The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday granted bail to an Ahmadi lawyer who had been arrested in Karachi for using “Syed” in his name and ordered an inquiry against the police officer who registered two First Information Reports (FIRs) against the lawyer belonging to the minority sect.
The Karachi City Court Police Station registered a second FIR against 76-year-old Advocate Ali Ahmed Tariq on April 27, under the anti-Ahmadi sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) on the complaint of a Muslim lawyer.
During Monday’s hearing, the court granted bail to Advocate Tariq and directed the Sindh Inspector General of Police to assess the service record of the Station House Officer (SHO) at the City Court Police Station. The purpose of this review is to determine whether the SHO is carrying out his responsibilities impartially, professionally, and sensitively in maintaining religious peace and harmony in the area.
Furthermore, the court instructed the police authorities not to register any additional FIRs on the same charges against the Ahmadi lawyer.
On May 16, the court was forced to postpone the bail hearing of Advocate Tariq to May 22, after the counsels representing the Ahmadi man were intimidated by other lawyers in the courtroom. According to reports, one of the two lawyers representing the Ahmadi man got injured when a Muslim lawyer attacked him.
The judge criticised the aggressive behaviour of Muslim lawyers and ordered stern action against those responsible from the Sindh Bar Council, SHC Bar Association, Karachi Bar Association, and Malir Bar Association. The order expressed shame that such individuals were allowed to use the title “advocate” next to their names, calling their conduct a disgrace to the legal profession, the report stated quoting the court’s order.
While the court exercised restraint to protect lawyers, court staff, and property, it emphasised that the belligerence exhibited by some advocates would not hinder the case’s fair adjudication on its merits. The written order cited a lawyer named Akbar Jatoi’s physical abuse toward the applicant’s counsel and noted that CCTV footage would reveal the unacceptable behaviour of the advocates.
The judge also requested the SHC chief justice to ensure appropriate security measures for every hearing of this case to safeguard the respect and dignity of the courts against unscrupulous individuals masquerading as advocates.
The order concluded by stating that only two parties and their counsels would be allowed in the courtroom, along with members of the press to facilitate a transparent hearing.
In an earlier incident, an Ahmadi lawyer who defended community members accused of blasphemy was attacked in his chamber in Chiniot district by an individual associated with Madrasa Khatam-e-Nabuwwat. The assailant, known for his hostility towards the Ahmadi community, had previously targeted another Ahmadi individual.
According to the FIR, the attacker, identified as Zubair Anwar, used a cleaver to assault lawyer Amir Munir in his chamber. Prior to the attack, Zubair made references to the cases involving Ahmadi community members that the lawyer was defending.
Ahmadis number about 4 million in Pakistan, but the community has been forbidden to call itself Muslim since 1974 by the Pakistani Constitution which considers them “infidels”.
Resultantly, Ahmadis are not even allowed to call their houses of prayer “mosques,” while basic religious practices associated with Islam are forbidden for them.