ISLAMABAD: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has put forward its long-standing demand before the federal government for a special financial package of Rs66 billion to meet emerging security challenges.
The top provincial bureaucrats made this demand during a meeting of the Senate’s Special Committee on 24 requests of K-P related to issues of energy, water and power projects.
Senator Muzaffar Hussain chaired the meeting of the panel, which has Talha Mehmood as the only member. Senator Shibli Faraz showed up at the meeting on a special invitation.
K-P Home Secretary Munir Azam and Additional Chief Secretary Azam Khan talked at length about the grievances of the province and how the centre could easily resolve its problems.
They contended the province needed to equip police, counter-terrorism teams, bomb disposal squads and other special units not only to handle the worsening law and order situation but also for the security of 200km of roads, including the Karakoram Highway (KKH).
Besides, Azam said, the K-P government needed to man 500 miles of border areas along with Afghanistan that were vulnerable to attacks from militants coming from the other side.
“There is no mechanism of police patrolling or picketing. Over 1,000 people have been killed in targeted killings at time when over one million people are displaced in tribal areas. A similar number of Afghan refugees are also a challenge,” he explained. “Heed should be paid to these critical demands.”
Senator Talha agreed with the demands, saying the KKH was insecure near Kohistan where the frontier constabulary had only two vehicles to cover over 100 miles.
Munir, the K-P home secretary, said the budget for security officials was increased from Rs8 billion to Rs32 billion but still a lot was required to be done from the federal government, especially when the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was coming up.
He added the army division raised for the CPEC would only be for emergency responses to protect foreigners, but well-equipped police had to be on roads to avoid untoward incidents.
These demands were made in 2013 as well but for some reason assistance could not be provided. The planning and development ministry said the federal government had provided the province Rs114 billion as per the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award.
The additional chief secretary also demanded special concession to the industries in K-P, especially those situated in conflict-hit areas, and waivers from custom duty, federal excise duty and sales tax on goods.
The Federal Board of Revenue officials responded that the federal government had already given such waivers and concessions and was even considering withdrawing certain statutory regulatory orders.
Azam complained the province was bearing the burden of Afghan refugees, internally displaced people and the onslaught of militancy but the federal government always had such an attitude.
K-P Transport Secretary Zubair Qureshi said the Pakistan Railways was not giving the clearance to the province to construct a bus rapid transit service on both sides of railway tracks in Peshawar.
Senator Shibli contended the centre was deliberately delaying the project.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2016.
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