Pakistan dispatch: my journey bringing law and justice home Dispatches
© JURIST / Izhar Ahmed Khan
Pakistan dispatch: my journey bringing law and justice home

Law students and law graduates in Pakistan are reporting for JURIST on events in that country impacting its legal system. Izhar Ahmed Khan is a JURIST Staff Correspondent based in Lahore and a 2022 LL.B. graduate of the Pakistan College of Law (University of London International Program). In this dispatch he reflects on a personal journey he recently took in the service of legal education, access to justice, and the rule of law.

I have always been fascinated by a Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” For me, this proverb encapsulates a universal principle of success and growth that extends to almost every walk of life, including matters of law and justice. In the latter context it teaches that equipping people with skills that can bring law and justice to society and to themselves may be more advantageous than merely conferring rights whose beneficiaries lack the capacity and capability to hold or digest them.

At the end of December, I had a chance to talk to a study circle comprising of young aspiring law students in my hometown of Pishin, Balochistan, in Pakistan’s southwest. Pishin is about 16 hours by bus from Lahore, over somewhat broken roads. The study circle was arranged by Muhammad Yousaf, a local school teacher, and Muhammad Nabi, a dedicated volunteer who works for the promotion of study and libraries in the area. The topic for discussion was left to me, and I chose to talk about ‘Planning for a Career in Law: Expectations vs. Realities’. My hope was to uplift young minds and help them make the right decisions in their careers to contribute to bringing law and justice to our society.

The session lasted for one and a half hours. Not for a second did I feel that the audience was losing interest or getting tired. Their eagerness and attentiveness gave me the confidence and strength to speak more passionately as we went on. In my introduction I tried to mention all of my roles, including my legal practice, my teaching at a law school, and my association with JURIST as a staff correspondent reporting from Pakistan. This was not to praise myself but to introduce the ones listening to me, right from the start, to the different paths that could be pursued by becoming a part of the legal profession.

Following that, we discussed the potential of law as a career. We then delved into different law programs offered in Pakistan and abroad, their pros and cons, and how to make better choices in selecting them. This was followed by a discussion of different career pathways after graduation that could be pursued, particularly focusing on legal practice, the judiciary, legal academia, and the civil service. Finally, I offered some tips that might help these young people become better legal professionals, emphasizing skills such as reading, writing, listening, and speaking, as well as relying on credible, up-to-date textbooks, making study notes from them, and avoiding reliance on others’ notes. Towards the end of the session, there was a question and answer session where really good questions were asked and answered.

At one level this was a career planning session, but more fundamentally for me it was an exercise in bringing law and justice home. It was an effort to compensate our society for the lawlessness, terrorism, illiteracy, and poverty it has been facing for decades. It was an effort to address the void left by our beloved lawyers who tragically lost their lives in a terrorist attack on the legal community in Quetta back in 2016, which resulted in the loss of over 70 lawyers from Balochistan. It was an effort in which young minds clarified their career doubts and brainstormed their future roles in upholding the rule of law in society. It was an effort that I hope will help provide our society with bright legal minds.

Lastly and most importantly, it was an obedience to advice given to us by our national poet and philosopher Allama Muhammad Iqbal, a distinguished lawyer in his own right, when famously he said to youth:

“Learn again the lesson of Truth, Justice, and Bravery!
You are to be entrusted with the world’s leadership.”