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November 13, 2019

Zeeshan Khanzada cannot get luckier after securing


November 13, 2019

PESHAWAR: Zeeshan Khanzada is a lucky young man as he got a ticket from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to contest for a seat in the Senate a few days after joining the party.

He recently met Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad and announced joining the PTI and expressing confidence in his leadership. He was immediately awarded the party ticket to contest for a Senate seat that fell vacant with the resignation of his father, PPP’s Khanzada Khan. He is likely to win the seat and follow in his father’s footstep to become a Senator. The seat would thus remain in the family and the only difference is that the father was elected on the PPP ticket and the son is expected to win as a PTI ticket-holder.

Scores of PTI activists have been waiting for years to secure a ticket to become a Senator. They certainly were disappointed when a newcomer was rewarded because he happened to be the son of Khanzada Khan, the veteran PPP leader who resigned his Senate seat when Zeeshan Khanzada decided to join the PTI. Besides, Zeeshan Khanzada is a close relation of influential PTI leaders such as senior provincial minister Mohammad Atif Khan and another cabinet member Shahram Khan Tarakai. Moreover, he belongs to a wealthy political family. The PTI must have felt it would be beneficial for the party to wean the Khanzada family away from the PPP and also win a seat in the Senate to increase the PTI’s strength in the upper house of parliament where the opposition is dominant.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai, who accompanied Zeeshan Khanzada when he submitted his nomination papers in Peshawar, defended the award of ticket to him. He argued that it was Zeeshan Khanzada’s right to get the party ticket for the Senate contest as his father had shown moral courage by resigning his seat when his son joined the PTI.

The 34-year old Zeeshan Khanzada is lucky because he not only got the precious PTI ticket, which nowadays can ensure success in polls more than the other parties, but also a secure Senate seat. The PTI due to its two-thirds majority in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly would easily win the election unless its MPAs refuse to follow the party’s decision to award the ticket to a newcomer. That is unlikely to happen as anyone committing indiscipline would be found out and punished as the PTI head Imran Khan had done in case of dissidents in the past. Unhappy PTI MPAs also won’t vote for the ANP candidate, Hidayatullah Khan or PPP’s Farzand Ali, as they have no real chance even if all the opposition lawmakers vote for one or the other.

Zeeshan Khanzada unsuccessfully contested election for the provincial assembly in 2013 as the PPP candidate for a constituency other than his own in Mardan. In 2018, he sought and was denied the PPP ticket first for the National Assembly and then for another provincial assembly constituency where the party fielded Khaista Begum, the widow of veteran party leader Abdul Akbar Khan. He didn’t contest the election while Khaista Begum was defeated by a PTI candidate. The denial of ticket to Zeeshan Khanzada created distrust between the PPP and the Khanzada family, which began drifting away from the party after nearly 50 years of association.

According to Zeeshan Khanzada, who has also studied in Canada, he would have quit the PPP a year ago if his father had consented. As a young man, he was always inclined towards the PTI, but ending the family’s long affiliation with the PPP wasn’t easy. He made the move in strange circumstances, quitting the PPP and joining the PTI and getting the ticket for Senate election for a seat held by his father.

Khanzada Khan has quit the Senate seat but not the PPP. It remains to be seen how long he can remain with the PPP. Many party leaders were already suspicious about his commitment to the PPP and the mistrust would increase after the surprise award of the PTI ticket to his son soon after quitting the PPP.

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