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July 24, 2018

Taimur Jhagra overcomes heavy odds to become leading contender in polls


July 24, 2018

PESHAWAR: Perhaps no other candidate faced so many hurdles as Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra because he was opposed not only by his own party colleagues from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), but also his rivals from other parties.

The 32 other aspirants for the PTI ticket from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly constituency, PK-73 Peshawar, called him an outsider and a “parachuter” because they claimed he was newcomer in the party and had been imposed on them from above. They staged protests while applying pressure on the PTI leadership to take back his ticket and give it to one of them.

Dilroz Khan, an applicant for the PTI ticket considered close to former chief minister Pervez Khattak, even challenged his candidature and asked the Returning Officer to reject his nomination papers. Every tactic was used to discourage him from contesting from PK-73.

The ticket aspirants had already forced the former PTI lawmaker Ishtiaq Urmar, whose previous constituency in rural Peshawar had been truncated due to the delimitation, not to contest from PK-73. They were hopeful that Taimur Jhagra too would give up the idea of contesting from PK-73.

Beside Dilroz Khan, the other prominent PTI ticket-seekers included Dr Nadim Alam and Zahid Mohmand. Female party activists Ayesha Bano and Sumaiya Baloch, known for their political and social work, had also applied for the PTI ticket, but they had made it clear they would back the ticket-holder.

One by one the aspirants for the PTI ticket withdrew from the race and announced support for Taimur Jhagra. They had realized that Imran Khan and other party leaders cannot be pressured to drop Taimur Jhagra.

However, one candidate refused to step aside. Khalid Masood, a retired bureaucrat who once held the position of the party’s general secretary in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, felt he was the most deserving of the ticket. He is now contesting as an independent candidate with “pencil” as his election symbol. On his election banner, Khalid Masood is referred to as “The educated, the principled, the visionary” capable of bringing real change.

However, it will be very difficult for an independent candidate who isn’t widely known to win from a largely urban constituency.

Taimur Jhagra next faced the legal challenge from his main electoral rival, Maulana Amanullah Haqqani, a former minister belonging to the JUI-F and now a candidate of the MMA from PK-73. He approached the Peshawar High Court with the plea that Taimur Jhagra holds dual nationality and should be disqualified.

Taimur Jhagra would have liked to contest election from his family’s traditional rural Peshawar constituency, PK-69, but Ishtiaq Urmar being a loyal former MPA had to be accommodated there by giving him the party ticket. To compensate Taimur Jhagra, he was awarded the PTI ticket for PK-73, which covers the posh Hayatabad town, Tajabad, Danishabad, Lalazar Colony and Regi Lalma village.

Taimur Jhagra had to spend considerable time to persuade his opponents in the party to give up their opposition to his candidature. It affected his election campaign and gave the other candidates a head-start in the constituency.

Taimur Jhagra is the son of retired federal secretary Saleem Khan Jhagra and nephew of late PPP leader and provincial minister Iftikhar Jhagra. He is the grandson of late President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Highly educated, he gave up his well-paid job abroad to return home and take up the political legacy of his late uncle Iftikhar Jhagra.

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