Aslam Khattak

پښتو :: پښتانه :: پښتونخواه :: پښتونوالی

Aslam Khattak, Nadeem Yaqub
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, September 16 2005 (http://www.khyber.org)


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Aslam Khattak

Nadeem Yaqub

Publishing Date: Friday, September 16 2005

For decades, the Khattaks have held monopoly over politics in Karak, in the south of Peshawar, but their house has always remained divided. While Aslam Khattak and his son-in-law Nawabzada Mohsin Ali Khan have dominated the political scene in Karak, his step-sister Begum Kulsoom Saifullah and her sons have been at the forefront of politics in the nearby Lakki Marwat area posing a serious challenge to the political influence of the Khattaks of Karak.

Well before Aslam Khattak and Kulsoom Saifullah established their hold over politics, Yousuf Khattak (step brother of Aslam and brother of Kulsoom) had made a mark in the subcontinent's politics. Yousuf was the general secretary of Pakistan Muslim League after the creation of Pakistan. His son, Mohammed Ayub Khattak, has also been in the electoral politics of the NWFP.

Apart from enjoying dominance on the political scene of the NWFP and the country as a whole, the Khattaks have also had their share in the armed forces. The last of the bunch, Lt-Gen Ali Kuli Khan, chose to retire prematurely after he was superseded by General Pervez Musharraf as chief of the army staff. General Habibullah, Aslam's step brother and Kulsoom's brother, was yet another from among the top military brass the family produced.

Aslam Khattak is one of the few politicians of Pakistan who have been acceptable to the divergent political parties of the country and the military rulers. Although a staunch supporter of the Muslim League, he was chosen by PPP founder Z.A. Bhutto for the governorship of the NWFP. He was equally acceptable to General Zia-ul-Haq.

Aslam Khattak, now over 90, was in government service before taking a plunge into politics in 1962. He served in All India Radio, British Intelligence and as a jail superintendent before joining the diplomatic corps. As a diplomat he served as ambassador to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The young Khattak got elected to the West Pakistan Assembly from his home constituency Karak, in 1962 and again in 1965. In 1970 he was elected to the NWFP Assembly as an independent candidate and two years later he was appointed governor of the NWFP, the office he resigned after a year in 1973 to be appointed ambassador to Iran.

During the Zia martial law, Aslam Khattak was nominated member of the then Majlis-i-Shura. Later in 1985's non-party polls he got elected to the National Assembly and was subsequently taken into the cabinet as the interior minister.

As the senior Khattak is now unable to take part in active politics, his gutsy son-in-law Nawabzada Mohsin Ali Khan is leading the family in the political arena. Mohsin, who remained the provincial minister for finance in the early 90s, got elected to the NWFP Assembly in the 1997 elections as an independent candidate and climbed on the bandwagon of the cricketer-turn-politician Imran Khan's Tehrik-i-Insaf - the party he is leading in the Frontier province.

Mohsin is not the last of the political heirs of Aslam Khattak, as Shehryar, Mohsin's son, also contested the 1997 provincial assembly's elections from Karak and was defeated.

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Aslam Khattak, Nadeem Yaqub
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, September 16 2005 (http://www.khyber.org)