Malik Ata Mohammad Khan
Malik Ata Mohammad Khan

TAXILA: Legendary tent pegging champion and chief of the Kot Fateh Khan clan of Attock, Malik Ata Mohammad Khan, passed away on Thursday.

Born on Oct 25, 1941, Malik Ata was known for his equestrian hobbies. He was the first elected president of the Equestrian and Tent Pegging Federation of Pakistan.

He was well-known in Pakistan for his attempts to promote tent pegging and bull races. He was one of the founders of the International Tent Pegging Federation which is recognised by International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI).

Malik Ata took part in tent pegging and other equestrian championships in Europe, South Africa, Australia, United States and India.

In 1982, he participated in the Ninth Asian Games held in Delhi, winning a silver medal for Pakistan. Malik Ata with the Pakistan team also took part in Hyde Park Games in London in 1982. He led Pakistan tent pegging team at the annual Royal Adelaide Show 2010 held in Adelaide, South Australia.

Malik Ata led the Pakistan team in the Penta Grand World Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

With Pakistan team he also took part in the world equestrian games in France in 2014. He was invited by the FEI to give a demonstration of tent pegging at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games held in Normandy, France. On the opening day he was honored to lead all the countries of the world with the Pakistani flag held.

Born in the family of Malik Yar Mohammad Khan, Malik Ata was the eldest maternal grandson of Sardar Sir Nawaz Mohammad Khan.

He got his early education from the Aitchison College Lahore, did his FSC from the FC College Lahore and thereafter proceeded to England for LLB. Since childhood, besides education he was also very fond of horse-riding and bodybuilding.

He not only materialised his fondness on his own but also had the honor of representing his country at several places.

In the year 1982, he participated in the Ninth Asian Games held in Delhi as the captain of the Pakistan spear-throwing team and succeeded in winning his session.

Moreover, he undertook a tour of Europe and South Africa to take part in several other tournaments. His title as the best horse-rider is symbolic of recognition of status of Pakistan in European countries. Besides, he was honored as the best horse rider in the National Horse and Cattle Show held in Lahore for several years.

In 1988, he contested election on the Islami Jamhuri Ittihad (IJI) platform.

Thereafter, in 1990 he again contested for an MPA seat from the Pakistan Muslim League platform and won it. In the next general elections, he was elected MNA.

After his father’s death in 1996, the entire responsibilities of the family and management of the estate rested on his shoulders so he said goodbye to politics.

Malik Ata also appeared in a BBC series “Michael Palin’s Himalaya Production” in which Palin met Malik Ata after visiting his hometown. In an interview with the British journalist, Malik Ata quoted his famous saying: “I am one of the last dinosaurs and it will all finish with me.”

He was also the subject of a short documentary produced by BBC “One Man and His Horse” in 1983.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2020