Updated 3 April 2010: Now includes some names / recommendations for the new Attorney General
Unprofessional, incompetent, irresponsible and disgraceful. These are some words which best describe the former Attorney General of Pakistan, Anwar Mansoor Khan, who has recently resigned from his post. According to Khan, he was resigning not due to his lack of competence but due to “the uncooperative approach of the Law Ministry and the Law Minister.”
Khan claimed that he was asking the government from very first day that Swiss authorities should be written a letter for reopening the cases against the President of Pakistan. He alleged that Dr Babar Awan, the federal law minister, is creating problems for the government.
However, Law Ministry said that Anwar Mansoor Khan resigned due to his unprofessional and irresponsible attitude.
“I needed some documents but they were not providing me.” Khan said his sincere advice to the government was “implement the verdict on the NRO.”
In the same breath, Khan said that under the constitution the president enjoys the immunity.
Yet, he denied the statement of Awan in which he had accused judiciary of victimising the PPP leadership and said judiciary is not victimising the government.
He said that neither the president nor the prime minister ever showed their confidence in him.
On Thursday last, Mansoor had stunned a seven-judge Supreme Court bench hearing progress on re-opening of Swiss cases that he was facing non cooperative attitude on part of the law minister for not handing over to him necessary information and communications to complete legal process of sending letters to the Swiss authorities for re-opening $60 million graft cases involving President Asif Ali Zardari.
Senior lawyer and former supreme court judge Tariq Mahmood said Mansoor’s resignation as an “embarrassment” for the government. “The attorney general is the state’s lawyer. It is embarrassing for the government that a person who is to defend them in the supreme court is not there,” Mahmood said.
We at LUBP have previously analysed that the attorney general must tender his resignation due to his own behaviour, i.e., due to his inability in presenting and defending government’s case in the Supreme Court in a convincing and befitting manner. It is abundantly clear that in discharging his duties in several cases including the NRO’s case, Mr Khan failed to perform his constitutional and legal obligations.
Apparently, federal law minister Mr Babar Awan does not intend to violate the constitutional immunity available to the president.
However, harassed by hawkish judges in the Supreme Court and the right wing media, Mr Anwar Mansoor Khan forgot to remind the honourable judges in the Supreme Court of their constitutional limitations, i.e., they cannot violate the constitutional immunity available to the president.
Mansoor Khan said the Law Ministry had been denying him access to documents needed to carry out the Supreme Court order. “The Supreme Court is our top institution, and there is no way you can defy its orders,” he said.
Zardari’s supporters and many independent experts say Zardari has immunity from prosecution so long as he is president.
In a breach of established norms of impartial justice, the Supreme Court has zeroed in on one case that had been taken up by the Swiss government against Zardari that was halted in 2008 under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ordered the government to contact Swiss authorities to reopen the case. However, to Pakistan’s Supreme Court embarrassment, Swiss prosecutors told reporters that this was impossible because Zardari has immunity.
Advice by Honest People
In my earlier article on this subject, I had pointed out that Attorney General lacks competence and commitment. Today the Attorney General has resigned. According to a commentator (Aurangzeb Akbar) on my post, PPP must appoint an attorney general who possesses courage and skill. I fully agree with this suggestion that a competent attorney general can effectively check transgression of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and his team of judges in the Supreme Court.
Here are some further suggestions for the would be attorney general:
The new attorney general must inform the Supreme Court in clear terms that Article 248 has been transgressed in NRO case and Article 209 has been violated in judgment of 31st of July 2009.
Both the judgments are void abinitio, and the order of 31st of July is based on fabricated order of 3rd November 2007 of so-called seven judges.
At the same time the [would be] A.G. should advise the government [giving cogent reasons in line with constitution, law and morality] to withdraw the executive order of restoration of Iftikhar Chaudhry as Chief Justice, and pre-restoration position be restored.
The Supreme Court and the media should be informed of this legal position in categorical terms.
The establishment and international media be made aware of forgeries committed by Iftikhar Chaudhry in fabricating order of 3rd of November 2007.
Law minister must be told to complete this homework on urgent basis.
All these steps should be taken in strict adherence to law as CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry and his team are extremely weak in this area. Even the leaders of so-called lawyers movement are in complete disarray.
Some names for the new Attorney General
The Attorney General is appointed by the President on the advice of Prime Minister in accordance with article 100 read with article 48 of the constitution of Pakistan 1973.
In my opinion the following persons are extremely competent and can effectively perform the functions of attorney general under the present circumstances:-
1. Asma Jahangir [age 58 years]. She has been expressing her views on NRO judgment very candidly and is an excellent speaker both in court and the media. She was recently awarded with Hilai-e-Imtiaz. She has sufficient experience of conducting important cases in Supreme Court and High Court.
2. Former Justice Irfan Qadir [age 53 years]. A leading lawyer, a former Prosecutor General of Accountability, an Ex Judge High Court and an Ex Additional Advocate General. He conducted important constitutional cases.He possesses an over-all experience. He is an excellent speaker. He authored 2009PTD1507.
3. Justice[R] Anwar-ul-Haq [age 60 years]. He is the son of late Moulvi Siraj-ul-Haq a leading lawyer of his time. He has been a Judge of Lahore High Court for almost a decade; He also served as Dy. Attorney General and was reputed to be a good lawyer. His understanding of law is very good and has an all round experience.
My suggestion is that all the three aforesaid persons be interviewed by the President and his team so that a final decision is taken.