PESHAWAR: Barrister Syed Masood Kausar, the designated governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has vowed to strive for restoring peace in tribal regions and work with the political-military leadership to achieve the goal. “We are all on the same page,” Barrister Kausar told Dawn by phone. “We want peace in the area and have all rendered sacrifices for the cause,” he said.
Mr Kausar was appointed governor by President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday, bringing to an end the three-year-long tenure of Owais Ahmad Ghani, who oversaw the army launching a series of military operations in the militancy-infested Fata, including the militants’ stronghold of South Waziristan.
Known for his witty remarks and jolly nature, Mr Kausar has enjoyed cordial relationship with the Awami National Party, a possibly key factor in his appointment as the 28th governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
And he acknowledges his fondness for the ANP. Back in 1998, he said, he endeavoured to bring his PPP and the ANP together. “I tried to bring the two parities together in 1998 but could not succeed. I see no reason why we can’t work together. We have similar political ideals. We are secular and liberal in our political outlook.”
President Zardari had summoned Governor Ghani to Karachi on January 10 to convey his decision to change the command in the province, citing pressure from his PPP to get a party man in the sprawling British-era white building, according to a senior ANP leader privy to the development.
“The president had asked him if he needed time to start packing up,” the ANP leader said of Governor Ghani.
Intense lobbying began soon afterwards and the ANP immediately shot down Mr Zardari’s first choice, Anwar Saifullah Khan.
The military establishment which had long backed Mr Ghani and had scuttled earlier moves to replace him, acquiesced, albeit reluctantly but suggested names of some retired lieutenant generals for what has become one of the most highly sensitive jobs in the country, owing to militancy in the tribal region and huge American interests and demands for action in North Waziristan, a credible source said.
The name of Munir Ahmad Orakzai, a tribal parliamentarian, was also thrown in as a likely spoiler, according to this source, but the Syed from Kohat managed to emerge as a consensus candidate acceptable both to the ANP and the military establishment.
A seasoned jurist, Masood Kausar realises the complicated situation he is stepping in.
“I don’t see any turf war,” he remarked. “We are all on board as far as the strategy in Fata is concerned. Our main goal is to bring peace through dialogue, development and deterrence by defeating terrorism.”
“Our goal is to do away with terrorism and terrorist activities. Political leaders have given sacrifices and the army has not only given numerous sacrifices they are also in the forefront of the war against terrorism.
“We all know the challenge we face in the tribal areas and the situation developing in Afghanistan. Our priority should be to bring peace to the tribal areas.”
When asked about his date of birth, Mr Kausar burst into laughter and said he did not remember it. But according to his profile on Senate’s website of which he was a member from 1994 to 2001, the decedent of Haji Bahadar, a famous saint of Kohat, was born on May 2, 1938.
He did his Bar at Law from the Honorable Society of Lincoln’s, UK, in 1968. He was elected President of the Peshawar High Court Bar Association, and a PPP MPA from his native Kohat in 1988 and 1990 and first served as Speaker of the then NWFP Assembly and later as deputy leader of opposition.
He replaced Aftab Sherpao as President of the PPP in the then NWFP but was out in the cold due to machinations of some leaders of his own party in the province.
He is a brother of prominent Urdu poet, Syed Ahmad Shah, better known as Ahmad Faraz.
But, perhaps, it is more interesting that prior to his appointment as the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Barrister Kausar took up the cases of missing persons and FCR-related issues.
Asked if he would support the call for extension of Political Parties Act and reforms in the Frontier Crimes Regulation, two major steps already signed by President Zardari but have not been notified due to exigency of the situation in the tribal region, Mr Kausar said he would wait for the brief from the civil administration before commenting on the contentious issues.
“President has asked me to play my role in line with the mission of our late party chairman and chairperson and that’s precisely what I am going to do,” he remarked.