Saturday, 7 June 2014

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa: A PTI one year report card

By Shah Zalmay Khan

It was early June 2013 - the first week after PTI took over government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa when I wrote this:

Elections season 2013 is over, PTI has got two proving grounds now - the first a coalition government role in KPK and the second an opposition role at federal level. Our performance in both these proving grounds will brighten or darken our prospects in future politics especially 2018 elections. What should PTI do to ensure it reaps the greatest dividends in both roles? The answer is

PTI must synchronize both these roles so that its opposition voice at federal level should aid its governance at KPK level.

Pervez Khattak: Change PTI can believe in?

A year has passed since I wrote these lines and now I feel is the right time for introspection - has PTI been able to implement what was needed?

There are many achievements to quote, frankly. Improvement in police/patwari system, a positive change in governance style, minimized top-level corruption, some brilliant law-making, inspirational social services initiatives, sound health and education initiatives, to count a few.
But is that enough? Has PTI been able to do what was expected from it by its electorate (read Pakhtuns) who stood up to Imran Khan's call for CHANGE?

I, being a Pakhtun PTI voter & supporter, would sadly say NO (partially). PTI has not been able to do ALL that was expected - not because it lacks the capacity but perhaps because it has not done the proper homework.

Having said that - the logical question is: Why I think PTI has not done enough? Well I have my reasons for believing so. I narrate each point in some detail.

Net Hydel Profit (NHP)
Few facts about this issue are in order, before moving any further:

Article 161 (2) of the constitution guarantees the payment of Net Hydel Profit (NHP) to the province where a hydel project is located. The formula for payment of NHP was devised by the famous A.G.N Kazi Committee and is known as Kazi Committee Mechanism (KCM).

According to the KCM formula KPK's share in NHP for 1991-92 was Rs 6 Billion (with a provision for annual increase in accordance with electricity tariff increase), however, the Govts of Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto flouted this consensus committee decision and NHP for KPK was capped at Rs 6 Billion for years.

During the MMA government (2002-2007), KPK took a stand on the issue in Supreme Court and thus an Arbitration Tribunal was formed to resolve the dispute which ruled partially in favour of KPK govt and decided that an annual increment of 10% over the capped amount of 6 Billion be paid to KPK govt. It was agreed that Federal government will pay an amount of 100 Billion as arrears for the capped NHP amounts from 1991. These amounts were to be paid to KPK in 4 equal instalments of 25 billion each. The annual NHP for 2013 alone (according to the arbitration decision) amounts to more than Rs 40 Billion.

Sadly the Federal Government is using delaying tactics even after the mutually agreed arbitration decision and only 6-8 Billion per year is paid as NHP instead of 40 Billion.


But the real shocker is yet to come - for the first time in last 23 years, federal government has NOT paid even the 6 billion to KPK this year. And guess what? PTI and KPK government have not pursued this issue the way they should have. This is the biggest violation of the federation's spirit and PTI has taken this without much hue & cry. PTI - specifically KPK government - must answer why it failed to get KPK's basic right for Pakhtuns? If they cannot safeguard a legally protected right of Pakhtuns, how will they fight for their political rights? Key questions arise:

  • How much hue & cry has been made on this issue in the media (except few passing references here & there)?
  • How many times have letters been written to concerned federal circles and the same followed up through official channels & supported by sufficient media campaign?
  • How many times has Imran Khan specifically talked about this issue in the past one year? How many major protests have been done on the issue?
  • How many times has KPK assembly (under PTI) passed resolutions against this injustice with Pukhtoons?
  • How many times have PTI MNAs raised this issue forcefully in the NA and staged walk out or boycott of NA proceedings to press their point?
  • Why has KPK government still not knocked the SC door against this blatant violation of the constitution?
There is NO - I repeat NO - justification for federal government to not pay the NHP amount to KPK. But it exposes the inefficiency or laxity (or both) of PTI and KPK govt too, in having not sufficiently pursued the issue..

