Multan: Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan had said his government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) would introduce measures to end the culture of halting of traffic for VIP protocol.
Addressing a public meeting in December 2015 after his party member Jahangir Khan Tareen declared his success in the NA-154 by-election Lodhran, Punjab province; Khan had said he would hold a meeting with KP chief minister to implement the decision.
Deploring the death of 10-month-old Bisma in Karachi because of protocol measures, put in place for PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh chief minister, Khan had said: “Now traffic will not be stopped for any VIP, including the prime minister.”
Truth Tracker approached KP Health Minister Shahram Tarakai who said no doubt the VIP culture has been discouraged and even his chief minister was not getting any protocol but yes “he (chief minister) moves with some security.”
“I personally think that ours is the first and lone chief minister in Pakistan who has very few vehicles in protocol to move with. I think he has only three vehicles traveling with him,” Tarakai remarked.
“The long held culture of protocol and security layers is no more in the PTI government,” he added. He revealed that he has no personal protocol at all and the PTI don’t like this (VIP) culture and this should not be taken a sort of political statement.
He said that KP chief minister travels with his ministers in one vehicle and avoid the trend of VIP movement or extra protocol. “We are open minded people and don’t like protocol because too much protocol will lead you to isolation,” he said.
He recalled that once the KP chief minister, along with three provincial ministers, was stopped by police in Lahore who were demanding money because they were travelling like common people.
The Punjab police, he went on to say didn’t believe that the chief minister was traveling without protocol. “This clearly depicts that we have a no-protocol culture,” Tarakai noted.
Fakhar Azam Wazir, Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) from Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), said the VVIP culture is still present in KP. “Pervez Khattak (chief minister), speaker, ministers and even the ordinary advisors roam in the city with VVIP protocol,” he added.
He said he is a witness to long queues of vehicles amid sirens when Shah Muhammad Wazir, advisor to chief minister on transport, visits Bannu, his home constituency. “Tell me a single promise the PTI has materialized. Look, the VIP culture is doubled instead,” Wazir rued.
Imran Khan, the PTI chairman, himself had promised he would control corruption but today the PTI lawmakers are themselves involved in the menace, he noted.
“It’s just a matter of time when you’ll observe split in PTI and its members joining other parties,” Wazir predicted. He questioned why Khan is using the KP helicopter at a time when he (Khan) is neither the chief minister nor member of the KP assembly.
When contacted, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, another stalwart and lawmaker from Awami National Party (ANP), said that VVIP culture continues to haunt citizen unabated. “VVIP protocol has surged and we have witnessed closed roads because of VIP movement,” he observed.
Hussain said common people would believe VVIP culture has gone when they find the government officials moving without interfering the public movement. “Their (PTI) movement is not only VIP but VVIP because they use helicopters. It’s really a mockery when they claim that they have ended the VIP culture,” he added.
Arif Yousafzai, a senior Peshawar based journalist and independent analyst, told Truth Tracker that the day the PTI assumed office in 2013 they (PTI) had claimed and promised to revive the system within 90 days.
In addition, Yousafzai recalled that PTI had promised to put an end to the VIP culture and turn the governor and chief minister houses into universities and educational institutions but unfortunately none of those promises are met.
“Today, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak is living in the same house to be used by his predecessors such as former chief ministers Amir Haider Hoti and Akram Khan Durrani,” he deplored. Similarly, he said other ministers are living in the same facilities, which were supposed to be turned into educational institutions.
As to the extent of the VIP culture and protocol is concerned, Yousafzai said, “yes the protocol culture is comparatively less than former governments but still the VIP culture is there.” When PTI Chairman Imran Khan visits Peshawar then formally traffic is halted and his motorcade moves like former governments officials, he noted.
Yousafzai observed that some reforms have been introduced and maintained, “The PTI government had started the tenure with double standard, which still persist after over four years in power now,” he remarked.
Only recently the helicopter of Chief Minister KP, Pervez Khattak, was landed in Abottabad’s cricket ground halting the under-13 regional cricket trials. Later in the day, after much hype in the media, the CM apologized for the disruption and demanded an investigation from his administration.
In light of comments and views presented by the ruling, opposition lawmakers and independent analyst, Truth Tracker rules that PTI’s promise regarding an end to VIP culture in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stands compromised.