Aftab Ahmad Sherpao

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Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao
أحمد أفتاب خان شرباو
Interior Minister of Pakistan
In office
25 August 2004 – 15 November 2007
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz
Preceded by Position established
Ministry of Water and Power (Pakistan)
In office
Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali
Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
In office
24 April 1994 – 12 November 1996
President Farooq Leghari
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto
Governor Maj.Gen. Khurshid Ali Khan
Lt.Gen. Arif Bangash
Majority Pakistan Peoples Party
Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan
Assumed office
Constituency NA-8 Charsadda-II
Chairman of Qaumi Watan Party
Assumed office
17 October 2012
Personal details
Born Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao
(1941-08-20) 20 August 1941 (age 74)
Hashtnagar, North-West Frontier Province, British India (now Charsadda, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan)
Nationality Pakistani
Political party Qaumi Watan Party
Relations Khan Bahadur Ghulam Haider Khan Sherpao (Father)
Hayat Muhammad Khan Sherpao (Brother)
Dost Muhammad Khan Sherpao (Brother)
Children Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao (Son)
Alma mater Edwardes College
Pakistan Military Academy
Occupation Politician and statesman
Religion Islam
Military service
Allegiance Pakistan
Service/branch  Pakistan Army
Years of service 1965–1977
Rank US-O4 insignia.svg Major
Unit Probyns Horse Regiment-Armoured Corps
Battles/wars Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao (Pashto: أحمد أفتاب خان شرباو‎; Urdu: آفتاب احمد خان شیر پائو ‎) (born 20 August 1941)[2] is the head of Qaumi Watan Party, and was the 35th Federal Interior Minister of Pakistan. Prior to this assignment he was working as the Federal Minister for Water and Power (WAPDA), Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas and States & Frontier Regions (KANA & SAFRON) and Minister for Interprovincial Coordination. Sherpao has also served as the 14th and 18th Chief Minister of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.


Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao is one of Pakistan’s most senior and well known political leaders and the founding chairman of Qaumi Watan Party. Sherpao has been at the forefront of Pakistani politics for four decades during which he has consistently been advocating greater autonomy for Pakistan’s provinces and struggling to protect the rights of its smaller ethnicities, in particular the Pashtun population of Pakistan. Due to his unfailing stance on the issues facing Pashtuns as well as his overall stature at the federal level, Sherpao is respectfully referred to as "Milli Rahbar" by his admirers and followers throughout the country.

Sherpao has held senior governmental offices at both the federal and provincial levels. He served as the federal interior minister from 2004 to 2007, besides which he has held numerous portfolios in the federal cabinet, including Minister for Water and Power, Minister for Kashmir Affairs & Northern Areas and States & Frontier Regions, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination, and Minister for Defence Production.

He has served as the chief executive of the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (previously known as the North West Frontier Province) twice having been elected as the chief minister in 1988 and then again in 1994. Prior to this he has also served as a provincial minister heading various departments including Industries, Minerals, Local Government and Rural Development.

Sherpao is internationally known as a vociferous advocate of improving Pak-Afghan ties and has been spearheading efforts to bring both countries closer for many years. In 2007, he was nominated as chairman of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Peace Jirga in Kabul, an initiative to bring together politicians, community leaders and notables to discuss peace and security between the two countries. This Jirga was widely considered a momentous effort for promoting peace between the two neighbouring countries. Sherpao continues to focus a lot of his time and political energy on Afghanistan. Amongst his numerous initiatives and efforts, he is the current Convener of the Pak-Afghan Parliamentary Friendship Group in the National Assembly.

Since actively entering politics in 1976, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao has been elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan five times and the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa seven times from various constituencies. He has also served as Leader of the Opposition in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, having been elected to this position on three occasions. Sherpao’s popularity within Pakistan is evidenced by the fact that he is the only politician from the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who has been consistently elected to the National Assembly and/or the Provincial Assembly in every general election since 1976 (with the exception of the controversial 1985 election, which Sherpao boycotted in protest).

As is the case with many leading figures in history, Sherpao’s entry into public life was a matter of necessity rather than choice. His older brother, Hayat Muhammad Khan Sherpao (Shaheed), was a young charismatic Pushtun political leader, former governor and minister, and founding member of the Pakistan Peoples Party. Hayat Muhammad Khan Sherpao’s promising political career ended prematurely when he was martyred in a bomb blast in Peshawar in 1975. Hayat Sherpao’s assassination is considered a public tragedy in Pakistan and has since shaped the political landscape in Pakistan. His martyrdom was to serve as the inspiration of the Qaumi Watan Party and its revolutionary manifesto. In the wake of this national tragedy, Sherpao had to reluctantly end his military service of 12 years prematurely on the insistence of the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who asked him to serve his country by entering the political arena.

