Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan on Thursday submitted his resignation to President Arif Alvi.
In his resignation letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, Khan said: “I note with profound regret that the Pakistan Bar Council, of which I am the Chairman, has demanded through its press release dated 19th of February 2020 that I resign forthwith from the Office of the Attorney General of Pakistan.
The federal government has also distanced itself from Khan’s remarks.
“Being a life member of Karachi Bar Association, Sindh Bar Association and the Supreme Court Bar Association, and having previously served as the Advocate General Sindh, the Attorney General for Pakistan and a judge of the High Court of Sindh, I stand with my brothers and colleagues at the Bar and I wish to reaffirm my faith in the highest principles of integrity and professional excellence that the Pakistan Bar Council has always stood for.”
In the conclusion of his letter, Khan said: “Accordingly I hereby resign from the position of the Attorney General for Pakistan and request to accept it with immediate effect.”
The development comes a day after the Supreme Court ordered Khan to tender an apology or come up with “some material” on the basis of which he made certain remarks that concerned members of a bench that is hearing a set of challenges against the filing of the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
The order came after the top law officer had made a controversial statement, now expunged, about the apex court bench.
“As [a] certain statement was made by the AG about the bench yesterday, it would be appreciated if the material on the basis of which the statement was made is placed on record before the bench,” a visibly disturbed Justice Umar Ata Bandial said while dictating the order at the end of Wednesday’s hearing.
Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice-chairman Abid Saqi and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Syed Qalbe Hassan were also present for the court proceedings on Wednesday. The two had earlier condemned the attorney general’s statement and decided to move a contempt of court petition against Khan as well as Law Minister Farogh Naseem as the ‘highly objectionable’ statement (now expunged) was made in the law minister’s presence.
In a statement, PBC vice president had asked the attorney general to submit an unconditional written apology along with his resignation for his “unbecoming conduct”. The statement added that the PBC would not tolerate any government-sponsored attempt to undermine the independence of the judiciary and the process of dispensation of justice.
“Being most disturbed by the unprecedented behaviour of the AG towards the apex court,” the PBC stated, adding that it would file contempt of court petition against the attorney general as well as the law minister. Later, a contempt of court petition was also drafted but could not be filed in time.
Fed govt distances itself from Khan’s remarks
Meanwhile, a response submitted in the Supreme Court by the secretary of the law and justice division, on behalf of the federal government, said the “oral statement” made by Khan on February 18 was “unauthorised, without instructions and knowledge of the federal government and the answering respondents, and totally uncalled for”.
“It is pointed out that the federal government of Pakistan and the answering respondents hold the superior judiciary for Pakistan in the highest respect and esteem.
“Accordingly, the federal government and the answering respondents dissociate themselves from the statement of the learned attorney general,” the response submitted by Law and Justice Division Secretary Muhammad Khashih-ur-Rehman read.
“The federal government and the answering respondents verily believe in the rule of law, constitutionalism and the independence of judiciary,” it concluded.
Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan
On August 31, 2018, Khan was appointed attorney general for the second time. He earlier served in the position during the tenure of the PPP government. He resigned from the post on April 2, 2010 after reportedly developing differences with the then law minister, Babar Awan.
He was commissioned as an officer in the Pakistan Army in 1971 and fought the 1971 war, but resigned in 1973. He became a prisoner of war in 1971.
He was appointed judge of the Sindh High Court in October 2000, but resigned from the position on Oct 3, 2001, to rejoin a law practice.