Vice President: Afghanistan

Recommended as a leading lawyer by a prestigious legal directory, Mr. Zahid Safi is the Vice President of RIAA Barker Gillette Afghanistan, a full service commercial law firm in Kabul. Safi’s chief areas of expertise include corporate, commercial, energy and power, banking, corporate finance, restructuring, project finance, dispute resolution, working with multinational and domestic corporations on their operations and management, corporate structure, mergers, acquisitions and investments. Mr. Safi advises a breadth of clients including banks, financial institutions, multinational companies and project companies.

Mr. Safi has been advising and dealing with the firm’s multinational clientele with respect to their corporate matters including registrations/incorporations, government approvals, licensing, good governance, and compliance with regulatory requirements, and he has done extensive reviews of the Private Investment Law, Hydrocarbons Law, Minerals Law and Regulation, Electricity Law, Property law, Company Law, Commercial Code, Telecommunication Law, Income Tax Law, Labor Law, Civil Law, Contract Law, Tax Law, Public Procurement Law, Intellectual Property Law, Banking Law, Public-Private Partnership (PPP), and Public Health Law.

Mr. Safi has been conducting extensive due diligence over the past several years into various investors and service providers including TAPI Pipeline Company Limited (“TPCL”), Ghazanfar Group, Zularistan Ltd, Azizi Group, commercial banks, and power and mining companies. He has also undertaken extensive company searches in cases where a lack of understanding of the laws, serious shortcomings in the applicable laws and the lack of expertise of the regulators were the substantial hurdles for investors.

As a corporate law practitioner, Mr. Safi has been involved in a number of high profile transactions in Afghanistan in diverse industries and sectors. He frequently acts on behalf of fund sponsors, investors and asset management firms on fund formation, investment structuring and regulatory compliance.

He is a registered Advocate of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association and represents clients before the Courts of Afghanistan.

  • BA, LL.B
  • LLM

  • Assisted Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (“TAPI”) Pipeline Company Limited in Afghanistan (TPCL) in conducting a due diligence in relation to the TAPI Pipeline project highlighting the issues in relation to the acquisition of land for the project, dispute resolution, mortgage of the leased land with the lenders, consents required for the project, tax, labor and employment matters, and drafting of a special law and regulation for the execution of the project including the expropriation of the land for the project and other corporate and regulatory matters
  • Assisted Ghazanfar Group (2016) with a 50MW gas fired power plant project by conducting a due diligence and highlighting the issues in relation to land, lease, taxes applicable to the project, consents required for the project, mortgage of property, mortgage of the project site with the lenders and a share pledge and other corporate and regulatory matters.
  • Advised IFC in relation to a multi-million dollar financing arrangement with the Afghan Process Company and in this connection he advised them on the issues of mortgage of movable and immovable property, and the pledge of shares of the company with the lenders.
  • Assisted the Aga Khan Foundation in the formulation of a MIAD Investment and Development Entity Trust Vehicle Questionnaire. He handled matters concerning foreign investment in Afghanistan, the requirements for the registration of foreign investments, tax matters, labor and employment issues, transfer of funds from/into Afghanistan and other corporate and regulatory matters.
  • Advised IFC in the purchase of share capital in the Afghanistan International Bank (“AIB”) and in this connection he assisted them in relation to the transfer of shares, consents required for effectuation of the transaction, tax matters, etc.
  • Advised IFC in relation to a multi-million dollar financing arrangement with one of the leading telecom service providers in Afghanistan and in this connection he has advised them on the mortgage of movable and immovable property, pledge of shares of the company, etc.
  • Assisted Phelan Energy Group in relation to the Zularistan project for a 15MW solar power installation in Kandahar, Afghanistan and in this connection he has conducted a detailed due diligence highlighting the corporate issues, tax matters, land and lease related issues, a pledge of shares of the Zularistan company and prepared a list of consents which are required for the project and other corporate and regulatory matters

  • Arabic
  • Dari
  • English
  • Urdu

  • Afghanistan Independent Bar Association
  • International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC”) Afghanistan
  • Afghanistan Centre for Dispute Resolution (“ACDR”)

  • Civil Law
  • Corporate and Commercial
  • Labor and Employment
  • Tax
  • Telecommunications

  • Declared as one of the leading lawyers by chambers and partners, 2018
  • Received a Certificate from the World Bank, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017

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Global news/insight

  • Appointment as Arbitrator by the Afghanistan Center for Commercial Dispute Resolution
    Zahid Safi appointed as Presiding Arbitrator by the Afghanistan Center for Commercial Dispute Resolution. [...]

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    RIAA Barker Gillette Afghanistan ranked as a Band 2 Law Firm by leading legal directory [...]

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  • Member Appointment – ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR
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What clients say...

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RIAA has provided environmental advice on a number of domestic projects.

Legal 500: 2015

RIAA’s ‘strong’ litigation department advised Clariant Chemical and Clariant International on a High Court dispute, and is also acting for K-Electric on a constitutional matter.

Legal 500: 2015

RIAA’s ‘exceptionally good’ practice is ‘always available’ and ‘has excellent knowledge of the energy sector’.

Legal 500: 2015

RIAA Barker Gillette advises on corporate and commercial agreements relating to power, water and construction projects, and is becoming increasingly involved in matters concerning wind and other renewables.

Legal 500: 2016

RIAA Barker Gillette’s disputes department handles cases spanning constitutional, employment, trade mark, energy and family law.

