PAKISTAN: Support for the protests against the attack on the CJ is unprecedented, says a retired justice

(Hong Kong, June 7, 2007)

“In my 35 years in the legal profession I have never witnessed the type of strong unity prevailing among the lawyers in Pakistan as is being seen now, as the lawyers are reacting to the suspension of the Chief Justice, Iftekhar Choudhry and the attack on the independence of the judiciary,” said Justice Rasheed Razvi, a retired judge of the Sindh High Court in Pakistan. Justice Razvi was addressing the staff of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in Hong Kong on June 7, 2007.

“The sort of reaction the Chief Justice has got both from the lawyers and from the people is unprecedented in the 60 year history of Pakistan. There have been occasions during the last four months when large crowds waited through the entire night to have a glimpse of the Chief Justice as he was visiting for various meetings,” Justice Razvi went on to say.

“On one occasion a villager told the Chief Justice that the entire village, consisting of 13,000 persons, men, women and children, were all present to greet him,” he further said.

Justice Razvi explained that the humiliation that the Chief Justice was subjected to at the army camp by five generals and others had shocked the people of Pakistan. The people have also seen how the Chief Justice has been roughly handled and pushed into cars against his will. That the Chief Justice has been treated by the military in this manner is something that has been beyond the imagination of everyone.

Justice Razvi further said that it is unfortunate that two of the country’s prominent political leaders, Benazir Bhutto and Mr. Nawaz Sharif have not returned to the country to join in this struggle. Many other political parties are supporting the struggle of the Chief Justice fully. When the people are overwhelmingly coming into the streets to defend their basic rights it is the duty of such political leaders to brave any risks and support such struggles.

He further explained that it has been the attempt to eliminate from the judiciary anyone who might oppose the future plans of General Musharaff that has lead to the removal of the Chief Justice. Tremendously important constitutional questions are behind this move. He went on to say that the people’s protest is going far beyond the single issue of the removal of the Chief Justice and the lawyers are trying to address the implications of the attack on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. The lawyers have been able to demonstrate to the people the extremely harmful effects of what has been taking place in Pakistan on the whole system of law and democracy. It is for the political parties to give leadership for resolving these problems.

Justice Razvi explained that despite of personal risk many persons have committed themselves to this struggle as what is at stake are the larger issues of the nation.

Justice Razvi was in Hong Kong to attend a Law Asia meeting. He had earlier resigned from the Sindh High Court by refusing to take a new oath legitimising General Musharaff’s taking of power.

Document Type : Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-PL-020-2007
Countries : Pakistan,