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October 27, 2010
LAHORE: One of the leading candidates in the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) elections is being targeted by a hate campaign that calls her an Ahmedi, pro-American and pro-Indian.
The Khatme Nabuwwat Lawyers Forum based in Markaze Sirajia, a seminary in Ghalib Market, Gulberg, Lahore, recently published an eight-page pamphlet titled Targeted Missile Against Supreme Court that claims Asma Jahangir, a contender for the office of SCBA president, is a Qadiani, a derogatory term for Ahmedis. It also accuses her of being anti-Pakistan and pro-US and pro-India.
The pamphlet has been distributed at the Lahore Bar Association and posted to members of the SCBA.
Also, an Urdu language daily recently published a statement from Majlise Ehrar secretary general Abdul Latif Khalid Cheema that “Qadiani elements” were campaigning for Jahangir in the SCBA elections. He said “anti-Muslim forces” wanted her elected president in a nefarious plot to abolish the blasphemy laws.
Jahangir, talking to The Express Tribune, accused her opponents of resorting to dirty tricks to win the election. She was confident that the SCBA members would not be influenced by “such mudslinging”, but regretted that such a campaign had been undertaken.
Hassnain Jameel, her spokesman, said Jahangir is a Muslim and her opponents were criticising her for fighting for the rights of minorities and the destitute.
Advocate Tahir Sultan Khokhar, vice chairman of the Khatme Nabuwwat Lawyers Forum, who is not a member of the SCBA, said that this was not the first time the group had acted against a ‘Qadiani’. “Since its inception two years ago we have taken significant steps in this regard,” he said.
Khokhar said the pamphlet was meant to tell voters the truth about Jahangir. He said he only wrote facts about her in the pamphlet and left it up to voters to decide which candidate was the right choice.
Ahmed Awais, Jahangir’s main rival in the election, denied having anything to do with the hate campaign or the pamphlet. “It is not right to bring religion or other matters into it. The elections are an internal matter for lawyers,” he said. Awais said he had always been respectful towards his opponents during his campaign speeches, though they had abused him in their speeches.
He said he too was being targeted by “hateful propaganda” portraying him as the army candidate in the elections, a major insult since lawyers worked so hard for the ouster of General (retired) Pervez Musharraf as president. He was also being called a PML-N candidate to get the sympathies of PML-Q lawyers and a PML-Q candidate to get the sympathies of PML-N lawyers.
Senior members of the bar condemned the circulation of the pamphlet and the unsubstantiated rumours about the candidates. They said such mudslinging was an insult to the bar and the values it stood for.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2010.