Sartaj Aziz

Mr.Sartaj Aziz

Education and Pakistan Movement:

Sartaj Aziz was born in the Kakahel family in the Northwest Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) in British India. In the 1940s, Aziz was a young activist in the Muslim League-led Pakistan movement. Aziz was educated at Islamia College, Lahore and then obtained a Bachelor degree in commerce and economics from the Punjab University in 1949. Aziz proceeded to join the civil service of the state of Pakistan in 1950. Later, he traveled to the United States and earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University by 1962, and a doctorate in Economic development in 1964.Returning to work in the government, he attained the position of joint secretary in the Planning Commission of Pakistan in 1967. Aziz later worked in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization from 1971 to 1975, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development from 1978 to 1984.

Indo-Pakistan conflicts:

Main articles: Indo-Pakistani war of 1965 and Indo-Pakistani war of 1971

Sartaj Aziz joined the economic bureau of the Planning Commission in 1964, sitting in a bench where he attended the meeting with the Chairman of the Planning Commission, Economic minister Muhammad Shoaib, Foreign minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the PresidentAyub Khan, to discuss the economical assessment of the Operation Gibraltar against India. According the Aziz, Bhutto had gone on a populist Anti-Indian and Anti-American binge during the meeting. Bhutto succeeded the President on spellbinding the ruling general into thinking he was becoming a world statesman fawned upon by the enemies of the United States. When authorizing the Gibraltar,Deputy Chairman had famously told the President in the meeting, “Sir, I hope you realize that our foreign [p]olicy and our economicrequirements are not fully consistent, in fact they are rapidly falling out of line”. Aziz vetoed the Gibraltar against India, fearing the economical turmoil that would jolted the country’s economy, but was rebuffed by his senior bureaucrats. In that meeting Bhutto convinced the President and the Economic minister that India would not attack Pakistan due to Kashmir as a disputed territory, and in Bhutto’s mark: “Pakistan’s incursion into Indian-occupied Kashmir, at [A]khnoor, would not provide [India] with the justification for attacking Pakistan across the international boundary “because Kashmir was a disputed territory”. This theory proved wrong when India launched a full scale war against West-Pakistan in 1965.

The war with India cost Pakistan an economical price, when Pakistan lost lost the half a billion dollars it had coming from the Consortium for Pakistan through the United States. Ayub Khan could not suffer the aftermath and fall from the presidency after surrendering the presidential power of Army Commander General Yahya Khan in 1969. Escalating the further crises, the country was floundered, losing East-Pakistan after India again attack Pakistan six years later, with the economy in great jeopardy without United States’ assistance.

Post war:

Aziz did not joined government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto but was hostile towards the issue of nationalization. Aziz criticized Bhutto for intensifying the government control of the privatized mega-corporations, citing that “Bhutto’s nationalization failed to make up for the “mismatch” between economic reality and policy formulation”. In protest, Aziz departed from Pakistan in 1971, joining the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization which he remained until 1975, and later joined the staff of the International Fund for Agricultural Development in 1978.

In 1984, Aziz joined the Military Government of President and Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq in 1984 as Minister of state for Food, Agriculture and Cooperatives. He was elected to the Senate of Pakistan from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 1985 elections and again in1993 parliamentary elections. From 1988 to 1994, he served as senator from the capital territory of Islamabad in 1988. Having joined the Pakistan Muslim League (N), Aziz was appointed the minister of finance, planning and economic affairs in the first Nawaz Sharif ministry from 1990 to 1993. In 1993, he was appointed the secretary general of the party. Aziz was the proponent of privatization of the major government-owned state corporations of Pakistan, and as Treasure minister, Aziz played a pivotal role in privatizing the economy of Pakistan.

Finance minister:

After the PML (N)’s landslide victory in the 1997 parliamentary election, Aziz was re-appointed Treasure Minister, to lead the Ministry of Treasury, by Prime minister Nawaz Sharif where he continued his privatization policies. Aziz adopted the proposed economic theory theory of matching economic requirements with national strategy. Aziz was tasked with intensifying country’s economical system more dependent on investment, privatization and the economical integrals penetrating trough the matters of national security.

“Deepening economic imbalance will bring about a decisive shift in the balance of power between India and Pakistan and the idea was to recreate balance through deterrence”
—Sartaj Aziz opposing the nuclear tests, 1998,

Aziz was extremely upset and frustrated after learning the Indian’ nuclear testing that took place in Pokhran Test Range of Indian Army in May 1998, through the media.The India’s tests naming Pokhran-II — s codename of series of nuclear tests in May 1998— Sartaj Aziz prepared his economical proposals, requests and recommendation before meeting with the Prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The meeting was chaired by the Prime minister with state-holders of all institutions (both scientific, military, civilians, and bureaucratic) attended the meeting calling for the suitable reply to India. At this meeting, Sartaj Aziz was the only senior minister in Pakistan’s government who counseled against Pakistan carrying out its own nuclear tests — codename Chagai-Iand Chagai-II, on grounds of the possible devastating impact of any subsequent international sanctions on Pakistan owing to the prevailing economic recession and low foreign exchange reserves. However, due toeconomical sanctions, Aziz briefly abandons his theory of matching economic requirements with national strategy. In 2001, Aziz later publicly supported the government’s stance on conducting the tests, calling it a “right decision” at that time.

