Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi
Pakistan is a party to hundreds of bilateral and multilateral treaties. If one accounts for the numerous resolutions of inter-governmental organizations, Pakistan’s international obligations and commitments under treaties are exponentially greater in effect. Pakistan has over 10,000 treaty-based commitments. It has around 8,000 Federal Statutes with over 150,000 legal practitioners dealing with them. On the other hand, there are only a handful of lawyers in Pakistan dealing with the load of over 10,000 treaty-based commitments of the state.
Considering that for the last 60 years, all the major disputes of Pakistan have been primarily legal in nature, this is indeed a dismal state of affairs. Disputes over Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and the Durand Line are all subject to a number of bilateral and international treaties. Pakistan’s state and citizenry have frequently adopted rhetorical positions on these issues but have hardly ever evaluated or effectively articulated them from a legalistic standpoint. It is however supremely important in today’s international system for Pakistan to strategically utilize the tools of international law to its advantage by adopting the paradigm of ‘lawfare’ as ‘warfare.’
It was this context that convinced me during my studies in international law at Cambridge University that Pakistan urgently needed a think tank dedicated to international law where all relevant issues of international law impacting Pakistan were holistically considered and extensively researched. I, therefore, established RSIL upon my return to Pakistan.
I however had slender idea that in the years to come, particularly after 9/11, RSIL’s work would acquire even greater significance for a country under constant international scrutiny. In this context, RSIL actively assisted and guided several stakeholders in the formulation of laws and policies to enable Pakistan to fulfill its international legal obligations.
Under intense political pressure, the Parliament in Pakistan faces yet another challenge of implementing international obligations by enacting domestic “implementing” legislation. Pakistan needs the capacity to develop specialization in drafting implementing legislation
To this end, RSIL advocates creating a system of support for the Parliamentarians who can utilize it by engaging a specialized group of RSIL trained experts. RSIL also advocates systematic capacity building of international law in Pakistan amongst government officials, political parties and religious scholars.
At this juncture, I would also like to extend my gratitude to the young, bright and motivated lawyers who helped me create RSIL. Some have moved on while other are still here, but even those who have moved on continue to retain their interest and connectivity with RSIL. I trust that this motivated team shall continue to take the vision of RSIL forward.