PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led administration in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) is faced with a double-edged sword as its chief minister decides the fate of a top-ranking official of the government-owned Bank of Khyber (BOK).
“The finance department will move a summary on Wednesday to CM Pervaiz Khattak, who will decide whether or not to retain Shamsul Qayyum as managing director of the bank,” sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune.
Qayyum has been a bone of contention between the provincial government and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) ever since his management accused the JI-affiliated provincial Finance Minister Muzaffar Said of allegations of illegal appointment, use of bank’s money in his political rallies and intrusion in the bank’s affairs.
“The summary will be moved from the finance department to the chief minister and the political government will decide between its ally — the JI — or the MD,” said a senior government official on the condition of anonymity.
The K-P government is under pressure from JI, which wants the termination of Qayyum, at the time when Khattak’s cabinet needs its ally’s strong support in the provincial assembly to maintain its majority in the house.
“We have been assured that the matter would be taken to its logical conclusion within this week,” JI provincial chief Mushtaq Ahmed Khan said while speaking to The Express Tribune. “We have a very clear and firm stance in the matter. He [BoK] has been declared guilty by the inquiry committee and the K-P cabinet has also sought an explanation from him, the last step is his termination.”
JI’s significance as an ally to the PTI-led government has doubled after the ousting of Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) from the coalition government on Sunday. JI with its seven seats in the provincial assembly forms the coalition government with the PTI which has 59 members of the total 124 seats in the house. The opposition’s strength has reached a total of 55 seats after QWP members’ removal from treasury benches.
The scuffle between the JI and BoK MD surfaced last year in April, when this newspaper published a story in which finance minister Said expressed his unawareness regarding the voluntary separation scheme of the government-owned bank and opposed the move. The day after the story was published, the BoK management published an advertisement against Said, leveling serious allegations against him. The JI refuted the allegations and sought immediate action against the bank’s MD. This led CM Khattak to form a cabinet committee to probe the case under the supervision of provincial minister for irrigation, Sikander Sherpao.
Although the committee’s report was never made public, the issue was cooled down through backdoor negotiations and, in September last year, the bank published another advertisement to retract its allegations against the finance minister.
Sources say the provincial chief minister has also been facing difficulties within PTI due to his alleged differences with a few of his cabinet members, including Education Minister Atif Khan and Health Minister Shahram Khan, who are believed to be close to the party chairman Imran Khan.
Moreover, the chief minister is also opposed by the former provincial minister for mines and minerals development, Ziaullah Afridi, who was arrested by the provincial Ehtesab Commission over corruption allegations last year.
“The JI has once again raised this issue to cleanse itself, and its minister, from the corruption scar the bank’s allegations left on its face before the upcoming general elections,” said a PTI lawmaker requesting anonymity. “The differences within the party and its weak majority in the house increases JI’s importance for PTI and the party will definitely push for its demands to be met.”
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