The lawyers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday stayed away from courts to protest the murder of one of their colleagues in Dargai tehsil a day earlier.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council had given the call for protest after unidentified persons shot dead Zamnir Gul advocate on Wednesday.
The lawyers boycotted the courts across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and demanded the government to arrest the killers of Zamir Gul and provide security to the community in the province. The speakers said that police must provide security to the lawyers’ community across the province or else they would not hesitate to come on to the roads for their rights.
Lawyers on Saturday boycotted legal proceedings at the City Courts in protest over a Rangers’ raid on the house of senior lawyer Qadir Khan and “abduction” of his son, who was later shown arrested by police but discharged by a court in a drugs case.
The lawyers did not turn up before judges to plead their cases fixed for the day. Subsequently, a large number of the cases were simply adjourned while the litigants faced a great deal of difficulties.
In a statement, Karachi Bar Association (KBA) general secretary Naeem Memon said the legal fraternity did not attend court proceedings over this incident.
Advocate Qadir Khan’s house was raided and his son, Asad Khan, was taken into custody by Rangers on Jan 6, he said.
Advocate Khan has been representing several members of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), including MNA Ali Wazir, in criminal cases being tried by antiterrorism courts in Karachi.
Later, the Brigade police produced the son of Advocate Khan before Judicial Magistrate Wazir Memon for his remand in a drugs case.
The investigating officer claimed that around 24 grams of heroin was recovered from his possession.
However, a number of the lawyers reached the court and opposed the IO’s request for remand, arguing that he was booked in a false case.
After hearing arguments from both sides, the magistrate discharged the suspect from the case under Section 63 (Discharge of person apprehended) of the criminal procedure code.
The President of the Awami National Party (ANP) in Dera Ismail Khan and candidate for the tehsil mayor Umar Khittab Sherani was shot killed by unknown assailants on Saturday.
Police said that unknown gunmen opened fire on Sherani outside his house, killing him on the spot. His dead body has been shifted to Trauma Center for autopsy. The DI Khan police spokesman Imtiaz Ali told VOA that Sherani’s murder of ANP candidate is a clear act of terrorism but the police is conducting further investigation. Ali informed that he has been shot twice in the head with a 9mm pistol.
Sherani was also a member of DI Khan District Bar Council. The District Bar Association and the High Court Bar Council have declared mourning over his brutal murder. The ANP spokesperson Samar Haroon Bilour strongly condemned the murder of yet another ANP leader in the broad daylight and demanded justice. Bilour wrote on twitter, “We want justice now. This cannot go on anymore.”
The secretary of the Sindh Bar Council, Irfan Ali Mahar, 40, was shot dead Wednesday morning near his residence in Karachi’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal, the police said.
The victim left his house early morning to drop his children to school. On his way back he was attacked by two men on a motorcycle.
Mahar was shot multiple times. He succumbed to his injuries on the way to the hospital. His body has been moved to the hospital for a post-mortem examination.
The police have reached the crime site and cordoned it off. Evidence is being collected and people in the area are being questioned. According to initial reports, the men didn’t try to rob the victim. They directly shot him.
Mahar was a lawyer at the Sindh High Court. The bar council has extended condolences on the incident and demanded the perpetrators be immediately arrested.
Lawyers across Sindh have boycotted courts today (Wednesday) to protest against the attack.
Ms Latifa Sharifi, an Afghan lawyer of the Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan (HAWCA), a historic Afghan women’s association, was designated recipient of the 2021 UIA Rule of Law Award in cooperation with LexisNexis by the UIA Governing Board.
Ms. Sharifi was among the three Finalists of the Award selected by the Nomination Committee, along with prominent human rights lawyers Mohamed El-Baqer (Egypt) and Saif Ul-Malook (Pakistan), both of whom have consistently demonstrated unrelenting dedication and commitment to upholding the Rule of Law and human rights, despite overwhelming personal and professional hardships, including great risk to their personal safety and that of their families.
As a lawyer, Ms Latifa Sharifi particularly assisted women victims of domestic violence in divorce proceedings and helped them find refuge. Because of her defense of women, Ms Sharifi has repeatedly been threatened and intimidated because of her professional activities, and she has been forced to work clandestinely.
With this Award, UIA and LexisNexis recognize Ms. Sharifi’s courageous commitment to ensuring effective access to justice to women, a commitment for which she is regrettably in imminent danger of retaliation.
Ms Sharifi was refouled at Kabul airport on Sunday, August 15, where she went with her husband and her three children, in an attempt to flee abroad. Her youngest child was injured in the process of trying to escape the airport. Ms Sharifi is currently hiding, and she and her family remain in grave danger.
Lawyer Khadija Siddiqui, who was stabbed 23 times by her classmate back in 2016, on Saturday said that she fears for her life, after shots were fired by unknown people outside her home in Lahore’s Gulberg area.
Khadija has filed a complaint with the police, at the Gulberg police station.
“I was alone at home when I heard someone fire shots. When I went outside, I saw a bullet hole in the car’s bonnet,” she stated in the complaint.
She recalled how on May 3, 2016, she was attacked, and provided a case reference number (330/16), which was filed at the Civil Lines police station.
“My life is in danger. I demand legal action,” Khadija further said in her complaint.
