PESHAWAR: The opposition in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday condemned the provincial government’s ‘lacklustre response to the surging militancy and extortion cases’ and asked it to take the lawmakers on board about the current peace talks with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The house, which met Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan in the chair, discussed an adjournment motion by the opposition Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal member, Inayatullah Khan, regarding a fresh wave of militancy in Malakand division and erstwhile Fata, and a rise in the cases of extortion and targeted killings.

Most of the members, especially the treasury’s, were absent showing the government’s non-seriousness towards security-related matters.

Starting a debate on militancy and government-TTP peace talks, Mr Inayatullah said the state ‘lost its justification’ following its failure to protect public life and property.

Asks govt to take all MPAs on board about talks with TTP

He said MPA of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Malik Liaquat was seriously injured in a gun attack on his vehicle, while four others were also killed.

“That was not the first attack,” he said, adding that a total of 434 gun attacks had been reported this year alone in which 323 people including personnel had lost their lives.

The lawmaker said 254 acts of targeted killing had occurred in tribal districts during the current year causing insecurity among the people.

He said surprisingly, the local administration had registered cases against the people, who organised peace walks in different areas.

Mr Inayatullah said the federal government had been in negotiations with the banned TTP for five months, so the house should be taken into confidence about the current status of the negotiations and ceasefire.

He said the people were ‘threatened’ over telephone to pay extortion, so it was the government’s duty to trace those callers.

“The government is losing its writ in the province,” he said, demanding an in-camera briefing for the lawmakers or parliamentary leaders on the current security situation.

Coming down hard on the provincial government and security agencies for ‘not successfully handling the law and order situation’, Awami National Party parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak called the government the ‘facilitator’ of the local Taliban.

He said every member of the house, including himself, received telephonic calls to pay extortion.

Without naming anyone, he said a native of the chief minister’s hometown was recently threatened to pay Rs50 million extortion (bhatta).

He said militants were seen roam in Buner district openly amid the local police’s claims that they were not allowed to act against those exhibiting weapons.

“This government is playing the role of the Taliban facilitator and the police are unable to register case against militants,” he said.

Mr Babak wondered under what law, the powers of the district police officer had been delegated to a serving military colonel in every district to oversee security related matters.

He said an ‘unelected person’ of the provincial government had been authorised to hold talks with the TTP without the approval of the assembly.

Pakistan Peoples Party member Bacha Salih, who belongs to Upper Dir district, said he had received 25 telephonic calls demanding extortion.

He said extortionists were using Afghan SIM cards.

The ANP leader complained that ‘weak’ police officials had been deputed in the district and that he had brought the issue to the notice of the provincial police officer.

He said the superintendent of police could tackle the matter if the government showed resolve and seriousness.

BILLS: The assembly passed KP Teachers (Appointment and Regularisation of Services) Bill, 2022 to regularise the services of as many as 38,000 teachers across the provinces including in the merged districts.

The government also introduced the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities (Second Amendment) Bill, 2022. The house also passed the KP Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, 2022, and tabled the KP Universities (Second Amendment) Bill, 2022, and KP Regularisation of Services of Employees of District Governance and Community Development Project Bill, 2022, which were moved by Minister for Higher Education Kamran Khan Bangash.

The house unanimously passed five resolutions seeking subsidy on natural gas for the province’s people and payment of outstanding dues by the federal government to the provincial government under different heads.

A resolution by ANP parliamentary leader Sardar Babak said under Article 158 of the Constitution, priority for gas supply would be given to the province, where it was explored.

It said KP produced the cheapest natural gas at the rate of $4 per MMBTU but the federal government was importing it at the rate of $25 per MMBTU and applying weighted average cost on it and providing it to the province for the same rate.

The house asked the provincial government to recommend to the federal government to provide gas to KP’s people at $4 per MMBTU as a constitutional requirement.

Similarly, a resolution moved by minister Shaukat Yousafzai referring to Article 161(1)(B) of the Constitution asked the provincial government to recommend the federal government to provide federal excise duty directly to the province and pay the related dues.

Another resolution moved by the minister regarding windfall levy on oil as envisaged in the federal government’s Petroleum Policy issued on Aug 30, 2012, said the amount under that head should be equally divided among federal government and provinces.

A resolution moved by Jamaat-i-Islami MPA Inayatullah demanded that the federal government be recommended to pay dues of Rs10.187 billion under electricity heads to the provincial government.

Pakistan Peoples Party member Nighat Orakzai said in a resolution that the ‘Speaker Rest House (Himaliya)’ should be returned to the provincial assembly like the Chief Minister’s and Governor’s Houses, which were taken back from the tourism department and given to the respective departments.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2022

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