Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

Madam Speaker, on November 3, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf suspended the national constitution, fired appellate judges, detained 8 members of the Supreme Court, and arrested hundreds of lawyers. In the weeks that followed, nearly 3,000 lawyers were arrested. Musharraf's explanation was that martial law was necessary because of terrorism threats. This is a poor excuse.

Musharraf fired or arrested members of the legal community for protesting Musharraf's abuse of power and for defending the rule of law. These men and women are courageous. They've faced beatings, threats, tear gas, and arrests for promoting democracy.

A nation cannot succeed without impartial application of law. A nation cannot succeed when a President suspends a cornerstone of government for his own political convenience.

Although Musharraf eventually released many, he also cracked down on the Pakistani press. On November 20, approximately 100 journalists were arrested at a protest.

A nation without courts promotes tyranny. A nation without a free press promotes uninformed citizens and unaccountable politicians. The rule of law and democracy are indebted to lawyers and judges, who ensure that rights are protected and laws are obeyed.

And that's just the way it is.