Chronology of the lawyers’ movement
By Rana Tanveer, Daily Times, May 14, 2008
LAHORE: One year, two months and three days after the lawyers began their movement for the independence of judiciary, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Media Co-ordinator Muhammad Azhar Siddique said lawyers believed May 12 was jinxed.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) announced on Monday, May 12, that it would quit the federal cabinet after differences with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) over the framework for the restoration of the sacked judges. On May 12 last year, more than 50 people were killed in riots when sacked chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry went to Karachi for a reception.
The lawyers’ movement began on March 9, 2007 when Chaudhry was suspended. Four months and 11 days later – on July 20 - he was restored. The celebrations over his restoration continued for four days at the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) and the Lahore Bar Association (LBA).
On March 17, another clash was witnessed when police took armoured vehicles inside the Lahore High Court while chasing the lawyers.
On November 3, another phase of lawyers’ movement began when President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency in the country and sacked several judges of the superior courts who did not take oath under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO).
On November 5, the police raided the LHCBA lawyers and after beating and tear-gassing the lawyers, they arrested about 800 of them while then LHC chief justice banned the entry of TV and the press cameras.
When on November 19, Election Commission announced the schedule for the elections, the lawyers took a sigh of relief and saw it as their victory in their struggle for restoration of democracy and rule of law. On November 25, the government amended the Practitioners and Bar Council Act 1973 and gave the licensing authority of the lawyers to the Attorney General after taking it from the bar councils.
November 28 was another happy day for lawyers when Musharraf doffed his military uniform.
After this, the lawyers started their wait for the election. Even though the lawyers had boycotted the elections they later took part in it.
On December 1, 25 retired judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court wrote a joint letter to the detained judges to praise them for not talking oath under the PCO.
On December 10, lawyers and human rights activists held a joint rally and observed the day as a “black day”. However, the results of the February 18, 2008 elections surprised everyone as PPP and PML-N coalition government was formed.
On March 09, PML-N and PPP signed the Murree Declaration announcing that within 30 days of formation of the democratic government the sacked judges would be restored. On March 24, Yousaf Raza Gilani, soon after becoming the Prime Minister, ordered the release of the detained judges.
On April 30, when the first deadline to restore the judiciary lapsed, another one was given. The new deadline was May 12 that also lapsed without any result. On May 16, Pakistan Bar Council scheduled a meeting to devise a new strategy for the lawyers’ movement.