LAHORE – A total of 2,592 members of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) will exercise their right to choose new officer-bearers for the coming year’s body on Wednesday (today).

Polling for the annual election will be held at nine stations – Karachi, Hyderabad, Quetta, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur and Islamabad. However, Lahore would be a hub of the election activities as 70 per cent members of the SCBA are enrolled in Punjab.

The SCBA president’s slot would go to Punjab this year in view of rotation policy for the bar’s top slot election.

Ahmad Awais Advocate and Mian Israrul Haq are candidates for president slot of the SCBA. Zafar Ullah Khan, another candidate for presidential slots, is an independent candidate.

Nine candidates are vying for four slots of the SCBA vice president from all provinces. They are Muhammad Riaz Khan Sawati and Abdullah Kakar from Balochistan, Jamal Khattak and Muhammad Arif Khan from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Muhammad Tahir Chaudhry and Rana Naeem Sarwar from Punjab while Abbas Ali, Ain-ud-Din Khan and Syed Jamil Ahmed from Sindh. Jamal Khattak has been elected unopposed. Javed Iqbal Raja and Muhammad Sohail Dar are contesting for one seat of secretary.

Abdul Majeed Khan, Fayaz Ahmed Rana and Muhammad Saleheen Mughal are in the run for one seat of additional secretary. Abdul Rashid Qari and Chaudhry Muhammad Aslam Ghumman are contesting for one seat of finance secretary.

Awais is a presidential candidate of Hamid Khan-led Professional Group of lawyers while Haq is being supported by the Democratic Independent Group.

Experts on bar politics expect a tough contest today between Haq and Awais as both lawyers enjoy good reputation and support among the jurists.

On last day of election campaign, both the groups announced their elections agendas to convince the legal fraternity.

Awais announced that after winning, his group would fight a legal battle for restoration of judges of high courts terminated in light of Sindh High Court Bar Association case.

These judges had not taken oath under the PCO (Provisional Constitutional Order), but under the constitution of Pakistan, Awais said while addressing a press conference held on Tuesday at the Lahore High Court Bar Association. “We will approach the Supreme Court against the removal of these judges,” he said.

Awais said he would try to get housing societies for lawyers throughout the country besides other facilities for the black coats. He alleged federal government was supporting his opponent Haq and government machinery was being used to help him in the today’s election.

“After winning the election, the lawyers will launch a movement against the corrupt government,” Awais announced.

Hamid Khan, Pir Kalim Ahmad Khurshid, Mian Abdul Qadoos, Maqsood Buter, Azhar Siddique, Zulfiqar Chaudhary and other former office-bearers of bar associations were present on the occasion.

Yasin Azad, outgoing SCBA president and key personality backing Haq, also vowed to foil any attempt against democracy and if March 2007 like situation was created again the lawyers would be again on the roads to protect the judiciary.

Addressing a press conference at the SC Lahore Registry on Tuesday, he said national institutions were on war path and the SCBA had played its due role in lessening tension between the institutions.

He pointed out that institutions should be strengthened instead of individuals because it would take country towards progress and prosperity. He made it clear that lawyers had never supported dictatorship and every democratic government should complete its tenure.

Talking about Pak-India relationship, Azad that relations between both the neighbouring countries could not be normalised until Kashmir and water issues were resolved. He said he made all out efforts to resolve the lawyers’ problems during his stint and got succeeded to some extent. He, however, hoped that the next cabinet would work diligently.