Aqleem Akhtar (اقلیم اختر) is one of the forgotten characters in the history of Pakistan. She was a power broker and had access to the power corridors of Pakistani decision makers from 1960’s to early 1970’s. Especially from March 1969 to December 1971, she was considered one of the most powerful lady in Pakistan politics without serving at any key position.
Why Aqleem AKhtar is being discussed on this showbiz portal, the reason is few of her family members later excelled in the showbiz. This article discusses all the famous persons related to the family of Aqleem Akhtar. Two names in this article i.e. Tariq Mairaj and Naseem Tariq are no more related to this family, but their names are mentioned for reference only.
Aqleem Akhtar was from the city of Gujarat, Punjab. She was married to a Police officer and the couple has six kids. The marriage ended in divorce in early 1960’s due to disagreement between this couple. After the divorce, Aqleem Akhtar started a social club arranging dance parties from her apartment in the Rawalpindi with her nickname Raani. Her social club was regularly frequented by top government officials from military and bureacracry and thus she get acquaintance with officials serving on the key posts. During one such meeting around 1967 Aqleem Akhtar got introduced to General Yahya Khan, the then Commander Inchief of Paksitan Army. General Yahya Khan is famous as a drinker and womanizer and thus was a regular part of social gatherings in Rawalpindi.
Both Aqleem Akhtar (Raani) and General Yahya became good friends. It is said that Aqleem Akhtar Raani also introduced the General Yahya Khan to many other ladies than active in the social circles. Their friendship and association has been discussed widely in the Pakistani and International press. In 1960’s Pakistan was ruled by the military dictator General Ayub Khan who faced a violent agitation movement in 1968 and 1969 by the leftist student and labour organizations. As a result of this agitation, General Ayub Khan resigned in March 1969 and the Commander In-chief of Pakistan Army General Yahya Khan imposed the martial law in Pakistan. With the martial law of 1969, General Yahya Khan became the president of Pakistan as well and announced general elections in 1970.
Aqleem Akhtar Raani became the closest friend of General Yahya Khan suddenly gained importance. Due to her closeness with the General, she was being called as General Raani in the press, an identity which over shadowed her actual name Aqleem Akhtar. It was famous that Aqleem Akhtar Raani or General Raani can influence the decision of the President General Yahya Khan on politics and key political matters. With such reputation, Aqleem Akhtar Raani gained the status of a power broker. She was regular visited by politician, officials (civil or military), businessmen who want favor from the Yahya Khan regime. One such famous name is Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who later also served as the President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Being active in politics Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto also targetted the association of Aqleem Akhtar Raani and Yahya Khan in his electoral movement, and thus the name of General Raani gained popularity with the commoners as well. After the election of 1970, Sheikh Mujeebur Rehman from East Pakistan got the absolute majority in the parliament, however Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto the head of the second largest party from West Pakistan refused to attend the parliament due to reservation on the manifesto of Sheikh Mujeebur Rehman. Unable to resolve the differences, in March 1971, the president Yahya Khan cancelled the parliament session a decision which resulted in a violent uprising in East Pakistan. The uprsising ended in the war of December 1971 and East Pakistan eventually became an independant country of Bangladesh. Badly defeated General Yahya Khan left the presidency and handed over the powers to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.With General Yahya the role of Aqleem Akhtar Raani as a power borker in Pakistani politics also ended forever.
In 1970’s under the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto government, General Raani was widely targetted in the press especially in the Urdu Daily Musawaat, run by the ruling party i.e. Pakistan Peoples Party. She was accused of being part of the 1971 defeat with General Yahya. She was also put under house arrest for much of the Bhutto government until 1977 when Bhutto was overthrown by General Ziaul Haq. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto also setup a fact finding commission known as Hamudur Rehman commission on the 1971 war. The report of the Hamudur Rehman commission was not made public until 2001, which has widely discussed the association of General Yahya and Aqleem Akhtar Raani. The association of General Yahya and Aqleem Akhtar Raani can be considered as a dark part of our history.
