Ijaz-ul-Haq

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Ijaz-ul-Haq
اعجاز الحق
Ijaz ul Haq.jpg
Minister for Religious Affairs
In office
January 11, 2004 – November 26, 2007
President Pervez Musharraf
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz
Succeeded by Hamid Saeed Kazmi
Minister for Minorities
In office
January 11, 2004 – November 26, 2007
President Pervez Musharraf
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz
Succeeded by Shahbaz Bhatti
Minister for Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis
In office
November 1, 1990 – July 18, 1993
President Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
Personal details
Born (1952-05-20) 20 May 1952 (age 62)
Nowshera, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
Nationality Pakistan Pakistani
Political party Pakistan Muslim League (Zia-ul-Haq Shaheed)
Alma mater University of the Punjab
Southern Illinois University
Religion Islam

Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq (Punjabi, Urdu: محمد اعجاز الحق‎) (born 20 May 1952) is a Pakistani politician and leader of the rightwing Pakistan Muslim League (Zia-ul-Haq Shaheed) party. He served as Minister for Religious Affairs and Minorities in the government of General Pervez Musharraf from 2004 to 2007, after having served as Minister for Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis in the government of Nawaz Sharif from 1990 to 1993. Ijaz entered politics in 1988, following the assassination of his father General Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan's then-military president. He was elected to parliament in the elections of 1990, 1993, 1997, 2002, and 2013.

Early life[edit]

Ijaz-ul-Haq was born in Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the eldest son of General Zia-ul-Haq and Shafiqa Zia. He studied business at the University of Punjab, and completed his MBA from Southern Illinois University in the United States. He worked as a banker in Bahrain from 1978 until the death of his father General Zia, the President of Pakistan, in a plane crash on August 17, 1988. Ijaz returned to Pakistan and entered politics, allying himself with Pakistan Muslim League, the party his late father had promoted as president. Ijaz became part of the conservative opposition to Benazir Bhutto, who would be elected Prime Minister of Pakistan in November 1988.

1990s political career[edit]

Ijaz was elected in 1990 from Rawalpindi to the National Assembly and was appointed the Minister for Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis by new Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Zia's protégé. After Sharif's government was dismissed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Ijaz was once again elected from Rawalpindi in subsequent general elections of 1993. He once more garnered the highest number of votes from Rawalpindi in 1997, this time by a landslide of 70 percent. Ijaz fell out with Sharif during his second tenure, stepping down as Senior Vice-President of the ruling PML-N. Sharif was overthrown soon afterward in a military coup by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999.

Inquiries into Zia air crash[edit]

Ijaz called for several inquiries into the aircrash that killed General Zia on 17 August 1988. He convinced the Sharif government to set up a commission led by Justice Shafi ur Rahman in 1992. It submitted a report of non-performance, accusing the Pakistan Army under General Mirza Aslam Beg of obstructing its work.[1] Ijaz continued managing subsequent inquiries, but besides confirming sabotage, all findings remain inconclusive. Ijaz accused Israeli intelligence agency Mossad several times of providing material to destroy the aircraft,[2] a view corroborated by former US Ambassador to India John Gunther Dean.[3][4] In September 2009, the Israeli Foreign Office rejected Mossad's role in the Zia crash as baseless.[5] Besides Mossad, Ijaz has accused Aslam Beg, Zia's successor as army chief, of playing an internal role in the crash.[6][7]

Religious Affairs Minister[edit]

Pakistani journalist Muhammad Farooq receiving Fatima Jinnah Award (2003) from ex-Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Minorities Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq

During the elections of 2002, Ijaz was elected to the National Assembly for the fourth time. He contested the election from Bahawalnagar through his newly formed political party Pakistan Muslim League (Zia-ul-Haq Shaheed). His party allied itself with Musharraf's Pakistan Muslim League (Q) in 2003. In 2004, he was made Federal Minister for Religious Affairs as well as Federal Minister for Minorities. Ijaz's support for nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan and his criticism of the Bush administration was controversial. His remarks in 2007 concerning the knighthood of Salman Rushdie received international condemnation, including from Benazir Bhutto.

Opposition from 2008[edit]

He lost for the first time in the 2008 general election, to Pakistan People's Party's Afzal Sindhu, from Bahawalnagar, in a close contest. He resigned from the PML-Q in February 2010. His revived PML-Zia upset the People's Party in Bahawalnagar for Member of the Provincial Assembly in March 2010.[8] In 2011, he took an active role in Difa-e-Pakistan Council, a coalition of religious parties against the reopening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan. In 2012, it was speculated that Ijaz would rejoin PML-N, but he successfully ran from PML-Zia again in the 2013 elections, defeating Sindhu. His constituency NA-191 recorded the highest voter turnout in the country for 2013.[9]

Electoral history[edit]

National Assembly of Pakistan NA-191 Bahawalnagar-IV, 2013[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
PML (Zia) Ijaz-ul-Haq 78,221 37 -11
PTI Afzal Sindhu 8,622 4 -46
PML (N) Mian Abdul Rasheed 56,000 0 -2
National Assembly of Pakistan NA-191 Bahawalnagar-IV, 2008[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
PPP Afzal Sindhu 83,935 50 21
PML (Q) Ijaz-ul-Haq 79,240 48 12
PML (N) Muhammad Yar Khan Kamoka 3,438 2 1
National Assembly of Pakistan NA-191 Bahawalnagar-IV, 2002[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
PML (Zia) Ijaz-ul-Haq 55,109 36 N/A
PPP Afzal Sindhu 45,478 29 19
PML (Q) Ch. Abdul Ghafoor 43,739 28 N/A
National Assembly of Pakistan NA-39 Rawalpindi-IV, 1997[11]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
PML (N) Ijaz-ul-Haq 87,392 70 13
PPP Raja Shahid Zafar 31,838 25 -17
National Assembly of Pakistan NA-39 Rawalpindi-IV, 1993[11]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
PML (N) Ijaz-ul-Haq 87,676 57
PPP Raja Shahid Zafar 64,655 42
National Assembly of Pakistan NA-72 Toba Tek Singh-II, 1990[11]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
IDA Ijaz-ul-Haq 76,372 N/A
PPP Qazi Ghias-ud-Din Janbaz 44,752

References[edit]