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February 18, 2016

Sardar Mehtab’s resignation as governor causes ripples in Hazara politics


February 18, 2016

Abbottabad Diary

ABBOTTABAD: The resignation of Sardar Mahtab Ahmad Khan as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor apparently to re-enter into parliamentary politics has resulted in a guessing game amongst political circles across Hazara, particularly in his native Abbottabad district.

A few TV anchors claimed that revelations of former chairman Capital Development Authority (CDA) Farkhand Iqbal had left no option for Sardar Mahtab but to resign. However, the revelations or allegations had nothing to do with the outgoing governor directly or indirectly.

Some claimed the Khakis were not happy with him over the slow pace of the repatriation of the displaced people from Fata. This notion was buried on February 16 when Sardar Mahtab called on Army Chief General Raheel Sharif at the GHQ in Rawalpindi.

Many claimed that Sardar Mahtab was asked to resign as the parliamentarians from Fata were not happy with him. Some lawmakers from Fata are on record to demand his resignation. Their opposition to him was mainly due to the fact that the governor never gave them undue favours for which they had become accustomed over the years.

Being a non-Pakhtun and non-Pashto speaker was Sardar Mahtab’s inherent disadvantage as the entire Fata is Pashto speaking. His handicap was that he belonged to the Hindko belt. His uprightness and merit-oriented personality also became his disqualification.

If one believes Sardar Mahtab that he indeed wants to enter into parliamentary politics by taking part in the next general elections, there could be no better timing for him to resign. He is a seasoned and intelligent political operator. He understands the dynamics of not only Hazara but Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Sardar Mahtab lost the 2013 general election from NA-17 Abbottabad to PTI candidate Dr Muhammad Azhar Jadoon, thanks to the nexus between Dr Azhar and Amanullah Khan Jadoon - both his political foes who joined hands to defeat him.

The PTI popularity graph was at its peak before the 2013 general election. Its popularity has gone down gradually due to many factors, including internal party strife, relatively poor performance in local government elections, the electorate’s disappointment with its rule in the province and inclusion of turncoats into the party fold.

The PML-N covertly commanded by ex-governor Sardar Mahtab surprised all and sundry on the morning of August 31, 2015 when it announced to support Sardar Sher Bahadur Khan, a PTI renegade and got him elected as Abbottabad district nazim.

This was a major blow to the PTI whose entire leadership was caught napping. PTI filed a reference against its dissident leader Sardar Sher Bahadur along with 20 other PTI members and they were de-seated by the Election Commission of Pakistan on January 30.

Interestingly, a couple of weeks prior to the resignation of Sardar Mahtab, his deputies in the party, Deputy Speaker National Assembly Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Senator Javed Abbasi and other PML-N leaders called on Tehreek Suba Hazara leader Sardar Baba Haider Zaman and assured him of their support for the creation of Hazara province.

This was yet another surprise and a shrewd political move to cash in on the deepening political differences - which have translated into rivalries - between Sardar Haider Zaman and Amanullah Khan Jadoon, who were once very close political comrades.

Sardar Mahtab has yet to visit his hometown Abbottabad and start political activities, but his political rivals are wary. They are well aware of his political skills. Political circles are attaching much importance to the PML-N’s efforts to woo Baba Haider Zaman who is indisposed nowadays. A possible nexus between the elderly Sardar Haider Zaman and Sardar Mahtab could certainly paint an interesting picture on the political canvas of Abbottabad.

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