|Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan (born on September 27, 1945, Murree, Islamabad Pakistan) is a Barrister-at-Law by profession and a senior advocate at the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He is also a writer, human rights activist, politician, former Federal Minister for Law and Justice, Interior, Narcotics Control (1988-1990) and Education. Elected to the Senate of Pakistan in 1994, he eventually succeeded as the leader of the House and the leader of the Opposition between the years 1996 and 1999. Currently he is president of the Supreme Court Bar Association.
In the wake of 9 March events in Pakistan, barrister Aitzaz Ahsan has become a sign of resistance to anti-democratic moves. His eloquent speeches and his command over Pakistani law make him one of the most recognizable politicians of today. Aitzaz Ahsan is also an active member of Pakistan Peoples Party.
Aitzaz Ahsan comes from a family background steeped in politics.
He received his early education from Aitchison College and the Government College, Lahore. Later he studied law at Cambridge University, UK and was called to the bar at Grays’ Inn in 1967.
Decline government service.
Upon his return from Cambridge, Aitzaz Ahsan appeared for and stood first in Pakistan’s prestigious Central Superior Services (CSS)examination. Objecting to the rule of General Ayub Khan, however, he refused to join government service during the time of military rule. This act of youthful defiance made him the first, and perhaps only, individual to top the CSS exam yet decline government service.
Aitzaz Ahsan started his political career in the 1970s. When Chaudhry Anwar Samma, a PPP MPA from Gujrat, was murdered in March 1975, Aitzaz Ahsan was elected, un-opposed to the Punjab Assembly and inducted in the provincial cabinet. He was given the portfolio of information, planning and development.
Resign from Punjab cabinet & expelled from PPP
During the PNA demonstrations against the alleged rigging of elections by the PPP government in 1977, the police opened fire on a lawyers rally in Lahore. Aitzaz, who was a provincial minister in the Punjab Cabinet at the time, resigned in protest. He was subsequently also expelled from the People’s Party for this act of insubordination.
Rejoining PPP ,MRD & political prisoner
After General Zia’s coup, Aitzaz became an active leader of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD), and rejoined the Pakistan Peoples Party during the martial law period. During this period he was jailed several times as a political prisoner without trial for active participation in the MRD movement.
In 1988, Aitzaz Ahsan was elected to the National Assembly from Lahore as a People’s Party candidate.
He won reelection in 1990, but lost in 1993.
Senate Election 1994
In 1994 he was elected to the Senate of Pakistan.
He was reelected to the National Assembly as a Peoples Party candidate in the 2002 General Elections, when he won from two seats his traditional seat in Lahore, as well as from Bhawalnagar in Southern Punjab.
During his most recent tenure as a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan he was a member of the Standing Committee on Interior and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
Advocate Supreme court
A senior advocate in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Ahsan is a well respected Pakistani lawyer, consistently given the highest rank by Chambers and Partners ranking of legal professionals. He also made legal history of sorts by having defended two Prime Ministers in the court of law. Having previously fought cases in defence of Ms Bhutto in 2001 he took up a case in defence of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Chief Justice case
Recently Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan successsfully represented Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The hearing was being conducted by a full panel of judges headed by Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday, and the 13-member panel reinstated the Chief Justice declaring his suspension by Pervez Musharraf regime “illegal.”
Human rights activist
He is also an indefatigable human rights activist and a founder & vice-president of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. He has been incarcerated under arbitrary detention laws many times by military and authoritarian regimes. During one such prolonged detention, he wrote The Indus Saga.
Aitzaz Ahsan was arrested soon after the declaration of emergency/martial law. There have also rumors that he is being kept in solitary confinement and bring tortured. Recently, 33 US Senators wrote to President Musharraf to release Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan immediately, as he is widely respected all around the world.
Possessing a literary penchant, he has also authored the book “The Indus Saga and the Making of Pakistan” and its Urdu translation, “Sindh Sagar Aur Qyam-e-Pakistan” which presents the cultural history of Pakistan.
Co – author
He has also co-authored the book “Divided by Democracy” with Lord Meghnad Desai of the London School of Economics.