Muhammad Rafiq Tarar محمد رفیق تارڑ
Early life and education
Muhammad Rafiq Tarar was born in Mandi Bahauddin, Pakistan on 2 November 1929 to a Tarar family. Before Independence of Pakistan, Tarar was influenced by Syed Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari and he took a part in political sessions of Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam. During his college years, he was also an activist of Muslim League and follower of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. During the partition of Pakistan, Tarar performed voluntary duty as a relief worker in camps set up by Muslim Students Federation for Indian emigrants. He graduated with B.A. in Islamic Studies from Islamia College, Gujranwala in 1949. He acquired LLB degree in 1951 from Punjab Law College, University of the Punjab.
2 November 1929 – 7 March 2022
Was a Pakistani politician and a jurist who served as the ninth president of Pakistan from January 1998 until his resignation in June 2001, and prior to that as a senator from Punjab in 1997. Before entering politics, Tarar served as senior justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan from 1991 to 1994 and as the 28th Chief Justice of Lahore High Court from 1989 to 1991.
Muhammad Rafiq Tarar was born in Mandi Bahauddin, and graduated with LLB from University of the Punjab in 1951, before starting practice as a lawyer in Lahore High Court the following year. In 1966, he pursued a career as a jurist. Tarar later served as a justice in Pakistan’s highest courts. After his retirement at 65, he started a political career as a legal advisor to Nawaz Sharif. Tarar became a senator from Punjab in 1997 and the same year nominated as presidential candidate by PML-N, but his nomination paper was rejected by the Acting Chief Election Commissioner. Barrister Ijaz Husain Batalvi assisted by M. A. Zafar and Akhtar Aly Kureshy Advocate, challenged his rejection in Lahore High Court and the Full Bench set aside the rejection order of Election Commission and he was elected as President of Pakistan in the presidential election by a margin of 374 out of 457 votes of the Electoral College.
Tarar assumed office in January 1998 with heavy criticism by opposition especially from former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who accused him of illegally legitimizing dismissal of his government as a judge of Supreme Court of Pakistan. As a head of state, Tarar shifted Pakistan’s system of government from semi-presidential system to parliamentary democratic system by signing Thirteenth Constitutional Amendment. He surrendered his reserve power of dismissing Prime Minister, triggering new elections and dissolving National Assembly. He also signed the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendment to the constitution that limited the powers of the presidency from executive to a figurehead.
Tarar resigned as a President in 2001 following 1999 Pakistani coup d’état. He resisted and did not endorse the 12 October 1999 military coup. He was forced to step down by then Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf and ultimately succeeded by Musharraf through a referendum held in 2002. Twenty months after seizing power in a coup, General Musharraf took the head of state’s oath and became the fourth military ruler to become president.
After a prolonged illness, he passed away on March 7, 2022 in Lahore.
Muhammad Rafiq Tarar retired from the national politics and settled in Lahore, where he passed away on March 7, 2022. He retained a good friendship with Nawaz Sharif and was a close retainer of the Sharif family. His daughter in law, Saira Tarar, was a member of the Third Sharif ministry, served as Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination. His grandsons Bilal Farooq Tarrar and Attaullah Tarar are active in politics through the PMLN platform.