Troubled over Pakistan’s suspension of its national constitution and rule of law, the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) is joining the American Bar Association (ABA) and its fellow state bars in condemning this action as well as the arrest of more than 1500 Pakistan lawyers and the detention of eight members of the Supreme Court. This is a profound breach of the rule of law, the cornerstone of a lawful society. U.S. lawyers are urging Pakistan President Musharraf to rescind these actions immediately.
President Musharraf is justifying his actions by citing the threat of terrorism. But shutting down a nation’s lawful institutions of justice will hurt, not help, the fight against terrorism. Courts are society’s referees. A judiciary that can impartially apply fair rules, without outside interference, is the foundation of lawful government.
The 23,500 MSBA members join the ABA’s 413,000 members worldwide in advancing the rule of law. When a nation’s Constitution is suspended and its Supreme Court is shut down, it is a harsh blow to the rule of law everywhere. A Constitution supports the rule of law, not the rule of any one person. The organized Bar supports the use of peaceful, legal means to persuade President Musharraf to restore justice to the people of Pakistan.