Eight years ago, at a lavish tea party in Lahore, one snooty aunty stared me down and asked me “beta, what do you do?” “Jee I am a Barrister.” She smiled and said “so is my son. “A friend sitting right next to me whispered “she’s on a bahu hunt, beware.” I shrugged and smiled at the aunty, who was still looking at me with a twinkle in her eyes. She causally asked “do you have any doctor friends? I feel two lawyers under one roof can get into a tussle way too often, no?” I rolled my eyes and moved away, for obvious reasons. Though I do wonder what her thoughts must be, after Wednesday’s hooliganism between the lawyers and doctors.

Since Musharraf’s era, lawyers’ hooliganism is not a new phenomenon. But it has been getting worse.

The legal fraternity, through its deplorable actions has conveyed the message that if you have enough noise, terror and politics on your side, your mighty might will remain untouched.

Lawyers around the country should condemn this violence, big names from the legal field should come out in protest, but enough of “shoulds” and “woulds.” Are we going to do anything? Are we going to raise a counter voice against our own and send out a message loud and clear that nobody has the right to equate any action with a criminal action? I doubt it.

As a lawyer, I strongly condemn the bloody episode inside the Lahore cardiology hospital and label these lawyers as thugs in the garb of black and white sophistication. The men in black have plagued our society by their vigilante violence time and again. These black coated hooligans, had not only upset the ambiance of grace in the hospital, but are responsible for the end of innocent lives. They prove (yet again) that they have absolutely no civil sense, no fear of the law because of course, they assume they are the law and this very reckless attitude has resulted in their loss of sense of proportion. Due to slight annoyances, they are justifying criminal actions. This is not just dishonouring your profession, but also defaming the few competent lawyers that are left out there.

Their abuse of privilege has highlighted the rule-of-law problem in our country. Lawyers’ behaviour will continue to get worse until our regulators hold them accountable. Yesterday’s horrifying acts inside the hospital cannot be accepted and punishment of the wrong doers must be non-negotiable. Their latest foray speaks volume of what they are capable of and of their unfettered confidence that they will not be held accountable. If this plague carries on, if these delinquents go unchecked and unhindered, everything in the wake of smoggy winter mornings in Punjab will be destroyed soon.

Lawyers are taught to be the fighters for justice, and the upholders of the rule of law. However, the black and white penguins left no room for any grey when they chose violence over correction of the wrongs in a society, when they chose weakening the core and becoming a symbol of fear and terror.

As your fellow lawyer, I urge you to use the power of your uniform like a brave soldier of the armed forces does so, at the war front. Use your advocacy skills as a weapon against violence.

Pick up pens, not batons and stones. Do not let a bunch of rowdy and lawless lawyers taint the oath you took at the Bar.

Our black coat stands for opaque and therefore the sides of the prosecution and defence are presumed to be unknown until they are substantiated by law, thereby the black gowns. Our white under the black gown is for purity and transparency, but unfortunately, Wednesday’s ruby red stains on the otherwise elegant lawyers attire, have played havoc with the pride a lawyer feels wearing his or her uniform when fighting for rights inside a courtroom. In fact, before you wear your black coat today, ask yourself one question. What would you have it stand for? Fear or protection from the fearful?

-The writer is an Islamabad based

Barrister and entrepreneur