Justice (R) Arshad Hussain Shah took oath as KP caretaker CM

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PESHAWAR: Justice (R) Arshad Hussain Shah took oath as the caretaker chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa here on Sunday. Governor Ghulam Ali administered the oath to the chief minister at a ceremony at the Governor’s House.

Talking to reporters later, the caretaker chief minister vowed to hold free and fair elections in the province. “We will ensure free and fair elections in the province,” he said, adding that maintaining law and order would also be his priority.

Earlier, former chief minister Mahmood Khan and opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani nominated Justice (R) Arshad Hussain Shah for the slot of caretaker chief minister.

The chief minister’s slot fell vacant following the sudden demise of Mohammad Azam Khan on Saturday, who was appointed as the caretaker chief minister in January 2023, following the dissolution of the provincial assembly by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.

Azam Khan, 90, was admitted to a private hospital in Peshawar for health complications where he died of heart failure.

Advocate General Aamir Javed had held a meeting with Governor Ghulam Ali on Saturday night and reportedly advised him to approach the former chief minister and opposition leader to hold a meeting and nominate someone for the position.

Former chief minister Mahmood Khan and opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani held a consultative meeting at the Chief Minister’s House on Sunday and it was interestingly the first time that both of them had chosen the same person for the highest administrative position of the province.

They didn’t waste time as they did in the past and agreed to nominate a retired judge for slot,” a government official told The News on condition of anonymity. After finalising Justice Arshad’s name, a summary was sent to the governor for approval.

They in fact helped resolve the constitutional crisis created by the untimely death of former chief minister. Former chief minister Mahmood Khan told The News that he had proposed Justice (R) Arshad Hussain Shah for the caretaker chief minister’s position.

Justice (R) Arshad Hussain belongs to Abbottabad and is the brother of Secretary Forests Nazar Hussain Shah. One of his brothers is holding a senior position in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police.

Justice Arshad Hussain previously served as chief justice of Gilgit-Baltistan from 2019-2022. He was part of the second caretaker cabinet headed by the late Mohammad Azam Khan.

Governor Ghulam Ali administered oath to caretaker Chief Minister Arshad Hussain.

Besides many other pressing challenges that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been facing, the biggest problem that the newly-appointed chief minister will have to deal with is financial difficulties of the province.

The government has not been able to pay salaries to doctors and other employees of the public sector hospitals. He will need to play a key role in holding negotiations with the federal government to secure the release of Rs280 billion that the Centre has to pay in terms of net hydel profit and National Finance Commission Award to KP.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Zahir Khan Toru said that the party would not accept the new chief minister whose appointment was decided by the former CM and opposition leader.

Toru said that they would move the court if the new chief minister’s appointment was done by Khan and Durrani. He further stressed that the matter should be solved constitutionally, saying the governor should not apply his formulas.

“The new CM chosen by Mahmood Khan, Ghulam Ali and Akram Khan Durrani will be a political one,” he said, adding that a level-playing field was not expected from the chosen chief executive.

Meanwhile, President of Awami National Party, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Aimal Wali Khan, said where the Pakhtun and Muslim traditions had gone as only after a few hours of KP CM’s death, the JUIF governor had called a meeting to elect a new chief minister.

Aamil Wali Khan said that this meeting was not acceptable to any stakeholder and noted that there would be no level playing field in the election. “If we remain silent, no one will forget this silence.”

He said that as per the Pakhtun traditions, there should be mourning for three days and decision regarding the new CM should be taken by taking all the stakeholders into confidence.

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