Lawyer- media tensions over PIC attack coverage.
ISLAMABAD: The once cordial relations between lawyers and the media have seemingly reached a low point after Wednesday’s attack by the legal fraternity on the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) in Lahore.
Scores of lawyers stormed the PIC vandalizing the facility and thrashing everyone in sight apparently to “settle the score” with doctors who, they claimed, had attacked one of their colleagues and then disseminated a video clip ridiculing them.
Since the 2007 movement for the restoration of judges, both journalists and lawyers worked in tandem to uphold rule of law in the country.
When state authorities curbed media freedom, superior lawyer bodies voiced support for journalists, and provided them with legal aide.
However, it seems media’s continuous coverage of the PIC attack has annoyed representatives of the superior bar associations. Although they have condemned the conduct of fellow lawyers, it has been conveyed that “one-sided” picture was being portrayed, depicting them in a negative light.
Umair Baloch, the secretary of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association, warned media-persons that their entry could be banned in court if ‘partisan’ coverage was not stopped.
Similarly, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Syed Qalbe Hassan urged media not to portray the entire legal community as mafia and terrorists.
Legal experts, however, believe that it is difficult for the superior judiciary to give relief to the vandals, saying it is a test case for judiciary.
If police action is endorsed, the justice system could be affected due to strikes whereas in case of judicial restraint, there could be negative coverage against the courts, experts said.
PBC executive member Raheel Kamran Sheikh has written a letter to all bar council members for an effective regulatory role in this regard.
“We are provoked, intimidated and mocked so we lose self-control and attack a cardiac hospital without realising that even the most black-hearted enemies in times of war do not attack hospitals. Worst of all is that we shamelessly resort to a state of denial or justification for such an insane act of aggression, instead of condemning the same and apologising to the nation. What a black day for us all,” the letter read.
The letter stated that a complete silence of the top PBC leadership showed their uncontrollable ambition for political power over morality and preservation of the conscience of legal fraternity and reveals their complacency.
Tania Bazia, an advocate, said reforms were needed to regulate lawyers’ conduct. “The katchehri system should be abolished forever and a judicial complex should be made for lawyers for their sittings,” she told The Express Tribune. “Strict legislation should be passed to control the unlawful exploitation of powers, and authority of lawyers of lower courts.”