PAKISTAN: AHRC condemns the arrest, detention and physical violence used against lawyers supporting Chief Justice Iftehkar Chaudry

In the latest move against the supporters of Chief Justice Iftehkar Chaudry a Supreme Court lawyer, Mr. Ali Ahmed Kurd has been detained by the Quetta police at the district court. The detention comes after several attempts by unknown persons to abduct him failed. However, this effort by the government was aborted by the lawyers of the country who quickly arranged protests all over the Pakistan. Mr. Kurd is the lawyer acting on behalf of the Chief Justice in the Supreme Judicial Council and he is also the Vice President of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) which is the driving force behind the support for the Chief Justice. The detention came after several failed attempts to abduct him. He was booked on a case that is eight months old and which was never pursued by the government. The PBC and the Islamabad Bar Association has condemned this arrest.

In another violent incident, lawyer, Ghulam Mustafa Kundwal, a Bar Association member, was severely beaten by uniformed men and left for dead in a ditch near the Cantonment area in Rawalpindi. It is believed that these two separate incidents are meant as a clear warning to the lawyers of Pakistan to refrain from their involvement in the movement for the supremacy of the judiciary over the military government.

However, the lawyers have refused to be cowed and have taken to the streets in protest over the intimidation that they see as coming from the government. They have vowed to continue their protest until the malafide reference by General Musharaff to declare the Chief Justice non-function is withdrawn. The lawyers have announced in public that they would not bow down to the ‘intimidating tactics of the government’ and were ready to sacrifice their lives for the independence of the judiciary. This action shows the high level of discontent in the country and in the legal community.

The Asian Human Rights Commission condemns the violence and intimidation perpetrated against Mr. Ali Ahmed Kurd and Mr. Kundwal. The government of General Musharaff has failed to resolve a situation of their own making which has quickly turned into a crisis. This crisis is now affecting Pakistanis in all walks of life from higher ranking civil servants, to professionals to the people in the street. The manner in which the government is attempting to deal with this crisis has shown that they have no real perception of just how much the people of Pakistan want democracy and rule of law.

Heavy handed tactics have failed to bend the will of the people and subjugate them to the wishes of the government and they will continue to fail to do so. What the government of General Musharaff must do now is reinstate the Chief Justice immediately, ensure the independence of the judiciary and listen to the cries of the people for a transparent and democratic system of governance.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-090-2007
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Administration of justice,