PTI ledaer Atif Khan. - A file photo

PESHAWAR: Former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa education minister Atif Khan has emerged as strongest contender to become the next chief minister of the province as he apparently enjoys the backing of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s central leadership.

Media reports said the PTI chief Imran Khan has finalised Atif Khan for the next chief ministership. However, former announcement to this effect has not been made yet.

Former chief minister Pervaiz Khattak is unlikely to receive a second stint as the party wants him to play role in the Centre, while former KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, who is also a strong contender, has also won a National Assembly seat and therefore, he is most likely to be called by Imran Khan to the federal government. Keeping in view this emerging scenario, its seems the loss of the National Assembly seat (NA-21) by Atif Khan at the hands of the Awami National Party (ANP) leader Amir Haider Khan Hoti proved to be a blessing in disguise for him as he has only the provincial assembly seat (PK-50) now from Mardan and he cannot play any role in the federal government.

On the other hand, Asad Qaiser and Pervaiz Khattak have won both the national and provincial assembly seats, but the party wants them more in the Centre keeping in view the numbers game. The PTI is desperately in need of support in the National Assembly and Punjab Assembly, but it doesn’t face any such problem in KP and affords to lose two seats there.

Pervaiz Khattak appears to be slowly accepting his fate as after initial hard lobbying for KP chief minister’s post, he is now saying that he will accept every decision of Imran Khan in this regard. Everyone knows what Imran Khan wants from him. Pervaiz Khattak has been offered important roles in the Centre to appease him, but it is quite evident that he is not happy over being not considered for the chief ministership.