Aitzaz Ahsan

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Aitzaz Ahsan
Leader of the Opposition in
Senate of Pakistan
In office
21 March 2015 – 21 March 2018
Succeeded bySherry Rehman
In office
20 March 1997 – 12 October 1999
Leader of the House of Federation
In office
12 March 2012 – 12 March 2015
Prime MinisterYousaf Raza Gillani
Raja Pervez Ashraf
Nawaz Sharif
Succeeded byRaja Zafar ul Haq
In office
21 March 1993 – 20 March 1997
Prime MinisterBenazir Bhutto
26th Minister for Interior and Narcotics Control
In office
4 December 1988 – 6 August 1990
PresidentGhulam Ishaq Khan
Prime MinisterBenazir Bhutto
Preceded byMalik Nasim Ahmad
Succeeded byChaudhry Shujaat Hussain
Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs
In office
4 December 1988 – 6 August 1990
PresidentGhulam Ishaq Khan
Prime MinisterBenazir Bhutto
Federal Minister for Education
In office
PresidentGhulam Ishaq Khan
Prime MinisterBenazir Bhutto
Minister for Law and Justice
In office
4 December 1988 – 28 December 1988
PresidentGhulam Ishaq Khan
Prime MinisterBenazir Bhutto
Preceded byRana Sanaullah Khan
Succeeded byAshtar Ausaf Ali
Provincial Minister of Punjab for Information and Culture
In office
Provincial Minister of Punjab for Planning and Development
In office
Member of the Senate of Pakistan (Senator)
In office
In office
Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan
In office
18 November 2002 – 18 November 2007
ConstituencyNA-124 Lahore-VII
In office
In office
2 December 1988 – 3 November 1990
Member of Provincial Assembly of Punjab
In office
ConstituencyPP-28 Gujrat
Personal details
Born (1945-09-27) 27 September 1945 (age 78)
Murree, Punjab, British India
(present-day Punjab, Pakistan)
Political partyPakistan People’s Party (1970-present)
Other political
Pakistan People’s Party (1970-present)
EducationAitchison College
Alma materDowning College, Cambridge (LLM)

Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan (Punjabi, Urdu: چودھری اعتزاز احسن; born 27 September 1945) is a Pakistani politician and lawyer. He has served as Minister of Interior, Minister of Law & Justice and Minister of Education at the Federal Level. He was the Leader of the House in the Senate of Pakistan twice, first from 1994 to 1997 and again from 2012 to 2015. He also served as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

Born in Murree, Ahsan studied law at the Government College, Lahore and received a LLM from Downing College, Cambridge. Ahsan became the Planning and Development Minister for Punjab in 1975. After the Operation Fair Play coup, Ahsan became a prominent figure of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy. Ahsan was elected to the National Assembly from Lahore in 1988 and served as the interior minister of Pakistan under Benazir Bhutto's first government and served until 1990. He was re-elected to the National Assembly in the elections of 1990, and served in the opposition.

Ahsan was elected as a member of the Senate in 1994. He re-joined the cabinet after Benazir Bhutto's re-election as Prime Minister, and went on to serve as the Minister for Law, Justice and Human Rights. He has been re-elected as member of the senate for various terms and also become the minority leader.

A senior advocate in the Supreme Court, Aitzaz Ahsan is one of the most respected lawyers in Pakistan. He has also been a counsel for a number of high profile personalities, bringing appreciation as well as criticism his way. Aitzaz has played a prominent role in the legal community of the country and served as the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association between 2007 and 2008.

He has also authored the book the Indus Saga and the Making of Pakistan.

Early life and education[edit]

Ahsan was born on September 27, 1945, in Murree, British Punjab.[1][2] He belongs to a Punjabi Jat family of the Warraich clan,[3] and grew up in Lahore.[4]

He received his early education from Aitchison College. He then enrolled in Government College Lahore and later studied law at Downing College, Cambridge.[5][1][2][4] He was at Gray's Inn in 1967.[5] He then appeared in Central Superior Services examination[1] where he topped.[2] Equipped with his education in law and jurisprudence, Ahsan appeared in Pakistan’s prestigious Central Superior Services (CSS) examination. However, he did not join government service in defiance of Ayub Khan’s military rule.

Political career[edit]

Ahsan returned to Pakistan in 1967. He joined Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)[4] and began his political career in 1970s.[1] He was elected as the member of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab for first time on the ticket of PPP from Gujrat constituency on by-elections held following the Pakistan General elections of 1977 .[1] He was inducted in the provincial cabinet of Punjab and was appointed as the Provincial Minister for information, planning and development.[1][2][5] Ahsan was in his twenties during his tenure as provincial minister.[4] He resigned from the provincial cabinet and left PPP[1] following the incident in which Punjab Police opened fire on a rally of lawyers during the Pakistan National Alliance demonstrations against the alleged rigging of elections by the PPP government in 1977.[5] Ahsan joined Tehrik-e-Istiqlal.[1]

He rejoined the PPP following the Operation Fair Play[5] and actively became involved with the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy and for his participation in the MRD, he was repeatedly imprisoned.[5][1] He was reportedly jailed 11 times for a total period of two years during Zia -ul-Haq presidency.[4]

