PESHAWAR: Though Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership is stuck in internal differences over nomination of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister, the party leaders would have to carefully choose the provincial chief executive to face the tough challenges facing the government and meet high expectations.
One of the major challenges is ensuring the complete merger of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and facilitating the transition period.
Other tasks are restoration of peace and completion of incomplete mega development schemes in the province.
Only a person with proper educational qualification, tolerance, politeness, and command on legal and political knowledge of the land and knowledge of the customs and traditions would be able to successfully overcome these challenges.
Now when Fata has been merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the next chief minister would exercise powers and functions of the governor as well and would have to be fully prepared.
Some of the people who opposed Fata’s merger with KP have already started negative propaganda against it aimed at creating doubts in minds of the tribespeople about denial of their rights in the new setup.
It might cause unrest among the tribespeople of erstwhile Fata if the new government didn’t handle the transition properly.
The anti-Pakistan elements might attempt to exploit such an opportunity.
Some people are still not clear about the merger and have apprehensions about the whole process. The next government would need to carefully address the issue.
It is true that tribal agencies and Frontier Regions (FRs) were re-designated as districts and subdivisions of KP and the posts of political agents and assistant political agents were renamed as deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners, no mechanism has been devised for the smooth process of Fata’s transition and merger with KP.
The previous government had also abolished Agency Development Fund and collection of all taxes/levy and ‘rahdaries’ had been stopped.
The new government would be required to facilitate extension of the judiciary, policing, prosecution and prisons service in the tribal districts and restore public confidence in the new laws and governance system.
As the federal government has exempted the erstwhile Fata and Frontier Regions from tax for the next five years, the new government would need to cater to the needs and requirements of the people of the tribal districts and create job opportunities.
Besides addressing significant administrative, legal and financial challenges, another major challenge is holding free and fair local government election in the former Fata this year.
The government is supposed to conduct the local government polls there according to the KP LG Act 2013.
As per reforms package, the government would also hold assembly elections in the tribal districts in 2019 to give representation to the people of former Fata in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.
Following the merger, KP has to share a long border with Afghanistan and would have to address the security challenges.
The next government would have to take bold decisions for capacity building of the police and levies forces and giving a sense of security to the tribespeople.
The provincial and federal governments would require promoting trade relations with Afghanistan and increase revenues.
People would also expect it to get maximum benefit from the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. They would want the government to protect and preserve the 18th Constitutional Amendment.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government would need to expedite exploration work for natural resources such as oil and gas and minerals, undertake more hydropower projects and promote tourism.
The voters would expect the government to carry out further education and healthcare reforms and improve the existing educational and health services.
The controversial issue of Kalabagh dam has again surfaced.
The people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would expect the future provincial government to better safeguard their rights and oppose construction of the dam.
Beyond these issues, the next chief minister is expected to be mature enough to develop cordial relations with all the opposition political parties and provide funds to complete mega development projects, initiated by the Awami National Party government but remained neglected during the five-year tenure of the PTI government.