Poverty alleviation

Talking to member of Provincial Assembly, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has expressed the desire that government will focus more on poverty alleviation and the elected representatives should identify the basic problems confronting the people so that timely action can be taken for their resolution. The only commendable step that previous PTI government took and the present one is expanding its coverage is the provision of health card distribution among the poor people whereas the priorities of development schemes, by and large, remained skewed.

Poverty and unemployment are interconnected and on this account the provincial government had not launched schemes to generate sufficient employment opportunities. Had the construction BRT project costing Rs. 70 billion plus been deferred and money spent on building small hydel power stations and laying local transmission and distribution network the industrial policy which was announced in May 2016 could have taken off. Hundreds of closed industrial units would have been reopened providing employment opportunities to the skilled and semi skilled working force.

In almost all government departments merit is non existent and the dirty culture of selling appointment letters introduced by the previous Awami National Party government is still flourishing. Even the selection process of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Public Service Commission is not transparent. Yes former education minister Muhammad Atif Khan purged the department of Elementary and Secondary Education of the scourge of violation of merit to the extent of appointment of teachers alone. There is no difference in the style of governance of PTI and other statisque protecting and perpetuating political parties, mere sloganeering and no people friendly actions on ground.

Like the static industrial policy, the mineral policy is also a non-starter. While awarding mining licenses to contractor the application of modern technology has not been made mandatory. The obsolete methods of mining are causing colossal waste of precious minerals. Gemstone reserves are valuable assets of the province but value addition of precious stones in accordance with the demand of international market does not figure in the priority list. Hopes have been pinned on the establishment of a gemological center in the Rashakai special economic zone which may not materialise in the foreseeable future as the dream of this industrial zone will come true only when power supply of 200 megawatt is ensured and highly skilled local workforce is prepared.

There have been no commendable achievements in the agriculture sector. The lining of canals from Gomal Zam dam has been abnormally delayed and water cannot be released for the irrigation of 90000 thousand acres of land in the districts of Tank and D I Khan. Launching of construction work on Chisma Lift Irrigation Canal is illusive. There are numerous potential sites of small dams in the southern district of the province which are yet to be included in the priority list to provide water for irrigation and drinking purposes. Pick and choose policy is being implemented for the installation of solar tube wells. The people on their own are making efforts for the installation of solar tube wells. The two agriculture research centers, one in Tarnab and the other in Pirsabaq, are virtually redundant and quality seeds could not be evolved with available expertise of Plants Breeding and Genetics.  Farmers are compelled to buy expensive genetically modified imported seeds. It is the agriculture sector that can generate employment opportunities in large number for poverty alleviation. Action speak louder than words and the government must focus on actions.