Today I was invited via an email from the New York City Bar Association to a rally on the steps of the Supreme Courthouse in support of Pakistani judges and lawyers who have been dismissed from their positions, placed under arrest and some even tortured by President Musharraf’s military dictatorship that took hold on November 6th. To be honest, I’ve been so insanely busy lately, I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t really know what was going on in Pakistan. One important benefit to being a member of the Bar!
So, earlier this month, Musharraf used his power as Army Chief of Staff to declare a state of emergency and suspend the nation’s Constitution. Non-government TV stations were shut down, as were all cell phone lines. Paramilitary troops surrounded the Supreme Court and all judges were dismissed, replaced by judges who pledged loyalty to the military regime. The President of the Bar Association and civil rights attorneys who protested the crackdown, among others, were arrested. Thousands others have been beaten in the streets, rounded up and arrested.
It was a good rally, organized by the New York County, City, and State Bar Associations, the Muslim Bar, Women’s Bar, and Amnesty International. There were several speakers, including the presidents of all organizing Bar associations and a man whose name I didn’t get but whose father is one of the currently detained judges.