Understanding realpolitik of KPK, FATA
The issue of Fata’s merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been on top of the political horizon in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2017. And, it is highly expected that this matter is going to be settled amicably before the arrival of the new-year by making tribal areas as part of the province, which is demand of the majority, while in 2018, political parties will line-up for general election.
Obviously, each political party is favouring the integration of tribal areas with KP, but the whole process stuck, just because of the opposition by two parties – the JUI-F of Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PkMAP of Mehmood Khan Achakzai as they both are against the move. But in the light of the recent developments on political landscape, things are going to be settled soon.
It will be a gift for tribesmen on New Year, and if it happens, it will be a historic moment and addition in the political history of the province. And that’s why sensing its importance, each political party will try to take its credit in the coming elections. However, the credit must go to the federal government for initiating the process by constituting the Fata Reforms Committee and also to tribal people, who tirelessly struggled for achieving this herculean task.
As the general elections near, the merger Fata will also have far reaching impact on political horizon as the KP Assembly will add more than 20 seats to 124, the existing numbers of the house. Similarly, seats of the KP in National Assembly will also increase which will certainly enhance the role of the province in national affairs and politics as well.
Another big development that happened in 2017 is the revival of the MMA, as this alliance of religious parties, dreams of ruling the province like that of 2002. Though the MMA restored after a decade, but this time it is without the JUI-S of Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, who had already formed an electoral alliance with Imran Khan-led PTI for the forthcoming general polls.
This alliance between the JUI-S and PTI is being criticised for various reasons. However, it is stated that PTI would have a smooth sailing with the JUI-S, like it had so far been with the JI, also a religious-politico party. It is not for the first time that PTI is coming close to the JUI-S. Earlier, the former’s provincial government had also donated Rs300million to Darul Uloom Haqqania, headed by Maulana Sami-ul-Haq for reconstruction work at the seminar.
Interestingly, Siraj-ul-Haq led JI, a coalition partner in the PTI government, is also part of the new MMA is expected to quit the PTI government by the end of January 2018. It is believed that making an alliance with Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, was apparently an attempt on part of the PTI to stop the revival of the MMA, of which the JUI-S had been part in the past.
The PTI, which has been ruling the KP in the aftermath of 2013 elections surprised many by expelling Aftab Sherpao-led QWP from its coalition government in July 2017 allegedly for not supporting the former’s stance on Panama Papers leaks against the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was later disqualified by the apex court. It was the second time the PTI removed the QWP from its cabinet, the first time it was in 2015 when the former expelled the latter from the government on corruption charges. This act was not welcomed in political circles. Moreover, the integrity of the QWP suffered too much.
The popularity graph of the PTI is still intact in the KP, as it retained its seat in the by-elections in NA-4, Peshawar, held in October 2017. The seat had fallen vacant after the demise of its former lawmaker Gulzar Khan. It reflects that the PTI is in position to secure its seat or increase its numbers in the coming general elections, for which, Imran Khan has already created a momentum for holding early polls in the country. Though the PTI won NA-4 by-poll by a significant margin securing 45,734 votes, however, the ANP, a Pakhtun nationalist party, was the runner up as it bagged 24,874 votes, which is stated to be a comeback of the party, which had badly been defeated in the 2013 elections.
Claiming to form next government in the province, former president and co-chairman of the PPP Asif Ali Zardari had been to the KP twice in the outgoing year. He stayed for about two-week, tried to remove difference within the party at provincial level, but all his efforts have proven to be a futile exercise so far.
And that’s why; the PPP is comparatively not much active so far on political scene like that of its other political rivals, as some of them have even announced names of their candidates for both provincial and National assemblies’ seats. The ANP and JUI-F are on top of the list. The former desires to make a solo flight; the latter is already part of the MMA, while the PPP is still nowhere to be seen.
Like that of 2016, the issue of CPEC particularly reservation about not constructing its ‘western route’ was not raised too much by various political parties of the KP in 2017. KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser had even filed a writ petition in the Peshawar High Court demanding the province’s share in the billion-dollar project. However, the PHC disposed of Asad Qaiser’s petition after expressing full satisfaction at written assurance of the federal government in the court that province’s proposed projects/schemes had been included in the CPEC. However, Qaiser again warned to take the CEPC project back to the court if the federal government does not show progress in fulfilling its commitments.
The PTI government was taking credit of taking revolutionary steps in health sector, however, its rival political parties made its mocking when it failed to control the fatal dengue fever, which had its outbreak in the province in July 2017 and had claimed 69 lives. The PTI government was accused of not taking timely action to prevent spreading of dengue virus. There is no dengue patient in the province, the outbreak did not stop because of the government measures, but because of change in the weather as dengue virus cannot survive in the much cold that had gripped the province.
In the provincial metropolis, on October 20, CM Pervez Khattak inaugurated the construction work on the Bus Rapid Transit project, which will be completed within a record period of six months by spending Rs 57 billion. The 26-kilometre rapid bus transit system would start from Chamkani via GT Road to Hayatabad. The plan would have 300 luxury buses which would have special compartments for women. About 500,000 passengers would have the opportunity to travel in the luxury buses every day. Though, the PTI workers are praising its government for launching this mega project, but their political rivals term it a plan to make secure the party’s vote bank in Peshawar, because, the PTI had won all the four NA and 10 out of 11 provincial assembly seats in 2013 polls.