LAHORE: Affiliated to the Hamid Khan-led Professional Group, two former secretaries of the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) have joined the Independent Group, famously known as the Asma Jahangir Group.

Although Rana Asadullah Khan and his elder brother Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan, a sitting MPA of the PML-N, were elected secretaries of the LHCBA, respectively, in 2008 and 2001 as independent candidates, they had later joined the Professional Group.

The brothers accompanied by former president of the Lahore Bar Association Mansoor Rehman Afridi and other associates made the announcement at an event attended by Supreme Court Bar Association president Ahsan Bhoon, who heads the Independent Group after the death of Ms Jahangir.

Former president of LHCBA Pir Masood Chishti, Chaudhry Hafeezur Rehman and other senior leaders of the Independent Group were also present on the occasion.

Asadullah Khan was the presidential candidate of the Professional Group for the LHCBA in the last year’s election, which he lost to Sardar Akbar Ali Dogar of the Independent Group.

Despite the defeat, Mr Khan continued canvassing to try his luck again in the next election to be held in February 2023 as advised by the group.

However, sources said, after a few months, Hamid Khan asked Mr Asadullah to withdraw from the election, saying the candidate should be from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). He said Mr Khan was of the view that since 2023 would be ‘election year’ in the country, the candidate for the bar president slot should be from the PTI, while Asadullah had roots in the PML-N.

A search committee of the professional group comprising six former presidents of the LHCBA had decided in favour of Rana Asadullah with a majority of four to two but the group’s head vetoed its decision.

Later, Chaudhry Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan of the Insaf Lawyers Forum was announced as the presidential candidate of the Professional Group for the upcoming LHCBA election.

The decision of Rana brothers to join Ms Jahangir’s group appears to have been taken in the backdrop of the rejection of Asadullah’s candidature in the election.

However, a close associate of Asadullah claimed the decision to join the Asma Jahangir’s group had been taken by them unconditionally and without any promise of election ticket. He said a majority of lawyers affiliated to the PML-N, including Rana Sanaullah Khan, were already allies of the Independent Group.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2022

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