LAHORE: Lawyers gather for casting their votes in the elections of the Supreme Court Bar Association held at the Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry on Thursday.—PPI
LAHORE: Lawyers gather for casting their votes in the elections of the Supreme Court Bar Association held at the Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry on Thursday.—PPI

LAHORE: Abdul Latif Afridi of Independent Group of lawyers, also known as the late Asma Jahangir group, was elected president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) for 2020-21.

The group notched the maximum slots of the bar, including those of secretary and vice presidents in Punjab and Sindh.

As per unofficial results, Mr Afridi secured 1,010 votes against 796 bagged by his rival, Abdul Sattar Khan of Hamid Khan-led Professional Group.

This year, both the candidates for the president’s slot were from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as per the rotation policy among the provinces.

The lawyers’ wings of almost all the political parties, including the PML-N, PPP, PTI and PML-Q, supported Mr Afridi with little defiance to their party line.

Afridi elected apex court bar president

The PML-N Lawyers Forum, led by Naseer Ahmad Bhutta, backed Mr Afridi in line with the party decision; however, a faction represented by former deputy speaker Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan’s brother Rana Asadullah Khan supported Abdul Sattar Khan for his old affiliation with the Professional Group.

A faction of the Peoples Lawyers Forum, headed by former governor Sardar Latif Khosa, also backed Mr Khan while another faction, commonly known as the late Mian Jahangir group, supported Mr Afridi.

Interestingly, a majority of Insaf Lawyers Forum, led by Barrister Ali Zafar, voted for the Independent Group while a considerable number of its members, including the federal law officers, remained loyal to the Professional Group.

Mr Zafar is among the senior leadership of the Independent Group governed by Ahsan Bhoon, Azam Nazir Tarar and Abid Saqi.

PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz Sharif congratulated Mr Afridi on his success. She tweeted: “Congratulations to Lala Afridi, his panel and Asma Jehangir group on their glorious victory, that too against all odds. Alhamdolillah.”

During the election campaign, Mr Afridi was targeted on ethnic grounds as his rivals tried to depict him as anti-Punjab. However, the election results showed that Punjab had been instrumental in his victory. Mr Afridi got 546 votes from Lahore while Mr Khan obtained 376. As many as 1,328 votes are registered in Lahore out of 3,177, the total votes in the country.

In the past, Mr Afridi was affiliated to the Professional Group of Hamid Khan; however, he developed differences after the lawyers’ movement. He was elected president of the Peshawar High Court Bar Association several times and also as a member of the Pakistan Bar Council.

Independent Group’s Ahmad Shahzad Farooq and Arshad Bajwa Chaudhry were elected secretary and vice president-Punjab, respectively. The slot of vice president-Sindh was also notched by the Independent Group’s Kazi Abdul Hameed Siddiqui.

Counting of votes at Islamabad polling station was still under way till the filing of this report.

Election Board chairman Afrasiab Khan would announce the official result on Nov 4 in Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2020