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A man with nerves of steel

Updated Jul 27, 2013 07:00pm


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“At times it really tested my nerves, but after every attack I made it a point to hold a press briefing to show to the terrorists that I am still as strong as ever to face them.” -Photo by Reuters
“At times it really tested my nerves, but after every attack I made it a point to hold a press briefing to show to the terrorists that I am still as strong as ever to face them.” -Photo by Reuters

PESHAWAR: Five years full of nerve-testing situations, tight security barriers, chilling death threats, social isolation (as others considered him a security threat to themselves) and apparently even the cold-blooded killing of his only young son seem not to have broken the spirits of the 55-year-old Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the spokesperson of the former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government which had opposed the terrorists and successfully rescued the Swat Valley from falling into their hands.

“One should never lose hope,” says Mr Hussain in an exclusive interview with Dawn, with his typical serene smile and composed demeanour, showing no sign of bitterness even after losing his seat in May 11 general elections.

Mr Hussain doesn’t show he is a broken man, even though he is going to observe the third anniversary of his sole son who was targeted by the Taliban.

The man, who as a spokesperson of the Awami National Party (ANP) government, emerged as a bold voice against the terrorist conglomerate called Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spent sleepless nights finding a way to express his innermost thoughts and agony after his only son, Mian Rashid Hussain, only 26, was killed by Taliban to teach Mian Sahib a lesson.

Sitting in his office in deserted looking Bacha Khan Markaz all alone on the death anniversary of his son, his heart must be bleeding as he listens to his own poetry sung by a Pashto singer when Mian Sahib remarked that women are better off than men as they can cry openly. He himself quietly listens to the heart-wrenching poetry – cry of a father over the loss of a son.

Mian Sahib, as everyone would call him, has a degree in Pashto literature. He is a very good orator and everybody who has attended his live public meetings, acknowledges it. When he lost his son, his feelings took the shape of poetry.

It is when one listens to these, “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” that one realises that the smile and composed demeanour, is nothing but a charade.

“Zama pe Shondo keh Khanda da, Deh Dunya de Para,..”

Mian Sahib has expressed his innermost feelings in verses. He expresses well how there is pain behind his smiles. The outspoken politician has not only expressed how loss of one’s only child changes the world for a father, but also how agonising this kind of loss is for a mother and sister who loses a young brother just when she is hoping to see him happily married.

Mian Sahib, who talks of hope, is a completely different man as he expresses his loss. The tragic loss has darkened the world for him. He expresses how helpless he is as a father since he cannot console his daughter. He feels his life has become an open wound which can never be healed.

Mian Sahib underwent a lot of pressure on many occasions, he recalls, since he was the spokesman and used to receive sensitive information.

“At times it really tested my nerves, but after every attack I made it a point to hold a press briefing to show to the terrorists that I am still as strong as ever to face them,” said Mian Sahib. However, he had no idea that they would target his son who was never involved in politics.

Even the cold-blooded murder of his son didn’t deter him from speaking up against any terrorist attack which targeted a party worker, a policeman or any civilian.

He stood against terrorists and people at home and abroad acknowledged his bravery. The government of Pakistan has decorated him with the country’s prestigious Hilal-i-Imtiaz and Defenders of Human Rights Award by President Asif Ali Zardari. His party, ANP, had rendered sacrifices of around 700 party workers and leaders in the last five years in terrorist attacks and targeted killing.

“Our people remember and honour the dead, not the living,” says Mian Sahib without any tinge of bitterness when asked about how he feels about the defeat in the recent general elections. However, as a politician, he feels that there is still need for people to be aware of their priorities and future.

Now that Mian Sahib has lost election in his constituency and doesn’t have tight security, he went to pay his condolences to the family of a policeman from Daag Besood, a small locality in his constituency, who was killed by terrorists recently.

