Founder’s Note: The need to court the law
If you are reading this, you are one of the reasons why our Courting The Law (CTL) initiative is continuing, gaining strength and trying to make a difference in the law and justice sector in Pakistan. We are grateful, humbled and encouraged by your support.
However, this is just the beginning of our collective journey for a Pakistan where justice is not an aspiration but a norm. For there can be no progress or peace without law and order in the country and no number of economic corridors, flyovers or ports can ensure the development we desire until the sanction of the law is equal (and certain) for every Mahmood and Ayyaz.
These are not aspirational statements or political slogans. During the last two years, through CTL’s online and offline projects, we have seen that people across the country yearn for a just society, that most lawyers want to improve their skills and judges wish to be able to do their best as well.
We have also realized that most lawyers detest the frequent calls for strikes as much as the litigants and that they want the prestige of the profession to be restored as much as you and I. Despite the general impression that lawyers (or people in general) are not pleased with others’ success, we have grown because of the support and words of encouragement we continue to receive from lawyers from almost all districts of Pakistan.
CTL’s thousands of voluntary article contributors, district bar council focal persons, volunteers, past and present interns, National Law Scholars and student ambassadors come from across the political and religious divide. We may not and perhaps cannot agree with each other on everything but we are indeed learning to agree to disagree with each other and co-exist.
The judiciary is also changing its ways, engaging with the profession differently and beginning to leverage technology for making access to justice more efficient. We respect the judiciary and must praise it when it takes tough decisions but it does not mean that a judge can do no wrong. Therefore, CTL will publish criticism and analysis when, backed by sound reasoning and/or evidence, our editorial team believes that justice is not being served.
We also feel we are all too often critical of the role (or lack thereof) of lawyers without appreciating the good work many of them are doing as well. We do recognize that the legal profession needs to be purged, culprits need to be identified, professional development needs to be a priority and the best of our students need to be encouraged to join this profession. Nevertheless, we must not forget that after members of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies, it is probably the legal profession that has lost the most members to acts of terrorism, extremism and target killings in recent years.
The CTL initiative remains completely self-funded to date and has a growing full-time team of brilliant young lawyers and management personnel managing different aspects of the initiative. Moving forward, instead of seeking grants, CTL is coming up with its own projects, such as Vakeel.pk, Qanoon.pk and Mohtasib.pk, which will help CTL to be financially sustainable, remain independent and give a long-term career path to its team and also lead a positive disruption of the legal services industry in Pakistan. Each one of you can provide suggestions and recommendations in this respect.
There is a lot more that needs to be done. Change doesn’t happen overnight and as someone once said “overnight success takes a decade”. We need to continue to court the law in all its forms and manifestations. We need better skilled lawyers, better-trained prosecutors and more independent judges. We need to improve the legal education system, enhance use of technology to increase access to justice and reduce the (time and monetary) cost of litigation by encouraging alternative dispute resolution.
Together we can make it happen. Together we can make Pakistan a just and fair society. Together we can change Pakistan.
Note: CTL is a team effort and is managed by a core full-time team, many part-time Editors and dozens of volunteers and supporter. Its activities are supervised by an independent advisory board.