Islamabad: Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) its claimed in their manifesto that Chief Minister Pervez Khattak would stay at his own house to promote austerity but the ground realities indicate a different picture.
The PTI, in its election manifesto, had said that the chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would stay at his own house to promote austerity, but opposition lawmakers have been demanding that the government should explain the money spent on the renovation of the houses allotted to chief the minister, ministers, government employees and officers.
Chief Minister Pervez Khattak had announced that he would stay at his own house at Hayatabad Township to promote austerity.
The opposition had said that the expenditure violates austerity promises but the PTI-led government had said that expenditures incurred were maintenance costs.
Truth Tracker contacted Abdul Karim, Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Commerce and Industry, who said that the status quo that has persisted over the past 65 years could not be changed overnight.
“But yes things are moving with tandem towards the right direction amidst visible change to curtail protocol formalities for ministers and lawmakers,” he added.
“One day, we (MPAs) were offered tea at the Chief Minister’s house when one of our colleagues refused to have simple tea, asking whether the chief minister house was low on funds, as they were offered nothing but tea,” Karim recalled, saying that that depicted austerity drive is moving but at a snail’s pace.
He said that Pervez Khattak is the only Chief Minister who travels with only three protocol vehicles. “The provincial government has taken multiple decisions, which would have a far-reaching, positive impact on the political culture of the province in the future,” he added.
“You can talk to the Chinese investors who have investments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and ask them about the approach and dealing of KP lawmakers and officials,” he said in reference to the PTI-led government austerity drive.
Malik Riaz, Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) from Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam (JUI-F), said that Khan failed to honor 98% of the promises made to his voters, and the austerity drive promise is no different.
“Imran Khan is not a person who honors his word, rather he is just talking and making false promises,” Riaz noted. “The people of the province,” he said, “are virtually fed-up with these kinds of politics.”
He said that the problems of the voters in this province have multiplied in the tenure of PTI and voters have virtually lost all their confidence.
“We cannot say that a single sector in the KP is thriving under the PTI rule,” he remarked. He does not think that the people of the province would repeat the same mistake by voting for PTI in the next general elections.
Sardar Aurangzeb, a lawmaker from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said that the PTI leaders had repeatedly touted to promote austerity to control expenditures. “But you observed the KP chief minister travelled to China in a special flight along with his entourage, is this austerity?” he questioned.
He said that the provincial government did not measure up on the expectations of the voters, and the ruling party would face a humiliating defeat in the next ballot.
He recalled that PTI Chairman Imran Khan came to his constituency in a helicopter to plant a sapling to promote his Billion Tree Tsunami campaign.
“The total worth of that sapling was Rs. 6 for which Imran Khan and KP Chief Minister came in two separate helicopters. Is this austerity?” he noted.
He further explained that a provincial minister moves with eight to ten protocol motorcade at a time, despite the PTI leaders claiming that they would promote austerity.
“Because of PTI leaders’ lavish lifestyle, the province is experiencing the worst financial crisis, forcing the PTI-led government to borrow Rs. 17 billion from GP fund/ pension fund of employees to keep development work on track,” he noted.
Zahid Khan, a stalwart and spokesman of Awami National Party (ANP), said that PTI Chairman Imran Khan is sitting at his sprawling residence in Bani Gala while his right hand men such as Jahangir Tareen and Asad Umar are awarding contracts to people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“Obviously, Imran Khan has shares in those contracts,” he noted. Referring to PTI’s promise of austerity, he said that they are nothing more than a ‘pack of lies’ and none of the promises have been honored in letter or in spirit.
“Forget about austerity,” he said, “the education and health sectors of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are in shambles.” “The problem is that the country’s electronic media supports Imran Khan because he is giving them (media) money,” he observed.
Truth Track approached Safiullah Gul, a Peshawar based senior journalist and an independent analyst, for comments regarding PTI’s austerity measures, he said that official protocol has been reduced but only slightly.
“We have not observed any significant change because large government functions continue to take place in the same old fashion,” he observed.
He said that he cannot recall the exact figure, but the chief minister house has a huge entertainment allowance. “It means that things are going ahead in the same old manner without any reduction in expenses,” he noted.
“PTI chairman Imran Khan, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and other senior PTI ministers move with full protocol, which keeps the kitty under pressure,” he added.
“I do not think that the PTI has succeeded to promote the austerity drive earnestly,” Gul remarked.
Riaz Khan, another independent analyst, said that the PTI had failed to put an end to unnecessary expenditures and nothing has been done.
According to him, the unelected personalities in KP travel with police protocol, which is an additional burden on the government exchequer, thus signifying the irony of their promise.
In light of comments and views by the ruling, opposition lawmakers and independent analysts, Truth Tracker rules that the PTI’s promise to promote austerity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stands compromised.