Sartaj Aziz: A Journey From Student Activism To Statesmanship (7 February 1929 - 2 June 2024)

Sartaj Aziz's demise in January 2024 marked the conclusion of a pivotal chapter in Pakistan's history

Sartaj Aziz: A Journey From Student Activism To Statesmanship (7 February 1929 - 2 June 2024)

In the sphere of politics, Pakistan traverses a challenging terrain. The ethos of issue-based and consensus politics nears its twilight, as the upcoming general elections loom without manifestos from the political parties. The recent passing of the esteemed statesman Sartaj Aziz exacerbates this vacuum.

Sartaj Aziz, born on February 7th, 1929, in Mardan, hailed from the Kakakhel Pashtun tribe. His father's service in the government led him to receive education in various cities, starting from Charsadda and Abbottabad for primary schooling, then Haripur for middle education, and finally Matric from D I Khan. His pivotal juncture arrived in 1944 when he enrolled at Islamia College Lahore amidst the fervor of India's struggle for independence. The College, a hotbed of student activism, witnessed Aziz's fervent engagement with the Muslim Student Federation, alongside the Jamiat-i-Islami and Khaksar Tekrik. A meeting with Muhammad Ali Jinnah at the College left an indelible mark on Aziz, emphasizing the importance of academic dedication amid nationalist zeal.

Moving forward, Aziz pursued a Bachelor's degree at Hailey College in September 1946, where Muslim enrollment was scant. The tumult of partition in 1947 found him involved in the NWFP referendum and frequenting the Walton Refugee Camp, reflecting his commitment to humanitarian causes. Graduating with a B.Com degree in May 1949, Aziz embarked on a career path that led him to the Information Department at the Public Service Commission NWFP as Deputy Director.

His refusal to join the Police Service despite passing the CSS in 1951 suggests his commitment to his chosen path, opting instead for the Military Accounts Services. Subsequent accolades, including the Tamgha-e-Khidmat in 1959, and his rise to Deputy Secretary at the Planning Commission, spoke volumes of his acumen and dedication. A stint at Harvard University in September 1962, culminating in a Master's Degree in Development Economics, further burnished his credentials. Returning to Pakistan, he assumed pivotal roles within the Planning Commission, instrumental in shaping developmental policies and five-year plans.

His international foray began in 1971 with his affiliation to The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, followed by his return to Pakistan in 1984. The 1980s witnessed his efforts in consolidating the Muslim League, advocating for its transformation into a Parliamentary Party for political stability. His induction into the Junejo government in 1984 as Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security marked a pivotal moment, alongside his contributions to crafting the Muslim League's constitution and manifesto.

The convolutions of Pakistani politics saw Aziz's trajectory as a Senator from 1988, his pivotal role in merging the Junejo and Fida Leagues in 1990, and subsequent stints as Finance Minister under Sharif's administration. His leadership within the Muslim League, as Secretary General from 1993 to 1999, underscored his commitment to organizational vitality and ideological coherence.

Transitioning from politics to academia in 2004, he assumed the mantle of Vice-Chancellor at Beaconhouse National University until 2013, followed by his appointments as National Security Adviser and Advisor on Foreign Affairs post-2013 general elections. His legacy is indelibly etched in the realms of policy formulation, institutional leadership, and strategic vision, epitomizing an unwavering dedication to Pakistan's prosperity and security. The merger of Ex-FATA with KP, conceived under his stewardship, stands as a testament to his foresight and commitment to national integration.

Sartaj Aziz's demise on the 2nd of January 2024 marked the conclusion of a pivotal chapter in Pakistan's history, leaving behind a legacy of integrity, statesmanship, and unyielding patriotism.