Peshawar Is In A Terrible Shape Under PTI Rule
Imad Khalil says that despite winning twice from Peshawar the PTI provincial administration has left the city in a mess. Incomplete projects and waste of funds have turned the tabdeeli laboratory into a nightmare.
After the 31st Oct 2011 Lahore convention of Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI), the people of Pakistan witnessed a resurgence of the party. In the 2013 elections, of the total 4 provinces and 132 districts of Pakistan, PTI bagged most seats in Peshawar district. Out of the total 11 Provincial Assembly seats, PTI won 10, whereas, it won 4 National Assembly seats out of 4, (later lost NA-1 to ANP Ghulam Ahmad Bailour in by-elections).
Replacing the ingenious political stakeholders of Peshawar with new faces, the PTI (48 PA seats) formed a coalition government with Jamaat-e-Islami (7 PA seats) and Qaumi Watan Party, QWP (8 PA seats) and started ruling the province from 2013-18.
The PTI-led government launched its first ever project for Peshawar, known as The Beautification of Peshawar. It was a total catastrophe, hundreds of millions were spent on the beautification of Peshawar by installing trees and plants along the main roads of Peshawar. Ironically, the trees and plants worth millions of rupees were removed after a few months for paving the way for the BRT. One fails to understand why the government planted trees worth millions that have to be removed within a few months for another project? It shows the lack of coordination, capacity and planning among the government.
The second project of PTI for Peshawar, Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT was launched to improve Peshawar’s chaotic, mismanaged, and dilapidated urban transportation network. The BRT route will run from Chamkani to Karkhano area of Peshawar, consisting of 31 stations and is 26km long. It was launched in October 2017, and was supposed to be completed within 6 months, however, it has seen a number of deadlines, still incomplete. The cost of the project has escalated from the initial 48 Billion to nearly 100 Billion rupees.
The never ending work on BRT has brought the historical and metropolitan city to its knees. Dust, fumes, excessive rush and noise is talk of the day in Peshawar. Along with that, businesses have seen a drastic fall, and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. By banning the old transportation system prior to the functioning of BRT has created impediments in people’s mobility and access to travel. It has brought social, political and economic stagnation in the city.
Last year, due to the continuous delays, the Peshawar High Court ordered the National Accountability Bureau to conduct an investigation into the project and NAB has already submitted its preliminary report to the court. However, these reports are sealed on the court orders till the completion of the project. Furthermore, Peshawar High Court additionally ordered Federal Investigation Agency to probe the delays and mismanagements in the project. The KP government, however, did not like the decision and approached the Supreme Court against the decision. The apex court has barred FIA from conducting investigation. The government officials have told the apex court that the new inauguration date for the project is 31st July 2020.
The PTI-led government also inaugurated a zoo in Peshawar on Feb 18, 2018. Within 3 months of its inauguration, 30 animals lost their lives. The total number of animals’ death till date is unavailable, however, most recently a leopard lost his life. An unsuitable environment, untrained staff and lack of facilities in the zoo added insult to the injury.
Similarly, the work on Peshawar Ring Road has also stopped for last few years. The PTI government started work on the Ring Road from Pajjagi Road to Warsak Road, the northern section in 2016. The work was completed in 2017, however, work from Warsak Road onwards is stopped. The completion of Ring Road and connecting it with different parts of Peshawar via link roads will help in resolving traffic issues.
All the projects for Peshawar were either incomplete, ineffectively executed when the general elections of 2018 were on the horizon. Political analysts and experts had predicted that the incomplete projects left behind by PTI in Peshawar will result in great loss for the party. Interestingly, in the 2018 election, the city was handed over again to PTI, with securing 11 Provincial Assembly seats out of 14, and 5 out of 5 National Assembly seats in Peshawar.
The PTI came to power with more numbers this time, and was in a position to form government without the help of any coalition partners.
Again, political leaders active in their respective constituencies belonging to different political parties lost badly to the new comers of PTI. For instance, one leader of PTI, who has studied in the UK, had a job in Dubai, came to Pakistan prior to elections and joined PTI in January 2018. His home constituency was Peshawar PK-69, however, he applied for party ticked from another constituency PK-73. Despite facing stiff opposition from as many as 33 local PTI leaders who had also applied for party ticket from the same constituency, he was not only awarded party ticket but won the seat with a big margin in a relatively unknown constituency. He now enjoys the status of a provincial finance minister of KP.
The PTI again formed government with Mehmood Khan replacing Pervaiz Khattak as Chief Minister. It was hoped that the PTI would speed up work on the incomplete projects under the new setup, and with the help from the PTI government in center. However, after a span of 18 months the current PTI government has not only failed in finishing the incomplete projects, it has pushed the province and city towards another ditch.
KP in general and the provincial capital in particular is engulfed with a serious governance, leadership and administrative crisis while the claimants of “change” are indulged in a turf war and power struggle.
Mehmood Khan, the inexperienced and inefficient chief minister, often dubbed as Usman Buzdar Plus has completely failed in running the affairs of the province. KP senior minister Atif Khan had refused to accept him as chief minister and had formed a group against him, which includes several ministers and dozens of MPAs. Atif Khan, Shahram Tarakai and Shakeel Ahmad have now been removed from their respective portfolios.
Despite serious reservations over the elections, one would give the credit to PTI for bagging most seats in Peshawar valley.
But what have they done in return for this historical city? No one in the government is ready to claim ownership of the city and its miseries, thus leaving the 4,269,079 inhabitants of Peshawar in the constant state of fear, helplessness and anxiety.
Imdad Khalil is a lawyer based in Peshawar, Pakistan.