Aitzaz Ahsan

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Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan
Aitzaz ahsan.jpg
Aitzaz Ahsan
19th Minister of Law and Justice
In office
October 21, 1993 – November 5, 1996
President Farooq Leghari
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto
Preceded by Rana Sanaullah Khan
Succeeded by Ashtar Ausaf Ali
25th Minister of Interior
In office
December 4, 1988 – August 6, 1990
President Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto
Preceded by VAdm Malik Nasim Ahmad
Succeeded by Ch. Schuja'at Hussain
President of Supreme Court Bar Association
In office
25 November 2007 – 28 October 2008
Lieutenant Asma Jahangir
Preceded by Munir A. Malik
Succeeded by Ali Ahmad Kurd
Personal details
Born (1945-09-27) 27 September 1945 (age 68)
Murree, British Indian Empire
Nationality Pakistani
Political party Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)
Spouse(s) Bushra aityzaz
Residence Lahore, Pakistan
Alma mater Government College University, Lahore
(LLB)
Downing College, Cambridge
(LLM and JD)
Occupation Lawyer
Profession Barrister-at-Law statesman
Cabinet Bainazir Bhuttoo Government
Religion Islam

Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan (Punjabi, Urdu: چودھری اعتزاز احسن‎; b. 27 September 1945) is a Pakistani lawyer, politician and political activist. He is best known as a left-wing statesman, constitutional theorist, and Marxist intellectual, and currently serves as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate of Pakistan. Prior to his political career, he briefly served as president of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan.[1]

A senior member of the Central Executive Committee of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Ahsan started his political career in the government of Prime minister Benazir Bhutto as minister of Interior ministry from 1988 until 1990. In addition, he served as the minister of law and justice ministry from 1993 until 1996.

In public circles, he is known for his long advocacy of social democracy, and represented the case of the former prime minister Navaz Sharif in 1999. In 2007, he successfully represented the case of chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, followed by his arrest by the former president Pervez Musharraf.

Early life and education[edit]

Aitzaz Ahsan was born in Murree, Rawalpindi District of British-controlled Punjab Province. He was educated at a private high school[citation needed] and attended the two-year Aitchison College.[2]

He transferred from Aitchison to the Government College University (GCU) in 1963, where he studied law. In 1965, he graduated with a LLB degree in law.[2]

After receiving a law scholarship, Ahsan went to United Kingdom and was accepted at the University of Cambridge and studied international law at Downing College where he obtained a LLM in 1967. Upon graduating, Ahsan was called at Gray's Inn in 1967.[2]

Political career[edit]

Statesmanship and parliamentary services[edit]

Despite having belong to a bourgeoisie family,[citation needed] Ahsan's interest further grew in left-wing ideas, initially taking cases at the Lahore High Court against industrialists and powerful feudal families.[citation needed] In 1975 he became an active member of the left-leaning Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). In his writings and speeches, Ahsan wrote in support of left-wing politics and social democracy in Pakistan.

On the PPP's political platform, Ahsan secured his electoral membership of the Punjab Assembly in 1977. His name for the nomination came after his senior associate Anvar Sama was assassinated in a PPP political rally during the general elections held in 1977. Initially, Ahsan was appointed as a minister of Ministry of Information and Mass-media Broadcasting, by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.[2]

He lost his PPP membership after resigning his ministry appointment, after learning the news of Police opening fire on a rally of lawyers during the PNA demonstrations against the alleged rigging of elections by the PPP government in 1977.[2]

Though he maintained his relations with the Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and rejoined the PPP following the 1977 military coup d'état led by chief of army staff General Zia-ul-Haq. He consistently followed up with the case hearing by the Supreme Court of Pakistan against Bhutto in 1978.[2]

Ahsan renewed his public and political activities and actively became involved with the leftist alliance the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy led under various Marxist leaders. For his participation in the MRD he was repeatedly imprisoned.[2] Ahsan was elected to the National Assembly as a PPP candidate in 1988, serving as Minister for Law and Justice, the Interior and Narcotics Control, before winning re-election in 1990 and losing in 1993. In 1994 he was elected to the Senate of Pakistan, where he sat as Leader of the Opposition until 1999. He was re-elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan as a Peoples Party candidate in the 2002 General Elections.[3]

Law career[edit]

Ahsan is a Senior Advocate in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and senior partner of the firm Aitzaz Ahsan & Associates,[4] consistently given the highest rank by Chambers and Partners' ranking of legal professionals.[5] He also made legal history by having defended three Prime Ministers in the court of law. Having previously fought cases in defence of Benazir Bhutto in 2001, he took up the case for the defence of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

During his tenure as a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan he was a member of the Standing Committee on Interior and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.[citation needed]

Chief Justice case[edit]

Ahsan and his team, consisting of Shahid Saeed, Gohar Khan and Nadeem Ahmed successfully represented Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry's case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan [PLD 2007 SC 578]. They were pitted against a team consisting of 16 senior lawyers representing the Federation. The hearing was being conducted by a full court headed by Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday, and the 13-member panel reinstated the Chief Justice, declaring his suspension by Pervez Musharraf regime "illegal."

