ISLAMABAD: Watan Card requests of 30,000 flood-affected families in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have been declined after their applications were found to be bogus, The Express Tribune has learnt.
An official source said on condition of anonymity that the entitlement list for governmental financial aid was approved by district officers under political influence.
However, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) examined the applications on an initiative of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and declared them fake. NADRA found that many of the applicants had already received Watan Cards or were placed on a waiting list by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA).
In September last year, the PDMA had followed a lengthy procedure to confirm a list of 28.7 million flood-affected families that qualified for financial assistance through Watan Cards. “Now, we have to help 25.7 million families as 30,000 applications have been deleted,” a PDMA official said.
Unlike Punjab and Sindh, the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa had decided to provide financial assistance to only those whose houses had collapsed due to heavy rains and floods in July 2010.
Each Watan Card, valued at Rs20,000, can be cashed at any bank’s ATM. The provincial government had promised Rs120,000 to each family to be disbursed over a period of four years for reconstruction of houses.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Secretary Ghulam Dastagir said that affected families would soon receive the next installment of financial aid but did not give a timeframe.
As a first instalment, each family was provided a Watan Card in the last three months, but over 50,000 families are yet to receive the cards. For the first instalment, the federal and provincial governments pooled Rs5 billion on the basis of equal sharing.
According to NDMA’s provincial chief Shakeel Qadir, those who had received Watan Cards once were qualified to get the cards regularly until Rs120,000 were reimbursed.
Meanwhile, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government is continuously receiving complaints from flood-affected people against provincial minister Pervaiz Khattak who they alleged has favoured his vote bank. During a series of protests against Khattak in Nowshera last month, campaigners said that a large number of Watan Card recipients from Khattak’s hometown were not actual flood survivors.
Similar complaints have come from flood survivors in Mardan, Charsadda, Malakand and Karak against national and provincial parliamentarians and particularly against representatives from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party.
None of the leaders, including Khattak, have ever contradicted the stories published in the media for alleged favouritism and corruption.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2011.