Empowerment without Accountability? The Lawyers’ Movement in Pakistan and its Aftershocks

Volume 50 Number 3
Published: September 30, 2019
This case study on the Pakistan Lawyers’ Movement and its aftermath aims to add to our knowledge of judicial empowerment processes, particularly the role of lawyers in mobilising for an independent judiciary, and the conditions for political lawyering as an effective pathway to judicial empowerment. In exploring these processes and conditions of empowerment, the study also examines their relationship with the longer-term outcomes of empowerment as well as the nexus between judicial empowerment and accountability of legal institutions. The study marshals evidence from multiple sources – including 35 qualitative interviews with movement leaders and participants, and a representative survey of active litigators in the Lahore District judiciary – to show, firstly, that the conditions that create successful mobilisation for judicial empowerment can significantly limit the systemic benefits of such mobilisation and, secondly, that the conditions for and the pathway to empowerment may deeply constrain the accountability of the empowered actors and institutions.


  • Accountability
  • Conflict
  • Violence
From Issue: Vol. 50 No. 3 (2019) | Accountability Amidst Fragility, Conflict, and Violence: Learning from Recent Cases