ISLAMABAD: Race is on for the slot of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) chief minister as former CM Pervaiz Khattak may not be allowed to leave his precious National Assembly seat which PTI may need badly to form government in the Centre.
Well-placed sources in PTI told The News that lobbying for the prized post in KP is at peak and a group of over a dozen MPs-elect from KP led by a prominent PTI leader from KP met PTI chief Imran Khan in Banigala on Friday and stressed Khan to continue Pervaiz Khattak as CM. “The MPs-elect were told by the PTI chief that the decision would be taken at party level and that he won’t tolerate such kind of pressure tactics in future”, the sources added.
Though Pervaiz Khattak may be the best choice of PTI for CM slot because after his rule, PTI has clean swept the province in July 25 election but PTI on the other hand is running short of MNAs to form a strong and stable government independently in the Centre. There might be stranger bedfellows in politics again. Importantly Pervaiz Khattak has won an important National Assembly seat as well which PTI may not want to lose before Imran gets elected as PM.
The sources said that PTI is focusing on every single MNA seat secured by PTI and wants it intact so that a stable government is formed in the Centre and this might be a setback for Khattak as CM.
Other contenders for the slot of CM are Asad Qaiser and Atif Khan. Again Qaiser, former speaker of KP Assembly, has won a National Assembly seat from NA-18, Swabi-I, and secured 78,970 votes. At a moment when PTI needs MNAs not MPAs, Qaiser might not be allowed to opt for the provincial assembly seat.
In such circumstances, Atif emerges as the most favourite candidate for KP CM slot as he is said to be more close to Imran Khan than Pervaiz Khattak and Asad Qaiser. Imran Khan has been praising Atif’s performance in the province as education minister and in many video messages, Khan has been talking high of Atif. With Khattak and Qaiser in the National assembly, there is hardly any candidate who could match Atif in the running for the KP CM slot, the sources said and added that Imran Khan’s snub to over a dozen MPs lobbying for Khattak as KP CM was a clear message that there would be a new face as KP CM as Khattak’s NA seat is more important for PTI than his provincial assembly seat.
Sources said that though otherwise PTI had no issues with Khattak as KP CM from 2013 to 2018 but many MPs had problems with Khattak’s attitude which they had been expressing to the party leadership.