Potential rift between K-P, federation disastrous for province

K-P is almost entirely dependent on the financial support of the federal government

Ahtesham Khan   March 14, 2024


In the newly elected Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s recent visit to Peshawar, the province’s also newly elected Chief Minister, Ali Amin Gandapur, was absent, which has raised concerns of a potential rift between the federation and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).

In the event that such a rift does materialise, it would put the province, which has a population of more than 40 million, in a severe financial crisis. For instance, as per data collected by The Express Tribune, the federal government owes K-P around Rs 3,000 billion in electricity, gas, and oil royalties. Moreover, it would also jeopardise the province’s national finance commission (NFC) award. In this regard, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz’s (PML-N) K-P Spokesperson, Ikthiar Wali, urged the province’s Chief Minister to overcome political differences with the parties in government in the federation and adopt a policy of reconciliation.

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“K-P is almost entirely dependent on the financial support of the federal government. Thus the province cannot afford resistance and opposition to the federation,” said Wali. “The highest net profit on electricity to date was given to the province by the Nawaz Sharif led government. If the Chief Minister sits down with the Prime Minister, things can surely be fixed,” he added. Elaborating upon Wali’s observations, Dr Shaheed Hussain Soherwordi, Chairman of the International Relations Department of the University of Peshawar, said that the province cannot afford to go through another round of resistance with the federation.

“We have already seen the Parvez Khattak government resist the federation and now if the current Chief Minister follows suit, only the people of K-P will suffer,” cautioned Dr Soherwordi. The Chairman of the International Relations Department also advised the government in the centre to recognise the arrears owed to K-P, fulfil the rights of the people of the province, and address their demands, instead of opting for confrontation. While it remains to be seen whether the provincial or federal government will heed to Dr Soherwordi’s advice, in a recent conversation with journalists, Chief Minister Gandapur whilst addressing his absence from Prime Minister Sharif’s visit to Peshawar, said that he was not in Peshawar the day Prime Minister visited.

“It is our tradition to honour guests who come to the province. As far as matters related to the federation are concerned, we will take them up with the federation,” said Gandapur. The Chief Minister further said that for any meaningful conversation to take place between the province and the federation, the government at the centre had to release the Rs 1,500 billion owed to K-P under the NFC award. “We are only demanding what is rightfully owed to people of K-P and the federal government should take our concerns seriously,” the Chief Minister remarked.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2024.


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