Tell us about your foray into the field of law. How did it all begin for you? I accidentally forayed into law. I had never thought that I would end up being a lawyer. All I wanted to do was to be free and lazing around. A friend of mine used to teach at Punjab Law College, Lahore. He was a senior judge and his name was Mian Nazeer Akhtar. I often visited him in the evenings and we hung out for a chit chat, etc. One day, he suggested I join the college he taught at since I wasn’t doing anything and I decided to give it a shot. The rest, as they say, is history. When did you decide your area of interest?I belonged to a feudal family and was already familiar with the thana culture, etc. Owing to my knowledge in this area, I decided to take up criminal law as it was my favourite. So, it began from there and my cases mainly have been in criminal law. Tell us about some of the challenges that you faced when you were making your case for Asia Bibi? Were you confident that you would win?A lifetime of threat is all I would say. I would be driving around and would spot a motorbike being ridden by two men, following me. My heart would jump and I would immediately take a turn and often times, the bike would coincidentally take the turn with me and I would be sure that they’re out to kill me. Such is the aftermath. Until lawyer and activist Asma Jahangir was alive, she would call me and ask jokingly if I were still alive. She was the one who had advised me to settle abroad after the case ended. You see, when I started working on the case, I was not that confident. I worked on it for four years; 2014 onwards. I worked on it day and night, the same way a scholar prepares for his/her PhD research papers. One has to read a plethora of books for information and knowledge and sometimes even that’s not enough. I remember the final argument which took place on October 8, 2018. It lasted for three hours. I had been praying for four years that Dear God, please let Asif Saeed Khan Khosa be part of the bench as he was one judge who understood criminal law the best in the entire subcontinent. Mian Saqib Nisar had expressed his desire to hear the case and I knew in my heart that he wasn’t fond of me. It was a chilling and a challenging time as people were following and supporting Mumtaz Qadri like Ahmedis follow Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadiani or Shias follow Hazrat Imam Hussain. You know with full commitment. The day arrived when the list for the bench was released. It was a Friday. It comprised Saqib Nisar, Asif Khosa and Mazhar Alam Miankhel (a person whose existence did not really mean anything). I saw the list and thanked Allah. I thought if Asia Bibi was acquitted, we would look good in front of the world. Do you know the European Union had threatened us that if Asia would not be acquitted, aid amounting to 35 to 38 billion euros will not be given to us. After I had won the case, I remember returning from Paris to Amsterdam when a young girl came running towards me, asking if I were the lawyer who had dealt with Asia’s case. I said yes and she looked at me is if one would look at a hero. We hear that you flew to Netherlands shortly after Asia Bibi was acquitted. Did you do that following the nationwide protests or was it pre planned?Yes, I did but only on the suggestion of my diplomat friends who informed me that they had information about my life being in danger. I took their advice. I remember leaving the Supreme Court after the day of Asia’s acquittal on October 31. It was 9:35am. The judgment had been passed. I must have stood there for 10 to 12 minutes, breathing in the crisp, cool autumn air and trying to take in the news what had just happened. Asia Bibi has gotten acquitted. I stood there motionless, all alone. Within 15 minutes, the entire capital was shut down. I called one of my friends who was an ambassador at that time. All I remember saying was, “Asia is acquitted.” And then all of a sudden, my friends and various diplomats got together and told me to leave Pakistan immediately. But how could I? Being based in Lahore, all of my belongings were in Lahore. I had only come to Islamabad for the case. I didn’t even have my passport or a suitcase. I asked for my passport which was immediately delivered all the way from Lahore to Islamabad. Everything was happening so fast. I left the same day for abroad in an emergency. I’m glad my wife and my daughter’s passports had gone for UK visa so they weren’t able to accompany me and be part of this madness. What hurt me was that some very small-minded people cooked up a rumour that the reason why I had even fought Asia’s case was because I wanted a foreign nationality. You know Netherlands gave me permanent residency with family and within a week I had the green card on me including for my family’s. Meanwhile, Asia’s case went for a review petition for which I wanted to go back and fight the case till the end. I informed them that the day the case will fall in review petition, they’ll see me in court fighting my case again. By now, I had become a Dutch national where their authorities told me that they couldn’t risk my leaving for Pakistan fearing if God forbid something happened to me. My life was their responsibility now. I told them I would gladly return my Dutch nationality if it was at the cost of Asia’s case. My aim was more important that my Dutch nationality. I think perhaps for this only I have recently been nominated for the Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award, the winner of which will be announced in December.The day Asia’s review petition was dismissed, I came out of the court and saw the entire world’s press waiting for me. As I stood there trying to make sense of all the people present there in front of me, calling out my name and surrounding me, my phone started ringing. Its bell snapped me out of my reverie. “There’s a car waiting for you outside the gate of the courthouse. Just sit and come wherever it brings you.” The line