One of Pakistan’s leading lawyers, Sharifuddin Pirzada, passed away here after a long illness on Friday. He was 93. All legal proceedings at the Sindh High Court were temporarily suspended as a mark of respect for the eminent legal luminary, who was also secretary to Pakistan’s founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the 1940s, reports the Dawn.
Pirzada also provided legal cover for a succession of military rulers in Pakistan over a career stretching for nearly six decades. He served as attorney general for former president Yahya Khan and his predecessor Ayub Khan, Pakistan’s first military ruler, whom he also served as foreign minister.
In 2014, he was the head of former president Pervez Musharraf’s defence team as the military ruler faced treason charges relating to his imposition of a state of emergency in 2007. Pirzada himself wrote the legal order for Musharraf’s emergency rule, updating a similar one he prepared for General Zia-ul-Haq after his 1977 coup.
He also wrote oaths for judges sworn in by Geneal Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf that omitted the commitment to protect the constitution, and drew up documents based on the so-called “doctrine of necessity” to legalise both rulers’ coups. Pirzada began his legal career in the Bombay High Court before moving to the newly created Pakistan.
“He’s a very skilful lawyer and we have no better authority on constitutional law. People could have been very good architects but built something for Hitler,” Asma Jahangir, a top human rights lawyer and leading light among Pakistani liberals, had once said about Pirzada.