Dr Ashraf Malik

By Dr. M Ashraf Malik, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

I have been a Nawaz Sharif supporter and would have voted for his part y if I were in Pakistan during the May 2013 elections. Newspapers, through internet, are my daily source of information. My general perception of PTI was that they  did  not bring  any real change. Some isolated news like justice on wheels never impressed me.  Lately, I heard that about 70-80% of their 2013-14 development budget remained unused.

On an assignment, I had a chance to visit KPK for three weeks during August September  this year  and met a cross-section of people to get the first-hand information and opinion of the people—the main stakeholders.

I was amazed  with what I learned but was surprised why it was not publicized. Thus, I consider it my duty to let the people know the findings of my recent visit.

PTI has focused  in KPK  on reforms in education, health, police,  patwari  culture, and improving processes  of civil works contracting to root out corruption. These are the areas which affect a common person and , hence, their results are realized immediately by masses. In education, schooling  up to grade 10  has been made  free with provision of free books. The attendance of not only teachers but also other government officials is closely monitored through a central monitoring system,  which has significantly improved  school and  office  attendance.  I learned, PTI has embarked upon a program of improving and upgrading government schools all over the province which would be completed in a couple of years.  Encroachments, particularly along the roads,  have been totally removed and roads condition improved. Roads are kept clean and green areas are being developed along them. As a result, I was told, traffic has greatly streamlined.

In hospitals,  all systems including  registration,  attendance, cleanliness,  and management have improved. All treatments in emergency wards are free. Insulin is also provided free of cost  to all patients. I had to visit Khyber Teaching Hospital twice, once for treatment of food poisoning and next time for getting polio vaccination and  its certificate. Everybody I visit was on his/her seat, no doctor had any  personal  visitors, patients were attended promptly,  and I got the feeling they were waiting for the patients. The glucose they injected  me was provided free and during both visits, I spend less than 20 minutes in the hospital.

Some people, from their personal experience told that with respect to corruption, situation in police and  patwari culture has significantly improved.  Accountability is indiscriminate and harsh, which has acted as a deterrent for government employees.  An FIR can be registered through an e-mail. Regarding unused development budget, some big provincial contractors confirmed that a major portion of the development budget remained unused as the KPK government was busy in streamlining procedures to eliminate corruption considered an integral part of the civil work contracts.  The KPK government decided to delay the works rather than allowing a major part of the funds wasted in corruption. Now the procedures have been improved and made fool-proof and the development funds are expected to be fully utilized during the current financial year.

In the light of what I have observed, I believe, if PTI continues  its current pattern and speed during the period till next elections, nobody can stop it from grabbing the federal government in the next elections.

From what I learned from KPK, I would request PML(N)  to kindly revisit it  priorities and  give high priority to  the issues  affecting  the grass-root level people. Improvements in education, health, police,  and patwari  culture require mostly implementation of institutional reforms. These reforms would affect large masses of the population using afraction of the budget compared to the requirements of the high-profile project like metro bus and Danish schools.

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