went dead. As if in a state of trance, I did what I was told. I began walking towards the gate. There really was a car, awaiting me. The driver opened the door and I sat in. We rode in silence. The car took me to a house and I got out and made my way to the main door. The Italian ambassador opened it and the first thing he said to me was, “The entire world’s ambassadors are waiting for you.” I was given a hero’s welcome and that’s when I knew what they mean when they say, ‘Winning some cases make you a star!’What are some of the three things that you consider before taking up a case?Usually I take up a subject in which I have a command over. Then I see whether I have to work more in it or earn more in it. Some cases are historical. You know the day Asia’s review petition was dismissed; I came out of the court and saw the entire world’s press waiting for me. As I stood there trying to make sense of all the people present there in front of me, calling out my name and surrounding me, my phone started ringing. Its bell snapped me out of my reverie. It was the Italian ambassador. “There’s a car waiting for you outside the gate of the courthouse. Just sit and come wherever it brings you.” The line went dead. As if in a state of trance, I did what I was told. I began walking towards the gate. There really was a car, awaiting me. The driver opened the door and I sat in. We rode in silence. The car took me to a house and I got out and made my way to the main door. The Italian ambassador opened it and the first thing he said to me as soon as he opened the door was, “The entire world’s ambassadors are waiting for you here in my house.” It was a sight! I was given a hero’s welcome and that’s when I knew what they mean when they say, ‘Winning some cases make you a star!’What are you currently working on?The second woman after Asia to be accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, Shagufta Kausar, is facing death row. I’m dealing with her case and making strong grounds for her acquittal.What advice would you give to a novice in the field of law?You know after Asia’s acquittal, law students from the Lahore University of Management Sciences, wrote me a letter. They had quoted John F Kennedy, the exact words of which I have forgotten but it meant that if bravery isn’t there, then justice cannot be acquired. They told me that the kind of bravery and commitment I had shown during the course of time the case took place, had them thinking of this quote by Kennedy.Is it financially lucrative?Seldom is this field financially lucrative. There must be 30,000 lawyers in Lahore right now, from which hardly 10 must be earning Rs 1 crore per month. Hardly a 100 of the remaining must be getting Rs 500,000 to Rs 1,000,000. But a majority is struggling, trying to make ends meet. I hope you never have to appoint a lawyer but mostly people complain how their lawyer has suddenly joined the other party as they bribed him. You know, in developed countries, if a lawyer loses a case owing to his abysmal knowledge, he’s jailed. Similar as to how it is with doctors abroad when one of them kills a person owing to abysmal knowledge of the patient’s disease or condition.Tell us about a memorable incident in your career.When the whole world’s ambassadors were waiting for me to give me a hero’s welcome at the Italian ambassador’s house shortly after the dismissal of Asia’s case petition review.What is your vision for Pakistan and what does it mean to be Pakistani for you?Successful countries work hard, right from their leaders to the bottom one. However, people here like living like nawabs and freelancers. In Pakistan, the more servants you have, the more powerful and influential you are considered. God have mercy on us. India earns $127 billion from its Information Technology industry only. This amount is equivalent to how much we are under debt. You know if foreigners aren’t served alcohol in a Pakistan International Airline flight, how do you expect them to fly with us again? Turkey is also a Muslim country. However, they serve alcohol to foreigners. We should have something for everyone. Netherlands is located below ground level but has the best water management system in the world. Look at what happened to Karachi during Eid after a continuous spell of rain. Unless we have technical universities or high tech industries, we can’t progress.What according to you has been your biggest achievement so far?The punishment of Mumtaz Qadri and the acquittal of Asia have to be my biggest achievements so far.We at Daily Times consider you one of our national heroes. Who are some of yours?Asma Jahangir and Imtiaz Alam are my national heroes. They have been brave, educated, full of ideas, selfless and thought about the betterment of the society.AchievementsNOT BUDGING WITHOUT JUSTICELegendary lawyer Saiful Malook has achieved the impossible. He did not budge until terrorist Mumtaz Qadri was brought to task and hanged for his crime. He achieved the mammoth task of getting Asia Bibi acquitted, a case that will remain historic until the end of time.INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITIONSaiful Malook along with his family was granted Dutch nationality within a week of his reaching Netherlands after getting Asia Bibi acquitted. The entire world’s press gathered outside the Supreme Court for the esteemed lawyer as soon as the review petition of Asia Bibi’s case was dismissed. The whole world’s ambassadors gathered at the Italian ambassador’s house to give Saiful Malook a hero’s welcome after the case. He has been nominated for the Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award, the winner of which will be announced in December. In May, he was awarded the Secularist of the Year award that they give to human rights activists in the UK, including £5,000, a VIP stay and travel.STANDING UP FOR MINORITIESCurrently, the distinguished lawyer is working on the case of another woman who has been accused of blasphemy, called Shagufta Kauser.