• Azam Khan hopes to control inflation ‘through proper planning’
• Vows to approach PM Shehbaz to clear province’s pending dues

PESHAWAR: The caretaker chief minister of Khyber Pakhtun­khwa, Azam Khan, on Saturday was administered oath by Governor Ghulam Ali in a solemn ceremony held at Governor House in Peshawar.

Azam Khan, who has served as the KP chief secretary, was finalised as a joint candidate for the CM slot in a meeting between former CM Mahmood Khan and then opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani at the Speaker’s House on Friday night.

In a media talk after the oath-taking, CM Khan while vowing to cooperate with the Election Com­m­i­ssion of Pakistan said the “free and fair” elections in the province would be his top priority as the caretaker chief executive.

“Holding elections is ECP’s resp­on­sibility but my priority is to ensure transparent elections in KP,” he said while talking to reporters following his appointment as the caretaker chief minister. The caretaker chief minister said that he had also extended full cooperation to the Election Commission during his tenure as the interior secretary, the state-run APP added.

“We will try to maintain peace since there is a law and order situation in the province [as well],” he informed. He said that efforts would be made to further strengthen the security situation in current circumstances.

CM Khan said that the interim government would take measures to control inflation through a “well-devised strategy and proper planning”. Azam Khan said during his tenure as the caretaker CM, the KP administration would also take steps to promote good governance in the province.

According to the caretaker CM, the issue of dues owed to KP by the federation would also be taken up with the prime minister as the Centre’s failure to release hydel profits and the National Finance Commission award was creating financial constraints in the province.

It may be noted that the agreement on the name of Azam Khan as the caretaker CM came as a surprise since PTI and the Pakistan Democratic Movement had refused to meet to build a consensus on a candidate for the post of interim CM. The two sides reportedly agreed to meet following an intervention by former chief minister Pervez Khattak.

A Barrister-at-Law from Lincoln’s Inn, London, Mr Khan had earlier served as minister for interior, capital administration and development in the caretaker cabinet of prime minister Nasir-ul-Mulk in 2018. He also remained the provincial minister for finance, planning and development in the KP caretaker cabinet of CM Shamsul Mulk from October 2007 to April 2008 and served in key positions in the federal and provincial governments. Before these stints, he served as chief secretary from September 1990 till July 1993.

In a comment on the swift appointment of the interim chief minister, former governor Masood Kausar said it was appreciable that both sides managed to develop a consensus despite serious differences. “What is interesting is that they [Khan and Durrani] were not interested in their men, but the right man and they took the decision within minutes. This is how democracy develops,” Mr Kausar said. He added that political leadership in KP had kept up their Pashtun traditions by agreeing to meet in spite of serious differences.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2023

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