Load-shedding

A few facts of KPK electricity generation/demand are in order:

  • KPK's electricity production = more than 4000 MW of highly economical hydel power (Tarbela, Warsak, Malakand I, II, III, Khan Khwar, Allai Khwar, Duber Khwar, Gomal Zam etc).
  • Peak production of KPK (summer) = Around 4400 MW.
  • Peak demand of KPK (also in summer) = Around 2500 MW.
  • What KPK gets from PEPCO (summer) = Just 1000-1400 MW.
  • During winter KPK's power production drops to as low as 2200 MW but so does its power demand (1000-1200 MW)
Summary: At all times of the year - KPK's power production exceeds its demand by at least 1000-1500 MW (means surplus whole year - no shortage).


Now coming back to the problem. KPK faces the worst loadshedding all round the year (situation worsens in summers). Industrial activities (if any left) in the province have come to a halt & people have been made psychological patients by the long unscheduled power outages (18-20 hours in some areas). PTI (and its KPK govt) were expected to raise this issue with federal government and also in the Council of Common Interests (CCI). PTI did raise the issue occasionally - but only half heartedly and without the essence of a planned strategy - this has not been made a core issue. PTI MNAs (especially those from KPK) have NOT done enough to follow this issue up in National Assembly either.

Tarbela

Some people (mostly PMLN) say Tarbela dam was built with federal investment, so its electricity is federal property too. This is the most lame thing ever heard (and accepted sadly). A few info bits about Tarbela dam are in order here:

  • Opened 1976. Peak production (summer) ~ 3500 MW.
  • Average ~ 2500-3000 MW (least is 1800 MW when run-off river only).
  • Annual output ~ 15 billion Kwh (units).
  • Annual profit ~ Rs 50 billion.
  • KP gets Rs 6 billion NHP (10% p.a raise acc to AGN Kazi formula never given)
Federal government's investment has already been returned as financial break-even has been achieved in 1990s. Federal government has been earning full profits for the last 2 decades (since 1990s). Now the asset should be KPK property since it is KP's land & water resources that were originally utilized.
A legal issue that KPK govt should somehow pursue (if possible) is that Tarbela Dam was built without consent of KPK govt, technically (since NWFP was part of 'One Unit' at the time of starting of Tarbela project). Is it legal for the federal govt to undertake such a mass-scale project (without consent of the concerned province) involving eternal utilization of resources (in this case water & land) of a province and from which federal govt will later earn profits without sharing it with the concerned province? I am a not lawyer myself so I can't deliberate any further.

The point to stress is that PTI and KPK govt have failed to properly take up and pursue this issue too. Whenever there is loadshedding problem, PTI reps let PMLN's rant about 'Bijli Chori' overshadow this grave injustice faced by Pukhtoons.

Out of scores of feeders across KPK, if there are line losses or theft or recovery issues at a few feeders (as Abid Sher Ali says), then why 16-18 hours loadshedding is faced by people in the feeders where recovery is nearly 100%? PTI reps have failed to logically counter Abid Sher Ali's rant (perhaps due to lack of sufficient homework) and so PMLN gets away with its blatant lies on the issue and PTI can't sell its truth even.

Provincial Electricity Generation

KPK is blessed with abundant water resources and sites have been identified for small and medium hydropower projects at several locations in Malakand and Hazara Divisons. Some projects (nearly 1000 MW) are already in the feasibility, implementation or completion phases. If utilized fully, KPK alone can give Pakistan thousands of MW of highly economical hydel power. Yes KPK has an ambitious provincial energy plan under way that aims at adding at least 1000 MW to KP's production by 2018 and another 2000 MW by 2022. However, there are barriers - legal, financial and political.

The main legal barrier is that provinces can't undertake projects exceeding 100 MW (so PMLN guys are simply upto BS when they taunt PTI saying why KP doesn't produce own electricity - it can't, legally).

Main financial barrier is that KP govt's own resources are limited even for projects of upto 100 MW so it needs loans from institutions like ADB or WB. However, provincial govts on their own can't seek loans from international institutions - they have to route it through federal govt. And here is where the political barrier (the biggest props up).

The main political barrier is that PMLN's federal govt can not afford to see PTI's provincial govt deliver on its promises - its a sort of political suicide. So federal govt has turned down PTI govt's requests for the needed foreign sponsorship for its energy projects.

But my issue is with the conduct of PTI and KP govt on this issue too. How many people know about these facts? If public doesn't know - whose weakness it is? PMLN will understandably play its games (I don't blame them because their survival depends on PTI's failure in KPK) but why PTI is sleeping on the issue? Why PTI has not taken up this serious violation of federation's spirit at every public/legal forum - is beyond me, yet again.

