Sheikh Rasheed: A political enigma

Published: March 21, 2014
SHARES
Email

Today, a vocal opponent of PM Nawaz Sharif and his government, Sheikh Rasheed was initially the right-hand man of Nawaz Sharif. If Sharif is so incompetent and the PML-N so corrupt, why did it take Sheikh Rasheed 16 years to part ways? PHOTO: EPA/FILE

Farzand-e-Rawalpindi (Son of Rawalpindi), Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, is the apple of the eye for many TV anchors. Ratings sky-rocket when he is the guest on a show. His blunt comments, revolutionary slogans and political predictions are loved by the public.

He talks about the problems of the common man, in the language of the common man and is always well informed of what’s cooking in the circles of the Pakistani ruling elite – both, civil and military.

But Sheikh Rasheed has a past which he has either conveniently chosen to forget or is compelled by circumstances to simply ignore. Today, he may be the loudest voice against this ‘corrupt’ system that does more harm to the common man than good but he himself has repeatedly washed his hands in this ganga.

Entering into politics in the 70s, it wasn’t until 1985 when he became a national politician. Since then he has been elected to the National Assembly seven times in 1985, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2013. During this political career spanning over two decades, he has served as federal minister for labour and manpower, federal minister for information and broadcasting, federal minister for industries, federal minister for sports and culture, federal minister for tourism and federal minister for railways.

In spite of holding multiple important portfolios in his political career, there are no corruption charges against him. However, an investigation of the details of his assets submitted to the election commission during the 2010 by-elections and the 2013 general assembly elections, showed some discrepancies.

In 2010, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed declared the net value of his assets at Rs24.61 million. He declared the value of his land in Fateh Jang at Rs8.63 million, Al Rashid Market at Rs1.05 million and a farm shed in Fateh Jang at Rs800,000. He also declared a fixed deposit amount of Rs13 million, a Honda vehicle valued at less than Rs1 million, a tractor valued at Rs170,000 and weapons worth Rs30,000.

But in 2013, Sheikh Rasheed’s net assets increased to Rs41.8 million which is a massive jump in a mere three years. This increase seems stranger when one notices that the business capital stated by Sheikh Rasheed in 2013 election was only Rs250,000 and that the value of his land in Fateh Jang decreased from Rs8.63 million to Rs3.7 million.

Which property in Pakistan loses its value so rapidly?

I am sure Sheikh Rasheed must be furious at such a bad investment. Moreover, due to the alarming security situation in the country, Sheikh Rasheed (who calls himself a common man), also had to buy more weapons worth Rs0.6 million. In 2013, he declared the value of his weapons to be Rs0.63 million.

I am not implying that corruption was done in these three years but it does seem as if the asset details provided to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were wrong in either 2010 or 2013. Was this because he had black money or did he do this simply to avoid paying taxes?

Today, a vocal opponent of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his government, Sheikh Rasheed was initially the right-hand man of Nawaz Sharif in his earlier governments and has served twice as federal minister in the Sharif cabinet. If Sharif is so incompetent and the PML-N so corrupt, why did it take Sheikh Rasheed 16 years to part ways?

Even before the 2013 elections, there were rumours that Sheikh Rashid will join PML-N. It was only when the local PML-N Pindi leadership refused to accept him and when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) agreed to a seat adjustment with Sheikh Rasheed that he came out and dismissed such rumours.

Another criticism against Sheikh Rasheed is his support for Pervez Musharraf throughout his tenure. Sheikh Rasheed joined the then newly formed military-backed Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) after the 2002 elections and managed two ministerial portfolios during its five year rule from 2002 to 2007. It was only after he lost the election in 2008 to Javed Hashmi and later the by-election to Malik Shakeel Awan, did he realise that the ‘Musharraf tag’ was bringing down his popularity and that he needed to do something about it.

