Makhdoom Javed Hashmi

April 29, 2013

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Currently the president of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf, Javed Hashmi got involved in politics early on in life – in 1972, he was the president of the Punjab University Students’ Union. He was also an activist for the Jamaat-i-Islami’s student wing in his college days and also had a short stint in Asghar Khan’s Tehrik-i-Istiqlal. Eventually, not finding the ideology quite to his taste, he took part in the 1985 non-party election and eventually joined Pakistan Muslim League in 1988.

He went on to serve multiple terms in Parliament as an MNA. In addition, his distinguished political career includes the ministry of health portfolio from 1997 to 1999. During Nawaz Sharif’s exile, Hashmi also served as the acting president of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N).

He was an MNA from 1985-88, 1990-1993, and again from 2008-2011. However, at the end of 2011, Hashmi resigned from the National Assembly, shortly after joining the PTI – a move that stunned his PML-N colleagues.

Anti-establishment stance

His switch to PTI was not the only time Hashmi made a dramatic political move. In his book ‘Haan main baghi hoon’, the veteran politician, who was once part of Ziaul Haq’s government, says he considers his support for the former military ruler the only mistake of his entire political career.

But Hashmi’s truly anti-establishment credentials became evident much after Zia’s days were over – the book in which he mentions his mistake was itself written in prison. He was jailed by Pervez Musharraf in a much-publicised case of treason and was released in August 2007 on the Supreme Court’s orders. After emerging victorious in the 2008 general election, he was one of just a few who refused to take oath under the former military ruler.

Goodbye PML-N, hello PTI

Despite having been a loyal PML-N member for over two decades, it began to become apparent in recent years that Hashmi was slowly being sidelined within the party – he was greeted by a relatively small group of party workers on his release from Kot Lakhpat Jail in 2007.

Distance between him and the Sharif brothers continued to widen and he was continually kept away from party meetings. This coincided with his open disagreements with the party’s positions on a number of occasions. Eventually, when Hashmi publicly called for Nawaz to apologise to the nation for going into exile in exchange for a pardoned conviction, it seemed only a matter of time until the senior leader called it quits.

Since his decision to join PTI, there has been much talk of alleged tensions beween Hashmi and Shah Mahmood Qureshi – PTI’s vice-chairman as well as an old rival. Qureshi and Hashmi have contested against one another from the same seat in Multan four times, with Hashmi losing thrice.

— Research and text by Heba Islam