Hayat Sherpao

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Hayat Mohammad Khan Sherpao
8th Governor of North-West Frontier Province
In office
December 25, 1971 – April 20, 1972
PresidentZulfikar Ali Bhutto
Preceded byKhwaja Mohammad Azhar Khan
Succeeded byArbab Sikandar Khan
Personal details
Born(1937-02-01)1 February 1937
Peshawar, North-West Frontier Province, British India
Died8 February 1975(1975-02-08) (aged 38)[1]
Peshawar, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan
Manner of deathAssassination
Resting placeSherpao, Charsadda District, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province
Political party Pakistan People's Party
RelationsAftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Wali Muhammad Khan, Dost Muhammad Khan, Abdul Wadood Khan, Sher Muhammad Khan
Alma materIslamia College University[1]
OccupationPolitical leader

Hayat Mohammad Khan Sherpao (Urdu: حيات محمد خان شيرپاؤ; 1 February 1937 – February 8, 1975), simply known as Hayat Sherpao, was a left-wing intellectual and socialist, serving as the 15th Governor of North West Frontier Province (now the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province) of Pakistan, as well as vice-chairman of Pakistan People's Party. Sherpao held important executive offices, including served as the Interior minister and had held a number of provincial ministries of the North West Frontier Province.[1] He was assassinated in 1975, and his death was blamed on a rival political party in the province - the Awami National Party of Khan Abdul Wali Khan.

Political career[edit]

Co-founding the Pakistan People's Party with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1967, Sherpao took the responsibility to govern the Khyber Province at a difficult time when the country had lost East-Pakistan as a result of the 1971 war with rival India. As governor, he oversaw the re-constitution of provisional assembly, stabilising the law and order situation in tribal belt, and overseeing the success of covert operations in Afghanistan in 1975. His governorship and Sherpao himself tackled and faced intense opposition led by Abdul Wali Khan, and was assassinated in a targeted bomb explosion on the campus of Peshawar University in 1975.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Hayat Sherpao was born in 1937 to Khan Bahadar Ghulam Haider Khan Sherpao who was an activist of the Pakistan Movement. A Muhammadzai by tribe, he was born in the influential Sherpao family of the North West Frontier Province. He was the fifth son of Khan Bahadar Ghulam Haider Khan Sherpao, a Pakhtun aristocrat who played a role in the Pakistan movement. Hayat Khan was also the older brother of veteran Pakistani politician Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao.[1]

Hayat Khan's impressive family tree and cross-marriages in other influential families gave him an edge over others in influence and politics. Hayat Khan's family (known as the Khans of Sherpao) has for long been a prominent and influential family in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. From his mother's side, Hayat descends from the line of the Khans of Prang.

Hayat Sherpao graduated from Islamia College, Peshawar, where he also worked for student rights. He joined the front ranks in Fatima Jinnah's electoral campaign, when she challenged the General Ayub Khan's dictatorship.[1]

Lion of the Frontier[edit]

Sherpao was a close ally of the former president and prime minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and a co-founder of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). On December 25, 1971 Sherpao became the 15th Governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa shortly after Bhutto had become president of Pakistan. At the age of 34, Sherpao was the youngest person to have held the office of a governor of a province in the history of Pakistan. He continued to hold this office till April 30, 1972. Sherpao also remained a federal minister in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's cabinet and a senior minister in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa cabinet.[1]

Hayat Khan Sherpao's rise in politics was swift. The surge in his popularity in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is said to have cast many jealous eyes upon him and earned him a number of enemies, quite often in the form of seasoned and already established politicians from other mainstream political parties. This popularity and political success, however, also led to him being dubbed the "Lion of the Frontier" or "Sher-i-Sarhad" by the Pakistan People's Party, and more specifically by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.[3]


He was assassinated on February 8, 1975, in a bomb explosion on the campus of University of Peshawar[1] Abdul Wali Khan, the leader of National Awami Party (Wali) was named as the primary accused by the Bhutto government. His death led the government to target the National Awami Party of Khan Abdul Wali Khan. This political party was banned and some of the party leaders were arrested on the charge of his murder, a charge they were eventually acquitted off.[2]

Hayat Sherpao's assassination was considered a national loss with many still mourning his loss today. To pay tribute to the slain PPP leader many places, roads, and institutions were named after him. The Peshawar suburb of Hayatabad and Hayat Shaheed Hospital in Peshawar District, Sherpao Bridge in Lahore and many Sherpao colonies in different parts of Pakistan were named after him.[4]


On the death anniversaries of Hayat Mohammad Khan Sherpao, politicians and other citizens renew their pledge for the establishment of an egalitarian society. Many Pakistani newspapers give it news coverage on his death anniversary day.[1]

Hayat Sherpao legacy is now carried by his younger brother Aftab Sherpao, who learned politics and diplomacy form his elder brother. Carrying forward the mission, he then formed his own party named Qaumi Watan Party (QWP). The Sherpao faction has raised a voice for the rights of the Pakhtoon people and the province.

Hayat Sher Pao Shahid railway station was also named after Hayat Sherpao.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i In his memory: Hayat Sherpao's death anniversary observed today The Express Tribune (newspaper), Published February 14, 2016, Retrieved February 2, 2018
  2. ^ a b A leaf from history: Sherpao's murder and ban on NAP Dawn (newspaper), Published 24 March 2013, Retrieved 2 February 2018
  3. ^ Hayat Sherpao of KPK The Nation (newspaper), Published 15 June 2016, Retrieved 2 February 2018
  4. ^ "Hayat Sherpao of KPK". The Nation. 14 June 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
Succeeded by