The following piece has been originally published by Peter Quinn on London Connection, the online magazine of the University of London International Programmes. Here PCL is featured as part of the 7th Henry Dunant IHL Moot Court Competition.
The 7th Henry Dunant IHL Moot Court Competition (Pakistan National Round, 2014), was held from 9-11 September at Hotel Elites, Nathiagali, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Pakistan. The competition was organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Amna Riaz Ali, from Pakistan College of Law, writes:
I was excited when I got selected by my College as one of the students chosen to represent Pakistan College of Law at the Henry Dunant Moot Court Competition. My two other team members, Hasham Sagheer and Sabina Saif, were also very excited. However, this was soon replaced with concern about preparing for the moot competition. The concern was even more heightened by the fact that, since 2012, other moot teams from my College had obtained top positions in the same competition.
The competition concerned International Humanitarian Law, a concept that is little practiced in my country. For most people in Pakistan it is still a new concept and the opportunity of playing a part in promoting its awareness created a deep sense of responsibility in all of us, and a desire to do well at the competition. The preparations for the competition required revisiting lectures, discussions and references to the topic and, I must say, my team members had been well chosen for the competition. We put our heart and soul into the project under the guidance of our supervisor, Muhammad Mustafa Khan. For the next few months we went about researching and preparing memorials for the moot. We also rehearsed our oral rounds under the supervision of the faculty of my College before departing to the hill station of Nathiagali (pictured left), located close to Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.
For four days and nights we improved and adapted our arguments in light of the proceedings we witnessed during the Competition. At the first initial round I felt underprepared. However, our moot team coach, Mustafa Khan, calmed me down by pointing out that one can never be fully prepared for anything in the world. The advantage we had was our hard work and dedication to leave no stone unturned regarding the arguments.
As the Moot progressed we all as a team realized that we were more than just prepared, the reason being that we did not stick to our scripted arguments – rather, we explored and created new arguments within the parameters of the moot problem. When we were asked to proceed on the same case we had already presented, we redefined our arguments and presented them differently. This ability to adapt was appreciated by the Honourable judges. The judges’ appreciation gave us hope of a favourable result, but we were still not prepared for their decision when it was announced.
“Excellent lawyers, while being articulate and skilled in legal issues, also know the art of getting their viewpoint across to the judge.”
As we waited for the result – the longest wait, I must add – we still kept evaluating ourselves, what we should have done or should not have done. But I realized this was normal, since every team waiting impatiently for a decision tends to journey back to its performance. As the time came closer for the judges’ decision, my teammates and I were overwhelmed by a feeling of urgency to know whether we were to represent Pakistan in the Regional Rounds of the Henry Dunant.
The winning team was announced to be Pakistan College of Law and we could not believe our ears! We even whispered to each other, “Is it us?” We had not only won the competition, but also the Best Advocate award as well. The audience applauded and our team members stood astounded as the fact of our achievement began to sink in.
The Henry Dunant Moot Court experience taught us all that law is not just about theoretical arguments: its practical side is equally important. Excellent lawyers, while being articulate and skilled in legal issues, also know the art of getting their viewpoint across to the judge. And therein is the fundamental importance of moot court competitions – it prepares law students for the practicalities of the profession of advocacy. We, as a team, and our institution Pakistan College of Law, Lahore would also like to applaud the efforts of the ICRC and its representatives in Pakistan, for disseminating international humanitarian law through the Henry Dunant Moot Court Competition. We recommend that it becomes an essential event for any young aspiring law student in Pakistan to participate in.
We have now qualified to represent Pakistan at the 10th ICRC Henry Dunant Moot, Regional Rounds 2014, where we will compete with all the national winning teams from South Asian countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Iran. We will now prepare for this upcoming Moot to take place in Iran and proudly represent our country. We thank Pakistan College of Law for its steadfast support; Mr Muhammad Mustafa Khan, our coach, for his unparalleled guidance and support; Mr Qasim Aziz, faculty member, for his invaluable contributions towards helping us bring our preparation up to the mark; and the ICRC in providing us with an opportunity to take part in this very important competition.