Iqbal Jahan — vying to become the workers’ voice in Islamabad

With the Awami Workers Party since 2015, Jahan is contesting independently from Islamabad's NA-47.
Published January 26, 2024

Faisal Mosque is one of the key monuments of Pakistan and more so, of the capital. But while passing by the white marble marvel, few would think about those who would have contributed to the green belt and the flowers around it. Muhammad Iqbal Jahan, who hails from Bannu, is one of the labourers who put his sweat into bringing that area to life.

Mr Jahan, who is contesting independently from NA-47 in Islamabad with the electoral symbol ‘charpoy’, will be facing former PPP senator Mustafa Khokar, who’s an independent candidate this time around, and PTI-backed lawyer Shoaib Shaheen.

He came to the city in the 1980s and has been associated with the politics of the left and various allied causes for the past three decades now.

With the Awami Workers Party (AWP) since 2015, he believes that there are many like him who should be running for the public office as opposed to the politicians feudals and industrialists who usually contest elections.

“If the residents of Islamabad look around them, they will find various roads, green belts and buildings. But do they ever wonder how these structures stand tall today? They do so because of the blood, sweat and tears of the labourers who work on them day in and day out.”

“I can trace my footsteps in so many spots in this city which I have seen grow with time but when this labourer asks for a roof over his head, he is rebuked and his house in a katchi abadi is demolished. I stand for every person who is unable to voice his concerns because he is constantly worried about survival,” he added.

Mr Jahan who has a knack for fixing bicycles when they were often used as a mode of commute, also learnt to repair motorcycles and had a small shop in Sector F-11 before it was razed to the ground on CDA orders. He now offers mobile mechanic services for vehicles and is also a Bykea rider to make his ends meet.

“Over time, I have alligned myself with the causes of the oppressed because I believe oppression does not happen in a vacuum rather socioeconomic class, gender, environment are all connected to each other and we cannot isolate one issue from the other,” he said.

“I have a simple manifesto, which is people-friendly. I believe in access to shelter, energy, quality education, affordable health services, safe and clean water, and equality for all the people. I steadfastly stand for the rights of my fellow workers, the women and children, the transgender community and want to work towards civic reforms and urban planning which are cognisant of the climate crisis,” he explains.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2024