SC contempt notice: PPP pulls out its ace

Published: January 17, 2012
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PPP leader will brief prime minister about legalities of the case. PHOTO: ONLINE/ FILE

PPP leader will brief prime minister about legalities of the case. PHOTO: ONLINE/ FILE

PPP leader will brief prime minister about legalities of the case. PHOTO: ONLINE/ FILE Barrister Zafarullah says court violated Article 248 (1), can't force PM to write letter to Swiss authorities. DESIGN: EMA ANIS

ISLAMABAD: When a prime minister is issued a contempt notice, he ought to pick his counsel carefully. In a move that indicates willingness to seek reconciliation with an increasingly assertive judiciary, the government decided on Tuesday to field respected pro-judiciary lawyer Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan.

The selection of Barrister Ahsan as the defence counsel for Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani when he appears in court tomorrow (Thursday) suggests a move to lower tensions that have been rising since the court accused the prime minister of “not being honest to his oath” last week.

The decision to engage Aitzaz was announced after he met the premier in Islamabad.

What the premier’s facing

On Monday, a seven-judge bench issued a contempt of court notice to Prime Minister Gilani and asked him to personally appear before the court to explain his government’s failure to implement its earlier verdict to reopen cases closed under the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

“Aitzaz Ahsan will appear before the court along with the prime minister on January 19 (tomorrow),” said a two-paragraph handout issued by the premier’s media office after the meeting, although it did not give any further details.

Thousands of cases were shelved under the 2007 NRO deal between former military ruler Pervez Musharraf and slain leader of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Benazir Bhutto.

Top leaders from the PPP and its allied groups – Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), Awami National Party (ANP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and lawmakers from the tribal areas – huddled in Islamabad immediately after the court order and decided that Gilani should abide by it.

Ahsan’s chequered history with PPP

Ahsan has an accomplished record of having worked for the judiciary’s independence. The barrister was at the forefront of the struggle for the independence of the judiciary after Musharraf sacked almost 60 judges of higher courts in 2007, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.

His relationship with the PPP, however, has been a shaky one. His lead role in the street agitation by the legal fraternity as well as a successful legal battle to seek the restoration of the chief justice and his peers earned him the displeasure of President Asif Ali Zardari as well as other PPP leaders.

In February 2009, PPP Secretary General Jahangir Badar expelled Ahsan disgracefully from the party’s decision-making Central Executive Committee (CEC), though his basic membership remained intact – as, apparently, did his loyalty.

However, he seemed to have been taken out the president’s bad books last December at the fourth death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto, when President Zardari invited him to address a gathering of party workers after he had delivered his own speech.

Since then, Ahsan has reportedly played a key role for the PPP in behind-the-scene negotiations with the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to evolve a consensus for holding fresh parliamentary polls later this year amid a standoff between the civilian and military leadership.

Also significant is that Ahsan, in the recent past, has been advising the government to write a letter to the Swiss authorities for reopening dropped graft cases against the president. Ahsan argued such a move would have little adverse impact, as President Zardari has immunity under national laws and international conventions.

Rehman Malik’s statement

Experts believe that by choosing Barrister Ahsan as his counsel, Prime Minister Gilani has effectively delivered a message of goodwill to the Supreme Court. Interior Minister Rehman Malik indicated the same on Tuesday, saying the prime minister personally appearing before the apex court would help “remove misunderstandings”. Talking to media at the Parliament House, he said the government always respected the apex court and implemented its decisions.

(Read: What the prime minister should do now)

(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP)

Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (78)

  • Parvez
    Jan 17, 2012 - 1:13PM

    Legal mumbo-jumbo is one thing, the view of the people that this government stands discredited, is another and the people’s view matters.

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  • Jp
    Jan 17, 2012 - 1:23PM

    Superb…….Well done Barrister Zafarullah. Long live democracy

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  • Maira
    Jan 17, 2012 - 1:23PM

    now thats called actual fun :) slap on slap.

