Malik Meraj Khalid: Cream Of The Crop

Malik Meraj Khalid: Cream Of The Crop
In political discourse, the prevailing dilemma of our age is that apolitical norms and values dominate Pakistan's political arena. Ideological politics is considered nothing less than an alien thought. Individual interests are being amalgamated with personality cults, and monetary interests emerged as the harsh reality of politics. Political difference sharpens as personal enmity. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to shed some light on the lesser-known side of politics. Malik Meraj Khalid (1916-2003) is the most important name in this context.

Malik Meraj Khalid was a prominent leftist Pakistani politician, an ideologue and a seasoned parliamentarian who distinguishably served his country. He was widely respected for his outstanding intellect, visionary leadership, and unwavering commitment to the welfare of the people. He was born in 1916, hailing from the village Dera Chahal, Burki, close to Lahore. He studied at Islamia College Lahore and Punjab University and started legal practice in 1948. After participating in community activities such as literacy and teaching Punjabi in his home village in 1965, Khalid decided to land in electoral politics. Thus, he became an independent member of the Provincial Assembly from (Lahore-V). Shortly after, he joined General Ayub Khan's Convention Muslim League, but this uneasy political marriage was soon broken. Subsequently, he joined the left-leaning Pakistan People's Party (PPP) established by the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

His efforts were rewarded when he was elected to the National Assembly after the first democratic elections in Pakistan in 1970 from NW-62 Lahore-V by securing 89,660 votes. Later, he served as Punjab's chief minister from May 2, 1972, to November 12, 1973. The contention between him and Ghulam Mustafa Khar resulted in the end of the latter’s chief-ministership. After that, he was part of Bhutto's cabinet as Federal Minster for Agriculture, and Law and Justice. In the 1977 general elections, he was elected an MNA from NW-88 Lahore-VIII by getting 73,398 votes. Due to his political stature, he became the National Assembly speaker from 27 May 1977 to 5 July 1977, for a short period due to General Zia's coup that dissolved the National Assembly in July 1977.

PPP boycotted the 1985 non-party general elections, and in the 1988 elections, Khalid was elected third time as a national assembly member. He was able to get 33903 from NA-100 Lahore-IX. He had a political disagreement with Ms Bhutto for some time, but it was sorted out. From 3 December 1988 to 4 November 1990, he remained the speaker of the National Assembly. Both the opposition and treasury benches praised his tenure.

He had lost the general election in 1990 to an IJI candidate Ashiq Ali Dayal with a margin of 12,553. Afterwards, he returned to community service and welfare work. As a staunch leftist, his relations with Ms Bhutto deteriorated due to her governance style, or perhaps he was simply an old-school politician.

In 1996, President Farooq Khan Leghari appointed him the caretaker Prime Minister. He remained Prime Minister of Pakistan from 6 November 1996 to 17 February 1997. As a PM, he set new norms by moving without protocol, avoiding pomp and showing dignity. After that, he left active politics and devoted his remaining life to education. In 1997, he was chosen as the Islamic University's rector due to his dedication towards education and improving literacy rates. Meraj was a unique Pakistani politician who took an active interest in community work, even while holding high office. He continued his grassroots activism even when he was not in power, or his party was not in favour. His commitment earned him respect and admiration from people across society.

Even his worst opponent agreed that Malik Meraj Khalid was a towering figure in the political landscape of Pakistan. He was a man of integrity and principles who dedicated his life to serving the masses. He held several key positions throughout his long and illustrious career, including that of Prime Minister of Pakistan. Khalid's contributions to the country's political and social development are widely recognised, and he is celebrated as a statesman and a patriot. His legacy continues to motivate generations of Pakistanis, and his name remains synonymous with honesty, integrity, and principled leadership.

Malik Meraj Khalid left the world on 13 June 2003, at 87, leaving behind a legacy that inspires people to see the other or real side of politics.