Assembly notes: 66 days in power but no promised change in sight

A determined opposition has already started criticising the govt’s performance .

Our Correspondent August 04, 2013
K-P chief minister Pervez Khattak. PHOTO: APP


Chief Minister (CM) Pervez Khattak has turned out to be the most regular chief executive at provincial assembly sessions.

The K-P Assembly has so far held three sessions including Monday’s sitting and Khattak has only missed a few. On Monday, the assembly had a brief session to pass a resolution on using the assembly hall for presidential polling and Khattak was present then too.

Interestingly, in addition to attending assembly proceedings regularly, the CM never leaves an opportunity to address the house.

Some Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) critics attribute Khattak’s zeal to his relative inexperience, while others attribute it to the lack of an outspoken information minister like the previous government’s Mian Iftikhar Hussain.

The CM on Monday spoke at length on the house floor and took on the opposition benches for what he termed a ‘media campaign’ against his government aimed at showing that the PTI had failed to deliver anything during its 60-day rule in the province.

Khattak asked the lawmakers to wait till August 30 to see what his government does in 90 days. “I have no right to be in the government if I cannot deliver,” he stated, criticising his predecessors for their performance.

However, the echo of Khattak’s riveting speech had not died down when the Taliban struck the DI Khan Central Jail late Monday night and escaped with 248 prisoners, including high-profile militants.

The CM’s first reaction the next day was to deny the K-P government’s responsibility and to pin the blame on the intelligence agencies and the federal government. It turned out, however, that the provincial government had been forewarned about the attack by intelligence agencies.

The provincial government has repeatedly brushed responsibility of various important issues, be it the power crisis or law and order. Regarding the DI Khan jailbreak, CM Khattak said the federal government should have contacted the provincial government about it, yet it had not.

It can be argued that in light of the attack, instead of complaining, the provincial government could have contacted the centre itself and asked for its help.

The dilemma for PTI in K-P is in fact that the promises it made during the course of its election campaign will haunt it in the long run. Once the party assumed power, it realised it cannot make problems disappear in a given period. On the other hand, a determined opposition has no intentions of letting the PTI-led coalition government have some breathing space.

The opposition will chase the government with questions about putting an end to drone strikes, closing off Nato supplies, tackling the energy crisis, ending corruption, creation of a uniform education system and bettering healthcare. Given the government’s attitude, it is very likely to face a tough time at the hands of a strong opposition.

Keeping in view that little progress has been made in the PTI government’s 66-day rule, it would be unwise to expect any concrete developments in the 30 days of August.

The 90 days to bring change rhetoric will remain attached to the provincial government and prove to be a strong weapon for the opposition to criticise PTI’s performance in the days to come.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2013.