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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Ajmal Khattak passes away

Ajmal Baba Starge pate krre....Inna Lillah e wa Inna alehe raji'on

PESHAWAR: Veteran ANP Leader Ajmal Khattak passed away on Sunday evening in a local hospital after a protracted illness, DawnNews reported.

Khattak had a long career in both the anti-imperial movement against the British in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan as well as part of the National Awami Party (NAP) in its various incarnations in Pakistan.

Political career

His early political career began during the Quit-India movement after he came under the influence of the Khudai Khidmatgar movement. He was forced to leave school due to his involvement in the said movement.

He was elected as a member of the NWFP provincial assembly and served as a provincial minister in the cabinet of Mufti Mehmood's NAP - JUI government in 1972. After the resignation of the NWFP cabinet in protest against President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's dismissal of the Balochistan government led by Sardar Ataullah Mengal, Ajmal Khattak became the Secretary General of NAP.

He was the organiser and stage secretary at the United Democratic Front (UDF) rally held at Liaquat Bagh Rawalpindi on March 23, 1973, when shots were fired at the UDF leaders, including Khan Abdul Wali Khan.

Self-imposed exile

Since Ajmal Khattak was a prominent figure in the National Awami Party, he was wanted by the Federal Security Force as part of the general crackdown on NAP. In order to avoid his arrest and possible torture, he fled into self-imposed exile to Afghanistan and stayed there for 16 long years.

During his years in Kabul, Ajmal Khattak was a close confidant of Badshah Khan, and also enjoyed excellent relations with leaders of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, including President Nur Muhammad Taraki, Babrak Karmal and Dr. Mohammad Najibullah.

He ended his exile in 1989 after the Awami National Party (ANP), the successor of the NAP, entered into an electoral alliance with Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League-led Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI).

In the general elections of October 1990, Ajmal Khattak was elected from his home district of Nowshera to the National Assembly of Pakistan, defeating Tariq Khattak of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). These elections also signalled the retirement of (late) Khan Wali Khan after his electoral loss to Maulana Hassan Jan of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. Ajmal Khattak was then elected as the president of the Awami National Party when Khan Wali Khan, who was also his close friend, stepped down from the post.

In the 1993 general elections, Ajmal Khattak lost his re-election bid in Nowshera to the PPP candidate Major General Naseerullah Babar. As a leading critic of the PPP, it was important for the ANP-IJI alliance to have Ajmal Khattak in the parliament, and he was therefore nominated to the Senate of Pakistan in March 1994.

His two terms as president of the Awami National Party were noted primarily for his close alliance with former opponents, the Muslim League, after the alliance collapsed in January 1998 over the renaming of the province of NWFP to Pakthunkhwa and Khattak's role in leading the ANP briefly into joining an alliance known as the Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement (PONM).

The decision to join PONM was made despite strong pressure from party critics who preferred the ANP to ally themselves with a federal party like the PPP. Eventually, Khattak succumbed to party pressure and the ANP left PONM, joining the Grand Democratic Alliance which included the PPP.

Life as a writer

Apart from his role in politics, Khattak also authored 13 books in Pashto and Urdu including 'A History of Pushto Literature' and Pakistan Main Qaumi Jamhoori Tehrikin (in Urdu) and Da Ghirat Chagha, Batoor, Gul auo Perhar, Guloona auo Takaloona, Jalawatan ki Shairee, Pukhtana Shora and Da Wakht Chagha in Pashto.

As a writer, he served as editor of various newspapers and periodicals, including Anjaam, Shahbaz, Adal and Rahber as well as script writer for Radio Pakistan.

He was ousted as ANP President in 2000, after a protracted power struggle with Nasim Wali Khan, triggered by accusations of his closeness to General Pervez Musharraf and his criticism of corrupt politicians in a press conference.

After taking a decision to leave the party, Khattak briefly led a splinter group called the National Awami Party of Pakistan. This party was routed in the 2002 general elections amidst the religo-political parties alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) sweep of the NWFP province.

The victory of MMA led him to rejoin the ANP, but he retired soon after and went back to live in his village home in Akora Khattak, Peshawar. –DawnNews

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