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Ahsan Iqbal

April 25, 2013

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Born in 1958, Ahsan Iqbal is a Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) stalwart and currently holds the post of its deputy secretary general. He has been elected as an MNA three times – in 1993, 1997 and 2008 and lost in 2002 to Riffat Javed Kahloon. His 2008 win was from NA-117 (Narowal – III), the same seat that he lost in 2002.

Iqbal has been associated with prestigious educational institutions such as Government College Lahore, University of Engineering and Technology (Lahore), University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University and Harvard University.

He hails from a family with a political background. His mother, Apa Nisar Fatima was a parliamentarian and his maternal grandfather, Chaudhry Abdul Rehman Khan, was a lawmaker in pre-partition India.

Political career

Iqbal entered the political arena as a student leader. In 1988, he joined Pakistan Muslim League (PML) — then a key member of Islami Jamhoori Ittehad — which later became PML-N.

In the 1993 election, Iqbal was elected as an MNA from NA-90 Narowal (now NA-117). He was re-elected from the same constituency in the 1997 election.

Iqbal also served as Policy and Public Affairs Assistant to the prime minister in 1993.

When PML-N formed its government after the 1997 election win, Iqbal played his role in several key government positions. He served as deputy chairman Planning Commission and chairman Pakistan Engineering Board and was also a chairman for the National Steering Committees on Information Technology and IQM and Productivity.

Iqbal has to his credit Pakistan's first national IT policy which was formulated upon his initiative. He also taught Management at the Mohammad Ali Jinnah University in Islamabad (2000-2007) and chairs a think-tank called Better Pakistan Foundation.

The PML-N leader also served as federal minister for education with an additional charge of minorities’ affairs for a short period of time before his party pulled out of the Pakistan Peoples Party-led coalition government in 2008.

Iqbal, like fellow party leaders, has been an advocate of a sovereign foreign policy and is of the opinion that post-9/11 US policies have fuelled anti-American sentiment among the Pakistani public. He is also in favour of the Nawaz government’s 1998 policy on ties with neighbouring India.

A party stalwart, Iqbal was also made part of  PML-N’s parliamentary board tasked with selecting candidates for the 2013 election. The board mostly comprised of Nawaz loyalists who kept the party alive during the Musharraf regime.

— Research and text by Imran Kazmi