Black coats and blacker faces

Published: February 17, 2012

Whilst democracy as practiced by the present dispensation ekes out its revenge upon the Pakistani nation, accompanied by the contempt held, not only for the Supreme Court of the land but for the people at large, an unhealthy segment of the national mindset is sinking into the national sewerage system.

This publication did well to report on February 11, the utterly disgraceful and disgusting action taken by members of the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) in passing a resolution asking for a prohibition on the sale in all court canteens of a brand of cold drinks produced by a company owned by members of the Ahmadi community. That this could happen in Lahore, a city which boasts of proud enlightened heritage and that it was instigated by men supposedly also enlightened by dint of their being educated and qualified as lawyers, is indicative of the depths to which the national mindset has sunk.

This publication also did well on February 12, to print an editorial (“An outrageous ban”), outlining the absurdity and the frightening hatred, intolerance and bigotry — and let us add lack of true education — of the 100-odd lawyers who voted for the resolution, egged on by one man — who certainly should not be an advocate in a court of a country that insists it is a democracy — the president of the Khatme Nabuwat Lawyers’ Forum. Rather than ostracising the man when he came up with the disgraceful banning motion, the black coated heroes of the lawyers ‘movement’ that upheld the independence of the judiciary, happily went along with him and with them the president of the LBA. All concerned should be — but surely are not — truly ashamed of themselves.

There were 71 comments posted on the online version of that editorial on this newspaper’s website, so at least that should provide some solace to those of us who are horrified by the signs of the grim direction in which the mindset of these men of the law flows. The horrible problem is that there may be millions out there around us ready to feed the black coats with lumps of ladoos and garland them for their righteous act.

But then, what does one really expect of these black coats? Since their triumphant ‘movement’ for the restoration of the judges they have shown their true colours on many an occasion — and those colours were definitely black. During and subsequent to the ‘movement’, the black coats have attacked and beaten up members of their own fraternity for having differing opinions and views, they have even physically attacked judges who have handed down orders with which they disagreed and ransacked court rooms and most contemptuously and criminally, they have strewn rose petals upon the assassin of a provincial governor who was killed because he rightly opposed the blasphemy laws that darken Pakistan’s statute books. So, their record since the days of glory from 2007 to 2009 is not exactly shining.

Too many of the black coats have on too many occasions, blackened their faces and their profession. Pakistan does not need men of such calibre as members of the legal fraternity which by right should command some sort of respect.

We must hope that the Lahore Bar Association is an aberration and not the norm and we could also hope that other bar associations of the country will raise a voice in protest against this highly condemnable act of a few bigoted members of a profession that is supposed to represent the right side of the law.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has much to answer for. His second amendment of 1974, whereby he transformed an entire community that had, since the birth of this country, been a member of the majority into a minority, has after that date done much disservice to the nation. It has been the cause of strife, death and destruction and encouraged and defined bigotry as well as intolerance.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2012.