Thursday, 26 May 2016

QK Archives: "Terror in Miramshah"

Published April 2006by Newsline magazine

Terror in Miramshah

By Zahid Hussain

No End in Sight
It was a scene from hell. A line of bullet-ridden bodies strung from electric poles… a severed head with currency notes shoved into the mouth rolling on the ground… a dead dog thrown on the mutilated bodies in a crowded bazaar. "This is the fate of criminals and of those who disobey God," thundered a long-bearded mullah as he hit one of the bodies with the butt of his rifle.

These gruesome scenes were recorded on a videotape depicting the public executions carried out by the local Taliban in Miramshah in North Waziristan earlier this year. The militants, who fashion themselves on the legacy of the ousted Taliban regime in Afghanistan, killed some two dozen alleged criminals and left their bodies hanging for days in the centre of the town. The corpses were later tied to vehicles and dragged through the streets in a savage show of medieval barbarism.

"The action was applauded by tribesmen with shouts of "Allah ho Akbar," said Rahim Gul who witnessed the incident. Other brutal events were filmed by the militants to project their "cause" and the video is now being widely circulated as part of their propaganda campaign.

Miramshah is virtually under the control of the local Taliban who have enforced a harsh system of justice, according to their own interpretation of Islamic Shariah. Led by Sadiq Noor, a firebrand local cleric, and Maulvi Abdul Khaliq, the militants, mostly students from the local madrassah, have tried to emulate the former Taliban rule in Afghanistan. The tribal areas look like southern Afghanistan during the 1996-2001 rule of the fundamentalist Taliban regime.

Although North Waziristan has for a long time been the main base for Al-Qaeda backed militants and a stronghold of religious extremists, the first signs of Taliban-like rule started to emerge in December 2005. The militants gained popularity by pretending to fight crime. They created an environment of fear when they executed so-called "bandits" and left the bodies hanging in the open, sending out a message of terror in the area. "There was a complete reign of terror," said Gul, who like scores of residents has taken refuge in Bannu, some 30 miles from Miramshah. "No one can dare to challenge them."

Meanwhile, Pakistani military and civil authorities looked the other way and did nothing to stop the militants from carrying out public executions and dispensing their brutal brand of punishment to those who defied them. "Their actions had popular support," says Syed Zaheer-ul-Islam, the political agent in North Waziristan, when questioned on the government's ostrich-act on the local Taliban's rule of terror. The administration was under clear instructions not to impede the movements of the local Taliban who remained unchecked and continued to consolidate their position in the area.

This strategy, say local observers, was meant to keep the Pakistani Taliban happy by conceding more and more administrative control to them - no matter what the cost. The government allowed the "Taliban" to do pretty much what they wanted. This short-sighted policy of appeasement encouraged the militants to extend their influence and reign of terror over a large swathe of the tribal region.

Having ignored the mayhem wreaked by the local Taliban for months, the troops finally reacted when militants, armed with heavy machine guns and rocket launchers, seized key government buildings, including the telephone exchange in Miramshah and attacked paramilitary posts, killing several government soldiers in the first week of March. Khaliq's madrassah, known as Gulshan-e-Ilm, was the base from where the militants launched their attacks on the troops. The incident triggered the fiercest clashes yet between the militants and the government forces with the besieged troops retaliating by using heavy machine guns and artillery.

Backed by helicopter gunships and jet fighters, the government forces bombed the militant stronghold, killing hundreds of Taliban fighters. But the military operation failed to weaken the Taliban's control who, for the moment, have made a tactical retreat. However, many fear that the worst is still to come. Both Sadiq Noor and Abdul Khaliq, the clerics who led the local Taliban, are still at large.

