Dr. Ishrat Ul Ebad Khan Former Governor Sindh – Pakistan
Governor Dr. Ishrat Ul Ebad Khan (born March 2, 1963) studied in the prestigious Dow Medical College, Karachi. As a student he had a penchant for politics and emerged as a prominent leader of a popular student organization, APMSO, a student wing of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). The MQM is the third largest political party of Pakistan and the second largest in Sindh, having representation in the Federal Parliament of Pakistan, the Sindh Provincial Assembly and the Azad Kashmir Legislative Assembly. The party enjoys a large following in all units of the federation because of its welfare-oriented egalitarian political manifesto impacted by Mr. Altaf Hussain, the populist leader of the toiling masses. After graduation, he remained the head of the Medical Aid Committee – poor patients’ welfare entity of the party. Gradually, he became a front rank political figure of the MQM. On his return from almost ten years of political exile in London, he was appointed to the position of the Governor of the province of Sindh. Dr. Ishrat Ul Ebad Khan assumed the charge of his office on December 27, 2002 as the youngest Governor of Sindh. He is the longest serving Governor of any province of Pakistan since its inception in 1947. Earlier in 1990, he was the youngest Minister in the Provincial cabinet of Sindh, holding the portfolios of Housing and Town Planning. Subsequently, he was also assigned the additional charge of Environment and Public Health Engineering Departments.
The Province of Sindh
The Governor, as the constitutional head of the province, accepted the challenges faced by the province, confronting the multiplicity of problems, while leading from the front. The testing challenges included the eradication of the rural-urban acrimony, inter-sectarian hostility, issues of governance, demographic diversity, low literacy percentage, low agricultural productivity, scant and deteriorating industrial units leading to low productivity and galloping unemployment. More importantly, in the post 9/11 scenario the formidable menace of extremism and terrorism and the Madressah-based religious bigotry had created an alarming situation. To handle this, the Governor introduced the concept of smart management which necessitated the use of incisive personal skills, very firm, resolute and persuasive acumen and immense appreciation of the politico-administrative horizon. Through these he has systemically been able to pacify the situation in Sindh, which had its positive impact upon rest of the country. The worst affected period was May-June 2004, during which the terrorists struck. However, soon thereafter the city was restored to normalcy largely due to the dexterous handling by the Governor.
Essentially an extrovert, compassionate and soft-spoken, Governor Ishrat Ul Ebad was able to sow the seeds of peace, harmony and socio-economic stability. He did not hesitate to reach out to different shades of political opinion by taking bold personal initiatives. Gradually, even the most volatile and cantankerous political adversaries smelt an aroma of cordiality and sincerity of purpose in his approach. His easy accessibility to the masses has remained one of his ‘forte’. He achieved a sustainable credibility in manifesting administrative excellence, exhibiting honesty and consistency in fulfilling the pledges made, these personal proclivities have enhanced his political acceptability across the board among different sectarian, ethnic and ideological denominations.
He envisioned the future Sindh as a developed civil society, which would be intellectually mature, tolerant in behaviour and enlightened in outlook. He perceived a society with improved social indicators, inclusive of the highest possible literacy, qualified human resource, maximum employment opportunities and poverty alleviation, with a pervasive social security system so as to cater to the needs of the under-privileged.
Specifics of the vision envisaged by Governor Ishrat ul Ebad were implemented through focus on improvement in the law and order situation, development of the infrastructure and its strategic linkage with economic growth and public welfare. The object was to create an enabling environment for attracting both the Domestic and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), while promoting the integration in the civil society by strengthening the socio-cultural underpinnings.
He has evolved an array of projects to augment industrialization with a prime focus on infrastructural development, both for the urban and rural areas of Sindh. The ratio of the rural-urban population is 60:40. The urban economy primarily depends on trade and commerce, while the rural is agro-based. To improve the economy in the rural areas he has focused on improving the water distribution system, brick-lining and desilting of the irrigation canals with a view to increasing the yields per acre. In addition he has facilitated the farmers by promoting awareness and providing them with the basic logistics.
Governor Ishrat ul Ebad has successfully established various Governor’s Coordination Fora for facilitating a smooth interaction amongst the various segments of the society. Stability and coherence are of vital importance and he has woven a fabric of ethnic, sectarian, socio-political and inter-faith harmony in Sindh, making it a sound province, being governed smoothly in the delicate and highly sensitive national and regional political environment. The driving force behind establishing such fora emanates from his belief and commitment that the extensive consultative process enables the working force to derive the benefits of collective wisdom. This, invariably, leads to largely informed and accurate decision-making and drawing up of pragmatic and sustainable action plans. He has also established an intelligence collation forum to streamline the exchange of information so as to ensure a rapid response to any imminent threat. One of the major steps taken by him is to strengthen the Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) so as to collect, consolidate and analyse the database of crime and criminals. This has particularly been helpful in assisting the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) in tracing terrorists and criminals indulging in crimes like kidnapping for ransom, car and mobile phone snatching, armed dacoities, extortion etc. The other coordination fora pertain to education, health, diplomatic and political relations, business enhancement, religious and ethnic harmony, etc.
