Syed Ali Zafar from the Asma Jahangir-led Independent Group was elected president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) for 2015-16 on Thursday.
More than 2,600 lawyers of the top court were expected to cast their ballots for 18 candidates vying for the eight elected seats of the bar association.
Zafar secured 1,182 votes to defeat Pir Kaleem Khurshid from the Hamid Khan-led Professional Group, who received 904 votes. As news of Zafar’s win spread, his supporters started celebrating and showered him with rose petals.
In his victory speech, Zafar said he would live up to the expectations of the legal fraternity. “Independence of the judiciary would be my primary goal.”
He said the lawyers’ movement was started in order to protect the legal system and for the independence of the judiciary. The bar would not allow anyone to pose a threat to the judiciary’s independence, he added.
A new entrant in bar politics, Zafar was backed by lawyers’ wings of the Pakistan Peoples Party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl and the Awami National Party.
His rival Khurshid, on the other hand, has had a long career in bar politics. He has served as president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association and been a member of the Punjab Bar Council. He is also a member of the Pakistan Bar Council.
Besides some smaller groups, the lawyers’ wings of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam backed him.
Meanwhile, Asad Manzoor Butt from the Professional Group secured 1,038 votes to become the SCBA secretary, narrowly defeating Aftab Ahmad Bajwa from the Independent Group by 30 votes.
Tabinda Islam from the Professional Group received 1,019 votes to become the bar association’s vice-president for Punjab, narrowly defeating Bakhtiar Ali Sial by 10 votes.
Ziaul Haq Makhdoom, Syed Sardar Hussain and Abdullah Kakar were elected vice-presidents for the SCBA’s Sindh, K-P and Balochistan chapters, respectively.
In Karachi, lawyers of the apex court cast their votes at the Sindh High Court. Makhdoom from the Professional Group battled it out with Syed Jamil Ahmed from the Independent Group for the SCBA Sindh vice-president slot.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2015.