PESHAWAR: It is indeed the government’s duty to meet the needs of its citizens. Hence, it comes as no surprise that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P)’s ruling Awami National Party (ANP)’s inability to do so has brought forth the ire of the people.
In a survey conducted by The Express Tribune, residents of K-P’s capital town of Peshawar rebuked the provincial government for failing to control unemployment and inflation, and to ensure continuous supply of electricity across the province during its four-and-a-half-year tenure.
“The people, especially the poor, are fed up of the ANP and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government; prices of food items have doubled during the month of Ramazan and there is no one to keep a check on it,” said Ajmal Khan, a shopkeeper, in Sadar Bazaar. He said that representatives of ANP had promised to provide free electricity to the people if elected, but instead the people are daily facing 18 to 20 hours of power outages. “The government has broken all records of corruption,” he exclaimed.
Adding on to accusations of corruption in the ranks of the ANP government, Nawaz Ali, an English language teacher at a private college, said, “Every post in the government has its price; there is no merit anywhere in the province.” The 30-year-old resident of Shaheen Town claimed that after completing his masters in 2008, whenever he applied for a job in a government organisation, he was asked for bribes to be considered for the post.
He criticized the government for failing to resolve the problems of the people, most notable being unemployment, price hike and loadshedding. He added the people want to bring change, but the government is an impediment to their cause.
“The ANP always claimed to be the champion of the rights of the Pakhtun, but it has failed to prove it during its tenure,” said Rasool Shah, a student of Peshawar University.
“Yes we know that the ANP gave a name to this province, but what will that name do for a poor man who has to pay Rs50 just to get a small piece of ice.”
While the energy crisis has made life miserable for the people, their sufferings are being aggravated by the continuous rise in prices of commodities, said Shah. “I assure you, the people will reject the ruling parties in the next election,” he added.
In the government’s defence, ANP spokesperson Malik Gulam Mustafa said it is against the spirit of the 18th constitutional amendment to carry out “unjustified” loadshedding in K-P. “The province generates 3,000 to 5,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity, while its own consumption stands at around 2,500MW,” said Mustafa, “K-P provides a large part of its electricity to Punjab, which uses up 66 per cent of our country’s electricity.” He said his party has always asked the federation to grant it the autonomy to explore energy resources in K-P, but the issue remains in a limbo.
About the price hike, he said it is a global issue and hence not limited to Pakistan or K-P. However, he said the provincial government announced a package of Rs2.5 billion for the month of Ramazan to ensure that people are provided food items at subsidized rates.
Malik said that the energy crisis is not only an issued confronting ANP, but one that all political parties face. He urged the parties to unanimously find a solution to the energy crisis.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2012.
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