The way lawyers led by Fazal-ur-Rehman Niazi, president PML (N) lawyers’ wing in Rawalpindi, came out in support of Mumtaz Qadri, was unethical and shameful. It not only violates the very basic rules of the legal profession, it expressed admiration for intolerance and fanaticism. Federal Minister of Law, Babar Awan, may be trying to get political mileage by categorizing the martyrdom of Salman Taseer as political because of Niazi’s actions; but he has a point: PML (N) is part of the crowd that abets religious extremism.
The legal profession includes judges, lawyers and other functionaries involved in the court system. Legal professionals of all levels are supposed to uphold the existing laws and try to implement them. Even when a professed murderer is on trial, lawyers make sure that all legal requirements are being fulfilled. A legal professional is duty bound not to become part of sedition or exonerate an accused outside the court of law. However, all such rules were violated when Niazi led a crowd of lawyers that showered rose petals on self-confessed murderer Malik Mumtaz Qadri.
If a legal professional cannot uphold a simple rule that no has the right—come what may—to take another person’s life, then he is part of a wild mob rather than a member of the legal community. A lawyer may have private biases against certain type of people but he is not supposed to publically endorse an illegal activity. Violating this basic rule, Mr. Niazi’s lawyer crowd and all the other who are volunteering to defend him are proving themselves to be nothing more than a lawless gang. Even if every Pakistani lawyer joins the killer-adoring crowd, it will still be a lawless gang. Their jackets and ties cannot cover this ugly reality.
The lawyer’s crowd in this case was no different than the fatwa issuing mullahs. Actually, the lawyers were confirming that mullahs’ fatwas are more valid than the country’s law. By adoring and idealizing killer Qadri, the lawyers’ crowd was condoning murder by an individual who can act as his own judge, jury and executioner. I wish the mullahs formally take over the court system and then we will see how these lawyers earn their bread and butter. All of them will have to go back to madrassas to become advocates in Qazi courts. These lawyers have no clue that they are cutting their own feet by supporting fatwas at the expense of the country’s laws. Evidently, Pakistani situation is very grave: If the defenders of the law turn into the biggest law breakers then the future is very bleak. It is just like setting your own house on fire.
The very fact that the lawyers’ crowd was led by a PML (N) leader shows that, at its base, the ruling party of Punjab is also comprised of fanatic mobsters who have no respect for the law. Advocate Niazi was not the only PML (N) leader who expressed admiration for the killer: PML (N) spokesman, Sidique-ul-Farooq also gave a similar spin to this murder by saying the Taseer was going to be murdered any way by someone if not killer Qadri. This means that Punjab government was aware of the danger and it did not do much about it. PML (N) may not be part of a conspiracy to kill Taseer but it is part of the crowd that has created an environment of extremist religion. After all, it was in Nawaz Sharif’s tenure as prime minister, that the mandatory death sentence was added to the Zia era blasphemy law.
The degeneration of some lawyers groups into mobster gangs is the most heart breaking development. People like us had thought that the lawyers’ movement has ushered in a new era where Pakistan will be run by law and order. But it has been proven over the months that our conclusion was a premature half-truth. Probably, the silent majority of lawyers led by Aitzaz Ahsan and Asma Jahangir are still the ray of hope. But they should know if they don’t rise to defend the rule of law their profession is in jeopardy. The lawyers’ crowd, as a tool in the hands of Mullah Shahi, is most lethal and destructive. The silent majority of lawyers has to find out a way to fight the lawyer mobster gangs.