Known as a Nawaz loyalist, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra is among those Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) leaders who kept the party alive while its fortunes were dwindling during its chief’s exile.
Hailing from Jhagra – a village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa near the provincial capital Peshawar – he actively participated in the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) against the Musharraf regime. He was also a secretary general for the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) – a coalition of political parties which endorsed the Charter of Democracy (CoD) signed by former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.
Born in 1947, the senior politician currently holds the post of secretary general in PML-N. Jhagra was elected to the Senate in 1997 and on a vacant seat in 2008. He also contested for a Senate seat in 2012 but lost.
The former senator has served as chairman of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Defence, Defence Production and Aviation. He has also been a member of several other standing committees of the Senate – among them are Petroleum and Natural Resources, Interior, Narcotics Control, States and Frontier Region.
At a time when PML-N was sitting on the treasury benches with PPP after the 2008 election, Jhagra had foreseen that the two parties were soon to become political rivals.
He has been a longstanding critic of Pakistan Muslim League - Quaid (PML-Q) for the support it offered to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf and called the party “a group of opportunists formed by the establishment”.
Jhagra was re-elected secretary general of the PML-N in 2012. His name was finalised for the position reportedly after Sartaj Aziz’s refusal to accept the assignment on account of “personal reasons”. Aziz’s rejection and Jhagra’s appointment are said to have been punctuated by bouts of resentment within PML-N ranks.
His cousin Iftikhar Jhagra joined Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) in 2011 after parting ways with Pakistan Peoples Party.
The PML-N stalwart has been vocal on matters of national interest and is known for being an advocate of the restoration of the Constitution to its original 1973 form.
In March 2013, Jhagra was made secretary of PML-N’s central parliamentary board, which was tasked with the selection of candidates for the 2013 general election.
— Research and text by Imran Kazmi