Peshawar - At last, Pakistan Tahrik Insaf (PTI) policy makers yesterday made the unexpected ‘D-notification’ move against three of its strong and key ministers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Atif Khan, Shahram Tarakai and Shakeel Khan have been stripped off their respective ministerial portfolios after the alleged “grouping”. Atif Khan was Senior Minister for Sports, Culture and Tourism, Shahram Tarakai for Health and Shakeel Ahmad Minister for Revenue and Estate.

KP Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai also told the meeia, “On the instructions of prime minister, three KP ministers have been removed from their slots because of their grouping in the party”.

The party discipline is above persons, he stated. 

A notification issued by KP Chief Secretary Taj Muhammad reads that KP Governor Shah Farman exercised his powers under Article 132 read with clause 1 of Article 105 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

“On their de-notification from their respective offices, they have ceased to hold portfolios of provincial ministers with immediate effect.”

Shaukat Yousafzai revealed that the leaders had opposed the policies set by the government and were involved in the grouping for a long time, including an attempt to form a group within the provincial cabinet.

“There was no support from these ministers in the merger of erstwhile FATA with KP […] merging FATA with the province was a great achievement of Chief Minister Mehmood Khan,” he said, adding that in the former provincial government, these ministers did not maintain good relations with former KP CM Pervez Khattak.

“Prime Minister had also taken notice of the matter and expressed resentment and so bold decisions were needed to be taken […] these ministers gave an impression that CM Mehmood Khan was not deserving of his post and doesn’t work properly,” Yousafzai maintained.

Both Atif Khan and Shahram Tarakia, once were most trustworthy faces of the party and also “star performers” of the KP government.

Earlier, Party Chairman Imran Khan tweeted, “There is absolutely no truth in rumours that I am disappointed in our KP Ministers Atif & Shahram, in fact they are KP govt’s star performers”. 

During the previous provincial term of PTI, Atif Khan was education minister and he had remained in news for conflicts with Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak and present Federal Defense Minister. Atif Khan and Shahram Trakai are known for their clean and neat job and they wanted to implement the party’s ideology of “Justice and Corruption-Free Pakistan”.

In 2018 General Elections, PTI came into power in historical majority. Atif Khan was the first choice for provincial premier seat but in federal the party couldn’t secure the safest numbers. Tussle between Atif Khan and Pervaiz Khattak never de-escalated in this period and it travelled from Peshawar to Islamabad. Pervaiz Khattak along with his likeminded elements stood against Atif Khan in federal level and favoured Mehmood Khan for chief minister slot and at last Chairman Imran Khan also surrendered to seasoned players.

Atif Khan levels allegations of corruption and commission against Khattak and he was one of the hardest critics of the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

Despite of Imran Khan’s few reconciliation attempts between Khattak and Atif, the standoff could not dislodge.

Without any doubt, these three sacked ministers were doing excellent job in their ministries, during the last one and half years of the PTI tenure.

KP health ministry didn’t earn satisfactory name and for the reason the ministry once again was handed over to Shahram Khan. Indeed ideological workers are questioning the government performance. These ministers said, “we were addressing street workers’ grievances and that’s why openly criticized bad governance, corruption and loose administration. For the party and its ideology, we have spoken and will speak at every right time, Atif Khan told.

There are 145 members in the KP assembly in which PTI members have crossed 100 figure and this overwhelming majority makes CM Mehmood Khan historically the strongest chief minister of KP.

Will the de-notification of the ideological and outspoken Atif Khan and his friends answer all the questions about weak government machinery?

The effects of this very bold decision of KP government wouldn’t erase from the memories in nearest future. Atif Khan has 15 more members of provincial assembly although the numbers game in KP is in safest hands as for government making PTI needs 73 members in 145. Removing the ministers from the cabinet over differences is also a threatening message for Punjab MPAs, where the party doesn’t have such tremendous majority, keeping Punjab in hands is always crucial for federal.

But one thing is for sure, both Shahram Khan and Atif Khan have motivated party voters in nationalists strongholds -- Swabi and Mardan. They played political cards with great planning and accuracy in 2013 and 2018 and won majority seats for the party. The forthcoming local government elections will be a test for the chief minister and his team without these senior guys. After the recent inflation, the PTI workers can’t justify the party stance and elections slogans.