Shahzada Mohiuddin - obituary

Shahzada Mohiuddin – an obituary

Shahzada Mohiuddin, a scion of the royal family of Chitral, who was elected as Member of the National Assembly four times, passed away in Islamabad in
the early hours of 27th April, 2022.

Shahzada Mohiuddin was born on 5th August 1938 to Shahzada Amiruddin, son of His Highness Sir Shujaul Mulk, the Mehtar of Chitral who ruled the Princely State from 1895 to 1936.

Born in an era where his family ruled over the Princely State, Shahzada Mohiuddin saw first-hand the erosion of that power. Even as a young boy he would often contemplate over the reasons for the decline and fading influence of his family and how to salvage it for the greater good.

By 1969, after years of regression at the local level, and wider political developments, the State of Chitral was dissolved and merged into Pakistan. In the next few years, the Bhutto government, which had come to power with a populist slogan, further estranged the royal families of the Frontier States of Dir, Swat and Chitral by stripping them of their titles, privileges and honorarium. Simultaneously a Land Commission was also constituted, the task of which according to Sheikh Mohammad Rashid the Chairman of the Land Reforms Commission, as he proudly boasted during one of his visits to Chitral, was to “take from the haves and give to the have-nots”.

Suffice it to say that after thirty years of litigation Shahzada Mohiuddin succeeded in
having the Supreme Court declare that he was the owner of vast tracts of properties being claimed by him to the exclusion of thousands of adverse claimants. What happened in between was just as remarkable.

In the face of such adversity and hostility, Shahzada Mohiuddin had resolved that he would fight for his individual rights, as well as the rights of the rest of the Chitrali community, which had been left marginalised after merger with Pakistan.
Such was the charisma, character and talent of the man that he managed to forge alliances and win over sufficient supporters to get himself elected as the District Council Chairman of Chitral in 1983.

Instead of resting upon the spoils of his victory, Shahzada Mohiuddin oriented himself as a dedicated public servant, endeavouring to resolve the problems of his constituents. By that time it was clear that he was a man, not just willing to fight for his individual rights but the rights of the Chitrali community as a whole.

Shahzada Mohiuddin emerged as a champion of the poor and was elected MNA from Chitral in 1985. He was tipped by General Ziaul Haq to serve as Minister of Defence but owing to his public confrontation of the President at Shandur in 1986, over unfavourable recruitment process in the Chitral Scouts, he was bypassed although appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Communications nevertheless.

Shahzada Mohiuddin represented Pakistan at the United Nations General Assembly in 1986.

Liberal in his outlook and progressive in his approach, Shahzada Mohiuddin always sheltered the Ismailia community from the onslaught of religious zealotry of the right. In return, they were to prove his loyal political benefactors for years to come. Shoaib Sultan Khan the founder of the Rural Support Programme Network in Pakistan has admitted that were it not for Shahzada Mohiuddin throwing his political weight behind the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme in its nascent stage, the Rural Support Programmes would never have gotten off the ground.

In 1987, Shahzada Mohiuddin was re-elected Chairman of the District Council Chitral. In 1988 Begum Nusrat Bhutto contested elections from Chitral and defeated him, but he did not lose heart. Leading up to the 1990 general elections Shahzada Mohiuddin was appointed Minister for Excise and Taxation in the interim Provincial Government of NWFP. In the said general elections Shahzada Mohiuddin was once again elected MNA.

He was later given the portfolio of Minister of State for Tourism in Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet. In his capacity as Minister for Tourism, Shahzada Mohiuddin initiated the process of building PTDC hotels throughout the Northern Areas of Pakistan including Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. He also attended the Internationale Tourismus-Börse in Berlin in 1992 as a representative of Pakistan.

While Shahzada Mohiuddin lost his seat in the 1993 general elections, he won it with a landslide in 1997 and in addition to serving as MNA also served as Chairman National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Government Assurances in the second Nawaz Sharif cabinet.

In 1999 when General Parvez Musharaf took over through a coup d’état, Shahzada Mohiuddin continued to lend public support to ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and also regularly attended his trial, until Nawaz Sharif decided to flee the country. In 2001 local bodies election Shahzada Mohiuddin was elected as the District Nazim of Chitral. In 2005 he was the only Chitrali political leader invited by President Musharraf to attended and participate in the ground breaking ceremony of the coveted Lawari Tunnel project.

Shahzada Mohiuddin was once again elected MNA in the general elections of 2008 and invested as Chairman National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, both positions he held until 2013.

Meanwhile, Shahzada Mohiuddin suffered from a stroke in 2010 which began to adversely affect his health. Hence he resolved not to run for office again. In 2013 his two sons Shahzada Iftikharuddin and Shahzada Khalid Parvez contested for the MNA and MPA seats, respectively, with the former winning with a heavy majority and latter narrowly missing victory. Recently, Shahzada Khalid Parvez won the Tehsil Nazim’s seat of Drosh in the local bodies elections.

Shahzada Mohiuddin was a regal statesman from an era long byegone. He is survived by three sons and two daughters. He was the father-in-law of Shahzada Masoodul Mulk, the CEO of the Sarhad Rural Support Programme, and Shahzada Ziaul Mulk of Drosh and the nephew of (late) Senator Shahzada Burhanuddin, a veteran of the Indian National Army under Subhas Chandra Bose.

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