Pakistan's tribal region, along its border with Afghanistan, has historically been autonomous and governed by its own laws. However, this system fell apart after Pakistan sent in thousands of troops in 2003 to drive out the Al-Qaeda and their local supporters. Since Pakistani laws are not applicable, the vacuum has been filled by well organised Islamic militants. The three-year long military campaign has not only failed to eliminate foreign militants, but has, in fact, strengthened the local Taliban. Scores of tribal maliks have been killed by the militants for collaborating with the Pakistani military. While political parties are banned from operating in the tribal areas, the mullahs have been given license to expand their influence through any means.

The Pakistani forces are now confronting not only the foreign fighters, but also the homegrown Taliban in the strategically located tribal region that has become a hotbed of terrorism. Pakistani officials, who in the past tried to draw a line between local Islamic militants and foreigners, now concede that there is a close nexus between the two. The emerging local Taliban are well organised and heavily armed, while many of their leaders are battle-hardened members of Afghanistan's erstwhile Taliban militia. According to a senior official, the Taliban have also been joined by criminal elements.

In Wana, the main town of strife-torn South Waziristan, the Taliban have set up offices which are used for recruitment as well as for administering justice. They issue orders on loudspeakers at local mosques and defiance of any kind is not tolerated. On March 26, the Taliban executed a 25-year-old man for killing a taxi driver after an Islamic court found him guilty. Hayat Gul, who was said to be involved in several crimes, was shot dead after the family of the deceased refused to forgive him.

The situation has become more worrying as the Taliban influence has spilled over to the settled areas. In many parts of the province, the militants have forcibly closed down video and audio shops, as well as internet cafes, declaring them un-Islamic. In Wana, the militants blew up the local radio station after it ignored repeated warnings to stop music programmes.

In Tank, the Taliban have ordered barbers not to shave beards, people are prohibited to play music, even at weddings, and the traditional fairs, which provided some form of entertainment to the public, have been banned. In Dera Ismail Khan, the Taliban are reported to have forcibly stopped people from organising their spring fair and instead asked them to hold a religious conference. "We will use other methods if you don't heed our warning, "declared the Taliban.

In Swat district, some pro-Taliban clerics set television sets on fire. In Peshawar, clerics have threatened to take action against those cable operators who show western television channels and FM radio transmitters set up in mosques are used to propagate their own radical version of Islam. The zealots, in many cases, appear to have the backing of a section of the MMA government, while in some areas the militants have reduced the local police to a powerless and virtually ineffective entity.

The emergence of the local Taliban movement is ominous as Pakistan battles to drive out Al-Qaeda fighters. It also indicates the government's failure to establish the writ of the state in the sensitive border region. While launching its military campaign, the government has done little to address the social and economic problems plaguing the lawless territory. There has been no effort to improve law and order and provide security to the people. It is apparent that the situation in Waziristan has spun out of control and there is a clear and present danger of disastrous long-term political consequences.

It will become increasingly difficult to contain Islamic militancy in other parts of the country if the rising Taliban movement in the tribal areas and the NWFP is not curbed. Even more dangerous is the Afghan war spilling over to Pakistan. If the tribal areas fall into Taliban control, this will have a direct effect on the Afghan war and boost the Afghan Taliban insurgency.

QK archives: The Frontier Singhs

Special Report

Originally published October 2008 Newsline magazine
The Frontier Singhs

Newsline visits the Frontier's small Sikh community, who have adapted to the lifestyles of the Pashtuns and consider themselves "sons of the soil."

By Shah Bano Durrani

With the ascent of the Taliban in Pakistan's tribal borderlands and some adjoining districts of the NWFP, turbans, particularly of the black variety, invariably elicit fear.

But not the saffron turbans of the Sikhs, who have been living peacefully in the so-called wild west of Pakistan for ages, and conducting business. The two communities do not seem to fear each other - in fact, they have learnt to coexist.

The target-killings and beheadings by the militants do not seem to scare the Sikhs. And understandably so. Militants can be, and have been, ruthless with minority sects but, surprisingly, they have provided protection to the Sikh minority living in their midst.

