Rana Shaukat Mahmood walked away with the angel of death to his Maker after a protracted illness. Though his death may not cause a void in national politics for he had been out of active politics for the last few years, his demise, however, closed a chapter of ideological struggle and decent working for the grassroots people with commitment. He was 80. He is survived by his widow, one daughter and scores of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) committed workers in his hometown in Sheikhupura, particularly, and Punjab, generally.
An educated politician from Sheikhupura, and equally popular among his opponents for his moral fibre, Rana Shaukat Mahmood was among the founding PPP members. Before entering politics in the 60s, he was a practising lawyer. Besides an LLB degree, Rana Shaukat Mahmood had degrees in Political Science and Psychology. His mastery over psychology helped him understand people’s behaviours, needs and actions, which made him a humble and down-to-earth person. When one understands people’s needs, politics becomes a mission to them. Other than being a good academic and lawyer, Rana Shaukat Mahmood had good sportsmanship. This quality stemmed from his active participation in sports activities during his days at the Government College Lahore. He was the member of the hockey team of the Government College Lahore. He remained Punjab Color Holder and West Pakistan Color Holder in boating.
His real distinction lies in the game of politics. Rana Shaukat Mahmood started his political career as BD members from the Faisalabad District Council. BD is the most basic electoral politics unit. Later on, he rose to the ranks of Member of the Punjab Assembly, Member of the National Assembly, Secretary Assembly of PPP, General Secretary of the PPP, Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly, and President of the PPP Punjab. Besides these coveted roles, Rana Shoukat Mahmood served as provincial ministers of 12 departments such as population planning, colonies, relief settlement and rehabilitation, public works and health.
Among these portfolios, Rana Shaukat Mahmood remained proud of his association with his leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. For such reasons, Benazir Bhutto had special regards for Rana Shaukat Mahmood.
Former president and PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condoled the death of comrade Rana Shaukat Mahmood. Recently, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari visited the house of Rana Shaukat Mahmood and expressed his condolence to Nasira Shaukat Mahmood, widow of Rana Shaukat Mahmood, his daughter Dr. Ayesha Shaukat and son-in-law Professor Dr. Fareed Zafar.
The deceased will be remembered for his steadfast resistance to the dictatorship of Zia and later on his immediate political successor Nawaz Sharif in 1988. Rana Shaukat Mahmood did not ditch the PPP during the Zia regime and challenged the dictatorship of chief minister Nawaz Sharif in 1988 in the Punjab Assembly when Farooq Leghari, then a PPP comrade, left the Punjab Assembly for a lucrative ministry of water and power in the centre soon after the elections. This jiyala left the PPP for a brief period in 1996 but returned to the party ranks and died as a PPP worker. Such workers-cum-leaders are the gem of our politics.