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  • UFF
    Jan 17, 2012 - 2:40PM

    @JP….”Long live democracy”…..but where is it? Recommend

  • Khawlah
    Jan 17, 2012 - 2:40PM

    Thanks Aitzaz for coming to the rescue of the elected prime minister of the people of Pakistan. We, the people of Pakistan, will remember you forever for the struggle for democracy in Pakistan.

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  • Kafka
    Jan 17, 2012 - 2:42PM

    Aitezaz will loose a lot of credibility defending a weak case.

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  • Chacha
    Jan 17, 2012 - 2:49PM

    @Parvez: No it does not. In the supreme courts view the constitution is supreme not the people. People and its representatives, i,e the Parliment cannot amend the basic structure of the constitution.

    earlier in the 90’s there was a Troika in power in Pakistan – the President, the PM and the Army. The president has lost his powers under the 18th Amendment (Zardari is still powerful, but that is because he controls the PPP which controls the Parliment). The new Troika is the Supreme Court, the Army and the PM.

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  • MAHER ALI
    Jan 17, 2012 - 2:50PM

    I think Aitzaz Ahsan is a good choice. Although he has said that their is no harm in writing the letter…

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  • Taimoor Larik
    Jan 17, 2012 - 2:54PM

    We are with you PM !

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  • Word Life
    Jan 17, 2012 - 3:05PM

    What a Joke

    Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan Sb proclaimed during the Lawyer’s Movement, time and again, that as long as CJ Iftikhar Chaudhary was in office, he will not plead any case infront of him

    So long for credibility Barrister Sb … You just lost my respect !

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  • Liberal
    Jan 17, 2012 - 3:06PM

    Yes. Slap on Slap:-). Now what Mr. CJ will do!!! Recommend

  • Kashif Iqbal
    Jan 17, 2012 - 3:12PM

    This is going to be nasty.

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  • Malik Liaquat Hussain
    Jan 17, 2012 - 3:15PM

    Big deal between Government and judicary. No good news for poor people of Pakistan.

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  • Zafar Ali
    Jan 17, 2012 - 3:24PM

    To get the price of his services for the restoration of judges Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan will appear before the Supreme Court of Pakistan and SC will honour him.

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  • Blithe
    Jan 17, 2012 - 3:40PM

    Have all of you firgotten?
    He made a pledge not to appear before CJ
    as he was too close to CJ during lawyers’ movement.

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  • Peer Pinjar
    Jan 17, 2012 - 3:42PM

    What is basic structure of constitution and who framed that? Is that something divine? Otherwise parliament is the one which creates constitution.

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  • Shuaib
    Jan 17, 2012 - 3:49PM

    This is interesting not only do the judiciary regard Aitzaz Ahsan highly because he is reputable person and was at the forefront in the struggle for the restoration of the judges but the fact that he has openly advocated that the govt write the letter to the swiss authorities! Is this an indication that the letter will be written?

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  • Disco
    Jan 17, 2012 - 3:52PM

    Aitzaz is a falcon, has good acumen in politics & legal matters. So much for the Montecillo doctor, who was unbearable. PPP should start bringing credible elected people forward from diverse constituencies, rather then unelected, Rehman Malik & Baber Awan, who are elected through back door Sindh Senate seats.Recommend

  • Abdul Naeem
    Jan 17, 2012 - 4:01PM

    Look at the government who should be responsible for the implementatin of rule of law appearing before the court for not implementing court’s judgements. Miserable thing is that Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan will be the laywer

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  • Shamim Akhtar
    Jan 17, 2012 - 4:05PM

    A shamful act on the part of Aitzaz Ahsan

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  • UFF
    Jan 17, 2012 - 4:12PM

    Every one is with PM….(Poor Man)…… For Vote only

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  • Mahesh Patil
    Jan 17, 2012 - 4:12PM

    You file any case against your present government in your supreme court,the case gets topmost priority hearing and time bound judgement which any one can foresee its outcome just looking at casual and sarcastic remarks by bench while hearing the defense lawyer.Well intention of judges may be good but has to follow the set laws and rules.If this goes on,”Who will guard the guardians”? .

