By Alhaj Muhammad Khan
Since accession to Pakistan, Chitral has not been given its due share and attention for development. Now national and provincial pursuit for resources has made Chitral a focal point in the country.
Soon after the completion of five years democratic process, elections were held in the country on May 11, and a new coalition government came into power in Pakistan. This transition led to the competitive development in the political scenario resulting in the emergence of the popular movement of PTI on national level demanding for a change. After the competitive election, PTI was able to form government in KPK in a coalition with JI and PML-N emerged in Punjab with majority provincial and National Assembly seats in Islamabad.
PTI was and has been on the aiming mark of other competitors in the country especially in the province of KPK after forming government sloganeering to bring changes within 90 days after forming the government. The proposal for online FIR lodging though a good initiative critically doable and inaccessible to major portion of the people in province and the most recent announcement of KP finance minister to computerize pension credit delivery system in banks and post offices, seemingly a step forward for change and to serve the octogenarian pensioners’ from standing in queue. The step of computerizing pension system will run parallel with the technology driven innovations in government owned banks and ensuring digital delivery system. It will lessen burden on banks and post offices and be a good service for pensioners too.
After the 18th amendment of April 2010, many subjects have been devolved to provinces and it gives maximum autonomy and powers to provinces for introducing reforms in different sectors. The public representatives now in a better position to better serve your area by seconding reforms in assembly and introducing these reforms in their constituencies.
For the last few years it has become inevitable for the government to work out on resource mobilization and exploitation for combating electricity shortfall in the country particularly in Chitral. Since KPK province has been the major contributor, can also find potential avenues to generate hydroelectric power in Chitral to link it with national grid, and producing income from hydro power for the development of other sectors. The income generation from resources will help representatives from Chitral to validate their demand for more resources allocation for Chitral particularly for the construction of road system in Lotkoh area and upper Chitral up to Shandur to connect Chitral with Gilgit-Baltistan. Few incidences and infiltration of Taliban attacking of militia forces and shepherd in Kalasha valley sensitized the security agencies to deploy regular forces to lead security apparatus in Chitral and to focus on the sensitive bordering areas, has also increased the importance of better road system for easy and swift force deployment in Chitral.
Without a standard research survey of deposits of resources and power generation potential, mere guess work will weaken the case for Chitral. Hopefully our MNA would have credible research figures about the mineral deposits in Chitral and some people are quite excited to study the documents prepared by him on the resources. There is no denying the fact that Chitral has a range of natural resource deposits (metallic and non-metallic) needs to be exploited for development-not to be exploited as some reports indicated resource manipulation in Chitral.
It is also worth considering being very careful about the sensitivities of Chitral before taking any step. For making Chitral a hub of resource exploitation, power generation, maintaining an attractive tourists’ spot, connecting with Central Asian Republics, it is imperative that security threat from western border, south and south eastern parts’ influx to Chitral; should also be under reconsideration for keeping Chitral a safer enclave of peace and unsoiled of extremist elements and narratives. Once the fire will be ignited, diversity of Chitral by itself be an easy window for fuel delivery to the fire. And it will be very difficult to control the sectarian fire to an end of the line again and bring the social milieu of Chitral back into its previous position. In retrospect, it can be said that the provincial and district government, religious and political leaders have always given due heed to the peace and sensitivities of Chitral.
The geo-strategic importance of Chitral has become more vital soon after the economic power shift to Asia after economic meltdown in the world. Central Asian Republics (CARs) have become the focus of world resource thirsty and scare countries like US. According to the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) the Horgos Free Trade Zone on the Xinjiang-Kazakhstan border might be worth looking into. As the largest land port in Western China this can serve as a springboard for Pakistani goods into the Central Asian region. This would circumvent Afghanistan where perpetual war (and warlordism) has blocked our access to the Central Asian region. Pakistan like China is keen to open roads for trade relationship with CARs and particularly the close border proximity and cultural propinquity of Chitral will also help boost trading and cultural ties and provide a feasible route to connect with them.
The nature and dynamics of election manifests a certainty that the next election will be glaringly different from this year. The only party and representative would be able to get public support in terms of bagging vote , who works well , starts mega project and completes incomplete projects. It has been seen that mega projects like Lowari tunnel from which almost all people get benefit, will determine the election dynamics and changes public disposition of voting on time. The only party or leader will take root in set up of Chitral -of which educated class dominates, who takes insightful decision focusing on infrastructure development, electricity generation, completing work on Lowari tunnel and creating job and investment opportunities for young graduates of Chitral in coming years.
The writer is a teacher and free lance journalist based in Chitral. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org