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Rajwana appointed Punjab governor

Rajwana appointed Punjab governor

LAHORE: Senator Malik Rafique Rajwana was appointed governor of Punjab on Thursday, according to an announcement made by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N.

The announcement came shortly after Mr Rajwana’s meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad. However, sources in the Governor House said late in the night that they had not received a notification about Mr Rajwana’s appointment from the presidency.

The office of the governor fell vacant after the resignation of Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar in January. It took the PML-N leadership over three months to select a new governor.

“Once bitten, twice shy,” was the comment made by Hamza Shahbaz, a scion of the Sharif family, when asked about the inordinate delay in the appointment of Punjab governor a couple of weeks ago.

The comment was a reference to Chaudhry Sarwar, who was appointed governor for his services for the Sharifs during their stay in London while in exile. But he allegedly had sympathies with the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. He joined the PTI soon after resigning as governor.

“We are looking for a good choice – a person of sound reputation who can safeguard interests of the province as well as the PML-N,” Mr Hamza had said.

And in Rafique Rajwana, the Sharifs have found what they were looking for: a docile, obedient, humble, loyal, trustworthy and non-ambitious person from south Punjab.

Mr Rajwana was among three contenders for the governor’s office, the other two being Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal and Saood Majeed. At one stage Tehmina Daultana was also stated to be in the run.

Judiciary and not politics was the first choice of Mr Rajwana, who earned a law degree from the Punjab University Law College and became judicial magistrate. But he could not stay much longer in the profession and resigned as additional district and sessions judge.

He launched his political career as a member of the Multan District Council in the 1979 local bodies’ elections during the Zia regime.

He became senator on a PML-N ticket in 1998 and again in 2012.

Belonging to a family with no political background, Mr Rajwana never uttered a single word against PML-N, at least publicly, and remained steadfast during hard times when Gen Pervez Mushrraf toppled the government of the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless military coup in 1999.

He appeared in courts in a number of cases against the Sharifs, Javed Hashmi, former Punjab governor Sardar Zulfikar Khosa and other leaders of PML-N during the difficult period.

Mr Hashmi joined the PTI before the 2013 general elections but Mr Rajwana, despite being a close friend of him, remained loyal to PML-N.

He played a significant and enthusiastic role in the election campaign of Mr Hashmi when he resigned as PTI MNA and contested, and lost, the by-polls as an independent candidate enjoying tacit support of PML-N.

Referring to docile disposition of the governor-designate, an office-bearer of PML-N said that now no summary to be sent to the governor by the chief minister’s office or a bill from the Punjab Assembly would be opposed or withheld.

Mr Rajwana is also not politically ambitious, unlike Chaudhry Sarwar who surrendered his British nationality and political career in the European Parliament to seek a “big” role in his native country and tried to build his image by launching projects in water supply and education sectors to the dismay of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

Unlike other contenders for governorship who are also from south Punjab, Mr Rajwana has no local opposition and is quite popular among the PML-N cadre in Multan.

Saood Majeed (from Bahawalpur) was openly opposed by Minister of State for Education Baleeghur Rehman, who argued in his media interviews that Mr Majeed was a “settler and not Seraiki”.

Same was the case with Jaffar Iqbal who originally belongs to Gujrat and is a relative of Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal. Many party leaders believe that Jaffar Iqbal has already received more than he deserves as he himself is a senator, his daughter is a member of National Assembly and his wife holds a party office.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2015

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