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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

27 January 2020, Monday 

PTI’s provincial problems come home to KP



The party sacks three ministers in the province for activities against the Chief Minister

PR Daily Brief | D. Suba Chandran

What happened?
As Imran Khan has been attempting to address the intra-party fire in Punjab, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the PTI has a bigger influence when compared with the other provinces, had to engage in a surgical strike by sacking three cabinet ministers for “plotting” against the Chief Minister in KP. (Dawn, 27 January 2020)

Three ministers of the KP cabinet - Mohammad Atif Khan (State Minister for Tourism, Culture, Sports, Archaeology and Youth Affairs), Shakeel Ahmad (State minister for Revenue), and  Shahram Tarakai (State Minister for Local Government, Elections and Rural Development) were removed by the Governor of the province. Shaukat Ali Yousafzai, the Information Minister was quoted saying: “The sacked ministers were involved in grouping within the party and did not own decisions of the cabinet.” (Dawn, 27 January 2020)

What is the background?
Mahmood Khan has been appointed as the Chief Minister of KP following the 2018 elections, that witnessed the PTI sweeping the KP. Of the 145 seats for the provincial assembly, the PTI has 95 seats. The primary opposition for the PTI in the provincial assembly comes from JUI-F, ANP, PML-N and PPP that have only 15, 12, 6 and 5 seats respectively. This would underline the strength of the PTI in the KP provincial assembly when compared to the other provinces. In Punjab, the PTI only holds 181 seats out of the total 371, where the PML-N has 166 seats. In Sindh, the province is ruled by the PPP government. In Balochistan, though the PTI is a part of the ruling coalition in the province, it has only seven seats out of the total 65.

The primary problem for the PTI in the KP has been to find an able replacement to Pervez Khattak, who is now a federal minister in Islamabad. Khattak was not only a strong leader within the PTI but also was a strong Chief Minister of the PTI in KP during 2013-18. During his period as the Chief Minister, he was primarily responsible for addressing the security situation in the KP and also deepen the PTI roots within the province.

Mahmood Khan’s appointment as the Chief Minister in 2018 was a surprise even within the PTI. According to reports, though Imran Khan preferred Atiq Khan (who was sacked now), he had to yield to the pressure from Khattak and other seniors from the party. Mahmood Khan served as the provincial minister for Sports, Culture, Tourism and Museums during 2016-18 under the then PTI Chief Minister Pervez Khattak. Before that, he also served as the provincial minister for Home and Tribal Affairs. Mahmood Khan is considered closer to Khattak; he was not a strong candidate for the CM position within KP, and the latter was primarily responsible for pushing him to the post. 

The three ministers who have been sacked on Sunday were reported to be attempting to form a forward bloc within the party in KP. According to Dawn, they got a few provincial assembly members for a dinner party, that has raised the red flag to the party’s provincial decision-making team, where Khattak has a strong influence. Khattak and Atiq Khan, who has been sacked have their differences as well.

The provincial assembly that was to reconvene, has been postponed to February. 

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