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Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan

January 18, 2012

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Introduction: Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, more popularly known as Aitzaz Ahsan, is a Barrister-at-law and an astute politician representing Pakistan’s People’s Party. Ahsan has also served as the President of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan.

Biography: Ahsan was born on September 27, 1945 in Muree during the British era. He acquired his early education from Aitchison College and the Government College Lahore and later joined Downing College, Cambridge to study law. Ahsan was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn in 1967.

Political Career: After the murder of Chaudhry Anwar Samma, Ahsan was elected to the Punjab Assembly in 1975. After the elections, Ahsan was asked to join the cabinet and provided with the portfolio of information, planning and development.

The rebellious streak in Ahsan was first seen when he resigned as a cabinet minister, following the incidents pertaining to police opening fire on the rally staged by lawyers, against the rigging of elections, allegedly perpetrated by PPP.

In 1977, following the coup staged by Zia-ul-Haq, Ahsan rejoined PPP and became a part of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy.  He was imprisoned on various occasions for his support towards MRD.

In 1988, Ahsan was elected to the National Assembly and served as minister for law and justice. In the year 1994, he was elected to the Senate of Pakistan and served as one of the leaders of the opposition until 1999. However, he was re-elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan in 2002, as PPP’s candidate.

As a lawyer: Ahsan is a senior advocate in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and senior partner of Aitzaz Ahsan & Associates. He is the only barrister who has the privilege of defending two prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto in 2001 and Nawaz Sharif, in the court of law.

Ahsan has been a devout member of the lawyer movement which gained much popularity during General Musharraf’s regime. He represented the then suspended Chief Justice of Pakistan against a team consisting of 16 judges and defended him against various allegations, pertaining to corruption and stepping out of judicial boundaries.

After Musharraf declared emergency in Pakistan, by simultaneously suspending the parliament and constitution, Ahsan was arrested again. Various international allies wrote letters and requested Musharraf to release Ahsan immediately, as he is respected for his work ethics and political values across the globe.

Ahsan advocated human rights and received highest accolades for his work as a human rights activist.

Current status: On January 17, 2012, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani approached and met with Ahsan in order to request him to represent the premier in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, to contest the contempt notice filed against him.

Gilani is facing contempt charges for his refusal to write to the Swiss government to reopen the pending cases against President Zardari.

In the hearing scheduled on January 19, 2012, the prime minister accompanied Ahsan where latter requested for a grace period of one month. The grace period has been sought to access the records and file a response against the alleged charges.

Ahsan continued to defend the Prime Minister in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, however the court announced to indict Gilani on charges pertaining to contempt of court and summoned him on February 13, 2012. PM Gilani was later convicted of contempt of court on April 26, 2012.