Former PM Zafarullah Jamali passes away at 76

Published December 2, 2020
Former prime minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali pictured in Washington in 2003. — Photo: US Department of Defence
Former prime minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali pictured in Washington in 2003. — Photo: US Department of Defence

Former prime minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali passed away at a hospital in Rawalpindi at the age of 76 on Wednesday evening, his relative Senator Sana Jamali confirmed.

Jamali, who served as the premier from November 2002 until June 2004, was shifted to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology & National Institute of Heart Diseases (AFIC-NIHD) in Rawalpindi after suffering a heart attack last week.

For the last few days, he had been put on a ventilator in the Coronary Care Unit of the hospital.

The details of his funeral have not been issued as yet.

Jamali, the country's first and only elected prime minister from Balochistan, had served during the military regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf. However, Gen Musharraf sought his resignation in 2004 and he was replaced by Shaukat Aziz.

He won the 2013 general elections as an independent, but later joined the PML-N and used to sit on the treasury benches in the previous assembly.

The PML-N leadership had issued a show-cause notice to Jamali in October 2017 when he did not vote in line with the party’s policy on the bill allowing Nawaz Sharif to assume the office of the party president despite his disqualification by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case.

Jamali resigned from the National Assembly only days before the completion of the assembly’s term, citing health concerns.

He was opposed to the PML-N policy of having confrontation with the judiciary.

Condolences pour in

Prime Minister Imran Khan in a tweet said he was "saddened to hear of the passing of" Jamali and sent condolences to his family.

Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa expressed "heartfelt condolences" on the former premier's demise. “May Allah bless his soul & give strength to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss," an Inter-Services Public Relations tweet quoted him as saying.

Balochistan National Party (BNP-M) president Sardar Akhtar Mengal also tweeted out condolences.

"Deeply grieved at the death of Mir Zafarullah Jamali, former PM of Pakistan. A true gentleman full of humour and wit. Will be missed. May his soul RIP," wrote federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood.

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan and other politicians also expressed their condolences.

A long political career

Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali was born on January 1, 1944, in a small village — Roojhan Jamali — of Balochistan’s Nasirabad division into a Baloch political family of Mir Jaffar Khan Jamali, a close friend of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. His father Mir Shahnawaz Khan Jamali was not directly involved in active politics, but was a jirga member and landlord of the area.

Jamali started his schooling from his native village, but soon his father sent him to Lawrence College, Ghora Gali, Murree, from where he did his O level and A level in the early 60s. Then he attended Government College Lahore for graduation and later did his Masters in History from Punjab University.

During school and college days, he was a very good player of hockey and remained captain of his varsity’s hockey team.

As a sportsman, he continued efforts for the promotion of hockey in the country and was twice appointed as chief selector of the Pakistan hockey team. It was under his supervision that Pakistan won the Atlanta Olympics title.

During his college days in Lahore, Jamali first entered the country’s politics in 1964, supporting Ms Fatima Jinnah against the then military ruler, Field Martial Mohammad Ayub Khan, in the presidential election. His uncle Jaffar Khan Jamali appointed him as a security guard of Fatima Jinnah.

He was arrested in Lahore, along with the other political leaders who were supporting Ms Jinnah in the election, on the orders of the then governor of West Pakistan for taking part in anti-government rallies and protests.

Later, his elders advised him to focus on education instead of politics. But in 1967, after the death of his uncle Mir Jafar Khan Jamali, he decided to take up politics seriously. However, he did not join any party though his family’s other elders were affiliated with the Pakistan Muslim League.

In 1970, when then-military president Gen Yahya Khan gave Balochistan the status of a province and conducted the first parliamentary election in the country, Jamali contested for a provincial assembly seat from his native constituency as an independent candidate. He could not win the seat against a powerful Sardar, Chakar Khan Domki, the son-in-law of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, due to various reasons.

After losing the election, he remained inactive in politics but after some time joined the PPP and contested the 1977 elections from the same constituency and was elected unopposed to the Balochistan Assembly. Later, he was inducted in the PPP-led provincial government as minister for information and food.

But when the PPP government was ousted on July 5, 1977, Jamali quit the party and on the offer of military ruler Gen Ziaul Haq joined the cabinet as minister of state for food and agriculture in 1982. Later, Gen Zia appointed him as minister for local government.

In the 1985 non-party based elections conducted by Zia, he contested for a National Assembly seat from Balochistan and was elected unopposed from his native constituency.

After the elections, Jamali was one of the candidates for the prime ministership. Political observers were of the view that Gen Zia would appoint him as premier but at the eleventh hour, the military ruler appointed Mohammad Khan Junejo as prime minister and inducted Jamali in the federal cabinet as minister for water and power.

After the dismissal of Junejo’s government, Zia included Jamali in the caretaker cabinet as railways minister for a very short time and then appointed him as the caretaker chief minister of Balochistan. He contested the 1988 elections for the national and provincial assemblies and won both the seats.

In December 1988, he was elected as the Balochistan chief minister with one vote's majority. But his government could not complete even one month and the Balochistan Assembly was dissolved.

In the 1990 elections, Jamali was a candidate of the Islami Jamhoori Ittihad, but he could not succeed against Mir Nabi Bukhsh Khosa of the PPP. In 1991, the Nawaz Sharif government sent him as Pakistan’s representative to the United Nations.

Jamali was once again elected to the National Assembly in the 1993 polls as an independent candidate defeating PPP’s Mir Nabi Bukhsh Khosa. In 1996, when Benazir Bhutto's government was dismissed by Farooq Ahmed Khan Laghari, Jamali was sent to Balochistan as the caretaker chief minister for the second time.

He could not participate in the 1997 elections as the government had barred caretaker ministers and chief ministers from contesting the polls. However, Jamali was inducted to the cabinet.

He was also known as Jabal Khan (Jabal means mountain in Balochi language). His uncle Mir Jaffar Khan Jamali gave him this name because during school days he would not cry even when seriously injured.

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