Tuesday, November 6, 2007

2,000 Lawyers Can't Be Wrong

Protests have erupted in Pakistan, consisting of thousands of angry men and women, New York Times columnists Jane Perlez and David Rhode report (November 5, 2007). But these protesters are not from any particular party faction, nor are they the average Joe and Jane citizen. They are not trying to put someone into office or create chaos for chaos's purpose. No, these protesters are the highly-educated, well trained lawyers of Pakistan who have taken to the streets in outrage to Pakistan's President, General Pervez Musharraf, and his actions imposing emergency rule.

While some presidents would consider turning a listening ear to a massive protest by the educated of the country, General Musharraf instead reacted with a police round-up and arrest of the protesting lawyers. Those of the lawyers who were of high-acclaim were generally not jailed but put on house arrest.

There is an obvious difference of opinion between the lawyers and the President of Pakistan, but who in this situation can claim the majority interest at heart? Is General Musharraf's actions of emergency rule due to selfish motives or wise judgement? Do the lawyers have good enough reasons to protest? In order to genuinely asses the situation, "emergency rule" must first be defined.

As the articles explains, emergency rule is not martial law:

"The main points of General Musharraf’s emergency order were the suspension of the Constitution, the dissolution of the Supreme Court and the four provincial High Courts, and the silencing of privately owned television news channels."

Apparently, Musharraf thought emergency rule would be easy for the democratic-seeking citizens (lawyers greatly included) to swallow. Or perhaps he just could care less. Although Musharraf has not fully declared martial law (he has not shut down Parliament), he has taken away the freedom of speech and the right to a trustworthy judicial system from the people. It is not only not surprising but only seems correct that the lawyers of Pakistan took to the streets. Their rights have been completely stripped from them as well as their judges dismissed. Their Supreme Court has been abolished. Their livelihood is at stake if they don't follow Musharraf's dictatorial laws. And Musharraf doesn't care about their well-being nor does it seem that he cares about the well-being of the majority of Pakistan.

There is something to be said about a mob's mindset in that it is often a temporary, dramatized grouping of passion that is often in the wrong, but in this situation the mob is correct and the individual is wrong. The mob is fighting for the very rights that they are naturally endowed with and should be given under a democratic government (which no longer seems democratic). As the now-fired Supreme Court Justice said in response to Musharraf's emergency rule done under his apparent idea of democracy:

“The United States is a democratic government, and democratic governments should work for democratic values across the globe,” Mr. Bhagwandas said. “Pakistan is no exception.”

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