Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Lawyers leading Pakistan protests; lawyers!

The news from Pakistan, a nation with nuclear weapons at its disposal, is scary. Because Pakistan has been somewhat helpful with the Bush administration’s War on Terror campaign, at times, perhaps you could call it an ally. So, with too many balls in the air America’s state department finds itself in another dicey situation.

What’s more important to America’s long-term interests, having a democracy in Pakistan, or having a dependable ally? You see, it’s a lot easier to bribe a dictator than it is a whole functioning government whose lawmakers were chosen by fair elections.

Meanwhile, the protests in Pakistan’s streets continue, as described in this Reuters story:
Pakistan's opposition grappled for a united response on Tuesday to President Pervez Musharraf’s imposition of emergency rule, leaving lawyers to protest alone for a second day and bear the brunt of a police crackdown.

Ousted chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, though being held incommunicado at his residence, managed to get out a message by mobile phone to the lawyers' movement that has been leading the public protests. “The constitution has been ripped to shreds,” Chaudhry said.
Rather than dwell on the shadow of danger this development casts on the region and American interests, I’d just like to underline one point. At this stage of the newest dramatic struggle for power in Pakistan, it’s lawyers who are leading the protests.


Bottom line: Try to imagine attorneys in the USA taking such a risk to life and limb for the sake of establishing a foothold for true democracy. Like, how many fat cat American lawyers would actually take such a principled/dangerous stand for the sake of anything?


MB said...

Eh. There was a good essay to be written on this.

You didn't write it.

American lawyers staff and run the ACLU. The Electronic Frontier Foundation. Public Knowledge. The National Lawyers Guild. And on and on and on.

To be sure, I wish my American brethren at the bar would have been as brave as these fellows when it became clear how lawless our government has become, but your claim that American lawyers just sit by and do not isn't just misleading - it's flat wrong.

F.T. Rea said...


Didn't mean to write an essay. My observation had to do with the roles lawyers play in different situations/societies.

Can you imagine American lawyers doing anything like what's going on in Pakistan?

MB said...

(Coming back because I just now remembered that I commented)

No, I really can't imagine American lawyers doing anything like what they're doing in Pakistan.

But 300 did show up at the Library of Congress on Tuesday, in support of the Pakistani lawyers. It's a start (no matter how sad).