Shaukat Hayat Khan (SHK) hailed from the famous Hayat Khattar family of Wah in Attock, and he was the eldest son of Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan (1892-1942), the famous Punjabi statesman and feudal baron, from his first wife Begum Zubaida Khanum, a lady from a prominent Kashmiri family settled in Amritsar, British India. After his mother’s early demise in 1919, the young Shaukat and his siblings were taken care of by their step-mother and in due course, he was sent to study at the Aitchison College and the Aligarh University, briefly, before he was sent, in keeping with family tradition, to join the British Indian Army, upon passing the qualifying examinations.
Early military career
Upon completing his military training or cadetship at the Indian Military Academy, he was formally commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 16th Light Cavalry with effect from 15 July 1937. After some service on the North West Frontier, when World War II broke out, he volunteered to go abroad for active service with any cavalry regiment being sent out to the Front, and was therefore seconded to Skinner’s Horse. He thereafter served in Somalia, the Middle East and North Africa from 1941 to 1942, first promoted as a Captain and then a War Substantive Major, until his father’s death in December 1942, when he had to quit military service to take up his political role in the Punjab.
Early political career
On taking up his late father’s political mantle, he was duly elected to the Punjab Assembly and made a member of the cabinet under the new Punjab premier, Malik Khizar Hayat Tiwana, and subsequently served as Minister for Public Works in the Unionist Muslim League government. Dismissed in 1944 for his increasingly pro-All India Muslim League and pro-Jinnah ideals and policies, he was subsequently elected Deputy Leader of the Punjab League. Re-elected in 1946, he became one of the most prominent activists in the Muslim League’s “Direct Action” campaign and the most famous and popular of the League’s young leadership, winning the title of “Shaukat-i-Punjab “(Shaukat of the Punjab) from Jinnah himself. He played a significant role in eventually winning over the Punjabi Muslims in large numbers, to the cause of the League and of an independent Pakistan.
After partition he left the Muslim League party amidst conflicts with Mian Mumtaz Daultana and briefly joined the Pakistan Azad Party along with Mian Iftikharuddin. Between the 1950s and 1970s, in his own words, he was ‘an unlucky witness to the gradual destruction of the Quaid’s (i.e. Jinnahs) Pakistan’, at the hands of greedy and corrupt politicians and the Martial Law regime.
Elected again from Attock in the 1970 general elections, he played a key role in the opposition negotiations with Zulfiqar Bhutto which led to the passage of Pakistan’s first interim constitution. He was also one of the few Pakistani statesmen in 1970-71, who tried to negotiate amicably with the Awami League, in order to try to salvage former East Pakistan , which seceded and became Bangladesh soon afterwards. Disillusioned, Khan soon afterwards resigned permanently from political life.
He died in 1998 and is survived by two sons and four daughters.