Micro Hydel Plants - Sustainability Questions


The hilly districts of Malakand and Hazara Divisions have hundreds of micro hydel power (MHP) stations where electricity is generated and consumed locally by the communities with support from govt / NGOs. A major problem with these projects is technical and management sustainability i.e. the implementing agency / government forgets about the MHPs once they are commissioned. Since the technical awareness and expertise of the communities is limited, the plants run into trouble soon, with nobody to assist technically. KPK government should have run a project to identify all such ailing MHPs and apply the lessons learnt from the AKRSP (Aga Khan Rural Support Program) model whereby continued technical assistance is provided to communities in order to manage scores of MHPs in Chitral and GB. This way KPK government would have been able to reduce the sufferings of populations living in isolated hilly communities (not too late for that even now frankly).

Sadly, the focus of PTI govt today is on the hullabaloo of installing new MHPs (350+ being quoted) while the already installed hundreds of plants are slowly dying due to government indifference. While this may be politically rewarding in the short run but they do not contribute towards solution of the problem in the long run. About time KPK government took the bosses of relevant departments like SRSP and PEDO to task and asked them one simple question:
"Ever heard of the term sustainability"?

Security Issues especially in Peshawar Valley
PTI was elected by Pakhtuns due to 3 main reasons:

  • Eradication of Corruption.
  • Change in SYSTEM of governance (Patwari/police/health/education).
  • Peace, security, law & order

While PTI endeavours in the first two areas are satisfactory - peace & security have remained largely illusive so far. Though efforts have been made to improve security in the province, fruits of the same are not clearly visible especially in the capital Peshawar and nearby districts of Charsadda and Swabi. In fact Peshawar suburbs on the FATA border (on three sides) are becoming 'FATA 2.0' practically. What are the reasons for this apparent failure? Lets analyse the same briefly:

FC (Frontier Constabulary) is the force that is supposed to act as a buffer between KPK and FATA by manning the exit/entry routes of FATA and posts on the 1000 km long KPK-FATA border. But guess what? Around 200 platoons of FC are attached on duties outside KPK i.e. Islamabad, Karachi etc. This means thousands of KPK security personnel are performing duties outside KPK while our own province is burning; sounds like a big terrible joke. ANP govt failed to settle this issue in 5 years & same is the case with PTI till now. Peshawar High Court has already given a judgement to this effect in November 2012 but still KPK govt has not been able to get these soldiers back despite being in power for 1 year. Note: People generally confuse this FC (Frontier Constabulary) with another force, also named FC (Frontier Corps). Difference is that Frontier Constabulary is entirely a civilian force led by police officers while Frontier Corps is a para-military force led by serving army officers.
Peshawar is the heart of Pakhtun lands - a place where Pakhtuns from every part of KPK and FATA (and even Afghanistan) turn to when they face trouble in their home town. However, law & order in Peshawar has worsened steadily over the past few years (yes during PTI's one year too, despite efforts). Kidnapping for ransom, target killing, extortion and organized attacks on Peshawar suburbs especially those on Khyber/Darra border are becoming a norm. PTI and KPK government were expected to take up the issue of attacks into Badhber, Mattani etc (in Peshawar) and into Shabqadar (in Charsadda) from within limits of FATA (under federal control). Irony is that militants can openly cross over into KPK from FATA to attack border villages but KPK police can NOT pursue them into FATA when they flee upon return (due to legal/jurisdiction issues). This has made law & order in Peshawar and Charsadda a joke and PTI performance (as a party on federal level) and as a provincial government  has been disappointing on the issue, to say the least.

Some good lawmaking has been done by PTI in KPK to restrict the boarding / lodging / movements of terrorists (e.g the Restriction of Rented Buildings and Hotels Ordinance). However, implementation of these laws is not visible. KPK govt should have made Peshawar a test-case for implementation of these laws and ensured that every rented accommodation or hotel is accounted for. Not the case sadly - and no one else is to blame for this, except PTI.

