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January 24, 2020

Differences between KP CM, cabinet members deepen

Top Story

January 24, 2020

PESHAWAR: Differences between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and some of his cabinet members have deepened amid reports that Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken notice of the matter and reportedly directed both sides to wait till his homecoming so that he listens to them in person.

Senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders told The News that certain people in the party had also taken notice of serious differences between the chief minister and some of the cabinet members and decided to constitute a jirga and resolve the issue before it could further damage the government and party image.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan was already aware of the cold war between the chief minister and some cabinet members as they had approached him a number of times and discussed with him some issues related to government,” said a senior PTI leader who is close to Imran Khan.

Pleading anonymity, he said the differences between them deepened after the recent reshuffle in the provincial cabinet. “Some people in the cabinet were not happy with the changes made by the chief minister in their portfolios. They started conspiracies against the chief minister, though he didn’t touch those supposed to be a potential threat to his chair,” explained the PTI leader.

Another senior PTI leader, when approached, said he was not aware of any such development. However, he said that Imran Khan was aware of the issues in KP and had suggested to some party leaders to sit with the two rival groups and find an amicable solution acceptable to them.

“What I know is that Imran Khan is presently standing behind Mahmood Khan. But Mahmood Khan has to improve his performance and deliver if he wants to continue as chief minister in future,” said the PTI leader on condition of anonymity.

He said the party chairman should have taken notice of the differences between the chief minister and senior party leaders before they came out in public and maligned each other. He said the way the issue was raised hurt Prime Minister Imran Khan and the senior leadership.

Sources close to the chief minister told The News that the differences cropped up after Mahmood Khan refused to accommodate in the cabinet some party MPAs recommended to him by the cabinet members.

“There would have been no issue had the chief minister adjusted their nominees in the cabinet. The chief minister used to hold them in high regard as he knew about their connections with Imran Khan and status in the party,” said a PTI office-bearer close to the chief minister.

Also, the sources said that Mahmood Khan was already under pressure from National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and federal minister Ali Amin Gandapur who wanted him to adjust their younger brothers in the cabinet, which he refused.

On the other hand, members of the so-called ‘forward bloc’ alleged that the chief minister had no role in the governance and was letting non-elected people to make important decisions.

“We don’t have personal enmity with Mahmood Khan or anybody else. The reason we raised these issues is because people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa trusted Imran Khan and brought us into power but we failed to deliver,” said a member of the disgruntled group.

Pleading anonymity, he said they had 45 MPAs when the PTI was in power earlier and presently the party has 96 MPAs but the previous government was strong compared to the present one.

“Since the chief minister is weak, it empowered non-elected people around him to make important decisions. All important positions in different departments are on sale and it is an open secret,” he alleged. He claimed to have shared all this information with the party chairman.

He said the chief minister had publicly told them that some of the ministers were involved in selling jobs in their respective departments but instead of removing them from the cabinet they were given other portfolios.

“We didn’t make any ‘forward bloc’ to weaken the government or blackmail the chief minister. The aim of our struggle is to admit that our government is not delivering as per wishes of the people,” said the disgruntled PTI lawmaker.

He said they had requested the chief minister to adjust someone from Mardan district in the cabinet to do some development work there.

He said nine MPAs were elected on the PTI seat from Mardan but the district was not given due representation in the government. “And from Swat, besides the chief minister, there are two ministers in the cabinet,” he pointed out. He claimed that if their concerns were not addressed, he and other members will prefer to quit the cabinet. “Why would we like to be blamed for someone else’s corruption?” he asked.