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KP governor, CM Gandapur exchange threats in acrid spat

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PESHAWAR / DERA ISMAIL KHAN: The acrimony between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Khan Gandapur and Governor Faisal Karim Kundi intensified on Saturday when the two leaders threatened each other with “dire consequences”.

A day after the governor’s fiery speech, Chief Minister Gandapur warned Governor Kundi to stay within the limits of his constitutional position and avoid making olitical statements.

After appearing in an anti-terrorism court in connection with the murder of former KP law minister Sardar Israrullah Khan Gandapur, the CM who belongs to the PTI said he could use his powers to banish Mr Kundi from Governor House.

“This Governor House is not your property. Don’t force me to … turn it into a museum and open it for the public.”

“I will shift you to a two-room annexe,” said Mr Gandapur. He went on to say that even fuel for the governor’s official vehicles comes from the budget of the provincial government and threatened to stop it if the governor who belongs to PPP didn’t refrain from “political statements, below-the-belt remarks and confrontation”.

“You’re the governor; politics is not your job,” Mr Gandapur warned, calling himself the elected representative who came to power with the voters’ mandate.

The CM added that if the governor did not pay heed to his “warning”, he would seek his removal.

“[T]he letter which notified you [as governor] will also denotify you.”

In a hard-hitting speech on Friday, Governor Kundi had indirectly accused the CM of being involved in the killing of former law minister Mr Israrullah and ANP leader Umar Khattab Sherani.

Mr Israrullah was killed in a suicide attack in his hometown of Kulachi near Dera Ismail Khan in October 2013. While government officials blamed the Wazi­ris­tan-based Gandapur group for the bombing, a little-known shadowy group, Ansar­­ul Mujahideen, claimed responsibility.

ANP’s Mr Sherani was murdered in December 2021, a day before the province’s local government elections, which he was contesting as a candidate for the post of D.I. Khan mayor.

The governor said that if he relinquished his constitutional post, he would prove to be a bigger nemesis for CM Gandapur.

Mr Kundi also warned that protecting the Governor House was “his constitutional duty” and whoever tried to occupy it “would be dragged on roads”.

This was an apparent reply to Mr Gandapur’s May 9 statement in which he warned against efforts to impose governor’s rule in KP and said PTI activists would occupy the Governor House.

‘Want good ties with CM’

Meanwhile, in conversation with Dawn, Mr Kundi said he hoped for good relations with the chief minister, but whoever talked about occupying the Governor House “will be answered befittingly”.

People of KP shouldn’t suffer in the fight between the prime minister, governor and chief minister, he said, advising the provincial government to improve the law and order situation.

He recalled the kidnapping of a sessions judge in Tank last month and claimed the chief minister paid extortion money for his release.

Expected animosity

The acrimonious relationship between the two leaders — both being bitter political rivals hailing from D.I.Khan — was expected since Mr Kundi was nominated for the post by his party’s chairman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

The CM expressed his disapproval of the appointment by not attending Mr Kundi’s oath-taking ceremony last Saturday.

A few days later, on May 8, the governor KP did not sign a summary moved by the provincial government to convene an assembly session, forcing the provincial government to requisition the session through the speaker to present the current fiscal budget, according to sources.