Senior Advocate Supreme Court and a premier lawyer of Pakistan, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, passed away on Tuesday in a hospital in the United Kingdom, where he was under treatment for several weeks. While he is famous for being the author of the 1973 constitution, the career of Hafeez Pirzada extended far beyond that. In many ways his life represented an ideal of a Pakistani lawyer’s career, one that starts from the becoming a barrister, extends into politics and ends as an authority in his area of expertise.

One of the founding members of the Pakistan People’s Party, Pirzada has featured in some of Pakistan’s most crucial legal and political moments. He represented Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in his murder trial under the military regime, and latter went on to file several petitions against it. His political activism and legal acumen was essential in ensuring the return of democracy, and making sure that it stayed that way. Even in his later days he continued to be active in legal circles; representing the PTI in judicial commission inquiry regarding the 2013 general elections.

If Hafeez Pirzada was to inspect his crowning achievement at the present time – the 1973 constitution – he would find a maimed and garbled version of it. The original constitution was significant not only because it was the first balanced constitution prepared in Pakistan since its independence, it also managed to win the support of all – sometimes bitterly opposed – parties. Since then most of that balance has been lost. Zia-ul-Haq’s ‘Islamisation’ drive turned the constitution into a vague and incoherent document that was used to subjugate religious minorities rather than provide justice. The recent amendments have allowed the military to make inroads in areas reserved for civilian authorities. Despite these perversions, the fact that the 1973 constitution was never permanently abrogated, nor heavily criticised shows the momentous nature of Pirzada’s achievement.