Hold Elections Within 60 Days : BAI To Musharraf

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New Delhi, Nov 16 (UNI) Indian lawyers have condemned the arrest and detention of Pakistani lawyers and Judges and ''strongly'' urged President Pervez Musharraf to immediately release all political detainees and respect the rule of law and hold elections within sixty days.

The call by the Bar Association of India came in a resolution adopted at a special meeting held last evening to discuss the situation in Pakistan where an emergency was imposed twelve days ago.

The meeting expressed solidarity with the lawyers of Pakistan, deplored the suspension of its Constitution and ''in particular'' condemned the arrest and detention of lawyers and Judges.

Participants said the assault on and treatment of Pakistan's Judges and lawyers by the establishment ''bodes ill for the revival of the prospect of the democracy and rule of law.'' They said the ''friendly and peaceful people of Pakistan richly deserve a re-establishment of all democratic institutions and revival of democratic norms.'' The unanimous resolution ''strongly urges the President of Pakistan and those in charge of the destinies of the people of Pakistan'' to: -- Immediately cancel the suspension of the Constitution and restore the authority of the Superior Courts as constituted prior to November 3, 2007; -- Respect judicial processes and restore judicial independence by reinstating the Judges of the Supreme Court and of other Superior Courts who had been summarily dismissed, and to stop the torture and illegal treatment of those under preventive detention; -- Respect the rule of law and human rights and immediately release all political detainees, and to restore to Judges and lawyers under house arrest their personal liberty; -- Allow free, fair and transparent elections to be held as scheduled within sixty days of November 15 when Parliament completes its five year term or within ninety days from the date when Parliament is dissolved - with full participation of all political parties and leaders including those in exile.

The meeting was addressed among others by BAI President Fali S Nariman, a former MP, Senior Advocate P P Rao, former Solicitors General Tehmtan Andhiarujina and Dipankar Gupta, International Jurists Commission Member Rajeev Dhavan and former International Bar Association president RKP Shankardass.

Rao told participants how human rights and freedoms were in peril in much of the neighbourhood, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, Myanmar and China.

He said the situation was ''relatively better'' in India but here too these were threatened with such forces as terrorism gaining ground.

Nariman recalled how Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who once thought Indians chaotic and noisy, came to appreciate the value of chaos and noise democracy allowed, before he was executed by General Mohammed Zia Ul Haq in 1979.


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