ISLAMABAD: Zahid Hamid, the minister named by a special court as one of the abettors of retired Gen Pervez Musharraf, has proven himself indispensible to whoever he has served.
Considered a hard-working and undemanding cabinet minister, Mr Hamid has contributed to several watershed moments in the country’s recent political history. From being part of the team that drafted the National Reconciliation Ordinance to being the author of the orders that sent a good chunk of superior court judges home in 2007, Mr Hamid has seen and done a lot.
On Friday, after the court orders were widely publicised through breaking news and word of mouth, the minister quietly sent in his resignation to the Prime Minister’s Office later in the afternoon. No one had asked for it, but it was considered the responsible thing to do.
Minister submits resignation to PM; govt insists he is still part of the cabinet
Given the amount of bad blood that exists between the current prime minister and the former military dictator who exiled him, it is no accident that Nawaz Sharif has banked on Mr Hamid so much over the past year or so.
Even after the court had delivered its verdict, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and PM’s spokesperson Mussadik Malik made it clear that Mr Hamid was still officially a part of the cabinet until the prime minister deemed otherwise. The PM’s spokesperson also said that a final decision would be taken only after the government has had a chance to go though the special court’s judgment.
Originally inducted into the current cabinet on his old job of law minister, Mr Hamid was reshuffled to the Science and Technology portfolio after the PML-N government decided to press on with Mr Musharraf’s trial under Article 6 of the Constitution. Even though the all-important portfolio of law was handed over to Pervaiz Rashid, insiders say that Mr Hamid has remained the de facto boss of that ministry.
In its ruling, the court has directed the government to include Mr Hamid as one of the co-accused alongside former PM Shaukat Aziz and former CJP Abdul Hameed Dogar.
Politics in his blood
Mr Hamid hails from a well-established political family. Originally from Pasrur in Narowal district, this is his third consecutive term in the National Assembly. Between 2002 and 2007, he won the general elections on a PML-Q ticket and served as one of the key ministers in the Musharraf-Shujaat regime. He held the portfolio of law until 2007 and was actively involved in advising the military ruler.
According to one of his former cabinet colleagues, Mr Hamid was among the erstwhile general’s “most trusted aides”.
Mr Hamid joined the PML-N before the 2008 general elections and has won both polls since then. His only electoral defeat came in his debut outing, when he was campaigning on a PPPP ticket back in 1997.
He is the son of retired Brig Hamid Khan, himself a two-time MNA – with the PPP in 1977 and in 1985 on a non-party basis. His brother Shahid Hamid was governor of Punjab 1997-1999 under the PML-N and he was behind Zahid Hamid’s switchover to the PML-N in 2008. His father-in-law, former Punjab chief minister Sadiq Hussain Qureshi, is also a political heavyweight.
Mr Hamid is quite popular with his co-workers. “Hard-working”, “straight as an arrow”, and “not looking for extra perks and privileges” were some of the adjectives his former colleagues used to describe him.
One former cabinet member said that it was his loyalty that endeared him to both Mr Musharraf as well as the Sharif brothers. That he is extremely knowledgeable about the law helps his cause no end.
“We have 190 members in the National Assembly and more than dozen senators. But despite his ‘tainted’ past, I cannot understand why the PM is reluctant to relieve him,” a government insider told Dawn, adding, “I am sure they will find a way out and will keep him in the cabinet”.
Published in Dawn, November 22th, 2014