ISLAMABAD: As the caretaker government is on its way out in a few days, one of the most important offices requiring immediate attention of the incoming PTI government is the office of attorney general (AG).
Every political party, which forms its government at the Centre after general elections, appoints an eminent lawyer of its choice as attorney general upon whom it has complete trust and with whom it feels comfortable in day-to-day functioning of the government.
The AG office is considered to be one of the most significant government offices and therefore an individual with deep understanding of law and considerable experience at the bar and qualified enough to be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court is chosen to represent the federal government before the superior judiciary. The AG also acts as a bridge between the two pillars of the state – executive and the judiciary.
Incumbent Khalid Jawed Khan was appointed by caretakers
Such constitutional appointment under Article 100 also obligates the AG to give advice to the federal government on legal matters, when needed, perform duties of a legal character as may be referred or assigned to by the federal government and in the performance of his duties, the AG also enjoys the right of audience in all courts and tribunals in Pakistan.
Even the AG can participate and speak in the proceedings of the Senate and National Assembly.
Currently, the office is held by Khalid Jawed Khan who was appointed as AG by the caretaker government. Khalid Khan is the son of PPP leader and former law minister N.D. Khan.
An informed source privy to the development believes that although the PTI leadership is busy gathering the required numbers of legislators to achieve a comfortable majority in the centre, this matter has not escaped their attention and the party is in search of an appropriate individual for the coveted post.
A number of names like Sikander Bashir Mohmand, who represented PTI secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen in the Hanif Abbasi case before the Supreme Court, and several others, are making rounds in the PTI circles but the party is also pondering to retain the current AG, whose hard work, fairness in dealing with the issues as well as clear understanding of law has also amazed the judges of the Supreme Court.
Obviously, a final decision will be of the present AG to continue or to simply quit, acknowledges different quarters in the PTI.
Earlier, when the PML-N government came to power after the 2013 elections, it retained Muneer A. Malik as AG.
The office of AG will become all the more significant since a number of international disputes —the arbitration revolving around the case moved by the Turkish firm Karkey Karadeniz Electrik Uretim being the most important — is going to be matured in the coming years.
Already the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) had stayed the execution of $800 million award issued against Pakistan in Aug 2017.
Similarly, Pakistan has lost a case before the ICSID in relation to the denial of a mining lease for the Reko Dig project on a claim instituted by the Tethyan Copper Company Pvt Ltd – a joint venture between Antofagasta and Canada’s Barrick Gold Corporation.
Likewise, the office of AG is also engaged in preparing the case, which is expected to be heard in sometimes in September this year before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav case.
There are over 30 other international disputes against Pakistan pending in different international forums to be taken care of.
Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2018