Where did Rs417bn in ‘anti-terror’ funds go, PM asks KP

Published February 2, 2023
<p>Prime Minister Sheh­baz Sharif chairs a meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad on Wednesday. — PID photo</p>

Prime Minister Sheh­baz Sharif chairs a meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad on Wednesday. — PID photo

• Shehbaz terms PTI claims about lack of money to fight terror ‘distortion of facts’
• Cabinet passes resolution to reform province’s police

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Sheh­baz Sharif on Wednesday blamed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for its failure to equip police and civil armed forces to counter militants, questioning how the provincial government spent funds to the tune Rs417 billion it received from the Centre since 2010.

The premier made this observation during a weekly meeting of the federal cabinet which only had one agenda — resurgence of terrorism — after PM Sharif said he wanted an open discussion on the matter.

The meeting, however, remained limited to shifting the blame instead of coming up with a strategy to tackle militancy in light of an increase in terrorism incidents.

During the meeting, the premier asked where did these funds go even though the National Counter-Terrorism Authority and Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) had been established.

The premier said that the nation wanted the KP government to be held accountable for the rise of terrorism in the province and the money could have been to enhance terror-combatting abilities.

“Who had said these jihadis (fighters) were friends of Pakistan? Who had said that they have surrendered [weapons] and will enter the mainstream? It’s a point of concern,” the prime minister said in a thinly-veiled allusion to Imran Khan’s plan to resettle these militants in tribal districts. “Terrorism is rearing its head again,” he said. “The question is who brought them back.”

“Everyone is asking who brought them back. What happened? […] How can peace be destroyed? How can Khyber Pakhtunkhwa go back into the hands of terrorists,” PM Shehbaz wondered.

‘NFC Award’

The premier also spent a better part of the meeting responding to allegations levelled by the KP government about the unfair distribution of funds under National Finance Commission (NFC) Award.

In December last year, former KP chief minister Mahmood Khan along with others rebuked the federal government for depriving the province of its rightful share by withholding funds meant for the province. In January, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said it was impossible for the provincial police to counter TTP militants who were armed with US-made weapons.

PM Sharif, while responding to these statements, said that KP had received Rs417 billion since 2010 under the NFC Award. “The rest of the provinces gave them approximately Rs40bn every year,” he said, asking how did the government spend this “huge amount” of money.

He said KP had sacrificed “more than other parts” of the country but the “money provided to them was solely to strengthen their counter-terrorism capabilities”. They could have used this money for strengthening the CTD, ammo procurement, training and recruitment of cadres, and improving their intelligence-gathering capabilities.

PM Sharif said that it was unacceptable for the former KP government to ask for more funds. “If you are getting Rs40bn per year, you do not get to complain about the weaknesses of the CTD,” he said, adding, “Complaints about not having guns, training, and satellites for lack of funds is a clear distortion of facts.”

Later, the cabinet passed a resolution that concrete steps will be taken to make the KP Police capable to combat terrorism, and for that, they will be equipped with the latest weaponry and similar facilities.

Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2023



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