Identity Question of Tribal Pakhtuns - Mainstreaming FATA

 


Though PTI could grab only 1 MNA seat in FATA, the sentiments of FATA Pakhtuns for PTI or Imran Khan were/are no different from KPK Pakhtuns. Being a tribesman myself, I can vouch for the fact that people love Imran Khan just like a son or a brother. So when PTI won a share in National Assembly and government in the Pakhtun land (KPK), the tribesmen expected PTI to become their voice. And Imran Khan did prove to be the tribesmen's voice on the issues of drones and indiscriminate operations (full marks on that). However, one area that PTI absolutely failed to address is the identity question of Tribal Pakhtun.

  • What are we (we tribesmen ask)?
  • Are we Pakistanis at all? If we are, why Pakistan's constitution is not applicable to our land?
  • Why we are still living under the colonial instrument of oppression known as FCR?
  • Why the 70 Lacs of us are being treated as criminals - acceptable collateral damage? Why our land is the staging ground for 'Strategic Games'?

Two generations have been ruined in the latest war just because our land is 'Lawless' - and that is what gives everyone the justification to attack, bomb, drone, shell & maim us; be it the terrorists, the military or the US drones.

Coming back to PTI's indifference on the issue (yes I call it indifference because one year is a long enough duration for at least some activity in this regard). I have pointed this out before, am pointing it out today and will keep doing so in future too:

PTI has failed (till now) to put ANY concerted efforts into giving us tribesmen our identity, our name, our basic rights. No resolution by PTI's KPK assembly; no resolution by PTI's MNAs in National Assembly; and no protest by Imran Khan over our 2nd-class citizenship status in Pakistan. Period.

Conclusion
With all that written above, I may have painted a very bleak picture of PTI's performance. That is not, however, the case.

PTI has done some wonderful work in the areas of governance and system reforms which I have been highlighting in my writings. Laws like RTI, RTS, Ehtesab Law will go a long way in making KPK a better place to live in hopefully.

Pakhtuns will never forget how Imran Khan went an extra mile for peace in our lands and even got himself dubbed as Terrorism-apologist by the warmongers. Imran Khan's unflinching stance on drone attacks and NATO supplies issues will never be forgotten.

Pakhtuns will forever remain indebted to Imran Khan for his personal interest and KP government good management in trying to save our generations from the crippling diseases like polio through 'Sehat Ka Insaf' initiative.

Initiatives like 'Tameer-e-School' aimed at improving the education-related infrastructure (left in shambles by previous governments) will go a long way in the development of Pakhtuns as an educated and aware nation.

Initiatives like building sports stadiums at district/tehsil levels will also ensure that Pakhtun youth utilizes their energies in positive activities, instead of going astray on the paths of militancy or drugs or crimes.

So not all is bad in KPK actually and the questions I raised here on behalf of Pakhtuns don't mean we have lost hope in PTI or Imran Khan. Results of by-elections for 4 NA seats and 5-6 MPA seats held in KPK over the past few months (except NA-1 where several factors were at work) are proof that PTI enjoys full trust of Pakhtuns. What I have highlighted in this blog is just a sincere introspection from an Insafian's eyes - to help PTI correct its course on some issues that require immediate attention.
Having said that, PTI should also remember one thing:
'
The two biggest temptations for any Pakhtun are Islam and Pakhtu. Pakhtuns rejected the grandson of 'Fakhr-e-Afghan' Baacha Khan - who tried to use 'Pakhtu card' - and also the son of respected Mufti Mehmood - who tried to use 'Islam card'. Instead they trusted a non-Pashto speaking modern man Imran Khan ONLY because Pakhtun believe in federation of Pakistan and in delivering on promises (which Asfandyar's ANP or Fazl's JUI could not). So basically the lesson is: you get only one chance to win the hearts, minds, trust and the recurring vote of Pakhtuns. Otherwise, even being a Bacha Khan's grandson or Mufti Mehmood's son can't save you from humiliating defeat. Nobody gets a 2nd chance in KPK - that is what last 2 decades of KPK's political history tells us.

And the only way out for PTI, as I also stated soon after elections, is:

PTI must synchronize its dual roles (as opposition in NA and as govt in KP) so that its opposition voice at federal level should aid its governance at KPK level.

I rest my case.

-The writer is a tribesman from Bajaur Agency (FATA) and tweets at @PTI_FATA .
(No official association with PTI)