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Jheenga la law

Published Jul 27, 2012 12:13pm


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People have strange occupations. One of them is writing stuff intended to impress, and to be quoted by others. People come up with lots of smart sounding phrases like ‘smaller is bigger’, ‘pious acts result in riots’, ‘life is a pirated copy of Bollywood’s B grade films’ etc. There’s this smart dude who says whatever kind of work you can think of, falls in one of the three categories: humans working with machines; humans working with ideas; and humans working with other humans and animals.

It is my intention to prove that the above-mentioned dude is not half as smart as he claims credit for. That it is possible for someone to earn a living without working with machines, ideas or people. And for this purpose I’ll use the example of Pakistan – a country created as a laboratory in modern times, in which failed experiments from the entire history of mankind are repeated. In the process, we may not have reinvented the wheel, but guess who reinvented puncture-mending? Thank you. We were able to excel in this art by observing the hitherto unfulfilled needs of the wheel owner. We found that if you insert a sharp object into the wheel, the owner then needs to have the puncture mended. Today, a team of two half-wits is enough to run a successful puncture-mending business in which one goes round puncturing, the other mending.

Pakistanis have successfully applied this model to all our entrepreneurial pursuits. Take for instance the justice system. It consists of both public sector duds and the enterprising self-employed lawyer. Since we have already agreed that the public servant all over the world is well within his or her rights to earn a salary and perks for life, without being responsible for anything, much less having to do anything, let’s just focus on the private sector professional, the lawyer.

No one goes to a lawyer unless they have a problem or complaint. From their spouses and friends to neighbours and strangers, everyone comes to pour scorn, fear, hatred, or helplessness into his or her ears. Having absorbed all this negativity year after year, and not having a friend or lover to share innocently pleasurable moments, the lawyer becomes cynical, suspicious and senile. The only times you’ll find them hospitable is during the visits before you sign the letter of engagement. You could tell them any problem in the world and they’ll tell you, after the briefest reflection, the exact amount you will have to fork out for the solution, and the minimum amount you’ll pay before the lawyer lifts a finger to point towards the possible solution or the absence of any.

Having signed on the dotted line and having received the advance fee however, the lawyer becomes your new best friend, often for life, because the litigation that binds you together will likely go on till the end of your or the lawyer’s life, whichever comes first. This does not happen by default though. The lawyer works hard to ensure every relationship they build is for life. Yes, the justice system is thankfully slow and unsteady, but there are always risks of a hurried judge passing the verdict within a short span of 10-15 years or an overzealous judge scheduling the next hearing after only a month’s gap, or the two parties or their second or third generations settling the dispute out of court.

To anticipate these situations the lawyer carefully works out the pace each of his cases must proceed with. He exercises control by attending to a case only once a year. The rest of the times his munshi informs the court that the lawyer could not present himself because he is traveling abroad/diagnosed as full blown AIDS patient/at the death bed of a parent etc.

The other call is made by the lawyer to the client to inform them that the hearing went well and that his arguments all but demolished the opponents and earned the praise of the sitting judge.

Forget the unauthorised absence and tardiness of school going kids coming from dysfunctional families, forget the doctors who leave their patients to die while they march in the streets chanting slogans for their own rights, forget the ministers who hardly ever show up in the parliament … the lawyer rules the roost when it comes to skipping work. Every day, every court room in every city is unable to proceed with more than half the cases on its cause list because one or both lawyers fail to show up. A good number of those who do, show up only to request for more time. And no such request is ever contested by the opposing lawyer.

Ever since the lawyers’ movement of 2007, they have found another, more viable tool to show their contempt for courts, their proceedings, the clients, their problems, and the law itself: it’s called ‘boycott of courts’. So a judge censures a lawyer for picking his nose and wiping his finger on the desk in front of the judge, and the lawyers strike. A lawyer attempts murder and is caught in the act by police, the lawyers strike. A lawyer is caught selling pornography at his own shop, the lawyers strike … And every strike automatically means boycotting courts. So eager are they to skip work that the news of a fellow lawyer gunned down or roughed up is greeted like Zia Ul Haq’s plane crash – one less undesirable person in the world, and one more welcome holiday from work.

When they can’t find a reason to strike, they boycott courts to show solidarity with Kashmiris or Palestinians, or to celebrate the Mumtaz Qadri Day (for those with mushy memories, the said Mr. Qadri is a self-confessed, widely witnessed, and convicted murderer who was garlanded by lawyers).

Now Mr. Smart Dude, where do you fit Pakistani lawyer in your three categories?


