Michigan lawyers express solidarity with Pakistani law community
* US Jewish lawyers also support Pakistanis
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: The State Bar of Michigan has urged its members to show support for their Pakistani counterparts and to “encourage our own government to support the release of the detained judges, lawyers and human rights activists, and the restoration of the rule of law in Pakistan”.
Ronald D Keefe, president of the state bar group, in a statement in the Detroit Free Press writes, “Like so many others, I am deeply disturbed by the recent events in Pakistan, where President Pervez Musharraf has suspended the national Constitution, detained eight members of the Supreme Court, and arrested thousands of Pakistani lawyers who were peacefully protesting the dismantling of their legal system. Musharraf seeks to justify his emergency rule by citing the threat of terrorism. In reality, by arresting non-terrorists and shutting down an independent judiciary, he empowers terrorists. An independent and unbiased court system is fundamental to the survival of a free society. By standing up for the rule of law, the lawyers of Pakistan have won the admiration and solidarity of lawyers around the world. Many members of the Michigan bar have contacted me, asking how Michigan lawyers can express support for their colleagues across the globe.”
Keefe reminds his members that the American Bar Association is planning a march in Washington, DC, on November 14, where lawyers in black suits will gather and walk around the US Supreme Court building. Parallel events will take place throughout the country on the same day. He writes, “The rule of law is the foundation of civilised society, and lawyers are the guardians of the rule of law. Their role is never more important than when the survival of the rule of law is at risk. I urge Michigan residents and my fellow lawyers to show support for their Pakistani counterparts.”
Jewish lawyers: A group of Jewish US lawyers has condemned Pakistan’s actions against lawyers and jurists. “These actions, which include unlawful arrest and detention, unwarranted removal from office and physical intimidation and violence directed against lawyers and jurists, constitute an almost unprecedented assault on the rule of law, the foundation of any civilised nation,” according to Stephen Greenwald, president of the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists.
The lawyers’ group noted that President Pervez Musharraf has dissolved Pakistan’s Supreme Court, fired all the justices and replaced them with his loyalists, while police and lawyers have clashed at protests. The non-profit organisation works to safeguard the civil liberties and human rights of Jews and others in the United States and abroad. It is a national affiliate of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, whose membership is drawn from more than 30 countries.