Political rivalry within Punjab has left scores of flood victims in the southern part of the province stranded for the last 48 hours as relief efforts in the region remained suspended on Sunday and Monday.
Differences between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) top leadership and the party’s representatives from the area, the Khosa family, have hampered relief activities in the flood-stricken DG Khan region where hill torrents have devastated two districts and displaced tens of thousands of people.
According to sources in the PML-N, a top dignitary of the province’s ruling party forbade the local administration from giving any truck of relief items to the Khosa family for distribution in the region – in fact directing that they be given to a rival family.
Consequently, a bruising back-and-forth between the two influential sides began. According to well-placed sources, the Khosa family declared the top leaders of the party persona non grata in DG Khan — for flood relief activities or otherwise.
Sources revealed that after hearing of this action, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif – the chief minister’s son – decided to cancel his visit to DG Khan which was scheduled for Monday.
Resultantly, DG Khan District Coordination Officer (DCO) Iftikhar Saho and DG Khan Commissioner Tariq Mehmood halted the distribution of relief items to the Khosas starting Sunday.
DCO feels the heat
The local administration has allegedly stocked up on the distribution items at the Baloch Military Police (BMP) Lines in DG Khan.
Official sources in DG Khan revealed that Punjab’s former chief minister Sardar Dost Muhammad Khan Khosa arrived at the BMP and demanded that DCO Saho hand over the trucks of relief items for distribution – but he was told that there was no authorisation in this regard.
Using local political influence, Khosa forced the DCO to give him 10 trucks full of relief items from the Lines. Meanwhile, the DCO called Senator Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa who reached the area to contain the heated situation — but to no avail.
DCO Saho and the commissioner then contacted the chief minister who directed them to stop the Khosa family from interfering in the affairs of the flood relief distribution and asked his son Hamza to visit the area.But after the Khosa family’s ‘threats’, Hamza cancelled his trip.
On Monday, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif appointed independent MPA Sardar Amjad Farooq Khan Khosa – who is said to have his own clashes with the Khosa family – as the head of the distribution of flood items and directed the concerned staff to “tackle the Khosa family with iron hands”.
When contacted, none of the concerned officials, including the DCO, commissioner, members of the Khosa family or MPA Amjad, were available to comment on this development.
Punjab government’s spokesman Senator Pervez Rashid maintained his ignorance of the issue and PML-Ns’ Punjab General Secretary Raja Ashfaq Sarwar refused to comment on it either.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2012.
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