PESHAWAR: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday nominated former provincial minister for sports and a billionaire from Swat Mahmood Khan as the new chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
His nomination as the first-ever chief minister from Malakand division has put an end to two-week-long infighting and lobbying by groups, headed by party heavyweights including former CM Pervez Khattak, over the province’s top slot.
Mr Mahmood had been given the portfolio of home minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but was later removed from the post in the previous term of the PTI government. He also served as irrigation minister for a brief period and later as sports minister when his name hit the headlines in April 2014 in a corruption case filed before the Peshawar High Court. He was accused of transferring Rs1.8 million funds to his personal account. An inquiry, however, cleared him of the charge and held subordinate officials of the sports department responsible for the fund transfer.
Decision puts an end to infighting and lobbying within PTI
Since the July 25 elections, the names of former CM Khattak, former minister for elementary
and secondary education Mohammad Atif Khan and former KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser had been circulating as potential candidates for the top position in the provincial government. Mr Mahmood’s name as a potential candidate emerged only a couple of days back after his meeting with the PTI chief at his Banigala residence in Islamabad.
Party insiders said Mr Mahmood’s name came up for consideration after Mr Khattak had been told that he should work for the party in the National Assembly. According to the insiders, Mr Khattak fought bitterly against the nomination of Mr Atif, who had been assured of being made chief minister by the PTI chief about a year back.
PTI sources said Mr Mahmood was part of the strong Malakand group of PTI lawmakers including Murad Saeed. This group was reportedly against Mr Atif’s nomination from Mardan and joined hands with Mr Khattak.
However, Mr Mahmood’s associates insisted that he didn’t belong to any group and his selection was made by the PTI chief on merit.
The local leadership of the party from Swat demanded that the chief minister be selected from their area, because the PTI had won three NA seats and eight KP assembly seats from the region that had been severely hit by the militancy.
They believed that a chief minister from Swat would bring in more funds for the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure.
However, the PTI chairman while addressing MPAs-elect from KP in Peshawar on Tuesday had asked them to stop lobbying for the chief minister’s slot, declaring that it would be his decision to pick the name for the chief minister’s position.
According to his assets’ declaration, submitted with the Election Commission of Pakistan, Mahmood Khan is a billionaire and owns 89 kanals of agricultural land and 150 shops in Matta Bazaar worth Rs2.516 billion. Mr Khan also had over Rs40 million cash in two bank accounts and his wife owns 35 tolas of gold.
He received his early education from a government school in the Khwaza Khela area of Matta tehsil. He completed his high school education from Peshawar Public School and College and later did MSc (Hons) in Agriculture.
He served as Matta tehsil nazim in 2005 during the Musharraf regime. He joined the PTI in 2012 and won the provincial assembly seat in the 2013 general election, according to the party’s media cell.
In the July 25 general election, Mr Mahmood won PK-9 (Swat-VIII) seat by getting 25,630 votes. His runner-up was ANP’s Mohammad Ayub Khan with 11,399 votes.
Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2018