Farogh Naseem no longer PM Imran’s go-to man

Law minister losing ground to Babar Awan, AGP

Hasnaat Malik April 26, 2020
Barrister Farogh Naseem. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem seems to be hanging by a thread with Prime Minister Imran Khan putting his aide on parliamentary affairs, Dr Babar Awan, in the driving seat of legislative affairs concerning ministries and divisions in the National Assembly and Senate.

It has been learnt that instead of relying on law minister, the premier is seeking advice on different legal affairs from other experts for the last couple of months.

PTI lawyer Ali Zafar was asked to prepare the initial draft of the ordinance for the construction industry.

Similarly, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed Khan was asked to assist in drafting the ordinance against hoarding.

Farogh Naseem takes oath as federal minister again

Now the prime minister has included Dr Babar and his special assistant on accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar in the committee which is finalising the draft for amendments to national accountability law.

Sources told The Express Tribune that all stakeholders were seeking a second opinion on matters wherein advice was being given by the law ministry.

Even AGP office’s opinion prevailed in a few critical legal matters.A few cabinet members have also consulted the AGP office for legal advice.

All litigation affairs are now supervised by AGP and on his first day, he made it clear that no interference would be tolerated.

The PTI-led government has been unable to evolve consensus for carrying out legislation in parliament and most legislative work is taking place through ordinances.

Despite the law minister's announcement, the federal government did not file a presidential reference against Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth on account of his judgment in the treason case against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

A senior minister revealed that the government had decided against filing a reference against the PHC CJ.

Likewise, one section within government alleged that the law minister was unable to maintain a cordial relationship with the superior bars after the filing of a presidential reference against SC judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

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Despite the passage of a year, the presidential reference against the SC judge is yet to be decided. The government has no suitable counsel to represent it in the Justice Isa case.

Earlier, it was decided that Dr Naseem would represent the government in the case after the resignation of former AGP Anwar Mansoor Khan.

However, on the last date of hearing, the full court pointed out that Dr Naseem would have to tender his resignation as minister before pleading the federal government's case.

There are also unconfirmed reports that when the full court would resume the hearing of Justice Isa case, the law minister might step down to appear on behalf of the government.

The hearing of Justice Isa case has presently been delayed because of coronavirus pandemic.

However, after the induction of Dr Babar in the cabinet, many believe that the law minister is losing his ground.

Supporters of Dr Naseem say that he is hard working and the law ministry has decided 60,649 cases in 20 months.

They further point out that the law minister drafted ordinance against smuggling through undeclared routes after working day and night.

Likewise, Dr Naseem was also present in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) headquarters when Prime Minister Imran Khan visited there on Thursday. His supporters believe that his presence in ISI headquarters reflects that the law minister is a vital government functionary.

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