It was in the midst of conflict and loss that Murad Saeed found his true calling. A resident of Swat, his world changed forever when a stray mortar shell destroyed his home on September 6, 2008, severely injuring his mother and brother. On that fateful day, then 21-year-old Saeed made a choice; to serve his suffering people.
He went on to organise and participate in relief activities both during and after the operation that liberated the Swat valley from the grip of Taliban militants.
Five years later, Saeed took oath as a Member of National Assembly (MNA) on the 1st of June. Now 26, he was elected as an MNA from the platform on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf after winning the NA-29 (Swat-I) elections with a convincing total of 88513 votes.
Sadly, his mother could not witness this proud day, as she is still in a coma after the injuries she received all those years ago.
“I am perhaps among a few youngsters who would be MNAs but there is a difference: I am from a middle class family which has never been in politics. I have earned this position on my own,” says Saeed and shares that “I had no plan of becoming a politician before the Swat operation.”
A B.Sc. Honours in Environmental Sciences from Peshawar University, Saeed is also a seven-time winner of debate competitions both at national and international levels, and is also the founder of Insaf Student Federation (ISF) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). He played a leading role in mobilising students to hold rallies in Peshawar for the relief of those displaced and injured in the Swat operation.
“I had taken the initiative on my own after informing the local leadership of PTI in KP,” Saeed says, recalling his journey. The students’ body became official on November 22, 2007.
Saeed is a first-timer in the lower house but he is clearheaded and free from the worries politicians carry with them of keeping the vote bank intact. “I have not made any promise to help individuals get jobs or address individual-centric issues. All I have committed to is to giving them a new system,” he adds.
Responding to a question, Saeed said that people were desperate for change and the PTI has promised that change. “Though we could not secure a majority in the National Assembly to revamp the entire system, we will perform a positive role as opposition and support the central government on issues of national interest,” he says, while reiterating PTI’s commitment to holding local government elections within 90 days. “The elected members of National and provincial assemblies will focus on legislation and national issues,” he adds.
Militants targeting 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai on October 9, 2012 made news the world over, and Saeed is very aware of the important role education will play in rooting out extremism. “I will make sure that all schools in Swat function properly; there would be a check on teachers to ensure their presence.”
Along with the promotion of education, he says his party has plans for improving health facilities and reviving tourism in KP, something Saeed says has immense potential. “But in order to do that we have to ensure peace and improve the infrastructure,” he says.
When asked how he plans to do this, he says all such initiatives have to take the local community on board. “I have already started engaging the community in the consultative process,” he says. A son of the soil, Saeed plans to work within the indigenous system. “We will ask the Jirga and the villagers about their problems and would address them in accordance with their advice.”
While talking about the PTI’s policy of issuing party tickets to youngsters, he said that party chairman Imran Khan had fulfilled his promise. He does however have a message for young people who want to make a difference: “You have to practically participate in the process instead of merely banking on social media as an agent of change,” he says.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2013.