Local residents and political activists have described the announcement of the creation of lower Kohistan district by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) chief minister (CM), a political gimmick and publicity stunt.
CM Amir Haidar Hoti had made the announcement on the demand of representatives of Qaumi Islahi Committee, Pattan, who met him in Peshawar on his invitation a day earlier. However, he had made it clear to the delegation that the notification for the new district would be issued after the census.
The announcement drew mixed reaction from the Kohistanis. Those supporting ANP welcomed the decision and said it would help focus attention on the most backward district of Hazara division, but the PPP district president, coalition partner of ANP, derided it as a joke with the gullible Kohistanis.
“At this juncture, when the government is about to complete its five-year tenure before March 15, the ANP which failed to serve the people, has come up with a new vote-grabbing tactic,” said Pakistan Muslim League-Q District President Malik Aurangzeb.
“It is a ploy to attract the Kohistanis’ sympathies but the fact of the matter is that they [K-P government] are non-serious,” he reiterated. The CM had announced the creation of Abaseen division in Hazara and later Tanawal district in Mansehra but he failed to honour his words because it is not feasible at this stage when the nation is about to go to polls and elect a new government in next three to four months, he added.
“Had the ANP been sincere in improving the life of the Hazarewal, it would have initiated development schemes in the impoverished division, said Ali Khan, a social activist. “It diverted funds to Mardan, Charsadda and Swabi.” The ANP’s announcement is a tactics to scuttle the move for Hazara province by dividing the people of Hazara, he added.
Shams Khan, an office-bearer of Graduate Association, Kohistan, said, “The Kohistanis, despite having an abundance of natural resources, have been living in abject poverty and the condition of health, education facilities and road infrastructure are proof of the stepmotherly attitude of rulers sitting in Peshawar.”
Qaumi Islahi Committee Pattan, has been demanding the creation of Lower Kohistan district comprising Pattan and Palas tehsils for the last several years. On premier Raja Pervez Ashraf’s arrival in Kohistan last week, some of its activists blocked the Karakoram Highway, suspending traffic for hours to press for their demand.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2013.