ISLAMABAD, March 17: KPK consists of 20 settled districts and the total number of seats in the provincial legislative assembly is 124. And the province’s share in the lower and upper houses is 43 and 23 respectively.
Chitral is an administrative unit of Pakistan which independently and unconditionally merged with Pakistan following the decision of the then ruler of Chitral H.H. Muzaffar-ul-Mulk in 1947 becoming the first state to declare annexation with Pakistan. And in 1969, it officially became a district of Pakistan and was included in the KPK province by the then martial law administrator Ayub Khan. Presently, Chitral has a population of almost 0.5 million people. Chitralis have always been very patriotic and sincere with Pakistan, and have always given sacrifices whenever needed. Although population wise, they may form a very small, in fact, negligible number however, their contribution to the well-being and safeguard of the interest of Pakistan is commendable. Historically, it was those brave soldiers of the ex-state of Chitral who liberated Gilgit and Skardu from the Dogras and brought those territories under the Pakistani rule in 1948. One can realize the importance of acquiring of these lands by understanding the strategic value of that area. Chitral has proved productive in tangible sense, keeping in view the massive reservoirs of natural resources, as well as, being one of the most educated districts, it is delivering much in intangible aspect, considering the services executed by Chitrali professionals all over the country. Though the output from Chitral may be very little in the gross measurement of productivity of this country, but the fact is, as compared to the other similar rural areas, Chitral is giving all it can, and considering its resources and the strategic and economic importance of its location which can be a gateway to the Central Asian Republics if land route is established, this remote district has the potential to play a much bigger role in the development of Pakistan. Despite all this, Chitral has been neglected in every way; be it allocation of funds, government schemes, political representation, education, health sector, tourism and all. In spite of the fact that it forms almost 25 % landmass of KPK, Chitral has got two seats in the provincial assembly, and only one in the lower house of the parliament, and no representation at all in the upper house/senate.
The ANP government in KPK did initiate many works that comprise the opening of two university campuses of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University of Upper Dir and Bacha Khan University of Mardan at the Chitral town, and the construction of the new by-pass road namely Bacha Khan highway is also among the many development projects started by the ANP-led government. These projects will definitely make the ANP’s footing a little stronger than before in the constituency of Chitral. However, the people of Chitral still see their demands being not fully met. For instance, five years passed but the Lowari tunnel is yet to be completed, the project that holds a national level importance considering the route to connect to the CA republics through the Wakhan corridor to the north. But the matter of political representation both in the lower, as well as the upper house is the root cause of all problems in that remote constituency. Chitral needs to have some representation in order to have a say in the affairs of the province, and this can be done by increasing the number of seats in the provincial and national assemblies and by allocating, at least, one seat in the senate. Otherwise, this injustice to the people of that area can bear negative results.
Junaid Saleh Hayat
Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad