Commenting on budget allocations for Hazara division, people from various walks of life have outright rejected the document by terming its development allocations for the region mere peanuts in comparison to the resources they contribute.
The former general secretary of the high court bar association, Advocate Javed Qureshi, said the allocation of around Rs7 billion for the entire division is ridiculous as income from forests, minerals, hydel power and the Hattar Industrial Estate contribute about a trillion rupees to the national kitty annually.
“Haripur district makes the largest contribution to the national exchequer, keeping aside the rest of Hazara. The way we have been ignored in the development share is deplorable,” Qureshi added.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government should prove with actions that its budget is ‘pro-people’ and allocate at least 25% revenue of the region’s industrial estate to Hazara, he said.
Qureshi further said it was unfortunate that the people of Hazara pay millions in the form of fuel charges to the Water and Power Development Authority when its total hydroelectric power generation is more than its consumption.
Former MPA of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from Haripur Dr Faiza Rasheed also rejected the budgetary allocations for Hazara, terming them mere lip service as previous development projects for the region were never allowed to go through owing to the “hostile Pukhtun bureaucracy.”
She said during the previous coalition government of PPP and Awami National Party, funds allocated for Hazara were always diverted towards districts across the Attock Bridge.
Referring to previous budgetary allocations for the Hazara Expressway, Dr Rasheed said billions had been earmarked but were diverted to the constituencies of then chief minister (CM) Amir Haider Hoti, among others.
Accusing the elected leadership of Hazara for not being sincere towards its people, she said, “Three former CMs from Hazara, Iqbal Khan Jadoon, Pir Sabir Shah and Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, the incumbent governor, have failed to protect the rights of their electorate.”
Dr Rasheed said the dismal allocation in the 2014-15 fiscal year was a show of disrespect to the 10 million people of the region.
Baba Haider Zaman, chief of the Tehreek Suba Hazara, also rejected the budget, saying unless a Hazara province is created the discrimination against its people would continue to haunt them. He said although the allocation of Rs6 billion for the Abbottabad bypass road project would help ease traffic load in the city, allocations for health, education, industrial development, community development and other areas were not commensurate with the contribution of Hazara.
A Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz activist, Muhammad Younas, said the budget reflected the jugglery of words so commonly used by PTI Chairman Imran Khan. He said CM Pervez Khattak has given a ‘lollypop’ to the people of Hazara. “Had they been sincere towards the people, they would have not left billions unspent during the previous budget,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2014.