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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 3:35 p.m., Friday, November 9, 2007

Hawaii Bar condemns Pakistan constitution suspension

Advertiser Staff

The Hawaii State Bar Association today issued a news release condemning the ongoing suspension of Pakistan's constitution.

"Recent events in Pakistan attacking the rule of law through the suspension of that nation's constitution, the detention of several members of the Pakistan Supreme Court, and the physical attacks and arrest of more than 1,500 Pakistan lawyers, represent an unwarranted and historic attack on the rule of law," HSBA President Jeff Portnoy said in a news release.

The HBSA joins the American Bar Association and state and local bar associations throughout the United States in condemning these actions, Portnoy said.

Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf last weekend suspended the constitution. He cited gains by extremists in the frontier region as one of the main reasons for his emergency decree, saying political unrest was undermining the fight against militants.

The suspension has intensified the anger of moderate and secular Pakistanis who have become increasingly frustrated with military rule. At the same time, Islamic militants with ties to the Taliban and al-Qaida are stepping up violence, including suicide bombings and fighting in the northwest along the border with Afghanistan, according to Associated Press reports.

"The existence of an unfettered independent judiciary is essential to the administration of justice and to the existence of any lawfully elected government, Portnoy said. "An impartial and independent judiciary is the cornerstone of any democracy, and efforts to manipulate the judicial system, in the name of terrorism, cannot be accepted by a free society.

The HSBA calls upon all of its members, and all of the citizens of the state of Hawai'i, to condemn these unlawful actions and to support the efforts of Pakistani lawyers and judges who are placing their own personal safety at risk by leading the resistance to this interference in the administration of justice, Portnoy said