‘Unjust’ distribution of funds challenged in PHC

CM-KPK PESHAWAR: Members of the combined opposition in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday challenged before the Peshawar High Court the ‘unjust’ distribution of funds by the provincial government for launching development schemes, alleging the chief minister had allocated billions of rupees worth of funds to his ‘blue-eyed’ people, including unelected people. The petitioners, Nighat Orakzai of PPP, Syed Jaffar Shah of ANP, Malik Riaz Khan of JUI-F, and Barrister Sultan Mohammad Khan and Mohammad Sheraz Khan of Qaumi Watan Party, alleged that the provincial government had even released funds to members of the National Assembly and unelected people like PTI provincial chief Azam Swathi in an act of great injustice to the people of the province. They requested the high court to declare the distribution of funds among unelected and irrelevant persons illegal and unconstitutional and order the provincial government to use development funds without discrimination and in line with the law.The petitioners also sought the court’s orders for stopping the chief minister from using development funds until the case was disposed of. In the petition filed through former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor Barrister Masood Kausar, MPAs have made the provincial chief minister and finance as well as planning and development secretaries respondents. They said they were members of their respective parties and got elected as members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in the 2013 general elections.

Opposition MPAs insist chief minister gave billions of rupees to blue-eyed people
According to them, when PTI set up a coalition government in the province with the support of Jamaat-i-Islami and Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan, they sat on the opposition benches deciding to play an effective role in the house for the development of the province.
The petitioners said they had supported all those schemes, which were in the interest of public and had opposed those development projects, which they considered against public interest and only a waste of the taxpayers’ money. They alleged that the provincial government started their victimisation and set up a new example by blocking the Rs20 million funds meant for development projects by each of the MPAs. The petitioners added that on the other hand, the chief minister began allocating funds for projects of unelected people as well as MNAs, notably his close relative, Imran Khattak of Nowshera, and Azam Khan Swati of PTI. They alleged the chief minister had also allocated additional millions of rupees to Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq and AJIP chief Shahram Tarakai. The petitioners said unfortunately, in the annual development programme, the government had allocated funds to each MPA only for construction of a kilometer road in their constituency but to the contrary, Sirajul haq was given funds for construction of 200 kilometers road.

They alleged that Azam Swati was also given funds to the tune of Rs1 billion for development schemes.

The petitioner said the government had spent development funds on the recommendations of MNAs in the National Assembly constituencies of the province including NA-2, NA-3, NA-4, NA-5, NA-6, NA-10, NA-11, NA-13, NA-14, NA-15, NA-16, NA-17, NA-25, NA-27, NA-29, NA-30 and NA-35. Later, the petitioners told reporters on the high court premises that they were likely to challenge the December 18 countrywide shutdown plan of PTI in the court today (Tuesday). They said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was hit by militancy, so closing down all its businesses would plunge it into economic crisis.

Nighat Orakzai said if the PTI government wanted to serve the people, it should pay heed to the plight of around three million IDPs. She said on one hand, the provincial government talked a lot about justice but on the other, it had deprived elected MPAs of development funds and gave the money to unelected people.