Attorney-general’s office split from law ministry

'Newly formed division shall also be responsible for handling all international disputes and arbitration'


Hasnaat Malik May 31, 2018
PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi finally notified the separation of the attorney-general’s office from the law ministry by amending Rules of Business of 1973, endorsing its autonomy.

According to an official statement, the newly formed division shall also be responsible for handling all international disputes and arbitration.

These responsibilities were transferred from the law division to the attorney-general’s office.

Now, the international dispute unit shall be adequately manned to deal with the rising number of international commercial disputes and national security matters, the statement said.

Moreover, the division shall have a permanent secretary in basic pay-scale 21/22 who shall act as an effective liaison between various federal ministries/ divisions and the office of the attorney-general.

Appreciating efforts of the incumbent Attorney-General Ashtar Ausaf Ali, legal experts said that the office’ autonomy was among his achievements.

Interestingly, the law ministry and attorney-general’s office were persistently involved in a tug-of-war over this issue.

The attorney-general’s office is a powerful and independent institution in many countries, but in Pakistan, the office has until now been unable to initiate any step without taking the law ministry into confidence.

Rules, sources said, should be framed for ‘appointing competent law officers’.

Appreciating the move, legal experts said that the independence of the attorney-general’s office was crucial for handling at least 36 cases of different nature in international courts.

Even some independent power producers (IPPs) also called for the intervention of international arbitrators for clearance of their pending dues, amounting to more than a trillion rupees.

A senior lawyer with vast experience of handling international arbitration cases believes that the move was beneficial.

Despite spending billions of rupees for hiring local and global law firms, Pakistan’s success rate was dismal over the past 15 years.

According to legal experts, the PML-N government had successfully passed on this huge financial burden over to the next one.

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