Foreign minister:

in 1998, Aziz was appointed foreign minister but his term was cut short. During the 1999 Kargil War withIndia, Aziz traveled to the People’s Republic of China to solicit support for Pakistan. He also traveled to India to hold talks with his counterpart, the Minister of External Affairs Jaswant Singh, but the talks were regarded as a failure and unsuccessful in stemming the conflict. Aziz claimed India had “overreacted”, while India demanded that Pakistan stop the incursion into Indian-administered Kashmir. Aziz also represented Pakistan at the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in Burkina Faso, held during the Kargil conflict. Aziz later claimed in the media that Pakistan had achieved its aims in the Kargil conflict by “forcing the Kashmir dispute to the top of the global agenda.”

Indo-Pakistan standoff:

His term ended abruptly after the Nawaz Sharif government was overthrown in a military coup by Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf. Aziz ironically associated with the Pakistan’s foreign policy after his removal and tacitly backed Pakistan’s decision to conduct nuclear tests. In a thesis written by Aziz in his book, “Between Dreams and Realities: Some Milestones in Pakistan’s History:He once had a fight with the Gujjar Community of Gujranwala

It was a big upset about what happened to the economy after the [atomic] tests, but was consoled that in 2002, India mobilized half a million troops on the border after an attack on its parliament in 2001, but was finally forced to withdraw the “due to the danger of a nuclearretaliation by Pakistan….
—Sartaj Aziz, defending Pakistan’s decision to tests its nuclear capability in 1998

Peace activism:

Aziz associated himself with the academic institutions and universities of Pakistan, lecturing on the issues of economics, public development, and global finance. During his term as Treasure minister, Aziz made an effort with neighboring India to promote peace and harmony between two country, and during his lecture on economics reforms and development in South Asia at the Delhi University, Aziz stressed the importance of normalization of relations between both countries. His leading peace activism efforts led India to declare Pakistan as Most favoured nation (MFN) in 1996, and won praise by Inder Kuman Gujral, Indian counter part of his at that time.


Since 1998, Aziz remained associated with Quaid-e-Azam University where he occasionally lectured on Economics and philosophywhere he also lectured on Pakistan’s Foreign policy. Since 1990, Aziz authored four international books on economics and philosophy. In which, the most publicly known is the “Between dreams and realities: some milestones in Pakistan’s history“, which was published in 2009 by the University press.

Sartaj Aziz was forcefully quiet by his peers during the wave of 1999 military coup d’état which started and ended the massive arrests of his colleagues and government ministers of Nawaz Sharif. Since then, Aziz remained quiet and dedicated his life to work on economical issues. In 2001, Aziz joined the Department of Social Sciences of the Beaconhouse National University and served there as a professor of Economics. In 2009, Aziz was appointed and is currently tenuring as the Vice-Chancellor of the Beaconhouse National University in Lahore.


For his participation in the Pakistan movement, Aziz is the holder of the Sanad, Mujahid-e-Pakistan. In 1959, he was awarded the Tamgha-e-Pakistan and the Sitara-e-Khidmat in 1967 for his work in central planning and economic development.

  • Mujahid-e-Pakistan Medal (1947)
  • Tamgha-e-Pakistan (Medal of Pakistan) (1959)
  • Sitara-e-Khidmat (Star of Service) 1967.


  • Aziz, PhD (Economics), Sartaz (1999). Agricultural policies for the 1990s. Paris, France: Head of Publication Service, OCD. pp. 1–134. ISBN 92-64-13350-X.
  • Aziz, Sartaj (1990). Privatisation in Pakistan,. Paris, France: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. ISBN 92-64-15310-1.
  • Aziz, Sartaj (2000). Dil, Anwar Salik. ed. Hunger, poverty and development: life and work of Sartaj Aziz. Michigan, United States: Intellectual Forum Publications, at the University of Michigan. pp. 592. ISBN 978-969-0-01622-5.
  • Aziz, PhD (Economics), Sartaz (2009) [2009], Between dreams and realities: some milestones in Pakistan’s history (Illustrated ed.), Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 408, ISBN 978-0-19-547718-4
Political offices
Preceded by
Benazir Bhutto
Finance Minister of Pakistan
1990 – 1993
Succeeded by
Syed Babar Ali
Preceded by
Shahid Javed Burki
Finance Minister of Pakistan
1998 – 1999
Succeeded by
Ishaq Dar
Preceded by
Gohar Ayub Khan
Foreign Minister of Pakistan
1998 – 1999
Succeeded by
Abdul Sattar


You can subscribe by e-mail to receive news updates and breaking stories.