Nationwide protests by Pakistan lawyers

Nationwide protests by Pakistan lawyers

In Pakistan, the legal community held a nationwide strike on Saturday, calling upon the election regulator to conduct national elections within the constitutionally mandated 90-day period after the dissolution of the national and provincial assemblies. They argue that only an elected government can address the country's numerous crises.

Former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif recommended dissolving the national legislature on August 9, just before its five-year term completion. According to Pakistan's constitution, if the assembly dissolves before its term ends, general elections must be held within 90 days. Presently, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is expected to schedule national polls in November, with the actual voting likely to take place in February after the delimitation of constituencies.

The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), the highest body of lawyers, considers any election delay beyond the 90-day limit a constitutional violation. They called for the legal community to strike in protest. Haroon-ur-Rashid, the council's vice chairman, stated that President Dr. Arif Alvi should promptly announce the national election date to resolve the constitutional crisis, as he believes the president has the authority to do so under the constitution.

The PBC criticized the ECP's decision to postpone national polls due to constituency delimitation, viewing it as a tactic to delay the elections. They emphasize that free and fair elections are crucial for Pakistan's political and economic stability. The lawyers' top body has also approached the Supreme Court, requesting it to instruct the election commission to announce an election date within the 90-day limit.

They have also sought the suspension of the 2023 digital census approval, which they believe contributed to the election delay. Lawyers in various cities across Pakistan confirmed their participation in the strike, responding to the PBC's call for action. The election commission has not yet commented on the election schedule. Another group of lawyers, led by the Supreme Court Bar Association, announced a nationwide strike on September 14 to defend the constitution, rule of law, and human rights, also advocating for national elections within 90 days following assembly dissolution.