Be it the vigilantes of Mangal Bagh's moral brigade or the more fearsome and ruthless local Taliban in Orakzai's tribal region, Sikhs have little reason to fear them. "We are grateful to the Taliban and Mangal Bagh for giving us protection and a sense of security," remarked Sahib Singh, a community leader and councillor in Peshawar District Council.

When criminals abducted two members of the Sikh community from Bara for ransom in May, the Taliban chased the gang and tracked them down in Doaba in the Orakzai Agency. The ringleader was publicly executed and eight houses of the rest of the gang members were set on fire. The Sikhs were freed unharmed and allowed to return home.

Mangal Bagh of the banned Lashkar-i-Islam went on his FM radio to warn criminals to stay away from the Sikhs, and community members say incidents of kidnapping for ransom have come to a halt.

Sikhs in the tribal areas and the NWFP reportedly form such a small fraction of the total population, that they do not find a mention in the 1998 national census. However, community representatives say their members total about 20,000, most of whom live in the beautiful and picturesque, remote Terah valley on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Numbering about 700 families in all, most Sikhs who have taken up residence in the Bara sub-division of Khyber under Mangal Bagh's control, own shops in Peshawar's famous Karkhano Bazaar, a market notorious for smuggled goods. Most of them sell cosmetics, while others practice herbal medicine.

There is a small Sikh community in the largely ungoverned Orakzai tribal region, while a few live in Kurram's regional headquarters of Parachinar.

They consider themselves "sons of the soil" - Pashtuns to be more specific - and are identified as such. "We are proud to be Pashtuns," says Sahib Singh. "Pashto is our tongue, our mother tongue - and we are proud of it."

Sikhs are a closely knit community, and being in a minority, they tend to live close together. In Peshawar, the community is mainly concentrated in Mohalla Jogan Shah, in houses running alongside a narrow but newly paved and seemingly endless street.

With a total population of around 5,000, the Sikh community in Peshawar has two religious schools, Bhai Joga Singh Khalsa Dharmic School and Guru Angat Dev Jee Khalsa Dharmic School, as well as a community boarding house.

Most of the Sikh girls don't go to school and acquire religious education at home. "There are no obvious reasons for not going to school except that girls get married early," says 11-year-old Harmeet Kaur. Incidentally, there is no concept of divorce in their religion. "We consider it very bad and that is why we never divorce our wives. Our elders are there to resolve all domestic disputes in a peaceful manner," says another Sikh.

There are two Sikh temples in Peshawar - Gurdwara Jogan Shah and Gurdwara Beeba Singh (currently under the government's control) - which community members consider as sacred and hold in high esteem as, according to them, all their 10 Gurus had made a sojourn to them.

The century-old Gurdwara Jogan Shah, located in the midst of Peshawar, is beautifully inlaid with mirror work and is very spacious. The community members gather at the temple twice a day to recite verses from the Guru Granth Sahib. A relic of pre-Partition India, it was handed over to the Sikh community 27 years ago to enable them to perform their religious rites.

The Sikhs complain that the government has been dragging its feet on handing over Gurdwara Beeba Singh.

"We had requested the former president, General (retd.) Pervez Musharraf, to hand over this century-old temple to us. It is sacred and it belongs to us. Besides, our population is growing and we need another place to worship," argues Amar Jeet Singh. What hurts him more, he says, is the attempts by the government to demolish this temple and convert it into a multi-storied market.

The NWFP Auqaf Department, however, has its own version. "The Gurdwara is located in the midst of the Muslim population. It is in a dilapidated condition and we had no other option but to close it down in order to avert any mishap," contends Munawwar Khan, deputy administrator of the Auqaf Department.

He acknowledged that the issue of its custody was still under discussion at the top-tier in the government and a decision regarding its fate had yet to be taken.

As with every religious minority, Sikhs too have their share of grouses against the government. "There is very little money allocated for our welfare," complains one community member. Consequently, they have had to set up their own fund to raise money and spend it on the welfare of their poor.

