Babar Saleem Khan Swati: Who is the newly-elected Speaker of KP Assembly?

Maham Qureshi
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Khan Swati. —
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Khan Swati. —

Babar Saleem Khan Swati, the newly elected Speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly, carries the mantle of his princely ancestors, who ruled Mansehra for ages and has been generously bestowed with a wealth of historical wisdom, swathes of experience, and political acumen. 

Swati, who is currently a member of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), contested the February 8, 2024, general elections as an independent candidate backed by the beleaguered Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Born on June 3, 1962, Swati hails from the powerful Jehangiri family of the Swati clan of Mansehra. Swati has an illustrious lineage. Sultan Jehangir Gabri, his forefather, was the ruler of the Sultanate of Swat.
He is the grandson of Jageerdar Jummah Khan Swati, the fourth "Khan of Mansehra City" during British Rule, and the great-grandson of Jageerdar Zaman Khan Swati, the third inherited "Khan of Mansehra" during Sikh rule. 

He went to Islamia Public School, Mansehra, and pursued further studies at Edwards College, where he aced his FSC exam in pre-engineering. Swati holds a BS (Hons) degree in Geology from the University of Peshawar, which speaks volumes about his academic excellence.

His political career has been punctuated by various leadership roles. Swati served as PTI's district and regional president for the Hazara Region. Additionally, he also held executive positions in Pakistan State Oil, the state-run oil marketing company, and has been instrumental as an administrator in an organisation dedicated to the development of tribal areas.

Swati, in 2011, jumped into the local body elections and walked away with the position of Union Council Nazim. Following this success, he declared his allegiance to the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N). After he was denied a ticket by the PML-N, Swati, despite facing challenges in the 2013 general elections as an independent candidate, remained true to his political pursuits.

In the 2018 general elections, the Imran Khan-founded PTI handed him a ticket to a provincial seat — an opportunity he availed successfully. Later he served as an advisor to the interior/home minister for a brief period.

In the most recent February 8 general elections, Swati emerged victorious as a PTI-backed independent candidate on the provincial seat KP-37 Mansehra, humbling PML-N's Sardar Zahoor Ahmed. His dedication to public service and political resilience continue to shape his contributions to the political landscape of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Swati's victory in the February 8 vote marks his political ascension and reestablishes the fact that his electorate has faith in him. The long governing legacy of his ancestry coupled with his commitment to the development of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has now been put to a test and the future of the region depends on his living up to the people's expectations.