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April 24, 2019

Ten chief ministers for one province


April 24, 2019

It is indeed unfortunate that the unbelievable story of injustice meted out to smaller provinces has managed to continue even under the PTI regime.

Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan and Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan are second to none in their innocence, powerlessness and naiveté. But the focus on our TV screens has only been stories of Usman Buzdar, the chief minister of Punjab.

There is more mismanagement and administrative incompetence in KP than Punjab. The Peshawar BRT has become a hallmark of the PTI’s incompetence and inefficiency. The PTI’s new government in KP under Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has completely failed to deliver. Jokes are routinely created and circulated about the KP government’s inefficiency but unfortunately, the media highlights only the incompetence of Punjab and its Buzdar.

Though Buzdar is weak and inefficient to run the country’s biggest province, his sympathizer sitting in Bani Gala is very strong. And, while he is on the front seat, there are many powers centres and de-facto chief ministers in Punjab who run parallel systems. On the contrary, the sympathizers of the chief ministers of KP and Balochistan are not that strong and keep changing. Unlike Punjab, the number of the de-facto chief ministers in KP has reached almost one dozen. But the media still discusses only Punjab’s de-facto chief ministers and avoids mentioning those of KP.

Usman Buzdar would never have imagined himself even in his dreams as the chief minister of Punjab, but certainly, Bushra Bibi – the one who recommended his name – would had given him some intimation to this in advance. But the KP CM had neither seen his current post in his dreams nor did he have someone who could give him any sign of the coming blessing. He got the post by chance.

Since Imran Khan was not ready to appoint Pervaiz Khattak as chief minister of KP again, Shah Farman, Atif Khan and Asad Qaiser were strong candidates for the post. But they were not acceptable to Pervaiz Khattak. And so the Mahmood Khan managed to get the strongest post in the province. But due to his inefficiency, nine de-facto chief ministers have emerged in the province, resulting in political and administrative mess in the unfortunate province.

Since Mahmood Khan’s name was suggested and recommended by an MNA from Swat, so that MNA has become the first de-facto chief minister of KP; he is said to regularly interfere in the administration of the province.

KP Governor Shah Farman is a strong aide and close friend of Imran Khan since the 1990s. He has unrestricted access to the prime minister and constantly interacts with him on phone and WhatsApp. Mahmood Khan, on the other hand, has no direct contact with Imran Khan. Hence, Shah Farman is the second de-facto chief minister.

The third de-facto chief minister – and probably the most powerful of all – is the prime minister’s principal Secretary, Azam Khan. Earlier, he was chief secretary of KP. He has become as close to the prime minister as Fawad Hasan Fawad was with Mian Nawaz Sharif. He has appointed officers of his own group on some of the powerful posts of the province, and the bureaucracy too looks towards him instead of the chief minister. The chief minister cannot really counter Azam Khan’s decisions due to the fact that he (the CM) contacts Imran Khan through Azam Khan or Murad Saeed. And Azam Khan is with Imran all the time, almost like his shadow.

Arbab Shahzad is the fourth de-facto chief minister of KP. He is so powerful that he has managed to keep Pervaiz Khattak away from the prime minister. As chief secretary, he had written a letter against the then CM KP Pervaiz Khattak, regarding political interference in the administrative affairs of the province. Khattak had called the letter a charge sheet against the (then) PTI government. Arbab Shahzad also played an important role in the distribution of party tickets for the 2018 elections and he recommended the name of KP Finance Minister Taimur Jhagra. Shahzad, as another de-facto CM, runs the affairs of the province from the PM House.

The post of finance minister is very important and the current KP finance minister, Taimur Jhagra, with the strong support of Arbab Shahzad, has become the fifth de-facto chief minister; he too pays no attention to Mahmood Khan.

The sixth de-facto chief minister of KP is Atif Khan, the provincial minister for tourism. Previously, he was probably the only blue-eyed boy of Imran Khan in Pervaiz Khattak’s cabinet. He still frequently attends the evening parties of Imran Khan. The prime minister had promised him that he would be the next chief minister of KP but that could not happen due to strong opposition by Pervaiz Khattak and Asad Qaiser. Atif Khan too runs a parallel system in the province and pays no heed to Mahmood Khan.

Similarly, Shahram Tarakai, provincial minister for local government, elections and rural development, has become the seventh de-facto chief minister of KP. He is related to Atif Khan and is a member of his group. Tarakai is not on a good terms with

Mahmood Khan and is in close contact with PM Imran Khan through Atif Khan.

The eighth de-facto chief minister is Ajmal Wazir, who got the position of spokesperson of the chief minister despite resistance and opposition from the governor, the chief minister and provincial ministers. He is considered to be a representative of the real architects of this so-called change. Besides his strong backing, he also been working very hard – which is why his power is increasing day by day.

The latest entry into the list of de-facto chief ministers of KP is Iftikhar Durrani. Till recently, he was a paid worker of the PTI but he impressed Imran Khan so much that he was appointed as a special assistant to the PM on media.

He is more known to be interested in financial matters but Fawad Chaudhry, the former minister for information in the centre, was not letting him close to such opportunities. So Durrani got himself transferred to KP for communications strategy. He has shifted to Peshawar and gives the impression that the prime minister has sent him to monitor the

provincial government. Being a representative of the PM, he has become the ninth de-facto chief minister

of KP.

With so many multiple power centres, the story of the KP government’s performance is tragic and painful, but the media has focused only on the performance of Punjab, the biggest province, which has only three de-facto chief ministers. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a rather smaller province, is being run by 10 chief ministers, one real and nine de facto, but the media has turned a deaf ear to its miserable administrative plight.

The writer works for Geo TV.

Email: [email protected]