Ironically, the area falls in the constituency (NA-5) of the incumbent Chief Minister Pervez Khattak. Mian Sahib cannot help but reach out to those families targeted by militants since he shares and understands their pain and loss. He feels sad that none of the senior police officials or the ruling politicians from the area even showed sympathy to the family with a few words of consolation.

Political opponents and critics term bad governance and corruption as the main cause of defeat for the ANP in the May 11 general elections, but when it comes to Mian Sahib, ANP’s eloquent critics are mum. Even political rivals look at him with respect since as a spokesperson he set a benchmark that the present and coming provincial spokesmen will find hard to reach.

Mian Sahib even now remains busy with party activities and has a very limited social life. People avoided him and stayed away from him since they considered him a ‘security threat’. He was not even welcomed at a mosque, which is a centre of peace. He was refused by many when he tried to rent an apartment for himself.

When Mian Iftikhar Hussain puts his and his family’s life in the line of fire and opposed terrorists, and still others do not stand on his side to support him then his heart cries out,

“Maa Chey Deh Qaam Gata Kawala, Khana Teh May Bai Le” (I was fighting a war of gains for my nation, but lost you (my precious) my darling…)


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Comments (65) Closed

Husain Nasir Jul 27, 2013 10:49am

Suxh men stand tall amongst many who line up as politicians..To care for others in ons sorrow and carry on the struggle you believe in despite setbacks is a sign of strength--- a man of steel with a heart of compassion.I wish him and his brave family well.

kamran Jul 27, 2013 12:23pm

A brave Pahtoon. In fact, I feel we are running short of them.

Josh Jul 27, 2013 02:14pm

We salute you! May Allah blesses your sons soil and may God do justice to all the terrorist and terrorist supporters

turab khan khattak Jul 27, 2013 02:28pm

mian sb may you live long ,ur sacrifices will never go waste,,,we keep you in hearts no matter if you are part of the govt or not.well write up madam.

Zubair Jul 27, 2013 02:40pm

People like Mian Sahib are role models. He had led the war against terrorism from front and laid sacrifices. I am not a follower of his party manifesto and have lot of disagreements but when it comes to the personality of Mian Sahib, I wish I could follow his foot steps. Losing election is not a criteria because in last elections angles had come to cast votes but people like Mian Iftikhar will always remain in lime line. I wish him all the best.

farhat paracha Jul 27, 2013 02:46pm

impressive personality........beacon of light. such a person is pride of humanity.

Khan Jul 27, 2013 02:53pm

Mian sahib is right the ruling PTI does not bother to help the victims of terrorism since they came to power, they don't have the guts to even condemn the terrorist. Imran khan PTI seriously is a disappointment.

Anees Jul 27, 2013 02:54pm

A good and strong man in a bad and corrupt party.

Hassan Nasir Jul 27, 2013 03:08pm

Touching, indeed! I have nothing else for him but respect because not many have the courage to continue striving for a cause after they have lost their beloved ones; and he did, he continued with a palpable determination.


Husain Nasir Jul 27, 2013 03:31pm

Mian sahib stands tall amongst pokiticians of KPK. The tragic death of his son has not shaken his faith in his political belief. Best wishes for him and his family.

Aamir Jul 27, 2013 03:41pm

Mian Saheb, you have many sons in Pakistan.. we are with you. We need men like you. We are proud of you.

Alamzeb Jul 27, 2013 03:56pm

brave person, pakhtoons are proud will ever proud of you.

Ihsan abasi Jul 27, 2013 04:14pm

Mian sb zindabad ANP zindabad

Mazahir Jul 27, 2013 04:21pm

Really appreciable! our country really count on these men as they are honest, sincere and targer-oriented proven to themselves and to the country as whole..... I do not belong to ANP but respect this gentleman very much! Stay blessed..... Long live Pakistan

Hamid Sheikh Jul 27, 2013 04:45pm

Slute to you Mian Sahib. My heart is bleeding with your son loss. May Allah shower his belssing on you. Hamid

Ali Hashim Jul 27, 2013 05:36pm

Mian Sahib: Our hearts go out to you! Many years ago in the battle at Karbala Imam Hussain bore a similar loss. Till today we talk of the Martrydom of Hazrat Ali Akbar and it helps to console us.

