A few bring a bad name
[Dawn] IT has been a complicated time for the Lahore Bar Association, given the ban on a soft drink brand proposed recently by a faction of lawyers.

The entire legal community has resultantly come under fire with its reputation -- if any remained -- plummeting into the negative. Yet while sitting in the District Bar room, I find certain colleagues' insensitivity towards the destruction of the legal fraternity's image in the press more perturbing.

The term 'legal community' needs to be interpreted and analysed therefore. Further, it must be asked whether, in criticising the entire legal community for the singular acts of a faction, people are not displaying short-sightedness: a group of lawyers who have proposed a scandalous resolution does not represent the legal community as a whole. Most importantly, the basis on which the ban was proposed constitutes a contravention of the country's constitution.

First, the term 'legal community' (of Pakistain) denotes and includes all members of benches, all law-practising members of the District and High Court Bar Associations of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan
...the Pak province bordering Kandahar and Uruzgun provinces in Afghanistan and Sistan Baluchistan in Iran. Its native Baloch propulation is being displaced by Pashtuns and Punjabis and they aren't happy about it...
and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
... formerly NWFP, still Terrorism Central...
. It also includes all members of the Supreme Court Bar Association and the benches of the apex court. So to castigate the legal community for an abstruse resolution or for other acts of an ignorant minority is wrong and amounts to short-sightedness.

The Khatam-e-Nabuwat Lawyers Forum (KNLF), which proposed the ban, is in no way a representative body of the legal community. Its acts, omissions or resolutions do not carry the weight of the law or the support of the legal society; they do not reflect the mindset of the legal community, which is clearly a silent majority. Even if the incumbent elected representatives of the Lahore Bar Association ratified the absurd resolution, in no way would that reflect the opinion of a sizeable number of lawyers and would be disowned. Such a move should and would be strongly condemned.

Many short-sighted western citizens and journalists label the entire Pak population as intolerant, illiterate, narrow-minded and overly religious (for the acts of a few). Similarly, many bewildered and imprudent members of our own society are branding the entire legal community as intolerant and obdurate for the acts of a few. This is also not right.

To give an example, Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Time Square bomber was connected to Pakistain and apparently had some level of support in the country. But does he, or even Baitullah Mehsud, represent the Pak public's way of thinking? To condemn all Paks due to the abhorrent acts of such people is simply outrageous. Similarly, the act of a faction of lawyers must not be allowed to define the character and reputation of the legal community on the lam.

Then, for the KNLF to propose a senseless ban that demands a blockade on selling a drink allegedly manufactured by Ahmedis (or non-Mohammedans, as they are called) is absurd by all standards. The intention was apparently to cause economic loss to the alleged Ahmedi manufacturer. Principally, the law requires the other side to be heard. The company issued a blurb that it is not owned by Ahmedis. For the sake of argument, however, let us hypothesise that the company is indeed owned by Ahmedis. If that is the case, would it be constitutionally or religiously barred from trading within the country? The answer is in the negative.

Constitutionally, the Ahmedis were declared non-Mohammedans by the Second Amendment to the constitution of the Islamic Theocratic Republic of Pakistain, thereby converting them statutorily into a minority. But neither this amendment nor any subsequent law takes away the right of minorities to conduct business and fair trade within this land of the pure. Therefore, any move to ban their business is not only unconstitutional but discriminatory and in violation of Article 18 (Freedom of Trade, Business and Profession) and Article 25 (Equality of Citizens) of the constitution.

From the point of view of religion, trade was an integral part of Islamic teachings and culture. The Prophet Muhammad (PTUI!)'>(PTUI!)) traded with the Jews of his time. From an Islamic perspective, if the Prophet never advocated an ideology that stood for causing economic loss to non-Mohammedans, why should anyone else?

If the ideology of causing economic loss on the basis of religion were attached to any truth, there would be a trade deadlock causing widespread scarcity of valuable resources located in different parts of the world. There would have been no electricity in Mohammedan lands, no development in the agricultural or health sector. People of other faiths would have been deprived of oil which would have halted all invention and the modern transportation facilities we enjoy today.

Oil from Mohammedan lands would have had no value without trade; Christians, Jews, Hindus and people of all other faiths would have kept their technology, inventions and discoveries to themselves. Adherents of all faiths would have been doomed to paucity without trading with each other.

But let us, for a minute, go the KLNF way and boycott everything manufactured/produced by non-Mohammedans. It would soon become clear that the vehicles they use, the cellphones with which they communicate, the television they watch, their laptops, the software they use to draft their petitions, the ties they wear and the stitching units which stitch their uniforms are manufactured/produced by mostly non-Mohammedans. What are they going to do about this?

Posted by: Fred 2012-03-02