The government has allocated a job quota for us in the army, the motorway police and the traffic police but we are not inclined towards any government service. We are happy the way we are," remarked Sahib Singh.

"Our identity as Sikhs never bothers us. This is our land and these are our people. We never feel threatened or intimidated. Honestly speaking, religion has never stood in the way," a community member remarked.

"Most of the Sikhs who lived in Afghanistan have either migrated to India or to America and Canada. But we have never felt the need to go anywhere else. Taliban or no Taliban, we are here to stay. It's our land and we are proud of it," he asserts..

Sunday, 15 May 2016

QK Archives: Assembly of Faith

Newsbeat Inside
Original source Newsline May 2001 issue.

Assembly of Faith

A mammoth religious moot takes the US and UN to task.

By Behroz Khan

The three-day religious moot organised in April at Peshawar by Maulana Fazlur Rehman's Jamiat-i- Ulema-i-Islam concluded amidst calls to the Muslim ummah for unity to ward off conspiracies of the western world, with special reference to the United States, against Islam.

"Jihad will continue till the total destruction of America", "Death to America and the Jewish state", and "Who will save Pakistan? Taliban, Taliban," were some of the slogans chanted by the emotionally charged JUI-F activists at the conference. In addition, banners inscribed with these slogans were displayed all over the premises at the Taru-Jabba Housing Scheme where the Darul-ul-Uloom Deoband conference was held. Maulana Fazlur Rehman claimed that this was the largest gathering of religious scholars in Pakistan's history, attended by more than two million people. While analysts and intelligence agencies put the number of people attending the conference at not more than half a million, it was a mammoth gathering by any standards.

The venue of the conference that drew religious scholars and delegates from all over the country, India, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Iran, UK, UAE, Libya and Afghanistan, was the under-construction WAPDA Taru-Jabba Housing Scheme which has the capacity of housing more than two million people at a time. Elaborate arrangements were made to provide food, water and accommodation to the participants, but everything fell short of requirements as attendance surpassed all expectations. A strong windstorm followed by heavy rains, embarrassed the organisers on the second day as the entire tentage city collapsed and had to be erected again for the next day's proceedings.

Security arrangements at the conference were extremely tight and trained activists of the Kashmiri militant outfit Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, formerly known as Harkat-ul-Ansar, conducted a thorough body search on everyone entering the premises. No display of arms was allowed during the conference.

Although the Harkat's activists from the Punjab played a major role in the security arrangements, the assembly was dominated by Pashtuns from Balochistan and NWFP, including FATA.

The Indian delegation was headed by the mohtamem (chief organiser) of the Darul-ul-Uloom Deoband, Maulana Marghoob-ur-Rehman, the Iranian delegation by Maulana Ishaq Madni and Syed Muhammad Rizvi, advisors to President Muhammad Khatami. The Peshawar-based consul general of Iran, Abbas Ali Abdullahi, attended the conference and the Taliban delegation was led by deputy minister, Mulla Muhammad Hussain, and Badghis province governor Mulla Abdul Mannan.

Among the Pakistani politicians invited to speak were the head of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy, Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, PML-N's Raja Zafar-ul-Haq and chief of his own faction of JUI, Maulana Sami-ul-Haq and other invitees to the conference. ANP president, Asfandyar Wali Khan, PPP's senior vice president, Makhdoom Amin Faheem, MQM leaders and the central leadership of the PML (like-minded) were conspicuous by their absence.

The conference was meant to highlight the achievements of the prestigious Darul-ul-Uloom Deoband during the last 150 years, but the show turned out to be a pro-Taliban and anti-US event. The Afghanistan-based Saudi dissident, Osama bin Laden, issued a message on this occasion, exhorting the scholars and participants of the conference to train and educate the Muslim youth in the concept of jihad. However, the message was not sent to the organisers of the moot due to ideological differences of the Deobandi and Egypt-based Al-Akhwan-ul-Muslimeen schools of thought with which Osama is affiliated.

