International Law, Pakistan, Violence

Straight Gangsta

We don’t cover a lot of international happenings on this website, and for good reason. The world is filled with people who are either boring or lunatics and who, besides all that, don’t speak good English. How many songs has Lee Greenwood written about other countries? Probably none. None songs.

But piercing this aggressive indifference was a story in the Washington Post this weekend that spoke of a group of lawyers in Pakistan
who have said enough is enough. Except, these Pakistani lawyers knew that I wouldn’t understand them if they said enough is enough with their mouths because I don’t speak Pakistani. Like, at all. Nope, these Pakistani lawyers said enough is enough with their fists. And probably their feet. Maybe a crowbar or a pipe or brass knuckles even.

The Washington Post article says that these lawyers have gone from heroes to gangsters. Like that’s a bad thing…

The lawyers of Lahore were previously lauded by the international press when they rose up against Pervez Musharraf’s increasingly autocratic rule and attack on the Pakistani judiciary back in 2007 and 2008. The lawyers, all clad in black suits and ties, were seen rioting and wilding out, and the press positively fawned in its coverage.

That was then, this is Pow! The Post story begins with what I guess is a typical happening:

The young police inspector came to court to present evidence in a beating case. He left with his head and lip bloodied and his uniform torn — assaulted, he said, by a gang of black-suited assailants.

The notorious lawyers of Lahore had struck again, police and witnesses said. It was chalked up as yet another episode of violence by lawyers that has become common here in this seat of justice in eastern Pakistan, where cases from throughout Punjab province are heard.

Sounds like that police inspector could use a good lawyer.

The blame for all this mayhem appears to belong to a legal system that is rotten with injustice from head to toe. Corruption and violence seem to be endemic, and the lawyers are just particularly brutal cogs in the machine.

What say you, Lahore Bar Association?

“It’s true. We should mend our behavior,” Zulfiqar Ali, president of the Lahore Bar Association, said sheepishly in an interview. He attributed the violence to a lack of emphasis on ethics and courtroom conduct in law schools.

He said the association, which has about 20,000 members, has initiated weekly lectures aimed at improving decorum and overall competence.

Typically zealous advocacy by a bar association.

Now, remember when I said particularly brutal cogs in a machine? You should. It was, like, three sentences ago. Anyway, this is what I was referencing:

“Judges are terrified against this mob,” said Ahmed Saeed, a judge who beaned a lawyer with a paperweight last year in his Lahore courtroom, infuriated by what he called the attorney’s abusive language. Saeed has since been reassigned.

Not only are lawyers spewing abusive language, but judges are being forced to part ways with their precious paperweights. The notoriously breezy Lahore courtrooms are now a hellstorm of paper cyclones and trash.

The article goes on to note that these lawyers who stand accused of such boss behavior typically take home, on average, $150 a month. They beat up police inspectors, intimidate judges, and for what? For pride, maybe. Perhaps they don’t make money, but when these men (I’m assuming these attorneys are all men) go home after a long day of beating all holy hell out of anyone and everyone who gets in their path, do you think they complain about their school loans? Do you think they bitch and moan about career placement offices? Kvetch like some desperate housewife about bonuses? F**k no. They probably sit in their recliners, a steak over one eye, and stare into the distance. Their faces a numb avatar of pain and regret.

Towards the end of the piece in the Washington Post, a long list of badassery that seeks to condemn such behavior and accomplishes nothing of the sort, a deputy police superintendent sighs that lawyering “was once a noble profession.” Perhaps in Lahore, but perhaps nowhere else.

The world over, you’re more likely to hear that old Shakespearean chestnut, “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” To this, the lads from Lahore say, “I’d like to see you f**king try.”

Pakistani lawyers go from heroes to ‘gangsters’ [Washington Post]

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