Former interior minister had been placed on ventilator earlier this month after his health deteriorated due to COVID-related complications
Rehman Malik, a senior leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party and former interior minister, died in Islamabad on Wednesday after his health deteriorated due to complications caused by a coronavirus infection. He was 70.
“Deeply devastated to say that former interior minister [and] PPP senior leader Abdul Rehman Malik passed away,” his spokesperson Riaz Ali Turi confirmed in a posting on Twitter. “Sorrow, pain and grief are indescribable. All are requested to pray for his soul,” he added.
Malik had tested positive for COVID-19 in January. As his infection worsened, with his spokesperson saying he had complained of breathing problems, doctors decided to place him on a ventilator on Feb. 1. However, his condition continued to worsen and he subsequently passed away early on Wednesday morning due to complications related to his coronavirus infection.
The former senator had served as the interior minister of Pakistan from 2008 to 2013 during the last tenure of the PPP at the center. Considered a close aide of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, he served as her chief of security from 2004 until 2007, and played a key role in the investigation into her assassination.
Born on Dec. 12, 1951 in Sialkot, Malik was educated at Karachi University, completing his Masters in 1973; the varsity subsequently awarded him with an honorary Ph.D. in recognition of “matchless services to the country in the war on terror and particularly in restoring peace to the citizens of Karachi.”
Following his graduation, Malik joined the government as an agent for the National Alien Registration Authority, and subsequently served in various capacities for the country’s intelligence community. Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto had personally appointed him the additional director general of the FIA in 1993. After the dismissal of the Bhutto-led government in 1996, Malik was imprisoned for a year on charges of corruption before being terminated from the FIA by then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1997.
Shortly after his ouster from the FIA, Malik went into self-exile in the U.K., where he set up his own private security firm and obtained British citizenship. He returned to Pakistan in 2007 alongside Bhutto.
In 2008, Malik was initially appointed an adviser on interior, intelligence, and narcotics control in the cabinet of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, before being elevated to the interior minister in 2009, shortly before being elected a senator. Malik’s tenure as interior minister occurred at the peak of the U.S.-led “war on terror,” with Pakistan facing fallout from extremists, including the Pakistani Taliban.
Owing to his services, the Government of Pakistan had awarded him with one of the highest civilian awards in the country—the Sitara-e-Shujat (Star of Bravery)— in 1995 for his work with the FIA. He was also awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz (Order of Excellence) from the state in 2012.
He is survived by his wife and two sons.
Political leaders from within and outside the PPP offered their condolences on Malik’s passing. PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari paid tribute to Malik, saying he was a “hardworking and capable interior minister.” He said the PPP leadership and its workers shared in his family’s grief.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed also expressed his grief over news of the demise and extended his condolences to Malik’s family. “I share in the sorrow of his family,” he wrote on Twitter.
“I am deeply saddened by the death of former interior minister Rehman Malik,” Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Ahsan Iqbal posted on Twitter. “May God forgive him and grant patience to his family,” he added.
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar also offered his condolences on the former interior minister’s death.