Politicians, Prime Ministers of Bangladesh



Former Prime Minister of Bangladesh

(1 July 1939 – 27 August 2015)

Kazi Zafar Ahmed, born on 1 July 1939, Comilla, was the former Prime Minister of Bangladesh who served the nation from 12 August 1989  to 6 December 1990 under the presidency of Hossain Mohammad Ershad. As a PM, he could not contribute much to the country.

Zafar got connected with politics during his student life. He was the student leader of the Dhaka University Student Union from where he had completed his M.A. and B.A. (Hons.) in History. He had participated in the liberation war and had worked under the Mujibnagar government. He was a political member of many different political parties at different times. He even created his own political party, Jatiya Dol, a faction of the Jatiya Party.

In his entire life, he had bravely fought many challenges. Though he faced some criticisms and controversies, he never stopped and stayed firm in his ethics. He was known to be friendly among his friends and other political leaders. Even though he did not receive any significant reward from the country, he got the honor of “Distinguished Visiting Professor” from the University of Western Sydney. He was a brilliant person who had delivered two lectures ther

Zafar died on 27 August 2015, in Dhaka, at the age of 76. He was suffering from kidney de beautifully, which was attended to and praised by a thousand people. diseases and other health problems. 


Life of “Kazi Zafar Ahmed” at a glance

Real Name: Kazi Zafar Ahmed

Date of Birth: 1 July 1939

Father’s Name: Cheora Kazi Bari

Date of Death: 27 August 2015 


Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 12 August 1989 to 6 December 1990

General Secretary, East Pakistan Chhatra Union, from 1962 to 1963

Student leader, University of Dhaka

Labour leader, Maoist Communist Party, in 1966

Secretary General, National Awami Party of Maulana Bhashani

Adviser of President Zia, on June 29, 1978 

Minister of Education, People’s Democratic Party under President Ziaur Rahman 

Minister, cabinet of President Ershad, on 3 July 1985

Deputy Prime Minister, under Prime Minister Moudud Ahmed, on 3 March 1988

Minister of Commerce, Ershad Government, from 1986 to 1989.

Presidium member, Jatiya Party 

Place of Birth: Kazi Bari village, Cheora Union, Chauddagram Upazila, Comilla, the then British India, now Bangladesh

Place of Death:  United Hospital, Dhaka


B.A.(Hons.) and M.A., History, Dhaka University

Rajshahi Government College

Married to: Momtaz Begum


Three daughters: 

Kazi Joya Ahmed, 

Kazi Sonia Ahmed, and 

Kazi Rona Ahmed

Religion: Islam

Native Language: Bangla

Political Parties: 

Maoist Communist Party, in 1966

National Awami Party of Maulana Bhashani 

United Peoples’ Party (UPP), in 1974 

People’s Democratic Party

Jatiya Party, 1984 to 2013

Jatiya Dal

Bangladesh Nationalist Party led 20-party, in 2014

Jatiya Party (Zafar), factor of  Jatiya Party, 2013 to 2015

Achievements: Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Western Sydney

Nickname: Sugar Zafar, due to the theft of a sugar shipment


Early Life

Born on 1 July, 1939, in the village named Kazi Bari, of Cheora Union of Chauddagram Upazila, Comilla, British India (now Bangladesh), Zafar was the son of Cheora Kazi Bari. After the 1947 partition of India-Pakistan, he was in the Eastern wing of East Pakistan. Zafar’s father settled in Khulna district where he had a flourishing business. 


Zafar had passed his college life from Rajshahi Government College. There he had experienced a great academic setting, cultural practices, and democratic values. After that, he got admitted to Dhaka University. He was the 1961 batch. He was in the General History Department. From there, he completed B.A. (Hons.) and M.A. degree. He resided in the S M Hall. He took part in Dhaka University Central Students Union (DUCSU) elections and other yearly Hall Union events. He was also one of the members of the then East Pakistan Students Union (EPSU). It was a group for democratic and cultural activities compatible with academic endeavors, not for advancing political goals.


Zafar had been involved with politics since his studenthood. He served as the General Secretary of the East Pakistan Chattra Union from 1962 to 1963. 

He joined the Maoist Communist Party in 1966, and thus became a Maoist politician. He then became a strong labor leader and concentrated in organizing the workers especially in the Tongi-Tejgaon industrial area. That is how his political fame came to rise. He did not spare any effort and defied arrest warrants from organized laborers and citizens around the nation.  

After the independence of Bangladesh, Bhashani was upset at the despicable state of affairs and hence started a constitutional opposition movement against the corruption of Awami League Government. He then appointed Zafar, in 1972, as the General Secretary of National Awami Party (NAP). Bangabandhu was satisfied with this decision of Bhashani however due to the intra-party feuds, Bangabandhu was worried about Zafar’s tenure in this position. 

In 1974, along with Captain Abdul Halim Chowdhury, Zafar had formed the United Peoples’ Party (UPP), a responsible opposition party to the Bhashani. 

on June 29, 1978, got the role of an ‘Adviser’ of the then President Ziaur Rahman. He was elected as the Minister of Education, People’s Democratic Party under President Ziaur Rahman so that Zafar can remain with Zia. 

Even though Zafar played a key role in the anti-military role of the then President Hussain Muhammad Ershad, after 1975, Zafar dissolved his UPP and joined President Ershad’s Jatiya Party. On 3 July 1985, Zafar was elected by Ershad as the Minister in the cabinet, on 3 March 1988, as the deputy Prime Minister, and from 1986 to 1989, as the Minister of Commerce. Finally, in August 1989,  Zafar was made Prime Minister. He served as the PM till 6 December 1990. After Ershad stepped down from his power, Zafar fled to India and thus ended his tenure as the PM. Therefore, we can say that Zafar mainly worked under Ershad.  

