Malik Hakmeen Khan – he died with his boots on

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lost one of its diehard and loyal members in former provincial minister Malik Hakmeen Khan on January 4.

He began his political career from the PPP platform and breathed his last in the PPP fold. His coffin was proudly draped in a PPP flag.

One of the founding members of the PPP and a close aide to first PPP founding chairman Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and later on Benazir Bhutto, the charming and jolly Khan from Attock called himself a jiayla, not a leader.

Like Jahangir Badar, one can say safely about Malik Hakmeen Khan that he died while his political boots on. His political career began in the 1970s when the charismatic Zulfikar Ali Bhutto attracted the public with his revolutionary ‘roti, kapra aur makan’ slogan. Malik Hakmeen Khan, who was from an agriculturist family, was also lured into joining the PPP. He contested the provincial assembly elections in 1972 from PP-12 Attock (now PP-15 Attock) and won the polls. Seeing his energy and willingness to do something for the public, the then Mustafa Khar government in Punjab made him the minister housing and jails. That is when he moved forward to fill the mission of Bhutto to provide cheap shelter to the public. Lahore’s mega housing scheme Town Ship is stated to be the brainchild of Malik Hakmeen Khan. The scheme was executed successfully where only needy people got land and funds for houses. He would often inspect jails and he ensured the provision of basic facilities to prisoners. Once the media attributed a statement to him that ‘Hum mulk me jails ka jaal bicha den ge’ or we will launch a sea of jails in the country.  His denial was never taken seriously by the media. Journalist Hamid Mir wrote in his obituary column that the legendary editor, late Abbas Athar, once admitted that he had crafted that catchy headline just to play to the gallery; otherwise, Malik Hakmeen Khan simply said in a rally that he would provide the best facilities in jails across the country.

This is how politicians live with the sins, which they have never committed.

In the 1977 elections, he retained his seat. When the Zia-Martial Law struck the country, Malik Hakmeen Khan took the torch of resistance to the dictatorship. He had to pay a heavy price. He was imprisoned in the notorious Lahore Fort. The regime tried to lure him into power corridors, but the jiyala from Attock would not budge.

In 1988 elections, Malik Hakmeen Khan for the last time returned to the Punjab Assembly. The later period of transition took away PPP votes and the establishment-led Islami Jamhoori Ittehad grabbed the votes in central and north Punjab.  He, however, kept the PPP flag high in every election.  He was elected senator in 1994 and was also a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet, Establishment, Management Services, Labour and Manpower.

In 2008, he handed over his political legacy to his son, Malik Shahan Khan, who was elected an MPA.

Now, when Malik Hakmeen Khan is not among us, his house in his native Sheenbagh village stills hoists the PPP flag and his family, led by Malik Shahan Khan, proudly associates itself with the PPP

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