Lyceum Alumni Owais Awan Wins Historical Animal Rights Case
Owais graduated in 2010 and now works as a lawyer. He gained recognition after winning the case for the freedom of Kaavan, an elephant in a zoo in Islamabad.
What was your time at the Lyceum like? What subjects and CCAs did you
take? Did you have any memorable teachers?
Lyceum was a different experience for me especially coming from a boarding school where I used to wake up at 5:30 am, six days a week, so coming to Lyceum was a refreshing experience. It was tough adjusting but then I became part of the cricket team, dramatics society and was also the drummer for the Lyceum school
band. I took Law, Urdu, GP and Psychology (dropped Maths after AS). My favourite teacher was Sir Omar Sial, who taught Law and Ms Ayesha Samad who helped me a lot in Psychology. I was lucky to have Ms Durdana Sial as my counsellor who was extremely supportive and caring.
I also miss Bashir Bhai’s Khousuey.
Have you always wanted to be a lawyer? Or is that something that just
Law is different in theory and in practice. When you enter the profession you learn the tricks of the trade and because I was a part of the dramatics society I was comfortable with public speaking. I was not a very good student but I remember Sir Omar Sial telling me one
day after class that even though I might not be a good student, I would become a
good lawyer. When I entered the profession I was 101% sure. In fact, it was the first time that I took an adjournment that I realised that it was a fun profession.
Have you always been interested and involved in animal rights?
I have always been an animal lover but never imagined myself being involved in animal rights. I have a regular law practice but on a lighter note, after filing Kaavan’s case, I found out that my
birthday is on World Animal Day i.e. 4th October.
American pop singer Cher was campaigning for Kaavan. The world’s attention was on this case. Did you feel the pressure as you were preparing for it?
Definitely, many people were dismissive of my idea of filing a petition on animal rights since they were prioritizing human rights. There was pressure because I asked many other lawyers for
advice and the usual response I would get was: “humans are facing such a hard time so why are you working for animals?”To be honest even I was a little nervous on the first date of hearing. I thought the lawyers in the back of the courtroom would laugh at me because I
was fighting a case for an elephant but now that I’ve won the case they congratulate me.
What was your thought process directly after Kaavan was released?
I was overwhelmed by the support and wishes from so many people around the world. My family was so happy with me; I was really happy and I hope to keep on contributing as a useful member of this society. There’s still a long long way to go because our animal rights laws are redundant. They were made back when Pakistan was a colony and were never revised
afterwards. We don’t have regulatory bodies looking after our animal rights issues. There is no animal police or a society for the prevention of cruelty towards animals.
Kaavan’s case is the first-ever case in the history of Pakistan that has recognised the rights of animals within the constitutional framework.
Source: Lysias Issue | August 2020