In a show of defiance, the government on Thursday appointed Irfan Qadir, well known for his belligerent attitude towards the incumbent judiciary, as the attorney general.
At the same time, chief legal officer and former Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) judge Yasmeen Abbasi has been appointed the new law secretary in his place.
The reshuffle comes at a time when proceedings of prime minister’s contempt of court case and non-implementation of verdict against the defunct National Reconciliation Order (NRO) are entering their final stages and the government expects ‘hostile’ judgments from the pro-active judiciary.
Qadir, who was ousted as the prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on the court’s order, was recently appointed the secretary of the law ministry, another key office that extends advice to the government on legal matters.
He has been replaced by Abbasi who had been a judge of the Sindh High Court under the Provisional Constitution Order of former president General Pervez Musharraf while the judiciary was sent packing.
Son of a retired judge, Qadir too remained a PCO judge in the Lahore High Court for a brief period.
After restoration of the Iftikhar Chaudhry-led judiciary in 2009, Musharraf’s 2007 PCO was declared illegal leading to removal of all those judges who took oath under the scrapped ordinance.
Qadir’s predecessor Maulvi Anwarul Haq has been moved to the presidency as an adviser to the president.
The latest changes are the culmination of the refurbishment of law offices of the federal government. Just a day before this reshuffle, Farooq H Naek, another confidant of President Asif Ali Zardari, was appointed as the law minister.
Qadir had reportedly fiercely opposed the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and other judges through an executive order by Prime Minister Gilani in 2009.
Qadir after his removal as NAB prosecutor general was working as a consultant (legal affairs) for the president’s secretariat before his appointment as law secretary.
Back in 2010, Irfan Qadir had many controversial interactive sessions with the Supreme Court (SC) judges including raising objections on the legality of the restoration of the judges through an executive order issued by the prime minister, the legality of the July 30, 2009 judgment of the SC and appointment of ad hoc judges in the SC, besides many other direct references to the conduct of SC judges.
The newly appointed law secretary has an interesting background as well. Abbasi was serving in the Sindh High Court in August 2011 when, in an attempt to avert the executive-judiciary row, Prime Minister Gilani “de-notified” non-functional members of the superior judiciary, who had taken oath under the PCO in accordance with the SC’s orders. Abbasi had subsequently refused to tender an unconditional apology in the SC for being a PCO judge.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2012.