Opposition’s silence fuels government’s poor performance

PTI claims to change K-P’s fate after last elections remain unmet.

Shamim Shahid November 22, 2015
Shamim Shahid is the city editor of the Peshawar edition. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led provincial government has been in a honeymoon period ever since the 2013 general election.

This is primarily because opposition parties have failed to play a proactive role in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly. More often than not, opposition lawmakers have conducted themselves in a manner that is contrary to the policies adopted by their leaders. Owing to a cycle of inefficiency and incompetence, the assembly has been in session over the last 13 months and wrangling within PTI has delayed the appointment of a deputy speaker for little over a year.

PTI has made tall claims that it has altered the fate of K-P after the May 2013 elections. However, no lawmaker from the four opposition parties has questioned these achievements or cast doubts over the government’s performance during this period.

At this stage, silence from the opposition appears unwarranted as there are a number of contentious issues that can be question.

Before and during the 2013 polls, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said his party would implement a comprehensive strategy to bring institutions on the right track if voted into power. Over two years on, these promises have yet to reach fruition. Although a large number of reform committees and working groups have been constituted, no tangible signs of progress have been witnessed.

Tradition of silence

Following the general elections, PTI was unable to form their own government even though it emerged as a single majority party in K-P. As a result, the party approached Qaumi Watan Party, Jamaat-e-Islami and Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan. The common thread between each of these parties was their similar approach to the previous government, helplessness before civil and military establishment and their willingness to uphold the status quo.

However, cracks began to emerge in the PTI-led coalition within six months. PTI sacked two QWP ministers from the Cabinet over graft allegations.

As the provincial coalition wobbled, the Senate polls in March dealt another critical blow that shook the foundation of the government. PTI had to reckon with opposition from party MPA Javed Nasim during this period. Nasim had not appeared for Senate polls.

Illegal mining charges levelled against former minister for mines and mineral development Ziaullah Afridi has also hit a
raw nerve.

Amid these challenges, PTI decided to reconcile with Nasim and bring him back as a parliamentary secretary while a reference for his de-seating is still pending. PTI also extended a hand of friendship to QWP Chairman Aftab Sherpao. This brought PTI leaders some stability assembly.

Bargaining position

With the exception of a few opposition MPAs, most lawmakers have cordial links with Chief Minister Pervez Khattak who monopolises administrative and financial matters in the government. Most opposition MPAs have remained silent about development funds for their constituencies.

A submissive opposition has meant assembly proceedings since October 2014 have been little more than mock exercises.

During this period, sittings and sessions have been adjourned due to an incomplete quorum. Opposition lawmakers—particularly the most vocal leaders—are often spotted in the offices and chambers of the chief minister and his cabinet members.

A PTI MPA, requesting anonymity, has voiced disappointment over the role of opposition within the assembly. “Due to ineffective opposition, funds are lapsed and the government’s performance has been compromised,” he said. “Public dissatisfaction is increasing and no one is in a position to highlight these miseries.”

According to the MPA, all opposition MPAs have links with the chief minister as good relations could help them obtain development funds for their constituencies.

PPP MPA Nighat Orakzai has also expressed similar reservations.

“Parliamentary leaders of opposition parties are trying to save their skin,” said Orakzai. “They want to address wishes of electorates; this is only possible with the blessing of the CM as he has monopolised the distribution of development funds.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd,  2015.


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