Tue Jul 1, 2008 by Anil Kalhan
SAJAforum: Five Questions for Aitzaz Ahsan
(Cross-posted from SAJAforum)
This morning, Aitzaz Ahsan, the President of the Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association and the leader of Pakistan’s “lawyers’ movement,” spoke to a large audience at the New York City Bar Association about the lawyers’ movement, the importance of an independent judiciary, and the role of U.S. policy in Pakistan’s judicial crisis. During the past year, the New York City Bar has played an active role in support of Pakistan’s lawyers and judges — organizing a solidarity rally with other area bar associations after Gen. Pervez Musharraf imposed “emergency” rule in November, issuing a statement strongly urging Musharraf to restore the rule of law, and awarding an honorary membership, one of the organization’s highest honors, to Pakistan Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
In his remarks, Ahsan thanked U.S. lawyers and bar associations for their “unstinting support for constitutionalism, rule of law, and reinstatement of an independent judiciary in Pakistan.” He said that last November’s rally — which drew hundreds of New York lawyers to the steps of the courthouse in lower Manhattan — “was an unprecedented collective action, and it was noticed throughout Pakistan.” Ahsan expressed his view that “what has endeared the people of America to the people of Pakistan, despite the adversarial policies of the American administration, has been the support of the bar associations.”
Following his address at the New York City Bar, Ahsan briefly talked to SAJAforum about the lawyers’ movement, the prospects for reinstatement of the judges ousted by Musharraf, and the role of Pakistan’s media: