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August 13, 2018

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Imran intervenes to resolve intra-party differences in KP

Nominated CM KPK Mehmood Khan and former ministers Atif Khan And Shahram Tarakai held a meeting with Chairman PTI Imran Khan in Banigala. Photo PTI Islamabad

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan intervened and resolved an emerging crisis in the party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by convincing former education minister and contender for the chief minister's position Mohammad Atif Khan to work under the proposed chief minister Mehmood Khan in the province. Sources in PTI told The News that Imran Khan called Atif Khan and his relative and ex-health minister Shahram Khan Tarakai to his Banigala residence two days back and briefed them about the current situation of the party in the Centre and the province.

The nomination of Mehmood Khan as candidate for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister by Imran Khan had shocked and saddened Atif Khan. Some PTI legislators claimed that Imran Khan had personally backed the former education minister from Mardan, Atif Khan, for the chief minister's slot, but he could not sustain pressure of the two most influential party figures, and had to change his mind to keep them happy.

Atif Khan had told The News initially the decision had surprised him and that he would think about his future plan after consulting his family, friends and supporters.

According to PTI sources, some of the party parliamentarians played a negative role by fuelling differences between Atif Khan and former chief minister Pervez Khattak over the chief minister’s issue.

When Mehmood Khan was nominated for the chief minister's job, these elements tried to instigate Atif Khan and Shahram Tarakai to resist the decision and even assured them of their support. The sources said that Atif Khan was hurt by the decision but he and Shahram Tarakai decided that they would not create any problem for Imran Khan.

"Imran Khan held a detailed meeting with Atif Khan and Shahram Tarakai and explained to them the whole situation within the party and urged them to become part of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government under chief minister-designate Mehmood Khan," a senior PTI officer told The News in Islamabad.

Pleading anonymity, the sources said that Imran first held a separate meeting with Atif Khan and Shahram Tarakai. After convincing them to continue their role in the next PTI government, the sources said, he also called Mehmood Khan to the meeting.

"Imran Khan addressed three of them -- Mehmood Khan, Atif Khan and Shahram Tarakai and dispelled the perception within the party that Mehmood Khan was nominated chief minister either by Pervez Khattak or Jehangir Khan Tareen. Imran then turned his face towards Mehmood Khan and made it clear to him that he had personally chosen him for this important position and would expect him to work without being influenced," said a PTI insider.

Mehmood Khan reportedly assured Imran Khan that he would take all the PTI parliamentarians on board and would not disappoint him. "Mehmood Khan told Imran Khan that he had given him a lot of respect by choosing him for the chief minister’s position and would never damage his reputation and the party's image for someone else's interest," said the PTI office-bearer.

He said Atif and Shahram assured them of their cooperation and promised to support Mehmood Khan in the province. According to sources, Imran later directed them to sit together and select the best possible people for the provincial cabinet.

There were rumours in the party earlier that Atif and Shahram and their group within the party might create problems for the new chief minister but after their meeting with Imran Khan, it is believed that the party chairman has overcome the crisis before it could have deepened.

Imran Khan was worried about serious differences among the senior PTI leaders over the chief minister's selection and feared that it might divide the party in KP if he appointed anyone among the three contenders -- Pervez Khattak, Atif Khan and Asad Qaiser.

When reached, Atif Khan confirmed their meeting with Imran Khan but avoided to comment further, though he said they would always follow the party chairman's directives.

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