Some of the opposition voices before the merger of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) opposed the merger while arguing that merger might not be the solution for the socio-economic and political uplift of the region. However, their voices fell on deaf ears. Their fears, however, have come true, as the KP government has allocated millions in the Annual Development Plan (ADP) of the ex-FATA for the maintenance of the Governor House.

In the post-25th amendment scheme of things, the governor of the KP has no stake in the affairs of the tribal districts. Why is it then the case that the governor house still runs on the funds allotted to the socio-economic uplift of the tribal districts?

Here are two issues worthy of commentary. First, the ignorance of the adviser to the chief minister (CM) for the merged districts Ajmal Wazir over the matter tells that he has priorities other than advising the government on the uplift of the tribal districts. Second, it is astonishing that the Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has forgotten his promise of utilising all these buildings for some beneficial purposes so quickly. Far from turning these buildings into places of public utility, one of these houses is the direct cause of reducing the funds for the uplift of the merged districts.

We know that except for the Khyber district, all of the merged districts have become peripheries of the already periphery districts of the province. The fact that the periphery districts of the KP lack decent facilities, one can well imagine the status of socio-economic facilities and development infrastructure in the tribal districts. And to make things worse, the KP Governor’s House gets funds for rehabilitation purposes and maintenance of birds and animals caged there.

The purpose of the 25th amendment was to bring these areas at par with the rest of Pakistan. The idea of merging erstwhile FATA with KP was to ensure that the residents of these districts enjoy the same socio-economic facilities that all other citizens of the country do. But if chunks of funds meant for the development of the tribal areas get diverted to the Governor’s House or any other institution, then the purpose of the merger will crumble.

The KP government needs to take immediate notice of the issue. The provincial government need to reverse the funds to the uplift program of the tribal districts. If maintenance of the said building is inevitable, it should get funds within the provincial budget, not in the ADP of the tribal areas.