Ch. Shujaat Hussain, who heads the ruling faction of the Pakistan Muslim League, PML (QA) took the post in a caretaker position on June 30, 2004 four days after Zafarullah Jamali resigned all of a sudden. Chaudhry Shujaat was elected leader of the house after securing 190 whereas his opponent ARD Makhdoom Amin Fahim got 76 votes. With a 27-member Cabinet, Ch. Shujaat Hussain announced after taking oath as Prime Minister of Pakistan: “We will continue to pursue the policies of the President with regard to good governance and economic development”.
Prime Minister Ch. Shujaat Hussain announced formation of a special parliamentary committee to resolve Balochistan crisis by initiating political dialogue and giving representation all parliamentary parties of the upper House in the committee and offered to act as a member of the committee to resolve the problem through talks. Taking into consideration that “the success of the next government will be evaluated on its economic performance,” he said this very thinking led the Pakistan Muslim League and its allied parties to select Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz as the next executive head of the country. In an interview, he said: “My nomination by Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali and nomination of Shaukat Aziz after consulting the President were in line with the set traditions. There should be no hue and cry over such technicalities”. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain expressed gratitude to Almighty Allah for being the first elected Prime Minister in the country’s history to leave the office, after discharging his obligations (only for 45 days), with dignity and honor.
A notable contribution of the 22nd Prime Minister during his short tenure is the introduction of the Defamation (Amendment) Bill that was hurriedly passed by the Parliament to protect the dignity, reputation and esteem of a person from any false and wanton accusation imposing enhanced punishments for libel. Most probably through the new Defamation Bill, he wanted to save all those from being regularly accused of getting huge bank loans which were later on written off.
Ch. Shujaat Hussain also directed the Punjab Government to declare village Gah in District Chakwal birthplace of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a model village and the Government Boys Primary School at Gah as the ‘Manmohan Singh Government Boys Primary School’, as a gesture of goodwill to strengthen the peace process between Pakistan and India. Dr. Singh’s family migrated to the Indian side of Punjab before Partition. When he became Prime Minister in May, there were celebrations in the Pakistani village where he was born and attended the primary school.
Another significant announcement made by him was that the coffin of Chaudhry Rehmat Ali, who evolved the nomenclature ‘Pakistan’ before partition, will be brought to Pakistan later this year for a formal burial in Pakistan. Chaudhry Rehmat Ali who is well-known for his historic pamphlet “Now or Never; Are we to live or perish forever?” had died in February 1951 and was buried in Cambridge City graveyard. Later, he coined the word ‘Pakistan’ for the Muslims who lived in the five northern states of India – Punjab, North West Frontier (Afghan) Province, Kashmir, Sindh and Balochistan.
This article was last updated on Friday, October 08, 2004