It’s not easy being Asma Jehangir

Published: October 28, 2010

Asma Jehangir was rumored to be the administration's 'chosen' candidate PHOTO: EPA

Having secured the presidency of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Asma Jahangir is set to face challenges of a Herculean nature.

She has yet to illuminate a lucid position on the contentious issue regarding the growth of judicial activism. The Executive has viewed the proliferation of this form of activism as a threat to the doctrine of trichotomy which defines power relations in Pakistan’s political system.It is thus perceived as a counter to the supremacy of the parliament and a direct opposition to democratic rule.

This ‘anti-judiciary’ point of view has erroneously grown to typify Asma Jahangir’s candidacy for the SCBA elections since she has expressed the intention to de-politicize the judiciary in order to restore its non-partisan position in performing its authorized duties.

Although Jehangir has espoused the view that an independent judiciary is requisite, her concern over the neutrality of the SCBA and her decision to stand up for judicial principles as opposed to the dictates of Zardari’s administration, depicts otherwise.

Such non-alignment could be both deleterious and favourable to the ongoing tension between the executive and the judiciary. With Asma Jahangir assuming presidency of the SCBA, one can anticipate the presence of an intermediary who could potentially ensure institutional stability in both the executive and the judiciary. Therefore, it can be assumed that her presidency would not be as cataclysmic as Qazi Anwar’s. However, this could incite opposition from the legal fraternity who may feel that the judiciary is compromising on its independence to the point of docility, and subsequently wage a battle for the judicial sovereignty which was won in March 2009.

But what is striking to note is that Asma Jahangir has, during the course of her campaign, expressly stated that the Supreme Court’s judgment on the NRO should be rendered applicable. More importantly, she has also overtly conveyed her support for Article 175A. What is now needed is some measure of clarity regarding her stance on the fate of judicial activism and the executive-judiciary relationship during her term and if this is not stated categorically an almost retrogressive clash between both institutions will become even more imminent.


Taha Kehar

A blogger on social events and has previously worked as Assistant Editor for a media magazine. He is currently pursuing Law Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies. He tweets @TahaKehar.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Usama Zafar

    I’ve met Asma Jahangir personally and had a word with her on NRO. She seems to be a determined and courageous lady who I’m sure will do everything to make sure the SC verdict on NRO is implemented properly!!Recommend

  • Daniyal Danish

    Congratulation to Asma , But the Actual fight is now started.Recommend

  • bashir

    Although, Asma has been a great human right activist but she will difinitely loose her repute as she will now be siding the current govt. The govt will now be in a much better position to defend its position on NRO particularly on reopening of Swiss Cases.Recommend

  • http://na prasad

    Are we setting Asma Jahangir up for failiure – the Obama syndrome if you will. She was voted by 2000 members of the supreme court and I dont know how far she can make things happen. I just hope that people do not condemn her in a hurry if there are no spectacular successes.Luckily this post is for one year if I am not mistaken – long before the two-year itch comes into play. Recommend

  • SadafFayyaz

    Congrats but more would be coming now……….She has been a critique to Hudood and blasphemy laws too……..I love her courage…Recommend

  • Hamza Baloch

    Yes,its very difficult to act like this..

    On swat fake video, she was the part of the realies, but for Dr afia.. “being the chairman of human rights of Pakistan” she give only a single statement.Recommend

  • Naveed Aslam

    President Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, Chaudray Shujaat Hussain and Pervez Musharraf welcomed Ms Jahangir for winning the presidential seat. Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has congratulated Ms Asma Jehangir on her election as President Supreme Court Bar Association. In his message of felicitation to the newly elected President, SCBA, Ms Asma Jehangir, the Prime Minister said “your election as President of SCBA is reflective of the lawyers’ confidence in your leadership.” He hoped that during your tenure as President of SCBA, the lawyers’ community would take full benefit from your professional acumen and guidelines in carrying out the judicial affairs of the country. The Prime Minister wished the newly elected President of SCBA all success in her future endeavours. She had become vocal against what she saw as “playing to the galleries” by the Supreme Court judges. I t seemed that Jang and The News always considered her to be a strong candidate for the position of SCBA President. A vilification campaign was launched against her that continued till 27th of October. A story titled “Lawyers worried over Asma’s stand” was made by none other than Ahmed Noorani. Maybe Jang and The News thought that they replicate what they did against Sheikh Rasheed in Rawalpindi bye-elections.Recommend

  • Anonymous

    I second the opinion of Naveed Aslam, Jang Group tried their level best to change the election turnout by starting hate campaign against her. but they forgot this time they tried to play with the Supreme Court lawyers sentiments and failed badly.
    However, all those who think she’ll play a partisan role for Government is misunderstanding and it is not forseeable by those who worked with her and now in her election campaign. If she can denounce any politically biased judgment of august court, she can do same for Government as well, irrespective of the fact that Govt. supported her. so not a great good news for Govt too.
    Secondly, I have read many comments on other websites regarding her victory, who termed it as closure of Independent Judiciary, let me be very clear, that it is not only Asma Jahangir, all those stalwarts of lawyer movement like Aitzaz Ahsan, Munir Malik, Fakhiruddin G ibrahim and Pirzada’s along with Ali ahmed Kurd supported her and casted their votes for Asma. So dont you think these stalwarts are working towards end of independent Judiciary???
    One thing needs to be determined here, either Our SC became political or these stalwarts went astray. Recommend

  • NGH

    Kudos Asma Jehangir!Recommend