August 5, 2017
The darker side of Pakistan’s lawyers’ cartel has been exposed in the case of law student Khadija Siddiqui, who was stabbed 23 times by her class fellow, Shah Husain, the son of a senior Supreme Court lawyer. After this horrific attack, Khadija could not find a single lawyer to take up her case. Being the son of a senior lawyer however, Husain was represented by three former presidents of High Court Bar Associations, several members of the Pakistan Bar Council, members of the Lahore district Bar Association, retired judges, ex-deputy attorney generals, and even the present secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association.
Khadija had gone to pick up her younger sister from school on 3 May 2016, along with her driver, when Husain violently attacked the 22-year-old student, leaving her critically injured. Instead of assisting Khadija in obtaining justice against her assailant, senior Bar Association members harassed and threatened her to withdraw the case against their colleague’s son. As the victim, Khadija had to fight not only against the perpetrator, but also the hordes of lawyers up in arms against her for daring to take her attacker to task and infringing the ‘unity’ of the legal fraternity. The situation was such that the case was popularly referred to as ‘Khadija versus the Bar Associations’.
Pakistan’s prestigious legal profession is being tarnished by a few lawyers who are using their clout to take care of their interests, disregarding norms and regulations. According to news reports, when Shah Husain’s lawyers showed up for the hearings, they would be flanked by a large number of lawyers. The sole intention was to intimidate Khadija and her counsel. Inside the court, Khadija was asked embarrassing questions regarding her sexual activity. Her integrity and modesty was challenged in court, with the defendant’s lawyer attempting to prove that she was a “loose woman”, as though that is justification for murder.