MYSTERY continues to surround the removal of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor Masood Kausar — and just as confusing appears to be the appointment of Shaukatullah Khan as the new governor. Sacked on the day he completed two years in office, Mr Kausar had managed to draw the ire of many within the PPP and even the tribal MNAs and senators. The general complaint: Mr Kausar, despite being an old PPP ideologue, did little to ‘help’ his party in the province; his age and health prevented him from being very active; and, as per usual in such situations, he had spent too much time padding his own nest. If the writing was on the wall for Mr Kausar for some time, the timing of his dismissal was unexpected and President Zardari appears to have suddenly yielded to the growing chorus of complaints. Whatever the reasons for his dismissal, Mr Kausar’s governorship is unlikely to be remembered for anything significant, good or bad.
The logic behind Shaukatullah Khan’s appointment appears to be just as opaque. Where Mr Kausar’s nomination was pushed by the ANP, the new governor appears to have been selected by President Zardari without any consultations with provincial allies. This much Mr Khan has going for him: he is astonishingly well-connected through marriage and other ties with many political leaders in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata and he appears to be a non-controversial choice. As the first ever civilian governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from Fata — the only previous Fata native who held the governor’s office was a retired general — it would appear that President Zardari is making some attempt to reach out to Fata’s representatives, who were particularly vocal about their unhappiness with Masood Kausar. But to what end? Understanding the tribal mindset and being able to mingle with ease among its people and leaders ahead of a general election — the first ever to be contested in Fata along party lines — could provide a boost to the PPP, but few seasoned observers of Pakhtun politics appear convinced that Governor Khan can make much of a difference.
Unhappily, the problem in Fata goes deeper than the appointment of a single official, however senior, can make a difference to. Integration into Pakistan proper, economic development of the region, improved basic service delivery and security are the fundamental needs of Fata. For that to happen, though, the politicians — tribal, provincial and federal — and the security forces would need to sit down and hammer out a road map, and then focus unrelentingly on its implementation. But then, neither the army nor the president appears particularly interested in doing that.