IT looks like it’s not yet over for Kamran Tessori. Having support from all stakeholders in the past, it appears he still has his charms, although rumours are rife about his imminent departure from the palatial Sindh Governor House and even his own associates believe he’s still in deep water.

The businessman-turned-politician was appointed the Sindh governor in October 2022 as a nominee of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) as a result of a power-sharing agreement between his party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

After the Feb 8 general elections and formation of the Shehbaz Sharif-led federal government, it was agreed between the PML-N and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that the governors of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab would be from the PPP while the governors of Sindh and Balochistan would be from PML-N. Later, the PML-N decided to give the governor’s post to its coalition partner the MQM-P.

During talks with the PML-N after the elections, the MQM-P had made clear to it that it was not interested in replacing Mr Tessori. However, it was the PPP which asked the PML-N to remove the incumbent Sindh governor.

MQM-P says federal govt hasn’t asked for change of governor or appointment of a new one in Sindh, at any level

Sources said that President Asif Zardari was reportedly not happy with Governor Tessori due to some of his actions during the caretaker set-up in the province and he had conveyed to the PML-N and powerful quarters that a new governor must be appointed in Sindh.

Earlier this month, the PPP took a firm stand against governor Tessori. First, PPP-Sindh General Secretary Waqar Mehdi issued a hard-hitting statement, accusing Mr Tessori of widening the gulf between urban and rural population of Sindh and demanding his removal. Then, Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab fired a salvo that the decision to replace the incumbent governor had already been taken but the implementation was delayed due to Ramazan.

While the PML-N kept mum, the PPP’s opposition to Mr Tessori casts doubts about his future.

Several names have sprung up, including ex-MQM MNA and senator Khushbakht Shujaat, Senator-elect Faisal Vawda, former law minister Dr Farogh Nasim and ex-chairman of Board of Investment Azfar Ahsan as potential successor of the incumbent governor. Former caretaker chief minister and retired Justice Maqbool Baqar is the latest addition in the long list of names.

The sources said that initially, the MQM-P had itself considered the idea of replacing Mr Tessori but the hard-hitting statements by the PPP against him compelled the party to take a firm position in his favour.

When contacted, a spokesperson for the Sindh governor told Dawn: “The MQM-P has given only Kamran Tessori’s name [to the PML-N to retain him as the governor] and if any other name comes up, it will not be from the MQM-P.”

When Dawn approached the MQM-P about the future of Mr Tessori, a party spokesperson claimed that the federal government had not contacted the party at any level regarding the change of the Sindh governor or the appointment of a new governor in Sindh.

“We have only learned about these discussions through the media. If we are officially contacted on this matter, we will provide a position after consulting internally, but for now, any speculation is premature,” he said.

When asked to comment on whether the party was considering Khushbakht Shujaat, Faisal Vawda, Azfar Ahsan or Farogh Nasim as Mr Tessori’s replacement, the spokesperson said: “When the federal government has not contacted MQM-Pakistan regarding the change of the governor, and based on our information, no such decision is imminent, then we have no intention of proposing or discussing any alternative names for the governor of Sindh.”

However, a senior MQM-P leader, privy to the internal discussions about Mr Tessori’s fate, told Dawn that the incumbent governor was still in hot water. “I think we have to make a decision soon,” he said.

“The governor has stirred a hornet’s nest when he played a proactive role in the affairs of the Sindh bureaucracy during the caretaker government. Besides, his decision to turn [part of] Governor House into an IT learning centre does not bode well for many and it seems he is paying the price of his popularity,” the leader said.

Regarding potential candidates, he said Khushbakht Shujaat chose not to contest Feb 8 general elections from the platform of the MQM-P, despite the fact that she was asked to file her nomination papers from the Clifton-Defence National Assembly constituency (NA-241). “She has not been seen in any important party activity for quite some time…I don’t know whether she’s still with us or not,” he added.

However, the MQM-P spokesperson, when asked about Ms Shujaat’s status in the party, said: “Former Senator Khushbakht Shujaat remains in touch with us, just as she has been in the past.”

Meanwhile, it seems it’s business as usual for the governor as he administered the oath to the newly inducted members of Murad Ali Shah-led Sindh cabinet, chaired a meeting of business community and met Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab at the Governor House on Wednesday.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2024

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