Lawyers not ready to go beyond 30th deadline(The Daily Times)

KARACHI: The countdown has begun and there are only 13 days left for the deadline to restore the judges, said Sindh High Court Bar Association President Justice (Retd) Rasheed A Razvi, adding that the next step will be decided at the All Pakistan Lawyers Convention to be held next Thursday.

He said this on Thursday at the daily protest of the general body and Youm-e-Shuhda (Martyrs’ day) in memory of the colleagues who have laid down their lives between August 2007 and April 9.

Lawyers will not be under any illusions and they must prepare themselves for good and bad news alike, he said.

Justice Razvi told a charged crowd that the lawyers of Karachi took the lead in the lawyers’ movement, as five of their colleagues, Raja Riaz, Pervez Akhtar Kiyani, Ateeq Qadri, Haji Altaf and Sheharyar alias Sherry laid their lives for the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. If the judges of superior judiciary are not restored as demanded within 30 days i.e. by April 30, the government and the establishment alone will be responsible for the ensuing debacle. Lawyers are prepared to take on whatever may come next and to wage a more difficult struggle, he said.

Sindh Bar Council representative Advocate Salahuddin Gandapur said that the lawyers of Karachi are proud of their sacrifices in this struggle, which they gave for a better future for the people of Pakistan. Victory is near as the deposed judges will be restored very soon, he said, adding that these restored judges will be hearing the May 12 cases.

The fiery leader remembered his fellows and said that Raja Riaz was killed by assassins in the VIP zone, while Ateeq Qadri fell victim to targeted killing. The FIRs in these cases have been put in cold storage, he said, issuing an ultimatum of 10 days to the police to trace the killers of Riaz and Qadri. The terrorists appear to spare nothing sacred, not even religious places, as they showed when they torched the mosque at the Malir bar premises, and they must pay for these acts. These acts are intolerable and a struggle is necessary to prevent further such incidents of violence and terrorism. Our fight is for the rule of law, equality of every citizen, the independence of the judiciary and the restoration of the pre-November 3, he said.

Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam Advocate Nehal Hashmi said in his address that the April 9 incident was the handiwork of forces in collusion with President Pervez Musharraf and the USA, whose sole aim is to derail democracy. Democracy and a free Pakistan does not fit into their strategies to “achieve US interest in the region.” A weak Pakistan with dictatorial regimes is what they require, he said.

He termed the Tahir Plaza and Malir Bar Association blazes as incidents of terrorism by a handful of elements. The deadline is approaching fast and if the judicial issue is not solved in 14 days, a full-fledged movement will commence.

Later, Hashmi and Advocate Syed Saeed Akhtar staged a two-hour token hunger strike, a regular feature since April 2007 on the decision of the Pakistan Bar Council.