First steps

Published May 29, 2024

IT is, without doubt, a positive development. The chief minister of KP seems to have reached an arrangement that will allow him to stick to his party’s politics while he works with Islamabad on matters related to the governance and administration of his province.

In the context of present-day politics in Pakistan, this is no mean feat. There has been considerable tension between the centre and KP — the only province where the PTI managed to seize power and form a government — ever since the general elections.

From reserved seats to provincial funds, an electricity supply crisis and non-invitation to the Special Investment Facilitation Council meetings, Peshawar has clashed bitterly with the government in Islamabad, demanding that its ‘rights’ be restored and that it be given a seat at the table. However, from recent developments, it appears that the federal and provincial governments have finally managed to break the ice.

On Saturday, KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur finally attended the SIFC meeting to which he had previously not been invited, and it seems to have gone well. The federal information minister later issued a glowing appraisal of the development, stating, “I think today’s meeting was held in a very cordial atmosphere with great positivity […] I think the good thing is that a message of unity was sent after today’s SIFC meeting that the centre and the provinces are on one page.”

Mr Gandapur, too, described it as “a very good meeting”, while iterating that his province’s resources should benefit both its residents and the larger country. He promptly apprised his party chief, Imran Khan, of the discussion in a visit to Adiala Jail. Then, on Monday, the KP chief minister also managed to reach an understanding with the ministers of interior and power over his province’s power issues, signalling a shift away from his government’s confrontational stance.

Both parties said they had arrived at a mutually acceptable solution to address prolonged load-shedding in the province, which seems to be rooted in rampant power theft. Signalling his commitment to mobilising his own party to lead the initiative, the KP CM revealed that the federal government, too, would play a part by extending some relief and relaxations. When asked what prompted the sudden thaw, Mr Gandapur deftly explained that his discussion with the two representatives of the federal government was a negotiation between institutions rather than a parley between individuals or the politics they represented.

This is a commendable approach. There is no reason why ordinary people should suffer because of the differences between their leaders. It is mature of the KP government to set aside its differences for the good of its people, and one hopes that this small change will pave the way for bigger things.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2024

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