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Khawaja Naveed Ahmed delivers the keynote address at Harvard Law School

Khawaja Naveed Ahmed delivers the keynote address at Harvard Law School

Pakistan’s renowned lawyer and former High Court Judge achieved an unprecedented milestone when he was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Harvard ILJ Symposium in February this year. The subject of the symposium was State Ethics with a particular focus on state sponsored economic espionage, extra judicial killing and international corruption with a panel of illustrious speakers, all well renowned in their respective fields. The keynote speaker prior to Khawaja Naveed was Harold Koh, the Dean of Yale Law School and a respected legal adviser of President Obama. “I feel it is a great honour that they gave me the same respect and honour.” In his keynote address, he spoke on State Ethics.

Pakistan has produced many outstanding and brilliant lawyers, but no one has been singled out for such a prestigious event. The Pakistani legal fraternity is indeed fortunate that this recognition comes at a time when the Judiciary is locked in a battle of wills with the government, and the very survival of democracy in Pakistan could be at stake. The Harvard Law School has obviously studied Khawaja in depth, before selecting him, and that should make Pakistan doubly proud. When the whole country is targetted with allegations of corruption, it is refreshing to see a Pakistani being singled out for such a high honour.

Being the only Pakistani on the panel, the attention of the audience was focused on Khawaja Naveed. In his keynote address, he eloquently traced the political and constitutional history of Pakistan. With perceptions about Pakistan not being favourable abroad, he defended Pakistan’s position, highlighting  past Prime Ministers from Liaquat Ali Khan to Feroz Khan Noon and how nobody could lift a finger against them accusing them of corruption and how during the martial law years of Ayub Khan, corruption was never an issue. He explained how the heroin and Kalashnikov culture was introduced during Zia’s military dictatorship in the name of Afghan Jihad and touched on the alternating power regimes of the democratic governments led by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif during the 90s.

As the keynote speaker, Khawaja Naveed provoked lively debate and discussion. When asked a pointed question about whether he believed that Osama bin Laden’s murder was extra judicial, he replied, yes, saying that Osama bin Laden should have been arrested and tried. This caused an uproar and led to a barrage of questions. It is interesting to note that all the speakers on the panel save one agreed with his view.

At a time when Pakistan’s judiciary has been the subject of acrid debate, it is a great achievement that a Pakistani ex Judge was asked to speak at such a prestigious gathering.


Khawaja Naveed Ahmed is a practicing lawyer of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and has 37 years standing at Bar. He has held the offices of Advocate General Sindh, Pakistan, and has served as the Judge of the Sindh High Court of Pakistan. Ahmed is a human rights activist and had been Chairman of the Legal Aid and Human Rights Committee of Sindh Bar Council, Pakistan, for five years. 

He also had been elected as the Senior Vice President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. Presently, Ahmed is member of the Managing Committee of Red Crescent (Hilal-e-Ahmer). 

Khawaja also writes columns as a political analyst and frequently participates in talk shows on popular T.V. Channels. He also hosts a mock trial legal education show on one of the prominent T.V. Channels. The programme is very popular amongst communities in Pakistan, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Canada.

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