PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan on Tuesday changed the portfolios of two members of his cabinet.

A notification issued by the administration department said in the exercise of the powers conferred by sub-rule (4) of Rule 3 of the KP Government Rules of Business, 1985, the chief minister is pleased to change the portfolios of minister for information Shaukat Yousafzai and adviser to the chief minister on merged districts Ajmal Wazir.

Mr Yousafzai got the labour and culture portfolio and Mr Wazir, who is also the chief minister’s spokesperson, that of information.

Sources claimed both Mr Yousafzai and Mr Wazir had developed acrimonious relationship due to the overlapping responsibilities as the information minister and the chief minister’s spokesperson respectively.

They said the tug of war between the two had irked Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, who had also complained to the prime minister against them, and even Premier Imran Khan called the two to Islamabad and asked them to mend fences.

Labour, culture portfolio goes to former information minister

A source told Dawn that Mr Yousafzai met the chief minister in the day to convince him for appointment as his spokesperson but the latter refused to do so.

He said Mr Yousafzai was interested in the sports and tourism department, whose portfolio had fallen vacant after the sacking of senior minister Mohammad Atif Khan last month, but the chief minister decided to give him the unimportant labour portfolio.

The source said as Mr Yousafzai protested the decision, the culture, which was previously part of the sports and tourism department, was clubbed with the labour department to placate Mr Yousafzai.

Mr Yousafzai in a statement issued here claimed that his portfolio was changed at his request.

“I am thankful to the chief minister for accepting my request for the change of department,” it said.

Mr Yousfzai said he was unable to ‘dedicate time to my far-flung constituency due to the information department’s heavy workload’.

The source said Mr Mahmood, who had served as the sports and tourism minister in the Pervez Khattak cabinet, was interested in keeping the charge of the department with him.

Mr Wazir, who hails from South Waziristan tribal district, had served as the spokesperson for the chief minister and held the charge of the adviser to the chief minister on merged districts.

However, the post of the unelected adviser had become redundant after elected members from tribal districts became part of the cabinet.

The source claimed that two more cabinet changes were on the cards as a MPA from Mardan was likely to made a special assistant to the chief minister, while one of the sitting special assistants to the chief minister was likely to get the charge of the revenue department, which had fallen vacant after the sacking of revenue minister Shakeel Khan on Jan 27 along with senior minister Atif Khan and health minister Shahram Khan Tarakai for allegedly plotting against the government.

Last month, the chief minister gave the additional charge of the health department to finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra amid reports suggesting the return of both Atif and Shahram to the cabinet in the wake of their meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan on Jan 29, two days after their sacking.

The source claimed that the return of Atif and Shahram to the cabinet was very unlikely under the ‘current circumstances’.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2020