KP interim CM Azam Khan passes away aged 89

Published November 11, 2023
Caretaker Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mohammad Azam Khan. — File photo
Caretaker Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mohammad Azam Khan. — File photo

Caretaker Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mohammad Azam Khan passed away on Saturday, a hospital spokesperson said. He was 89, according to his nephew Muhammad Ahmed.

Rehman Medical Complex spokesperson Shabbir Shah confirmed the death to Dawn.com.

He added that the former bureaucrat was admitted to an intensive care unit last night after he fell unwell a day ago.

The chief minister’s nephew said his uncle had invited him yesterday and discussed a plan to visit Charsadda University next Monday and was “absolutely fine”.

“I was making the arrangements [to visit the university], meanwhile news of his death arrived,” Ahmed told Dawn.com.

Azam Khan took oath as the KP chief minister in January this year after the dissolution of the provincial assembly after PTI chief Imran Khan decided to quit the KP and Punjab assemblies where he was in power.

He was a Barrister-at-Law from Lincoln’s Inn, London, and had earlier served as minister for interior, capital administration and development in the caretaker cabinet of ex-premier Nasir-ul-Mulk in 2018.

He had 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 had served as chief secretary from September 1990 till July 1993. He has also remained chairman of the Pakistan Tobacco Board.

KP governor invites former CM, opposition leader for consultation

Later in the day, KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali sent a letter to former CM Mahmood Khan and former KP opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani, inviting them to begin the consultation process under Article 224(1A) of the Constitution for the next chief minister’s appointment.

It advised the two to be present at the Chief Minister House on Sunday at 11am, adding that the consultation process would be concluded within three days from today.

“Since the election date is already been announced, it is expected that meaningful consultation would result in fruitful consensus,” the letter reads.

New CM to be appointed soon: info minister

Earlier today, Interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi stated, “ The new KP CM will be appointed sooner rather than later. There is no room for any speculations.“

In a post on X, he stated that the “spirit of the constitution is crystal clear” and that “after the sad demise of the chief minister, the governor, the chief secretary and the entire provincial government shall perform their duties accordingly”.

“There is no crisis,” he clarified while indicating the provincial cabinet would stay intact and only a new chief minister would be appointed.

Meanwhile, speaking to Geo News, former Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) secretary Kanwar Dilshad explained that with Khan’s death, the provincial cabinet in KP stood “automatically dissolved”.

Dilshad further outlined that until a new chief minister is elected, the governor will assume authority and manage provincial affairs.

He emphasised that Article 224 of the Constitution empowers the Senate to make decisions in emergency situations, and if there’s a disagreement in selecting a new CM, the matter will be referred to the ECP.

According to Dilshad, the leadership of the House and the leader of the opposition in the Senate will consult on the CM’s name. In case of disagreement, the ECP will intervene.

He noted that the entire process should conclude within a week as stipulated under the laws.

However, policy adviser Fauzia Yazdani said the Constitution and the Elections Act 2017 were silent on what happens in case of an interim or elected chief minister’s death.

“Ideally, governor. being [a] federal representative, should be appointed by the ECP as acting chief minister or chief justice and high court,” she wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Condolences

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar remembered the chief minister as “surely an honest and pious person”. He prayed for the deceased’s family to be given patience.

President Dr Arif Alvi also expressed his grief on the news and recalled that he found Khan a “gentleman” whenever he met him.

The ECP and the government conveyed their grief as well.

The interim information minister described the chief minister as a “gentleman” and a “polite” person while caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti also prayed for Khan’s family.

The PML-N’s official X account stated that ex-premier Shehbaz Sharif conveyed his condolences, noting that Khan fulfilled his responsibilities as a civil servant with “honesty and professionalism”.

“I got the chance to work with him during the coalition government of 16 months [and] was very impressed by his passion for service,” the PML-N president was quoted as saying.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the chief minister’s services would be remembered.

Sindh Governor Kamran Khan Tessori expressed his grief on the CM’s death and prayed for the deceased’s ranks.

Former KP CM Mahmood Khan expressed his “immense grief” at the “painful news”.

PPP leader Faisal Karim Kundi and PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan said they were saddened by the loss and sent their prayers to Khan’s family.


Additional reporting by Irfan Sadozai.

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