Lawyers' Movement

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The Lawyers' Movement was the name given to the popular mass protest movement started by the lawyers of Pakistan in response to the dictatorial actions of 9 March 2007, by the country's military dictator General Pervez Musharraf, when he unconstitutionally sacked Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

The Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan with the backing of politicians declared the suspension of the Chief Justice an "assault on independence of judiciary".[1]


In March 2007 President Pervez Musharraf suspended Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Supreme Court Chief Justice, for misuse of his position. The suspension of Chaudhry was met with protests from Pakistan's legal community. Adliya Bachao Tehreek ("Save the Judiciary Movement") was formed to get Chaudhry reinstated, and to maintain the independence of the judiciary.[2]

The movement was led by Presidents of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan Munir A. Malik, Aitzaz Ahsan, and Ali Ahmad Kurd along with others lawyer leaders.[3]

On July 20, 2007, the Council (Supreme Court of Pakistan) restored Iftikhar Chaudhry as the Chief Justice of Pakistan and dismissed the charges against him.[2]

On November 3, 2007, dictator Pervez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency in Pakistan and again dismissed the Chief Justice along with sixty other judges, illegally and unconstitutionally, who refused to take oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order.[2][4] Lawyers reacted to the dismissals, and emergency rule, by boycotting the courts, taking part in street protests and hunger strikes. People from outside the legal profession also took part in these protests.[5]

The protests, and the international pressure triggered by them, forced Musharraf to end emergency rule in December 2007; however Chaudry and the other judges were not reinstated and the continued protests contributed to Musharraf's resignation in August 2008.[4] The election of Asif Zardari as President resulted in a lull in activity by the Lawyers' Movement for most of 2008. Despite supporting the movement before becoming president, Zardari did not reinstate Chaudry.[6]

Zardari's decision in February 2009 to declare President's rule in Punjab resulted in protests, encouraged by the deposed representative of the province, Nawaz Sharif, leader of the opposition party, PML-N. Sharif began calling for the reinstatement of Chaudry, reigniting the Lawyers' Movement and forcing Zardari to meet their demands.[7][8] Chaudry was restored as the Chief Justice by Zardari and his Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gillani, in March 2009.[7][9]

List of judges removed on 3 November 2007[edit]

  • Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry - Chief Justice of Pakistan
  • Justice Rana Bhagwandaas
  • Khalil ur Rehman Ramday
  • Javed Iqbal
  • Raja Fayaz Ahmad
  • Mian Shakirullah Jan
  • Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmad
  • Khawaja Sharrif
  • Shahid Siddiqui
  • Ghulam Rabbani

Prominent leaders of the Lawyers' Movement[edit]

Rallies and protests[edit]

On January 21, 2009 the Lahore High Court Bar Association carried out a 10 Million signature movement. As the name suggests, the purpose of the movement was to get 10 million signatures on a large white cloth which was to be presented to the parliament at the end of long march. Political party workers, concerned citizen and lawyers participated and signed the petition.[10]

On March 16, 2009 the Lawyers' Community had given a call for nationwide 'Long March'.[7] Many political parties like the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Group), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamaat-e-Islami and others supported and participated in the Long March. All the supporters of the 'restoration of judges' participated in the Long March despite a ban imposed on protests and rallies under Section 144 by the government.[11]

Crackdown on lawyers[edit]

The government arrested, detained and tortured lawyers on different occasions. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, armored police vehicles entered the premises of the Lahore High Court to attack the protesting lawyers who had sought refuge within the high court building. Several lawyer leaders were kept under house arrest for several months. Munir A Malik developed serious health problems due to this confinement. In Karachi, anti-lawyers movement and ally of the government Muttahida Qaumi Movement(MQM) torched a lawyer's office in which about 7 lawyers were burnt alive. In Sahiwal, police acting on the orders of the Musharraf regime attacked the lawyers with a petrol bomb, causing several lawyers to suffer major burns. Lahore Highcourt upheld the sentences against Police officers who were invoved in attacks on lawyers in Sahiwal,on July 24, 2013.

Role of the media[edit]

The print and electronic media were very active in the Lawyers' Movement. Geo News even had to face a ban.

Days before the call for 16 March 2009 Long March, Geo News carried out a series of public service message campaign which was sponsored by Mir Khalil ur Rehman Foundation (MKRF) for restoration of the judges. One of the campaign's message was a 8 minutes 12 Seconds video which showed all the promises and statements, especially by Pakistan Peoples Party leaders, about the restoration of the judges but were not fulfilled. The campaign proved very successful in educating people and reminding the government of their commitments. The government even blocked Geo News in many parts of the country as the government believed the campaign was biased. This steps of Geo news makes very constructive role in lawyers` movement, and in the end there is victory of Judiciary,Media,civil-society and every Pakistani. Print and electronic media play their positive role.

Critics says that, print and electronic media, at times do crossed their limits of authority and helped creating a negative sentiment about the, government among masses regarding the Chief Justice issue, however the Lawyers movement do succeeded in getting the interest of commons, television channels covered the ralleys of Judge for hours continuously

Role of Political Parties[edit]

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan Muslim League (PMLN), Pakhtun-khwa Milli Awami Party,[12] Awami National Party and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) supported the Lawyers' Movement on different occasions.

Lawyers' Movement anthem[edit]

Aitzaz Ahsan wrote a poem while he was under house arrest. The poem later became the anthem of Lawyers' Movement.Aitzaz Ahsans contributed greatly in the Lawyers movement of Pakistan, although he faced severe pressure, being a member of PPPP CEC .


  1. ^ Daily Dawn - SCBA terms removal assault on independence of judiciary 10 March 2007
  2. ^ a b c Phelps, Jordyn (August 2009), Pakistan's Lawyers Movement (2007-2009), retrieved 24 April 2013 
  3. ^ Agencies (23 January 2008). "Anti-Musharraf Pakistan lawyers win human rights award". The Economic Times. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Kalhan, Anil (2010). "Constitution and 'Extraconstitution': Emergency Powers in Postcolonial Pakistan and India". Emergency Powers in Asia (Victor Ramraj & Arun Thiruvengadam, eds., Cambridge University Press). 
  5. ^ "Pakistan defies US with new crackdown". Daily Times. 9 November 2007. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Note 2010, pp. 1715-1716.
  7. ^ a b c Kalhan, Anil (January 2013). "'Gray Zone' Constitutionalism and the Dilemma of Judicial Independence in Pakistan". Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 46: 1. 
  8. ^ "The lion unleashed". The Economist. 16 March 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "Chief Justice Chaudhry reinstated". RFI. 22 March 2009. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  10. ^ 10 Million Signature Movement - 21 January, 2009
  11. ^ The News - Lawyers vow to hold rally despite ban - 12 March, 2009
  12. ^


External links[edit]