Babar Awan

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Babar Awan
Pakistan Senator from Punjab Province
In office
2 March 2012 – Incumbent
In office
22 February 2006 – 28 February 2012
Preceded by Farhatullah Babar
Minister of Law and Justice
In office
3 November 2008 – 12 April 2011
President Asif Zardari
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani
Preceded by Farooq Naik
Succeeded by Bux Chandio
First Vice president of Pakistan Peoples Party
In office
29 December 2011 – 2 May 2012
Preceded by Mahmood Qureshi
Succeeded by Manzour Vato
Personal details
Born Zaheer-ud-din Babar Awan
(1958-01-27) January 27, 1958 (age 56)
Citizenship  Pakistan
Nationality Pakistan
Political party Pakistan Peoples Party (1997-Present)
Residence Lahore
Alma mater University of Punjab
Karachi University
Monticello University
Occupation Lawyer
Religion Islam
Awards Sitara-e-Imtiaz (2012)

Zaheer-ud-din Babar Awan (Urdu: ظہيرالدين بابر اعوان‎; born 27 January 1958; SI), is a Pakistani statesman, lawyer, author, analyst, columnist, and leftist writer.[1] He is currently serving as junior Pakistan Senator from Punjab Province, to which he was elected in 2012.[1]

He regularly writes and publishes on left-wing philosophy, and served as Minister of Law and Justice in the cabinet of former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani.[1] Due to a cabinet reshuffle, he lost his ministerial appointment in favor of Farooq Naik in 2011. He extensively writes political columns in a leading Urdu newspaper, the Daily Jang, in support of social democracy and social justice.[2]

Biography[edit]

Early life and education[edit]

Babar Awan was born in a village located in secretive Kahuta, Pindi district, to a middle-class family on January 27, 1958. Awan's family was landowning family and his father belonged to the Awan caste tribe of the Potohar Plateau.

Awan did his matriculation in 1971, and attended the Punjab University to study humanities.[3] In 1975, Awan graduated with a B.A. in Humanities, and later obtained Master of Science in Economics from the Punjab University in 1978.[3]

In 1980, Awan moved to Karachi and attended the Karachi University to study law where he obtained LLB in civil law in 1986.[3] He began practicing law at the Sindh High Court, initially taking criminal cases.[3]

Awan now lives in Islamabad.[4] His brother, Ghulam Farooq Awan served as the advisor to Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousaf Raza Gillani for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. He also served as the additional Attorney General of Pakistan.[5]

Political activism and PPP[edit]

Babar Awan waving at Punjab Bar Council in 2010.

His interest in politics grew in 1980s while studying law at the Karachi University, and was an activist of the Peoples Students Federation— a youth wing of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). In 1996, he became member of the PPP and unsuccessfully contested for a provisional Murree seat for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on PPP platform during the general elections held in 1997.

In 2002, Awan unsuccessfully contested for the Islamabad constituency in the general elections, but conceded his defeat. In 2004, Benazir Bhutto appointed Awan as the finance secretary of the Pakistan People's Party.

In 2006, Awan successfully contested for the indirect elections for Senate, and was elected unopposed. Awan was present alongside prominent party leaders such as Ameen Faheem when the announcement of Benazir Bhutto's return to Pakistan was made. Awan was present during the 19 October attack on Benazir Bhutto in Karachi, and then when Benazir Bhutto was killed in Rawalpindi. Awan was the first one to announce Bhutto's death to the Pakistani public, outside Rawalpindi General Hospital which is now known as Benazir Bhutto Hospital. Awan told the party workers outside the hospital, "I have just talked to Dr. Mussadiq, he has confirmed to me that Mohtarma (Benazir Bhutto) has been martyred." [4]

Law and Justice Ministry (2008-2011)[edit]

After successfully contesting in general elections held in 2008, Awan was appointed as the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs as well as the Law Minister in November 2008.[4]

Over many legal issues, Awan resigned from the Justice Ministry in 2011, but was brought back less than 48 hours later. During this time, Awan was considered the right-hand man of then-President Zardari. He was also given the Ministry of Information Technology. In 2011, he resigned as minister to plead in the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto murder case.[6] On 2 May 2012, Awan was stripped of all his party posts by the Central Executive Committee of the PPP [7]

After Awan's sacking, it was expected that he would join another party although he still remains a member of the PPP, to this day. In early 2013, Awan met Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan. Rumours spread that Awan would soon join the PTI.[8]

Writings and columns[edit]

In June 2012, Awan claimed that he was receiving life threats and that his family was also being threatened.[4] He asked the concerned authorities to provide him with security. In early 2013, Awan began tweeting regularly. He uses his Twitter account to make political statements and to maintain contact with his supporters. By July 2013, Awan had 34,000 followers on Twitter.[9]

In 2011, Awan published his first book called the Wakalat Nama [Urdu: وکالت نامۂ; Lawyers' diary], which was a collection of his columns and articles published in the newspapers of Pakistan from 1997 to 2009.[10] In November 2011, Awan published another book based on the arguments he made in court during the Karachi Conspiracy case.[10] The judges' bench of that case was led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

2013 elections campaign[edit]

On 28 May 2013, Awan issued a statement saying that it was the right of the new government to complete its stipulated term; however, the opposition should not be of the government’s choice. He added that, "the role of the opposition would now be determined in accordance with the Constitution and the rules of business as opposed to via any reconciliatory formula." [11] In July 2013, Awan criticized the Pakistan Election Commission for organizing Presidential Elections in a manner that dissatisfied the opposition political parties.

