Late on Monday night, Azam Nazeer Tarar resigned as the Law Minister of Pakistan, citing “personal reasons” in a letter addressed to President Arif Alvi.
The sudden resignation, occurring hours after a controversial meeting of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan and within a day of his attendance at the Asma Jahangir Conference in Lahore, has triggered a flurry of speculation over whether he stepped down from his role voluntarily or was pressured into it.
“I have had the great honor and privilege to serve my country as the Federal Minister for Law and Justice under the able leadership of Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” read Tarar’s resignation letter. “However, due to personal reasons, I am unable to discharge my duties as the federal minister,” he added.
Citing clause (3) of Article 92 of the Constitution, he said he was consequently stepping down as the law minister. His resignation, per government sources, has not yet been accepted by the president.
The abrupt development has provoked rumors about the reasons behind Tarar’s resignation. In an earlier posting on Twitter, he had expressed unhappiness over a “small group of people” raising slogans against state institutions at the Asma Jahangir Conference, which he was chief guest of, adding that people were forgetting the sacrifices rendered by state institutions.
On Sunday, some of the people attending the Asma Jahangir Conference had chanted slogans against the security establishment and the Pakistan Army during the speeches of Tarar and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. The slogans went viral on social media, with some within the PMLN saying “powerful circles” were unhappy over this and had sought to fix responsibility on those responsible. Both Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the foreign minister have already condemned the slogans, describing as “unfortunate” the use of a public forum to target state institutions.
However, the legal fraternity believes Tarar’s resignation might be linked to his voting in favor of elevating junior judges of the Lahore High Court and Sindh High Court to the Supreme Court, deviating from his earlier position of adhering to the principle of seniority. A lawyer close to Tarar alleged to local media that his “conscience” did not agree with voting in favor of the junior judges but he had done so at the behest of the ruling coalition. Following the vote, the lawyer claimed, Tarar had felt compelled to resign as a representative of the legal fraternity.