SCBA polls and dirty tricks

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) elections are to be held tomorrow (October 27) but it seems that a mudslinging campaign has been launched against one of the contestants for the post of SCBA president. Asma Jahangir, a renowned human rights activist and lawyer, is the target of a malicious campaign by her opponents’ dirty tricks ‘department’. A pamphlet titled ‘Asma Jahangir: Adalat-e-Uzma ke khilaaf targeted missile’ (Asma Jahangir: a targeted missile against the Supreme Court) is doing the rounds in the legal fraternity. The pamphlet has been published by a spurious group that goes by the name of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Lawyers Forum.

The eight-page pamphlet has made some serious allegations against Ms Jahangir, most of which do not even need to be dignified with a response, but this sort of skulduggery has no place in an SCBA election. Someone of Ms Jahangir’s standing does not need any defending since her work speaks for itself. She has served as the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief and UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary and Summary Executions. The motivated pamphlet questions why Ms Jahangir raises the issue of minority rights at international platforms when Pakistan’s minorities have equal rights and there is no threat to them. It appears that the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Lawyers Forum are living in a delusional world because Pakistan is a country where the state is not separated from religion and where we have witnessed the worst kind of persecution of religious minorities and discrimination against ethnic minorities from the day it came into being. Over the years, Ms Jahangir’s progressive and bold views have angered the reactionary forces. The allegations that Ms Jahangir’s election campaign is being funded by India, the US and Israel are laughable to say the least. Labelling someone a RAW/CIA/Zionist agent is often the first resort of the religious bigots to discredit someone. The extremist forces think that they have a monopoly on patriotism but they need to be reminded of Ms Jahangir’s services to the country in the human rights, legal and policy fields. Raising women’s rights issues, asking for peace in South Asia, highlighting the missing persons cases, asking for a cut in the defence budget so that more money can be spent on the development of Pakistan, opposing religious extremism, etc, make Ms Jahangir not just a patriot but someone who has her priorities straight. Asma Jahangir is one of our most articulate and effective advocates of all that is desirable and indefatigable critic of what is wrong with our society.

Instead of indulging in character assassination, distortion of facts and propaganda, Ms Jahangir’s opponents should let there be a clean fight where the electorate will decide who becomes the next SCBA president.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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