Known for his quips and political predictions, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed has been elected as a member of the National Assembly six times in a row from 1985 to 2002. At one point, he also became known for switching allegiances from one party to another.
Rasheed was born on November 6, 1950 in Rawalpindi and obtained his early education in his hometown. He later graduated from the famous Gordon College and went on to study law in Lahore. Rasheed’s political career started during his student years when he became involved in activism against the regime of former military ruler Ayub Khan.
In 1985, he contested in the election held during Ziaul Haq’s regime and won from a seat in Rawalpindi. He continued winning from his hometown on various platforms — of Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid (PML-Q) and also as an independent — until he finally lost in the 2008 general election by a wide margin to a PML-N candidate.
His defeat from NA-55 on a PML-Q platform led him to part ways with the league and launch his own political party called Awami Muslim League Pakistan (AMLP). Rasheed is the chief of AMLP and holds the office of party president.
During his political career, Rasheed served as a federal minister in several portfolios, including railways and information and broadcasting during the reign of former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.
He was among Musharraf’s few close aides who stood by the ex president during his campaign of military operations in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
In February 2010, over a year after Musharraf had stepped down and Rasheed was no longer an elected representative, unknown gunmen opened fire on the politician and his associates, leaving the former federal minister and several others injured. The attack, which was said to be politically motivated, also led to speculation that it was orchestrated by Taliban militants or by elements sympathetic to them.
In the 2013 general election, Rasheed’s party entered an electoral alliance with Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), pledging to support one another in the polls for Rawalpindi’s NA-55 and NA-56 seats.
— Research and text by Soonha Abro