US Lawyers Urge Freedom
for Pakistani Attorneys
lawyers’ protest in Washington
DC: Some 250 US lawyers protested at the US Supreme Court
last Wednesday for the release of thousands rounded up during
Pakistan's state of emergency, among them numerous judges
"We are here because we cannot forget the images of hundreds
of our brave colleagues assaulted in the streets, carried
off in police trucks, and fenced in by barbed wire and concrete
barricades," said William Neukom, president of the American
Bar Association (ABA), a national organization for attorneys
in the United States.
"We, the lawyers of America, call on General Musharraf
to restore the Constitution of Pakistan, reinstate Pakistan's
Supreme Court justices, and free those lawyers and civil leaders
who have been wrongly jailed," Neukom said.
According to another story, Pakistan's breakdown to many Americans
“may seem vaguely routine, another eruption in a distant
land. But to American lawyers, the events are shocking and
In part, it is because we see our fellow lawyers and judges
in Pakistan doing something dangerous and heroic: standing
up to police and soldiers, subjecting themselves to arrest
for such ideals as the ‘rule of law’ and an ‘independent
“Their bravery reminds us that these ideals are not
abstract at all. They are the difference between nations of
justice and law, and unchecked tyrannies. This crisis reminds
us how precious, and fragile, the rule of law is in the United
States and in all nations.
“This week, lawyers gathered in Washington and states
across the country to express solidarity and to stand shoulder
to shoulder with our courageous colleagues in Pakistan.
“The American Bar Association and other bar groups have
called on General Musharraf to restore the Constitution, re-instate
the Supreme Court justices, and free those lawyers he has
wrongly arrested. We will continue working until the rule
of law is restored in Pakistan.
“As lawyers, we see it as no coincidence that Musharraf
targeted his crackdown on his nation's legal community, as
well as on the press and other organs of civil society.
“Like a free press, judges and lawyers who are free
from intimidation and outside influence are essential checks
to raw power. These agents of liberty are a danger to would-be
tyrants, and Musharraf has treated them as such.
“When the Soviet Union collapsed, American lawyers helped
draft constitutions and train judges whose work would help
new democracies emerge.
“We appeared to be at the start of a worldwide flowering
of liberty, but today, we increasingly see those gains in
“To advocates of the rule of law, the recent actions
in Pakistan are worse than a misfortune; they are a catastrophic
reversal of values we hold dear. And in a world threatened
by terrorism and rising autocrats, they make our world more
dangerous, not less… “
“America's lawyers do not claim expertise in foreign
policy. But we can speak for the urgency of standing up for
justice and the rule of law.
“The loss of a constitution and the arrest of thousands
of lawyers and judges, including those on the Supreme Court,
cannot be ignored. Lawful government in Pakistan is the best
way to assure security and justice.
“William H. Neukom is president of the American Bar