Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lawyers gone wild?

It certainly sounds like it - at least in Pakistan!  The Washington Post reports:

In a nation where the rule of law is already fragile on many levels, police officials, judges, litigants and witnesses say they have become increasingly fearful of marauding lawyers in their trademark black pants, coats and ties.

“If police officers don’t submit to their pressure, they abuse and beat them,” said Sadaqat Ullah, the 28-year-old police investigator who alleged that a group of lawyers pummeled him in late September because he refused to share a confidential hospital report with an attorney in the original assault case. “They behave like gangsters.”

Lawyers at the site that day say that only harsh words were exchanged; the provincial bar council is investigating. But at least 15 episodes of “hooliganism” and “high-handedness,” as the media and victims describe them, by lawyers have been reported this year, undermining the heroic reputation they gained from their role in a constitutional standoff that began five years ago.

In a country where militants rule large swaths of territory, corruption is endemic and people are “disappeared” by security agencies, the “black coats” emerged as defenders of the rule of law after then-President Pervez Musharraf suspended the constitution, arrested political foes and fired judges. The world beheld incongruous images of men in suits braving police lines and tear gas in the capital, Islamabad, to demand the reinstatement of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry.

Lahore was the epicenter of the 2007-09 “Black Revolution”, as it is known. In one raid on the High Court Bar Association, police arrested more than 800 lawyers involved in the movement for judicial independence.

In the end, Musharraf lost power and Chaudhry went on to become a controversial one-man powerhouse who regularly calls to account top elected leaders and army generals for alleged abuses of power. But since those heady days, critics say, lawyers’ arrogance and aggressiveness have wiped out any goodwill they had generated.

“Storm troopers,” Ayaz Amir, a politician and commentator, called them in a June column. “Time was when lawyers did most of their arguing with their tongues. Now they seem to do a better job with their fists.”

There's more at the link.  Interesting reading.

Trouble is, of course, the police and the authorities used violence and intimidation against the lawyers of Lahore while trying to break their protests a few years ago.  The lawyers learned from the experience of being on the receiving end . . . and now they're dishing it out in their turn.  Remember the Golden Rule?  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  I'd say the lawyers are applying it pretty well right now!

Unfortunately, a proverb reminds us that "Two wrongs don't make a right".  The lawyers might do well to remember and apply that rule, too - otherwise a certain quotation from Shakespeare is likely to become more and more popular in Lahore!


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