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  • Karim
    Jan 17, 2012 - 4:17PM

    Aitazaz……….has proved that he is a Lawyer!

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  • Jan 17, 2012 - 4:25PM

    Mr. Aitizaz Ahsan will never break his word. He is appearing only because the matter is fixed before a bench from which, Thank God, the Chief Justice is absent.Recommend

  • burhan
    Jan 17, 2012 - 4:25PM

    I am glad he didnt join PTI.

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  • Anonymous
    Jan 17, 2012 - 4:25PM

    @Parvez:
    In Lahore,pindi, … People will vote for PPP evrery other place more or less. this is party of masses ….

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  • Rizwan
    Jan 17, 2012 - 4:27PM

    If i am not wrong at the time of restoration of Judiciary Ch Aitizaz had committed he will never appear in Room 1 the court room of C.J of Pakistan due to his close association .What has changed now !

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  • Rizwan
    Jan 17, 2012 - 4:28PM

    i agree i had seen that press conference what has changed now that Mr Aitzaz is appearing in Cour 1

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  • Shuaib
    Jan 17, 2012 - 4:43PM

    To “wordoflife” Yes Aitezaz Ahsan said that He won’t stand in a case where the CJ is heading the case but correct me if im wrong the CJ is not part of the bench hearing the contempt case?

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  • Gul Nawaz Khan
    Jan 17, 2012 - 5:03PM

    Barrister Aitzaz Sb I am shamful for that respect which I have given you for your services rendered for the restoration of judiciary. Now I understand that you were investing and now time has come to encash you services.

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  • Beatle
    Jan 17, 2012 - 5:12PM

    Good thinking by Gillani & Co. Many will have a sigh of relief. Aitzaz can act like catalyst to bring either side to senses.

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  • Godfather
    Jan 17, 2012 - 5:14PM

    This is a blatant and shameless breach of conflict of interest. Aitzaz Ahsan has always tried running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. Only a dysfunctional society as ours can bestow any respect upon such a chameleon. It’s time to end glorifying the judicial high priests and their lackeys and start holding them accountable for running carts and horses through our constitution and making a mockery of judicial practice.

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  • natasha
    Jan 17, 2012 - 5:16PM

    Very disappointed with Mr. Ahsan.

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  • sashayub
    Jan 17, 2012 - 5:24PM

    …never a dull moment i say…Recommend

  • Asad
    Jan 17, 2012 - 5:33PM

    I think Mr A has agreed to represent the PM because he wants senate ticket

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  • Zeeeeeeeeeeee
    Jan 17, 2012 - 6:08PM

    @Kafka: I agree with u dude……….

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  • Shahid Malik
    Jan 17, 2012 - 6:09PM

    @Word Life: My dear, Chaudhry is not in the bench.

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  • Jan 17, 2012 - 6:26PM

    I remember Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan speech upon the restoration of present Judiciary where he had announced “I will not appear in front of CJ Mr. Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in any court of law”. Now he appear’s before the same Chief Justice, to fight PM’s case. How come he forgot his commitment???

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  • Common citizen
    Jan 17, 2012 - 6:31PM

    Aitezaz to turn black into white…….. how this will help him…

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  • Where is democracy?
    Jan 17, 2012 - 7:01PM

    Katiba Bin Muslim, a general of the Islamic Caliphate in 700s, carried out his orders from the Caliph in Damascus to conquer Central Asia. One of the states in Central Asia after loosing the battle to the Muslims complained that they were not offered the terms before the war. A Qazi, a judge, from the capital, Damascus, came to decide the matter. After listening to the arguments and witnesses from both the Muslim generals and the people, he passed the judgement in favor of the people against his own armies and ordered the army to vacate the land.

