ISLAMABAD: With Senator Iqbal Zafar Jhagra to be appointed as the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) governor in the coming days, lobbying has started within the ruling party for the race to enter the upper house of parliament.
Jhagra is tipped to replace Sardar Mehtab Ahmad, who resigned as the K-P governor in the first week of February. With the appointment, Jhagra’s seat in the Senate will be vacated and filled through the selection of a new senator.
A senior party official told The Express Tribune that different names were under consideration to fill the post. Among the aspiring candidates are Sartaj Aziz, Tariq Fatemi, Zafar Ali Shah, Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal and Dr Asif Karmani.
According to PML-N insiders, Foreign Affairs Adviser Aziz is the favourite candidate as the ruling party would then be able to hand him over a formal portfolio of foreign minister.
Aziz refused to comment, however, when he was contacted.
Zafar Ali Shah, who retired as a senator in March last year, is also trying to convince the party’s leadership to give him the ticket to the upper house.
However, the insiders said, Shah was not among the favourites after recently losing the local bodies election for the post of chairman in the capital territory.
On February 24, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had advised President Mamnoon Hussain to appoint Jhagra, who is the PML-N secretary general, as the K-P governor. He is set to join the office after a formal notification from the government next week.
The sources said the ruling party would take its final decision on the replacement of Jhagra in the Senate next week as well. Currently, the PML-N has 26 senators in the upper house but the PPP enjoys the majority with 27 lawmakers.
On Friday, Jhagra attended his last meeting with the Senate’s Standing Committee on Rules and Privilege.
While talking to The Express Tribune, the nominated governor said his top priority would be to resolve the issue of internally displaced persons (IDPs) of North Waziristan. “The federal government is committed to addressing the IDPs issue but I will give top priority to bring them back to their home,” he added.
Jhagra said consultations would be held with all stakeholders over Fata reforms before deciding whether the region should be merged with K-P or should be made a separate province. He also said the working relationship between the PML-N and PTI would improve in the future.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2016.