The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) will hold an all parties conference (APC) on September 17 to discuss a host of issues, including the current state of access to justice, unabated assault on civil liberties and process of accountability leading to increase public mistrust on the institutions.
The PBC, which is the apex regularity body of lawyers, has sent invitation to the leadership of all political parties, including the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to attend the APC, PBC Vice Chairman Abid Saqi, told The Express Tribune.
According to Saqi, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had assured their participation.
The PBC had attached the APC agenda with the invitation sent to leadership of the political parties. According to agenda, with is available with The Express Tribune, the lawyers’ body is concerned about “the current state of access to justice, unabated assault on civil liberties and process of accountability leading to increase public mistrust on the institutions responsible for the dispensation of Justice”.
Historically, the PBC has been proactively engaged in protecting and defending the constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental human rights and civil liberties in Pakistan. However, it noted with disappointment that superior judiciary in same cases remains complacent to the violation of civil liberties without holding the respective state institutions accountable to the unlawful disappearances aimed at deoxygenizing democratic dissent in the country, it said.
It further stated that the process of appointments to the superior judiciary remained an area of grave concern wherein the principle of transparency, competence and neutrality was being compromised to whims and wishes of the “sanctum sanctorum”.
“That is perhaps one of the key reasons that the process of accountability was reduced to a mere instrument of coercion and concession leading to an entrenched culture of patrimonialism in the country,” the PBC said.
Against the backdrop, the PBC wanted to formulate a responsive legislative agenda, correcting the regularity framework and addressing institutional distortion, including appointments to superior judiciary, ensuring a credible system of accountability and protecting civil rights of citizens at large.
The PBC in its invitation letter asked leaders of the parties to give their suggestions. Political analysts believe that the APC was an opportunity for the opposition parties, media persons and civil society members to evolve a joint strategy to deal with present challenges.