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US senators demand Aitzaz’s release

November 09, 2007

LAHORE, Nov 8: US senators have demanded immediate release of Supreme Court Bar Association president Aitzaz Ahsan.

The demand has been made in a letter addressed to President Gen Pervez Musharraf and signed by 32 senators, a copy of which was faxed to Dawn on Thursday.

Recognising Pakistan’s role in the region and in bringing Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda to justice, the senators have, however, expressed concern at the detention of Mr Ahsan.

“...Mr Ahsan is a highly distinguished attorney and political leader. He is a former government minister and former opposition leader in the Senate of Pakistan,” the letter said, adding: “A senior advocate in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, he consistently earns the highest rating in rankings of legal professionals in Pakistan.”

The communiqué recalled that Mr Ahsan had represented a variety of high-profile political figures, including former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif as well as deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

But, it said, he was arrested last Saturday during a press conference he was holding in Islamabad and was probably being jailed in Rawalpindi.

“It is simply not right that Mr Ahsan is being jailed for doing his job as an attorney by defending rights of his client.

We ask you to immediately look into this mater and urge you to release Mr Ahsan from prison immediately,” the communiqué said.

Meanwhile, some local politicians claimed that US embassy officials had told them by phone that President Musharraf had given them commitment to doff his uniform by Nov 15.

The officials, the politicians said, were contacting political parties as well as civil society members to seek first-hand information about the public response to the emergency.