In 1997, when Awami League came into power, Zafar created his own party named Jatiya Dal, and joined the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Zafar competed in the 2008 Bangladesh General Election from the Comilla-11. That was the latest activity from him as a politician. 

Participation in the Liberation War:

Zafar had participated in 1969 mass upsurge which was initiated by martyrdom of Asaduzzaman, who was a Bhashani follower. 

After the genocide of March 25, 1971, under the direction of Bhashani, Zafar had fought within the country as well as across the border. Awami League leaders crossed the border and formed the exile government of Bangladesh, known as Mujibnagar, in India. Zafar worked under that. 


His tenure as the PM was of only one year. Hence, there is not much information about his contributions towards the country being the Prime Minister, even though he had contributed in other political events and especially during the liberation war. 

However,  on 6 June 1988, Zafar had defended Ershad’s decision to establish Islam as the official religion of Bangladesh in an effort to combat fundamentalism. Currently, according to our constitution, though the state religion is Islam but all other religions are practiced equally and have equal status or values. 

Personal Life

The veteran politician, Zafar, had always been brave and a person of high spirit. Since his student life, he had fearlessly joined in different activities where he had led many events. This shows he had leadership qualities in him. Also, he was bold enough to take action against wrongdoings and stood firm in his ethics. He never gave up in any situation. 

Though he had some criticisms against his name, he was still loved and respected by his university batchmates and other political leaders or members. He was quite an amiable person with his batchmates, friends, colleagues, etc. 

In marital life, he married Momtaz Begum. The couple together had three daughters, named – Kazi Joya Ahmed, Kazi Sonia Ahmed, and Kazi Rona Ahmed. He, along with his wife, had lived in Australia with one of his daughters during his period of ‘asylum’.


Zafar, in 1989, had set aside the grain (wheat and rice) allocated for poor laborers in the landfill where the state government had intended to construct a cancer hospital. The supplies were later sold on the black market. 

He had also been charged with stealing and selling millions of dollars’ worth of sugar that was given as a donation for flood and disaster assistance in Bangladesh. 

Furthermore, he was known as “Sugar Zafar” by the mass people due to him being accused of involvement in the hijacking of a sugar-aid cargo worth millions of dollars. This fund was meant for an orphanage. Because of this corruption charge, in November 1999, Dhaka Court condemned him to 15 years of jail in absentia because at that time, when the court passed the sentence, he was in Australia to receive medical treatment for his kidney. Also, in a case regarding his contribution of roughly 100 acres of his family property for a cancer hospital in Khulna, a heavy fine or an additional 6 years in prison for non-payment was convicted against him. However, as he was in Australia at that time, there he applied for asylum claiming that, “my life was in danger and I could not get any justice, so for that reason I could not go back.” He said this to the ABC radio, an Australian radio station. He also claimed that the charges against him are “absolutely baseless” and that he is being victimized by political opponents. He then successfully got access to Australian government disability benefits. However, John Howard, Australian Prime Minister, later had ordered an investigation into how Zafar was granted refugee status. Philip Ruddock, the Immigration Minister, said the administration acknowledged the political nature of the criminal procedures in Bangladesh and was aware that they were politically motivated. Hence, the Australian government did not revise its decision. It was believed that Zafar lived with his wife and one of the daughters in Australia. He was entitled to a welfare payment of about $370 a fortnight and his wife entitled to a partner allowance of about $340 a fortnight. 

On 5 May 2013, Zafar went on the stage at a Hefajat-e Islam rally in Motijheel. Because of this, in May 2013, Ershad fired Kazi from the Jatiya Party and so Zafar formed his own faction of the Jatiya Party. Zafar, being the presidium member of Jatiya Party, criticized Ershad for deciding to participate in the 2014 elections in Bangladesh that were organized by a coalition led by the Bangladesh Awami League.


Mr. Zafar was invited by the University of Western Sydney as a Distinguished Visiting Professor. This is the top-most honor for anyone in that category. There he regularly had to interact with students and staff members. Additionally, he delivered two public lectures over there. One of the lectures was on Indian nationalism and the independence movement and the other one was about the role of regional powers and the geopolitical situation in the sub-continent. About a thousand people including students, academics and political personalities had attended the two lectures. He delivered his talks with great eminence and perfection. He had excellent arguments, insights, and articulation.  


After Fakhruddin took over the governance, as the Chief Advisor, he had brought some institutional reforms to ensure a good governance. His main objectives were to put an end to the notoriously corrupt political culture and to ensure fair election. He believed that in order to retain control over the money and muscle power involved with the election process, the emergency rule will help the country. According to him, the changed reforms were demanded by the civil society and the political parties. He tried to expand the anticorruption strategy to include preventive measures. For this reason, he built a campaign against corruption through the independent Anti Corruption Council. He aimed that eventually such a thorough strategy will ultimately result in corruption playing a very small role in our everyday lives. Since he began the anti corruption campaign, a great number of people have been convicted by the courts.


On the morning of 27 August 2015, Kazi Zafar was discovered senseless and was immediately taken to the United Hospital, Dhaka and the on-duty doctors declared him dead. He was 76 years old at that time and was suffering from diabetes, kidney damage, and various other health issues. 

His first namaz-e-janaza was held at Biswa Ijtema ground in Tongi at around 8:15 am. Then his second namaz-e-janaza was held at the South Plaza of Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban. Later, at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque, his third janaza was held. 

Attendees in the janaza included members of Zafar’s JP faction and some leaders of the BNP-led 20-party alliance. 


Life story of Zafar can teach us that we need to be brave and strong in every step of life. Zafar though got involved with many corruptions, he also stood by what is right. That is why he was against Ershad even after working under him. 

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