ISLAMABAD: The caretaker government has decided to appoint Barrister Khalid Jawed Khan as Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP), official sources revealed to The Express Tribune.
Barrister Khan’s professional career spans more than two decades. He enrolled as advocate high court in 1991 and became an advocate of the Supreme Court in 2004. His father, Prof N D Khan, is a seasoned politician associated with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for a long time.
Khan, a Karachi-based lawyer, served as legal adviser to AGP and, in this capacity, advised Benazir Bhutto during her second tenure (1993-1996) as prime minister.
He obtained his LLB degree from London University, BCL (bachelor of civil law) degree from Oxford University, LLM from Harvard University and completed his bar-at-law from Lincoln’s Inn.
Barrister Khan had waged a battle against the Provisional Constitution Order by former military dictator Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf and wrote several articles against the unconstitutional action. Khan will replace Ashtar Ausaf Ali, who resigned as AGP on Wednesday, when he was on a foreign tour.
“I believe that in the wake of [upcoming] general elections, it would only be correct for me to tender my resignation from the constitutional office, lest it be perceived by any party that my continued presence will impede the process of free and fair elections,” stated Ausaf in his resignation.
“The democratic transition, and its preservation, is a cornerstone of our Constitution and our democracy,” added Ausaf, who is said to have tendered resignation on May 31 but was asked to continue.
The official sources reveal that Ausaf was asked to resign because the ‘powerful circles’ were raising objection to his holding the office of AGP because of his alleged affiliation with the Sharif family in the past.
Ausaf became the 32nd AGP on March 29, 2016. At the end of his tenure, he received praise for persuading the government to split the attorney general’s office from the law ministry, and establishing it as an independent institution.
As convener of the Treaty Implementation Cell, he was also able to win renewal of the GSP Plus economic package offered by the EU, in exchange for implementation of the core conventions.
Legal experts credited Ausaf with salvaging the GSP Plus package that allowed a much-needed boost to Pakistan’s exports.
In international arbitrations, Ausaf had said repeatedly, as well as during the new year opening ceremony of the Supreme Court, “Some of the judgments by our courts have led to proceedings before the international fora that have in turn awarded damages to investors in billions of dollars, and billions more are pending in claims against the state.”
He was the proponent of a strong judicial structure for attracting more investment rather than discouraging it. Many of the AGP’s arguments before the Supreme Court were successful but had their share of controversy. He argued that parliament had placed no bar on disqualification under Article 62(1)(f), a contention that was fully endorsed by the court.
The Supreme Court also relied on the AGP’s submissions in a landmark decision, authored by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, which ruled against the registration of multiple FIRs.
Another case was a human rights application regarding Shahzeb Khan’s murder, pleaded by Advocate Faisal Siddiqi. The AGP argued Shahzeb’s murder was an act of terror. Sources in the law ministry confirmed that Ausaf’s assisting counsel, Asad Rahim, had advocated breaking with the Sindh High Court, which had acquitted Shahrukh Jatoi and not deemed it a terror offence.
The SC eventually ordered Jatoi’s rearrest. The case remains debated by legal scholars over whether the SC may take up a criminal acquittal in suo motu proceedings.
Meanwhile, the caretaker government of Punjab de-notified Asma Hamid as advocate general of the province on Wednesday.
According to an official notification, Punjab Governor Mohammad Rafique Rajwana directed that Asma “shall cease to hold that office with immediate effect”.
The interim government has appointed Imtiaz Rasheed Siddiqui as provincial advocate general.
Hours before the end of its tenure, the Shehbaz Sharif-led PML-N government appointed Asma as advocate general of the province, making her the first woman to hold the constitutional post. The decision was signed by Shehbaz on his last day in office.
The decision was bitterly criticised by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), terming it a move to manipulate the upcoming elections.
PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry alleged that the appointment was made to serve the interests of Sharif brothers.
In a letter to the caretaker chief minister of Punjab, the PTI said the appointment was made to reward allegiance and personal ties with the Sharif family and to shield their actions.
It also alleged that the appointment was aimed “to provide covert and announced aid to PML-N’s candidates and pave the way for pre-poll rigging”.
The interim Punjab government also de-notified 10 assistant advocates general in view of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) notification dated April 11.
The names include Barrister Asjad Saeed, Amar Sanaullah, Mohammad Tariq Mehmood Butt, Ahmad Hassan Rana, Mohammad Tariq Nadeem, Barrister Bushra Saqib, Asif Afzal Bhatti, Chaudhry Mohammad Jawed Yaqub, Khalid Masood Ghani, Barrister Ameer Abbas Ali Khan.