Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Attorney Revolt in Pakistan

I don't know why the constitutional crisis going on in Pakistan isn't getting more press, I blogged about it briefly back in March. But Washburn Law School professor Ali Khan is covering the story.

A senior Supreme Court advocate in Pakistan tells me that this is the first time in Pakistan’s history that lawyers have dropped their conflicting political affiliations and forged an unprecedented professional unity to restore the rule of law.

More than 80,000 lawyers are acting in solidarity to challenge arbitrary powers that the President exercises on a regular basis with no constitutional authority. The suspension of the Chief Justice on March 9 was the President’s most blatant act to intimidate the judiciary.

The edifice of law cannot stand and the state cannot survive, says the senior advocate, when the President wearing the uniform of the Army Chief summons the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) into a military camp, grills the CJP in the presence of others including some generals, and then orders his suspension. This Presidential vaulting, I am told, is too much for the lawyers to let stand.

In his petition to the Supreme Court challenging his suspension, the CJP paints the picture of an arrogant President who humiliated his person and his office - “crimes” tantamount to “the subversion of the Supreme Court.” ....

These stories have stirred many of Pakistan's lawyers into hard action. The lawyers are protesting in the streets to mobilize a popular uprising against the President. They are making it difficult for the Parliament to grant another five years term to the President. They are petitioning the Supreme Court to force the President to leave even earlier....

While the people and the Parliament are still unsure what to make of the crisis, the lawyers have pooled their resources to fight for a distinct legal objective - suspension annulment [for the Chief Justice]. |Jurist|

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