For instance through the Educational Forum, besides improvement in the higher education, a reformatory culture is being developed in order to build public-private partnership. Under this program reputable NGOs have been encouraged and persuaded to adopt schools through “adopt-a-school” program so as to lend a helping hand to the government for the spread of a better quality education. The Forum for Industrial and Business Enhancement has played a vital role in boosting the economic activity. Through this Forum, business leaders avail the opportunity to formulate their expansion plans and articulate issues of law and order and infrastructural development. Similarly, through the Health Forum, besides other reforms in the health sector, preventive health care programmes such as EPI, polio and hepatitis eradication and HIV awareness campaigns are regularly spearheaded and impacted under the aegis of the Governor’s office.
Impressed by the viability and success of these fora, the Federal Government has constituted a Governor’s Coordination Board to resolve disputes amongst various tiers of the government. Furthermore, The President of Pakistan has formed a Development Committee under the chairmanship of the Governor to conceive, implement and monitor new and ongoing mega projects in the Province.
Despite his political background, Governor Ishrat Ul Ebad has acted with impartiality as the constitutional representative of the President of the Federation, maintaining the requisite decorum and dignity in conformity with this office. He continues to enjoy cordial personal relations with leading sections of the political and civil society. He has enjoyed the continued trust and confidence of two Presidents and five Prime Ministers; besides having excellent working equations with the four Chief Ministers, the other three Governors, the successive representatives of the Armed Forces and the heads of various other federal and provincial outfits. The President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan have been acknowledging his suggestions on the constitutional as well as legislative matters.
Notwithstanding the respective political affiliations of district Nazims (Mayors), a happy working equation has prevailed between the Governor and these functionaries, particularly with reference to the development schemes. Any change in political complexion has not impaired the smoothness of the working relationship in any manner. To illustrate this, it would be appreciated that during the first term of the local government system, the City Nazim Karachi (Mayor) belonging to a right wing political party had equally enjoyed his advice, guidance and support as the present incumbent.
The Governor is the ex-officio Chancellor / Patron of all public / private sector Universities, respectively. During his incumbency the number of Universities have been increased from 24 (2002) to 36 (2008). The development budget of the public sector Universities has increased from a paltry Rs.2 bn to Rs.34 bn as of now. The enrolments have registered an increase of 300% of which 40% are girls. High-tech faculties, departments and Institutes have also been opened up throughout the province, specially augmenting the medical, engineering and business administration disciplines. More than 113 development projects have been initiated at an estimated cost of Rs.16 bn. Out of these, 64 have already been completed inclusive of petroleum engineering, tele-medicine, digital libraries equipped with international networking, training of paramedics, etc. Almost all the universities have seen a phenomenal qualitative as well as quantitative growth. To eliminate gender discrimination, qualified female scholars have been assigned important positions such as the Vice Chancellor(s) and Pro Vice Chancellor(s) of public sector universities.
The primary school enrolment has also gone up from 0.0043 million in 2005 to 4.4 million in 2008. He has taken several corrective measures to enforce financial discipline and prevent misappropriation of public funds in the system. Major focus remained on the elimination of “Ghost” schools (so named because these schools existed only on paper or in remote areas where nobody ever bothered to actually verify their existence). In addition to this, software was also developed to get the real-time accurate data of students as well as teachers to rationalize the distribution of resources so as to improve the quality of education. The female component rose to more then 1.95 million in 2008, reducing gender imbalance substantially.
He has also stayed focussed on enhanced opportunities for the educational uplift of the minorities. Missionary institutions are being run without any hindrance by autonomous Christian Education Boards. A veteran female educationist of the Catholic faith has been conferred with one of the highest civil awards by the President of Pakistan on the recommendation of the Governor.
Art & Culture
Owing to his fond personal dispensation for the promotion of art and culture, institutions like the Arts Council of Pakistan, the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA), the Koocha-e-Saqafat (a sub-cultural jaunt) etc have been reinvigorated.
A Legends Fund Trust has been founded and generously patronised by the Governor, mainly for providing relief and succour to indigent and ailing artists, poets, men of letters and sportsmen.
Governor Ishrat ul Ebad is a keen sportsman and plays cricket regularly. He has a sonorous voice; sings national songs with great gusto and can play upon some of the oriental music instruments.
He is happily married and has four children, two sons and two daughters.