Pakistani lawyers protest, claim 19 missing after violence


Karachi : Hundreds of lawyers in Pakistan’s port city boycotted courts and held protest rallies Friday over Wednesday’s clashes that left over a dozen dead, including seven attorneys who were burnt to death.

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The rallies and protests were part of a countrywide boycott called by the Pakistan Bar Association, which declared a three-day mourning over the tragic Karachi events Wednesday.

Secretary general of Karachi Bar Association (KBA) Naeem Qureshi said 19 lawyers were still missing. He appealed to the police to immediately investigate, apprehend culprits and recover the missing lawyers.

Qureshi says overall 50 law firms were gutted during the violence. Hundreds of lawyers, wearing black suits, participated in the rallies outside downtown city court and outside provincial Sindh High Court buildings amid heavy police and paramilitary presence.

“Our protest is not political in nature but for freedom and independence of the judiciary and against brutal killing of our innocent members,” Mehmoodul Hassan, the KBA president, told media outside the city court.

Six charred bodies, including that of a woman, were recovered Wednesday from a downtown Karachi building near the main city courts. According to Qureshi, miscreants attacked Tahir Plaza which predominantly houses offices of law firms and locked the fifth floor before setting it on fire.

Meanwhile, another lawyer succumbed to burn injuries Thursday, pushing the death toll to over a dozen and increasing the total to seven who were burnt alive in the building.

Bar associations in various parts of the country reportedly accused Karachi’s ethnic Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) of violence, though the Karachi bar officials avoided any direct attack on MQM members in Friday’s rallies.

The MQM has been a staunch supporter of military dictator turned civilian President Pervez Musharraf.