Wapda chairman Muzammil quits, Ashtar slated to become AGP

Published May 8, 2022
This file photo shows retired Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain. — DawnNewsTV/File
This file photo shows retired Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain. — DawnNewsTV/File

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Muzammil Hussain resigned on Saturday, citing personal reasons.

Separately, the government has decided to appoint senior lawyer Ashtar Ausaf as Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP), the principal law officer.

Outgoing Wapda chairman Mr Hussain, a retired lieutenant general, has submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif after serving in the office for more than five years.

While Mr Hussain didn’t answer phone calls from Dawn, he responded to a message, confirming the development.

He was appointed as Wapda chairman on Aug 24, 2016 by the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, replacing Zafar Mahmood. Mr Hussain’s contract expired on Aug 24 last year, but the PTI-led federal government granted him an extension for another five years.

Since his abrupt resignation has surprised many because of improvement in the country’s water and power sector during his tenure, some vloggers on social media have recently claimed that Mr Hussain supported PTI chief Imran Khan during the recent no-confidence motion to remove the former prime minister from office.

In his resignation, the outgoing Wapda chairman said he and his team had achieved some outstanding milestones in the last five years, such as commissioning several hydropower projects that were earlier subject to complications and delays, including Neelum-Jhelum, Kachhi Canal, Tarbela fourth extension, and Golen Gol.

Besides, he said work on more than 10 projects with a cost of over Rs2.6 trillion was under way.

He hoped that timely commissioning of neglected dams — such as Diamer-Bhasha, Mohmand, Dasu and seven others — would serve to be a source of prosperity for the nation in the future by making Pakistan self-reliant on affordable energy and double its water storage capacity, which currently stands at just 13 million acre-feet.

“Mr Prime Minister, I will be unable to proceed in this position moving forward due to personal and family compulsions and would like to request for the acceptance of my resignation from this onerous assignment as Wapda chairman,” Mr Hussain said in the resignation letter. “My assistance in any related matter will remain at your disposal.”

Ashtar Ausaf picked as AGP

Federal Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazir Tarar confirmed that a summary for the appointment of Ashtar Ausaf as the attorney general had been forwarded to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday.

According to him, the summary would be forwarded to President Dr Arif Alvi after the prime minister’s approval.

The attorney general’s appointment is made under Article 100 of the Constitution, whose Section 1 states: “The president shall appoint a person, being a person qualified to be a judge of the Supreme Court, to be the Attorney General for Pakistan.”

The law minister said the president was bound under the Constitution to act upon the advice of the prime minister.

Sources said that in case the president did not approve the summary, Mr Ausaf would become the attorney general after 15 days.

After the change of government and resignation of the country’s top law officer Khalid Jawed Khan last month, the new government led by coalition parties, mainly the PML-N, started headhunting for a new attorney general.

Those considered for the top post included Mr Ausaf, former law minister Zahid Hamid and senior lawyer Salman Akram Raja.

Mr Ausaf, who earlier served as AGP from 2016 to 2018 and also served as law adviser to former premier Nawaz Sharif, is considered very close to the Sharif family.

The Lahore-based lawyer, who recently returned from London, told Dawn the government had not approached him on the matter.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2022

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