Tuesday, September 03, 2013
ISLAMABAD: PTI Chairman Imran Khan had stated before the May 11 elections: “Why do you assume that the PTI will also fail, because other political parties have failed?” Actions would speak louder than words would be what Imran Khan sounded so sure of. First ninety days’ period was set as a benchmark by Imran Khan for others to judge the performance of the PTI government.
These 90 days of PTI came to an end on August 31, so it is desirable to have a look what has been the performance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Austerity in running the state affairs coupled with curbing the misuse of state resources by top government functionaries that had plagued the previous governments was a promise that the PTI had made to this nation. Barring the minimum security required, no minister, including the Chief Minister, in the KP government takes any protocol vehicles and staff during movement. The incident of state helicopter ride taken by the Chief Minister KP and followed by payment for the fuel used for the trip set the example for top political leadership and bureaucracy in the province that the PTI government would have zero tolerance for the misuse of scarce and precious state resources. No other incident of such nature was reported afterwards even by the most vigilant media.
A plan to commercialize state guesthouses to mitigate unnecessary government expenses is in the pipeline.
Elimination of corruption at top level was the target set by the PTI for the first 90 days of its government. The PTI achieved this target; suffice it to say that not a single scandal, not to speak of a mega one, has piped up in the watchful media with all media eyes set on the KP government on this count.
Nor has the PTI government left any chance of the surfacing of any corruption scandal in future by putting into operation the Right to Information (RTI) Ordinance which ranks 76th among 90 countries that have RTI laws including many of the so-called first world countries.
The KP’s RTI law has scored 143 and is positioned at top global RTI rankings. Under the new law any citizen can make a request to the government on a simple paper or through an email, without any fee, requiring information about all government departments, the KP legislature, chief minister’s secretariat, governor’s secretariat, lower courts, and even to private bodies funded by government and private bodies providing public services.
The applicant under RTI Ordinance is not even required to disclose the reason for demanding such information. No more effective step for curbing corruption was imaginable when the typical measures of carrots with sticks and surprise raids followed by rather showy suspensions of functionaries by political lordships had miserably failed in the past.
The potential Snowdens within the KP government have been given legal cover as no action can now be taken against them for blowing the lid off the internal wrongdoings in the public interest.
The a,ccountability bill draft has already been prepared and released for public comment, which will soon be translated into a law.
Accountability bill envisions a strong independent Accountability Commission which would be able to hold even the chief executive accountable.
Education and Health, though among the most important government functions, have been the most neglected ones in Pakistan since its establishment. Reforms in both fields were kick-started with the unprecedented high budget allocations by the PTI government.
Health reforms package already approved with the hallmarks of giving government hospitals autonomy on the pattern of UK model and a special focus on Mother Child Healthcare.
Mobile lady doctor service has been launched to make health services available to remote and hitherto inaccessible areas of KP.
Education reforms package has also been approved. Doing away with multiple evaluation systems at elementary level and introducing a uniform curriculum is what PTI government in KP is working very hard on.
Biometric attendance system has been planned and its pilot project is already complete. Deliberations are at the final stage on a mega initiative to construct the necessary facilities in primary and elementary schools in KP and equipping them appropriately, which requires billions of rupees, by involving overseas Pakistanis.
Consultations on launching of new international standarduniversities in KP with public-private partnership are also under way and concrete plans will soon be released. Local monitoring and management of schools and health units has been envisaged.
Another promise of PTI about to be fulfilled within weeks is the promulgation of a fully empowered local government system law. Final draft of local government system has been prepared, the salient features of which have already been debated publicly.
Party-based elections at district and tehsil levels, formation of village councils with powers of dispute resolution in petty disputes and offences, decentralised management of education, health, police; all these measures will prove to be a catalyst of change that PTI has been promising to bring about throughout the election year.
Online FIR has been a dream that has come true in KP. Out of 309 complaints from July 1 till August 20, 44 were converted into FIRs and in some instances decades old criminal disputes of the people were resolved merely by registering online complaints. One such instance was also reported by BBC. All the necessary facilities were provided to Peshawar High Court to materialise the operation of Mobile Courts which have already disposed of their initial cases.
To enhance the capacity of law enforcement agencies in their counter-terrorism operations, necessary weaponry has been ordered, the FC has been recalled from other parts of the country and the establishment of a provincial intelligence agency has been announced.
Multiple initiatives like land record computerisation, Peshawar Mass Transit System project, micro-hydel projects, e-governance project, clean and green Peshawar project, establishment of KP revenue authority etc. are at different stages of planning and execution.
Conflict of interest law, the right to service law, e-governance and e-businesses laws, the public-private partnership law and the vassal law are in final stages and would soon be promulgated. The KP government has won the right to govern for five years, but the early days’ performance, initiatives and plans are very important to set the direction of the new government.
The PTI government might not have achieved perfection, but it has sincerely made an all-out effort to cleanse the proverbial Aegean’s stables that had been dirtied for decades in the KP. The writer is the newly appointed central deputy secretary information, PTI. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org