PTI Khyber Pakhtunkhwa divided into groups over the CM race

With the PTI-backed independents bagging 79 seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, they are poised to get the chief minister’s slot. However, differences have emerged among their ranks over the choice, as there are four aspirants for the office.

As the Election of Pakistan (ECP) is expected to notify the names of successful candidates within 24 hours, the PTI now has to deal with the internal politics after Akbar Ayub, Mushtaq Ghani, Ali Amin Gandapur and Aqibullah Khan are reportedly their trying to convince their colleagues for backing.

Initially, it was widely believed that Gandapur enjoyed the PTI founding chairman’s blessing, which meant that he shouldn’t face any strong challenge. However, he is not getting a smooth sailing amid the fact that the party is also facing the threat of elected members switching sides – at least in Punjab – after the PML-N and the PPP started making efforts to maximise their strength before going for formally forming a coalition.

Two of the chief minister candidates – Akbar Ayub and Mushtaq Ghani – have been elected to the provincial assembly from Hazara – the Hindko-speaking region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Ayub winning PK-46 Haripur I and Mushtaq Ghani securing PK-45 Abbottabad IV.

On the other hand, Aqibullah and Gandapur have reached the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly after their defeating their rivals in PK-50 Swabi II and PK-113 Dera Ismail Khan III.

All of them have previously served as parliamentarians at national or provincial levels while using the PTI’s platform and are now aiming higher for the office of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister.

Meanwhile, Aqibullah has an additional advantage. He is a brother of former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser.

However, the final decision will be made by the PTI founder who is in the Adiala jail after his conviction in multiple cases.

But one cannot rule out the possibility of naming a person who isn’t controversial in an attempt to overcome the differences.

In 2013, Pervez Khattak from Nowshera district was chosen to run the provincial affairs, while Mahmood Khan of Swat emerged as a surprising choice in 2018. Both of them left the PTI after the May 9 episode as Khattak formed his own party – PTI-Parliamentarians – an entity joined by the wealthy Khan from Swat.

However, the Khattak-led entity badly failed to pass the Feb 8 test after none of its nominees could snatch a seat either at the national or the national level

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