Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao

پښتو :: پښتانه :: پښتونخواه :: پښتونوالی

Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Muhammad Riaz
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, September 16 2005 (http://www.khyber.org)


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Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao

Muhammad Riaz

Publishing Date: Friday, September 16 2005

The rise of the Sherpao family to political eminence has come within a short span of time. This is remarkable given the fact that its home province, the NWFP, has traditionally been dominated by veterans like late Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, his later brother Dr Khan Sahib (Abdul Jabbar Khan) and his son Abdul Wali Khan.

Besides the Khudai Khidmatgars (God's servants) movement, led by Bacha Khan, this politically fertile land has given birth to a peasant movement led by late Major Ishaq Mohammad and Afzal Bangash in the early seventies. Some of the leaders of this romantic revolutionary movement are still alive nursing their nostalgia.

Hayat Mohammad Khan was amongst the earliest lieutenants of the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who brought politics out of the cozy drawing rooms to the masses. He made an enduring relationship with the people, particularly the lowest strata of society.

In 1967, ZAB called his friends at Sherpao to discuss his idea of launching a new political party in the country. He went back with some half-baked ideas and assembled his colleagues at the residence of Mubashir Hasan in Lahore. The Pakistan People's Party was born. Like Yahya Bakhtiar, at that time, Hayat Khan was also in the then Council Muslim League. His late father Khan Bahadur Ghulam Haider was a staunch supporter of the Muslim League.

Hayat Khan was the youngest governor of the province. He was a senior provincial minister, when he was killed in a bomb blast on Feb 8, 1975, in Peshawar University. His assassination stalled, for a while, the PPP's smooth sailing in the province. After his death, ZAB got his younger brother, Major Aftab Sherpao, retired from the army, and nominated him PPP's provincial vice-president. When Nasrullah Khattak disappeared from the political scene, Aftab was elevated as the party's provincial president.

Aftab remained at the forefront during Ziaul Haq's regime. In 1988, he manoeuvred the fall of the PML's government and became chief minister of the province. He took an extra-nationalist line to appease the nationalist forces, hostile to the PPP, and broadened his political base in their stronghold areas.In the PML's second tenure, when he was on the opposition benches, he tabled a resolution, demanding that the name NWFP be replaced with Pakhtoonkhawa, and then he left the field for the centrifugal ANP and the centripetal PML to expose themselves. The house defeated the PML but NWFP's name could not be changed owing to constitutional constraints.

Aftab Sherpao, made of a sterner stuff, emerged as a shrewd politician in the province. He succeeded in securing the support of a big chunk of bureaucrats and is one on whom the establishment can bank. His close aides believe that he will make a comeback and will play an important role in the country's future politics. His differences with Benazir Bhutto came to light, when Maj-Gen Naseerullah Babar mistakenly suspected Aftab's role in the allotment of party tickets in Nowshera. Babar considered it a move by Aftab to undercut him, though that had no basis. After that Babar sided with all those, Masood Kausar and Khwaja Hoti, who were opposed to Aftab. Now Aftab is running his faction of the PPP.

Speaking to a public meeting on Feb 8, on the occasion of his elder brother's death anniversary in Sherpao, he called on Benazir Bhutto to restore democracy in the PPP, if she wanted democracy in the country". But, some of Aftab's close aides say that they had not yet severed ties with BB. They hope that Ms Bhutto will carry all of them along in her political struggle.

Aftab and his like-minded group think that politics has become a hostage to the power-that-be. When Aftab Shaban Mirani was made defence minister instead of Naseerullah Babar, it was to be attributed to the weakness of the party. They are caught in a dilemma: the party's agenda as an opposition force does not work when it comes into power. They find their future only in provincial politics.

Aftab's family tree and cross-marriages in other influential families has given him an edge over others in his ambition of realizing his dream of reaching the corridors of power. His elder brother, Wali Mohammad Khan, was related to the former president Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari. He himself is a son-in-law of the Nishtar family. Two of his cousins, Abbas Khan (former IGP, Punjab) and Azam Khan (former chief secretary of NWFP), carry much weight in local administration. His elder son, Sikandar, has already jumped into politics.


Notes:

Recently Stood for October 2002 Elections from Native Constituency of Charsadda (NA-8, Charsadda II) with a ticket of Pakistan People's Party Sherpao Group.

Contact Address (Peshawar): 5_F, Rahman Baba Road, University Town, Peshawar (Phone: 841630, 841730)

Contact Address (Islamabad): 282, Gomal Road, E7, Islamabad (Phone: 9221465)

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Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Muhammad Riaz
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, September 16 2005 (http://www.khyber.org)