As the race for the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) governorship heats up, its the unlikely candidate who is turning heads. Even though Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Central Secretary General Iqbal Zafar Jhagra seems to be in the lead, Major (retd) Amir, a part of the four-member government formed to negotiate with the Taliban, is also in the running and can upset the PML-N’s apple cart with a win.
At the moment, the K-P chapter of PML-N eagerly awaits the central leadership’s decision over the appointment of a new governor. PML-N provincial office bearers are waiting for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to issue directives on the issue.
Several names were doing the rounds for the governor’s slot, more prominently PML-N leaders Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and Sardar Mehtab Abbasi.
And the ayes win
Among the top candidates, PML-N Central General Secretary Jhagra is openly receiving support from the party’s office bearers and workers in the province. Jhagra is termed the candidate most likely to win this race.
A Peshawar-based PML-N leader told The Express Tribune that during a high-level meeting of the party on March 8, Malakand chapter’s president Esaal Khan presented a resolution in Jhagra’s favour to be made the governor. “All the participants said yes (to the resolution) and no reservations were expressed,” said the party member who was part of the meeting. Minutes will be shared with the prime minister now, he added.
The dark horse
Some PML-N members shared Amir cannot be ruled out of the race as his chances increased following his inclusion in the government’s initial committee, handpicked for negotiating terms with the Taliban. However, those openly favouring Jhagra insist being on the committee and possibly bringing about some form of peace via talks is not the only factor that should be considered when appointing the province’s governor.
Regarding Abbasi, they said he already holds a coveted slot as the leader of the opposition in the K-P Assembly. The party will allow a vacuum in the assembly which will be difficult to fill by some other less-experienced lawmaker, argued some of Jhagra’s supporters.
Jhagra is also openly supported by the party’s youth, women and lawyer wings. PML-N Peshawar President Abdus Sattar Khalil held a press briefing a week ago and announced his support for Jhagra’s candidature.
The central secretary information of the party’s youth wing, Ali Khan Yousafzai, said Jhagra is the most suitable candidate for the slot as he packs experience in the affairs and politics of the tribal areas and the province.
“Jhagra is acceptable to everyone including the opposition parties,” said women wing’s provincial general secretary, Shaheen Habibullah.
Mansoor Khan and Saeed Khan Akhunzada, the general secretary and secretary information of the party’s lawyer’s wing, threw their weight behind the central secretary general – they had passed a resolution four days ago asking the centre to appoint Jhagra as the governor.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2014.