Statement by ABA President William H. Neukom on Dec. 13 Visit to Pakistani Embassy
WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 2, 2008 — On Dec. 13, a delegation of American Bar Association leaders presented the signatures of nearly 13,000 concerned American lawyers to the ambassador of Pakistan, stating our shared belief that constitutional law must be restored to that nation.
House of Delegates Chair Laurel Bellows, ABA President-elect H. Thomas Wells Jr., and I had a constructive dialogue with Ambassador Mahmud Ali Durrani.
In a conversation lasting nearly an hour, Ambassador Durrani agreed that the rule of law, including an independent judiciary, is crucial to his nation’s future. In turn, we offered to help Pakistan develop a judiciary and bar free from political interest, as the ABA has done in other nations.
But as we made clear during the conversation, the core concerns of the ABA petition have not been addressed. As we told Ambassador Durrani, the ABA remains committed to three outcomes:
1) Restoration of the Pakistani constitution (as it existed before the Nov. 3 emergency decree);
2) Reinstatement of the Supreme Court justices and high court judges who were removed from office;
3) Release of all protesters wrongly arrested during the state of emergency.
While America’s lawyers and judges are inspired by the bravery of their counterparts in Pakistan, we seek to serve the interests of the people of Pakistan, not just one professional group.
Since our meeting with Ambassador Durrani, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto has shaken Pakistan, and made the future of that nation even more uncertain.
The ABA continues to believe that the rule of law offers the best future for Pakistan, and is the path to lasting security. America’s lawyers are committed to advancing the rule of law in Pakistan and other nations.
I am proud of, and grateful to, all American lawyers for your response.
Working together, we delivered our message with force. The ABA will continue to do so, until the rule of constitutional law is fully reestablished in Pakistan.