The essential message of Karbala, however, was that we need to do what is right irrespective of the consequences. I see that you are trying to do so and carrying the message forward.

omer farooq Jul 27, 2013 05:41pm

though i am not a supporter of ANP but this i salute the bravery of mian sb.

Amjad Wyne Jul 27, 2013 05:43pm

The last sentence is heart wrenching. Allah has given him the strength and the nation should be thankful to Mr. Hussain for his sacrifices.

Zaff Jul 27, 2013 05:45pm

It is heart-wrenching to listen to the stories of thousands of innocent Pukhtoons that lost their loved ones, in many cases their only children, to the brutality of terrorist taliban. What hurts even more is to hear some politician claim that the taliban had the right to kill these innocent people because of drone strikes. Or as that is the expected and accepted consequence.

So my question is to all taliban apologists (read PTI) here, if ttp gets the 'right' to kill his son because he is against taliban, what rights does HE get? does he get the right to kill PTI members as they are pro-taliban?

Syed Ahmed Jul 27, 2013 06:24pm

Allah tries his Believer by taking away something precious. My Allah give Mian Iftikhar Hussain more courage to bare the irreparable loss squarely and bless the departed soul - Ameen.

Masood Hussain Jul 27, 2013 06:30pm

Cheer up and keep it up Mian Sb.This darkness is bound to end up in Dawn.

zahid Jul 27, 2013 06:47pm

May Almighty give patience to Mian sahib. If muslims did not let live grandson of their own Prophet then anything can be expected out of these Self Proclaimed Righteous Muslims.

pathanoo Jul 27, 2013 07:13pm

My heart breaks for Mian Sahib, Mian Iftikhar Hussain. What a bunch of ingrate cowards who won't stand with a man who is the only GIANT among them. No wonder they are getting what they deserve from TTP.

fida sayani Jul 27, 2013 07:29pm

If what is written about this men is true, than there is no reason for him to loose the election. This shows the character of Pakistani citizens, corrupt to the core.

farhan khan Jul 27, 2013 07:43pm

What a strong man mian sahab is, while reading the poem which he wrote for his son, I had tears in my eyes, My prayers would always be this great man, May Allah keep you and your family safe Ameen

Syed rizvi Jul 27, 2013 08:09pm

Mia sahab, salute your bravery and condolethe loss of your son. However, i am not surprised by tour courage because you are iftikhar husinbhavegot the bravery and courage of imamhusain a.s God bkess you and give you more courage to face these culprits

Ehsan Jul 27, 2013 08:58pm

Don't have words to express my gratitude for his bravery and steadfastness against the evil forces. He is a rare breed, may the Almighty, continue to shower his blessings on him and his family, and give them the strength to bear this unimaginable loss.

rana Jul 27, 2013 09:02pm

God Bless you and to your family and give courage to this nation to stand upright.

N.G. KRISHNAN Jul 27, 2013 09:33pm

As long as there are great and courageous leaders like Mr Hussain there is always hope for Pakistan.All too often we came across politicians preaching and practising discretion being the better part of valour and seldom hear of such a magnificently colossal and fearless leader prepared to call spade a spade.

Aamir Jul 27, 2013 10:28pm

Why do great people have to suffer. This nation does not deserve great people

Rustam Jul 27, 2013 10:31pm

What a giant of a man Mian Iftikhar is. He had the courage which the Taliban apologizers and sympathizers in the current KPK govt can only dream of. He is a true Pukhtoon hero who stood up for the thousands of Pukhtoons killed by the cowards i. e. Talibans.

Sami Jul 27, 2013 10:34pm

People of KP don't deserve a leader of this stature any more.

