ISLAMABAD  -  As the victory of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan in today’s election as the prime minister has become certain, it is likely that he would keep the portfolio of interior minister with him.

In an important development, Dr Shireen Mazari who was earlier a strong contender for the slot of defence minister is now out of the race as the party has refused to give her this position. The party is also considering nominating Dr Arif Alvi as the next president of Pakistan.

The PTI leadership, in a meeting at Bani Gala Thursday, held threadbare discussion on formation of governments in the Punjab and at the Centre, besides considering the members of Imran Khan’s cabinet, the Punjab chief minister and the president of Pakistan.

Sources in the party said the prime minister-in-waiting wished to keep the portfolio of interior ministry. The interior minister is considered as senior minister in the federal government. There are at least three contenders for the slot, including former KP chief minister Pervez Khattak, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed and Shafqat Mahmood.

Background interviews with senior leaders of the PTI indicated Khan wants no controversy over the cabinet portfolios and desires to retain interior ministry with him. It is likely that Pervez Khattak will be given another important portfolio.

Similarly, sources within the party also confirmed Dr Shireen Mazari is now out of the race for defence minister. Dr Mazari was earlier a strong contender for the slot. “Discussions so far held within the PTI indicate the party will consider someone else other than Dr Mazari for the slot of defence minister,” a party leader said.

According to a PTI leader, final decision on a number of cabinet portfolios has yet to be taken. He said it has been finalised that Shah Mahmood Qureshi will be the next foreign minister.

Sources in the PTI said the party is considering Dr Arif Alvi as the next president of the country. Thursday’s meeting discussed names for the position following an earlier announcement of the Election Commission of Pakistan that election for the next president will be held on September 4.

According to a senior party leader, the meeting held discussion on the name of the next Punjab chief minister; however, Imran Khan did not announce the name. He said Khan has been hearing arguments of all senior leaders of the party on the nomination of the Punjab CM, but has so far kept his cards closed to his chest on the matter. A party leader viewed PTI MPA Mian Aslam Iqbal is one of the strong contenders for the slot at the moment. It is likely that PTI will name the Punjab CM today (Friday) after the election of prime minister in the National Assembly.

The PTI Thursday made only one nomination officially after the meeting. The party, through a statement, nominated former provincial minister Shah Farman as the next KP governor.

Shah Farman is a member of the KP Assembly from PK-71. He also won the election on PK-70 with a slight margin, but lost after a re-count.

 

 

IMRAN MUKHTAR