Pakistan has often been criticized for lacking in leadership and promoting policies that exacerbate the harsh divide between the rich and poor. However, there are people fighting to restore the integrity of this federation, one of them being Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan.
Ahsan has a long history of fighting for democracy. He grew up in a feudal Punjabi family that was active in politics, and is a product of Aitchison College and Government College (GC). Following his passion, he was admitted to Cambridge to study law, where he graduated in the first division.
The principled, freedom-fighting phase of Aitzaz Ahsan’s life began after he came back to Pakistan, post-Cambridge. Ahsan was persuaded by family members to take the Central Superior Services (CSS) exam—the exam that determines who is admitted in to the Pakistani beauracracy. The acceptance rate for the CSS is said to be about 2% of total candidates—Aitzaz Ahsan finished first out of all candidates. However, much to the surprise of all, Ahsan chose to refuse the honor, stating that he did not wish to be under the undemocratic government of General Ayub Khan. This act started a struggle against the army’s constant quelling of democracy in Pakistan. He joined the Pakistan People’s Party in the 1970’s and won a provincial seat in Punjab. He became a provincial minister, but exhibited his passion for justice by resigning after an incident in which Lahore police fired on protesting lawyers. For this act of defiance, Ahsan was kicked out of the PPP. Later, Ahsan became influential in the fight for democracy and rejoined the PPP after an almost decade hiatus. He went on to become a Federal Minister in Benazir’s first government and has served various functions over the last twenty years, including Leader of the House, Leader of the Opposition, and President of the Supreme Court Bar.
As President of the Supreme Court Bar, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan has done the most damage to the Musharruf dictatorship. He was prominent in the lawyers' movement for the restoration of the Chief Justice. Over the last year he has been jailed a number of times for his support for the Supreme Court judges. Presently, Ahsan is under house arrest, as he has been for more than a month now. Talking about prison, Ahsan once remarked to the New York Times, “My only prayer is that never again in this land should prison seem to be the only honorable option for political activists or for anyone else for that matter.” The tragedy of the situation is that the government can try to quell honorable voices, like that of Aitzaz Ahsan, while it talks about free and fair elections. Ahsan, wearing the hat of a lawyer, has said that he will boycott the elections because of the stifling of the judiciary.
Regardless of his current position to boycott the elections, I still strongly support this figure, a man whose history only further emphasizes his political principles and integrity.
Related videos: Ahsan speaking before his arrest
Police brutality as he appeals for calm