Thursday June 01, 2023

No chance of reconciliation between KP CM, Atif Khan

October 21, 2020

PESHAWAR: There is little chance of reconciliation between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and former senior minister Mohammad Atif Khan at this stage due to their mutual distrust.

Sources close to the chief minister told The News that there is no plan to re-induct Atif Khan, a senior leader of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), in the cabinet. “Not at all!” the sources said when asked whether Atif Khan could be made a minister again after having been sacked about nine months ago. They said the chief minister had tolerated Atif Khan’s critical comments and manoeuvres for long when he was in the cabinet and got him sacked by complaining to Prime Minister Imran Khan as a last resort.

Atif Khan, on the other hand, made it clear he wasn’t seeking a return to the cabinet. “I have been a minister for seven years .so it isn’t something that I crave for. I will agree to become a minister again if Imran Khan asks me,” he argued when approached by this writer.

According to Atif Khan, certain PTI figures wanted him to reconcile with the chief minister and rejoin the cabinet to help the government to deliver on its promises and improve governance. However, he felt the chief minister didn’t want him to be in his cabinet while he too had no real interest in becoming a minister in such a situation. “I served the PTI to the best of my ability. I have no corruption charges against me,” he maintained, adding that he was now able to give more time to his business activities and spend two days every week in his Mardan constituency to remain in touch with his supporters.

The above-mentioned sources said there was also no chance of re-inducting Shakeel Ahmad, the PTI lawmaker from Malakand district who was minister of revenue when expelled from the cabinet along with Atif Khan and Shahram Khan Tarakai in January this year on disciplinary grounds. They claimed the sacked ministers had tried to use their contacts to make a comeback in the cabinet, but the chief minister had been given the authority to decide their fate after being empowered by the Prime Minister.

Shahram Tarakai, who belongs to an affluent and influential political family from Swabi, was finally re-inducted in the cabinet in September. His father, Liaqat Tarakai is a Senator, his uncle Usman Tarakai is an MNA while another uncle Mohammad Ali Tarakai is an MPA. The PTI government couldn’t ignore the Tarakai that have four lawmakers and played a key role in defeating the Awami National Party (ANP) in its Swabi strongholds in all recent elections.

However, Shahram Tarakai was made to wait for weeks before being given a portfolio and that too not of his choice. He reportedly wanted health, the portfolio he held before his sacking, or local government that he managed earlier. Instead, he was made minister of elementary and secondary education, which isn’t though unimportant.

Atif Khan, Shahram Tarakai and Shakeel Ahmad were shown the door after being accused of conspiring against the chief minister and making their own group in the PTI.

The three denied the accusations. It came as a shock as Atif Khan was considered close to Imran Khan and had even been considered as the next chief minister after the PTI’s spectacular victory in the July 2018 general election that took everyone by surprise as the voters in the province had never re-elected any incumbent ruling party in the past.

Atif Khan and Shahram Tarakai in their media appearances at the time argued that they were concerned about the allegations of corruption and poor governance being made against the provincial government and wanted the chief minister to initiate measures to improve the situation.

Later, they were invited by the prime minister for a meeting billed as an attempt at reconciliation amid media reports that the two former ministers could be reinstated. This didn’t happen as Mahmood Khan put his foot down and made it clear with support from the prime minister that he would only re-induct the sacked ministers on his terms and allot them portfolios as he wished.