Syed Zaidi Jul 27, 2013 11:28pm

Asalamo alaikum.

A man to be saluted, supported , respected and protected.....Pakistani should be proud to have somebody like him...

Syed Zaidi

Sohrab Sidhwa Jul 27, 2013 11:37pm

Only if we could rose petal such heroes instead of killers, we would be a different country. I can only salute you sir for your courage but I am sorry nobody can take you pain for the sacrifice you made for your nation. Your family are the heroes of this nation. The sad thing is they will come to your funeral to recognise you and not to hold your hand in solidarity with your vision when your heart still beats. Thank you and thank you again and apologies on behalf of a cowardly nation.

AbbasToronto Jul 27, 2013 11:55pm

Brave man.

farid Jul 28, 2013 12:05am

I know Mian Sahib personally since Peshawar university days, when he was the president of PSF. A man with strong character, determination and love for his people. May God help his bleeding heart. I am sure he will be remembered with pride and love in the history of Pukhtunkhawah.

hari k. sharma Jul 28, 2013 12:11am

Like every other person reading this,I am deeply saddened.i am 87 yr old and so Mian Sahib is my son's age butto me he is incarnation (in spirit) of BaadShah ABDUL GHAFFAR KHAN . How helpless our race has become.When illiterate people get power,NEWER CAMBODIAS are created,Heads of the best the learned, precious people roll on the ground.I love you Khan Sahib.May your family find peace.

Rabia Jul 28, 2013 12:59am

brave man -

MALLIKARJUNA SHARMA Jul 28, 2013 01:25am

All my sympathy and admiration to Sri Mian Ifthikar Hussain and extend my deep condolences to him and his wife and close relatives over the death of his only son.

kamljit Singh Jul 28, 2013 02:13am

Salaam to such a brave soul.

@H__3 Jul 28, 2013 03:00am

Salut Mian Sahib - If this country survives what it is going thru it will be because of brave souls like you. More power to you! May God bless you and your loved ones with health and happiness.

Ahmad Jan Jul 28, 2013 03:18am

Very nice article about this great person. ANP did not lose the election but they were made to lose. My salute to you sir and I hope people will under stands what sacrifices you gave for them and they will give credit after some time.

Dr Khan Jul 28, 2013 03:58am

My salute to one of the most brave people on the earth. M. Iftikhar is the second name of courage & bravery.

Rashid Malik Jul 28, 2013 08:38am

I solute to mian sab . He is the great leader of pukhtoon nation of this century . ALLAH give him a victory . Amin

S. A. M. Jul 28, 2013 09:00am

A man of substance, of principle. When the loss of his dearest young son could not deter him from opposing the taliban it means good news is in the offing for the nation bacause shahid ki jo maut he wo qaum ki hayat he. But we must remember our martyrs for those that forget them and their sacrifices persih soon.

Maria Jul 28, 2013 09:04am

:'( That's where our society has reached, we always see only one side of a story but remain unaware (until someone explains) of what damage actually has occurred to the unseen side. May his son's soul Rest In Peace.

Bilal Jul 28, 2013 09:18am

Well written. Very sensitive topic. You should also include some videos of your interview with him. I don't know why DAWN is so boring. All you have is writing and no video. Please make sure you also upload videos next time. This is a great man. Not every one is as brave as this guy. God bless him.

