Masood Sharif Khan Khattak, better known as ‘Major Masood’, passed away in his hometown of Karak on Sunday, family sources said. The cause of death is being reported as cardiac arrest. He was 72 years old.
His funeral prayers will be offered today (Monday) at his family’s ancestral graveyard in Biland Kalla area of the district.
Born on 5 June 1950 to a navy captain and a doting mother, Masood Sharif Khattak was the eldest of three siblings. He was educated in Delhi Public School, and later at the prestigious Cadet College Petaro, where he reportedly befriended former President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari.
Khattak is also reported to be the youngest graduate of the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) at Kakul. He completed his degree in War Studies at Quetta’s Command and Staff College in 1978, but resigned his commission from active military service at the rank of major in 1986.
Masood Sharif Khattak is widely alleged to have played an important role in the intelligence operation codenamed “Midnight Jackals”, which pre-empted a coup attempt against the PPP government in 1990.
Khattak later served as director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from 1992 to 1993, after which he headed the Intelligence Bureau (IB) from 1993 to 1996.
As DG IB, Khattak became infamous for the agency ‘developing’ the capability to wiretap telecommunications. However, he was also at the helm of affairs during the 1995-96 Karachi operation. He also developed inter-agency coordination mechanisms and committees at the highest levels, and officers who served under him report that he initiated anti-terror training for personnel across the service.
On 14 August 1996, then-President Farooq Leghari conferred the Hilal-i-Shujaat on Masood Sharif. But after the PPP government was sent packing in November 1996, President Leghari rescinded Khattak’s award in an unprecedented move, and sent him to Karachi jail.
While charged with corruption, as well as allegations including unfettered wiretapping of opposition politicians and judges, Khattak was held without anything more than circumstantial evidence. He was finally released on bail by the Supreme Court in 1999.
Despite serving at the highest echelons of the Pakistani government, Khattak was insulted and humiliated, his family was unceremoniously evicted from government accommodation, and he was dismissed from service without a trial: all because he was considered close to former premier Benazir Bhutto. Even though he served in the security establishment, his career in the Pakistan Army proved insufficient to save him from this indignation.
After his release from jail, Khattak was made vice-president of the PPP from 1999 to 2008. In the 2002 general election, Khattak lost to Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal candidate Maulana Shah Abdul Aziz in the contest for NA-15 Karak. He quit the PPP in 2008 to protest the alleged “political settlement” with military dictator President General Pervez Musharraf.
Conflicting reports from multiple sources say that Khattak joined the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) either in 2011, or before the 2018 general elections. However, having failed to secure a legislative seat, he soon became estranged from the party and left afterwards.
Masood Sharif Khan Khattak is survived by a widow, a son and two daughters, among other bereaved friends and relatives.