K-P govt bypasses centre to seek international aid

This is the first time a provincial government has approached donors directly with a request for financial aid.


Zia Khan August 20, 2010

ISLAMABAD: In what appeared to be an ‘obvious’ sign of mistrust within, the provincial government of Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa on Friday held a conference of international donors to seek financial assistance for reconstruction after the worst flooding in history.

The federal government was completely bypassed in the process – a fact that speaks of the extent of differences between the federation and the provinces on how to go ahead with rehabilitation plans in areas hit by the catastrophe.

This is the first time in the history of the country that a provincial government approached the multilateral donors directly with a request for financial aid.

However, provincial authorities justified themselves at a news conference later, that the recently enacted 18th constitutional amendment had empowered provinces to seek assistance from outside the country without involving the federal government.

“It is our prerogative…the amendment has given us constitutional powers to undertake this initiative,” Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told the media.

As many as 26 representatives of various multilateral donor agencies and ambassadors of various countries stationed in Islamabad participated in the conference that was held at the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa House, the camp office of the provincial government in Islambad.

Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti chaired the conference and told donors the province will be in need of close to $3 billion for reconstruction and rehabilitation endeavours.

He was quoted as telling the ambassadors and representatives of relief agencies that there is a need for Rs25 billion to undertake rescue operations and provide victims with food, shelter and healthcare.

Although Mian Iftikhar termed the event ‘successful’, he did not mention how much money was pledged. Hoti expressed fears al Qaeda-linked terrorists would be the ultimate beneficiary if government has to abandon flood victims because of scarce funding.

“The gains so far made in our war on terror may be lost if this crisis is not handled properly,” one of the participants told The Express Tribune.

According to reports, federal authorities were informed of the conference and an invitation was also issued to them.

“But ultimately it was an unwilling agreement,” a top official of the Awami National Party (ANP) said. “The provincial government has been pushing the federal authorities to hold this conference immediately…but they appeared reluctant,” he added. “That’s why we decided to move ahead ourselves.”

The ANP leader said the idea behind holding the conference at this stage was that governments in the US and most European countries would be initiating their annual budget making process in a couple of month.

“We want our assistance to be part of their budgets. Had we waited for the federal government to complete its assessment, it would have been too late,” the official said.

“And we cannot afford that delay…it is a desperate time for us as well as for millions of people in need for help from outside Pakistan,” he remarked.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2010.

COMMENTS (6)

Zarghun Khan | 11 years ago | Reply Should the Pakhtuns ask for the permission of their Punjabi masters in Islamabad? Pakhtunkhwa needs to develop its own interactions with the international community not only during crisis, but in normal conditions as well. They have suffered enough since 1947 and they should not wait anymore for Islamabad to do something for them.
Saad | 11 years ago | Reply Why to Link Kalabagh dam with everything !!! like Kalabagh obssesd !!! Why is it hard for us to accept Pashtoons as our brothers, to feel their pain and join their joys. They have the every right to hold this conference and theyr are far better and much less curropt then any in this country. I hope they get the funds directly and that the donor and western countries work on the rehabilitation of that province, direcctly with the provincial government and not the federal, which will otherwise divert the resources to other area. This is the right time for America and Europe to work directly with the provicial governemnt, something that will build the image of these countries directly and will help win the war against extermisim.
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