The legal maxim staff interviewed Ali Husnain Shah, a student of LL.B (Year 3) Punjab University Programme in Pakistan College of Law. His diverse background and focus on studying law made him an interesting subject for our campus journals. We asked him about his background and what brought him to the study of law. This is what he had to share with us:
Legal Maxim: Tell us a little about your background?
Ali Husnain: My family has farming land in a village called Khajoor Wala, District Okara, Punjab. I have three older sisters and five younger siblings which means that I’m in the middle and the oldest amongst my brothers. My mother is a housewife and my father was tragically taken from us under violent circumstances a few years ago when I began my legal studies. I am the only member of my family who has been able to study upto University level but I am encouraging my younger siblings to continue with their studies which they had lost interest in after the death of my father.
Legal Maxim: What was your educational background before starting the law programme?
Ali Husnain: I obtained my primary education from the government school in my village. My Metric and Intermediate education took place in Lahore and Multan as there wasn’t a higher education institution near my home. I went onto join Minhaj University to complete my B.A and then for 4 years I studied and completed the Shariah Course also known as Dars-e-Nizami from the College of Shriah (associated with Minhaj Universtiy) in Lahore. The Dars-e-Nizami course in Shariah assisted me significantly when I was studying Islamic jurisprudence and the subject of Muslim Personal Law. I was able to obtain first division in each one of my qualifications before starting the LL.B programme.
Legal Maxim: What made you go towards studying law and not some other descipline?
Ali Husnain: The primary reason for me to begin studying law was the murder of my father. When this event took place I had no interaction with the criminal legal system in Pakistan which made me totally unaware of what to expect. My ignorance of the law made it very difficult for me to understand the procedures the police were suppose to apply during the investigation of my father’s murder. I was unable to understand how the written records of investigation were to be made and later discovered that the police were collaborating with the suspects by changing information within the original investigation reports. Although the perpetrators of the crime surrendered to the police and confessed to the crime nevertheless I felt that had I known about the law I would have dealt with the situation with greater foresight. So I decided to study law and enrolled onto the LL.B of the Punjab University Programme in Pakistan College of Law.
Legal Maxim: What kind of problems did you face when studying for the LL.B and how did you deal with them?
Ali Husnain: Well the main problem was that of language due to which I didn’t understand much during the first 3 months of my studies in College. My English language skill in particular was not that strong and the complexity of legal language further challenged me to face up to my weaknesses. I discovered that by reading about complex concepts combined with listening to their explanation during lectures I would understand them better. When going through the concept of Estoppel and listening to Ms. Aamnah Akhtar’s explanation of it during the class further re-inforced the realisation that I had to combine reading with lectures to comprehend.
I also found the text books on the subjects I was studying to not be too helpful and many of the authors on Pakistani laws had taken much of their text from Indian writings. The structure of the material within text books I found was not giving a coherent or indepth understanding of legal concepts in a critically reasoned manner. Working through these hurdles along with making my own notes as well as discovering how to approach exam questions I was able to successfully complete my first year with an overall 7th position in the University of Punjab examinations. Upon reaching the 2nd Year I again successfully completed the year with an overall 5th position in the University of Punjab examinations. In both years I also had first position in College from amongst all my classmates.
Now that I am in the final year I came across some financial problems due to which I had to get a day job and transfer my classes to the evening in Pakistan College of Law. When I am able to manage my finances then I will be coming back to the morning sessions in College as I find the study environment of the morning sessions to be more conducive for my needs. I am working towards my final year examinations and hope to not only achieve a better position than last year in the University exams but also gain a high classification in my overall degree.
Legal Maxim: What is your advice to current and new students of law?
Ali Husnain: I would strongly advise them to keep away from using guide books. The Punjab University exam pattern has started to be varied so students can’t predict the kind of question that will come up as they use to do in the past. Consequently the model answers given in the guides are not going to help with attempting papers. The students should develop conceptual clarity and then work on how to answer the questions asked in exams. By being over selective with their subjects is likely to not help in exams.
I would encourage the students to also make use of the College Library. I extensively used and continue to use the Library facilities for accessing books and private study. The Library provided me with the environment to study and prepare for my exams. Finally I would advise the students to pace themselves in their studies through out the year by carefully going through the syllabus rather than trying to complete the syllabus in a few weeks without understanding the content fully.
Legal Maxim: What are your future plans after completing your LL.B?
Ali Husnain: Despite the fact that I have done reasonably well in my LL.B however I feel that the syllabus of the Punjab University LL.B lacked research based requirements and skills which would have enhanced my understanding about applicability of laws. I wish that a Dissertation had been one of the requirements in the Punjab University syllabus. So I wish to pursue a post-graduate qualification by enrolling on a suitable LL.M programme after completing my under-graduate studies. Thereafter I plan to prepare for the judicial exams in order to access a judicial position in the Pakistani Judiciary.
Legal Maxim: Thank you for your time Ali Husnain and we wish you all the best with all your present and future plans. We hope that you continue to work on your weaknesses and work past the challenges you face
Ali Husnain Shah is a student of LL.B (Year 3) of Punjab University Programme in Pakistan College of Law. He was awarded with overall 5th Position by the Punjab University for his LL.B Year 2 exam results and stood 1st in College from amongst all his classmates. He plans this year to further improve his position in his Year 3 exams.