We, as a country, have been suffering from the effects of Faizabad-we have seen copycat protests inspired from Faizabad prop up, expecting to see the same good treatment. Unfortunately, our most important institutions are just flaming the fire of those who will see to any means to achieve their ends.
Lawyers in Multan consistently subverted the law, by carrying out violent protests and smashing windows and doors. Their demands may have been reasonable-more inclusion and accommodation for lawyers in the new Judicial Complex built - however, their use of violence, and of touting the law with confidence to fulfil those demands - was in no way excusable, calling for strict consequences. It is unfortunate that Saqib Nisar, Chief Justice of Pakistan(CJP) did not see the threat to law and order these lawyers posed-instead of revoking the bar licences of the vandals, Nisar pulled a Faizabad and sided with the violent protesters. He expressed anger at Lahore High Court Registrar for the decision to shift judicial complex without ensuring adequate facilities, and declared that the new judicial complex should have provision of all the necessary facilities.
The Chief Justice squandered what could have been a good opportunity to set a precedent-especially among lawyers, a group of people who are increasingly resorting to unbecoming behaviour to obtain their ends. The legal profession holds vestiges of being a respected and dignified profession- but these days, the name of the profession has been desecrated by intimidation tactics.
CJP focused entirely on the small matter of the judicial complex being inadequate- as if that was the source of threat to the country. While he may have appeased the misbehaving lawyers, and caused them to hail him as their hero, and distribute sweets, what was far more long-lasting was what he did to reaffirm the notion that if you are violent enough, the authorities will bow down to your will. Saqib Nisar may have showed exemplary courage in standing up to political leaders accused of corruption- but faltered when it comes to standing up to unruly protesters.
An impassioned speech defending the judiciary-haring a series of political disqualification cases-it seems Saqib Nisar is interested in judicial activism, but this instance shows he may be lacking the foresight. By succumbing to the demands of protesters, these institutions may be earning some temporary approval from people of being the upholder of people’s rights against the vilified establishment. The effects of such a precedent- of rewarding unlawful behaviour-are long felt.