In 1977 General Ziaul Haq came in to power by over throwing Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and it also ended the difficult time for Aqleem Akhtar Raani. She gradually disappeared from the print media. In 1981, General Yahya Khan also passed away. Aqleem Akhtar Raani again became a subject of the press due to her involvement in a drugs smuggling case in 1980’s. But like no other charges proven on her previously this case also ended eventually.
Since 1980’s till her death in 2002 Aqleem Akhtar Raani or General Raani spent a quiet life at her home town Gujrat. She is mentioned in memoirs of many military and civil officials who have worked with General Yahya Khan. Interestingly a Punjabi film loosely based on her character was also produced in Lahore in 1990’s named Madam Raani. Anjuman, the most successful artist of the Punjabi cinema played the role of Madam Raani (General Raani).
Though largely forgotten, every year in December when on the 16th December, on the anniversary of the 1971 war the name of General Raani does appear in press and media.
The legacy of General Raani is not ended with her death. Her next generation also got fame in different fields of life.
Aroosa Alam is the daughter of Aqleem Akhtar one of the six kids she had from her marriage with a police officer. Aroosa Alam married a civil officer. Aroosa also started her journalism career and is a prominent journalist working in English newspapers.
In mid 2000, Aroosa Alam became the subject of Indian media over her association to Captain Amrinder Singh a prominent sikh politican from the Indian state of Punjab who also served as the Chief Minister of Punjab. Aroosa has denied all such news and maintained the stance that she is only a good friend of Captain Amrinder Singh. As per journalist Hamid Mir, since 2004, Aroosa Alam mostly stays in India instead of Pakistan. Aroosa Alam’s son Fakhre Alam gained fame in the field of showbiz.
Fakhre Alam is the son of Aroosa Alam and the grandson of Aqleem Akhtar. Fakhre Alam recieved his education from the United States and there he developed an interest in the rap music. In early 1990’s he released his urdu album consisting of rap music. The album became successful and his song rap bhangra became widely popular. Fakhre Alam also hosted various programs. He also ventured into acting and worked in the film Very Good Dunya Very Bad Log in 1998 opposite Resham. VGDVBL was an average hit and failed to establish the acting career of Fakhre Alam. By late 1990’s his singing career also ended, as the short lived rap style of singing also faded. He also worked in another film No Paisa No Problem in 2001 which proved unsuccessful at the Box office.
Fakhre Alam continued hosting of the various shows and was a regular entry in the shows hosted in the presidency during the Musharraf regime till 2008. In 2012 he was appointed the chairmen of Sindh Board for Film Certification (SBFC) and is still serving on this post. He occasionally also works as a sports host for the sports channel Ten Sports.
Fakhre Alam married twice. Her first marriage in 1998 or 1999 with a lady named Nadia ended within two years. His second marriage was with Hina Mairaj who is the daughter of the famous Pakistan Television director and producer Tariq Mairaj. Both Fakhre Alam and Hina Mairaj also separated ways. Now Fakhre Alam is married to an Arab lady and has three kids from this third marriage.
Tariq Mairaj is a famous director and producer of Pakistan television serving at Islamabad center. He direced many famous television dramas. Bandhan in 1998 is his most famous drama from PTV Islamabad centre. Tariq Mairaj is the father of Hina Mairaj and was thus father in law of Fakhre Alam.
Naseem Tariq is the wife of Tariq Mairaj. Naseem Tariq is a prominent news caster of Pakistan in 1990’s and 2000’s. She regularly appeared at the 9 PM news bulletin called khabarnama at PTV. Naseem Tariq is the mother of Hina Mairaj and was mother in law of Fakhre Alam.
Apart from Aroosa Alam and Fakhre Alam, another grandson of Aqleem Akhtar also gained fame in showbiz.
