PESHAWAR: In a tussle over running the managerial affairs of the Bank of Khyber (BoK), the chief secretary of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has cancelled the provincial finance department’s decision about removing the bank board chairman.

The Finance Department, through an order on June 26, had announced the appointment of Dr Ihsanul Haq as the BoK board chairman in place of Dr Hammad Owais Agha, who was also the K-P additional chief secretary.

However, the chief secretary, through a notification, withdrew the order and reinstated Agha in his previous post. Copies of the notification were also sent to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and K-P chief minister. Sources said the provincial finance minister tried to sack the BoK chairman because the latter refused to obstruct the lawful election of three directors, who belonged to the private sector, to the bank board.

According to the BoK Act, three members of its board should be from the private sector. However, sources said the Jamaat-i-Islami-backed provincial finance minister was trying to grab these vacancies for his party loyalists.

They added other than seats on the board, the JI had also been eying key management positions in the bank using roundabout ways.

The controversy arose on June 25 when the BoK board chairman did not pay heed to the directive of finance minister and held a meeting, which unanimously elected three representatives of Karachi-based Ismail Industries as directors. They were Maqsood Ismail, Asad Mohammad Iqbal and Javed Akhtar.

Ismail Industries has about 24% stake in BoK while the K-P government holds around 70% shareholding.

Soon after the issuance of the chief secretary’s order, Finance Minister Muzaffar Said rushed to meet Chief Minister Pervez Khattak. “Now the chief minister has stepped in and hopefully he will settle the matter,” the minister told The Banker Pakistan.

Later, a spokesman for the finance minister said, “The chief minister has called a meeting to discuss the BoK affairs at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat on Wednesday. It will be attended by all stakeholders including the new finance secretary.”

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