Opening the conference in the name of Allah, a booming Maulana Fazlur Rehman supported the struggle of the Muslims fighting for independence in Kashmir, Palestine, Chechnya, Kosovo and Bosnia. He said the miseries being faced by the Muslims were mainly due to the conspiracies hatched by the United States and the western world against Islam and Islamic movements. "This is because of the struggle of the ulema and the strong ideological foundation provided by Darul-ul-Uloom Deoband to spread Islam in every nook and corner of the subcontinent. The ulema graduating from Deoband have served the cause of Islam by opening madrassas (religious schools) to enlighten Muslims and prepare them for jihad," said the Maulana.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman was nominated head of the Majlis Al-Tanseeq Al-Islami, an organisation meant to coordinate action among the ulema from India, Pakistan, UK, UAE and Afghanistan regarding problems confronting Muslims.

"We have put the entire western world in a quandary by peacefully conducting the proceedings," claimed a jubilant Maulana Fazlur Rehman at the end of the conference.

There were no women at the mammoth gathering as the JUI-F opposes women's participation in the political process. "We don't have men in our ranks who cannot represent their women," said the Maulana at a post-conference press briefing in Peshawar. The party has been campaigning against the participation of women in the local bodies polls in the province.

JUI-F leaders narrated the achievements of the Darul Uloom Deoband and said that it was due to the struggle and sacrifices of ulema from this institution that the people of Pakistan and India had won freedom from colonial rule. Almost all the speakers were critical of the UN and termed the world body a tool in the hands of the United States for imposing sanctions against the war-weary people of Afghanistan in the guise of punishing the Taliban for protecting and sheltering the alleged terrorist, Osama bin Laden.

Mulla Omar, in a recorded speech in Pushto, reiterated the Taliban's stand on Osama and said Afghanistan would not bow to pressures from and intimidation by the non-believers to hand him over for trial on charges of terrorism. He condemned the UN Security Council sanctions against Afghanistan, terming them unjust and aimed at punishing the Taliban government for enforcing Islamic Sharia as the supreme law of the country. He said that the achievements of the Taliban, such as the elimination of the poppy crop in Afghanistan and the restoration of peace in the war-shattered country, were ignored and the issue of human rights violation was selectively highlighted to discredit them.

On the third and final day, the speakers adopted a more aggressive tone. Resolutions were passed to challenge and condemn US hegemony amidst calls to the Muslims to rise against the pro-Jewish UN to liberate Al-Quds and win freedom for the Palestinians.

The resolution on Kashmir was, however, toned down perhaps due to the presence of Maulana Marghoob-ur-Rehman and other members of the delegation from India. Maulana Marghoob-ur-Rehman was also very selective in choosing words for his speech and the general impression at the conference was that the head of Darul-ul-Uloom Deoband did not openly support the armed struggle for the liberation of Kashmir. The resolution on Kashmir called upon the political leadership of India and Pakistan to find a peaceful and just solution to the problem to save the region from confrontation and disengage the two nuclear powers. Another resolution accused the international media of being biased and working against Islam, adding that the Muslim ummah should establish its own network of information to counter the propaganda of the foreign media controlled by the Jews. The US was dubbed a "man-eater" in one of the resolutions for dropping atomic bombs on Japan in World War II and a terrorist state for targeting the alleged military bases of Osama bin Laden in Khost province in August 1998.

The meeting condemned the anti-human and anti-peace approach of the United States and its allies. "Sanctions against Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan are cruel and an open aggression against Muslims and should be lifted forthwith," said one of the resolutions. It further stated that "the presence of American and European armed forces in Saudi Arabia is the biggest tragedy of our times. We ask the Arab brethren to facilitate early removal of these forces from the holy land of the Muslims."

