Pakistan’s Embattled Lawyers: A Long Quest for Justice

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On September 2, a suicide bomber struck a court in Pakistan’s northern city of Mardan, killing twelve. On August 8, a suicide bomber dressed in a lawyer’s uniform attacked a hospital in Quetta, Balochistan, killing 74, mostly lawyers who had gathered at the hospital to protest the targeted-killing of a colleague earlier that day. Both attacks were claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a Taliban faction.

Pakistani lawyers are being targeted because they are vocal, peaceful, and effective civil rights activists in a region where such voices are either absent or silenced. They have a deep-rooted tradition of battling at the frontlines of the fight for freedom and justice, and represent a rare institution that bridges the state and civil society. Pakistan’s judiciary desperately needs better protection, and the United States can leverage its aid and diplomacy to ensure that happens.

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