Humayun Akhtar Khan
|Humayun Akhtar Khan|
|Commerce Minister of Pakistan|
23 November 2002 – 15 November 2007
|Chairman Pakistan Board of Investment|
30 July 1997 – 12 October 1999
|Political party||Pakistan Muslim League|
|Alma mater||Government College University
University of Manitoba
Humayun Akhtar Khan is a Pakistani politician. He has been elected as a member of the National Assembly four times and served as the Commerce Minister of Pakistan from 2002–2007 and as Chairman Pakistan Board of Investment from 1997-1999. An Actuary by profession, his ideas have been published in a manifesto called the Road Map to Pakistan's Recovery. His father General Akhtar Abdur Rehman was the Director General of the ISI during the 1980s and played a crucial role in forcing the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Humayun and his brothers are amongst the most influential industrialists in Pakistan and collectively own Tandlianwala Sugar Mills, Superior Textile Mills, and the Pepsi franchise.
Humayun Akhtar received his early education from Burn Hall, Abbottabad and secondary education form Saint Mary's Academy, Rawalpindi. He got a Bachelor of Science degree in from Government College University, Lahore and later traveled to Canada where he got a Masters in Actuarial Science and Business Administration degree from University of Manitoba. He is a fellow of Society of Actuaries, USA and the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, the highest professional designations required to become an Actuary.
From 1981-1987 Humayun Akhtar worked for an Actuarial Consulting Company called Sobeco in Toronto as an actuary. Shortly after his father General Akhtar Abdur Rahman died in the plane crash that also killed the President of Pakistan General Zia-ul-Haq, Humayun along with his brothers decided to move back to Pakistan. After years of professional experience in foreign corporations, the Akhtar Brothers along with their cousin Jehangir Khan Tareen and his brother in law Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood together bought the Pepsi franchise of Lahore. They have taken the franchise from near bankruptcy to being the standout company in the beverage industry. Years of success in Pepsi were followed by an expansion into the sugar, textile, and ethanol industries. Today, Tandlianwala Sugar Mills is one of the largest producers of sugar in the country' with units in Tandlianwala, Muzaffargarh, and D.I. Khan.
Humayun entered the fray of electoral politics in 1990 on the platform of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad. He was given a ticket to contest from NA-92 Lahore, a constituency that had traditionally been a PPP stronghold with party stalwarts like Hanif Ramay, Ghulam Mustafa Khar and Dr. Mubashir Hassan having long collective associations with it. Humayun won it by a margin of approximately 14,000 votes against Rafiq Ahmad Sheikh of the PPP, becoming the first PML candidate to clinch this constituency. After the election victory, Humayun quickly established his position by initiating massive development programs for the first time in the history of the constituency. He addressed the people's social and developmental needs by initiating and completing various projects including road networks, water supply, sewerage systems, and the establishment of schools, college, and hospitals. After Nawaz Sharifs government was forced to resign in July 1993, general elections took place once again in October. The Pakistan Muslim League (N) had now emerged as a separate political entity under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, having broken away from the IJI. The 1993 general election was to test Humayun's political acumen to the hilt. Shortly before the election, PML (N) leader Nawaz Sharif shuffled constituencies taking NA-92 for himself and moving Humayun into the infinitely more challenging NA-93, the stronghold of PPP stalwart Aitzaz Ahsan, commonly known as the "Larkana of Lahore". When the IJI swept Lahore in the 1990 election, the PPP candidate still held this seat by a good 13,000 votes. However, with only four weeks to vote Humayun managed to upset Aitzaz Ahsan by 4,000 votes. Upon victory, he set about employing his tried and tested model of leveraging the grassroots for development work and turned a PPP stronghold into a safe seat of the PML (N). His election success was proof that people react to improvement in their living standards.
Tenure as Chairman BOI
In 1997, new elections were called for after the ouster of Benazir Bhutto's government. This time Humayun was given a ticket to contest from NA-150 in Rahimyar Khan instead of his constituency in Lahore where he had twice defeated strong Peoples Party candidates. However, with the help of his friend and business partner Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood who was very influential in Rahimyar Khan, Humayun managed to win the election and was then appointed Chairman Pakistan Board of Investment in the government headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Only one month after he was asked to head the Board of Investment, Humayun presented a new investment policy aimed at utilizing investor potential in the Pakistani market. The policy was very well received in the international investor community, and has often been cited as the best among developing countries. It served the purpose of opening Pakistan to foreign investors, which eventually led to billions of dollars worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) coming into Pakistan. It also rendered Humayun worthy of the respect of investor circles both in Pakistan and abroad. His interpersonal skills were vital to successful networking in the world of realpolitik, and proved central to his efforts towards enhancing Pakistan's trade outreach and enabling the country to escape growing international isolation while bolstering trade simultaneously.
