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Govt approves billions for choice KP areas

By Syed Irfan Raza 2017-06-06
ISLAMABAD: The government has opened the floodgates of public money for uplift schemes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad in an apparent bid to grab a bigger share of seats in both the provincial assembly and National Assembly when the 2018 polls are held.

The government has approved over Rs2.2 billion worth of development projects for 13 National Assembly constituencies, most of which are represented by a Pakistan Muslim LeagueNawaz (PML-N) leader or a coalition partner.

The funds are being utilised under the Prime Minister`s Development Programme 2016-17 in KP.

According to documents seen by Dawn, NA-1 (Peshawar), NA-12 (Swabi), NA-18 (Abbottabad-II), NA-19 (Haripur), NA-20 (Mansehra-I), NA-21 (Mansehra-cum-Torghar), NA-22 (Batt agram), NA-23 (Kohistan), NA-24 (D.I. Khan), NA-30 (Swat-II), NA-31 (Shangla), NA-32 (Chitral) and NA-49 (Islamabad-II) are among the constituencies where infrastructure and development projects have been approved.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi holds the NA-18 seat, PML-N leader Babar Nawaz Khan holds NA-19, Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Mohammad Yousuf is the incumbent in NA-20, and the prime minister`s son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Saf dar holds the NA-21 seat.

While NA-22 is held by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl`s (JUI-F) Qari Mohammad Yousif, NA-24 is the constituency of its leader, Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

NA-23 is currently in the hands of PML-N`s Sarzameen Khan and NA-31 isheld by anotherrulingpartyleader,Ibadullah. Minister for Capital Administration and Development Tariq Fazal Chaudhry is the elected representative of NA-49.

In certain cases, where a constituency is not held by a PML-N ally, the funds are meant to be disbursed through ruling party candidates; for example, Engineer Ameer Muqam in NA-30.

According to the documents, Rs150 million has been allocated for NA-1, Rs0.5bn each for NA-24 and NA-30, Rs200m each for NA-20 and NA-32, Rs 165m for NA-49 and Rs50m each for NA-12, NA-21 and NA-22.

NA-18 In the constituency of the deputy speal(er, billions are being spent on development schemes, including: a water supply scheme in Panhot, Havelian tehsil, Abbottabad, worth Rs21.71 million; a water supply scheme at Dheri Kehl, UC Bagh, Abbottabad, for Rs11.9m; construction of a pre-stressed bridge over the River Dour at Mohat Rajoyia Road, Near Havelian worth Rs25m; a water supply scheme at Ziarat Masoom UC Seer Gharibi for Rs4.053m; a water supply scheme at UC Bagh worth Rs10m; a water supply scheme at Massan Gjri, UC Majuhan, Havellan tehsil for Rs13m, a water supply scheme at Habibabad UC Sherwan worth Rs30.54m and a water supply scheme at Karrach worth Rs11.23m.

NA-19 The constituency of PML-N leader Babar Nawaz Khan will see the construction of a road from Beer More to Beer Bazar in UC Beer, Haripur district, at a cost of Rs5m; the construction of a road from Dara to Tarim Kan in UC Najafpur, tehsil Khanpur worth Rs8m; and, the construction of a road from Daratian to Babutri in UC Najafpur at a cost of Rs5m.

NA-21 Billions are also being spent in NA-21, the constituency of Capt Safdar, who sources say has been tasked to monitor the distribution andutilisation of development funds in KP. Some of the schemes in his constituency include the construction of a road from Blimanag to UC Nelban in tehsil Hilkot, Mansehra, worth Rs3m; construction of a road from Harrori to Shangretta for Rs3m; construction of a road from Bhugurmang to Bisala for Rs3m; and the construction of a road from Hilkot to Kund for Rs4m.

NA-49 The constituency of Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry will see the rehabilitation of the existing road/drain from Mehboob Chowk to Miilad Chowk worth Rs23.241m; widening/resurfacing of a road and provision of drain from Gulistan-i-Mahuddin Chowk to Mehfooz Shaheed Chowl( worth Rs27.5m; construction of a road, sewer system, retaining wall and pipe culvert at Kohsar Town, Bhara Kahu for Rs18.237m; and, the widening/resurfacing of a road and provision of drain from Mahra to Chakian, worth Rs20.587m.

Opposition reaction PakistanTehreek-i-Insaf(PTI)spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn that the ruling party wanted to win the next general elections through public money.

`It is an exercise to buy the elections,` he said of the choice distribution of development schemes.

He claimed the government had trie d to mould the re cently-announce d federal budget to `purchase` the next elections. `It is the dilemma of our system that even the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) cannot do anything to control such blatant pre-poll rigging,` he added.

Pakistan Peoples Party MNA Dr Nafisa Shah was also critical of the government`s move, saying that money was simply being dumped in the constituencies. She said that most funds given to MNAs were not effectively utilised and ended up feeding into their re-election campaign.

Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb could not be reached for comment, despite repeated attempts.