The Pakistan Bar Council elections are right around the corner. The innumerable candidates for the Bar Council membership are busy in their rigorous campaigns. The Mall Road along the Civil, Sessions and High courts is infested with flex signs, banners and posters of the lawyers running for elections. As I drive past these doctored pictures of lawyers, I feel pleasantly surprised at my recognition of some of the names and faces. Some of the congratulatory banners to the Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council catch my eye. Before the process has even started, the greedy and flattering elements have played their cards. It is sad indeed that such an important profession is so poorly represented. I have a humble request for each and every member of the legal community and I hope my word is taken as that of the common man in Pakistan hiring all of you as our advocates.
I have had a kaleidoscopic view of the legal community in the past couple of years. I have met the key power players and had a very close kinship to them. I have also unfortunately been exposed to the worst people in this arena who do nothing but threat, manipulate and cheat others. They are so obtuse in their dealings that they not only deceive the clients of the opposing councils but also their own clients. I wonder if they are merely surviving in a competitive society or are they really the scavengers they appear to be. I know many people in the medical community who scoff at the Hippocratic Oath and forget their duty to the ailing humanity. I guess practical life takes away some of the dreamy idealism and then when we get appreciation for our skills we forget we are but human. The point is that this group of professionals has the good with the bad elements. I would never be part of the solution if I too walk away with finding faults only. So here is my two cents for the heroes and the bandits alike, no pun intended.
As a litigant, my worst nightmare is the never ending adjournments in my cases. I am never certain if on the given next date there will be a strike by the bar council, or the presiding judge will be on leave or the opposing council will be unavailable. This unpredictability is the worst torture for any person trying to plead his right. And after coming from a foreign country, one feels horrified at the barbarity with which these proceedings are lingered on for years and years. The first appeal I make to all of you is to stop this practice. We all know the injustice involved if even at one point or another it serves our own purpose. When the Chief Justice is taking special notice of the red files of more than thirty year old cases, I wonder if he has been sleeping for the same amount of time. If he has been a part of the system, Then he too is the cause of these long delayed cases. Then why is the custom obstinately followed while fixing its damage? If it was a matter of more trivial nature, I would have found it as hilarious as a dog trying to catch it’s tail. But sadly, this is worth weeping over for the fate of those who stumble onto these corridors of justice.
The next suggestion is to decide during these elections what powers are you or your candidates striving for. Are they spending these ridiculous amounts of money on advertisements, catering lunches or dinners, giving gifts to lawyers and hosting get togethers for the improvement of social justice and supremacy of law in Pakistan? Or is it just so that they can bunch together in a group of office bearers and cash out every case they take up. With all due respect, I know that power politics means more money and more influence. But I wonder do we have a couple of heroes among you who are spending all these amounts for the general good of society? I don’t think so. Even with epic naïveté, I would not be so optimistic about the outcome. We are encouraging people to spend money on elections, therefore we are ensuring that no one with honorable intentions and a meager financial status would dare step forth. My request is to please choose people for their professionalism and moral upstanding. They represent all lawyers, they must be the best among you. My experience with last year’s office bearers left a very raw impression of this community. For your own sake, choose wisely and do not sell your vote for anyone’s ulterior motives.
The last word for the wise is a simple suggestion. You are professionals and there is nothing wrong with earning a living by your learnt skill. But a fee of more than hundred thousand rupees per case is very steep for even a wealthy client, I wonder how many poor litigants can afford it. What if for starters each and everyone takes up one ‘charity case’ per year, month or week according to your inner moral drive. While you are parading in these corridors with your high and mighty connections, listen to some of the deserving clients. When you see an injustice, speak up against it if even it does not pay you like the other cases. Maybe a more just and moral country will emerge when people start trusting the legal system through all of you. I know many will ridicule my effort to awaken the souls of our esteemed lawyers, but if even one person Understands the pain that has made me write these lines, my good intentions are well rewarded.
My last humble request is to some of the most powerful elements of your community, the vice chairman of Pakistan Bar Council and the Chief Justice Of Pakistan. Dear sir, you all are in a position to change lives and set the highest standards for justice and fair play. As senior lawyers you know all the tricks of the trade and the maladies infesting this noble profession. If you merely claim your positions and let the years pass on, people will know who you are and give their respects at best while you occupy these positions. But if you take charge of this great cause and rejuvenate the fibers of morality and justice in our society you will be legends, heroes even after your lifespans. And I will be proud of any association to you. I know this is a childish whim, but if I can be the voice of the common man to you, I know you will be the face of justice to every child born in the country. Years later, when the flattering voices of deceptive followers are no longer heard, you will be thanked genuinely or blessed openly for one kind deed you performed when you were in power politics. And maybe somewhere in the crowd your children will be proud of having such a great heritage. Please come forth and make us proud to be Pakistanis!