Intro to Masih’s ‘Attorney’
John R. Houk
© February 4, 2013
Shamim Masih writes about equal justice in Pakistan. He admires some men that have exercised responsible action in the rule of Law in Pakistan. Frankly I have my reservations about who Masih admires because they are all Muslims. Masih reserves special praise for Sajid Ilyas Bhatti a Muslim attorney and President of the District Bar Association (DBA) in Pakistan.
I am guessing Shamim Masih’s admiration of Bhatti is based on his willingness to take on cases that include Christian Civil Rights in the face of Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws. Apparently Bhatti is an expert in the workings of Pakistan’s Shariat Court on a local and Federal level. Here is Wikipedia’s description of Pakistan’s Shariat Court:
The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) of Pakistan is a court which has the power to examine and determine whether the laws of the country comply with Shari'a law. It consists of 8 Muslim judges appointed by the President of Pakistan after consulting the Chief Justice of this Court, from amongst the serving or retired judges of the Supreme Court or a High Court or from amongst persons possessing the qualifications of judges of a High Court. Justice Agha Rafiq Ahmed Khan is the current Chief Justice of the court. Of the 8 judges, 3 are required to be Ulema who are well versed in Islamic law. The judges hold office for a period of 3 years, which may eventually be extended by the President.
Appeal against its decisions lie to the Shariat Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court, consisting of 3 Muslim judges of the Supreme Court and 2 Ulema, appointed by the President. If any part of the law is declared to be against Islamic law, the government is required to take necessary steps to amend such law appropriately.
The court also exercises revisional jurisdiction over the criminal courts, deciding Hudood cases. The decisions of the court are binding on the High Courts as well as subordinate judiciary. The court appoints its own staff and frames its own rules of procedure.
Ever since its establishment in 1980, the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan has been the subject of criticism and controversy in the society. Created as an islamisation measure by the military regime and subsequently protected under the controversial 8th Amendment, its opponents question the very rationale and utility of this institution. It is stated that this court merely duplicates the functions of the existing superior courts and also operates as a check on the sovereignty of Parliament. The composition of the court, particularly the mode of appointment of its judges and the insecurity of their tenure, is taken exception to, and it is alleged, that this court does not fully meet the criterion prescribed for the independence of the judiciary. That is to say, it is not immune to pressures and influences from the Executive.
Essentially Shariat Court is a judiciary based on Sharia Law. If you are an American you must become aware that Sharia is absolutely inimical to the principles of the American Constitution. Nevertheless, Christians in Pakistan are forced to deal with Sharia because that nation is an Islamic nation. It is actually a brave thing to take a stand to dilute Sharia to bring greater Civil Rights to Pakistani Christians. It is brave because it is dangerous. It is dangerous because standing for greater Civil Rights for Christians can be perceived as an insult to Islam. In a Muslim nation in which Free Speech and Religious Freedom is subservient to the principles of Islam and Sharia.
History is ours, and People make history
By Shamim Masih
Sent: 2/3/2013 12:53 PM
Once upon a time we were privileged to have barristers and lawyers like Justice M.R Kayani, Justice A.R Cornelius, Justice Dorab Patel and Mohammed Ali Jinnah - men who were the very embodiment of brilliance, hard work and gravitas. They were circumspect in their personal as well as public dealings and were a credit to the nation. Now our icons of the past must be turning in their graves at the unsightly spectacle of furious lawyers attacking and ransacking Judge Pervez Ali Shah’s courtroom in Rawalpindi because of their opposition to the death penalty handed down to Salman Taseer’s assassin Mumtaz Qadri.
Aside from the religious sentiments being provoked of such ‘Aashiq-e-Rasool’ (lovers of the Prophet) amongst the legal fraternity, this situation begs the question: if lawyers themselves do not respect judicial verdicts, then who will?
Are they not bound by the tenets of their profession to pay heed to court decisions? Surely, discipline and dignity are the two essential pillars upholding a major state institution like the judiciary. Far from being censured and suspended for their ridiculous behavior, the District Bar Association has asked for Judge Pervaiz Ali Shah’s transfer because “it can create a law and order situation”. Lawyer Farooq Sulehria has proclaimed that lawyers would boycott Shah’s court because of the “unacceptable” sentencing.
But the situation is not the same all the time; I have seen the courts hearing during a minor Christian girl Rimsha, accused of blasphemy case. During the case, where Roa was out- spoken lawyer to apposing Rimsha, there was Abdul Hameed Rana (Rimsha’s lawyer) defending her.
Few days back, I met Sajid Ilyas Bhatti - Advocate Supreme Court, who started his career in 1994-95 from the district bar Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
Sajid Bhatti was voted by his peers’ one of the best of the bar, and was also named as Secretary General of the High Court Bar, Rawalpindi, an honor given to less than one percent of the lawyers in the state. He has been involved in numerous “High-profile” matters throughout his career.
Sajid Bhatti is a member of many professional and community service organizations. He is member of Supreme Court Bar and District Bar, Rawalpindi where he served as executive member. Mr. Bhatti has tried countless jury trials and numerous “Bench trials”. He has obtained many acquittals and produced hundreds of positive results for clients in both state and Federal Shariat Court as a result of his experience as both a trial attorney and a negotiator.
He is known for his ability to provide innovative and powerful legal representation in all his criminal cases. His years as a prosecuting attorney and legal analyst give him a unique insight into the various strategies used by the District Attorney’s office and avoid those pitfalls and traps that other lawyers with this experience routinely fall into. Bhatti’s firm belief in the presumption of innocence has led him to take on criminal defense cases of all sizes and complexities. There is no case too small or too “hot” for him to work.
Areas of Practice: He handles a wide array of both State and Federal Shariat Court offenses. The list would be long but it matters that he deals you the best possible attorney for your needs.
People who know what they believe, but who are never afraid of other people’s opinions, who invite dialogues rather than diatribes, and who are mature enough to always seek more knowledge and curious enough to want to understand others.
Intro to Masih’s ‘Attorney’
John R. Houk Editor
© February 4, 2013
Christian Rights Activist