Friday, November 6, 2009

Ahtizaz Ahsan: Attorney General or Governor?

The capital is buzzing with rumors about the Minus one formula. Mr. Ahsan himself did not kill the rumors. He did say that Mr. Zardari’s wings are about to be clipped (58-2b).

Ahtizaz Ahsan is one of those mercurial figures that rose to prominence on the back of the old guard of the Pakistan Peoples Party. He is a consummate PPP stalwart and refused to resign the party despite being rebuffed by Mr. Zardari and despite the fact that his party’s leadership was a major impediment to the restoration of the judiciary.

I used to be a great fan of Mr. Ahsan—his book “The Indus Saga” was exactly what I had been writing about for decades. His first edition of the book is very patriotic and brings out another dimension of Pakistani unity and nationhood—which I labeled the “Geographic Two Nation Theory”. The Geographic TNT basically states that the Pakistan has been in existance for 5000 years and the nomenclature and current state of Pakistan is the latest avatar of the Indus Valley.

Mr. Ahsan’s book based on on local and regional nationalism says the same thing. Of course Mr. Ahsan wants to propagate the secular perspective, and the 2nd edition of his book dilutes the nationalistic banner that he carried in the first edition.

I would like to state an interesting anecdote. We were in front of the UN protesting the rule of Mr. Musharraf and the restoration of the judiciary. I asked his son to autograph his book and give it to me. Just to remind him, I forced a ten dollar bill on the young Ahsan. I saw him a year later and asked him “you owe me ten dollars”. He smiled and said the book was out of print and he was trying to get it.

I must admire the man, he never said no.

A few months later I met Mr. Ahsan at a Chaudhry Iftikhar rally in New York. I asked him about the book. He said his son had requested the autograph but the book was out of print. A few more months passed. One day, a package arrived with a fresh off the press brand spanking new book—duly autographed by Mr. Ahsan for me. The book had Mr. Ahsan’s son’s card. He works for an American consulting company in strategy. But the fun part was that the young Ahsan had stapled a ten Dollar bill to his card with a sincere apology about the delay.

Of course the book is one the treasures in my book collection.

The anecdote goes to show the honesty of the man and his son. They actually got the book republished because this unknown fan had asked for it. What a guy!

Aitzaz Ahsan for the first time in nine months met the top leaders of the party in the backdrop of the current political situation.—Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Aitzaz Ahsan, a senior PPP leader who has been sidelined by his party for the past two years, met President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday and was reported to have been offered the offices of the attorney general and the Punjab governor.

However, in an interview to a private TV channel, Mr Ahsan neither confirmed nor denied the offer.

‘He has been offered the office of attorney general and now it is up to him to accept it or not,’ a senior member of the PPP told Dawn.

Political analysts termed the meetings significant, especially against the backdrop of the current political situation and removal of Latif Khosa as attorney general.

These were the first formal meetings between Mr Ahsan and top leaders of the PPP in nine months after the party had suspended his membership of the Central Executive Committee on ‘disciplinary grounds’ in February.

Political observers believe he was suspended for supporting Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry during the emergency and his suspension by former president Pervez Musharraf.

Mr Ahsan, who had met Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani three months ago, advised the president to transfer all his ‘politically undesired powers’ to institutions.

‘This is the only way to save the system and democracy.’ Talking to reporters before the meetings, Mr Ahsan said the president enjoyed immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution even if the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance lapsed.

His tone was soft and remarks were favourable for Mr Zardari when he said no court could summon the president in any case.

‘If NRO is abolished, all cases suspended under it will revive. The state machinery, including police and the National Accountability Bureau, can also take action, but no court can summon the president,’ he said.

In reply to a question about the cases against President Zardari outside the country, Mr Ahsan said the president would have the protection under the ‘principal of sovereign immunity’ and no court could summon him.

On being reminded that the president did not enjoy immunity in the case of mala fide acts, he referred to a LHC’s judgment of 1979 on Sadiq Qureshi’s case and said that if it was proved that any action of the president was mala fide, only then he could not get immunity under Article 248.

‘But this has nothing to do with his (president) actions prior to holding the office of the president,’ he added.

Mr Ahsan said he had always opposed the NRO and also suggested to PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto not to get benefit under the ordinance. Aitzaz offered post of governor or AG By Syed Irfan Raza Friday, 06 Nov, 2009

I fully support Mr. Ahsan for the Attorney General’s position—it will be a great honor for Pakistan to nominate one of its best lawyers as the Attorney General. Of course, the next step would be the leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party. Ahsan is no Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto but he is a true populist, and his feelings for the poor of Pakistan overcomes his perceived lack of patriotism.

Its time to try a new face. We have had no luck with the present NRO and SRO lot.

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