For Immediate Release
National Lawyers Guild Calls for Release of Arrested in Pakistan's Clampdown on Democratic Dissent
NEW YORK - In January 2008 the National Lawyers Guild dispatched a delegation of four lawyers and four law students to Pakistan. The members were hosted by Pakistanis, met with dozens of Pakistanis and issued a report correctly predicting the outcome of the elections. It noted the damage to the reputation of, and support for, the United States for abandoning principle for expedience by supporting the Musharraf government's repression of democracy, abandonment of the rule of law and attack on judicial independence. Since then, through the Pakistan Justice Coalition, the Guild has deepened its ties to our colleagues and friends in the Pakistani Lawyers Movement, hosting them at our events, securing speaking engagements for them and introducing them to congressional staffers and State Department employees. Through these ties, the Guild is uniquely situated to see the dangers to regional peace and stability and long-term U.S. interests in the actions taken by Pakistani President Zardari.
We have witnessed the Zardari government going down the same dead end as did Musharraf, suppressing dissent and attacking the Lawyers Movement's defense of judicial independence and the rule of law. The United States must not repeat its past mistakes by remaining mute. It must divorce itself from these policies and suspend all aid to Pakistan unless and until all those arrested for exercising their rights to dissent, including former Supreme Court Bar Association president Munir A. Malik and Sindh High Court Bar Association President Rasheed A. Rizvi, are released and the invocation of Section 144 withdrawn. Only by doing so can the U.S. claim any credibility with, or support from, the Pakistani people.
The National Lawyers Guild is dedicated to the need for basic and progressive change in the structure of our political and economic system. Through its members--lawyers, law students, jailhouse lawyers and legal workers united in chapters and committees--the Guild works locally, nationally and internationally as an effective political and social force in the service of the people.