    Katiba came out of the court and ordered his army to march out. Seeing this, the people stopped the Muslims and said that if you obey your judiciary without questions then we want you to establish your law in our lands. This is democracy. Just being elected through the votes and doing nothing and looting is not democracy.

    If we, the people of Pakistan, think that this present government is a democratic government and working for the people, then perhaps we are not ready for a true democracy yet!

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  • akbar sherwalla
    Jan 17, 2012 - 8:06PM

    aitzaz would leave PPP as soon as this weak case damages his credibility..And where to??
    Of course PTI!!!!

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  • Hasan
    Jan 17, 2012 - 8:11PM

    Well done, Chaudhary Sb. The people of Pakistan are with their PM.

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  • salman
    Jan 17, 2012 - 8:26PM

    If PM is ready to submit before the court and ready to write the letter then some kind of face saving through Aitzaz is understandable otherwise with deepest sorrow i can only say YOU TOO Brutus

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  • Iqbal
    Jan 17, 2012 - 8:33PM

    Wait a minute, isn’t PPP his party still? If so, does he not have an obligation to defend it, if needed?The problem with us is one moment we put people on a pedestal and then the very next we turn around and shun them.I am not a PPP supporter, but I do believe in democracy, freedom of judiciary and in the people who made it possible.Aitzaz Ahsan is one of them!

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  • Mirza
    Jan 17, 2012 - 8:46PM

    Just like a doctor who is required to treat even his enemy, a lawyer is obligated to represent his clients. It is a good choice and it would help common sense prevail.

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  • mohammad naeem
    Jan 17, 2012 - 8:46PM

    Aitezaz ahsan is a respctable lawyer. He is not apearing before cj as had promised but it is his duty to fight the case in context of continuation of democracy the same way he had been at forefront for restoration of judiciary.pause

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  • Amir Bajwa
    Jan 17, 2012 - 8:51PM

    @Burhan: PTI have gotten a worse deal, trust me, despite such issues Ahsan remains much more credible than those who have changed their parties a trillion times to bring a revolution.

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  • Imran
    Jan 17, 2012 - 9:07PM

    Why do pakistanis think they r saving democracy?? You dont have democracy in ur country !!! This is not democracy for goodness sake!! Wake up study democracy on google and not sex !! Recommend

  • Umer
    Jan 17, 2012 - 9:08PM

    @Where is democracy?:

    If we, the people of Pakistan, think
    that this present government is a
    democratic government and working for
    the people, then perhaps we are not
    ready for a true democracy yet!

    Then why we, the people of Pakistan, voted this government in? Are you calling our own choice non-democratic now? Another election is coming, make a better voting choice next time don’t blame the government for your voting mistake. You got what you voted for.

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  • Ashraf P
    Jan 17, 2012 - 9:23PM

    This is not a weak case at all. The CJ is getting carried away with the power he has and is very obviously targeting the present government and its ministers. The present government may be corrupt but it doesn’t mean that the CJ can overstep his mandate either.

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  • Jan 17, 2012 - 9:41PM

    @Rizwan:
    Only this: The hearing of the contempt case is not going to take place in Courtroom No.1. And thank Allah for that!

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  • Adnan
    Jan 17, 2012 - 10:03PM

    @Word Life:

    Chief Justice of Pakistan is not in this bench my friend. Aitzaz has kept his promise. You are just a PPP hater. You do not have to loose respect for anyone because you never had any!

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  • Jan 17, 2012 - 10:17PM

    Supreme Court knows that President has immunity under Geneva Convention but i do not understand why Judiciary is pressing Gov. to write letter to Swiss Authorities

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  • Tufail Malik
    Jan 17, 2012 - 10:42PM

    Every overstep against the government seems to be right due to the current government doings in last four years. We respect aitzaZ ahsan, he should not defend corrupt government and prime minister.