In continuation of the legacy founded by his older brother, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao served in the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for over two decades. During this time he served under both Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Benazir Bhutto and led the PPP to a plurality of successes in the NWFP. Under his leadership the PPP formed governments twice in NWFP, first in 1988 and then again in 1994. The PPP has never since achieved such success without him. Having served as provincial president of the Pakistan Peoples Party for over 20 years, in recognition of his success and political stature, he was elevated as the central senior vice-chairman of the PPP. After the disappointing election results of 1997 for the PPP, Sherpao and Ms. Bhutto developed serious differences on certain principled stances taken by Sherpao, including inter alia his proposal for introducing reforms within the party to help them serve the masses in a better way. This ultimately led to the end of the long relationship between Sherpao and the PPP.

Months before the 2002 general election, Sherpao founded the Pakistan Peoples Party (Sherpao) (PPP(S)). The PPP(S) stuck to the socialist ideals of the original PPP co-founded by Hayat Muhammad Khan Sherpao and the guiding vision of Sherpao’s struggle to protect the rights of the smaller provinces and ethnicities of Pakistan. This party was to breathe new life into Pakistani politics as just months after its inception, it emerged as the second largest party in the NWFP Provincial Assembly. PPP(S) was subsequently renamed Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) in 2012 to more accurately reflect its neo-nationalist stance. Currently QWP is one of the largest political parties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and retains a significant presence in the other federating units of Pakistan, in particular the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan.

Sherpao’s political success and struggle has come at a great cost. Due to his pro-democracy stance and being a key leader of the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD), he was imprisoned multiple times by the military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq. This led to his unlawful incarceration for four years. Sherpao, who is a staunch advocate of peace in the region, has also been targeted by militants numerous times. Despite three deadly suicide bomb attacks and numerous other failed attempts, Sherpao refuses to curb his political activities and regularly attends public gatherings.

Prior to his illustrious political career, Sherpao served in the Pakistan Army after having graduated from the Pakistan Military Academy with the 34th Long Course in 1965 and joining the Armoured Corps in the Probyn’s Horse Regiment. During his brief military career he served in a number of capacities and received distinctions in various courses. Sherpao has the honour of having served his Country by engaging in active battle in two wars in 1965 and then again in 1971.

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Education and Army Career[edit]

Aftab Khan was educated at Lawrence College Murree, Edwardes College, Peshawar and Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, Abbottabad. After passing out from Pakistan Military Academy with 34th Long Course in 1965, he joined Armoured Corps in the Probyns Horse Regiment, seeing action in both the '65 and '71 wars. Over a period of 12 years he rose to the rank of Major.

Political career[edit]

It was after the assassination of his elder brother Hayat Sherpao in a bomb blast in 1975 that Aftab jumped into the political arena. The then Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto asked him to take an early retirement from his military career and afterwards nominated him as Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) provincial vice-president. Aftab Khan was thus a stalwart of the original unified Pakistan Peoples Party from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Now Aftab ahmad Khan has established his own party Qaumi Watan Party which is recently established six month before the 2013 election and got very good number of seats and his son Sikandar Hayat khan is a senior minister KPK.

Movement of for Restoration of Democracy[edit]

After the death of his political mentor Zulfikar Ali Bhutto he wholeheartedly supported his daughter Benazir Bhutto and her struggle against the military dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq. He was a key political figure of Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa[edit]

It was in 1988 elections to the Provincial Assembly that he orchestrated the downfall of the establishment backed Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and became the Chief Minister of the province. He took an extra-nationalist line to appease the nationalist forces, hostile to his party and thus broadened his own political base and that of the PPP in their stronghold areas. He was once again elected as the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 1994. During his two terms as Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa he is generally considered to have been a sharp administrator and difficult task master. He is credited with having initiated and executed a number of people friendly development schemes varying in scale and significance. Both his governments were dismissed prematurely due to the fall of the PPP governments in the Centre in 1990 and then 1996.

Differences with Benazir Bhutto and PPP (Sherpao)[edit]

However, in the mid nineties he developed serious differences with Benazir Bhutto when Maj-Gen Naseerullah Babar mistakenly suspected his role in undercutting him through allotment of party tickets in Nowshehra. Finally leading to the formation of his own faction of the party called PPP (Sherpao). In the 2002 general elections he struck key alliances within Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and was elected to both the provincial and national assemblies and his party performed relatively well amidst the rout of his former party and the Muslim league in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Qaumi Watan Party[edit]

In October 2012 prior to Elections 2013 Sherpao announced foundation of Quami Watan Party with the nationalist approach towards existing issues and problems. Sherpao’s PPP-Sherpao was renamed Quami Watan Party in a well-attended convention at his residence in Hayatabad.