After Benazir Bhutto's return to Pakistan, he played a key role in her movement. In the elections of 1988 following the demise of Martial Law Administrator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, he was awarded a party ticket by the PPP. He was elected Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan in Pakistan General elections of 1988 from Lahore constituency.[1][6] He was inducted into the federal cabinet and was appointed as the Minister for Law and Justice,[5] along with the additional portfolio of the Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control. He was re-elected as the member of the National Assembly of Pakistan on PPP ticket for the second time in Pakistan General elections of 1990 from the same Lahore constituency.[1][6]

He lost the Pakistan General elections of 1993 to Humayun Akhtar Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League.[6][1] In 1994 he was elected as the member of the Senate of Pakistan for the first time representing PPP,[1] where he sat as Leader of the Opposition until 1999.[5] In the Pakistan General elections of 2002, he ran for the membership of the National Assembly on PPP seat from two constituencies. He was re-elected as the member of the National Assembly for the third time from constituencies of Bahawalpur and Lahore.[1] He retained his Lahore seat.[7] Ahsan did not run in the Pakistan General elections of 2008 due to his involvement in the Lawyers' Movement for the restoration of deposed judges.[6][1]

Ahsan was elected as the member of the Senate for the second time in the 2012 Pakistani Senate election on technocrat seat representing PPP.[1][8] In 2013, Ahsan become opposition leader in the Senate.[9] In 2015, he for the second time became opposition leader in the Senate.[10]

In August 2018, Ahsan was nominated by the PPP as a candidate for the 2018 presidential election.[11] On the polling day on 4 September 2018, he clinched 124 electoral votes behind Arif Alvi (352) and Fazal-ur-Rehman (184) in the election.[12]

Law career[edit]

Professionally, Ahsan is a barrister by law[5] and a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.[1] He is the founder and senior partner of Aitzaz Ahsan & Associates.[5] He has served as President of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan.[13] Ahsan has represented several high-profile Pakistani personalities including three Prime ministers of Pakistan in various cases such as Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto and Yousaf Raza Gillani[5][14][1] and former President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari.[13][4] He also fought the case of gang rape survivor, Mukhtar Mai.

He is known for representing and leading the lawyers campaign to reinstate former Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.[4][5][15][16][1] In 2008, Ahsan was awarded the Asian Human Rights Defender Award by the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission in recognition.[17] Ahsan was arrested following the Pakistani state of emergency, 2007.[5] After initially being kept in Adiyala jail, he was moved to house arrest in Lahore for four months.[4] He was released in March 2008.[18] Ahsan is also a noted human rights activist in Pakistan.[5]


Ahsan is the author of the book The Indus Saga and the Making of Pakistan[4] and its Urdu translation, Sindh Sagar Aur Qyam-e-Pakistan which presents the cultural history of Pakistan and argues that the Indus region is a distinct entity from the rest of India and constitutes a nation.[19]

He has also co-authored the book Divided by Democracy with Lord Meghnad Desai of the London School of Economics.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Aitzaz Ahsan". DAWN.COM. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d "Profile". Senate of Pakistan. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Why Cheema ditched PPP". DAWN.COM. 11 March 2004. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Traub, James (1 June 2008). "The Lawyers' Crusade". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan". DAWN.COM. 18 January 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d "PPP decides tickets for six NA seats in Lahore". The News. 24 March 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  7. ^ "Aitzaz to retain Lahore seat". DAWN.COM. 13 October 2002. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  8. ^ "12 elected unopposed to Senate from Punjab". DAWN.COM. 16 February 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Fresh adjustments: Zafarul Haq appointed Senate house leader – The Express Tribune". The Express Tribune. 11 June 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  10. ^ "PPP plays another hand: Aitzaz Ahsan named as leader of opposition in Senate". The Express Tribune. 11 March 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  11. ^ Guramani, Nadir (19 August 2018). "PPP nominates Aitzaz Ahsan as candidate for president: sources". Dawn.
  12. ^ Chaudhry, Fahad (5 September 2018). "PTI's Arif Alvi officially declared winner of 13th presidential election". Dawn.
  13. ^ a b "Aitzaz blasts Asif, says most graft charges justified". DAWN.COM. 2 June 2008. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  14. ^ "Gilani to appeal contempt conviction: Aitzaz Ahsan – The Express Tribune". The Express Tribune. 26 April 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  15. ^ Chief Justice Chaudhry reinstated Archived 6 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "I am innocent, want open trial: Justice Iftikhar". DAWN.COM. 23 March 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  17. ^ "Munir, Ahsan win Asian rights award". DAWN.COM. 24 January 2008. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  18. ^ "Lawyers' leader Aitzaz Ahsan freed – Hindustan Times". Hindustan Times. 15 September 2014. Archived from the original on 15 September 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  19. ^ Aitzaz Ahsan representative for NA-124, Lahore-VII Archived 30 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine
Political offices
Preceded by
Malik Nasim Ahmed Aheer
Interior Minister of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Mian Zahid Sarfraz