The AG issue

 
February 23, 2020

That former attorney-general for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan had to resign and tender unconditional apology to the Supreme Court of Pakistan has become a matter of discussion in legal and political...

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That former attorney-general (AG) for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan had to resign and tender unconditional apology to the Supreme Court of Pakistan has become a matter of discussion in legal and political circles alike. Without going into the details of his comments in front of the ten-member bench of Supreme Court that was hearing the case regarding Justice Qazi Faez Isa, it can be safely said that the legal managers of the PTI-led government have been making a mess of nearly everything that comes their way. First, it was the extension issue that could and should have been resolved smoothly, but the government’s legal team could not manage it and the Supreme Court had to intervene and issue guidelines. Even then it took a lot of back and forth to develop a simple draft. Be it the citizenship matter of Senator Hamdullah or leveling of charges of sedition and then revoking them, somehow the tendency is to go headlong and then regret.

In this particular case, the government’s legal team developed a reference without proper considerations of legal implications. Then the attorney-general was apparently left to his own devices to defend the reference and in the process invented fanciful allegations against the Bench itself. Of course, the honourable Bench was not amused and took exception to his remarks. It is hard to believe that the AG could deliver such objectionable remarks without first discussing it with the one he was representing – the PTI government and its legal managers such as the minister for law, Farogh Naseem. Though the government since then has backtracked and tried to absolve itself from all blame, it cannot dissociate itself from the legal imbroglio it has created. The country at the moment is faced with myriad problems on multiple fronts, and the least this nation expects from the government is to get entangled in such cases.

The attorney-general is the chief law officer and legal adviser of the government. Not only the courts but the people of this country expect better demeanour from this lofty office. When some of the most senior officials representing the government behave in a less than dignified manner, the courts have to react and the people have a right to hold the government accountable for making a mockery of the judicial system in the country. The fact that in less than 73 years of Pakistan’s history we have had 35 AGs makes us believe that better scrutiny is needed before such appointments are made.



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