The Duck of Minerva

Some Good News from Pakistan

1 November 2010

Last week, Asma Jahangir was elected to head Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), the leading professional organization for the country’s lawyers. She is a very skilled broker and a committed human rights lawyer (she is United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief) and will add a much needed counter force to the increasingly politicized judiciary that is destabilizing the current political system.

We don’t often hear good news from Pakistan these days and it’s easy to forget that there are still some powerful and influential liberal forces in the country. Asma is the real deal and her election is good news. She has a tough (and dangerous) road ahead — the future and strength of Pakistan’s democratic institutions rest on the legitimacy and integrity of its institutional checks and balances and a professional and independent judiciary — but the lawyers movement that she now leads has shown that it can play a significant role in constraining political excesses. I wish her well….