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EYEWITNESS: Pakistani riot police clash with lawyers at Lahore High Court

A Pakistani law student from the Lahore University of Management Sciences describes the clash between lawyers and riot police at the Lahore High Court Monday: "Today, November 5th, the lawyers of Pakistan were to boycott the courts and protest at the promulgation of emergency and the issuance of the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO). What transpired is yet to fully settle in. Thirty to forty students reached the Lahore High Court building at about 08:15 am, and then waited for the rest of the interested parties to arrive. By the time that most of the lawyers assembled in the Lahore High Court building, they were surrounded by the police from all sides.

Not only this, but the police actually had the audacity to enter the High Court, and baton-charge the protesting lawyers who wished to exit the Court premises to peacefully protest. In addition to this, tear gas was being used from a very close proximity, even though it is a banned item under the Chemical Weapons Convention. Once again, it must be emphasized that all this was done from within the High Court premises.

The police had clearly been given the orders to crush the protest, as an excessive amount of force was exerted by them. Women were manhandled, doors and windows of the Lahore High Court were broken and desecrated, and the use of profanity and derogatory language by the "law-enforcement" agencies was regular and persistent. It seemed as though these protectors of the public had forgotten that they were in the Lahore High Court, once thought to be the premises where justice is to be served to the people, not injustice.

By the end of the day, scores of lawyers were thrown into police vans in herds and were taken away to an undisclosed location. Even participating students seemed to get a good thrashing, but were lucky to be able to escape arrest, and hence tell this tale.

It is amusing and telling that the so called 'new PCO' Supreme Court Chief Justice remained silent through all this like an defunct organ of the state, whilst his judicial apparatus was desecrated, ridiculed and mocked by the same law enforcement agencies which were once accountable before it."

Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.

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