LAHORE: If one believes in President Asif Zardari’s pledge that the forthcoming elections would be held on time and that the government would complete its stipulated tenure, then the next polls would be held somewhere in May 2013 and the elected regime would start functioning in June 2013, meaning thereby that most of the national politicians would be reaching the age bracket where energy surely decreases even if the lust for power doesn’t die.
Assuming that no unscripted adventure or any unforeseen contingency delays the holding of the 2013 elections in Pakistan, the country is surely short of vibrant fresh blood in the political ring. With malice towards none of the ageing or the already aged national political players and with no pun or satire intended towards them, there is no second opinion that the best time to enjoy wealth and fame is prime youth. But even if these two divine bounties come one’s way at the twilight of youth—-there still are a few years left in life to cherish the memories of the best times.
So, in many ways, it is a do or die situation for many of the Pakistani political players.
Those sitting on Opposition benches or are outside the assemblies owing to one reason or the other, are watching the game being played from a side enclosure for many years now, and they need to clinch the elusive throne at all cost.
If they are ageing now, they will be far more old by the time the 2018 polls are held.
And who knows, what may happen in between now and 2018!
Ambitious military rulers have disrupted democracy in Pakistan many times since 1947 and they all understand what this correspondent wants to say here.
However, the formal launch of President Asif Zadari’s son and the Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on the 5th death anniversary of the latter’s mother Benazir Bhutto seems like a breath of fresh air, if one looks at the ages of all the senior national politicians. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (born September 21, 1988) would find himself pitched in the turbulent political arena at the age of 24 years and nine months in June 2013. Though he has assumed charge, he is yet to contest any election and taste what it takes to move in streets and virtually beg for votes amidst an extremely adverse law and order situation.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s son Hamza Shahbaz (born September 6, 1974) has already entered practical politics by making his way to the National Assembly in 2008, when he was 33 years old. By June 2013, Hamza would be around 39.
Similarly, former Punjab Chief Minister’s son Moonis Elahi (born April 12, 1976) had also won a Punjab Assembly seat in 2008 at the age of nearly 32. By June 2013, Moonis Elahi would be 37 years and two months old.
But apart from these three afore-mentioned scions of more powerful political parties, there are a few other National Assembly members who can be termed young as they fall in the 30-40-age bracket.
These include the following MNAs:
PML-Q’s Sardar Shahjehan Yousaf (born April 13, 1974) would be just over 39 years old in June 2013. PML-N Omar Sohail Zia Butt (born July 19, 1980) would be around 33. Moazam Ali Khan Jatoi of PPP (born August 10, 1981) would be less than 32. National Assembly Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi (born January 1, 1975) would be 38-and-a-half. PPP’s Malik Azmat Khan would be four months short of his 35th birthday. MNA Raja Muhammad Asad Khan (born May 29, 1975) would be 38. Ch. “Bilal Ahmed Virk (born January 1, 1974) would be 39 plus. Manzoor Wattoo’s son Khurram Jehangir Wattoo (born February 25, 1976) would be 37 plus. PML-N’s Salman Mohsin Gillani (born July 12, 1977) would be around 33. Khawaja Sheraz Mahmood of PML-Q (born August 6, 1974) would be around 39.
Sitting Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar (born November 19, 1977) would be over 35. Rehan Hashmi of MQM (born December 16, 1973) would be 39 plus. Jamshed Dasti (born February 15, 1978) would be 35 plus. PML-Q’s Asim Nazir (born November 20, 1975) would be 37 years and 8 months old. PML-Q’s Ghulam Bibi Bharwana (born May 5, 1977) would be just over 36. PML-Q’s Sheikh Waqas Akram (August 26, 1974) would just be a little under 39.
