Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Solidarity with Pakistani democratic forces

Source: Dictatorship Watch, November 13, 2007

Stand for democracy with Pakistan's lawyers

Like so many others, I am deeply disturbed by the recent events in Pakistan, where President Pervez Musharraf has suspended the national constitution, detained eight members of the Supreme Court, and arrested thousands of Pakistani lawyers who were peacefully protesting the dismantling of their legal system.

Musharraf seeks to justify his emergency rule by citing the threat of terrorism. In reality, by arresting nonterrorists and shutting down an independent judiciary, he empowers terrorists. An independent and unbiased court system is fundamental to the survival of a free society.

By standing up for the rule of law, the lawyers of Pakistan have won the admiration and solidarity of lawyers around the world. Many members of the Michigan bar have contacted me, asking how Michigan lawyers can express support for their colleagues across the globe.

Next week, lawyers everywhere will be showing their support for Pakistani lawyers in many ways. The American Bar Association is planning a march in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14, where lawyers in black suits will gather and walk around the U.S. Supreme Court building. Parallel events will take place throughout our country on the same day.

The rule of law is the foundation of civilized society, and lawyers are the guardians of the rule of law. Their role is never more important than when the survival of the rule of law is at risk.

I urge Michigan residents and my fellow lawyers to show support for their Pakistani counterparts and to encourage our own government to support the release of the detained judges, lawyers and human rights activists, and the restoration of the rule of law in Pakistan.

Ronald D. Keefe

President, State Bar of Michigan

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