Office of the Attorney-General for Pakistan

The Attorney-General for Pakistan is the Chief Legal Advisor to the Government of Pakistan, and its primary lawyer in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The Attorney-General for Pakistan is appointed by the President of Pakistan in terms of Article 100 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and holds office during the pleasure of the President. He must be a person qualified to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court.

The Attorney-General is responsible for giving advice to the Government of Pakistan on such legal matters, and for performing such other duties of a legal character as may be referred or assigned to him by the President. The Attorney-General has the right of audience in all Courts in Pakistan as well as the right to participate in the proceedings of the Parliament, albeit not the right to vote. He appears on behalf of the Government of Pakistan in all its cases (including suits, appeals and other proceedings) in the Supreme Court. He also represents the Government of Pakistan in any reference made by the President to the Supreme Court. The Attorney-General is assisted by Additional Attorneys-General and Deputy Attorneys-General. All references to the Attorney-General are made by the Ministry of Law. Unlike the Attorney-General of the United States, the Attorney-General for Pakistan does not have any executive authority, and is not a political appointee; those functions are performed by the Law Minister of Pakistan.

Duties & Functions

Overview

The Office of the Attorney-General for Pakistan is a constitutional office created under Article 100 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, and is headed by an Attorney-General.

A person who is competent to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court can be appointed Attorney-General for Pakistan. He is the Principal Law Officer of the Federation. The Attorney-General’s Office represents, defends and protects the interests of the Federal Government, and provides invaluable legal guidance to the Federal Government in matters of policy formulation and execution of its decisions. The Attorney-General is assisted by a team of Law Officers comprising of Additional Attorneys-General, Deputy Attorneys-General, and Standing Counsels who have been appointed to attend litigation involving the Federal Government and its requisite departments. Currently, 145 Law Officers across the country are working under the guidance and supervision of the Attorney-General for Pakistan.

Administrative Control

The Attorney-General and other Law Officers are under the administrative control of the Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights. Law Officers are prohibited from taking any case, or giving any advice, against the Government. Even when a partner at a Law Officer’s firm has appeared or acted against the Government, it should be brought to the notice of the Government. Law Officers are strictly not allowed to engage in politics and elections. A Law Officer cannot hold any other post in the Federal Government and cannot continue as director of any company without the sanction of the Federal Government.

Duties

It is the duty of the Attorney-General to offer advice to other Law Officers if consulted. The Attorney-General shall also advise the Federal Government upon such legal matters as legislative projects which are referred to him by the Government. He shall represent the Government in Civil, Original, Appellate or other matters before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, where the Federal Government is a party. It is the duty of the Attorney-General to distribute the cases involving Federal Government’s work between various Law Officers in the Supreme Court.

Governing Law

As per Article 100 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973:

The President shall appoint a person, being a person qualified to be appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court, to be the Attorney-General for Pakistan.

The Attorney-General shall hold office during the pleasure of the President [and shall not engage in private practice so long as he holds the office of the Attorney-General].

It shall be the duty of the Attorney-General to give advice to the Federal Government upon such legal matters, and to perform such other duties of a legal character, as may be referred or assigned to him by the Federal Government, and in the performance of his duties he shall have the right of audience in all courts and tribunals in Pakistan.

The Attorney-General may, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign his office.