President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday appointed Engineer Shaukatullah Khan as governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) upon the advice of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.
The governor-designate, a sitting member of the National Assembly who also heads the ministry for states and frontier regions, will take the oath of office today (Sunday).
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which together with a dozen other opposition parties had demanded the appointment of apolitical governors before the general election, was not happy with the decision.
“We have not demanded replacement of merely one governor,”said PML-N spokesperson Senator Mushahidullah Khan said while talking to The Express Tribune.
A group of 13 opposition parties along with PML-N had submitted a charter of demands to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) which included the appointment of apolitical governors and an overhaul of the entire bureaucracy ahead of the next elections.
“We will demand from the caretaker government to change all governors so that they cannot misuse their office or interfere in the election process. The government has appointed a sitting member of the National Assembly (Engineer Shaukatullah) as governor, which is not what we had demanded,” said the PML-N spokesperson.
However, the Awami National Party (ANP), a key ally of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), welcomed the move.
“Engineer Shaukatullah is from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and is a good choice,” said Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel. “We welcome the decision of the government,” he added.
Sources told The Express Tribune that the decision to appoint Shaukatullah was taken by the government in order to meet the demands of PPP K-P chapter president, Anwar Saifullah, in addition to the poor health of the outgoing governor.
According to sources, Saifullah did not maintain a good rapport with the outgoing governor Barrister Masood Kasur and had been demanding his removal for quite some time, in order to guarantee the desired election results to the party. The decision to appoint a governor from Fata, where elections are slated to take place on a party basis for the first time, will also provide the government an edge over other parties, the sources added. A senior government official at the Governor House confirmed the replacement of the governor of K-P.
Outgoing Governor Kausar was appointed by President Zardari on February 8, 2011, following the three-year-long tenure of Owais Ahmad Ghani.
An engineer by profession, Shaukatullah Khan attended the University of Engineering and Technology in Taxila. He belongs to the Nawagai area of Bajaur Agency and was elected for the first time as a member of the National Assembly in 2008 elections from the NA-43 constituency of Bajaur Agency.
In 2002 polls, he was defeated by Maulana Muhammad Sadiq of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), but he remained parliamentary secretary of IT. He was named federal minister of Safron in 2012. His younger brother, Hidayatullah, was elected as senator in 2012 and is considered a close ally of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government from the Munir Orakzai group. His father Bismillah Khan is a former-MNA and his uncle Abdul Qayum was previously a senator and state minister.
His family, also known as the Khans of Nawagai, is in the marble business. Shaukat is the first governor of K-P from the Fata with no military background.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2013.