Formation of PML (Q)
After the military coup in 1999 in which Nawaz Sharif was overthrown by General Pervez Musharraf, Humayun Akhtar along with many of Nawaz Sharifs close aides were under house arrest for months. For two years the National Accountability Bureau launched thorough investigations against Humayun's family and placed him on the Exit Control List. After being cleared of all allegations leveled against him, Humayun resumed his political career in 2001. In 2002, General Pervez Musharraf who by then had also become the President of Pakistan promised that there would be General Elections in October. Because Nawaz Sharif had been exiled to Saudi Arabia and the military establishment gave the impression that he was gone for good, many of his most prominent party leaders including Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Ijaz-ul-Haq, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Shaikh Rasheed Ahmad, Mian Azhar and Humayun Akhtar Khan formed a new party called Pakistan Muslim League- Quaid-e-Azam. Humayun contested from constituency NA-125 which was in fact part of what was once called NA-93, the constituency he won from in 1993. This time his main opponents were Akram Zaki of PML (N) and Naveed Chaudhry of PPP. Although many political analysts believed that it would be a one sided affair in favor of Humayun who was very popular in this constituency, it turned out to be a very tough election as the Muslim Leagues vote was split and Humayun won by an extremely narrow margin. The runner-up Akram Zaki claimed victory and stated that the result had been rigged in favor of the PML-Q candidate. Zaki took the result to the Lahore High Court and Supreme Court of Pakistan but after a recount it was concluded that Humayun had won fair and square. He was then sworn in as the Commerce Minister in a cabinet led by Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali.
Prime Ministerial Candidate
In 2002 when PML (Q) was forming its government, Humayun Akhtar was one of the candidates considered for the post of Prime Minister. However, President Musharraf and the PML-Q eventually decided to choose the Prime Minister from one of the smaller provinces and hence gave the honor to Zafarullah Khan Jamali of Balochistan. By early 2004, it was clear that Jamali had fallen out of favor with President Musharraf and his own party members. Jamali did not support Musharraf's decision to keep on his uniform amongst other things while Musharraf was fed up of Jamali's incompetence and poor governance. By May 2004, the party decided to sack Jamali and in his place a number of potential candidates were listed. After many high level consultations between the President and his close political and military aides, it was decided that Humayun was the best choice to lead the nation. Although Humayun had the backing of the Pakistan Army, his own party men the Chaudhrys of Gujraat proved to be the last hurdle in his nomination as they fought tooth and nail to ensure that he does not become the next Prime Minister. Party President Chaudhry Shujaat went to the extent of asking Musharraf to delay the announcement of the new Prime Minister by three weeks till the budget session concludes. Many political analysts believe that the main reason behind the delay was to postpone Humayun's candidacy as the Chaudhry's felt that he had intentions of hijacking the party from them and as a result threatening Pervaiz Elahi's own political ambitions of eventually becoming Prime Minister after the next election. Eventually Musharraf adhered to the pressure and the only other viable option for Musharraf was Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz who was a Senator, not a Member of Parliament. Eventually, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain was made interim Prime Minister for two months and it was decided that Shaukat Aziz would contest an election for the national assembly via by-election. Shortly after contesting and winning the by-election, Shaukat Aziz replaced Chaudhry Shujaat as Prime Minister.
Tenure as Commerce Minister
After the new Prime Minister was chosen and Humayun was denied the opportunity to lead the nation, he resumed his duty as the Commerce Minister. During his tenure, he undertook policies which would turn Pakistan into a dynamic world economy. He actively participated in the World Trade Organization negotiations, where he was selected as a facilitator for the Hong Kong ministerial conference held in December 2005. He also introduced reforms in the insurance sector and enacted copyright laws in 2007 and helped establish the Lahore Agenda for Farmer's rights to global markets in the 31st meeting of Cairns Group. Considering his background as an industrialist, his greatest contribution was to the manufacturing sector which grew at 12.1% annually from 2002-2007. During his five-year tenure as the Commerce Minister, Pakistan experienced an unprecedented economic boom as GDP grew at an average annual rate of 6.8%, exports increased from $7.8 Billion to $19.2 Billion, Pakistan became an active member of the WTO, Foreign Exchange Reserves increased from $300 million to $16 billion, and in 2007 the USD exchange rate was 62 PKR. The rapid increase in exports was a significant achievement in accordance to WTO rules, considering that the rupee was relatively strong at the time and had not been devalued in order to make Pakistani exports artificially more competitive in foreign markets. While the incumbent PPP government has significantly devalued the rupee in order to make exports more competitive abroad, devaluation of the rupee has simultaneously doubled Pakistan's foreign debt.
