PESHAWAR: As the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf is set to form the second consecutive government in the province after winning an absolute majority in election in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, three contenders are apparently in the race for the top slot of the province.

Former chief minister Pervez Khattak, his minister for elementary and secondary education Atif Khan and sitting provincial assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar have begun manoeuvring to occupy the coveted office.

PTI is making history to make government in the province for the second tenure at a stretch after emerged the single majority party in the province in elections held on July 25. The party claimed to have won 65 seats.

Pervez Khattak claims that he was the most suitable contender to become chief executive of the province for the next five years term.

Khattak, Atif, Asad Qaisar manoeuvring to lead next govt

He, according to the unofficial election results, has won election on two provincial assembly and one National Assembly seats from his home district, Nowshera.

“No one else except myself can run the government,” Mr Khattak told Dawn after winning polls in his native district.

He takes credit for the smooth completion of the coalition government in the province admitting that he as the chief minister had committed few mistakes, which could be rectified in future.

“I don’t think anyone else can run the coalition setup in the province,” he said.

The Jamaat-i-Islami was the coalition partner of the PTI in the last government.

The Qaumi Watan Party was also part of that coalition but was shown the door from the government twice on corruption and other charges.

Mohammad Atif Khan said PTI chairman Imran Khan had called him to Islamabad on Thursday for a meeting.

He said the main agenda of the meeting in Islamabad was that who would lead the next government in the province and if other parties were to be included in the future setup or not.

“(Imran) Khan Sahib will decide that who will lead the next government in KP, I can’t comment on this subject,” said Mr Atif, who is considered to be a close lieutenant of the PTI chief.

Mr Atif remained an open opponent of Pervez Khattak and had boycotted cabinet meetings on several occasions.

Unofficial results suggest that Atif Khan has won his provincial seat from Mardan and lost the National Assembly seat to Awami National Party provincial president Ameer Haider Khan Hoti.

Sources said Speaker Asad Qaisar was also flexing his muscles to lead the next government in the province.

These sources said Mr Asad, who won NA and PA seats from Swabi, had also rushed to Islamabad to have a meeting the chairman.

Mr Asad has already announced that he would not accept the office of the provincial assembly’s speaker in future.

Former health minister Shahram Tarakai, who also hails from Swabi, is also aspiring for the top slot.

Meanwhile, the PTI is poised to form government in the province without other minority parties. It has secured a clear majority in the provincial assembly.

The unofficial election results show the PTI has secured 65 of the 99 general seats in the 124-member house.

Election in two constituencies has been postponed after the assassination of two candidates in suicide attacks in Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan.

Atif Khan said the PTI did not need the support of any other party as it had sufficient votes to form own government in KP.

“There is no need for the coalition government in the province,” he said.

Insiders told Dawn that the PTI leadership had decided to ask the party’s lawmakers elected on both national and provincial assembly seats to retain the National Assembly seats and relinquish provincial assembly seats.

Pervez Khattak, Ali Ameen Gandapur, Dr Haider Ali and Asad Qaisar have been elected on both NA and PA seats from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Imran Khan, too, has won a National Assembly seat from Bannu. He is likely to relinquish that seat.

Insiders said the PTI had a simple majority in the National Assembly and didn’t want to take risk by relinquishing the NA seats. When contacted, Mr Asad said it was his ‘utmost desire’ to become the chief minister.

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2018

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