Naureen Sami Khan – Arshad Sami Khan
Naureen Sami Khan is the niece (sister’s daughter) of the Aqleem Akhtar. In relation Aqleem Akhtar is the khala of Naureen Sami Khan. Unlke her khala Aqleem Akhtar, it is said that Naureen Sami Khan is an Indian citizen with British nationality. Naureen Sami Khan was married to Arshad Sami Khan who served in Pakistani Air Force and also participated in the 1965 and 1971 wars with India as a fighter pilot. After leaving the air force Arshad Sami Khan also served at key positions in Pakistan foreign office as well as ADC to three Pakistani presidents. Arshad Sami Khan served as ambassador in fourteen different countries from 1970’s till his retirement in 1990’s. As per the journalist Hamid Mir he was diagnosed with cancer in 1989, and his expensive treatment was financed by Pakistani government on the public funds or tax payers money. Arshad Sami Khan and Naureen Sami Khan settled in India and passed away in 2009.
One son of Naureen Sami and Arshad Sami Khan actively pursued music which is Adnan Sami Khan.
Adnan Sami Khan
Adnan Sami Khan is the son of the Naureen Sami Khan and Arshad Sami Khan. In relation he is also a grandson of Aqleem Akhtar, where Aroosa Alam is his khala and Fakhre Alam is his second cousin.
Adnan Sami Khan is brought up in Europe where Arshad Sami Khan was serving as ambassador of Pakistan. Adnan Sami Khan has an interest in music and he returned to Pakistan in late 1980’s. In 1989 he started a music program Behta Darya on the state run Pakistan Television (PTV) from Islamabad center. It is common in Pakistan that persons of influential families waste tax payers money, in the name of showcasing their talent. Behta Darya was not much successful. Adnan released his first music album Raag Time in 1991 which recieved moderate success. He also secured a commercial contract with the Coca Cola. In 1992 during a television show he announced he is leaving Pakistan. However he was again in the news when famous film director Syed Noor signed him for his film Sargam. Adnan Sami Khan composed the music as well acted in this film with Zeba Bakhtyar in the opposite lead. Both Adnan and Zeba got married during the shooting of Sargam. Sargam was released in 1995, though praised by critics it was not commercially much successful. The success of the music of Sargam bring Adnan Sami Khan in the limelight. After Sargam, Adnan Sami Khan and Zeba Bakhyar signed another film Mausam to be produced by SB Hussain (Late). By then both Zeba and Adnan had a son Azaan Sami Khan.
Around 1997-98 Adnan Sami Khan composed the music of Mausam in London with Indian signer Asha Bhosle. In the meanwhile his marriage with Zeba Bakhtyar ended. Their breakup made headlines when Zeba filed a kidnap case against Adnan Sami Khan, who kidnapped his own son Azaan and fled to Canada. After the intervention of then Home Minister Ch. Shujaat Hussain, the case was resolved Azaan Sami Khan along with Adnan Sami Khan was brought back to Pakistan, where Azaan was handed over to his mother Zeba Bakhtyar.
Adnan released the music of film Mausam in 1998, though he did not own the rights of the music but the album was not much successful. The album has songs like Kabhi To Nazar Milao, Mujh Ko Bhi To Lift Kara De. In 2000 he moved to India and re-released the album of Mausam, with the name Kabhi To Nazar Milao and it proved a massive hit in the Indian market. We Pakistani have a strange habit, many times we do not acknowledge our own artists, but when the same artist gets recognition in India or west we suddenly remember how valuable the artist is for Pakistan. It happened in the case of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and similar to this Adnan Sami Khan also became very popular. The same album of Mausam which proved unsuccessful in 1998, became a superhit one in Pakistan once it is endorsed by the Indian audience as Kabhi To Nazar Milao.
Adnan Sami Khan prolonged his stay in India and composed music for few Bollywood films as well. He made the headlines again when he filed for Indian citizenship. His first request was rejected, and he filed the second request in 2015. The second request was accepted by the Indian government and on 1st January 2016 he was granted the Indian citizenship after surrendering his Pakistani passport.
So it ends a quite lengthy description about Aqleem Akhtar and the other famous names directly or indirectly related to her.
Thanks for your time.
Rashid Nazir Ali
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