In memory of Farooq Leghari – a rare, honest politician | Pakistan Today

In memory of Farooq Leghari – a rare, honest politician

ISLAMABAD: One will hardly find many in Pakistan who spent 40 years in mainstream politics, held important positions and are still remembered as honest, visionary and above all men of integrity.
Born in Choti Zereen, a village of Dera Ghazi Khan district, on May 29, 1940, during the British Raj, Sardar Farooq Leghari breathed his last on October 20 after suffering a cardiac arrest. He belonged to a political family that had been active on the political scene of the sub-continent since pre-colonial days. His father Sardar Muhammad Khan Leghari and grandfather Nawab Sir Muhammad Jamal Khan Leghari had both served as ministers.
After his initial schooling at Aitchison College, Farooq graduated with honours from the Forman Christian College, Lahore. He went on to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Oxford University. After returning to Pakistan, Farooq joined the Civil Services and served for some time in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). He shot to fame in 1975 when he joined the PPP and was elected senator. PPP founder Zulfikar Bhutto made him the production minister and assigned the special task to overhaul the industries sector.
After General (r) Ziaul Haq’s military takeover, Farooq was put under house arrest several times. Although slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto was in exile, he played an important role in the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD) and was instrumental in resistance in parts of Sindh, Punjab and NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) during the early 80s. Fast forwarding to the 90s, soon after the 1993 polls, Farooq was elected president. In his new office, he played an important role and worked untiringly to secure national interests.
He even did not budge to political pressures and utilised all his powers for the national cause. In the same spirit, Leghari went on to dismiss the Benazir Bhutto government using his powers under Article 58 2(b) in November 1996 on charges of corruption, lawlessness and extra judicial killings in urban Sindh.
Later, he appointed PPP veteran leader Malik Meraj Khalid as caretaker PM and directed him to hold general elections in line with the Constitution in 1997 without any delay. The elections were won by the PML-N and Nawaz Sharif was elected prime minister.
After the attack on Supreme Court and the removal of Syed Sajjad Ali Shah, the chief justice of Pakistan at that time, Farooq cropped up serious differences with Nawaz Sharif and resigned in December, 1997. In March 1998, Leghari formed the Millat Party with Javed Jabbar as its founding secretary general.
In year 2002, Millat Party entered into a coalition of seven minor and regional parties and was named as the National Alliance to participate in the 2002 general elections. In its first elections, National Alliance emerged as the third largest group in parliament and won 17 seats in National Assembly.
In May 2004, Farooq made perhaps the only mistake of his life when he agreed to the proposal of General Pervez Musharraf – the president at that time – to merge his Millat Party into Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain-led PML-Q. Farooq was given assurances by Musharraf that he would be appointed PM. However, this promise never materialised. This brought on Farooq’s political demise, who was turned into a mere MNA from a top class politician.
Later, the Chaudhrys made sure that he was kept at a distance from Musharraf, as they knew that they had no match to the class, experience and competence of Farooq Leghari. On October 20, 2010, Farooq was undergoing surgery at the AFIC in Rawalpindi for a heart-related illness when he breathed his last.

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