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  • K. Salim Jahangir
    Jan 17, 2012 - 10:48PM

    Mr. Ahsan should have kept his earlier stance that he would not appear before the Chief Justice of Pakistan,but he is another PPP’s Jiala.

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  • Jan 17, 2012 - 10:50PM

    @Tufail Malik:
    He is not defending Gov. he will just tell the judiciary that President has immunity under Geneva Convention which they don’t understand even they themselves know itRecommend

  • Jan 17, 2012 - 10:57PM

    @K. Salim Jahangir:
    dear CJ will not be the part of 17members Bench

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  • Shahbaz Khan
    Jan 17, 2012 - 11:14PM

    Well, this should settle it for those who were on the fence about AA. We know now for sure where he stands. His party comes first; everything else-principles, ethics, the constitution and the people-take a back seat. Why am I not dismayed as yet another politician shows his true disposition?

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  • Where is democracy?
    Jan 17, 2012 - 11:20PM

    @Umer:
    Then why we, the people of Pakistan, voted this government in? Are you calling our own choice non-democratic now?

    Nobody is calling anybody’s choice undemocratic. Getting votes and elected does not give anyone in any part of the world free will to disobey supreme courts, to “not deliver” at all and unable to be honest.

    This is perhaps our irony. We seem to think that once the government is elected, it is the Godfather of democracy. The democracy starts AFTER you get elected. When you deliver, when you held accountable and ACCEPT the failure of your governance. Getting votes does not assure anyone of the full 5 years of governance even if they are stubborn enough to keep corrupting the whole system and keep failing in front of all the challenges and still chanting about saving democracy. What is democracy anyway? I bet our honorable elected President and the Prime Minister would define it as completing “their” term is democracy!Recommend

  • Ahmandr
    Jan 17, 2012 - 11:53PM

    It is funny how fours ago Mr.Ahsan was fighting for the same judiciary which now he is going to go against it.

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  • Umer
    Jan 18, 2012 - 12:24AM

    @Where is democracy?:
    Nobody is calling anybody’s choice undemocratic. Getting votes and elected does not give anyone in any part of the world free will to disobey supreme courts, to “not deliver” at all and unable to be honest.
    Vote them out in the next election. If courts are biased and the don’t see others just PPP then this is political victimising and condemnable.Recommend

  • Umer
    Jan 18, 2012 - 12:27AM

    Getting votes and elected does not
    give anyone in any part of the world
    free will to disobey supreme courts

    SC decided price of sugar at Rs 40. Where is obeying of this order from Punjab MNA/MPA mill owners? Where is contempt of court against them? Where is contempt of court against N League for attacking SC? Why is PPP the only victim of this military coup in the form of a judicial activism?

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  • Sindhvoice
    Jan 18, 2012 - 12:40AM

    What an irony once the lawyer of CJ is now lawyer of PM. Itzaz Hassan successfully lead the campaign for revival of Judiciary and I wish he will succeed in this struggle for civilian supremacy and democracy.

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  • Shahid
    Jan 18, 2012 - 1:32AM

    The only thing Aitazaz cares for is money.

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  • Taimoor Ashraf
    Jan 18, 2012 - 1:52AM

    To the best of my knowledge he is not appearing before the CJ. The larger bench is being headed by Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk! I could be wrong but for those who are on the edge of losing respect for Aitzaz Ahsan, please check first!

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  • Umer
    Jan 18, 2012 - 2:41AM

    @Ahmandr:

    It is funny how fours ago Mr.Ahsan was
    fighting for the same judiciary which
    now he is going to go against it.

    First time I have heard defending your client means going against judiciary unless it means judiciary is itself a party in the case and not an independent adjudicator.

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  • c.m.sarwar
    Jan 18, 2012 - 2:42AM

    What is the amount of money Itizaz will receive as fee and who is paying it?