Maulana Ishaq Madani of Iran regretted that Muslims and the Islamic countries had become weak and vulnerable despite the increase in their numbers and accumulation of resources and military hardware. He appealed for the unity of Muslims and shunning of factionalism and sectarianism to face the challenges faced by Islam at the hands of non-believers and enemies of Islam. A communique from Libya, sent by the World Islamic People's Leadership and Islamic Call Society, included a message from Gaddafi wishing the organisers success and lauding their efforts at serving the Muslim ummah

Sunday, 8 May 2016

QK archives: Ghulam Ishaq Khan "A Man for all seasons"

A Man for all Seasons
Originally published by Newsline November 2006.

At one time considered to be apolitical, Ghulam Ishaq Khan eventually rose to occupy nearly every important government post, including that of president.

By Rahimullah Yusufzai

Ghulam Ishaq Khan, or GIK as he was commonly known, took many national secrets to his grave. This was typical of the man, who lived by the book and shunned controversy. Penning his memoirs would have been a deviation from this trait as it would have generated a myriad controversies.

One major reason that GIK chose not to write his autobiography was his concern that it may compromise national security and harm Pakistan's interests. Perhaps he could have skipped certain issues or facts too sensitive to be disclosed, but then the memoirs would have become a pale shadow of reality. This fact alone explains the wealth of information that GIK possessed after having served in almost every important government post. He was, in fact, a repository of national secrets and the custodian of Pakistan's vital security interests.

GIK's life is the story of a self-made man who rose from obscurity to occupy the most powerful position in the country. He came from humble origins, hailing from a middle-class Pakhtun family in Ismailkhel village near Bannu city in southern NWFP. He lived an eventful 91 years and not only witnessed, but actively shaped, Pakistan's destiny at crucial periods in its history. Forty-nine of those years were spent in the civil service, in roles as diverse as running the administration of a district, heading the State Bank of Pakistan and Wapda, and managing the financial and defence matters of the country. He was one of the few bureaucrats who held every office to which a civil servant could aspire.

Later in life he became a reluctant politician and was elected Senator unopposed through the efforts of the then NWFP Governor, Lt Gen Fazle Haq, and then landed the coveted job of Chairman of the Senate as a nominee of President General Zia-ul-Haq. The General admired GIK's qualities of head and heart and was impressed by his loyalty to him and the country. Here was someone he could trust, because GIK was apolitical and not very ambitious in seeking political office. As luck would have it, General Zia-ul-Haq's death in a mysterious air crash on August 17, 1988, paved the way for GIK to replace him, first as acting president and then as an elected head of state. To his credit, this was one of the few occasions in the country's painful, military-dictated democratic journey that a president was elected through a proper constitutional process.

GIK began his career as a bursar in the historic Islamic College, Peshawar, where he had earlier studied and done his BSc in chemistry and botany. Looking after the accounts of Islamic College exposed him to the world of finance. This was to subsequently remain his life's passion.

In 1940, GIK qualified for the civil service examinations and his first posting was as extra-assistant commissioner in Haripur. For the next 15 years he held jobs in revenue and other departments mostly in his native NWFP. His first big break came in 1955 when he was appointed secretary of irrigation for West Pakistan, and was also chosen to represent West Pakistan in the Federal Planning Commission. This brought him into contact with planners and economists and groomed him for future higher responsibilities. In 1958, GIK was made Member Wapda, an important assignment for planning and executing big water and power projects at a time when Pakistan was showing promise as a rapidly developing country.

By 1966, GIK had moved up in the bureaucratic hierarchy and was now secretary finance. He shaped some of the country's economic policies and tightly held its purse. Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto made him secretary general defense, a newly created position to bypass bureaucratic red-tape and tackle crucial aspects of Pakistan's nuclear and defense policies. Mr Bhutto is justifiably credited with launching and accelerating Pakistan's nuclear programme despite US and western pressures not to do so, but GIK too played a vital role in it without ever claiming credit. GIK was reportedly assigned the task to coordinate with different organizations involved in the nuclear programme, ensure smooth flow of funds and remove obstacles that hindered the work of nuclear scientists.

