Experts and pundits from the lawyers’ community have predicted cut-throat competition between Ahmed Awais and Asma Jahangir for the presidential slot of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) polls being held today (Wednesday).
The bigwigs of the lawyers’ community, now being divided in pro-judiciary and pro-government groups, were witnessed struggling yesterday to secure the votes of the 2,130 registered SCBA voters for their respective groups using every trick in the book.
Awais represented the pro-judiciary forces while Asma represented the pro-government lawyers after the change in perspectives within the lawyers’ community in the wake of the tussle between the government and the judiciary.
A total of 55 candidates were fighting for the coveted 21 SCBA seats, which included the politicised slot of the SCBA president. Since both Awais and Asma remain optimistic of victory, it would be a close fight for them while the third presidential candidate, Muhammad Ikram Chaudhry, would steal the votes of the two main rivals, making the electoral battle all the more nail biting.
Hype was also high in political circles as the result of the polls would prove to be the success of some parties or the failure of others as well as those who supported and financed candidates in the campaigning period. The Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) were openly supporting Asma, while the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and other opposition parties were supporting Awais as the SCBA could play a key role in rallying support for political parties in case of a future confrontation between the judiciary and the government.
Legal experts predicted victory for Awais, saying he had been fielded by the Professional Group of Hamid Khan, which was respected in the entire community for its positive and consistent support for the rule of law and independence of the judiciary.
On the other hand, the bigwigs of the lawyers’ community including its leaders Ali Ahmed Kurd, Khawaja Sultan and Tariq Mehmood – now sitting in the government camp against the judiciary – were supporting Asma in the polls.
However, despite being a prominent human rights activist for four decades, the things that haunt Asma were allegations of her leftist orientation and the rumour that the PPP government chose her as its puppet. All three presidential candidates campaigned to the maximum for the elections by hosting dinners, tea parties and corner meetings, and visiting the chambers of vote-holding SCBA members.
The SCBA has 2,130 voter members: 107 from Balochistan, 179 from Peshawar, 62 from Bahawalpur, 311 from Islamabad, 1,029 from Lahore, 116 from Multan and 326 from Sindh. Unofficial results would be announced late into the night today while the official count would be notified on October 30.
Decisive: Lahore would play a decisive role in the SCBA polls as almost half of the SCBA voters live in the provincial metropolis.