LAHORE - A veteran politician and bureaucrat Khalid Ahmad Khan Kharal died here on Sunday due to protracted illness. He was 78.

Late Khalid Khan Kharal was suffering from a lung disease and was under treatment at a local hospital when he breathed his last in the wee hours of Sunday.

His dead body was taken to his native town, Kamalia, where he was laid to rest at a local graveyard. His funeral was attended by people from all walks of life including politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen.

A close confidant of PPP founder, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Benazir Bhutto, Khalid Kharal remained active in politics from PPP platform from 1977 to 2012. He became a friend with ZA Bhutto during his posting in Larkana as deputy commissioner. He later also served commissioner Larkana division.

He was elected as a Member of the National Assembly from his Kamalia constituency and also served as federal minister twice in the government of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 1988-1990 and 1993-1996.

Primarily a bureaucrat, Kharal joined the civil service of Pakistan as an Assistant Commissioner in 1963 and served in important positions. In Punjab, he worked as deputy commissioner Dera Ghazi Khan, Director Industries’ Department and as Director Food Department.

He also faced imprisonment during Ziaul Haq’s martial law. He was forced to testify against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, but he refused to desert his friend. Following the release of political prisoners in the later years, he left the country to take a job in Abu Dhabi as an adviser on economic development. He served there for 15 years.

Kharal developed differences with the new PPP leadership and joined the PTI in December 2011 on the invitation of Shah Mehmood Qureshi. He was serving as secretary general of the PPP’s Federal Council at that time. He had then criticised the PPP leadership for its failure to provide any relief to the masses.

But later in January 2017, he rejoined the PPP along with Faisal Saleh Hayat after they had a meeting with Asif Ali Zardari at Bilawal House in Karachi.

Meanwhile, former president and PPPP President Asif Ali Zardari has condoled the death of Khalid Khan Kharal.

In a condolence message, the former president expressed profound grief and sorrow over the death of Khalid Kharal. He also prayed for eternal rest for the departed soul and patience to the bereaved family to bear the loss with fortitude.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also expressed his deep grief and sorrow over the sad demise of Khalid Ahmad Khan Kharal.

The prime minister prayed to Almighty Allah to bless the departed soul with eternal peace and grant of courage to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss with fortitude, said a press release of PM office issued in Islamabad.