He later founded his own party – Awami Muslim League Pakistan (AML) and managed to win his traditional seat from Rawalpindi in 2013 while allied with PTI. His calls for inqilab (revolution) and his alliance with the PTI was a political sixer at that time and perhaps even now. But how can we forget the time when he called PTI a tanga party’ and Imran Khan a ‘mamooli kaptaan’ (ordinary captain) in 2005? Was he unaware of PTI’s slogans, manifesto and Imran Khan’s honesty at that time?

I will leave it to the readers to decide whether Sheikh Rasheed should be classified as an inqilabi (revolutionary) or part of the status quo. But my message for them and the general Pakistani public is,

“Uss ki tabassam ki masoomyat par na ja, bewafa log bare fankar hua karte hain.”

(Don’t be fooled by the innocence of his smile, unfaithful people act quite well.)

Wahab Tariq Butt

Wahab Tariq Butt

A news reporter in Hong Kong. HIs interests include current affairs, politics and social affairs. He tweets @wahabtariqbutt (twitter.com/wahabtariqbutt)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Kamran

    Sheikh Rasheed is neither a politician nor an enigma. Alike a lot of others, he is just the cancer of politics in a third world country. No Talent, No Way of Talk, Poor Analysis, corrupt administration and out of any vision despiste spending whole of the life in politics, these are unluckily the attributes of typical politician in our country and Sheikh Rasheed also qualifies these attributesRecommend

  • Kamran

    Sheikh Rasheed is neither a politician nor an enigma. Alike a lot of others, he is just the cancer of politics in a third world country. No Talent, No Way of Talk, Poor Analysis, corrupt administration and out of any vision despiste spending whole of the life in politics, these are unluckily the attributes of typical politician in our country and Sheikh Rasheed also qualifies these attributesRecommend

  • Muhammad Mujahid

    He said many times in talk shows that he didn’t always used to speak truth…But now he does…Recommend

  • Hammad Mian

    Sheikh Rasheed is the player of words. Practically He is zero. Flop Politician.Recommend

  • Munir Akram

    This article doesn’t reveal anything meaningful. A quick look at Sheikh Rasheed’s Wikipedia article will reveal that most of the information has been taken from there. I understand that ET likes to give new authors a chance but that does not mean that ET should ignore the very important process of content-checking.Recommend

  • Mo!

    Recently, the tribune blogs don’t fail to disappoint. I wonder whose in charge of the blog desk, and what are they thinking when they publish such articles.

    More senior editors should take over the desk. It’s about time!Recommend

  • Adil

    It’s almost as if ET doesn’t have any qualified writers and is relying on getting free material from writers who have nothing to offer.Recommend

  • Habeeb Khan

    I agree with Muhammad Mujahid, he has reiterated several times recently that he has gained his conscience and he is not the same person what he used to be, so who are us to judge him or propagate the dirty laundry of his past ,Recommend

  • naeem

    seriously the man who doesn’t deserve even a single line has been given a blog & i m even baffled at ET i know u want ur pages filled up but a blog for SR u could have put pictures of mathira in swimsuit instead & would have done a great service to the nationRecommend

  • Parvez

    ……and who takes Sheikh Rasheed seriously ???Recommend

  • hamza

    The writer seems to have done a thorough research on Sheikh Rashid and his assets. Doubling your assets with a business capital of 250,000 is impossible when we also see sheikh saabs lifestyle n expensive cigars.

    Sheikh rashid is definitely undervaluing his assets and is not as poor as he shows the public. His home value is more than all his declared assets. I know this as I am from pindi. Thumbs up for the writer for exposing himRecommend

  • Sane

    See his history of changing loyalties and political affiliations. Recommend

  • Imran Mohsin

    writing for or on a bluff master like Sheikh Rasheed is nothing but a wastage of timeRecommend

  • UM

    What’s the point of this article.. tell me something that I dont knowRecommend

  • Jamal

    well writtenRecommend

  • talli shedda

    finally some sane voiceRecommend

  • Irfan khan

    What a guy. Excellent communication style and he always tell
    the truth whether about the president or anyone else. I called him real
    tiger for the Punjab.Recommend

  • Usman

    what is your view about Sheikh Rashid?Recommend