Aitzaz Ahsan

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Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan
Aitzaz ahsan.jpg
Aitzaz Ahsan
Leader of the Opposition (House of the Federation)
Assumed office
12 March 2015
Vice President Raza Rabbani (Chairman House of the Federation)
Leader of House of the Federation
In office
12 March 2012 – 12 March 2015
President Asif Ali Zardari
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani
Raja Pervaiz Ashraf
19th Minister of Law and Justice
In office
21 October 1993 – 5 November 1996
President Farooq Leghari
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto
Preceded by Rana Sanaullah Khan
Succeeded by Ashtar Ausaf Ali
25th Minister of Interior
In office
4 December 1988 – 6 August 1990
President Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto
Preceded by VAdm Malik Nasim Ahmad
Succeeded by Ch. Schuja'at Hussain
Constituency Constituency NA-124
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 71)
Murree, British Indian Empire
Nationality Pakistani
Political party Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)
Spouse(s) Bushra Aitzaz
Residence Lahore, Pakistan
Alma mater Government College University, Lahore
Downing College, Cambridge
(LLM and JD)
Occupation Lawyer
Profession Barrister-at-Law statesman
Cabinet Bainazir Bhuttoo Government
Religion Muslim

Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan (Punjabi, Urdu: چودھری اعتزاز احسن‎; b. 27 September 1945) is a Pakistani barrister, veteran activist-politician, constitutional theorist and a left-wing statesman who serves as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate of Pakistan.[1]

Ahsan is a has been a member of Pakistan Peoples Party since 1975 when he became the Planning and Development Minister for Punjab. After the Operation Fair Play Ahsan became a prominent figure of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy. Ahsan was elected to the National Assembly from Lahore in 1988, he was again elected to the National Assembly in 1990 and 2002, while served in the senate between 1994 till 1999.[2]

Ahsan served twice in the cabinet of Benazir Bhutto between 1988 till 1990 and 1993 and 1996 as first the Interior minister of Pakistan and then as the Minister for Law, Justice and Human Rights. After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto Ahsan became distant member of the Peoples party,[3] however he was elected as Senator in 2012 and his wife was awarded party ticket to contest 2013 general elections, which she lost.[4][5]

Ahsan served as the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, he was also the de facto leader[6] of the popular Lawyers' Movement which led to the restoration of an independent judiciary in Pakistan, during which he was jailed several times.[7][8] As a senior member lawyer, Ahsan has represented the case of several prime minister's including Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto and Yousaf Raza Gillani, also of formar chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.[9]

Early life and education[edit]

Aitzaz Ahsan was born in Murree, Rawalpindi District of British-controlled Punjab Province and originated from Mangowal (Gharbi) Tehsil & District Gujrat, Pakistan. He was educated at a private high school.[citation needed] He belong to a Waraich Jatt family.

He transferred from Aitchison to the Government College University (GCU) in 1963, where he studied law. In 1965, he graduated with a BA degree.[10]

Ahsan went to United Kingdom to Study Law at the University of Cambridge and studied at Downing College where he completed a Law Tripos and obtained a BA and MA in 1967. Upon graduating, Ahsan was called to the Bar at Gray's Inn in 1967.[10]

Political career[edit]

Statesmanship and parliamentary services[edit]

Despite belonging to a bourgeois 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.[10]

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.[10]

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.[10]

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.[10] 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.[11]

Law career[edit]

Ahsan is a Senior Advocate in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He started his career with Nadeem Ahmed Advocate and soon became a senior partner of the firm Aitzaz Ahsan & Associates,[12] consistently given the highest rank by Chambers and Partners' ranking of legal professionals.[13] 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 defence lawyer for Yousaf Raza Gillani, when Pakistan's Supreme Court charged him with contempt.[14] 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 scandalising 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 19 June 2012, the highest court of Pakistan ruled that Mr. Gilani stands disqualified as a member of Parliament as of 26 April 2012 and also as PM of Pakistan.[citation needed]

Lawyers Movement[edit]

Aitzaz Ahsan reciting his famous poem "Kal, Aaj aur Kal" which became the anthem for the movement to restore judiciary in Pakistan.

Ahsan was arrested soon after the declaration of emergency and martial law,.[15][16] At the time he and his team (Shahid Saeed, Gohar Khan and Nadeem Ahmed Advocate) 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 absentia 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.[17]

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.[18]

He has also co-authored the book Divided by Democracy with Lord Meghnad Desai of the London School of Economics.[19]


Ahsan received an Honorary Fellowship of Downing College, one of the constituent colleges of the University of Cambridge.[20]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

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