Where are they, now?

Published: October 15, 2011
Source/credit: The Express Tribune

The former Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court, Khawaja Muhammad Sharif, has volunteered to represent Mumtaz Qadri. Ordinarily, a lawyer representing a client is an unremarkable phenomenon, even those accused of heinous crimes. The lowest of low amongst the criminals deserves a fair trial and adequate legal representation. The views and motivations of the client cannot and should not be attributed to that of the attorney. After all, a lawyer is just making a living. This is true ordinarily, but this particular case is anything but ordinary.

The former Chief Justice is not merely making a living by offering to spearhead Mumtaz Qadri’s defence, and if I were to speculate he is probably doing it pro bono. Justice (r) Sharif has decided to pander to his perceived constituency, i.e. the radical, reactionary religious right. At a feebly more principled level, he might even have delusions of grandeur and perceive himself as following in the footsteps of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who decided to represent “Ghazi Illam Din” in an appellate court. I am sure Mr Jinnah would have had better days in court than this singular example. In any event, the argument for the permissibility of Justice (r) Sharif representing Mumtaz Qadri is rather simple; as long as there is no conflict of interest (or any other relevant prohibition in the Bar Council Rules) an attorney can choose to represent anyone who he wishes to. So Justice (r) Sharif had the right to defend anyone he wants to, the question now remains, should he have chosen to defend this particular client? The answer to this question can only be given by the former Chief Justice. My prerogative is that I now think less of Justice (r) Sharif than what I already did (mind you there was very little room). Yet, the symbolism in throwing the weight of a former Chief Justice and according to some of the lawyers’ movement behind Mumtaz Qadri leads to the logical question of where did the lawyers’ movement go wrong?

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Categories: Pakistan

1 reply

  1. This particualr Judge is famous for his prejudices against Ahmadiyyat. Let him try. Community suffered a lot when he was CJ. Surely nature will take care of him.

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