- By Muhammad Ayub
In the heart of the historically rich village of Sawal Dher, situated 10 kilometers southeast on Katlang Jamal Ghari Road in the Mardan district, a figure stands out among the influential personalities—Haji Niamat Shah Roghani. Born in 1930, Haji Niamat Shah is not just a prominent individual within his village but a stalwart soul dedicated to the welfare of farmers and the development of the entire region.
During the fervent period of the Pakistan Movement, when Congress and the Muslim League were fervently striving for independence, Haji Niamat Shah’s heart echoed with love for Pakistan. Born into a family with a strong affiliation to the Muslim League, he actively participated in freedom rallies and processions, even sustaining injuries during a Peshawar rally. His commitment to the cause continued, with fervent prayers for the creation of Pakistan.
When Pakistan finally came into existence in 1947, Haji Niamat Shah rejoiced in the culmination of this monumental achievement. A teenager at the time, he embarked on a journey under the guidance of his father, advocating for the development and self-sufficiency of agriculture in Pakistan. Recognizing the country’s agricultural essence and its economic significance, he became a vocal proponent for the privileges and advancements of farmers.
Haji Niamat Shah’s political journey unfolded during Ayub Khan’s era, where he served as a member of BD twice for a total of ten years, also holding the position of Honorary Secretary. His vision extended beyond politics; he aimed to serve agriculture through the political platform. Alongside his associate, Ghulam Muhammad Khan of Lundkhawar, who dedicated his life to farmer rights, Haji Niamat Shah played a pivotal role in the establishment of Anjuman Kashtakaran.
His leadership in Anjuman Kashtakaran was marked by significant initiatives, including the launch of the Scarp project in Sawal Dher and surrounding areas during Fazal Haq’s governorship. This project aimed to make agricultural land more suitable for cultivation.
Throughout his tenure, Haji Niamat Shah tirelessly addressed issues related to tobacco farming, securing constitutional protection for labor rights. Even at the age of 94, his dedication remains unwavering. Despite grappling with illness, he actively engages in addressing contemporary challenges such as pesticide use, fertilizer accessibility, and the need for new seeds, crucial in alleviating the economic burdens on farmers.
Expressing concern for the future of agriculture, Haji Niamat Shah stresses the detrimental impact of illegal urbanization encroaching on fertile land. He foresees a time when an agricultural country might face food shortages if unchecked urbanization persists. His advocacy extends to the failures of agronomists and scientists to produce hybrid seeds due to insufficient attention and funding from the government.
While Haji Niamat Shah acknowledges the dependence on multinational companies, he decries the exploitation of these companies, asserting that they inflict irreversible damage on Pakistani agriculture. Despite his ailment, he remains a fervent advocate for farmers’ rights through various media channels.
Unable to walk due to his illness, Haji Niamat Shah continues his fight for agricultural land and the welfare of farmers. Through newspapers, radio, television, and social media, he calls upon the government to prioritize agriculture, offering special concessions to farmers in seeds, chemical fertilizers, and agricultural implements. For him, the prosperity of farmers translates to the prosperity of Pakistan.