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SCBA defends events at Asma Jahangir Conference after controversy

Rejects allegations made by 'others of furthering any agenda'. (Source: Online)

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Tuesday ‘strongly’ defended the events that took place at 3rd Annual Asma Jahangir Conference co-hosted with the Pakistan Bar Council and AGHS Legal Aid Cell on November 20 in Lahore.

Following the event on November 21, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry refused to attend the conference in protest against PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s address, saying that allowing an absconder to speak along with Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and other judges is akin to contempt of judges and judiciary.

A statement issued by the association today rejected the allegations ‘made by others’ of furthering any agenda, other than that of a progressive and democratic Pakistan.

“The conference provided a platform for a wide cross-section of Pakistani society to engage in a dialogue in the spirit of upholding the rule of law, fundamental rights and democratic values,” the statement read.

It further stressed that the SCBA was indebted in particular to the superior judiciary, the honourable chief justice of the Supreme Court, honourable chief justices of Lahore and Islamabad High Courts and other honourable judges who graced the occasion and enriched our conference with their presence and insights.

“The SCBA believes that adherence to the law is a cornerstone of any democracy. The speakers for the conference were invited to give their views and kick-start important, and sometimes uncomfortable conversations,” the communiqué added.

Furthermore, the statement said that the SCBA and Asma Jahangir conference did not endorse any speaker’s point of view, but provided a platform to diverse voices across Pakistan on critical issues. “No one was invited or given an opportunity to speak at the conference in violation of any law,” the SCBA stated.

Freedom of expression is crucial for democratic progress, and this requires giving space to and listening to critical voices and voices that we disagree with, the statement said.

The statement concluded by stating that the rule of law, due process and constitutionalism present the only path forward for our country and SCBA wants to play a constructive role in this journey while maintaining neutrality in partisan politics.

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