Lawyers observe strike, demand effective ban on outlawed outfits, call for compensating families of victims killed in Quetta suicide bombing
Paramilitary Rangers were deployed at the Sindh High Court, city courts, special courts and tribunals on Tuesday to provide security to the legal fraternity, who observed a strike against the killing of more than 70 people, most of them lawyers, in a suicide bomb blast at the Quetta civil hospital.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the representatives of the Pakistan Bar Council, Sindh Bar Council, Sindh High Court Bar Association and other bodies with Sindh Rangers Director-General Major-General Bilal Akbar.
PBC Vice-Chairperson Farogh Naseem later told journalists that different meetings, including condolence meetings, were held over the killing of Balochistan Bar Association President Bilal Anwar Kasi and the bomb blast at Civil Hospital in Quetta.
He said that soon after the Quetta incidents the Sindh Rangers DG was contacted to seek security for the courts and the lawyers in the province.
During the hour-long meeting with Major-General Bilal Akbar, the members of the bar councils and associations expressed concern over the vulnerability of the courts and the lawyers from the security point of view.
Barrister Naseem said the Rangers director-general discussed a security plan for the superior courts, including the Supreme Court’s Karachi Registry, the Sindh High Court’s principal seat and its circuit benches, the sessions’ courts, the anti-terrorism courts and other special courts and tribunals, and ordered an immediate deployment of personnel of the paramilitary force at the courts all over the province.
He said the paramilitary force had also started the registration of the members of the legal fraternity on mobile phone applications. He maintained that the members of the bar councils and associations had expressed their satisfaction with the security arrangements.
Barrister Naseem said the lawyers were professionals and targeting that community meant targeting the brain of the country. He said the legal fraternity was not afraid of activities of the terrorists or international designs. He added that the lawyers were standing by the country and such activities could not frighten or stop them for serving the country.
The PBC vice chairman said he would be conducting such meetings with the paramilitary force’s directors general in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan as well to chalk out a nationwide security plan for the lawyers and the courts and would get it implemented.
He quoted the Rangers chief as telling the meeting that the Supreme Court had also passed orders for the security of the courts after a terrorist attack on the district courts in Rawalpindi,
He said the DG Rangers had also assured them that in case such orders were specifically for the courts in Rawalpindi, then the paramilitary force would approach the apex court to get its scope widened to the entire country.
Declaring the Quetta civil hospital’s attack akin to the attack on Army Public School in Peshawar, Barrister Naseem appealed to the lawyers’ community and other citizens to share any piece of information if they had about anything that was likely to happen with the law enforcement agencies in order to save the country.
Regarding the PBC’s efforts for the lawyers’ security countrywide, he said they had initiated the process in Sindh, which was more vulnerable to such attacks. He said meetings would be held with the chiefs of the security agencies in all provinces, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan to act proactively.
To a query about the status of the cases involving the target killings of lawyers, he said the DG Rangers had shared facts and figures regarding the status of such cases, of which some were at the stage of investigation and trials. Major-General Bilal Akbar requested the lawyers to share any information or intelligence in this regard.
He said that the DG Rangers informed them that the paramilitary force and other agencies had prevented nearly 34 incidents of terrorism in the province.
Senator Farogh Naseem said the DG Rangers had assured them of long-lasting cooperation. He also appealed to the lawyers to cooperate with the security staff at the courts during routine security checks.
Separately, addressing a join general body meeting of lawyers at the Sindh High Court, Sindh Bar Council Vice Chairman Salahuddin Ahmed and other lawyers’ leaders said the ongoing operation against terrorist organisations was not sufficient to eradicate terrorism from the country and the government should evolve a strategy to address the root cause of terrorism.
They said that although the military operation against terrorism had helped curb terrorism incidents, it was not a complete solution and the government should review the causes of terrorism.
The lawyers’ representatives emphasised that the government would have to change its social, economic and foreign policies to get the desired objectives.
They said banned organizations which were spreading hatred in society were working by changing their names and there should be an effective ban on their activities. They demanded Rs10 million in compensation for the family of each person killed in the Quetta attack and Rs5 million for each of the injured persons.
Advocates boycotted courts and staged a protest rally, condemning the killing of more than 70 people in the Quetta suicide attack after the assassination of Balochistan Bar Association President Bilal Anwar Kasi, our correspondent adds.
Lawyers representing the Karachi Bar Association, Malir Bar Association and other bodies lashed out at the federal government, saying it remained unmoved as the killers took the lives of all those who had struggled for the restoration of democracy and the promotion of democratic values in the country.
Wearing black armbands, KBA members and office-bearers organised a rally on MA Jinnah Road and demanded immediate action against terrorists.
They also held a meeting of the KBA’s general body on MA Jinnah Road and announced their protest and boycott of the courts would continue.
The meeting condemned the terrorists involved in target killings and bomb blasts, and demanded their immediate arrests.
The protesters criticised the government for its alleged failure to protect the lawyers and said it was the duty of the government to ensure security for all law-abiding citizens.
KBA President Mehmoodul Hassan said: “The cruel forces have killed and eliminated the cream of the lawyers’ community, and all those who had struggled for democracy and supremacy of law and the judiciary were targeted in the bomb blast in Quetta.”
Hassan said the lawyers would not sit silent unless the killers and their patrons were arrested and taken to task. He said it was the duty of the government to protect the city that paid it taxes.
He said the people were unsafe and their very right to life was at stake. He mentioned that all lawyers from Balochistan who had struggled for the restoration of then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in 2007 and judicial supremacy were being targeted and killed by the evil forces.
He demanded that the government should immediately arrest the people responsible for the Quetta attack and take strict action against their patrons. Hassan further demanded of the government to take every step to eradicate terrorism from the country and protect the lawyers and all other law-abiding citizens of the country.
Condemning the murder of the Balochistan bar association’s president and the blast, the Pakistan Bar Council had appealed to the lawyers to observe a countrywide strike on Tuesday and a week of mourning. Hearings of many cases were adjourned by subordinate courts, anti-terrorism courts and other counts over lawyers’ failure to appear.
Lawyers offered funeral prayers in absentia on MA Jinnah Road for those martyred in the Quetta terror attack.
They expressed solidarity with the bereaved families and urged the government to compensate the families of the people killed and injured in the bombing. They said the legal fraternity had been a target of terrorists for a long time, but the authorities concerned were not willing to provide significant security to the judges and senior lawyers.
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