Third time lucky?

PTI’s third consecutive term in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is unprecedented for the province

Third time lucky?


he first three months of any government, whether provincial or federal, are always crucial. This is sometimes called the honeymoon period for the nascent administration, suggesting that there may be a sense of novelty, public goodwill and limited challenges before the realities and complexities of governance fully unfold. Once the novelty and the goodwill wane, the government’s trajectory can shift dramatically if decisions do not follow a sound strategy.

The priorities of provincial governments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have always differed from the rest of Pakistan. Historically, the province has dealt with some of the most challenging circumstances, including the problem of terrorism, for the past two decades. Throughout this time, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has predominantly been viewed through the lens of security concerns. Given this, when planning for governance, health, education and the formation of critical ministries, a new administration is often influenced by the security considerations.

Following the 2024 elections, held after considerable delays, former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf is once again in power. Having governed the province for nearly a decade, the PTI is no stranger to policymaking. The third consecutive term for the PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is indeed unprecedented. While PTI has overcome many challenges, many remain.

An important shift has occurred following the events of May 9, 2023, when some of the PTI supporters and leaders engaged in violent protests nationwide following Khan’s brief arrest. In the aftermath of May 9 and the ensuing crackdown on the party, the PTI now finds itself compelled to carefully strategise each decision, considering the changed dynamics and the lessons learned from the past.

Achieving political and economic goals, the reimplementation of health cards and the development of merged (tribal) districts are the top challenges that the new government will face.

The challenges for the new government also include the establishment of separate administrations in the Centre and the provinces. The caretaker government is leaving behind only about Rs 100 billion in the treasury. The first three major challenges for the new government will be the preparation of the budget for the coming fiscal year, sourcing funds for the budget and dealing with the financial difficulties.

In the aftermath of May 9 and the ensuing crackdown on the party, the PTI now finds itself compelled to carefully strategise each decision, considering the changed dynamics and the lessons learned from the past.

Another major challenge is the realisation of net hydel benefits for the province. The Centre has to pay Rs 3 trillion to the province in this regard. Under the NFC Award, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s share of the amount was 14.62 percent, it increased to 19.64 percent after the inclusion of tribal districts. However, the arrears currently stand at Rs 139 billion.

According to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, the province has also not received Rs 469 billion for the rapid development programme for the merged districts. The federal government has to pay Rs 25 billion for the assignment of federal taxes to the province.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, four more dams are under construction currently. These require Rs 935 million for timely completion. There is also a Rs 2.5 billion obligation related to oil and gas utilities.

If a suitable alignment of allocations with the federal government does not occur, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s dependence on external loans will increase.

As of now, the party’s top priority seems to be protesting over alleged election rigging. In addition to the newly elected members of the party, seasoned veterans will be present in the assembly to provide guidance to the new leadership.

Ali Amin Gandapur, the former federal minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan and provincial minister of revenue and estate, has been nominated by the PTI for the chief minister’s slot. During a media interaction, he spoke of the party’s commitment to presenting a pro-people budget in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Meanwhile, the federal government has yet to pick a governor for the province.

“Fifty-five percent of the newly elected members of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly are first timers. This shows that the people have once again put their trust in the PTI,” he said.

The writer is the editor of The Khorasan Diary. He can be reached on X @iftikharfirdous

Third time lucky?