Naeemul Haque — a PTI veteran who stood by Imran Khan through the highs and lows

February 15, 2020

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PTI's late leader Naeemul Haque pictured with Prime Minister Imran Khan. — File photo
PTI's late leader Naeemul Haque pictured with Prime Minister Imran Khan. — File photo

Naeemul Haque, who died after a two-year battle with cancer on Saturday, was a PTI stalwart who remained at (now) Prime Minister Imran Khan's side since the start of his political career 23 years ago.

A banker and businessman by trade, Haque, 70, was one of the co-founders of the ruling PTI and held several important positions within the party.

Born on July 11, 1949, in Karachi, Haque obtained an MA degree in English Literature from the University of Karachi (1970) and then pursued LLB at the Sindh Muslim Law College (1971). He practised law with Khalid Ishaq before joining Jamil Nishtar’s team at the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), according to information released by his family.

As a young banker, he was part of the team that established the NBP branch at UN Plaza in New York City, after which he moved to London in 1980 as a merchant banker for Oriental Credit Limited.

During his career, he also served as an advisor/managing director of Aero Asia Airlines, chairman and CEO Metropolitan Steel Corp and managing director Credit & Leasing Corporation.

He became close friends with Imran Khan, who used to play county cricket at the time, during his professional stint in Britain in early 1980s. Imran would frequently visit Haque and his wife, Nazli Jamil “Nazo”.

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In 1984, the deceased politician joined Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s Tehrik-e-Istiqlal party in London and moved back to Karachi a couple of years later to set up his leasing company business and pursue political aspirations.

In the post-Ziaul Haq era, he contested the 1988 elections on a Tehrik-e-Istiqlal from Karachi's Orangi. He lost the election, but his interest in politics continued.

In 1996, he became one of the founding members of PTI along with Imran Khan. As a trusted aide, he helped Imran manage the party affairs and overcome the election setbacks of 1997 and 2001.

After his wife's death in 2008 from a bout of cancer, Haque fully devoted his life to the PTI, where he became the central information secretary and Sindh president. He helped organise the huge December 25, 2011, jalsa in Karachi that helped establish PTI’s popularity as a national party.

In 2012, he moved to Islamabad to serve as the PTI chairman's chief of staff and a member of the PTI Core Committee leading into the elections of both 2013 and 2018.

While working alongside Imran to organise the party at the grassroots level, he also intermittently served as the PTI information secretary, playing an important role to develop the party’s communication strategy.

In January 2018, months before the general elections, Haque was diagnosed with blood cancer. Being a party loyalist, he continued to work prior to the elections while undergoing treatment.

When the PTI emerged victorious in the 2018 polls, he was appointed the Prime Minister's Special Assistant on Political Affairs.

After his death, Prime Minister Imran in a tweet said he was "devastated by one of my oldest friend Naeem's passing".

"In 23 year of PTI's trials & tribulations, he stood by me. He was always there for support whenever we were at our lowest ebb," the premier wrote.

"In the last two years I saw him battle cancer with courage and optimism. Till the very end he was involved in Party affairs and attended cabinet meetings as long as he was able. His passing has left an irreplaceable void."