As a law student, I aspire to balance a fulfilling career with legal advocacy, taking on causes pro bono for those who lack the means to seek justice. That is why I seek inspiration from the thousands of lawyers and jurists around the world who dedicate themselves to giving a legal voice to the voiceless — often at great risk and sacrifice.
Fortunately, I have no shortage of examples to follow, most recently and dramatically in the form of Saif-ul-Mulook, a Pakistani lawyer who saved his client from certain death, and who now faces death threats as a result. As the South China Morning Post reported:
After saving condemned Christian Asia Bibi from the gallows in Pakistan, her lawyer says he is facing the wrath of Islamist extremists – and wonders who will save him. But despite the threats against him, Saif-ul-Mulook says he regrets nothing, and will continue his legal fight against intolerance.
Mulook’s latest victory saw the freeing of Asia Bibi – a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, who spent nearly a decade on death row – after the Supreme Court overturned her conviction on Wednesday.
The defence of Bibi was just the latest in a long line of controversial cases taken up by the barrister.
In 2011, Mulook was the lead prosecutor against Mumtaz Qadri over the assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer – a prominent critic of the country’s blasphemy laws and supporter of Bibi.
Qadri – one of Taseer’s bodyguards – gunned down his boss in broad daylight, citing the governor’s calls for reform of the blasphemy laws as his motive.
Mulook said he took on the case as others cowered, fearing reprisals from extremists. His prosecution resulted in the conviction and subsequent execution of Qadri, who was feted by Islamists and later honoured with a shrine on the outskirts of Islamabad.
If this man can brave violent extremism to save the lives of those condemned by both public opinion and an unjust legal system, I am pretty sure I can stay true to my goal.