Humayun Akhtar Khan

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Humayun Akhtar Khan
Commerce Minister of Pakistan
In office
23 November 2002 – 15 November 2007
Chairman Pakistan Board of Investment
In office
30 July 1997 – 12 October 1999
Personal details
Born (1955-04-01) 1 April 1955 (age 61)
Political party Pakistan Muslim League
Alma mater Government College University
University of Manitoba
Profession Actuary/Industrialist/Politician
Religion Islam

Humayun Akhtar Khan is a leading Pakistani politician, industrialist, and actuary. He has been elected as a member of the National Assembly from Lahore four consecutive times between 1990-2007, having served as the Commerce Minister of Pakistan from 2002-2007 and as Chairman Pakistan Board of Investment from 1997-1999. His father General Akhtar Abdur Rehman was the Director General of the ISI from 1979-1987 and played a crucial role in forcing the Soviets out of Afghanistan while his brother Haroon Akhtar Khan is currently serving as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue. Humayun is the Founder and Chairman of the Institute for Policy Reform and owns Tandlianwala Sugar Mills, Superior Textile Mill, 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,[1][2] 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. They have taken the franchise from near bankruptcy to being the standout company in the beverage industry. Years of success in Pepsi franchise were followed by an expansion into the sugar, textile, and ethanol industries. Today, Tandlianwala Sugar Mills is one of the largest conglomerates producing sugar and its downstream products in Pakistan with three sugar mills, two ethanol refineries, and a carbon dioxide production plant.


Early Years[edit]

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[edit]

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.[3] 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)[edit]

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 Candidacy[edit]

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[edit]

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.

2008 General Election[edit]

After the PML-Q completed its five-year term in power, general elections were announced. Following 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. 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 analysts still believed that the PML (Q) had a chance to be in power once again due to rapid 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 PML (Q) 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.[4][5] 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. Musharraf's unpopularity due to a series of costly political decisions and an unecpected turn of events ensured that the PML (Q) suffered a heavy defeat in the 2008 general elections. Shortly after Musharraf's resignation from the presidency the party began to disintegrate particularly when an opportunity to reunite Muslim League factions was lost when the Chaudhry brothers decided to support PPP instead of PML (N) after Governor's Rule was imposed in Punjab in February 2009 in the hopes of making Moonis Elahi the Chief Minister while later in the year they refused to let go of their grip on the party by changing the parties election commission shortly before the party elections to ensure their grip on the party, disillusioning many party stalwarts who went on to create a Likeminded group in the party. In 2011, the Chaudhry brothers decided to join PPP in the federal government while the Likeminded group decided support PML (N) in the Punjab Assembly, National Assembly, and Senate. Additionally, with the emergence of PTI towards the end of 2011 several remaining PML (Q) members jumped ship, leaving what was once known as the Kings party disintegrated.

Alliance with PML (N)[edit]

In May 2012 the Likeminded Group 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. According to the seat adjustment formula that would accommodate several leaders of the Likeminded Group, Humayun was to be awarded a PML (N) ticket in the 2013 general election either from NA 125 Lahore where he has won two out of three times or NA 79 Samundri where one of his sugar mills is located, while his brother Haroon Akhtar was to be awarded a PML (N) senate seat in the 2015 senate elections. However, Humayun did not receive a PML (N) ticket from either of the two constituencies promised although his brother Haroon was eventually accommodated in June 2015 as a Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue. Over the past year, Haroon has excelled in this position as the Federal Board of Revenue exceeded its annual revenue collection target in Fiscal Year 2016, 20% higher than the previous year. While Humayun has been out of the public eye over the past three years, he has been spearheading new business ventures, mergers and acquisitions in his companies while spending a significant amount of time in Samundri addressing problems of the constituents of NA-79, the constituency he will contest from in the 2018 general election.


  1. ^ "Humayun Akhtar Takes Charge as BoI Chairman". Business Recorder. Lahore, Pakistan. 30 July 1997. p. Back Page.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. ^ "Lahore Results". Daily Dawn. Lahore, Pakistan. 20 February 2008. p. 17.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  3. ^ "Money can't buy me vote". Daily Dawn. Lahore, Pakistan. 20 February 2008. p. 17.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  4. ^ "Govt to restart probe into C-130 crash". Daily Nation. Multan, Pakistan. 13 November 1990. p. N/A.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  5. ^ "Sarmad Salik accuses Beg of involvement in C-130 crash". Daily Observer. Islamabad, Pakistan. 18 October 1992. p. 1.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)