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December 21, 2007

Veteran Muslim Leaguer Fida Khan is dead

Top Story

December 21, 2007

governor from 1986-88

By our correspondent

PESHAWAR: Veteran Muslim Leaguer and former Governor of NWFP, Fida Mohammad Khan died here on Thursday. He was 89.

His Nimaz-e-Janaza was held on Thursday afternoon at the spacious Golf Course ground. It was attended by people from different walks of life. Political workers, mostly Muslim Leaguers, were among the mourners. He was buried in a graveyard outside Sarki Gate in old Peshawar.

Justice (retd) Mohammad Azam Khan, the son-in-law of the late Fida Mohammad Khan, said the former governor's condition deteriorated about three days ago, and he was shifted to the Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar. However, his condition didn't improve and he breathed his last early Thursday morning. Fida Mohammad Khan was bed-ridden for some years now. Due to his poor health, he had become inactive in politics many years ago.

Fida was born in 1919. He studied in Peshawar and graduated from Edwards College in the city. Later, he obtained an LLB degree from the Aligarh Muslim College in India. As a young man, Fida Mohammad Khan took part in the independence movement. As Pakistan Muslim League (PML) Peshawar chapter president, he played a role in the 1947 referendum in the NWFP in which majority of voters opted for their province to become part of Pakistan. The controversial referendum was rejected and boycotted by nationalists led by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.

He also remained active in the Muslim League National Guards and Muslim Students Federation. He subsequently served as central and provincial president of the PML. Twice during his political career, Fida Mohammad Khan was elected member of the Senate. However, he never contested an assembly election. During General Ziaul Haq's martial law regime, he served as federal housing minister. He remained governor of the NWFP from 1986 to1988.

Fida Mohammad was fond of narrating the story of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's visit to Khyber Agency.

Due to opposition by the Congress and its ally, Khudai Khidmatgar movement, Jinnah's trip to Khyber Agency was considered risky. But Fida Mohammad Khan volunteered to drive Jinnah to Landikotal, where his father Tehmas Khan was serving as political Tehsildar.

This was a historic trip as tribesmen gave a warm welcome to the Quaid-i-Azam and announced their allegiance to the Muslim League. Quaid-i-Azam was driven to Torkham on the border with Afghanistan and brought back by Fida Mohammad Khan to Peshawar. For the young Fida, this was a memorable event and he never missed an opportunity to narrate the story. Though Fida Mohammad Khan always remained a Muslim Leaguer, he did join one or the other factions of the PML on different occasions. Once he joined the Nawaz Sharif faction and was made its head after a political coup removed Mohammad Khan Junejo as president of the PML.

Meanwhile, NWFP Governor Lt Gen (Retd) Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai offered condolences on Fida Mohammad Khan's death and described him as a politician of high calibre. He said the deceased served the country with devotion. He added the services rendered by him as governor for the NWFP and FATA would be long remembered.