Pukhtan Jul 28, 2013 10:37am

I got to shake the man's hands once and what an honor it was. My nation has been poisoned and blinded by liars through generations. Even though Mian Sahib was not appreciated by us as he deserves but that does not take away from the fact that this leader stood up for his nation irrespective, fought with all that he had; and gave away, in this path, what was most precious to him. We all have to pass on eventually, but what Ifthikhar Ahmed stood for irrespective of such high cost is a stamp on the history of this world. How will they take this away from him? How will they take away from the fact that this man fought for so many while they did not fight looked away themselves? As Martin luther King said "We will not remember the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends". But this guy fought and fights on inspite of this deafening silence of all these friends. You have earned your honor and respect my leader, you have earned every bit of it. you can breathe in peace because we cannot dare ask more from you, no one could have done so much in the name of his nation. And even though he now carries a heavy heart for the rest of his life but I wish, as a fellow country man, I could just tell him that no one deserved a better life than him..... and even though I am not hopeful for the fate of this nation any more, i would still have changed places with his son a million times over, just for the man Ifthikhar sahib is and what he deserved in life. Qoum ba mai khatam naki pura ka masharan pa ke vee la jwandee da shan Ifthikhar Hussain

Ali Jul 28, 2013 11:18am

Salute to both Mian Shaib and Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao both are standing firm in front of evil forces.

Niazi Jul 28, 2013 11:27am

Bravo Mian Iftikhar Hussain! We are indeed blessed to have someone of your caliber as a Pakistani. And are cursed enough not to realize it!

Fauzia Zubair Jul 28, 2013 12:07pm

A truly great man, with the heart of a lion and the faith of a believer! May he not live in vain, and may Allah give him continuing courage to stay true to his commitments. Ameen.

Masood Naqvi Jul 28, 2013 12:27pm

You are great Mr Hussain, Pakistan needs a leader of your character.

M. Jan Jul 28, 2013 03:45pm

A great man, a true hero and a born leader but unfortunately not appreciated by the very people that he has sacrificed so much for. Mian Sahib is hope for the moderate and sensible section of the Pushtun society. I salute to his courage and the courage of others like him who have stood up to the forces repression.

AHMED Jul 28, 2013 03:45pm

RESPECT .........

Ameen Khan Jul 28, 2013 04:42pm

Salam Mian sb , I really feel sorry for the sad & inhuman killing of your son three yrs ago.Hats off to you.May Allah bless you and bless your dear son.aameen khuday paa amaan

Asim Iftikhar Jul 28, 2013 04:47pm

Brings tears to one's eyes reading this. Nothing but respect for Mian Iftikhar

ND Jul 28, 2013 04:48pm

Hats off to you Mr. Hussain. Although I am not the voter of ANP but I feel proud to be the supported and admirer of Mr. Hussain, Bashir Bilour Shaheed and their party's sacrifices. May Almighty bestow you with all what you wish for and also bless you and your dear ones with Janna'h (Aamin).

Burhan Jul 28, 2013 06:56pm

Respect for you Sir :)

Jehan Zeb Jul 28, 2013 10:01pm

It is a shame for we Pakhtun people to inflect pain on this great visionary who has sacrificed so much for his people that we defeated him in election.

Jehan Zeb Jul 28, 2013 10:03pm

A sad story and show how much we have gone low in character by defeating this great man in election

akram Jul 29, 2013 03:36pm

a powerful story, it is brave men like these to whom we Pakistanis owe much, but rarely ever consider. For it is on their shoulders that we have stood, to get to where we are today in every area.

akram Jul 29, 2013 03:39pm

Mian Sahib, You son is not dead. He lives on in the eyes of all those who benefited from your struggle. we are all your sons today.

Arshad Jul 29, 2013 06:37pm

No words to express my feelings. Great man with heart of a lion. Salam

Nasir Aman Jul 29, 2013 11:33pm

In the current political scenario Mian Sahib emerge out as brave statesman when all others falls or adopted a hypo-critic policy of having soft corner for militancy. May Allah Almighty gave him life & strength

Syed Ghayoor Hussain Jul 30, 2013 04:16am

True, Mian sahib is a man of steel nerves. Every one even if he is agaist his political views would admare his courage and bravery. the way he showed his patience on the sad occasion of his son's martyrdome will be remembered in the history. I solute his bravery' patience and his knowledge of Islamic history which has taught him to look to the tyrany of the Karbala and the patience and bavery of Hazrat Imam Hussain alaie Salam and his family and friends. Mian sahib is really a man to love.