“The Akhtar Khan Legacy”

Humayun Akhtar Khan and Haroon Akhtar Khan can easily be called “The Kennedys” of Pakistan, sons of a famous father with a very strong family linage. Why do politics keep you engaged, why do you not consider separating from politics of Pakistan?

The educated people of Pakistan owe it to their country to step forward and extend their sincere constructive efforts. There are very few people in this country who know how to carry Pakistan’s name in the world. I am not suggesting that we have these abilities but we do possess experience and we are educated.

We are what we are because of this country and we try to pay back in some way. Staying away from politics of this country in times of need, just because it is a risky and tough business, would be a selfish act.

Haroon Akhtar Khan, were you dragged into politics by your brother or was it by choice?

Politics were never our motive. We were raised to take pride in the strength of education and rely on the muscle of hard work. We were raised in a family that encouraged a sense of responsibility towards learning and education. As teenagers we went abroad, chose actuarial science, one of the most difficult professions as a target. After completing education we worked at multinational firms in the US, operating as management consultants.

The tragedy of 1988, when our father passed away brought us back to Pakistan. The mishap catalyzed a sense of patriotism that urged us to return rather than stay away. When we returned it was the time of Benazir Bhutto government, which was in opposition to Zia ul Haq regime that our father was part of but even then responsibility towards our homeland was what remained central.

 Thinking as a democrat and ignoring the fact that you are Gen Akhtar Khan’s son, would you support his actions?

The foremost fact is that our father never played a political role in the 11 year rule of Zia ul Haq regime. He was a soldier and that is what he stayed till the end. He remained Director General of ISI for eight years and nobody had heard of him. It was very nicely put, when you called him an unknown soldier. That is the way secret agencies should be. Now people realize how important the role of ISI is, though in his time he sought no publicity.

The way he handled the Afghan occupation was very admirable. His role was pivotal but he never sought the limelight. Nobody knew him when he was alive.

Haroon Akhtar Khan, as a democrat what are your views about the service rendered by your father?

My father was totally against the imposition of martial law. When consensus was being built for martial law he stood against it. He was of the view that martial law can never stay for ninety days only but alongside his views once martial law was imposed he made sure to take care of his responsibilities as a general.

Humayun Akhtar Khan, you quoted once that you are against martial law regime but would be acceptable if you join as a consequence of fair elections. Do you believe the end justifies the means?

I have never become a part of any martial law regime. In Musharraf’s time I got elected and then entered the government so there is definitely a difference.

There have been instances in history where you could have given up on politics, the incident of Laal Masjid, Bugti Murder and the time when you were slotted for the rank of Prime Minister and then were not given the opportunity. Weren’t these reasons, strong enough for you to quit?

I have spent five terms in the parliament  The events of Bugti murder and Laal Masjid were never debated in the parliament but the economic regime then was very strong so my decision was to stay. About the time when the slotting for Prime Minister happened, I was never a very keen admirer of authority. If I had to leave it would never have happened because of personal reasons.

In this equation of military industrial complex, where the military and industrial part is your side and the other is Nawaz brothers. What is the compatible factor that binds this concoction?

Firstly Shareef brothers are industrialists of a high caliber. They have a very good team of people. I have worked with Nawaz Shareef for quite sometime and have operated closely in developing a manifesto plan. I might say that he is not a man of detail but it is unfair to suggest that he is ignorant. He knows what is required to raise this country out of turmoil. He has good comprehension of he milestones that are required for this purpose. In Nawaz Shareef I have seen the spirit and vigor of performing for the betterment of the country. The fire that feeds a patriot is what I witness in him now.

Is the manifesto, going to be the same or separate for each party?

Though we are separate parties but PML Likeminded has become a very important part of the manifesto forming committee. I believe that the manifesto is going to be the same. However, a consensus will be taken before deciding upon the selection of election symbol.

When Humayun Akhtar was asked he explained that, the reason for staying with Musharraf’s regime was that he had to be with his comrades but Nawaz Sharif never valued the same spirit, what are your views about it?

Firstly, when you have a case of hijacking on you and the whole army forces you to leave it is not possible to stick around. When there is a blade hanging around your neck, the first rational reaction is to pacify the situation, ensuring safety of the family. Nawaz Sharif took that decision and it is because of it that he has returned and the party has survived.

Secondly, it is not fair to expect great leaders to have genius of Einstein’s stature. There are many leaders like Regan and Clinton we have seen in history who were not supernatural people but they had a vision and were able to take the right decisions. The country needs people who know what is required for the country. We need a leader who has been tried and tested. At the moment PML N has all these abilities.

In your relationship with PML N, Is your party following the principle of “ help me help you”?

Likeminded broke away from Q league because Chaudhry’s went to side with Peoples Party. We wanted to bring PML together. My prediction is that PML will take lead in the coming elections.

Some of your comrades signaled that PML Q is the B team of Peoples Party. Isn’t this what PML likeminded looks like today?

There is no A or B team. PML Q was split into two parts, one aligned with PPP while the other did not find it appropriate and moved away. Our principles urged us to join PML N.

Keeping all the politics aside we need to put this country on track. There is a multitude of tasks to be done, building dams, constructing roads, fixing the economy, who do you think has the potential to do this?

Ejaz ul Haq argues that his father’s death was sabotage but Akhtar Khan brothers have not protested for investigation and have remained silent?

The efforts that we have done to find out the truth are in comprehensible  We went to the limit that our family was threatened. Ejaz knows the reality and is aware of the ordeals we have encountered.

Benazir Bhutto’s statement after the crash was that it was an act of god. We declared that it is not appropriate for the state to just give up and state that it was a natural happening. Years later the same thing happened and Mohtarma lost her life. We objected and still do to these events because if the truth is not investigated there is a strong chance history would repeat itself.

Source: “Ikhtilaf – Aaj News – 07 December 2012”.

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