ISLAMABAD: The Bar Council of England and Wales has welcomed correspondence from the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), in which the latter said there will be no restrictions on Ahmadis to practise law in Pakistan.

It has also asked for further clarifications on the issue of Ahmadi lawyers being asked to renounce their faith in order to practise. In a press release issued last week, the UK Bar noted that there were “positive signs” for Ahmadi lawyers, as its questions to the PBC resulted in a clarification that no such discrimination against them will take place.

It said PBC issued the clarification after Nick Vineall KC, the then chair of the Bar Council of England and Wales, wrote to the PBC in May 2023 to raise concerns that Ahmadis were being asked to renounce their religion to practise at the Bar.

These concerns, it said, were raised after notices were issued by the Gujranwala District Bar Association and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council stating anyone applying for admittance to the Bar must assert they are Muslim and disassociate from the Ahmadi faith.

Further clarification sought on specific questions raised on discrimination against Ahmadi lawyers

The UK Bar said the incumbent chair, Sam Townend KC, received a letter in January from Hassan Raza Pasha, then chair of the PBC Executive Committee, explaining that the committee considered the matter in the light of the Constitution of Pakistan. “It was decided that the Resolutions passed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council and the District Bar Association, Gujranwala, have no legal value which is against the spirit of the Constitution of Pakistan. Therefore, no one can impose restrictions and seek such like declaration in future.”

The statement said Mr Townend has now written to new PBC Chair Farooq Hamid Naek to ask for further clarification that Ahmadi lawyers cannot be required to denounce their faith in order to be called to the Bar.

Mr Townend said: “It appears that the Pakistan Bar Council agrees with our interpretation that any measures that exclude [Ahmadis] and non-Muslims from the Bar would be impossible to reconcile with Pakistan’s constitutional principles of religious freedom and equality.”

Mr Naek’s staff officer told Dawn that Mr Townend’s letter has been forwarded to the PBC secretary and it would be discussed in the next meeting.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2024

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