He went on to say that, "holding presidential election with the shortage of a large number of 46 lawmakers would result into constitutional chaos and will be a stigma on the election for the extremely distinguished constitutional office." [12] On 5 July 2012, Awan said, "there is serious power crisis and the newly elected government has to take prompt measures including construction of Kalabagh Dam." He further said before restoration of bilateral ties with India, Islamabad had to raise outstanding Kashmir and water issue.[13]

Links with other political parties[edit]

The PPP has used Awan for dialogue with other political parties. Awan is highly supported in his Awan tribe. His political base lies in his hometown. Awan's elder brother was also a worker of the Pakistan People's Party. Another one of his brothers works for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in Punjab.[14] In 2011, Awan held negotiations on behalf of the Pakistan Peoples Party with the Pakistan Muslim League.[15] This led to an alliance between the PPP and the PML, which further strengthened the PPP government and gave them a majority in Parliament. Awan often negotiations on the behalf of the PPP with Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who is the Punjab President of PML-Q.[16] Awan was also used for dailogue with PPP's coalition partner, MQM. Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan, the 30th governor of Sindh visited Awan at his residence and agreed that a working relationship should be established between the PPP and MQM.[17] His nephew, Shakeel Awan is a member of the PML-N and is also a former member of the Pakistan National Assembly. He had defeated Shaikh Rasheed Ahmad in his constituency.[18]

Controversies[edit]

PhD claim[edit]

According to the media sources and investigative journalists accounts, Awan is said to have been awarded a PhD in criminal law from the diploma mill Monticello University based in Hawaii, United States, in 1998.[3] Controversy surrounded his law PhD also noted that the Monticello University misspelled his PhD nomination papers as "Monty Cello" from where he affirmed to have done his doctorate degree.[3]

Haris Steel case[edit]

In November 2009, National Accountability Bureau of Pakistan summoned Awan after he was accused for getting bribes worth of 30 million Pakistani rupees from the owners of the Haris Steel Mill in order to get a favourable verdict from the court.[19] Awan was reported to have said that he had certainly not taken 30 million rupees and that the money he had taken was his professional fee.[20] He further said that anyone was welcome to pursue any complaint in any professional body. In 2011, Sheikh Afzal, the owner of Haris Steel Mill, stated that he has been pressured by the Punjab Government to issue a statement against Awan. The charges were later dropped against Awan, due to Sheikh Afzal's statement.

Contempt of court[edit]

On 1 December 2011, Awan held a press conference in which he criticized a Supreme Court judge.[21] The Supreme Court issued a notice of contempt of court to Awan in late December. On 5 January 2012, Awan was issued a second contempt of court notice by Supreme Court of Pakistan, due to a comment he made while talking to the media on 4 January.[22] His license to practice law was subsequently suspended on 17 January for an indefinite period.[22][23] The Supreme Court further asked the Federal Government to appoint someone else as their lawyer in the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto case. Ali Ahmad Kurd disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision to suspend Awan's license.[4] Awan was indicted by the Supreme Court in March 2012. Awan’s counsel, Ali Zafar, maintained during the hearing that the court cannot indict Awan without having made a decision on the unconditional apology he offered twice to the court. He said that the purpose of contempt of court proceedings is to maintain the respect of the judiciary not to "demean someone."[4]

Witness in contempt case[edit]

The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari in a briefing to his close confidants disclosed that he had given a personal guarantee that Babar Awan will appear before the court as a witness in Prime Minister's contempt case. This was later confirmed by Prime Ministers council Aitezaz Ahsan in an interview given to Arshad Sharif for his program KYUN.[24] Aitezaz said Babar's name was given to him by the President and PM both but Babar Awan refused to show up which irked the President.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Dr. Babar Awan". Pakistan Herald. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Dr. Babar Awan - Urdu columns, The News, 2013 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Cheema, Umar (February 18, 2012). "Babar Awan finally concedes he is no doctor from any university". The News International, 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Eik Din Babar Awan kay Sath, Youtube, 22 November 2011 
  5. ^ Farooq Awan appointed Advisor to PM on Law, Pakistan Times, 22 March 2011 
  6. ^ "Babar Awan becomes PPP vice president". Dawn Media. 29 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "Sidelined: Babar Awan stripped of all PPP posts". The Express Tribune. 2 May 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  8. ^ Is Babar Awan Joining PTI,Imran Khan meeting with Dr.Babar Awan!, PakistanTV, 2013 
  9. ^ @DrBabarAwan, Twitter, 2013 
  10. ^ a b Wakalat Nama (Urdu edition), Jumhoori, 2011 
  11. ^ Strong opposition needed at the centre: Babar Awan, LahoreTimes, 28 May 2013 
  12. ^ Presidential elections sans 46 members a stigma: Awan, The News, 19 July 2013 
  13. ^ Babar Awan for early construction of Kalabagh Dam, Geo TV, 5 July 2013 
  14. ^ Babar Awan's brother joins MQM, Daily Times, 14 January 2010 
  15. ^ Ahmad Fraz Khan (24 April 2011). "PPP offer puts PML-Q in a double bind". Dawn Media. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  16. ^ Awan strikes again, The Capital Post, 30 October 2010 
  17. ^ Governer Sindh and Babar Awan meet, PakWatan 
  18. ^ Shakeel Awan and Babar Awan, flickr, 2013 
  19. ^ Masood Rehman (12 December 2009). "BoP loan scam: NAB summons top lawyers over bribery charges". Pakistan Daily Times. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  20. ^ "Haris alleges political victimisation". Dawn Media. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  21. ^ Babar Awan press conference - 1st December 2011, watchPakistani, 2011 
  22. ^ a b Terence J Sigamony (18 January 2012). "SC clips Babar’s wings over foul flap". The Nation. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  23. ^ Order in Bhutto Reference Case, para. 5
  24. ^ "KYUN". Retrieved April 28, 2012.