Contempt of Court case and subsequent disqualification of PM Gilani[edit]

In 2011 he was the defense lawyer for Yousaf Raza Gillani, when Pakistan's Supreme Court charged him with contempt.[6] During the trial in Court his objections including jurisdictional and on merit were rejected and Gilani was convicted with punishment to remain in Court until the rising.[citation needed] Ahsan disagreed with the ruling, claiming the decision for scandalizing and ridicule of court were not in the ambit of charges put forth by Supreme court of Pakistan. The Speaker of Pakistan Parliament declared the conviction and sentence of PM of Pakistan was not on a matter of 'moral turpitude'. The sentence, she maintained, did not rise to a level of disqualification for a sitting MNA; dismissing the verdict altogether. Mr. Ahsan, announced that his client will not further appeal this matter. This ruling by the Speaker was challenged in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and on June 19, 2012, the highest court of Pakistan ruled that Mr. Gilani stands disqualified as a member of Parliament as of April 26, 2012 and also as PM of Pakistan.[citation needed]

During and after Emergency[edit]

Ahsan was arrested soon after the declaration of emergency and martial law,.[7][8] At the time he and his team (Shahid Saeed, Gohar Khan and Nadeem Ahmed) were arguing against the eligibility of General Musharraf to contest the 2007 Presidential Elections before a full bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. 33 US Senators wrote to President Musharraf to release Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan immediately.[citation needed]

He withdrew his papers of nomination to run for the National Parliament, in deference to the National Lawyers' Convention decision to boycott elections under Mr. Musharraf.[citation needed]

He was rearrested during his three days' reprieve for celebrating a religious holiday, when he decided to offer prayers with Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry and was heading to Islamabad. He has served detention in his house for 90 days and has declared his detention as illegal.[citation needed] He refused to abandon his work for the restoration of the judiciary, and was reluctant to negotiate when approached by Attorney General.[citation needed]

Ahsan has been awarded the Asian Human Rights Defender Award by the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), along with Munir A Malik (past President SCBA).[citation needed] The annual Award for Distinction in International Law and Affairs will be presented to Aitzaz Ahsan in asbentia as more than 5,000 lawyers gather for the annual meeting of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA).[citation needed]

Freed for two days, Mr. Ahsan was rearrested for 30 days on 2 February 2008 before he was to board a flight to Sindh to offer his condolences to Benazir Bhutto's husband.[citation needed]

LPG Quota Scandal[edit]

The Supreme Court was informed on Tuesday that the previous government had awarded the LPG quota allegedly in a non-transparent manner to certain individuals, including Bushra Aitzaz Ahsan of Sam Gas (2005), who is wife of Aitzaz Ahsan.[9]

Literary contribution[edit]

He was the author of the book The Indus Saga and the Making of Pakistan and its Urdu translation, Sindh Sagar Aur Qyam-e-Pakistan which presents the cultural history of Pakistan.[10]

He has also co-authored the book Divided by Democracy with Lord Meghnad Desai of the London School of Economics.[11]

Honours[edit]

Ahsan received an Honorary Fellowship of Downing College, one of the constituent colleges of the University of Cambridge.[12] In an Internet poll of the US magazine Foreign Policy, Ahsan was voted one of the top 10 public intellectuals in the world in May 2008.[13]

In 2008, in an open online poll, Ahsan was voted into fifth place in the world on the list of Top 100 Public Intellectuals by Prospect Magazine (UK) and Foreign Policy (United States).[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fresh adjustments: Zafarul Haq appointed Senate house leader". The Express Tribune. 2013-06-11. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Aitzaz Ahsan : AitzazAhsan.com". Aitzaz. Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  3. ^ "PPP - Aitzaz Ahsan's profile". Pakistani People's Party. Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  4. ^ ":-Aitzaz Ahsan & Associates-:". Aaa-law.net. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  5. ^ Aitzaz Ahsan Firm profile[dead link]
  6. ^ Khan, Sumera. "Gilani to appeal contempt conviction: Aitzaz Ahsan". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  7. ^ "youtube video 1". Youtube.com. Retrieved 2013-09-25. 
  8. ^ "youtube video 2". Youtube.com. Retrieved 2013-09-25. 
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Aitzaz Ahsan representative for NA-124 , Lahore-VII[dead link]
  11. ^ Divided by Democracy/Meghnad Desai and Aitzaz Ahsan. New Delhi, Roli, 2005[dead link]
  12. ^ "Aitzaz Ahsan Honorary Fellow - Downing College Cambridge". Dow.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 2013-09-25. 
  13. ^ "Top 100 Intellectuals". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2013-09-25. 
  14. ^ "Intellectuals". Prospectmagazine.co.uk. 2009-10-14. Retrieved 2013-09-25. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Malik Nasim Ahmed Aheer
Interior Minister of Pakistan
1988 – 1990
Succeeded by
Mian Zahid Sarfraz