Independent Group: Kamran Murtaza becomes new PBC vice chairman

ISLAMABAD: Asma Jahangir’s Independent Group senior lawyer Kamran Murtaza on Friday won the 2018 election for the post of vice chairman of Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) by defeating Hamid Khan’s Professional Group lawyer Chaudhry Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan by four votes.

After polling votes through secret ballot, Murtaza secured 13 votes and Khan nine. The attorney general, who was acting as returning officer for the election of the vice chairman of PBC, declared Murtaza as the winner.

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Likewise, the PBC also elected Ghulam Shabbir Shar, a member from Sukkur, as chairman of its executive committee for the year 2018 in place of Hafeezur Rehman Chaudhry who resigned from the said office.

Legal experts welcomed the victory of the lawyer, who belongs to Balochistan. Since 2009, no lawyer from Balochistan has been elected as vice chairman. The vice chairman of PBC has always been considered as the head of the legal community. Likewise, PBC – being apex regularity body of lawyers – will have an important role in the ongoing year wherein general elections will be held.

When the 2014 dharna had started, there was an apprehension of an extra-constitutional step by democratic forces. Murtaza, being the Supreme Court Bar Association president, had approached the Supreme Court and obtained a restraining order against any possible extra-constitutional step. Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz have always supported Independent Group, while the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawyers back the Professional Group.

The newly elected vice chairman told The Express Tribune that he would work for civilian supremacy in the country, adding that he wanted all institutions to be strengthened.

He also informed that he would work for political stability in Balochistan.

Meanwhile, PBC has established another committee for the independence of the judiciary and the bar. Raheel Kamran Sheikh has been nominated as its chairman and other members of the committee are Kamran Murtaza, Akhtar Hussain and Sher Muhammad.

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Sheikh revealed that the committee will propose measures to introduce and improve: transparency in the process of appointment of judges; effectiveness in the process of accountabilities of judges and lawyers; the relationship between the bench and the bar; electoral reform in bar elections; and legal system and its role in society.

Likewise, the law ministry has issued a notification with the approval of the president of Pakistan to increase the number of Balochistan High Court judges from 11 to 15. In exercise of power under Article 192 of the Constitution, the president has increased the numbers of judges.

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