By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, the top legal aide of the president and the architect of almost every PCO promulgated by dictators in the past, continues to enjoy the status of a federal minister in the present PPP-led coalition government.
Though he was formally removed as senior adviser along with other advisers and special assistants of the past military regime in March, when Yousuf Raza Gilani took over as Prime Minister, Pirzada is still serving the present democratic regime as Ambassador at Large with the status of a federal minister.
A senior official confirmed that it was not an oversight but PM Yousuf Raza Gilani knew that Pirzada still enjoyed the status of a federal minister. The Foreign Office spokesman told The News Pirzada was still an Ambassador at Large with the status of a federal minister.
Foreign Office sources said being Ambassador at Large, he is entitled to all the perks and privileges that are offered to a federal minister. Presently the Foreign Office has six Ambassadors at Large, including Sharifuddin Pirzada, Khalil Ahmad, Hameed A Kidwai, Nasir Ali Khan, Muhammad Karim Khan and Hussain Haqqani, who has already been nominated as country’s ambassador to Washington.
Out of these Ambassadors at Large only two, Sharifuddin Pirzada and Khalil Ahmad, are enjoying the status of a federal minister. Salman Farooqi, now Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, was too initially appointed as Ambassador at Large but not given the status of a federal minister but that of a Minister of a State.
Pirzada was appointed senior adviser to the Chief Executive by Pervez Musharraf soon after the Oct 12, 1999 Martial Law. From 1999 till March 2008 when Gilani took over as prime minister, the aged lawyer also known as Jadoogar of Jeddah, continued to serve as senior adviser notwithstanding the change of four prime ministers, Zafarullah Khan Jamali, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Shaukat Aziz and Muhammadmian Soomro, under Musharraf, as no one dared to relieve Pirzada though a few of these prime ministers were not very fond of him.
On papers Pirzada was senior adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Law, Justice and Human Rights, but practically he remained the top legal aide to Musharraf. With the advent of the PPP-led coalition government he was relieved as senior adviser but he still continues as Ambassador at Large.
Foreign office sources said Pirzada was appointed as Ambassador at Large even before his appointment as senior adviser to Chief Executive in 1999. Pirzada and the incumbent Attorney General Malik Qayyum have been the two top legal aides of President Musharraf. Their role in the present judicial crisis and to author and then to justify the Nov 3, 2007 actions and the PCO, was also important. But, the irony remains, that both are continuing to serve the present regime, which apparently is not only against President Musharraf but also opposes the Nov 3 actions and the removal of the judges of the superior judiciary.
Interestingly Prof Dr Attaur Rehman was too removed from the office of Adviser to the Prime Minister but continues as Chairman Higher Education Commission, the post that gives the holder of the office the status of a federal minister.
Dr Atta’s fate was also expected to be decided by the present regime but Gilani seems to be in no hurry or has not yet received the go-ahead signal from the Zardari House to remove hundreds of political appointees, retired civilian and military officers, appointed by the past regime. Continuation of this large number of political appointees of the past military regime creates the perception that the present regime is an extension of the past military set-up.
Courtesy: The News, 27/5/2008