Masud Alam is an Islamabad-based writer, columnist and journalism trainer. He can be reached at


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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Masud Alam is an Islamabad-based writer, columnist and journalism trainer. He can be reached at

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (40) Closed

Qurat-ul-ain Zaidi Jul 27, 2012 12:50pm
I'll simply say Amazing. What a humorous cum sarcastic piece of analysis.I really hate everyday strikes in Bars where most of the time reasons are quite petty or childish. On the one hand we all are entranced into slow justice and on the other hand we keep going with strikes. Justice where are you lost?
NoNonsense Jul 27, 2012 04:53pm
Masud Alam is bitter to the bone. He has something against everyone and every profession. I wonder what category of the stereotypes tht he creates he falls in. It would certainly help for him to have some respect towards fellow humans. I could literally write a book on Masud Alam bashing, its that easy, but i am not him.
riza Jul 27, 2012 01:25pm
If the writer is true, then why there is no suo moto notice by the apex court on a problem living directly under its nose. No mr. writer , you must be wrong; our courts and its custodians are the purest in the land of pure.
Sujjawal K Barlaas Jul 28, 2012 12:26pm
Lawyers are useless people,Good for nothing expect for going on STRIKE.
Zulfiqar Ali Syed Jul 27, 2012 02:35pm
As a lawyer, I believe that the Bar Associations should come up with a sensible solution, instead of strikes, When a ordinary citizen suffers due to the lawyers strike, when some one fail to get bail due to the lawyers strike and spend night at jail, who is holding the hand of Justice. Lawyers must not lose sight to the aim of their education and profession, Overriding principal ACCESS TO JUSTICE. I hope my fellow lawyers understand this.
Srini Jul 27, 2012 10:37pm
What an awesome article! I am an Indian and I can see a LOT of parallels :)
Barrister Ahmed Uzair Jul 27, 2012 05:24pm
I am a lawyer and I found that spot on ...
jamil Jul 28, 2012 09:57am
We should see what we have done to the most prestigious profession!! we should be ashamed of ourselves. this is a profession for which is considered to be one of the highly reputed one people want to become lawyer
innohunter Jul 27, 2012 01:12pm
Masud Alam - Very very nice article.
srk Jul 28, 2012 10:27am
And you think this forum does not understand where you are from
Chaudhry boota Jul 28, 2012 12:10am
there is a new term for lawyers...wukla persons
Shakeel Jul 28, 2012 06:56am
Very refreshing article. I just join my office after a month break and had this. But again the life will go on like this. Is there any hope for a change in Pakistan?
Truth Seeker Jul 27, 2012 10:09pm
Yes he was momin & martyr and cause of thousands of momins' death and martyr
Mika Jul 27, 2012 05:08pm
These are not lawyers. they are thugs who have nothing to do!
Radha Krishnan Jul 27, 2012 02:41pm
Hilarious! I spilled coffee despite my best efforts to keep a straight face! You might as well be describing lawyers in India! Please excuse me while I spread the word and share your blog with others...
dhk Jul 27, 2012 04:43pm
i hope you never have to go looking for services of a lawyer :)
Avinash Saxena Jul 27, 2012 02:45pm
I must say the article is really hilarious; but then this applies to lawyers all over the world. There is not much difference here in India as well - after all the stock is the same. Thy say three things in life are certain: 1. Death 2. Taxes 3. Being fooled by a lawyer!
smj Jul 27, 2012 03:06pm
The lawyers can be in third category - Man working with other animals (layers) hehehe
NASAH (USA) Jul 27, 2012 03:13pm
A group of rule of law 'lawyers' that showers rose petals on a broad daylight murderer of a governor -- for protecting a helpless woman of a minority community -- needs more than a black coat to look respectable.
Moosa Pervez Jul 27, 2012 03:21pm
I do not take it as humorous but a sad picture of our judicial system of which the lawyers are the part and parcel. Poor Pakistanis are suffering by running pillers to posts to get the justice on their cases pending since years and lawyers who have converted themselves pressure group and very very strong street power of today enjoying their adventurism. Is there someone who will take sue moto on this ? Answer is no body because the boss will not like to loose the support of his jaan nisaaraan. Poor Pakistan is passing through its very dirty and painful phase. In my opinion until the people stop supporting these lawyers they will not come back to their bottles to where they belong.
Zero Jul 27, 2012 03:25pm
So true .. one of the diseases ailing Pakistan
Armaghan Jul 27, 2012 03:45pm
I was really enjoying your article until the very unnecessary mention of Zia-ul-Haq's. He died a "momin's" death and is martyr! He may be undesirable in your eyes but I am sure he must have a very high place in Allah's eyes. It has now become a fashion to bash General Zia but should I remind you that the kind of crowd that turned out during his funeral was unimaginable.
Karachi Wala Jul 27, 2012 03:48pm
