Today every news channel carried the news of the demise of the former president of Pakistan, Sardar Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari. Like everyone else I presume, I was also sad to hear the news. Though not a political man myself, I admired him for his demeanour and the way he carried himself as a man, sardar and a president. Compared to other political presidents, at least he looked like a president, as did Ayub Khan, much to the dislike of some.
Hailing from a respectable Leghari tribe of the Dera Ghazi Khan, the young Sardar Leghari graduated with honours from the Forman Christian College, Lahore, where again he was amongst the best students, and later from College Oxford University. After returning to Pakistan he joined the Civil Service but soon after the death of his father he resigned from service and came back to his roots to look after the tribal affairs of his tribe. He later joined Pakistan Peoples’ Party and has been de facto leader of the party during imprisonment of Z A Bhutto.
He spoke softly, unlike the conventional political presidents and carried himself with grace and dignity. He held the office of the president as long as he was respected and didn’t budge from his view point in front of the demagogue politicians.
He became the president of Pakistan in 1993, sponsored by the party he belonged to. But acted like a man of honour when he could not tolerate the rampart corruption, extra judicial killings and lawlessness of the government of Benazir Bhutto. To his bad luck, the government that replaced Ms Bhutto’s was equally corrupt, inept and vindictive. The government of Nawaz Sharif, or better Mr Nawaz Sharif alone, tried to grab all the powers under one man and which tantamount to becoming a civilian dictator. Sardar Leghari tried to sort out the affairs with consultation with the then Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah. But Nawaz stormed the Supreme Court building with his political workers and sacked the Chief justice. Seeing the mood of the time, Leghari resigned. It is very strange that Nawaz had the audacity to storm the Supreme Court as the chief justice was a threat to him, but later he sided with another chief justice as his ouster ousted the chief justice and him too. How people behave under trying times. One wonders what becomes of a chief justice if Nawaz again comes to power.
Sardar Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari later formed his own political party by the name of Millat Party. He also joined the Muslim League (Q). Lately he hasn’t been well on account of his heart-related diseases and was admitted in the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) at Rawalpindi, where he breathed his last on October 20, 2010.
With him gone, Pakistan has lost an upright, intellectual and an honest ex president. May his soul rest in peace. Ameen.