Pakistan’s Lawyers

Another article sitting on my desk…James Traub in the Sunday NY Times Magazine writing about the lawyers’ protests in Pakistan. When these first started, after Pakistan’s then president Pervez Musharraf demanded the resignation of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, I remember feeling a sense of hopefulness, a sense that there was some remnant of the rule of law in Pakistan despite the assassinations, and military coups, and suspended constitutions, and so on. These brave attorneys were out in their black suits in the hot sun forcefully protesting against Musharraf’s blatantly illegal moves.

It seemed like a defining moment. And, indeed, Traub’s article gives that cautiously optimistic impression. These men are risking their lives for the rule of law and the institutions that maintain a civilized society. America and Americans, through direct diplomacy, NGOs, and covert aid, should support the work of these men; some of whom have lost their lives, while others have been jailed, beaten, or lost their livelihoods, in this effort.

If there is one issue that should motivate free people around the world, it should be the cause of freedom. Not in the neocon, tip-of-a-gun sense (only Bush could give freedom and democracy a bad name), but in the sense that freedom – of speech, of religion, from tyranny, etc. – is a universal human right. Americans, particularly young people, should understand that their freedoms are both precious and revocable, and they should be vigilant, active, and, like these valiant attorneys, unafraid to challenge authority.

Okay, enough lecture. Read the piece. It’s inspiring (the attorneys have had popular success but are still battling). Contact Amnesty International and your political representatives if you want to help.

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