LAHORE -  All Pakistan Lawyers’ Convention Saturday gave seven days to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down otherwise a countrywide protest movement would be launched against him.

The convention also demanded removal of the NAB chairman and FIA director general, holding the Supreme Court had already passed strictures against them.

The convention, presided over by Supreme Court Bar Association President Justice (r) Rasheed A Rizvi, set May 27 as deadline for the prime minister’s resignation and his joining JIT investigation. The convention, represented by presidents and secretaries of various bar associations of the country, held in its joint communiqué: “The SC’s verdict of April 20 wherein none of the judges gave a clean chit to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the issue of money trail for the purchase of expensive apartments in London has required him to join investigation, but high moral ground and the law demand that the PM should appear before the JIT after quitting his office.

The proceedings of the convention were badly marred by the intrusion of the alleged PML-N supporters in the legal fraternity. The members of the convention terrmed them the planted persons of the ruling party and said they were actually the policemen and patwaris in lawyers’ uniforms.

The intruders manhandled the participants and altercated with them. They also smashed the window panes, hit the lawyers with chairs, broke tables and did their utmost to sabotage the convention. Some lawyers took SCBA President Rasheed A Rizvi and Secretary General Aftab Bajwa to the library of the premises and locked them in it.

The LHCBA office bearers, however, broke the locks and freed them. LHCBA Secretary Amir Saeed Rawn said he would lodge an FIR against the intruders, but another office bearer asked him not to do so. The alleged supporters of the PML-N chanted slogans against PTI Chief Imran Khan. In return, the lawyers chanted slogans against PML-N. The bar roared with the slogans of ‘Go Nawaz Go’ and ‘Ro Imran Ro’.

Meanwhile, the lawyers who had come to participate in the convention took a rally to The Mall and blocked the road, although they had been advised to remain within the premises of the bar for security reasons.

Earlier, the convention issued a nine-point declaration and vowed to continue their movement against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif until his resignation before joining the JIT.

Firstly, the convention sought comprehensive accountability of all the public officials who had indulged in financial improprieties through offshore companies or otherwise. Secondly, Nawaz Sharif should quit the prime minister’s office for fair and independent inquiry against him by the JIT. Thirdly, a countrywide movement would be launched to ensure his resignation if he did not step down. Fourthly, all bars of the country would hoist black flags and set up protest camps on their premises every Thursday during the holy month of Ramazan. Fifthly, the NAB chairman and FIA DG should be immediately removed from their offices because the SC in its judgments has already passed strictures against them. Sixthly, a national action committee was formed to be headed by SCBA President Rasheed A Rizvi and consisting of representatives of various bars, including Islamabad High Court, Rawalpindi, Sahiwal, Balochistan High Court, Singh High Court, Peshawar High Court and many other district bars. Seventhly, secretaries of both the SCBA and the LHCBA would be the secretaries of the national action committee. Eighthly, the national action committee chairman would hold a meeting after the holy month of Ramazan to decide further steps and measures for lawyers’ movement against corruption and resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The 9th and the last point strongly condemned the trouble created by the alleged supporters of the PML-N. It also passed the resolution which said, “The convention condemns the hooliganism committed by the goons sent by the PML-N government to the premises of the Lahore High Court Bar Association. This attack is similar to that on the SC building in 1997 carried out by the goons of PML-N at that time. The convention demands immediate resignations of the attorney general, the Punjab advocate general and the Punjab prosecutor general as all the participants are of the considered view that this attack has been carried out at their behest. The convention also demands institution of criminal proceedings against all those who committed violence and against those who instigated them to do so.”

The convention said: “It firmly believes in the supremacy of the law of the land and vows to maintain democratic setup in the country. Corruption has become a deep-rooted issue which is badly damaging the state, but lawyers would continue their struggle to root out this menace.”

Earlier, talking to reporters, SCBA President Rashid A Rizvi who was accompanied by SCBA Secretary Aftab Bajwa said the convention would be held at every cost. But representatives of PML-N Lawyers’ Wing opposed them, saying the Panama case was still sub judice and that demand for the prime minister’s resignation at this stage was not appropriate.

They further stated that the SCBA and LHCBA office bearers did not represent any real movement and were, in fact, acting on behalf of certain political parties.

It was the first time in the country’s history that leadership of top bars has announced to launch a movement against an elected prime minister over the charges of corruption. In 2007, the lawyers started a movement against the then military ruler General (r) Pervez Musharraf for ousting the then Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. The lawyers’ movement then resulted in reinstatement of the judiciary.