Najeeb Haroon: A not-so-high-profile PTI founder
His actions speak of his commitment to Pakistan; his family remains fully vested here and he pays his taxes!
Who is the first person that comes to mind when you talk about the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf? My guess is Imran Khan. Believe it or not, a number of others were a part of the movement that started the party back in 1996.
Let’s focus on another core founding father' of the PTI, shall we?
In June 1996, the first Central Executive Committee of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was formed and included the following eight founding fathers: Muhammad Najeeb Haroon, Nazim Haji, Hamid Khan, Dr Parvez Hassan, Abdul Hafeez Khan, Owais Ghani, Dr Abdul Mateen, and Dr Mohammad Farooq.
As of today, only Najeeb Haroon and Hamid Khan remain members of the party which speaks volumes for their commitment to the party and what it stands for.
Haroon has maintained a relatively low-profile considering his continuous devotion and interest in political activism while speaking out against injustice in Pakistan. Often, we get disillusioned with politics and politicians, especially in places like Pakistan where corruption is rampant and politicians seem to forget the fact that they need to have the interest and needs of the citizens in mind.
Yet, we should not completely generalise this, as every now and then there emerge politicians who do genuinely care about the welfare of the constituents and want to strive to make their country a more just, egalitarian and prosperous place. Najeeb Haroon seems to be among those who truly have the best interest of his country and people at heart.
Believe it or not, Haroon comes from a very modest background. He did not grow up having it easy, nor did he have things handed to him on a silver platter. Money was always tight, and nothing was in abundance. However, this did not stop him from striving to make the situation better for himself and his family. The culmination of his struggle, hard work and dedication has made him who he is today. Being the eldest son, he supported his family by working from a young age while pursuing his education simultaneously and encouraging his siblings to follow their passions. For example, Haroon had a full-time job at Pakistan International Airlines as a sales assistant while simultaneously being a full-time student at NED pursing a BS degree in Civil Engineering.
Does this sound like your average Pakistani politician?
I think not.
I must say that Haroon is an admirable individual. Even though he pursued his graduate degree in the US and had the opportunity to stay there, he made it a point to return immediately and devote himself to the development of his country by establishing Principal Builders, a construction contracting company. The humble beginnings of Principal Builders has now flourished 25 years later and is going strong. His three sons, who have all also completed their graduate degrees abroad, have come back to work closely with their father and follow in his footsteps by investing their energy in their country. They also appreciate where their father came from, where he is now and how hard he has worked to provide them with the life they lead.
Another admirable trait about Mr Haroon is that he gives back a great deal to others and his community, doing so modestly without the expectation of any recognition or something in return. Thus, he is sincere and humble in his doings for others, which is definitely not the case for everyone!
So why did Najeeb Haroon decide to align himself so closely with the PTI?
A number of factors motivated him to become one of the founding fathers. At that time, power was mostly shifting between PPP and PML-N. PTI’s vision to be an institution rather than a 'dynasty' (whereby power is passed down within a family) was clear from the beginning and was one of the contributing factors that attracted him to the party.
Additionally, he felt that becoming a part of the PTI made sense, as the party was fighting for justice, which he believes is a right the Pakistani population has been yearning for and he strives to provide that to all, regardless of their socio-economic, ethnic or religious background. Also, he was pleased with Imran Khan’s efforts to open the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre.
Interestingly enough, being a part of the PTI gave him the opportunity to keep his profession a priority whilst actively participating in politics at the same time. He became what you would call a 'part-time' politician since he maintained his professional career and did not make politics his primary profession. Thus, he is a role model for how a working, educated, and informed professional can take matters into his/her own hands, to turn the situation in the country around instead of leaving it up to the 'professional', uneducated, and ignorant politicians.
I firmly believe that it is important to understand the platform and background of those representing us and not just blindly follow them because they belong to the same ethnicity or religious background as we do. Najeeb Haroon's work proves his efforts for the well-being of Pakistan and its citizens. His actions speak of his commitment to Pakistan considering he has sustained a successful construction firm within the country, his family remains fully invested here and wait for this one - he pays his taxes!
He has not put himself above others because of who he has become, and can generally relate to and identify with people from all walks of life.
For more information, you can follow him on Facebook.
To provide more clarity and background to his life, I have provided a timeline highlighting his credentials, academic, professional and political achievements.
Timeline of Professional & Political Career:
1973- Elected as Student Union Joint Secretary at DJ Science College
1973-1976: Full-time position at Pakistan International Airlines as Sales Assistant (simultaneously pursing BS at N.E.D)
1976-1977: Full-time position at Saudi Arabian Airlines as Sales Assistant
1977: Held position of Student Union President at NED. University of Engineering & Technology
1979: Graduated from NED Univ. of Engineering & Tech. with BS in Civil Engineering
1979-1981: Worked with Conforce and Maymar, renowned construction companies during this time
1982-1985: Held position at Gammon Pakistan Ltd. as Site Engineer in Taif, Saudi Arabia
1985-1987: Pursed and obtained MS in Construction Management at Oregon State University
1987: Returned to Pakistan and founded Principal Builders construction company
1996: Founding Member- Central Executive Committee of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)
1996-2000: President of Karachi Division (PTI)
2000-2001: Vice President of PTI Sindh
2001-2003: General Secretary of PTI Sindh
2011: Candidate for Chairman of Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC)
2007-present: Spokesperson for Housing and Works & Central Vice President, PTI
The author interviewed Mr Najeeb Haroon and had an informal discussion with him.
Read more by Yasmine here.