Khawaja Saad Rafique is a Pakistani politician, and a conservative activist who was tenuring as the Minister for Railways, appointed since 7 June 2013. He started his political career on the PML(N)'s platform in 1980s. In addition, he is also the provincial general secretary of the party since 2002.
Rafique was born into a politically oriented family in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan, on 4 November 1962. He is of Kashmiri–Punjabi descent. His father, Khawaja Muhammad Rafique, was also a mainstream politician of Muslim League, and an activist of the Pakistan Movement in 1940s. Muhammad Rafique participated well on Pakistan Muslim League platform during the general elections held in 1970. Over the years, Muhammad Rafique became a great critique of the Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's left-wing policies. He brought a great condemnation of Prime Minister Bhutto's strategies and alliances. In 1972, his father was assassinated while leading a PML rally in Lahore. On annual basis, a commemorative seminars are held by the PML(N) in Lahore to highlight the services of Muhammad Rafique.
After matriculating from a local high school, Rafique enrolled at the M.A.O College and made a transfer to Punjab University in 1982. He graduated with an BA in Political science in 1984, and later attained MA in Political science in 1986. His master's work was primary based on the comparative politics.
Career in national politics
In 1989, Rafique began to built political relationship with the PML-N due to similar ideology, and worked on party's national conservative programme. In 1997, he participated well in the general elections on a PML(N)'s ticket for NA-119 constituency and became member of Punjab Assembly. During this time, he was appointed as Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Youth Affairs by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, but his tenure was terminated by General Pervez Musharraf after the latter self-coup in 1999. He was eventually arrested and imprisoned after calling for Musharraf's removal.
In 2000, he began his political activism on PML(N) platform and successfully ran for NA-119 constituency in the general elections held in 2002. During this time, he was appointed provincial general secretary of the party. From 2002–07, he worked on party's mainstream conservative programme and the public image of the party. Among PML-N's central leaders, Saad is one of the few activist who kept the party alive during the Musharraf regime.
In 2008, Rafique was allotted a party's ticket for NA-125 constituency and successfully ran for NA-125 against Humayun Akhtar Khan in the general elections held in 2008. He briefly tenured as Minister of Culture and Youth Affairs in Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani's cabinet but resigned after PML-N's went onto lead the Lawyer's movement to restore the judiciary.
In May 2009, Rafique became a staunch critic of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and his government over its strategy on Swat, blaming the military and Gillani's ministry for the "mess" that had been created in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. In his condemnation of the government over the matter, he also termed the session of the National Assembly a "debating club" where people only came to polish their public speaking skills and that decisions were being made elsewhere.
In 2013, Saad Rafique and his wife, Ghazala Saad, were allotted PML-N's ticket. During the general elections held in 2013, Saad Rafique successfully defended his NA-125 constituency against leftist PPP and the PTI. Saad Rafique secured ~123,416 votes with a percentile of 51.90%.
Minister of Railways (2014–)
On 7 June 2013, Saad Rafique was appointed as Minister of Railway by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and took oath on 8 June 2013.
Upon becoming Minister of Railway, Saad Rafique announced the implementation of modernization of the Pakistan Railways, and to bring it up to the par to the international standards. In 2014, Saad Rafique visited the Lahore University of Management Sciences' Suleman Dawood School of Business (SDSB) where he delivered a lectures on business leadership in locomotive industry. At LUMS, he announced that the SDSB's faculty are currently working with him to improve organizational efficiency and the infrastructure of Pakistan Railways.