PESHAWAR - The absence of Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak and cabinet members from the province to attend 'Azadi March' at a time when rains have brought devastation, particularly in the provincial metropolis, attracted scathing criticism from different walks of life.

At least 18 people have reportedly been killed and over 70 injured in rain-related incidents in Peshawar, a day earlier. Despite the lapse of 24 hours, the provincial government will yet to comment on the incidents. On August 13, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak left for Islamabad along with thousands of PTI supporters to attend his party's sit-in. Not only the chief minister but also the PTI and its coalition partner Awami Jamhoori Ittehad (AJI) affiliated ministers and lawmakers are in Islamabad.

Since the evening of Wednesday last, virtually there is no government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and all official matters are being run directly from Pakhtunkhwa House, Islamabad. The masses are anxious to know about the time schedule of their return to province. The people of the province in general and rain-affected people in particular are feeling the sense of deprivation, saying their elected government had left them in the lurch.

The chief minister bothered only to issue a press statement and announced compensation for the affected families. However, the people are not ready to accept anything less than the presence of their leadership to share their grief at this critical juncture.

On the other hand, Marvi Memon, a legislator of PML-N, on the special directives of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Saturday visited the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) where she inquired after the health of injured and expressed solidarity with all affected families. She on behalf of the federal government announced a compensation of Rs0.1 million for the families of each killed person. She, while talking to the media, questioned the very loyalty of PTI leadership with the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who voted the party to power in the province.

Similarly, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, an ANP stalwart also visited the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) and expressed solidarity with the families of victims. He said that instead of expressing any grief or sorrow, the PTI leadership is busy in recreational activities in Islamabad. He asked the PTI Chief Imran Khan to at least direct the Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and his cabinet members to immediately go back to Peshawar Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for healing the agonies of their electorates.