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January 6, 2018

Pervaiz Khattak focusing on native Nowshera prior to polls


January 6, 2018

PESHAWAR: Almost every weekend Chief Minister Pervez Khattak travels to his home district Nowshera to address public meetings and meet voters.

His visits have become more regular and hectic with the approach of the next general election. With more than 30 years in active politics, nobody knows more than Pervez Khattak that a victory in his home constituency and district is the stepping stone to achieve higher things like becoming a minister and even chief minister.

Pervez Khattak isn’t the first chief minister in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to focus on his native district. His predecessors Mir Afzal Khan, Sardar Mahtab Ahmad Khan, Akram Durrani, Ameer Haider Hoti and others also paid more attention to their home district than to the other districts in the province. Some did it blatantly, others a bit discreetly, but it was obvious their own districts invariably got more development funds than the rest.

Pervez Khattak has done everything within his means to allocate record funds to Nowshera and solve the problems facing its inhabitants. Money has been allocated to every conceivable scheme in different sectors. Education, healthcare, communication, drinking water supply, irrigation and agriculture have predictably received huge funds, but the chief minister also ensured that Nowshera was saved from the yearly flooding in the river Kabul by initiating an expensive embankment project to check the water from overflowing. An expert opined that construction of the long-delayed Munda Dam on a priority basis would have resolved the flooding problem forever in both Nowshera and Peshawar, but one doesn’t know why this wasn’t prioritized.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) head Imran Khan had promised many things, such as stopping the allocation of development funds to lawmakers and to do away with dynastic politics and discourage nepotism in his party. However, political compulsions forced him to keep quiet as some of his party leaders openly violated these principles.

Pervez Khattak is a prime example of this anomaly as members of his family got party tickets and were elected to the parliament and also local government. Perhaps no family has monopolized power in Nowshera as is the case nowadays.

Some party loyalists defend Pervez Khattak by arguing that he had steered the PTI to sweep the 2013 polls in Nowshera by winning all national and provincial assembly seats and is now devoting attention to the district to repeat the electoral performance in the 2018 general election. Also, they give him credit for keeping the PTI-led coalition government intact these past five years despite many challenges, including the fact that an overwhelming majority of his party’s lawmakers were first-timers lacking experience of working in a disciplined manner.

It remains to be seen if the generosity showered by Pervez Khattak on his home district would pay off in the next general election.

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