Legal 500: 2016

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RIAA is ‘strong on telecoms-related work’, and has acted on for a number of high-profile clients in this sector.

Legal 500: 2015

RIAA’s ‘experienced’ tax department is praised as ‘top notch’. It is advising several multinational corporate clients on tax structuring to minimise fiscal exposure in Pakistan. Ahsan Rizvi leads on tax mandates.

Legal 500: 2015

Highlights for RIAA’s ‘renowned’ corporate practice included advising Unisys International on the sale of its majority shareholding in Unisys Pakistan to International Brands Limited.

Legal 500: 2015

RIAA Barker Gillette provides notable expertise across the full spectrum of contentious and non-contentious banking matters, and counts numerous financial institutions among its clients. On the borrower side, the team has experience representing companies in the power, energy and transport sectors.

Legal 500: 2016

The firm has an active transactional practice and is instructed by clients across the energy, telecoms, financial services and construction sectors. Complementary expertise in tax, employment and competition benefits a practice covering mergers, acquisitions, takeovers, joint ventures and privatisations.

Legal 500: 2016

RIAA Barker Gillette maintains an active energy practice, where it advises clients on compliance and liability under environmental law, and assists with licensing and regulatory approvals.

Legal 500: 2016

RIAA Barker Gillette receives instructions from insurance company clients in relation to both contentious and non-contentious matters. Past work includes handling corporate transactions and international arbitrations.

Legal 500: 2016

RIAA Barker Gillette’s longstanding experience in the construction sector, with past work including the construction and development of hospitals and various power and infrastructure projects. Acquisitions, sales, transfers and property leasing are other mainstays, as is project finance…

Legal 500: 2016

In the media space, the team has experience in licensing, and advises radio, television and print clients on operational matters.

Legal 500: 2016

Telecoms is an area of strength at RIAA Barker Gillette, with the team providing expertise in corporate, commercial and regulatory matters.

Legal 500: 2016

RIAA Barker Gillette advises multinational corporate clients on tax structuring and restructuring. It is also active in tax litigation and appeals before the High Court.

Legal 500: 2016

RIAA Barker Gillette…"It is a powerhouse."

Chambers Guide: Asia Pacific 2016

Renowned for his expertise in the power sector, peers highlight Ahsan Zahir Rizvi as "one of the most experienced projects lawyers in Pakistan."

Chambers: Global Guide 2016

Ahsan Zahir Rizvi continues to be revered by market commentators, who single him out for his "sharp legal mind."

Chambers: Global Guide 2016

Ahsan Zahir Rizvi is singled out by clients for the depth of his transactional experience and for "bringing a colour and vibrancy to the table."

Chambers: Global Guide 2016

Sources describe Ahsan Zahir Rizvi as "an exceptional practitioner" and "a backbone of the firm."

Chambers: Global Guide 2016

“Large and well-reputed practice”

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

"RIAA’s banking and finance department is noted for its ‘vast experience’ and ‘strong track record’"

Tier 1: IFLR1000 2015

“Our relationship with the firm started 20 years ago and we have never looked back.”

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

“They really take the time to listen to the case.”

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

“I only use RIAA and no other firm in Pakistan – I have the utmost regard for them.”

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

“’Strong’ litigation department”.

The Legal 500: Asia Pacific 2015

“’Renowned’ corporate practice”

Tier 1: IFLR1000 2015

“Excellent bench of practitioners with a full-service corporate offering. Often mandated on big-ticket M&A deals”

The Legal 500: Asia Pacific 2014

RIAA’s banking and finance department is noted for its ‘vast experience’ and ‘strong track record’ on project finance. Clients include the ‘pragmatic’ Bilal Shaukat, and Ahsan Rizvi, who is rated as ‘excellent’.

Legal 500: 2015

"We have a very positive relationship with them. They are proactive, down-to-earth, thorough and extremely knowledgeable when finding solutions."

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

"I have the utmost regard for the firm; they are first class."

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

"They have vast experience of the power sector, and always provide alternative solutions to problems - they really take ownership of the projects they are working on."

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

What the team is known for: Active on a wide range of conventional and renewable projects, including notable activity on the conversion of power plants to coal.

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

What the team is known for: Offers high levels of expertise in the power sector, advising the sponsors on development, financing and regulatory issues.

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

Ahsan Zahir Rizvi keeps things on an even keel and so people trust him, even those on the other side."

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

Sources highlight Ahsan Zahir Rizvi’s strong negotiation capabilities, with one noting: "He can see the other side's perspective, that is his greatest strength.

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

Ahsan Zahir Rizvi is held in high regard for his depth of expertise in the power sector.

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

[Ahsan Zahir Rizvi] is also praised for "his precision in giving advice. He is very to the point."

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

Senior partner Ahsan Zahir Rizvi is one of Pakistan's most highly reputed transactional lawyers: "He is one of the most individually outstanding people, both from a commercial point of view and a legal point of view."

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

"RIAA has a very strong reputation for handling commercial and corporate matters."

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

"They have been absolutely outstanding. I don't think there is a team more dedicated."

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

Excellent bench of practitioners with a full-service corporate offering. Often mandated on big-ticket M&A deals, particularly for corporations in the energy and power sectors.

Chambers: Asia Pacific 2015

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“We mainly use RIAA, as they’re very reliable and always there to help”

The Legal 500: Asia Pacific 2014

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