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Opposition Parties To Attend Lawyers’ APC On Human Rights Violations

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The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) has announced that it will organise an all-parties conference (APC) on September 17 that will be attended by the heads of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam among others.

According to a report in Express Tribune, the APC called by the apex lawyers’ body will hold a discussion on a plethora of issues, including the shrinking space for civil liberties in Pakistan, lop-sided accountability, and the current state of access to justice.

The report said that the invitation was sent to all political parties, including the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The lawyers’ body is concerned about ‘the current state of access to justice, unabated assault on civil liberties and process of accountability leading to increase public mistrust on the institutions responsible for the dispensation of justice, said the news report quoting the agenda of the conference.

The bar council expressed concerns over the fact that the superior judiciary in same cases allegedly remains complacent to the violation of civil liberties without holding the respective state institutions accountable to the unlawful disappearances aimed at deoxygenising democratic dissent in the country, said the report.

The lawyers body also questioned the criteria of judges’ promotion to superior courts, saying such practices comprised ‘the principle of transparency, competence, and neutrality’. It may be noted here the lawyers’ bodies and the chief justice of the Peshawar High Court have questioned the criteria of the promotion of the judges multiple times while asking the judicial council for a review.

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“That is perhaps one of the key reasons that the process of accountability was reduced to a mere instrument of coercion and concession leading to an entrenched culture of patrimonialism in the country,” the PBC was quoted as saying.

In the light of the prevalent circumstances, the PBC thought it was imperative to hold a huddle that would help ‘formulate a responsive legislative agenda, correcting the regularity framework and addressing institutional distortion, including appointments to the superior judiciary, ensuring a credible system of accountability and protecting civil rights of citizens at large’, said the report.

Assault on civil liberties:

Last month, the PBC had announced that it would hold an all-parties conference next month to discuss a host of issues including the country’s accountability law as the current PTI-led government was apparently running on call-up notices issued by the top anti-graft body. “The space for freedom of expression is continuously shrinking in the country,” PBC Vice Chairman Abid Saqi had said.

Last week, the PBC had issued a joint statement condemning the death threats to journalist Ahmad Noorani over an investigative report he published on his website FactFocus. The report had alleged the increase in the assets of former general Asim Saleem Bajwa with his ascent in the army ranks.

The statement maintained that if anyone had any complaint against Noorani they should approach the courts instead of indulging in intimidation tactics.

“Freedom of expression is under more threat under this government than it was during the martial law regimes. We stand for freedom of expression and speech, and would resist any attempt to impose any curbs on them,” the statement concluded.

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Naya Daur