The slaying of Bilal Anwar Kasi, President of the Balochistan Bar Association, and the targeted mass murder of lawyers gathered at Sandeman Civil Hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, on Monday 8 August to mourn their colleague’s death, are condemned outright by the International Bar Association (IBA).
IBA President, David W Rivkin stated: ‘The International Bar Association mourns for Mr Kasi and all those killed in the brutal and senseless attack at the hospital in Quetta, and stands with Pakistan’s legal fraternity in opposing such atrocious crimes.’ He added: ‘It must be deduced that the perpetrators of these tragic actions intended to intimidate the legal profession and destabilise the rule of law. The ensuing and understandable rage, pain, and confusion can have a debilitating and demoralising effect on those attempting to protect the most vulnerable in Pakistan. At this time, we call on Pakistan’s authorities to do all in their legal power to safeguard the independence of the legal profession and to ensure effective and adequate access to legal services for Pakistan’s citizens. And we want the lawyers of Pakistan to know that the lawyers of the world stand with them.'
Mr Kasi, shot dead in the early morning of Monday 8th August as he was on his way to court, had recently condemned a number of targeted killings that had taken place in Quetta over the past few weeks, several of which had targeted lawyers specifically.
The IBA’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) Co-Chair Baroness Helena Kennedy QC commented: ‘Our thoughts are with the grieving, the injured and the traumatised. In the wake of this tragic event, we call on the Government of Pakistan to ensure it does everything in its power to protect those who are simply carrying out their professional duties. The legal profession plays a pivotal role in protecting and upholding human rights and democracy in a country. There is much at stake.’
Presently, the death toll is at least 74, following the suicide bomb blast as mourners and protestors gathered to commemorate the life of Mr Kasi.