KP’s Journey From Destruction To Reconstruction
The third-largest province in terms of population and economy, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, previously the North-West-Frontier Province, has seen carnage and irreparable losses for the last 20 years. The most affected province by terrorism, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has seen thousands of attacks, resulting in the deaths of thousands of people. This story of bloodshed began with the United States and Russian troops’ invasion of Afghanistan, a war-torn country that shares a border with KP. Later on, the Pakistani government’s announcement of its support for the United States’ “War on Terror” after the 9/11 attacks proved to be a dead-end for the people of this province, leading to a story of unstoppable devastation.
The squabble set about with the deployment of Pakistani Army troops in the region after the “Battle of Tora Bora”, which the government called its “contribution to the International War on Terrorism.” A bloody mountainous battle between Pakistan Army troops and Al-Qaeda fighters was the beginning of an unending conflict. Support to NATO forces in Afghanistan and the migration of Afghan refugees in huge numbers were the biggest challenges faced by Pakistan and especially the people of this province.
Countless strikes and attacks have affected the psychology and lives of the people. The situation aggravated to such an extent that people began to think about blasts and bloodshed all the time due to this unvarying situation. Violence continued for years and years until Pakistan Army conducted an offensive military operation “Zarb-E-Azb” against the militants in North Waziristan along the Pak-Afghan border. In 2014, after an attack on Army Public School Peshawar, which took the lives of more than 120 children, people lost patience and the government announced that it will hasten the operations against the militancy to completely curb terrorism in the country. From here begins the story of prosperity, happiness and development in the most affected province.
According to reports, operations against the militants helped and the rate of terrorist attacks declined every year from 2015 onward. A decline in terrorism of 16% was reported at the beginning of 2020 in the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa compared with last year. Meanwhile, many developmental projects have been initiated by the provincial government. Peshawar has seen its first-ever mega transport project in the form of Bus Rapid Transit. Road networks and motorways are under construction and the speed of work has increased. The KP government has also announced its plans to build a new Sports Complex in Peshawar so that the PSL matches of next season could be held in the “city of flowers”. Most recently, the government launched its sehat sahulat programme for all the residents of the province. Every family in KP will get one million rupees in the form of health cards. KP became the first province of Pakistan which has announced such a facility for its residents. Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved two mega projects for the province i.e. Khyber Pass Economic Corridor (KPEC) and Swat Motorway Phase-2, which will boost international trade, tourism, industries and economic activities in the province. The projects will generate more than 10,000 employment opportunities for the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Provincial Working Development Party (PWDP) has also approved more than 100 projects to promote culture, sports and tourism in different parts of the province. These projects would be completed at a cost of 750 million rupees which includes the construction of tourism resorts and sports city, and other projects for the revival of culture etc. The government also decided to transform KP’s small dams into tourism spots. According to the reports, KP grew its revenue by a whopping 65% in the last year despite the Covid-19 crisis.
Despite what critics say, change is visible as well as felt by the people. A province that suffered incomparable turmoil and violence is now on the road toward reconstruction, profitability and prosperity. It is now competing with the other largest provinces of the country, and people now expect the same to happen in the other undeveloped province Balochistan.