Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Aasma Jehangir wins SCBA poll

Aasma Jehangir always at odd places at odd times.
Aasma Jehangir Advocate has won the election for the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA). She has surprisingly defeated Hamid Khan group’s candidiate Ahmed Awais.
Everything that Aasma does in this male dominated country is always unprecedented. From women’s marathon in Lahore to opposing military operations in the country to exposing army’s human rights violations, she has done all.
There was a lot of negative election campaign about her. Her opponents, some of whom I considered very educated and liberal, accused her of an Israeli agent. She is a member of the Ahmediya community, which has been always persecuted in Pakistan. Her opponents also scandalised her religious affiliation.
The lawyers have divided in to two groups. One group, led by Hamid Khan, was pro-post-Nov 3 judiciary. Aasma was and is critical about the judges who refused to take oath on PCO. She has criticised many popular decisions of the current Supreme Court (SC). Her criticism of the SC was also earning her negative campaign and she was unaware of it.
Geo Television, the largest media group in the country, was also agaisnt her as she was considered to be a candidate of the PPP-led government which is also hostile towards the current SC.
In a meeting with Aasma Jehangir at Jhelum, I sarcastically asked her about President Asif Ali Zardari supporting her. She aggrsively tried to defend herself, giving an impression that she was supported by the PPP but did not want to own it then.
Ahmed Awais has all factors in his favours until a couple of weeks before the election. All donations and grants of Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan were not giving any yield. The mishandling of the dispute between the Lahore Bar Association and the district and sessions judge Lahore was one major factor which turned the tables against Awais.
The lawyers were tortured by the police in Lahore. Lawyers knew it well that the PML-N ordered the police to torture the lawyers after some of them pelted stones at the chamber of Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif. Justice Khawaja has close terms with the Mian brothers. Khawaja has gained notoriety after he gave pro-Nawaz comments, which are unbecoming of a judge, on many occasions. The connection between Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif’s pro-Mian stance, his mishandling of the Lahore dispute and the resultant torture on lawyers lowered the prestige of the PML-N among lawyers.
The PML-N’s traditional naivety was outsmarted by the PPP’s shredness. The PML-N came to know about the directors of the Lahore episode too late to undo the damage done.
Ahmed Awais got second dent in his campaign when the incument SCBA President, Qazi Anwar, accepted a large donation from Babar Awan. Qazi Anwar has been criticising bar associations accepting Babar Awan’s donations in very harsh Pushto proverbs. Qazi Anwar accepting donation from Babar Awan further divided the pro-judges group and embarrassed lawyer leaders. Most of lawyer leaders started seeing a pro-PPP person in Qazi Anwar who was also a Hamid Khan group candidate.
All these factors led to the unexpected defeat of Ahmed Awais.

PS: I congratulate Aasma Jehangir and wish her best of luck although I was against her.

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