An excellent article and wonderful analysis!
jamal Jul 27, 2012 06:09pm
its so sad my family is involved in a case since 2002 , we get shot dates for excuses like this and more . Lawyers dont understand that they are so many other hyrdlles like delaying tactics from qabza group that these no shows dont help us. Its a pity that we as muslims cant dispense good justice. how will we be able to face allah.
Mohammadazeez Jul 27, 2012 11:42pm
Why don't you lawyers run down to Burma with your sticks and help the Muslims there fight the mushrik budhists who are persecuting the momins. You are just a bunch of brain washed trouble makers.
Dr TK Jul 27, 2012 07:15pm
I have become a fan! You are spot on!! LOL
Sami Ullah Jul 27, 2012 07:35pm
Fantastic and amazing!
Razzaq Jul 27, 2012 07:51pm
If educated people starts behaving like hooligans in public places then they are not only losing respect but also setting bad examples for others particularly the uneducated and criminals.How can one call them defenders of laws and civility?
KASHIF Jul 27, 2012 08:55pm
Momin?? Not sure I would categorize any of the west Pakistan Soldiers who took part in the ethnic cleansing in Bangladesh as momin. This goes for Bhutto also.
Hoor Nain Jul 27, 2012 11:46pm
So sad. Zia Ul Haq was a muslim and a good one at that. I don't think everyone was jumping up n down with joy at the news of his death. As far as Im concerned it was sad news. Despite ones political views, our religion teaches us to always pray for magfirat of the ones who have left us. Really irresponsible. I agree with Armaghan that today pakistanis simply look to blame a character from the past, either its zia or musharraf (Forget the partition of mention of that ever)...Cameron Munter said one thing that pakistanis have to assess whats happeing NOW and stop blaming it all on a 3rd power or an ex president.
Salah Khan Jul 27, 2012 11:50pm
Zia was a criminal, he was no momin, he broke the law. he should have been hanged, we could still hang him but the only trouble is, we found only his mandible. anyone who breaks the law should be punished.We are in a mess because we didnt punish him and people like you who think he has done anything for this country, shame on you.
Zee Gul Jul 27, 2012 09:30pm
Masud Alam, you need to change your lawyer. Looks like you have personal axe to grind. You overlooked corporate and commercial lawyers. Companies don't go to lawyers only when they have a problem. Onl
Maharaj K Razdan,MD. Jul 27, 2012 11:33pm
USA lawyers. Melendez brothers gunned down their parents in los angeles to get their hands on 20 Million Dollars which their parents had. A Los angeles lawyer was able to get them free by the jury using all the tricks they are well versed in. Her fee 20 Million dollars. But the police retried them. This time the lawyer refused to represent them in the court of law because they had no money left. The result! they are serving life imprisonment in a California Jail.
Mohammad Ali Khan Jul 28, 2012 03:21am
It may sound very simplistic,but my conclusion is that the Pakistanis need rationality and far sight in their thinking.Due to irrationality and pursuit of short term goals, they are destroying the future of coming generations.
Moazzam Salim Jul 28, 2012 07:30am
So jounalists dont protest killings of other journalists? and no journalists are not on the take from every tom dick and harry having a buck or two to spare. Some people are believers of the selfrighteousness religion; their god is their own purified self. Every other person, profession or trade seem like a dirty task; a low point in human psychology. Only an ignorant could have blamed only lawyers for a delay in legal proceedings. The lack of resources, overlaping laws and over smart parties all contribute to the intentional and unintentional delays. I am surprised that there are people around who think that legal fees should not be paid. I wonder if they have the same approach towards hefty salaries that today's journalists are drawing? which do little to satiate their hunger for money. Here's the thing, we live in an imperfect world there are good people and there are bad people in every caste, religion, profession etc. but only a fool will brand a whole profession as morally corrupt.
Alvi Jul 28, 2012 04:25am
where is that unimaginable crowd now ?
Naseem Khoso Jul 28, 2012 05:29am
No point to discuss Zia here .....Zia is still cursed and thorough generations he will be cursed ...the way he broke the constitution and basis human rights in the country ...the way he brought black laws in country introducing Taliban and Extremists ...not only that he is responsible for Bhutto Murder .
Zeba Arif Jul 28, 2012 06:33pm
Hang on. Pakistani lawyers don't sound like educated people, merely people with an education. There is a difference.
Niran Salehjee Jul 28, 2012 07:51pm
Where would I rate them?? All the way down the tube where the crap piles up! ..... A word of advice to Mr. Alam, make sure you keep your hands absolutely clean or otherwise you will have a tough time finding a lawyer to represent you in court after this piece! Which incidentally, on the other hand, could end up being a blessing in disguise!
Amna Aug 02, 2012 08:21am
nice article !