The political sloganeering of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) before coming to power also stressed upon the need of not giving funds to legislators for development purposes. We remember only too well when addressing a crowd in Chitral’s polo ground, Imran Khan censured Khaqan Abbassi for giving rupees 94 billion to MNAs of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). However, time is a cruel thing. So is history. Even though people nowadays live with goldfish memories, history bites anyone who fails to take a principled stance.

The present government of PTI has already diverted rupees 24 billion from China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to lawmakers’ scheme. The government of Imran Khan has done the same thing it criticised PML-N government for. It, by the way, is not the first time that PTI has backtracked on its promise of not spending funds through lawmakers. Earlier, the ruling party had collected development proposals from its members in Punjab assembly as well.

The whole exercise of backtracking on its resolution of not spending development funds through lawmakers has become more problematic as the government has diverted this enormous amount of money from no other project but CPEC. As a result, the progress on the economic corridor can face severe delays. CPEC and other related activities will be adversely affected by the government move as out of 27 billion only 3 billion will be left in the national kitty for these infrastructural development project. Will CPEC suffer the same fate as the Bus Rapid Transit project (BRT).

It is ironic that PTI in its election campaign made people believe that it would not fall for optics, however, with the apparent U-turn that the ruling party has taken, it has also become clear that the ruling party does not have any alternatives for things and practices that it criticised bitterly in the past.

PTI is committing a mistake by thinking that giving funds to lawmakers will secure the treasury benches in the next elections. The example of its forerunner is apparent. PML-N had spent an exorbitant amount of money under PM’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Achievement Fund in its last three years, yet the party failed in winning the elections held in the previous year. It is not wrong to say that PTI’s decision to grant funds to lawmakers is a two-fold mistake in the sense that it violates the promise that it made earlier, and it also undermines the pace of CPEC that many people view as a game changer for the economic revival of the country.