Confrontation vs cooperation

May 26, 2024

Recent statements by Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur are likely to cause more friction between the federal and provincial governments

Confrontation  vs cooperation


he Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and federal governments appear to be headed for a confrontation.

Since he was sworn-in, Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur has issued a string of statements against the federal government. Even though most of Gandapur’s rhetoric may be meant for domestic consumption and to reinforce his tough-guy image, it can still his relation with the central government. This cannot be good for the residents of the province since the provincial government relies heavily on federal funding to run its affairs.

“We are being pushed to the wall. We have been forced to take some drastic measures. If the federal government continues to deny the due rights of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which is facing an acute energy crisis, we will be left with no option but to take even more drastic measures… The provincial government will go all out to protect the province’s resources and the rights of its residents,” the chief minister said three weeks ago.

Confrontation  vs cooperation

Considering the province currently faces a host of problems, such as a ballooning public debt, shortage of wheat and flour and diminishing access to electric power, it is vital that the central and the provincial governments work together to resolve these issues. Political confrontation is usually limited to election years. A politician elected to head a political administration after winning elections must transition quickly to his new role instead of appearing always to be on the campaign trail.

Chief Minister Gandapur has especially highlighted the issue of non-payment of hydel power royalties and development funds for the tribal districts. “The federal government and some of its ministries have caused the provincial receipts to decline by Rs 300 billion this year. Similar requests for unpaid funds, particularly for the tribal districts, were made under the caretaker government. However, the issue remains unresolved,” the chief minister recently told the Provincial Assembly.

“The federal government and its various ministries have caused the provincial receipts to decline by Rs 300 billion this year. Previously, similar requests for unpaid funds, particularly for tribal districts, were made by the caretaker government. The issue remains unresolved,” says Gandapur.

This is the third consecutive Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government in the province. During its pervious stints, the provincial exchequer has incurred enormous losses.

The Bus Rapid Transit project launched under the government led by former chief minister Pervez Khattak was one of the major reasons the province needed to acquire a loan. It is still considered one of the most expensive projects of kind in the country.

Confrontation  vs cooperation

The health card scheme introduced by the PTI government was another major burden on the treasury. Former health minister Taimur Jhagra used to openly state during media briefings that even the United States could not afford the kind of free health coverage the PTI government was providing.

Given its debt burden, the provincial government has become more reliant on federal help. However, combative politics is becoming a hindrance in enabling the federal and the provincial governments to cooperate to overcome the challenge.

Pakistani politics has always been marked by conflicts, legal battles and the influence of non-elected institutions. Recent political changes, including Nawaz Sharif’s return and Imran Khan’s imprisonment, have brought about new shifts in the power dynamics.

The PTI, led by Imran Khan, is facing many challenges. Khan has been accused, among other things of inappropriate use of gifts received while in public office. He has claimed that there is a conspiracy against him and that some military officials and political parties are complicit in it. Given the recent developments, PTI’s survival and success will depend on how well it can navigate the political and legal obstacles.

In such a polarised political environment, Gandapur’s warnings to the federal government are not helping anyone. His government has also locked horns with Governor Faisal Karim Kundi. Both the leaders hail from Dera Ismail Khan district and have exchanged heated words in the media with regard to each other’s authority and exercise of powers.

On May 23, Governor Kundi finally wrote to CM Gandapur, asking him to work together to address the key issues facing the province, particularly those related to the financially-crippled public sector universities. “….I urge you to work together to address the administrative, financial and academic crisis faced by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s public sector universities,” the letter read. There is apparently need to extend the spirit of cooperation to other fields as well.

The chief minister should request a meeting of the National Finance Commission to voice his concerns over the allocation of federal funds. Political reconciliation and cooperation, not confrontation, is the need of the hour.

The writer has a PhD in journalism. He works at The News International. Email: shahid152001

Confrontation vs cooperation