Organisational setup remais the same i.e. Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao was elected as chairman whereas; Aneesa Zeb Tahirkheli as the secretary general and Abdul Malik Khan the central senior vice-president. Sikandar Hayat Sherpao elected as the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa president of the QWP and Bakht Baidar Khan as the secretary general KPK.

In Election 2013, Sherpao made an impressive showing where 8 members were elected as KPK assembly through general seats and Aftab Sherpao won seat in National Assembly.

Interior minister and War on Terror[edit]

Known for his sharp administrative skills, he was appointed as the Minister for Water and Power in 2002. In addition to this charge, Sherpao was also made Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas & States and Frontier Regions (KANA & SAFRON) and Inter-Provincial Coordination. Subsequently after a cabinet re-shuffle in 2005, he was appointed as the federal interior minister. He has been a prominent figure due to terrorist attacks and fighting in the tribal areas as well as Balochistan. He was re-elected to Pakistan's National Assembly and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly in the 2008 elections.

Family influence in politics[edit]

Aftab's family tree and cross-marriages in other influential families has given him a unique edge over his political opponents. Aftab's family has for long been a prominent and influential family in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The family belongs to the prominent Muhammadzai tribe with his father Khan Bahadur Ghulam Haider Khan being one of the most influential leaders in NWFP supporting the Pakistan movement. His father Khan Bahadur Ghulam Haider Khan Sherpao was a key figure in the Pakistan freedom movement and an influential political leader.

His elder brother Hayat Muhammad Khan Sherpao was a founding member of the Pakistan Peoples Party, former Federal Minister and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor and senior minister. Aftab himself is the son-in-law of the brother of Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, one of the pioneers of the Pakistan freedom movement. His eldest son, Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao, has already jumped into provincial politics and has been elected to the provincial assembly of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa twice besides having served as senior minister.

Militant attacks on Sherpao[edit]

28 April suicide attack[edit]

On 28 April 2007 he was injured in a suicide attack in his home area of Charsadda, 18 miles northeast of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.[1] The attack shook his confidence in Musharraf's policy toward the militants, which has included a series of peace deals and has prompted Sherpao to support a 15-page document also presented to the US National Security Council in June 2007 warning that Islamists are spreading beyond the country's lawless tribal areas and that without "swift and decisive action," the growing militancy could engulf the rest of the country.

21 December suicide attack[edit]

On 21 December 2007, Eid al-Adha, a suicide bomb blast targeting Aftab Ahmad killed at least 57 and injured over 100 at Jamia Masjid Sherpao, located in District Charsadda in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Aftab Ahmad survived the blast, but his younger son Mustafa Khan Sherpao, was injured. [2]

Pak-Afghan Joint Peace Jirga[edit]

To reaffirm and further strengthen the resolve of two brotherly countries to bring sustainable peace in the region, the Afghan-Pak Joint Peace Jirga was convened in Kabul, Afghanistan on 9 to 12 August 2007. This was the first historic event of its kind that opened a channel of people-to-people dialogue in which around 700 people including members of the parliaments, political parties, religious scholars, tribal elders, provincial councils, civil society and business community of both countries participated.[3]

This jirga was aimed at removing differences between the two countries and bring Pashtuns on both sides of the border together to tackle problems and end terrorism and extremism. Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, being a prominent and respected Pashtun leader as well as being a pioneer of this cause was given the honour of being nominated chairman of this Pak-Afghan Joint Peace Jirga.

The Jirga, generally thought to be a success, agreed on a number of issues and made a six-point recommendation list to be implemented by both governments. Despite Sherpao's efforts and a succession of calls by a number of leaders on both sides of the border, the Jirga has not been convened again.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Faisal Saleh Hayat
Interior Minister of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Hamid Nawaz Khan
Preceded by
Ghulam Mustafa Khar
Federal Minister for Water & Power
Succeeded by
Liaqat Jatoi
Preceded by
Abbas Sarfaraz
Minister for Kashmir Affairs & Northern Areas and States & Frontier Regions
Succeeded by
Faisal Saleh Hayat
Preceded by
Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination
Succeeded by
Salim Saifullah
Preceded by
Pir Sabir Shah
Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 2nd term
Succeeded by
Raja Sikander Zaman
Preceded by
Fazle Haq
Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Succeeded by
Mir Afzal Khan
Preceded by
Provincial Minister for Industries and Rural Development Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Succeeded by