Lawyers Movement Pakistan
The Lawyers' Movement was the name given to the popular mass protest movement started by the lawyers of Pakistan in response to the actions of 9th March 2007 by the country's military ruler General Pervez Musharraf. Pervez Musharraf called the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for a meeting and asked him to resign or face 'charges of misconduct'. The Chief Justice held firm, refused to resign and preferred to defend the charges. The unprecedented “No” was to go down in the judicial history of Pakistan. The Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan declared the suspension of the Chief Justice as "assault on independence of judiciary".
The History of Lawyers' Movement
On 9 March, 2007, a General in uniform, also the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, attacked the judiciary and suspended and detained the Pakistan's Chief Justice. Iftikhar Muhammad was called by Pervez Musharraf and asked him for his resignation or to face 'charges of misconduct'. The Chief Justice refused to resign and choose to defend the charges. The civil society, human rights activists, media, students and especially the lawyers' community came out on roads to protest against the suspension of the Chief Justice. Presidents of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan Munir A. Malik, Aitzaz Ahsan, and Ali Ahmad Kurd along with others lawyer leaders led the Lawyers' Movement. 20 July, 2007 the Supreme Court of Pakistan restored Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as the Chief Justice of Pakistan and dismissed the charges against him. 3 November, 2007 Pervez Musharraf imposed state of emergency in Pakistan again dismissed the Chief Justice along with sixty other judges ,illegally and unconstitutionally, who refused to take oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO). Lawyers, civil society, human rights activists, journalists and the media and people from all walks of life came out on the roads once more they protest for the restoration of the judiciary and removal of the 'state of emergency'.
List of Judges Removed on 3rd November, 2007
Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry (Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice), Rana Bhagwan Daas, Khalil ur Rehman Ramday, Javed Iqbal, Raja Fayaz Ahmad, Mian Shakirullah Jan, Khawaja Sharrif, Shahid Siddiqui.
Prominent Leaders of the Lawyers' Movement
Aitzaz Ahsan, Ali Ahmad Kurd, Munir A. Malik, Jst.(r) Tariq Mahmood, Athar Minallah, Hamid Khan, and many more.
The Start of the Lawyers' Movement
President of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, Aitzaz Ahsan, and members vowed to fight and restore the Chief Justice of Pakistan.
Mission of the Lawyers' Movement
The main objective of the lawyers movement was, establishment of the Rule of Law, Supremacy of the Constitution and Civilian Supremacy over military.Restoration of Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry along with sixty judges dismissed by Pervez Musharraf illegally on 3 November, 2007 the secondary objectives.
Rallies and Protests
21 January, 2009 The Lahore High Court Bar Association carried out a 10 Million signature movement. As the name suggests, the purpose of the movement was to get 10 million signatures on a large white cloth which was to be presented to the parliament at the end of the long march. Political party workers, concerned citizen and lawyers participated and signed the petition. 16 March, 2009 Lawyers' Community had given a call for nationwide 'Long March'. Many political parties like the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Group), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamaat-e-Islami and others supported and participated in the Long March. All the supporters of the 'restoration of judges' participated in the Long March despite a ban imposed on protests and rallies under Section 144 by the government.
Crackdown on Lawyers
The government arrested, detained and tortured lawyers on different occasions.For the first time in the history of Pakistan, armoured police vehicles entered the premises of the Lahore High Court to attack the protesting lawyers who had sought refuge within the high court building.Several lawyer leaders were kept under house arrest for several months. Munir A Malik developed serious health problems due this.In Karachi anti-lawyers movement and ally of the government Muttahida Qaumi Movement(MQM) torched a lawyers' office in which about 7 lawyers were burnt alive. In Sahiwal, Police on the orders Musharraf regime, attacked the lawyers with petrol bombs, due which several lawyers suffered major burns.
The first achievement of the Lawyers' journey was 20 July 2007, when the Supreme Court historically refused to affix its imprimatur on Pervez Musharraf's attempt to dismiss the Chief Justice, who was then restored to his office with full dignity and authority.
