IT seems that a section of the legal community in Pakistan is keen to exhibit how not to fight one’s case. The latest demonstration of this was in Faisalabad, which has witnessed the rowdy behaviour of lawyers on many previous occasions as well. Footage released on the media shows a group of lawyers assaulting an apparently very civil deputy commissioner on Wednesday. The lawyers were demonstrating in favour of establishing a bench of the Lahore High Court in Faisalabad, Punjab’s second largest city. The images have led to universal condemnation, and on Friday, lawyers belonging to a certain group regretted the occurrence. But local journalists say that chances of this ‘apology’ being the first step towards a guarantee that lawyers henceforth will shun violence when they protest are rather slim — tied as the latest act of hooliganism is to some political needs urgently felt by the honourable members of the bar.
The shocking physical attack on a government officer has been linked to the election of the bar in the city in the not-too-distant future. The period, it is said, always finds lawyers in a more agitated state than usual, and the urge among some candidates to prove their credentials for the bar council’s office can lead to an awkward situation. In extreme cases, the poll-related activity can culminate in the kind of public scenes enacted on Wednesday. These assertions are backed by witness accounts that the deputy commissioner’s attackers included a learned gentleman who is vying for one of the top slots of the Faisalabad bar association. The information suggests just how much may be at stake in a bar election and how desperate the lawyers are to score a point over others, or how impatient they may be to secure a Lahore High Court bench for themselves in the city. If ever there was a case of anyone paying the prohibitive price for their choice, this is it.
Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018