Party, which has been through great deal since May 9, says it has rewarded lawyers for their support

Incarcerated former prime minister Imran Khan gestures as he travels on a vehicle to lead a protest march in Islamabad on May 26, 2022. —Reuters 

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has issued party tickets to about a dozen counsels to contest general elections on the National Assembly and Sindh Assembly seats in Karachi.

PTI lawyers will vie for seven NA seats and four provincial assembly seats in the city. Whereas, contests will be held on a total of 22 NA and 47 SA seats in the general elections on February 8 across the megalopolis.

Advocate Zahoor uddin, who is the Insaf Lawyers Forum Karachi president, is contesting from NA-237 (East-III), Shujaat Ali Khan NA-243 (Keamari-II), Khalid Mehmood NA-231 (Malir-III), Advocate Haris Meo NA-233 (Korangi-II), Attaullah Khan NA-245 (West-II), Barrister Fayaz NA-247 (Central-I) and Barrister Uzair Ghauri from NA-249 (Central-III).

Those contesting the provincial assembly seats, include Ashraf Samoo PS-89 (Malir-VI), Barrister Ali Tahir PS-101 (East-V), Advocate Ali Palh PS-103 (East-VII) and Rana Imran PS-123 (Central-II).

Likewise, the party has fielded lawyers in other provinces as well. The prominent among them are Barrister Gohar Ali Khan (from Buner), Latif Khosa (Lahore), Salman Akram Raja (Lahore), Shoaib Shaheen (Islamabad), and Sher Afzal Marwat (Lakki Marwat).

The party, which has been through a great deal since May 9, says it has rewarded the lawyers for their support and commitment to fighting cases against workers and leaders in the face of testing times. 

However, political analysts also see it as a good strategy to bank on advocates because of unity among their ranks and the backing of lawyers' bodies. "Lawyers supported and stood by the PTI in its testing times and handled cases of party leaders, including Imran Khan. They truly deserved [party tickets]," PTI leader Khurram Sher Zaman said, talking to The News.

"They were rewarded for their unwavering dedication and tireless efforts. Yet workers were fielded on 70-85 per cent of the seats. In my opinion, lawyers should have had an even greater share in the allocation of seats."

In the wake of the events of May 9, key PTI leaders ditched the Imran Khan-led party. They were picked up or arrested, and later emerged to condemn the May 9 violence and quit the party. Some even quit politics altogether.

With most PTI leaders either in hiding or behind bars and having ditched the party, lawyers became the face of the party. Barrister Gohar Khan was recently elected as the party chairman in intra-party elections, which were though nullified by the Supreme Court.

"Lawyers enjoy the backing of bar council and bar associations, which have a tradition of safeguarding the fundamental rights of their members. Arresting them or launching legal action against them seems somewhat difficult though the establishment has no such tradition as it treats everyone badly," said Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan.

"[Fielding lawyers] is an excellent strategy. I don't think of any better decision than this."

An independent candidate, Advocate Johar Abid, was lately picked up from his residence. The Karachi Bar Association observed a complete boycott of legal proceedings at the City Courts against what it described the abduction of its member by people posing as police officials. A day later, Johar Abid returned home.

"Lawyers are the most organised community in civil society and hold significant sway. Some political parties are trying to cash in on them," opined senior court reporter Asghar Umar. "Lawyers used to be elected to parliament, but since the lawyers' movement became a symbol of their success, they became a force to be reckoned with as they can get relief for themselves by standing up to any other state institution."

But with the rise in their power, he said, polarisation has also increased among their ranks. PTI candidate Zahoor uddin is hopeful that the lawyers would win the elections. "While former PTI parliamentarians quit the party, it was lawyers who stood by it, fighting cases and securing their release. They also held rallies and protests, because of which the party decided to award them tickets," he said. Advocate Shujaat Khan said he has been visiting his constituency and getting good response from voters. He is also hopeful that the lawyers would win the elections.

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