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January 27, 2020

Mahmood Khan wins first round

Top Story

January 27, 2020

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had reportedly offered to resign when two of his key ministers, Mohammad Atif Khan and Shahram Khan Tarakai, along with a few others raised questions about his performance and ability to improve governance and check corruption.

Sources close to the chief minister told The News that he offered his resignation to Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is also the chairman of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The latter stood by him and eventually took tough action against those who challenged the chief minister’s authority. By sacking Atif Khan and Shahram Tarakai, who were considered close to Imran Khan and once described by him as KP government’s star performers, along with the third minister Shakeel Khan, the prime minister sent a strong message that action would be taken against anyone violating party discipline.

Sources having access to the chief minister said he had come to the conclusion after his 15-month rule that action had to be taken to end the grouping in the party and overcome the conspiracies being hatched against him. “The chief minister felt either he or Atif Khan would have to go. He had to fight against anti-PTI forces as well as his rivals in the party,” the source added.

Having won the first round against his opponents with full backing from Prime Minister Imran Khan, Mahmood Khan would have to address the issues and remove the grievances that were highlighted by Atif Khan, Shahram Tarakai and Shakil Khan to wean away the lawmakers from the group and win back their support.

Though bruised by the crisis in the party, the chief minister could emerge stronger if he is able to deliver by providing good governance, control corruption and fulfill promises made to the people.

As for Atif Khan and Shahram Tarakai, they didn’t expect such a drastic action by Imran Khan without even being heard. Sources close to Atif Khan said he remained provincial minister for the last seven years, performed well as admitted by the prime minister and faced no allegation of corruption. They said he or Shahram Tarakai weren’t making any group in the PTI or planning a no-trust move against him as their sole purpose was to sensitize the prime minister and the chief minister about the issues of poor governance and corruption as it was tarnishing the PTI image.

Despite the chief minister’s denials, his brother Ahmad Khan’s name has repeatedly been mentioned recently as someone with clout and able to influence Mahmood Khan’s decisions. The role of his principal secretary Shahab Ali Shah and personal secretary Imtiaz Khan has also being questioned by those critical of the chief minister. For now though, the sources said Atif Khan, Shahram Tarakai and Shakil Khan would stay quiet, consult like-minded lawmakers and party colleagues and plan their next strategy. The role of Defence Minister Pervez Khattak in getting the three ministers sacked is also being discussed in PTI circles. He had reportedly accompanied Mahmood Khan during the meeting with the prime minister. Pervez Khattak is no friend of Atif Khan as they were candidates for the chief minister’s job when PTI won the July 2018 general election in KP. Imran Khan chose Mahmood Khan instead to the surprise of all and Pervez Khattak was reportedly satisfied with the decision as Atif Khan couldn’t get the job.