Exclusive Interview – Nafeer A. Malik

Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan Principal Quaid-i-Azam Law College Head of the Legal Education Committee of Punjab Bar Council

Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): What features of Quaid-i-Azam Law College Lahore make it a preferred choice of the law students?

Nafeer A. Malik (NAM): First of all, I am grateful for the consideration. As regards your question on distinguishing features of Quaid-i-Azam Law College (QLC), I must say that one thing which makes QLC first choice of the students is a unique blend of theory and practical knowledge. Actually, I believe that one who doesn’t know how to drive, cannot, in any case, teach driving. In whole Pakistan, I am the only principal of a law college who is simultaneously practicing as an advocate of the Supreme Court. Moreover, all our faculty members are practicing lawyers and serving judges.
At QLC, we do our utmost to fully equip our students with the practical knowledge as well.
At the prestigious law colleges across the globe, Clinical Legal Studies, Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR), and Cyber Laws are some important subjects. We have also introduced these at QLC though these are not part of the LLB syllabus devised by University of the Punjab. We also have a courtroom for simulation exercises.

JWT:  What is legal clinic and is it offered at the QLC? 

NAM: Actually, a legal clinic is sophisticated form of mock trials, and it has its own curriculum. Almost two decades back, this was called a mock trial. This was like a practical exercise that was conducted to enlighten the knowledge and boost the confidence of law students. However, now the term ‘Legal Clinic’ is in vogue. We also do have a legal clinic and it is again a unique feature of QLC.

JWT: It has been seen that in Pakistan people choose to become a lawyer when all other career options exhaust. Isn’t it a gross injustice to the law profession?

NAM: I think advocacy is for a brilliant man. We shouldn’t forget that the US President, Mr Obama, is a lawyer; our great leaders Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal also were practicing lawyers. Former PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was also an advocate by profession.
I do admit that it is the case in our country. But, on the same time, do not forget that these people ultimately end up in setting up a stall in Katchehris.
But, aren’t our old ways of thinking are responsible for this? Even today we like our children to become doctors and engineers, not lawyers. However, the state of affairs has changed a lot now. I, being the head of the Punjab Bar Council’s Legal Education Committee, sent recommendations to the National Assembly and Senate. In fact, there is a dire need to introduce law as a subject at intermediate level, and only those students should be allowed to get enrolled for LLB who have studied it in their intermediate studies. Only then we would have good stuff for this profession.

JWT: Why some system of refresher courses is not available for lawyers and judges in Pakistan?

NAM: It is a sad fact that, in Pakistan, we do not have a system of refresher courses for lawyers or judges that may help them excel in their performance. However, if our neighbouring country, India, can introduce refresher courses for the High Court judges then why can’t we do so? I must say that we should also conduct refresher courses and it should be necessary for all the lawyers as well as judges to take these.

JWT: A lot of foreign-qualified lawyers in Pakistan fail just because they couldn’t get synchronized with the local legal traditions. What would you say about them?

NAM: There is no denying the fact that foreign-educated lawyers do have a great exposure but it is of no use if a lawyer cannot satisfy his clients. Actually our profession is based on logic, reasoning and speaking skills. For instance, you know an MBBS only is not allowed to perform a heart surgery but in our profession, a simple LLB can go even for a murder case, if his client is satisfied. So, the only thing that matters is the satisfaction of clients. There were many lawyers having foreign qualification in my own law firm, but they couldn’t satisfy the clients simply because they were not in sync with the local traditions practices. The only solution to this is ‘Refresher Courses ‘as I mentioned earlier.

JWT: As you know International Law is emerging as a subject having great scope. What QLC is doing in promoting the study of International Law?

NAM: True, international law has a tremendous scope and it is well beyond any doubt. But, I admit that, at present, we are teaching international law just as a 100-mark subject. Though our teachers are highly qualified, yet there is still a lot to do in this realm. I staunchly believe in the fact that if we teach international law and give exposure to our young generation, we would be able to produce lawyers of international repute.

JWT: Presently, in Punjab, judicial officers are being recruited through Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC). How do you see this?

NAM: I personally think that judicial recruitments should not be made through PPSC instead it should be the prerogative of High Courts and the Supreme Court. I am glad you asked this question because this will stir a debate in academic circles and will attract attention of the concerned authorities.

JWT: Given Pakistan’s present problems and changing world around, do you think we need a new constitution?

NAM: No doubt, there is always a room for improvement but I must, at the same time, say that constitution is not wrong. It’s we who are wrong. Actually, first we have to analyse that “Are we implementing the constitution in a right way?” Laws, constitutional amendments cannot deliver until they are implemented in true letter and spirit.

JWT: What is Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

NAM:  You must have noticed that in civil lawsuits, a grandfather files a case but the grandson could get the decision. Americans found solution to this in form of Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR). It is a method to settle the disputes out of the court. It is actually a modified and organized form of our ‘Panchayet’ system. A few years ago, we had a decision that a judge may refer a certain civil suit to the arbitrator. Nonetheless, I think the word ‘may’ should be replaced with the word ‘shall’ through legislation. I think things are not too difficult to handle if we try to sort them.

JWT: Is law a neglected domain in Pakistan?

NAM: Yes, it is neglected in a sense that there is no governmental support for higher law studies like PhD. Moreover, it is a neglected domain given the fact that our syllabus is hundred years old; it has not been introduced at intermediate level; those who write law books do not have any financial assistance, etc. Here, I would like to add that offering a PhD in Law programme is not a big deal, but it is when it comes to run the programme. It is a pitiful but stark reality that in Pakistan law is a neglected domain.

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