The ministry of ports and shipping and the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) have locked horns over the removal of KPT Chairman Javed Hanif Khan from his post.
According to well-placed sources, the KPT chairman has resisted as the ministry, headed by PML-N Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Kamran Michael, formally notified the removal of Khan from the top slot at the trust through issuing a formal notification on Saturday.
Rear Admiral (r) Azhar Hayat, General Manager Operations at KPT, had been assigned the additional charge of a chairman, the sources said.
“Rear Admiral Azhar Hayat has been appointed Karachi Port Trust chairman,” the sources said.
However, Khan, the former city district coordination officer, who is believed to have the backing of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), has rejected the notification.
“The chairman says he was appointed by the Establishment Division and would only vacate his seat if the latter notifies the same,” the sources added.
The KPT was due to make the development public on Saturday but had to put it on hold after the outgoing chairman took a stand.
“He has refused to hand over the charge to Azhar Hayat,” said the sources.
Asked a spokesman of the ministry of ports and shipping denied that the KPT chairman was sent packing. “Not yet,” replied the spokesman when asked to confirm Khan’s removal.
Michael, a PML-N federal minister, has taken so many tough decisions soon after he was assigned the portfolio.
Acting on the reports that thousands of politically-motivated appointments were made in the federal agencies like KPT, PQA, PNSC and Gwadar Port Authority during the last five years of PPP reign, the federal minister has dissolved the Boards of Directors as well as chairmen of the last three institutions along with the DG ports and shipping.
He, the sources said, has also ordered to dissolve the KPT board. Also, Michael was looking into legal aspects of transferring KPT chief Khan back to his parent department.
“We had been told that you are relieved in next couple of days,” a KPT director told Pakistan Today.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, however, is said to have stayed the order for reasons motivated by what the sources claimed the premier’s reconciliation approach, which PM Sharif is believed to have learnt from outgoing President Zardari that helped the controversial PPP stalwart smoothly completing the maiden five-year democratic tenure.
The PML-N, the political analysts opine, are waiting for the MQM, PPP’s former allies in Sindh and centre, to join the federal government and harbours a soft corner for the party which dominates the urban fabric of Sindh province, specially Karachi and Hyderabad.
Given his political support from the MQM, the KPT chairman Khan’s defiance may either lead to a political standoff between the PML-N and the MQM or provide the former with an opportunity to pressure the latter to become part of the government.
The ports and shipping experts claim that the League has no such figures in its ranks who could efficiently run the said federal agencies as most of the persons having taken the helm of PNSC, PQA and GPA are bureaucrats with little or no background of ports and shipping operations.