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Pakistani lawyers strike following murders of colleagues

10 August 2016

Pakistani lawyers staged a national strike on 9 August after many of their colleagues were killed in a suicide bombing at a hospital in the city of Quetta.

Information on the International Monitoring Committee of the International Association of People's Lawyers website says medical staff reported that 60 of those killed in the bombing were lawyers who had gathered to mourn the assassination the day before of the president of the Baluchistan Bar Association, Bilal Anwar Kasi.

Mr Kasi had been shot dead in the early morning as he was on his way to court. The International Bar Association (IBA) says he had recently condemned a number of targeted killings that had taken place in Quetta over the past few weeks, several of which had targeted lawyers specifically.

The lawyers were packed into an emergency room near Mr Kasi's body when the bomb exploded. Islamic State and another Islamic group have claimed responsibility for the murders, although IAPL says there are doubts over whether they were the instigators.

Supreme Court Bar President Ali Zafar has called for the Pakistani government to do more to protect lawyers.

"Lawyers are relatively more vocal against militancy and they are fighting cases against people accused of terrorism, so it would make sense that they are being targeted," IAPL quotes Ali Malik, a Lahore-based lawyer.

"An attack on lawyers makes a mockery of the law enforcement agencies, it undermines the promises of the state against terrorists and breeds fear among vulnerable citizens."

A statement from the IBA says it mourns for Mr Kasi and all those killed in the brutal and senseless attack, and stands with Pakistan's legal fraternity in opposing such atocious crimes.

"It must be deduced that the perpetrators of these tragic actions intended to intimidate the legal profession and destabilise the rule of law," says IBA President David Rivkin.

The International Court of Justice has called on the Pakistani government to conduct an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation into the attack and to bring those responsible to justice.

It has also urged the government to take urgent measures to guarantee the security of lawyers.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019