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Pak minister bribes lawyers

world Updated: Jun 30, 2010 00:34 IST
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Every day he boards a chartered plane and visits cities and towns across the country. In every visit, he ends up paying millions to the people he meets.

This is Pakistan's law minister, Dr Babar Awan. His assignment: to sow seeds of discord amongst Pakistan's lawyer community so that bar associations all over the country do not support the chief justice when the confrontation starts between the executive and the judiciary.

Babar Awan says that he is distributing money because "he feels for the welfare of the lawyers."

But he cannot explain why funds have been increased manifold for this cause in this year's budget. All he says is that government "always funded lawyer organisations."

Several million rupees are being spent by the government of President Asif Zardari to buy the loyalties of the lawyer community or at least create dissent in their ranks.

"This is being done so that the legal community, which is strongly behind the chief justice, gives up its support," said Tariq Mehmood, a sitting judge said.

Abid Sher Ali of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N party (PML-N) says that the President is playing "dirty politics."

He says that the practice of making payments to bar associations across the country "is illegal and unethical."

Ali says that the President will end up "creating a judicial crisis" if he persists with the practice of buying off lawyers.