Here lies the irony; here lies the hypocrisy. Instead of suspending the Bar memberships of those lawyers that attacked the Punjab Institute of Cardiology and vandalized police and government assets – an attack that lead to several deaths - the Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) suspended sixty members for not responding to a strike call protesting the arrest of other lawyers. It is perverse that causing the deaths of innocents doesn’t merit a reprimand, but refusing to back the killers leads to instant reprisal. This is a shameful state of affairs, but it seems that that the leaders of these Bar Associations do not feel an iota of shame anymore.

If the arrogant and gleeful violence exhibited by these lawyers wasn’t enough, their insolent, unapologetic and belligerent defense of their actions should be enough to prove their culpability. However, apart from a few brave and outspoken individual, the judicial and legal fraternity has not come out to condemn the actions of their brethren. More so than the government or outside commentators, it is the legal fraternity itself which needs to own up to its actions and hold the guilty accountable. The name of this noble profession has been besmirched; its members must now work to wipe it clean.

It is therefore encouraging to hear the Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa condemn the attack as “tragic, unbelievable and shocking”, which “should not have happened” and which serves as “an opportunity for introspection and self-accountability”. These are strong words which the rest of the judicial and legal fraternity must pay heed to. With the fount of justice in the nation denouncing the attack, it is unconscionable for other members of the society to persist with their perverse defense.

The Chief Justice could have - and arguably should have – gone further in bringing these errant lawyers to heel; ultimately it is they who must abide by the same writ they claim to uphold.