In the past there has been consternation over the under-representation of women in the legal and judicial professions in our country; however, things have definitely improved in our legal and judicial professions.

One can witness an encouraging number of women working as judges, senior civil judges and in the district judiciary and also as attorneys, law officers, prosecutors, and advocates in different parts of the country. It is also a fact that now we have women judges in the Provincial High Courts, chairpersons and presiding officers of different courts of the Ministry of Law and Justice but no woman has aspired to become a judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan - It has yet to happen in this country.

One can also witness women working as the court personnel in different capacities but there number is abysmally low throughout the country. Similarly, there are not enough women in the legal profession because of which the representation of women among senior advocates is less. It is also reported that women often do better work than men and they make every effort humanly possible to lessen the miseries of the litigant public. With gender discrimination making headlines in our society, now the question is: can the key stakeholders of our legal and judicial system themselves claim to be fair in providing women equal opportunities and a nurturing culture in the country?

However, if one goes by the numbers, the Pakistani judiciary, both, superior and district judiciary, it needs to ask itself some serious questions about gender justice. It is an undeniable fact that nowadays competence and other noble personal and professional virtues have taken a back seat in our society.

Unfortunately, the criteria for appointment against any post has become fraught with biases and favouritism and lack of transparency but it really augurs well that the members of legal and judicial fraternity are alive to this rude social reality and it is hoped that they would put in practice their judicious efforts to bring forward the idea of selection by merit.

HASHIM ABRO,

Islamabad, November 13.