Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi
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|Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi(چودھری ظہور الٰہی)|
|Died||25 September 1981
|Relatives||Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi - NEPHEW - Chief Minister of Punjab (Pakistan) from 2002-2007|
Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi (assassinated on September 25, 1981) was a visionary Pakistani statesman who rose to prominence from a small town of Gujrat, Punjab, Pakistan. Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi’s political career was based on hard work, commitment and sacrifice. He fought all his life for the rule of democracy in Pakistan. Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi has bequeathed a rich political legacy to his family and political followers. Today, the Chaudhry Family of Gujrat commands the nation's respect for its strong commitment to this rich legacy and furthering Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi's traditions of principled politics and selfless services for Pakistan.
Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi Shaheed began his career in the police force but gave it up soon after the creation of Pakistan and ventured into business in association with his Elder brother Ch. Manzoor Elahi, who was a textile engineer by profession. The two brothers jointly purchased and operated a textile mills after independence of Pakistan in Gujrat. Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi Shaheed was a Jat of the Warriach clan and lived all his life up to the Jat values of wisdom and valour. He entered local politics in the 1950s.During Ayub Khan's rule, Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi had become widely known for his stolid defiance and bold refusal to submit to the whims and caprices of the mighty. During this period, the tyrannical governor of West Pakistan, Nawab of Kalabagh Amir Mohammad Khan, was particularly venomous in his comments against Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi. Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi wrested the leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League out of the clutches of a handful of opportunist politicians and with his exceptional negotiation skills coupled with his unique brand of politics, he singlehandedly transformed Pakistan Muslim League into a force to reckon with. As the Secretary-General of the Convention Muslim League, he came to oppose Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Bhutto never forgot this. On coming into power, Bhutto never lost an opportunity to victimise Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi but the brave Jat from Gujrat never gave in. In his conflict with Bhutto, Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi was imprisoned and his family property was confiscated by the Government. Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi was assassinated in 1981 by a terrorist group with links to the Bhutto family.
Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi’s father was Chaudhry Sardar Khan Warraich a proud and upright farmer. Chaudhry Sardar Khan Warraich was a great admirer of Punjabi sufi poetry. His sons, Chaudhry Manzur Elahi and Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi, upheld the values inherited from their ancestors throughout their lives. Their sons Chaudhry Shujat Hussain and Chaudhry Parvez Elahi also later attained success in politics due to their matchless adherence to this grand legacy.
Chaudhry Manzur Elahi, father of Chaudhry Parvez Elahi is the elder brother of Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi Shaheed. He was raised in Gujrat but left his hometown in 1939 to pursue further studies. He received his degree in textile engineering from Amritsar in 1940.
Upon his return from Amritsar, Chaudry Manzur Elahi teamed with Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi to develop a family owned textile business in Gujrat. After independence in 1947, the two brothers established two textile units under the names of Gujrat Silk Mills and Pakistan Textile Mills. In 1950, the business was expanded to Lahore where they established Parvez Textile Mills, specializing in weaving, finishing and dyeing. In 1951-52, Chaudhry Manzur Elahi went to Japan to import textile machinery for Gujrat and Lahore units. Armed with his textile education and superior business skills, Chaudry Manzur Elahi’s textile units continued to flourish under his leadership. The family continued to dedicate their energies to their business and set up Modern Flour Mills in Lahore and Rawalpindi. The Chaudhry Family of Gujrat has never been a bank defaulter.
Early political career
In 1956, Chaudry Zahoor Elahi decided to enter politics while Chaudhry Manzur Elahi remained committed to family business. Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi was elected Chairman of the Gujrat District Board in 1958 and thereafter devoted his efforts solely for the welfare and uplift of the downtrodden people of Gujrat. The same year, Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi was also elected as a Director of the National Bank of Pakistan. He kept returning to the National Bank board of directors for the next twelve years. In 1958, General Ayub Khan came to power through martial law. He enforced the Elected Bodies Disqualification Order (EBDO) which was mercilessly used to disqualify politicians for next five years. The politicians facing EBDO were given two options; they were either to retire voluntarily from politics or to face Government’s punitive action. Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi was the only politician, in the entire West Pakistan province, who challenged the draconian EBDO ordinance. Despite being cleared by the EBDO Tribunal of all charges, Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi was victimized by the Martial Law regime and was sentenced to six months imprisonment. Despite this government highhandedness, Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi was elected Member of the National Assembly in 1962 and he consequently became Secretary General of the Pakistan Muslim League’s Parliamentary Party of United Pakistan. Around this time the family also purchased Pakistan Times, the most popular English daily published from West Pakistan.
Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi continued to gain in height on the political scene and was elected to the National Assembly in 1970. He was among the few members of the Pakistan Muslim League to get elected. Followed by the fall of East Pakistan in 1971 Mr. Z. A Bhutto emerged as the new ruler of the remaining Pakistan. On his coming to power, Z.A. Bhutto nationalized all major industries including flour mills. Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi was among the nine opposition parliamentary leaders who were forcibly thrown out of the Parliament House on Bhutto’s orders. During Bhutto regime, Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi was politically harassed a number of times. From ludicrous and politically motivated police cases such as the alleged buffalo theft case to the farfetched case of supply of Iraqi arms for rebellion in Balochistan, he was constantly targeted and implicated in several fabricated cases during Bhutto rule. But this extreme political vindictiveness could not silence Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi’s voice of truth and reason for a moment. He was arrested for delivering an anti-government speech in Hotel Inter Continental, Karachi and a special tribunal sentenced him to imprisonment for five years. He remained imprisoned in different jails but mostly remained at the Karachi jail. Bhutto also planned to assassinate Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi and had in fact, given orders to the then Balochistan Governor Nawab Akbar Bugti to carry out the assassination of Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi. Nawab Akbar Bugti refused to obey the orders. The Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) gained momentum following the 1977 rigged elections when it urged the people of Pakistan to rise in revolt against Bhutto’s lust for power. All top PNA leaders including Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi were arrested. Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi and others were released when General Zia ul Haq’s army took over on July 5, 1977. General Zia ul Haq immediately announced holding of fresh elections within 90 days. Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi filed his nomination papers from Gujrat and Constituency No.3 of Lahore from where Z. A. Bhutto had also declared to contest. However, these elections were postponed when military dictator General Mohammad Zia ul Haq arrested Bhutto. Due to the deteriorating financial plight of the nationalized industries, Zia government decided to return them to their original owners. The Chaudhry family took charge of their previously nationalised flourmills with a new determination.
Following General Zia’s actions against the Bhutto family, Murtaza Bhutto formed Al - Zulfiqar, a terrorist organization. Ghulam Mustafa Khar, who was living in exile in London informed a close associate of Chauhdry Zahoor Elahi of Al-Zulfiqar’s plot to assassinate Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi. Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi remained undeterred by this information as he had braved highly hostile circumstances previously during Z. A. Bhutto’s regime. Tragically, Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi became the first victim of Al - Zulfiqar when he was assassinated in Lahore in September 1981. Murtaza Bhutto publicly accepted responsibility for the assassination in his interview with BBC.
At this juncture, the Chaudhry family decided that Chaudhry Shujat Hussain and Chaudhry Parvez Elahi (sons of Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi and Chaudhry Manzur Elahi) should take charge of the family business as well as enter politics. In 1982, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi was elected Chairman of District Council Gujrat and remained Chairman for several years due to his outstanding performance. In the 1985 non-party based elections, Chaudhry Shujat Hussain and Chaudhry Parvez Elahi were elected to the National Assembly and Punjab Assembly respectively. Despite their political responsibilities, both cousin brothers attended to their business as well. In 1987, the family diversified into the sugar industry. They set up two sugar mills, at Mian Channu (Khanewal) and at Phalia (Mandi Bahauddin). The family also expanded their textile business in 1990-91 and consequently set up two separate textile units in Gujrat and Mandi Bahauddin.
In 1988 Benazir Bhutto came to power and following in the footsteps of her father she also began victimizing the Chaudhry family. Her government issued orders to all banks to stop issuing working capital to the industrial units owned by the Chaudhries, thus making them engineered defaulters. The family sought relief from the courts and continued their business on borrowings from the private sector.
From 1993-97, several politically motivated cases were registered against Chaudhry Shujat Hussain and Chaudhry Parvez Elahi. They were detained in Adiyla Jail Rawalpindi for several months. In the 1997 election, the two cousins were elected to the National Assembly and Punjab Assembly seats with a thumping majority and held important portfolios at centre and in Punjab. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain was the Federal Interior Minister while Chaudhry Parvez Elahi was elected Speaker of the Punjab Assembly with an overwhelming majority.
2002 to date
Ch. Shujaat Hussain and Ch. Pervez Elahi took charge of the rocking boat of Pakistan Muslim League when the Sharif Brothers left the country after signing a deal with military ruler General Pervez Musharraf in December, 2000. As a result, Pakistan Muslim League under its new leadership won the 2002 elections. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the President of Pakistan Muslim League became the country’s prime minister for a brief period while Chaudhry Parvez Elahi served Punjab as an outstanding chief minister till 2007. Chaudhry Parvez Elahi became Pakistan’s first Deputy Prime Minister in 2012 after entering into a coalition government with the Pakistan Peoples Party.
- Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, son, former Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2004
- Chaudhry Wajahat Hussain, son
- Chaudhry Shafaat Hussain, son
- Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Son in law and nephew, Former Chief Minister of Punjab (Pakistan) from 2002–2007,First Deputy Prime Minister of Pakistan From 2012-Present
- Moonis Elahi, grandson s/o Chaudhry Pervaiz Ellahi