PESHAWAR: In a major blow to the local government system, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday removed two important sectors from the ambit of district governments.
The two departments — the Public Health Engineering (PHE) and the Communication and Works (C&W), District Roads and Buildings — are among the 22 sectors whose administrative and financial control had been devolved to the district governments through the K-P Local Government Act 2013.
The government and opposition lawmakers joined hands to pass the K-P Local Government (3rd Amendment) Bill-2017 under which the two departments were removed from the devolved departments/sectors schedule of the act.
K-P Local Government Minister Inayatullah Khan moved the bill in the house, explaining that it was intended to remove legal restrictions for releasing payments to contractors who had repaired roads for the Communication and Works (C&W) Department.
“The roads were damaged in natural calamities and repaired by the C&W through its M&R (maintenance and repair) funds. But finance (K-P finance department) has raised objections to the release of payments to the contractors,” he said, adding: “The contractors can’t be paid without removing the C&W from the list of the devolved departments.”
Opposition Leader in the assembly Maulana Lutfur Rahman intervened, asking him to also take up the PHE department for removal as “it also has M&R funds”.
After that, the provision for removing the PHE department was also included in the bill which was passed by the house.
The house, meanwhile, also okayed the K-P Vaccination (Amendment) Bill 2017, under which polio, hepatitis and measles, tuberculosis, tetanus, haempophilus, influenza, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, chickenpox, smallpox and pneumococcal conjugate have been defined as vaccine-preventable diseases. Earlier, the law was limited only to smallpox.
The house also held Fateha Khawani for the victims of an attack in Mastung on the convoy of Deputy Chairman Senate Abdul Ghafoor Haideri. With Haideri escaping the life attempt, 25 people lost their lives.
Lawmakers from all political parties condemned the attack.
“If people think that such attacks hinder our efforts for protection of Pakistan’s ideology, then they are wrong,” said Lutfur Rahman who himself belongs to the JUI-F.
Jamaat-e-Islami parliamentary leader in the house Inayatullah Khan called it an attack on peace and security of Pakistan. “Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri is an asset of the country. It is an attack on parliament,” he said.
In his comments, Awami National Party (ANP) parliamentary leader in the house Sardar Hussain Babak said: “It seems that a new wave of militancy has got begun.”
Referring to a recent increase in tension between Pakistan and its neighbours — Iran and Afghanistan — he stressed the need for regional collaboration to counter the menace of militancy.
“Militants are our common enemies,” he said, calling for friendly relations and unity among the neighbouring countries.
Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) lawmaker Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli called the attack an attempt “to spread insecurity among the masses” by those conspiring to destabilise the state.
PML-N lawmaker Amna Sardar said: “Pakistan’s enemies can’t digest peace and progress in the country and such attacks are attempts to disrupt peace in the country.”
The house again failed to complete its agenda due to lack of quorum, prompting Deputy Speaker Dr Mehar Taj Roghani to adjourn the session with what she said with ‘a heavy heart’.