Mashar Mahmood khan Achakzai, the chairman of the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, is a veteran political leader who has been in politics from the early 1970s. He is known all over the country and the region for his principled democratic politics and his unbending commitment to parliamentary democracy, genuine federalism, rule of law, human rights and Pashtun rights in the country. He has been a vocal critic of all the military coups, martial laws and military interference in political matters that have been imposed upon the country over the decades. He is also known for his outspoken views in the defence of an independent Afghanistan and in his criticism of the external interference in Afghanistan by the intelligence agencies.
Mahmood khan Achakzai, also known as Mashar to his followers and Pashtuns, was born on December 14, 1948 in village Inayatullah Karez in Gulistan in what was then district Pishin (and is now district Killa Abdullah) in Southern Pashtunkhwa (officially, Chief commissioner province). He was fourth among five siblings, four brothers and one sister. His early education was initially in Gulistan and later in Quetta. He graduated from the University of Engineering and technology, Peshawar as a Mechanical engineer in 1971. During his childhood, his father Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai was imporisoned for his political views most of the time. This of course left a lasting impression on the young Mahmood khan and the whole family. In fact, the first time he met his father was in 1954 when he was already six years old as his father had been imprisoned from 1948 to 1954. In a sense, he was destined for Pashtun national politics.
Mahmood khan's first taste of active politics was in the chaotic years of late 60s and early 70s when the country first went from one martial law to another martial law and then through elections. Late 60s was the heyday of student politics and students played an important role in the demise of the Ayub khan regime. Mahmood khan was an active part of the Pashtun students organisation during his college and university years. These were also the years of the breakup of National Awami party and the formation of NAP-Pashtunkhwa under the leadership of Khan Shaheed Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai. On December 2, 1973, Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai was martyred at his home in Quetta. Mahmood khan was 24 years old. At this young age, he became the chairman of NAP-Pashtunkhwa. He contested the bye-elections on the vacated seat and was elected to the Balochistan assembly in 1974.
In 1977, Pakistan was again put under martial law by the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq. Although NAP-Pashtunkhwa had their grievances against the ousted Prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto ( his government had rigged the 1977 national assembly election against Mahmood khan on the Quetta seat in favour of the PPP candidate), Mahmood Khan and NAP-Pashtunkhwa refused to side with the martial law regime. In 1983, Mahmood khan and NAP-Pashtunkhwa spearheaded the initial deliberations to form the Movement for the restoration of democracy. As part of the MRD, NAP-Pashtunkhwa took out a peaceful procession in Quetta against the martial law regime on October 7, 1983. The martial law authorities opened fire on the peaceful protestors and four NAP-P workers were martyred. Dozens were injured and hundreds jailed. The authorities named Mahmood khan Achakzai as responsible for the deaths of his own workers in the F.I.R. Mahmood khan refused to hand himself over to the illegitimate martial law authorities. During the 1980s, NAP-Pashtunkhwa formed an alliance with the Mazdoor Kissan party in northern Pashtunkhwa and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party was formed in 1989. Mashar Mahmood khan Achakzai was elected its first chairman.
For the next three decades, PMAP and Mashar Mahmood khan Achakzai remained in the thick of things in the politics of Pashtunkhwa and Pakistan. Whenever there was an alliance to be made for the defence of democracy or for the rights of the historic nations in Pakistan, Mashar was among the first people to strengthen it. Mashar and PMAP played important role in the formation of different political alliances in the country whether it was the Pakistan oppressed nations movement(PONM), Alliance for restoration of democracy (ARD), All Parties democratic movement (APDM), Pashtunkhwa national democratic alliance(PNDA) or Pakistan democratic movement(PDM). Mashar also played an important role in the Charter of Democracy being signed by former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif in 2006. Mashar and PMAP opposed the 1999 martial law imposed by the military and also opposed the emergency declared by Pervaiz Musharraf in 2007.
Mashar first went to parliament in 1974 when he was elected to the Balochistan provincil assembly. After the return of civilan governments in 1988, PMAP has taken part in every election except in 2008 (PMAP boycotted that election). During these three decades, PMAP has emerged as one of the most important electoral players from Southern Pashtunkhwa(the Pashtun districts of the Balochistan province). PMAP members of Balochistan provincial assembly, national assembly of pakistan and the national senate have been the defenders of Pashtun rights, democracy, federalism and provincial autonomy in the country. Mahmood Khan Achakzai himself was elected to the national assembly of Pakistan in 1993, 2002 and 2013 both from Quetta city and from his native Gulistan. The best electoral performance of PMAP was in 2013 when it managed to win 4 national assembly seats & 10 provincial assembley seats out of 22 seats for the Pashtun districts of Balochistan.
Today, Mashar Mahmood khan Achakzai is considered a veteran democratic politician respected all over the country and in the region for his steadfast commitment to the defence of parliamentary democracy, civilian supremacy, human rights, national rights of Pashtuns and provincial autonomy in the country. He has always been at the forefront of every struggle for the rule of law and democracy in Pakistan. On December 22, 2022, he was elected as the chairman of Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party at the seventh national congress of the party by more than 10,000 delegates from around Pashtunkhwa watan and the country.