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Two women lawyers vying for key LHCBA slots

By Wajih Ahmad Sheikh 2023-02-20
LAHORE: The campaign for the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) election 2023-24 has entered its final round with two progressive women lawyers vying for as many key positions.

The candidature of Rabbiya Bajwa and Sabahat Rizvi for the vice president and secretary slots, respectively, has also been welcomed by a majority of the male-dominated legal fraternity this year. Both are known for their progressive posture and struggle for human rights.

Ms Bajwa, a senior member of the Hamid Khan-led Professional Group, was previously elected the bar`s finance secretary in 2006. The candidature of women lawyers is typically considered acceptable for the ofHce of finance secretary.

She has been on the forefront in the lawyers` movement forthe `restoration of the judiciary` deposed by late president Gen Pervez Musharraf. She was also polling agent of retired justice Wajihuddin Ahmad, who had contested the presidential election against Musharraf as a candidate of the legal fraternity.

She was the first woman candidate for the bar secretary`s office in 2009,butlostthe contest.

If Ms Bajwa wins this year, she would be the third woman vice president of the LHCBA.

The bar had elected Rabia Sultan Qari as its first woman vice president in 1959. Ms Qari shot to fame for her struggle against the military rule of Gen Ayub Khan.

Firdaus Butt was the second, after a gap of nearly half a century, in 2007.

Ms Bajwa vows to continue the legacy of Rabia Qari, if elected to the office.

Ms Rizvi says she faced a little challenge to establish her candi-dature for the secretary`s slot during the initial months of her campaign. She believes that a lawyer should not be judged by his/her gender in the bar politics.

She hopes to make history by becoming the first ever woman secretary of the LHCBA.

Ms Rizvi is a senior partner in the law firm of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) member Abid Saqi.

Saqi sees the candidature of the women lawyers as a positive step towards gender balancing in the bar politics. He says a tangible majority of women exists in the legal profession.

The Progressive Democratic Lawyers Forum has announced its support for the both women candidates, who also enjoy unanimous backing by various factions of the women lawyers, including the `Women In Law`.

A one-on-one contest is going to be held for the bar president slot between Chaudhry Ishtiaq A Khan of the ProfessionalGroup and Lehrasib Khan Gondal of the Independent Group, famously known as Asma Jahangir group.

Khan is a sitting member of the PBC and a former president of the Lahore Bar Association.

Gondal is a former vice chairman of the Punjab Bar Council.

Other candidates vying for the ofHce of the vice president are Iftikhar Ali Bhatti, Chaudhry Ahmad Khan Gondal, Abdul Rauf Bhatti, Mian Sardar Ali Gehlan and Waris Ali Saroya.

Qadir Bakhsh Chahal and Mian Muhammad Irfan are also vying for the office secretary.

Irfan is last year`s runner-up and trying his luck again for the same office.

Shahrukh Shahbaz Warraich, Amir Sohail Bosal and Adil Naeem Sheikh are contesting for the postofHnance secretary.

As many as 26,043 voters would exercise their right to vote in the polling to be conducted on Feb 25.