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LAHORE: The sitting cabinet and some former presidents of the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) on Monday urged the legal fraternity not to support the elements running a vilification campaign against the judiciary.

Without naming their political rivals, the bar leaders said the lawyers should not associate themselves with the ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif in his views against the judiciary following his disqualification in the Panama Papers case.

LHCBA President Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, Vice President Rashid Lodhi and Secretary Amir Saeed Rawn addressed a press conference where they were joined by Pakistan Bar Council’s member Hamid Khan, who heads the Professional Group.

Chaudhry Ishtiaq A. Khan, Asghar Ali Gill, Shafqat Mahmood Chohan, Maqsood Buttar, Tahir Nasarullah Warraich, Hafiz Abdul Rehman Ansari and other leaders affiliated to the Khan’s group were also present at the media briefing. Sitting president of the LHCBA Ali also belongs to the professional group.

Insiders said the Monday’s press conference was in reaction to a recent meeting held between ousted premier Nawaz Sharif and some members of the Pakistan Bar Council belonging to Independent Group of Asma Jahangir, who enjoyed majority in the council, the top body of the lawyers.

Mr Ali said criticism could be made on court verdicts but at an appropriate forum and in a reasonable manner. “However, nobody can be allowed to ridicule the judiciary,” he added. Hamid Khan said onslaught on the court’s decisions was against the Constitution. He said the lawyers would not allow disrespect of the Supreme Court’s judgments. He claimed that a handful of lawyers could not be the voice of whole legal fraternity.

Mr Khan explained that they had no political agenda but wanted rule of law in the country. He revealed that a committee comprising former and incumbent office bearers of the bar had been formed to counter the anti-judiciary campaign.

Other speakers said lawyers would take to streets if the character assassination of the state institutions was not stopped.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2017