“The Provincial government has turned into a provincial NGO (non-governmental organization),” Fazal ur Rahman, leader of the religious Jamiat Ulema Islam Fazal (JUI-F) party said while addressing an education seminar in Peshawar on October 6, 2013.
During the 2013 general elections, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) , the party in power in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, promised that they would introduce a uniform school syllabus if they came into power.
PTI failed to secure majority seats in the national assembly. However, they formed a collation government in Khyber Pukhtunkwa. The Chief Minister, Pervez Khattak, said the “PTI government will bring result-oriented changes in Education and Health and power sector.” To do that, the government formed working groups in various ministries, including the education department, to review the current school syllabus and make it up-to-date.
However, on October 3, 2013, a Daily Urdu Newspaper Mashriq reported that three workers of a UK based NGO (DFID) were drafting summaries for the chief minister. The report indicated that NGO personnel were working closely with the provincial education department to monitor their activities, participating in high-profile meetings and were allowed access to all confidential files.
“The government has begun handing over health, education and other important sectors to various NGOs.” A daily English Newspaper quoted Fazal ur Rahman as saying “It is no longer the provincial government but a provincial NGO.”
“Access to the information bill was drafted by an NGO and the KP government approved the bill to secure funding from them,” Jan Achakzai, spokesman for Fazal Ur Rahman, told Truth Tracker by phone. However, he added, “the Punjab government rejected the fund on the same conditions.”
“PTI’s think-tanks are controlled by western NGOs”, Achackzai claimed. “The Abbottabad commission already revealed that Save the Children was working on a hidden agenda, and the same is true about other NGO that focus on KP” he added.
“No one can deny that most programs of the federal and provincial government are running with foreign aid,” Shiraz Paracha, spokesman for CM Pervez Khattak, told Truth Tracker by phone.
Paracha believes “the NGOs were active in the previous government too, but the process was not transparent and there were no mechanisms to monitor their activities.”
He proclaimed, “After the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the provincial governments have the authority to invite traders and investors into the provinces for mutual-benefit projects.” To do that, he said, “we held a donor conference under the Strategic Development Partnership Framework and got positive response from the donors.”
Achakzai acknowledged that “the provincial government has the right to deal with international donors and traders, but they have no right to compromise on national interests. He was of the opinion that “including DFID, a majority of NGOs were protecting their own vested interests in the region.”
Paracha clarified that, “our partnership is not restricted to the West only, but we are looking for potential projects that could change the lives of ordinary people.” Referring to the chief minister Pervez Khattak’s meeting with the Iranian ambassador, he said, “We discussed possibilities of trade, energy, education and medical insurance programs that would be initiated with the help of Iranian government.”
The Turkish government would extend their support to the Peshawar mass transit project, Paracha said. In addition, “we are in contact with the governments of Austria and Switzerland to promote tourism in the area, as they have expertise in the field.”
Responding to Fazal ur Rahman’s statement, Parcha said, “It is just point scoring and nothing else. People trusted us in the general elections and we got the same support in by-elections when we defeated the son of Fazal ur Rahman.”
In light of the above-mentioned statement and facts, Truth Tracker has found that most of the reform initiatives are being carried out with NGO donor support, but it doesn’t mean those NGOs have control of the government machinery. Hence, Fazal ur Rahman’s statement stands half true.