By Najam Sethi
The “lawyers movement” has been discredited by the hotheads in its midst. The responsibility for this lies squarely on those leaders of the movement who have been egging the lawyers on to confront and defy both government and parliament and take the law into their own hands in pursuit of their political goals.
Clearly, the attack on Sher Afgan Niazi was both unprovoked and spontaneous. So those who are clutching at conspiracy theories to explain the atrocious behaviour of the lawyers are fooling no one but themselves. These include some of the leaders of the lawyers’ movement as well as the spokespersons of the PPP and PML-N. But no one is now ready to buy the argument that a weak and isolated Presidency is the source of such spontaneous acts of violence and conflict.
The lawyers’ movement has long been characterised by self-righteousness and unaccountability. It has deluded itself into believing that it is solely responsible for the restoration of democracy. But credit for that belongs to the political parties, which participated in the elections and carried the transition to democracy forward.
This delusion has made the lawyers’ movement arrogant and unaccountable. Yesterday’s violence against Sher Afgan Niazi is a manifestation of this aggressive streak in the movement that has been deliberately nurtured by some of the movement’s political leaders.
But lack of success in achieving its objectives has also created a high degree of frustration, as well as divisions, in the movement. There are some among them who want parliament and the new government to resolve the issue of the judges lawfully while others want a confrontation with government and parliament. Yesterday, the confrontationists clearly outnumbered the transitionists. Only Justice (r) Tariq Mahmud had the courage to tell the truth about the error of his community and say that responsibility for the ugly incident lay exclusively with his fellow lawyers.
Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan has resigned as president of the Supreme Court Bar Association in protest at the behaviour of his colleagues and followers. He would not have done that if he really believed that his colleagues were innocent. That should put paid to conspiracy theories about “outsiders and non-lawyers” in plainclothes provoking or “engineering” the onslaught against Niazi. This is a good decision. But Mr Munir Malik says that Aitzaz’s resignation is a “token gesture” taken in the heat of the moment and will not be allowed to stand. So we shall have to see whether politics or principles, truth or falsehood, will prevail in the end.
Courtesy: Daily Times, 9/4/2008