GUJRAT: Four-time MNA and senator Raja Muhammad Afzal, of Jhelum, died after a prolonged illness on Saturday. He was 86.

He started his political career in 1983 with winning Jhelum Municipal Committee chairman election and later on from 1985 to 1999, he remained MNA and senator, mostly from the PML-N.

In 2002, he could not contest the poll due to graduation bar and fielded his two sons -- Raja Asad and Raja Safdar -- as PML-N nominees on National Assembly seats of Jhelum and only Asad won but in 2008 his both sons clinched NA seats.

In 2012, he left the PML-N over differences on award of party ticket for a by-election. The vote was held after a provincial assembly seat fell vacant as Khadim Gurmala’s son Nadeem Khadim was held ineligible over dual nationality.

Raja Afzal asked the PML-N to either give the ticket to him or declare the constituency open. Party chief Nawaz Sharif accepted his demand, but Raja Afzal lost the polls.

Later, he ended his decades-old affiliation with the PML-N in April 2013, just weeks before the general election, and joined the PPP.

Raja Afzal contested as a PPP nominee on two seats in the 2013 election but lost the poll. Later, he joined the PTI but he supported PML- N’s Raja Matloob Mehdi in the 2016 by-election against PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry. That was his last public political activity. He did not play any role in the July 2018 general election.

His funeral prayers were offered in an open place near his residence in Jhelum after which he was laid to rest.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2020

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