Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan (Urdu: چودھری اعتزاز احسن; born 27 September 1945) is a Pakistani politician and a laywer who serves as the Senator from Punjab, in office since 2012.
Born in Murree, Ahsan studied law at the Government College and received a LLM from the Downing College, Cambridge. Ahsan became the Planning and Development Minister for Punjab in 1975. After the Operation Fair Play 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.
Ahsan was elected as a member of the Senate in 1994. He re-joined the cabinet after Benazir re-election, and went on to serve as the Minister for Law, Justice and Human Rights until 1997. He served as the minority leader in the Senate between 1996 and 1999. Ahsan was elected to National Assembly again in 2002, and went on to serve as the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association between 2007 and 2008. Ahsan was elected to the senate in 2012 and in 2015 became the minority leader.
Ahsan was born on September 27, 1945 in Murree, Punjab. He grew up in Lahore.
He received his early education from Aitchison College. He then enrolled in Government College, Lahore and later studied law at Downing College, Cambridge. He was at Gray's Inn in 1967. He then appeared in Central Superior Services examination where he reportedly topped. He however did not join the government service.
Ahsan returned to Pakistan in 1967. He joined PPP and began his political career in 1970s. He was elected as the member of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab for first time on the ticket of Pakistan Peoples Party in by-elections held following the Pakistan General elections of 1977 from Gujrat constituency. He was inducted in the provincial cabinet of Punjab and was appointed as the Provincial Minister for information, planning and development. Ahsan was in his twenties during his tenure as provincial minister. He resigned from the provincial cabinet and left PPP 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. Ahsan joined Tehrik-e-Istiqlal.
He rejoined the PPP following the Operation Fair Play and actively became involved with the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy and for his participation in the MRD, he was repeatedly imprisoned. He was reportedly jailed for two years during Zia -ul-Haq presidency. He was elected as the member of the National Assembly of Pakistan on PPP ticket for the first time in Pakistan General elections of 1988 from Lahore constituency. He was inducted into federal cabinet and was appointed as the Minister for Law and Justice, 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 Lahore constituency.
He lost the Pakistan General elections of 1993 to Humayun Akhtar Khan of Pakistan Muslim League. In 1994 he was elected as the member of the Senate of Pakistan for the first time representing PPP, where he sat as Leader of the Opposition until 1999. In 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. He retained his Lahore seat. Ahsan didn't ran in the Pakistan General elections of 2008 due to his involvement in the lawyers movement for the restoration of deposed judges.
Ahsan was elected as the member of the Senate for the second time in the Pakistani Senate election, 2012 on technocrat seat representing PPP. In 2013, he reportedly resigned from Senate membership. In 2013, Ahsan become opposition leader in the Senate. In 2015, he for the second time became opposition leader in the Senate.
Professionally, Ahsan is a barrister at law and a senior advocate in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He is senior partner of Aitzaz Ahsan & Associates. 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 and former President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari. He had served as President of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan.
He is known for representing and leading the lawyers comapign to reinstate former Chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. In 2008, Ahsan Was awarded the Asian Human Rights Defender Award by the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission in reconginition. Ahsan was arrested following Pakistani state of emergency, 2007. He was house arrest in his house in Lahore for four months. He was released in March 2008. Ahsan is also a noted human rights activist in Pakistan.
Ahsan is the author of the book The Indus Saga and the Making of Pakistan and its Urdu translation, Sindh Sagar Aur Qyam-e-Pakistan which presents the cultural history of Pakistan. He has also co-authored the book Divided by Democracy with Lord Meghnad Desai of the London School of Economics.