The Chaudhry Altaf family, as it is now known, belongs to the Jatt clan and has historically been part of Jhelum district’s politics. Khan Bahadur Chaudhry Ferozuddin was the maternal grandfather of Chaudhry Farrukh Altaf, twice the district nazim of Jhelum and the son of former Punjab governor Chaudhry Altaf Hussain.
The Khan Bahadur was elected senior vice-chairman of the district board when the system was introduced by the British back in 1921. The deputy commissioner used to be the ex-officio chairman of the district boards.
When the district boards were converted into district councils in 1948, Chaudhry Mohammad Awais, the paternal grandfather of Farrukh Altaf, became its first chairman. Chaudhry Awais had earlier been elected senior vice-president of the district board of Jhelum in 1943 and was elected a member of the Punjab Assembly in the 1946 and 1951 elections.
Half a century and two generations later, as the Musharraf regime introduced the system of district nazims in 2001, it was Chaudhry Farrukh Altaf’s turn to land the district nazim’s office. In 2001, he got in unopposed while he retained the post by defeating his opponent by a huge margin in 2005.
Farrukh’s father, Chaudhry Altaf Hussain, was elected a member of the West Pakistan Assembly in 1956 but could not win in the 1970 general elections for the National Assembly. He was nominated to the Ziaul Haq Majlis-i-Shura in 1981. He lost the election in 1985 (as an independent) and in 1988 as a Pakistan Peoples Party nominee against Raja Mohammad Afzal, another stalwart of Jhelum.
Chaudhry Altaf won as a PPP nominee in 1990 by defeating Raja Afzal of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad. For a short while between April and July 1993, he worked as the governor of Punjab. He was reappointed to the same post in April 1994 and died in office on May 21, 1995.
No member of the family contested the 1993 general elections and in the 1997 polls, Chaudhry Farrukh Altaf (as a PPP nominee) lost against Raja Afzal.
Chaudhry Altaf’s younger brother, Chaudhry Iftikhar Hussain, was appointed a judge of the Lahore High Court in 1994. He became the chief justice of the LHC in 2002 and retired from the office in 2007. Chaudhry Iftikhar’s son Chaudhry Fawad Hussain joined the PPP after staying close to Gen Musharraf for some time. He was an adviser to the prime minister in 2012. This time, Fawad Hussain is a Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid candidate for NA-63.
In 2002, Chaudhry Shahbaz Hussain, another younger brother of Chaudhry Altaf, was elected MNA from NA-62 on a PML-Q ticket. He went on to work as a federal minister between 2002 and 2007. He lost both the National Assembly seats of Jhelum, NA-62 and NA-63, in 2008 as a PML-Q nominee at the hands of the PML-Nawaz’s Raja Mohammad Safdar Khan and Raja Mohammad Asad Khan, the sons of Raja Afzal who has since crossed over to the PPP.
Chaudhry Farrukh Altaf and Chaudhry Fawad Hussain will contest NA-62 and NA-63 respectively in the May 11 elections.