The 40-50-age bracket will include the likes of:
PPP’s Noor Alam Khan (born October 12, 1972) would be 40 years and 8 months old. Rana Asif Tauseef of PML-Q (born July 1, 1967) would be nearing his 46th birthday. Abid Sher Ali (born November 21, 1971) would be in his 42nd year. Engineer Khurram Dastgir (born August 3, 1970) would just be a little short of being 43. Saima Akhtar Bharwana (born April 24, 1969) would be 44 plus. Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar (born June 7, 1966) would be around 47. Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan (born January 11, 1970) would be 43 plus. Bilal Yasin (born December 14, 1970) would be 42 plus. Raza Hayat Harrraj (born July 21, 1969) would be around 44. Sardar Awais Leghari of PML-Q (born March 22, 1971) would be 42 plus. PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law Capt. (R) Mohammad Safdar (born January 19, 1964) would be around 49-and-a-half. Muhammad Hanif Abbasi (born January 4, 1966) would be 47-and-a-half. PML-Q’s Sumera Malik (born December 19, 1963) would be 49-and-half. Nadeem Afzal Gondal (born April 01, 1975) would be 38 plus. Haider Abbas Rizvi of MQM (born February 2, 1969) would be 44 plus. Former PML-Q stalwart and now a PML-N man, Amir Muqam (born July 25, 1963) would be around 50.
Now, let us take a look at the ages of the senior political lot in Pakistan, a few of whom could easily be dubbed old-timers by any yardstick.
Incumbent Pakistani President Asif Zardari (born July 26, 1955) would just be a month short of his 58th birthday in June 2013. The PML-N Chief and two-time Premier Nawaz Sharif would be 63 years and six months old in June 2013. Another former Premier and PML-Q Chief Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain (born January 27, 1946) would be 67 years and five months old in June 2013, while the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and the second most important PML-Q leader Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi (born November 1, 1945) would be just five months short of his 68th birthday then. MQM Chief Altaf Hussain (born September 17, 1953) would be three months shy of his 60th birthday and the JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman (born June 19, 1953) would be turning 60 in June 2013. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf Chairman Imran Khan (born November 25, 1952) would be 60 years and seven months old in June 2013. The ANP Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan (born February 19, 1949) would be 64 years and four months old then. Tehreek Minhajul Quran Chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri (born February 19, 1951) would be 62 years and four months old.
Struggling to make his way to the National Assembly, the Awami Muslim League Chairman and a television darling, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed (born November 6, 1950), would be five months short of his 63rd birthday in June 2013.
Former Pakistani President and Chairman of All Pakistan Muslim League General (R) Pervez Musharraf (born August 11, 1943) would be two months short of his 70th birthday when the next expected government starts calling shots. General Musharraf is being heard claiming vociferously that he would be returning to Pakistan anytime soon and that his party would field candidates on all seats.
Coming to other national politicians of virtue, the late Pir Pagara Shah Mardan Shah II’s eldest son Syed Sibghatullah Shah Rashdi, also known as “Raja Saeen,” now heads the Pakistan Muslim League (Functional). He was born on February 14, 1956, which means that he would be 57 years and eight months old in June 2013. Former Premier Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani (born June 9, 1952) would be celebrating his 61st birthday in June 2013. Though his sons Abdul Qadir Gilani and Moosa Gilani are National Assembly members currently and are young enough to have a future ahead in politics if they are not charged in any of the corruption cases in times to come, Yusuf Raza Gilani himself stands disqualified to enter any of the legislative houses for the next five years-unless something drastic happens and the Supreme Court order against him is not reversed in future-something which has happened a few times in the country called Pakistan.
PPP’s Makhdoom Amin Fahim (born August 4, 1939) would just be two months short of his 74th birthday in June 2013. He was the key contender for premiership in 2008, but to his sheer dismay, President Zardari had decided in favour of Yusuf Raza Gilani. Who knows the Lady Luck sides with him in months to come should the PPP win again (as President Zardari had boasted in his yesterday’s speech) and pitches Makhdoom Amin Fahim as its candidate! Again, these are just assumptions.
Sitting Premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (born December 26, 1950) would be 62 years and six months old in June 2013, but he should be content to have touched the peak of his career already. PPP’s Makhdoom Shahabuddin (born April 7, 1947) would be 66 years and two months old when the next government might assume office. Another seasoned and time-tested PPP leader Chaudhary Ahmed Mukhtar (born 1946) would be 67 years old in June 2013. Federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira (born January 5, 1960) is yet to see his desired career height and would be relatively younger than most of his colleagues in politics at 53 years and about five months in June 2013. Names of Messrs Ahmad Mukhtar, Makhdoom Shahabuddin and Qamar Zaman Kaira have been discussed here because they were considered for premiership by the PPP hierarchy when Yusuf Raza Gilani was ousted from power by the Supreme Court a few months ago. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah would be 78 in June 2013. Key PML-N leader and sitting Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif (born September 23, 1950) would be three months shy of his 63rd birthday in June 2013.
Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly and a PML-N indispensable Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan (born July 31, 1954) would just be a month short of his 59th birthday in June 2013. Imran Khan’s right hand Makhdoom Syed Javed Hashmi (born January 1, 1948) would be 65 years and six months old in June 2013. Another PTI stalwart and former Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi (born June 22, 1956) would be cutting the cake of his 57th birthday in June 2013.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (born December 27, 1958) would be 54-and—a-half. Sahabzada Fazal e-Kareem (born October 24, 1954) would be four months short of his 59th birthday. PPP’s Dr. Arbab Alamgir Khan (born January 27, 1961) would be 52 years and five months old. Ch. Wajahat Hussain (1960) would be 53 plus. Ahsan Iqbal (born Sep 28, 1958) would be a little short of being 55. Sardar Ayaz Sadiq (born October 17, 1954) would be around 59. Mir Amer Ali Magsi (born December 27, 1960) would be 52 plus. President Asif Zardari’s younger sister Faryal Talpur (born 1958) would be around 55. Syed Naveed Qamar (born September 22, 1955) would be around 58. PML-N’s Naseer Bhutta (born June 6, 1956) would be around 57.
Speaker National Assembly Dr. Fehmida Mirza (born December 20, 1956) would be over 56. MQM’s Wasim Akhtar (born November 25, 1955) would be 57 plus. Dr. Farooq Sattar (born April 9, 1959) would be over 53. Sardar Nabil Gabool (born November 16, 1962) would be 50 plus. Mrs. Samina Khalid Ghurki (born August 13, 1956) would be around 57. Syed Samsam Ali Bukhari (July 5, 1957) would be a shade less than 56. Riaz Fatyana (born January 18, 1958) would be 55 plus. Khawaja Saad Rafiq (born November 4, 1962) would be a few months short of being 51.
Apart from a few names mentioned earlier in the story, the older lot also includes:
ANP’s Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour (born December 25, 1939) would be 73 years and 6 months old. Former Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao (August 20, 1944) would just be around two months shy of his 69th birthday. PML-N’s Sardar Mehtab Abbasi (born December 15, 1952) would be 60 years and 7 months old. Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat (born 1952) would be 60 plus. Nazar Muhammad Gondal (April 15, 1950) would be 63 plus. Khawaja Asif (born August 9, 1949) would be around 64. Sheikh Rohail Asghar (October 24, 1952) would be 60 plus. Syed Mumtaz Alam Gilani (January 20, 1940) would be 73 plus. Syed Khursheed Shah of PPP (born April 20, 1952) would be over 61. President Asif Zardari’s elder sister Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho (born February 21, 1953) would be 60 plus. Khushbakht Shujaat of MQM (born November 01, 1948) would be around 65.
Talking of the Reserved Seats for Women, Bushra Gohar (born May 5, 1961) would be 52 plus. Jamila Gillani (born January 5, 1960) would be 53 plus. Asma Arbab Alamgir (born July 9, 1965) would be around 48. Anusha Rahman (born June 01, 1968) would be around 45. Mehreen Anwar Raja (born February 4, 1968) would be 45 plus. Donya Aziz (born March 3, 1975) would be 38 plus. Mrs. Attiya Inayatullah (born March 4, 1938) would be 75 plus. Farzana Raja (born January 2, 1970) would be 43 plus. Nosheen Saeed (born July 6, 1958) would be around 55. Dr. Nafisa Shah (born January 20, 1968) would be 45 plus. Ramesh Lal (born July 5, 1968) would be around 45. Mrs. Zubaida Jalal (born August 31, 1959) would be around 54. Kashmala Tariq (born January 24, 1972) would be 41 plus.
Though they are not in the assemblies currently, Messrs Ijazul Haq (born May 20, 1952) would by vying to win at 61 plus and same would be the case with Humayun Akhtar Khan (April 1, 1955) at 58 plus.