Constitutional Law

Lawyers Attack Former Pakistan Official, Bar President Resigns in Protest

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In the latest development in a series of extraordinary, lawyer-led protests in Pakistan over the past year, attorneys clad in black business suits were reportedly involved in a physical attack on a former cabinet minister. Although the victim, former parliamentary affairs minister Sher Afgan Niazi, was not seriously injured, Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, reportedly may have resigned today in protest, saying that he could not be associated with such “despicable actions.”

Following a contentious meeting in the city of Lahore, “(i)rate protesters including black-suited lawyers jostled Niazi and tried to beat him with their hands and shoes when he emerged,” reports the Associated Press. “Police bundled the victim into an ambulance which was stoned and had its ignition key stolen, forcing over-stretched security forces to push it away from the scene.”

Local coverage describes an even more chaotic scene: “Dr. Sher Afgan Niazi, a die-hard supporter of President Pervez Musharraf, faced the worst kind of humiliation at the hands of lawyers on Tuesday as he was hit with shoes, stones, rotten eggs, tomatoes and lashed on the face after he was taken out from an advocate’s house where he remained detained for five hours because hundreds of lawyers laid a siege around the building,” writes the Nation.

Ahsan subsequently announced his resignation, according to AP, telling reporters: “I cannot be a president of an association which harbors or leads such miscreants and such actions.” However, he said he would continue to serve “whatever role is demanded of me” in an ongoing movement by the country’s lawyers to press for restoration to office of dozens of appellate judges removed last year by Musharraf.

Other coverage, though, indicates that Ahsan may at least be rethinking his resignation: At a press conference tonight, “Aitzaz Ahsan deferred his decision to resign as SCBA president in order to keep the lawyers’ movement intact,” reports the International News.

As discussed in earlier and ABA Journal coverage, Musharraf and Pakistan’s legal community have been at odds for over a year in an ongoing battle over whether he or the rule of law will govern the country.

Additional coverage:

The International News: ” Manhandling widely slammed President, PM order probe”

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