Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – A representative conference of lawyers of the country rejected the demand from some of lawyers’ bodies for resignation of the prime minister in the backdrop of Panama verdict on Friday.

The conference was convened after some of lawyers’ bodies demanded the resignation of the prime minister to ensure independent working of the joint investigation team (JIT) ordered by the Supreme Court to probe the money trail of Sharif family.

As many as 84 representatives of different bar councils and associations spoke on the occasion, out of which 24 demanded the immediate resignation of the prime minister while 48 suggested that lawyers should wait for the JIT report while keeping an eye on the situation as this demand was premature and could harm the democratic system.

The remaining 12 speakers abstained from advancing any opinion saying they would support whatever the Pakistan Bar Council decided.

The legal fraternity present on the occasion rejected the demand that the premier Nawaz Sharif should step down in a bid to pave way for transparent investigation.

The convention decided that the PBC, the supervisory body of lawyers, would constitute a committee to watch the proceedings of the Supreme Court’s implementation bench.

Interestingly, some of the lawyers even alleged that the judiciary handed down selective justice when it came to the “royal family of Lahore” in a veiled reference to Sharif family while those who opposed it were of the view that the lawyers should not monopolize the Panama Papers judgement and if they were really aggrieved of its outcome, they should file a review petition.

The declaration adopted on the occasion hailed the Panama Papers judgement and said that despite criticism, support from a different section was a step forward for a legal course to eliminate corruption and corrupt practices.

“We believe that the process of accountability should be across-the-board for all the institutions, including political parties,” it said. “This, we believe, also blocks the extra-constitutional interference which we experienced in the past.”

Before the declaration to wait for JIT report was adopted, vice chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Ahsan Bhoon offered to resign as he was of the view that the premier should resign contrary to the majority decision.

“I want to unite the bar instead of dividing it,” Mr Bhoon said, adding that he was morally bound to step down but clarifying at the same time that the PBC was not holding brief for any political party.

But the legal bevy sharing the opinion with Bhoom forced the vice chairman to change his decision saying they had confidence in his leadership.

It bears mentioning that the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) had demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif days after Panama verdict.

“We gave the premier seven days to resign or otherwise after one week, the High Court Bar will call all Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) representatives and evolve unanimous strategy and decide future plans in this regard,” said the LHCBA President Chaudhry Zulfiqar.

“Lawyers will come on the roads if Prime Minister does not resign,” said the advocate. “Two of the judges clearly called him incompetent while three other judges did not clear him of corruption charges. Hence, he must leave the office,” demanded advocate Zulfiqar.