Some Lahore lawyers freed from Pakistan jails

Anonymous [advocate, Lahore High Court, Pakistan]: "I went to the Lahore High Court (LHC) this morning; it was as deserted as before. The President of the High Court Bar Association under detention has been released last night. He was detained under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance rather than a Police Report (FIR). The Home Department withdrew his detention orders and he was released as there was no need of a bail petition.

The remaining 50 or so lawyers which were denied bail earlier when 350 were released also got their bail this morning. These 50 and 350 were transferred to far-flung areas' jails just to cause them inconvenience. The Police trucks which are used for transportation are horrible. A number of lawyers told me that for urination, they had to use empty plastic bags inside the police truck because the driver was under instructions not to allow food, water, tea or toilets enroute even under an armed police watch. And it takes at least 8 hours on a police truck to reach Bahawalpur Jail from Lahore; this figure of 8 hours does not include those additional hours for which the trucks were kept standing at different places just to prolong the journey.

There will be no reaction for some days as the recently released (the 50 'hardcore criminals') would spend some time with their families though they are yet to be released from the jails. The bail petitions have been accepted but the released orders have yet not reached destinations.

The US deputy secretary of state has also gone back without any firm commitments from the General. The only good thing is that protests are taking place on daily basis in different parts of the country. Benazir is also silent as she didn't receive a very positive reply from Americans. The situation is not very encouraging. And then on top of this, the government has managed to obtain oaths from so many judges in bits and pieces. On the night of Nov 3, the LHC had only 12 out of 31; today it is 21 out of 31. Earlier 12 was a shameful figure, 21 looks respectable. One, Judge Mian Hamid Farooq, took oath this morning on the 19th making it 21. What more can I say?"

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