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  • wounded pakistan
    Jan 18, 2012 - 2:54AM

    aitzaz ahsan failed to read the pulse of masses…..poor jaat ….if he stands for rule of law y would he defend a prime minister who intentionally didnt comply to court order .Recommend

  • Mubashir
    Jan 18, 2012 - 5:48AM

    Barrister Aitazaz Ahsan is a man of Integrity. I wish he would have been spared from appearing before the court of C.J Iftikhar Chaudhary. It shall be difficult for the court to decide now, given the history between the two. Maybe C.J should excuse himself from the Bench.

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  • Mohsin
    Jan 18, 2012 - 7:25AM

    It seems another one has decided to go down with the sinking ship…..

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  • Kazmis
    Jan 18, 2012 - 8:27AM

    Why SC is behaving like that?

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  • Patwari
    Jan 18, 2012 - 9:36AM

    @Parvez: By the way “People” are not the only ones who can read and write English and post comments on news websites. Majority cannot. And they are the ones who decide. Hello IK supporters please stop living in Lala Land. Dont rest on your laurels. You have a long way to go.

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  • Beatle
    Jan 18, 2012 - 10:35AM

    @Blithe:

    This particular case is not in the court of CJ, but a bench headed by J. Naser-ul-Mulk. Please do not be sentimental in your comments, and jump to the false accusation, that too for a respected man like Aitzaz. Thx.

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  • Syed Imran
    Jan 18, 2012 - 3:13PM

    @ Colonel

    This jali colonel is beating about the bush. Fact of the matter is that in the name of democracy this poor country will once again be asked to bear with the Champions of so called democracy and let it drown further

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  • Hasan
    Jan 18, 2012 - 7:46PM

    Good move by the PM, M. Ahsan is well respected and will hopefully resolve the matter that is taking up so much of the court’s time.

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  • Sajid
    Jan 18, 2012 - 10:05PM

    Most of the spearheads of the society are of the view that when Judiciary makes a decision, the other branches of government are obliged to abide by this decision or face prosecution for contempt of court.
    Taken to its logical conclusion, this situation results in a crippled government in which the executive and legislature are in constant fear of being declared in contempt of court whereas there are absolutely no checks and balances on the ability of the Supreme Court to make whatever decision they like. No matter what they decide, defenders of the Court will argue that since they are the highest court in the land, they have the right to act as they are acting. Tomorrow, for example, the court could declare that the entire Constitution be re-written to be in line with the Objectives Resolution. Any government that refuses to enforce this will immediately be declared to be in contempt of court. Is this a situation that we are willing to accept?
    Really, this is only an issue because we have a parallel government in the form of the Establishment. As Alexander Hamilton said of the US Supreme Court, “it may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.” Of course this is not an endorsement to the executive to disobey the Supreme Court – but in a state like the US, it’s merely a statement of reality – the Supreme Court knows that it cannot force the executive to enforce a decision that the executive violently disagrees with, which is an incentive for the court to practice a degree of judicial restraint. However in Pakistan, there is a parallel government in the form of the establishment. The Court knows that in the case where the executive is unwilling to enforce its decision, it can appeal – or make common cause with – the parallel government and have its decision enforced by it. This bypassing of the executive to enforce its decision essentially disembowels the executive and leads to – as we see – a breakdown of the functioning of the state which is where we are right now.

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  • Aftab kenneth Wilson
    Jan 18, 2012 - 10:24PM

    There will be qualified arguments which would be a treat to listen and read. He is the best choice keeping in view his very close relationship with the present CJ. Moreover in today’s talk show with Mr. Hamid Mir he also showed his interest to fight Shaheed Bhutto’s case due to the cancellation of Babar Awan’s license. I hope AA would be able to tame our defiant judiciary.

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  • Word Life
    Feb 8, 2012 - 5:55PM

    @ Adnan (Jan 17, 2012 – 10:03PM), Who is heading the Bench for Appeal against the Contempt Case tomorrow?

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