Speaking to Geo News, Khadija said that the shots were loud enough for her to think that they were fired from inside her house.
The lawyer drew attention to what she said was a promise made Punjab Minister for Prisons Fayyazul Hassan Chohan that if her life is threatened, he will file a complaint himself.
Meanwhile, her father, Ahmed Siddiqui, told Geo News that he was not at home when the incident occurred.
“When I returned I saw Khadija distraught. She told me someone had fired shots at our house,” he said.
The Christian Pakistani couple Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel, who recently became acquitted of blasphemy, Pakistan has fled. Their lawyer reports that the prosecutor in the case will appeal in cassation to have the couple sentenced to death for insulting the prophet Mohammed.
The couple had been detained on suspicion of blasphemy since 2013 and were acquitted on appeal by the Lahore court two months ago. The verdict was that there was not enough evidence. Then, after eight years in different prisons, they were reunited with each other and their children.
Now that it has become clear that the prosecutor has gone to the Supreme Court, the Help for Persecuted Christians (HVC) foundation has announced that the family has been brought to safety in a European country. Which country that is, is not said for security reasons. Shagufta Kausar’s brother, who lives in the Netherlands, tells the NOS that they are indeed safe.
HVC director Jan Dirk van Nifterik: “We are happy and grateful that the family was able to leave Pakistan before they were arrested again. If they had to wait for the appeal, it could take years again.” According to HVC, the family is doing well under the circumstances and wants to build a new life in Europe.
The couple says through the foundation that they are grateful for all the efforts of security services, judges in Pakistan and aid organizations that have helped them. Lawyer Saif-ul-Malook, who previously assisted the refugee Asia Bibi, is also thanked.
Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi was acquitted in a similar case in 2018, after which Muslim extremists started a manhunt for her and her family. Although she was free to leave Pakistan, she was unable to do so for a long time. Lawyer Saif-ul-Malook finally announced in May 2019 that she to Canada had fled.
Quetta Bar Association and lawyers from other parts of country held a condolence reference in memory of martyrs of the August 8 Quetta attack. Asma Jahangir’s Independent Group presidential candidate Ahsan Bhoon paid rich tributes to lawyers who were martyred on August 8, 2016. He expressed his serious concern over non-implementation of commission report on the Quetta bombing and all promises made by the provincial government to the families of the slain lawyers.
Ahsan demanded the government to immediate implement the commission report on Quetta carnage that deprived Balochistan of senior lawyers. SCBA President Ahsan Bhoon said that August 8 Quetta carnage was against the sovereignty of the country and lawyers community. He said that the carnage had deprived Balochistan of senior lawyers, creating a gap that could not be filled up for a long time. While addressing the lawyers, Ahsan Bhoon said, “we have a comprehensive plan for the welfare of Balochistan lawyers and we will try our best that the lawyers who belong to Balochistan province should be given all facilities and sources that were provided to the lawyers of other provinces.” He assured that black coats from Balochistan would be given priority to become lawyers in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Bhoon said that Asma Jahangir Group believes in prosperity and welfare of lawyers and there should be effective representation of Balochistan lawyers in judiciary.
Saif Malook left Pakistan’s Lahore High Court with his head held high on June 3.
He had secured freedom for his clients, Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel, impoverished Pakistani Christians sentenced to death for blasphemy. Their convictions had just been overturned on appeal.
But almost immediately, Malook’s smile faded as extremists took to social media with threats to end his life.
“They called me an agent of the Jews, and many of the threats the Pakistani government determined to be credible,” he said from his home in Lahore.
“They even post pictures of the two judges who heard the case and declared them infidels too. This could have long-term implications. Judges will be scared after seeing this.”
While Malook, a Muslim, accepts the consequences of his work as one of the last lawyers willing to represent Christians on blasphemy charges, the impact spreads to his wife, a mathematics college professor, and his 15-year-old daughter in high school, both of whom also endure public taunts.
“My neighbors won’t talk to me; members of my family hate me too,” Malook said. “But I am working for these helpless people (Christians) because it is the right thing to do.”
His security situation has become more perilous in recent weeks after the courts overturned the death sentences of Kausar and Emmanuel.
The Christian couple was convicted in 2014 of disparaging the Prophet Muhammad, a severe crime under blasphemy legislation that prohibits the “act of expressing contempt or a lack of reverence for God or sacred things.” The crime carries the death sentence under Pakistani law, although capital punishment has never actually been carried out.
Appeal to the international community
Though Malook has devoted much of his professional life to those in dire judicial need in his home country, he is now making an appeal to the international community in the hope of securing a haven in the West.
Asia Bibi was granted asylum in Canada after Saif Malook got her conviction overturned in 2018. Hers is the most high-profile case involving Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. (Aid to the Church in Need)
“I would like to join Asia (Bibi) and her family in Canada,” Malook said. “My only wish now is to be able to spend my last years in peace.”
Despite the death threats, Malook, who earned his degree specializing in criminal law at the University of Punjab, Lahore, in 1980, is continuing the pursuit of justice while appealing to Western nations for further help.
“No other lawyers want to take on these cases — no person has a life hereafter taking on blasphemy cases, and there is no money in it. Those accused are very, very poor,” he said.
“The whole time, you are under threat, even from normal people who tell me I am supporting those who commit blasphemy.”