ISLAMABAD, June 5: Munir A. Malik, the Karachi-based lawyer who galvanised the legal community for the historic fight for reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in 2007, is likely to be the country’s next attorney general.
The appointment of the non-partisan lawyer to replace the incumbent Irfan Qadir may come as a surprise for many, but will be a sign of change.
According to sources, Mr Malik was invited to Lahore last week to meet PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and he was offered the coveted office considered to be a bridge between the judiciary and the government.
Mr Qadir said he had no knowledge about the planned substitution. “I don’t know anything,” he said, adding that no-one served in any office forever. “It is always until the pleasure of the president,” he said.
He was appointed by President Asif Ali Zardari on April 13 last year under Article 100 of the constitution that allows him to continue to serve in the capacity till the president decides otherwise.
It is the duty of the attorney general to advise the federal government on legal issues and he has the right of audience in all courts and tribunals.
Mr Malik, a former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), was in the forefront of the famous lawyers’ movement for the independence of the judiciary when Chief Justice Chaudhry was deposed by retired Gen Pervez Musharraf on March 9, 2007.
He was a member of the team which fought the legal battle in the Supreme Court for the reinstatement of the chief justice.
But Mr Malik had to pay a heavy price for his steadfastness during the movement and his opposition to the military ruler and not only he but his family were terrorised by bullets flying outside his home in Karachi in May 2007. He was also kept in confinement in the Attock jail.
“Malik was always in the forefront during the lawyers’ campaign but the biggest leadership quality he demonstrated was that he always kept us along with him during the movement,” said Tariq Mehmood, another former SCBA chief.
Mr Mehmood also praise the PML-N leadership and said it had shown political maturity by thinking outside the box and outside the party fold and chose a capable and competent person like Mr Malik from Sindh, knowing well that it had many knowledgeable and experienced persons in the party.
After the reinstatement of the chief justice along with other superior court judges on March 16, 2009, Mr Malik kept a low profile although several others exploited the situation by claiming the ownership of the movement and their closeness with the judiciary, retired Justice Mehmood said.
He expressed confidence that Mr Malik, known for his legal acumen, would skillfully play a positive role by acting as a bridge between the new government and the judiciary, contrary to the antagonistic attitude of the previous government.
A source close to Mr Malik told Dawn that if appointed AG he would, as always, stand for the rule of law.