LAHORE: The Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) campaign for the 2023-24 election has entered its final round, with two progressive female barristers vying for as many key positions.
The candidatures of Rabbiya Bajwa and Sabahat Rizvi for the posts of vice president and secretary respectively were also welcomed by a majority of the male-dominated legal profession this year. Both are known for their progressive stance and fight for human rights.
Ms. Bajwa, a senior member of the professional group led by Hamid Khan, was previously elected the Bar Association’s Finance Secretary in 2006. The candidacy of women lawyers is normally considered acceptable for the office of financial secretary.
She was at the forefront of the “restoration of justice” lawyers’ movement that was deposed by the late President General Pervez Musharraf. She was also the campaign clerk for retired judge Wajihuddin Ahmad, who ran as the legal fraternity candidate against Musharraf in the presidential election.
She was the first female candidate for the office of paralegal in 2009, but lost the contest.
If Ms. Bajwa wins this year, she would be the third vice president of the LHCBA.
The Bar Association elected Rabia Sultan Qari as its first female Vice President in 1959. Ms. Qari became famous for her struggle against General Ayub Khan’s military rule.
Firdaus Butt was the second in 2007 after almost half a century.
Ms Bajwa vows to continue Rabia Qari’s legacy if elected to office.
Ms Rizvi says she faced a bit of a challenge in the first few months of her campaign to establish her candidacy for the secretary’s post. She believes that in legal politics, a lawyer should not be judged on his gender.
She hopes to make history by becoming the LHCBA’s first female secretary.
Ms. Rizvi is a senior partner in the law firm of Abid Saqi, a member of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC).
Saqi sees the candidacy of the women lawyers as a positive step towards gender equality in legal policy. He says that there is a tangible majority of women in the legal profession.
The Progressive Democratic Lawyers Forum has announced its support for the two candidates, who also have unanimous support from various factions of women lawyers, including Women In Law.
A singles competition is held between Chaudhry Ishtiaq for the spot of bar president
A Khan of Professional Group and Lehrasib Khan Gondal of Independent Group known as Asma Jahangir Group.
Khan is an acting member of the PBC and a past president of the Lahore Bar Association.
Gondal is a former Deputy Chairman of the Punjab Bar Council.
Other candidates for vice president are Iftikhar Ali Bhatti, Chaudhry Ahmad Khan Gondal, Abdul Rauf Bhatti, Mian Sardar Ali Gehlan and Waris Ali Saroya.
Qadir Bakhsh Chahal and Mian Muhammad Irfan are also competing for the post of secretary.
Irfan is last year’s runner-up and is trying his luck again for the same post.
Shahrukh Shahbaz Warraich, Amir Sohail Bosal and Adil Naeem Sheikh are competing for the post of finance minister.
Up to 26,043 voters would exercise their right to vote in the February 25 election.
Published in Dawn, February 20, 2023