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Lawyers’ body announces countrywide strike

LAHORE: The lawyers’ Joint Action Committee has announced a countrywide boycott of courts on Friday.

The committee, which includes representatives from the Pakistan Bar Council, Supreme Court Bar and Lahore High Court Bar, was formed on emergency basis to devise the next course of action, post the escalating rift with doctors in Lahore.

Separately, the Pakistan Bar Council, a body of elected lawyers, has also directed legal practitioners to observe a boycott.

Lawyers insist the strike is in response to the “partial and biased” conduct of the local police and the Punjab administration, as well as to protest the action taken by the Islamabad High Court against the secretary-general of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association.

On Thursday, the chief justice of the Islamabad High Court issued a show cause notice to Umair Baloch, the secretary of the IHC Bar Association, for forcing lawyers to quit the court.

Till now, more than 80 lawyers have been arrested in connection to the storming of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) in Lahore and for damaging public property.

When 46 cuffed lawyers were presented in an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Thursday, Judge Abdul Qayyum Khan refused to grant the police physical remand and sent them to jail on judicial remand instead.

Meanwhile, a petition filed by the lawyers against their arrest will be heard in the Lahore High Court today.

The Punjab police have registered a first information report (FIR) against 200-250 unidentified lawyers on the complaint of an official of the PIC hospital. The cases have been registered under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, including 322 (qatl-bis-sabab), 452 (trespassing), 353 (assault to deter public servant from performing duty), 354 (assault on woman to outrage her modesty), 148 (rioting with deadly weapon), 395 (dacoity) as well as Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

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