After failing to satisfactorily explain why Darul Uloom Haqqania was given millions by his government, Imran Khan may soon be back in the media trying to explain why the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has been handing out public money to mosques and seminaries for years. 625 mosques and registered seminaries were given millions of rupees during year 2014-15 and 2015-16 as grant under Societies Registration Act, 1860 by the the KP Auqaf department, according to official numbers.

While the dangers of giving monetary support to religious institutions in a terror-wracked province should be obvious, the real problem with these grants lies in their distribution; most of the grants have gone to institutes in the strongholds of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), while other regions have been ignored. Perhaps political “bribes” is too strong a word in this scenario, but it is clear that the supporters of the ruling parties received cash “rewards” based on their political affiliations. If there was any doubt to the veracity of this, Buner and Nowshera, the home districts of Provincial Minister for Religious Affairs Haji Habibur Rehman and Chief Minister Pervez Khattak - the two people with the discretionary power to distribute these funds - received a lions share in both these years.

Admittedly the practice of handing out public funds to party loyalists is as old as the country itself - the Pakistan Muslim Leauge Nawaz (PML-N) has been doling out cash as discretionary “development” funds and subsidies (such as the ill-fated Kisan package) for years. However, just because it is common practice doesn’t make it acceptable. This is especially true for PTI, which has modeled itself as the antithesis of PML-N.

Unfortunately it is anything but; the PML-N hands out money to MPAs and MNAs, the PTI to mosques and seminaries - both based on nepotistic political considerations. It could be argued that under the PML-N model, at least some benefit reaches to the public through local development, the money given to mosques is wasted at best and could be potentially dangerous.

It should also be noted that none of these institutes changed their syllabus or teaching methods in response to these grants - unlike the claims made by Imran Khan on television. Most of these mosques and seminaries strongly opposed reform mandated by the National Action Plan (NAP) and continue to do so, but are first in line, palms upraised to receive the government’s largesse.

So far “Naya Pakistan” looks quite similar to the old one, albiet with a religious hue to it all.