PESHAWAR, May 21: NWFP Governor Khalilur Rehman resigned on Sunday and has been asked to continue till the appointment of a successor, according to highly-placed sources.

The Governor’s House in Peshawar did not return calls for confirmation or denial of the report.

However, a private television channel said Mr Khalil had denied reports about his resignation.

Highly credible sources said that President Gen Pervez Musharraf had called the 72-year-old former naval commander to the President’s House last week and conveyed the government’s decision to replace him.

The sources said that the president had offered Mr Khalil an ambassadorial assignment which the latter reportedly declined.

The president, the sources said, then told Mr Khalil that he would be formally conveyed the decision after the return of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz from his four-nation tour.

Speculations about Commander Khalil’s possible departure had been going around for some time but the government was finding it difficult to find a suitable successor.

Senior officials claimed that the government had developed serious misgivings about his handling of the job that included overseeing affairs in Fata, including the restive Waziristan tribal region, soon after his appointment.

Governor Khalil on his part is said to have found it difficult to run Fata with an increasingly assertive military and 80,000 troops in the tribal region.

Quite a few names have been in circulation as possible successors to Mr Khalil but former corps commander, Peshawar, Lt-Gen (retd) Ali Mohammad Jan Orakzai, is possibly the front-runner.

Other contenders include former chief secretary and head of the task force on Fata, Sahibzada Imtiaz, and former vice-chancellor of Peshawar University Lt-Gen (retd) Mumtaz Gul.

A Fata parliamentarian speculated that federal minister and the PML’s provincial president Amir Muqam could be one of the potential candidates. A senior official said that an announcement regarding Mr Khalil’s successor could be made on Monday.

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