Timeline of Lawyers' Movement
9 March, 2007 Musharraf removes Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. The removal brought months of protests by lawyers. 20 July, 2007 the Supreme Court of Pakistan restored the Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry with full dignity and authority. 3 November, 2007 Musharraf imposed state of emergency. The constitution was suspended. Sixty independent judges were dismissed. 5 November, 2007 Police raided the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA). After baton charging and throwing tear gas into the premises, arrested more than 800 lawyers. 9 March, 2008 leaders of political parties Asif Ali Zardari , Pakistan Peoples Party and Nawaz Sharif Pakistan Muslim League signed an agreement to restore the judges within 30 days of formation of a national government. Zardari backed out and the coalition failed to restore the judges. 24 March, 2008 Yousuf Raza Gilani ordered, soon after being elected Prime Minister, that all detained judges be released. 12 May, 2008 was another deadline for restoring the judges but nothing was done. This was the second commitment the government backed out from after the initial deadline of 'within 30 days of the formation of government' which ended on 30 April, 2008. 17 May, 2008 the Pakistan Bar Council announced a long march from Lahore to Islamabad will be held on 10 June, 2009. Peoples Lawyers Forum (PLF) considered it against the Pakistan Peoples Party government and did not support the long march. 14 June,2008 historic long march was held, thousands of people from all walks of life participated. 8 August, 2008 ruling coalition leaders Sharif and Zardari once more agree to restore Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry as the chief justice if Musharraf resigns. But when Musharraf stepped down, Zardari backed out of the deal for the third time. 18 August, 2008 Musharraf resigned. Lawyers considered the resignation a great achievement and celebrated. 25 August, 2008 Sharif's party, leaves the coalition government. 6 September, 2008 Asif Ali Zardari is elected the President of Pakistan by the parliament. 28 October, 2008 Ali Ahmad Kurd was elected the president of Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association. This energized the struggle of restoration of judiciary. 25 February, 2009 Supreme Court disqualifies Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif from holding or contesting public offices. 11 March, 2009 several hundred lawyers and opposition party political workers and leaders were arrested. A ban was placed on rallies and protests in two of the Pakistan's four provinces. 12 March, 2009 lawyers, political workers and civil society gather in several cities for the Long March to Islamabad. Scuffle with police, hundred of arrests were made, none allowed to leave their cities for Islamabad. 15 March, 2009 authorities placed Nawaz Shairf, Atizaz Ahsan and many other leaders under house arrest. Shairf broke through the road blocks with his supporters and came out on the roads in Lahore to begin the Long March. This is believed to be the turning point of the movement Thousands of people joined the rally. Thousands of people moved towards Islamabad lead by a political leader Mr. Nawaz Sharif. In Midnight 15/16 March, 2009, the Government of Pakistan took a decision to restore Mr. Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. Early morning around 4AM (Pakistan Standard Time) Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Yousaf Raza Gillani announced on Television that The Government is restoring all the sacked judges. Though it is true and many resources claimed that this decision came after the involvement of Army Chief Gen. Kiyani, so we can't deny the vital role of Pakistan Military once again. and that's how an illegal act of Ex-President Gen. Musharraf saved its place with a golden end in the history.
Role of the Media
The print and electronic media were very active in the Lawyers' Movment. Geo News even had to face a ban. Days before the call for 16 March, 2009 Long March, Geo News carried out a series of public service message campaign which was sponsored by Mir Khalil ur Rehman Foundation (MKRF) for restoration of the judges. One of the campaign's message was a 8 minutes 12 Seconds video which showed all the promises and statements, especially by Pakistan Peoples Party leaders, about the restoration of the judges but were not fulfilled. The campaign proved very successful in educating people and reminding the government of their commitments. The government even blocked Geo News in many parts of the country as the government believed the campaign was biased.
Role of Political Parties
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan Muslim League (PMLN) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) supported the Lawyers' Movement on different occasions.
Lawyers' Movement Anthem
Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan wrote a poem while he was under house arrest. The poem later became the anthem of the Lawyers' Movement.
The Lawyers' Movement of Pakistan started after the suspension of The Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on 9 March 2007 when Former President Gen.(r) Pervaiz Musharaf suspended the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry because of his true concerns on some controversial cases whom were open evidence against to Gen.'s rule. and then CJP deposed and a case puted against CJP in supreme court and then the verdict came in CJP's favor. and he reinstated on the post. And then Gen. Musharaf imposed emergency on 3rd November of 2007. and then the real fight begins. whole Pakistan stood up together, and protested, and loss v.important personalities lives like Benazir Bhutto, etc. to take back real democracy and judiciary. and we are still fighting for the judiciary.