strike but I refused to entertain their demand.

“I neither allowed any strike on February 29, the day when Mumtaz Qadri was hanged nor did allow any boycotting of the proceedings on March 1, when he was buried,” he said.

The situation, however, was not the same in the DBA where the number of lawyers remained comparatively low as an office-bearer of the bar association had issued the strike call.

Sources in the DBA told Dawn that a group of lawyers led by Rao Abdul Rahim, who were in the panel which pleaded the appeal of Mumtaz Qadri, asked the secretary of the bar association to issue a notice.

“They spoke to him on telephone and then issued the notice on their own and pasted it on the notice board,” the sources said.

They also sent text messages to other lawyers, advising them not to come or appear before courts.

According to the sources, the secretary DBA did not remove the notice.

Advocate Rahim, when contacted, insisted that the notice for the strike call was issued by the relevant office-bearer of the bar association.

President DBA Syed Mohammad Tayyab, on the other hand, disowned any notice and the strike call. “Officially speaking, there was no strike call given in connection with Mumtaz Qadri on Tuesday,” he said.

Explaining the reason for the thin attendance of lawyers in the district courts on Tuesday, Mr Tayyab said the lawyers preferred to stay at home because of the road blockades.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2016

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