Defeat in 2008
After the PML-Q completed its five-year term in power, general elections were announced. After the Lal Masjid incident and the sacking of all the supreme court judges via the PCO, President Musharraf was under intense pressure to shed his uniform and contest his third term as president as a civilian rather than a dictator. After winning his presidential election, Musharraf shed his uniform and allowed opposition leaders Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto to return to Pakistan and contest the upcoming elections. Despite all this, many pundits still believed that the PML (Q) had a chance to be in power once again due to all the economic growth and development that took place during its tenure. For instance, in Humayun Akhtar's constituency in Lahore, 1.25 billion rupees was spent on development projects. However, after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the tables turned as her husband Asif Ali Zardari defamed the Q-League by blaming its leadership for conspiring to kill his wife. On the election day, all Musharraf's main allies including Humayun Akhtar suffered heavy defeats from their respective constituencies. This was the first time in his political career that Humayun was defeated. Tellingly, 23 out of 27 members of the former federal cabinet lost their seats as the Pakistan Peoples Party came to power while Nawaz Sharif's party got control of Punjab. Because of Zardari's allegations and Musharraf's unpopularity, the PML (Q) suffered a heavy defeat in the 2008 general elections.
Formation of Likeminded Group
While the PML-Q sat in opposition, it became increasingly subdued and party decisions were being made solely by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. Many influential members of the party including Humayun Akhtar opposed these measures and tried to resolve their issues with the Chaudhry brothers via dialogue but the Chaudhry's refused to loosen their grip on the party. This disillusioned many in the party who were opposed to the idea of family politics especially when association with the Chaudhry's was more of a liability than an asset for PML-Q candidates in the previous election. When the time came for inter party elections, a like-minded group in the party led by Humayun Akhtar, Hamid Nasir Chattha, and Salim Saifullah Khan boycotted the elections as certain members of the PML-Q's election commission of 2006 was changed. Eventually, Shujaat was re-elected as President of PML-Q, while Mushahid Hussain was re-elected Secretary General in an election that was boycotted by many of the parties most influential leaders. Consequently, the PML-Q split and the like-minded faction had its own elections in which it declared Salim Saifullah as its President and Humayun Akhtar as its Secretary General. Several Muslim League stalwarts including Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Hamid Nasir Chattha, and Gohar Ayub Khan joined the breakaway faction while others including Shaikh Rasheed Ahmad and Ijaz-ul-Haq formed their own separate factions of Muslim League. This great division in the PML-Q left the former ruling party in disarray. In May 2011, the faction of PML-Q led by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain decided to join the Pakistan Peoples Party Government while the 'Likeminded' group continued to sit in the opposition in both the National Assembly and the Senate. Likewise, in the Punjab Assembly, the Unification Bloc joined PML-N in the government while the rest of PML-Q sat on the opposition benches. This was the first time in Pakistan's history that certain members of one parliamentary party sat on the opposition benches while others sat on the treasury benches. Although PML-Q boasts more members in the National Assembly, the Likeminded group has more members in the Punjab Assembly and the Sindh Assembly. It is widely perceived that PML-Q's decided to support the federal government in order to save Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi's son Moonis Elahi from prosecution in the NICL corruption scandal. The Chaudhry's decision to join the government in order to get Moonis Elahi out of jail vindicates the stand against family politics that was taken by members of the Likeminded group in 2009. As of May 2012 the Likeminded Group has formed an alliance with the PML (N) in a bid to unite all Muslim League factions under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, with the aim of defeating the PTI and the ruling coalition of PPP and PML (Q) in the upcoming general elections. Recently Humayun Akhtar has been playing a key role in the Pakistan Muslim League's manifesto committee along with other economic experts including Ishaq Dar, Sartaj Aziz, and Ahsan Iqbal.
- ^ "Humayun Akhtar Takes Charge as BoI Chairman". Business Recorder (Lahore, Pakistan). 30 July 1997. p. Back Page.
- ^ "Lahore Results". Daily Dawn (Lahore, Pakistan). 20 February 2008. p. 17.
- ^ "Money can't buy me vote". Daily Dawn (Lahore, Pakistan). 20 February 2008. p. 17.
- ^ "Govt to restart probe into C-130 crash". Daily Nation (Multan, Pakistan). 13 November 1990. p. N/A.
- ^ "Sarmad Salik accuses Beg of involvement in C-130 crash". Daily Observer (Islamabad, Pakistan). 18 October 1992. p. 1.