When General Zia-ul-Haq seized power in a coup d'etat on July 5, 1977, after overthrowing the Bhutto government, GIK was ready to serve a new boss as adviser finance. Subsequently, General Zia dug his feet in as the country's ruler, ignoring his promise to hold elections in 90 days, constituted a cabinet and made GIK the finance minister. When he held partyless polls in 1985, the General ensured that GIK was elected Senator so that he could be later elevated to the position of Chairman Senate. The rest, as they say, is history.

From a non-controversial bureaucrat who avoided the media and restricted himself to his work, GIK as a politician was thrust into limelight while chairing the Senate, and later, as Pakistan's president. His new role was bound to make him controversial. As acting president, he deserves credit for holding largely fair and transparent general elections in late 1988, in which Benazir Bhutto's PPP emerged the winner. But GIK, with the military's support, ensured that Benazir Bhutto backed his candidature as president, instead of Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, and he took over the reins of government as president on his terms and conditions. GIK was formally elected president on December 13, 1988. GIK was now a powerful president, armed with article 58 (2) B, which he used first on August 6, 1990, to dismiss the Benazir Bhutto government and dissolve parliament. He used it again in 1993 to pack up the Nawaz Sharif government and send the lawmakers home. On both occasions, he charged the democratically elected governments with misrule and corruption. Proving those charges and seeking convictions of the two dismissed prime ministers and their aides was never going to be easy. In the second case, the Supreme Court of Pakistan restored the Nawaz Sharif government, much to GIK's embarrassment, and prompted him to sponsor measures that restrained the Prime Minister from regaining control of the administration, particularly in his native Punjab.

The political crisis on that occasion became so serious that the Pakistan army had to intervene and its commander, General Abdul Waheed Kakar, reluctantly assumed the task of arbitrator. He came up a with a solution that sent both GIK and Nawaz Sharif home and paved the way for holding fresh polls under a caretaker government. Despite promises, Benazir Bhutto didn't sponsor GIK as the PPP candidate for president after winning the 1993 elections, choosing Farooq Leghari instead.

It was the end of the road for a dejected GIK and soon afterwards he shifted to Peshawar to spend a quiet retired life in his six-kanal bungalow in the posh University Town. He had no home in Islamabad and didn't possess any other visible property. Any other person having occupied such high positions would certainly have amassed much property and wealth. But GIK was a different breed and financial integrity was an essential part of his character. The fact that his only son, Mamoon Ishaq Khan, is employed as an engineer far away from home, in an oil company in Oman, also explains GIK's strict principles not to unduly help his kith and kin in grabbing top government jobs or obtaining licenses or loans to set up lucrative businesses. Though he was occasionally accused of coming to the rescue of a few of his five sons-in-law, the allegations were never proved, and it often turned out that they had built careers as politicians or civil servants on the basis of their own influence or calibre.

For the next 13 years, GIK gracefully faded into obscurity. He would occasionally attend weddings and funerals and took an active interest in the affairs of the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Science & Technology, or GIK Institute as it is commonly known. This was GIK's one solid achievement, who was often accused of having done nothing for his native province. In fact, villagers in Ismailkhel, where GIK was born, and Bannu district to which he belonged, were more vocal in voicing this complaint. But GIK, who was above provincialism and believed in doing everything according to rules and merit, didn't want to do anything that would have made him look like a provincial politician or bureaucrat. The GIK Institute in Topi in Swabi district was built with donations that he raised from friends and well-wishers, including the late Agha Hasan Abidi of the defunct BCCI, and it is an institution of high academic standards. Selecting Topi as the site for the institute was also GIK's way of paying tribute to the late Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum Khan, who hailed from Topi and was the founder of Islamic College, Peshawar, the first college in the NWFP and the fountainhead of modern education in the province.