Ghulam Nabi Abbasi is a vibrant and hardworking Karachi based lawyer who began his practice at Arshad h. Lodhi & Co., a small firm where he learned about the implementation of procedural laws in the criminal and civil courts of Pakistan.
Helping clients – whether rich or poor
In the span of that six months under-trainee period, while travelling on foot, he interacted with a diversity of people from throughout society. In particular, those suffering from disadvantages, who had commenced employment contacts and sharing their issues with him.
In addition to these hardship cases, he dealt with matters mostly related to inheritance, family, and succession matters. In addition to, he drew upon his experience to successfully secure relief from the courts — earning the trust of his clients.
Worked as an Assistant Legal Adviser to Federal Ombudsman for Protection Against Harassment
Ghulam spent six months on work with federal Ombudswoman Kashmala Tariq (former Information Minister) – where he helped prepare summaries of arguments and decisions in the matters of harassment in workplaces. Ghulam explained that, on days where hearings were held, he used to sit next to the federal ombudswoman and noted the arguments of the aggrieved and judgement of the ombudswoman. One of the famous cases where he assisted (Ayesha Subhani Vs Syed Junaid Arshad) involved a very serious breach of privacy because of cybercrime.
Early months in practice often difficult and unpredictable
“Challenges are often unpredictable for young lawyers in Pakistan”, Ghulam explains “They spend the duration of their first six-months of enrollment in Bar seeking to join reputed law firms but often face rejection”, he told us.
The Herculean phase of life: Much work – low pay
Furthers, where reputed senior employees employ younger lawyers in their chambers, young lawyers are assigned the work of researching judgements, of sending for briefs in the High Courts, or for marking the attendance on the day of hearings related to any matter pending in the lower courts (District & Sessions Court). All these assigned tasks are carried out by young lawyers without being paid handsomely — this Ghulam refers to as: “The herculean phase of life.”
Championing virtual courts
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Ghulam and other senior lawyers encouraged the administration of the District Courts and the High Courts of Pakistan to adopt virtual court hearings, like those in New York, Texas, the UK, and India.
“Virtual court hearings could save people from contracting Covid, as well as time and money”, he told us. Regrettably no virtual alternate was deemed possible to carry whether via Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams — and our suggestion proved futile”
On streamlining Pakistan’s court system
Ghulam told as that Pakistani Courts possess the adversarial mechanisms of justice, where investigation officers collect evidence during an investigation especially in criminal trials. Afterwards, both parties are arraigned in the courts and then cross-examined.
In civil matters, information is garnered by both plaintiff and defendant during pre-trial pleadings and discovery, however statements of witnesses are not collected.
Beyond the adversarial system, Pakistan’s Justice System should be advanced with the inquisitorial system of justice, where judges should themselves investigate the allegations, they should sit with parties and frames decisions. This can lessen the workload of staff and the reduce the number of cases in the courts of Pakistan are currently required to review — freeing judges to decide each matter impartially of previous court judgements.