The provincial governments of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) as well as those of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Monday heaped complaints against the federal government in a joint press conference held in Islamabad as they demanded the release of "rightful share" in funds.
K-P Chief Minister (CM) Mahmood Khan lamented that “we are faced with financial problems, [and] despite having repeatedly complained, they have not been resolved”.
“A budget of Rs1.3 trillion has been allotted to K-P,” he said, adding that the large budget had been granted on the “instruction” of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief and former premier Imran Khan.
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“Unfortunately,” the CM said, “we could not acquire that amount” and accused the federal government of Shehbaz Sharif is trying to “put our backs against the wall”.
The K-P CM said he was raising his voice for his people, stressing that “this is our right, we are not begging you [Centre]”.
During the conference, it was also claimed that funds intended for the uplift of the former FATA region were also not released. “How can we progress if we do not get the funds?” the CM questioned as he told the media that “all PSDP projects have been washed out”.
“The centre owes Rs61 billion in arrears to the NHP while it owes us [K-P] Rs189 billion,” Mahmood Khan added as he threatened “we will protest outside the National Assembly if we are not given our rights”.
“We will bring everyone from K-P and protest,” he said as he also revealed that the opposition in the provincial assembly had also been asked to “prepare”.
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G-B CM Khalid Khurshid Khan also chimed in complaining that “our block allocation was Rs 18 billion while our government’s portfolio went up to Rs48 billion”.
“G-B’s budget was reduced from Rs40 billion to Rs 25 billion,” he continued as he bemoaned the display of “animosity” on part of the PDM-led federal government.
“It has been six months today, and only Rs2.8 billion of ADP have been released,” Khurshid Khan added questioning how the Centre expected them to continue running things when “every day we are being faced by natural calamities”.
“Skardu city faces load-shedding of 21 to 22 hours,” he added, “how should we meet the electricity and wheat shortfall?”
The CM also said that “Rs3 billion were announced for flood relief, but the list I saw did not even mention G-B’s name. They had said Rs40 billion would be granted [but instead] we have protests in 40 different locations across the region”.
He then went on to second the K-P CM’s call for protests saying “we are going to protest with the people”.
Punjab Finance Minister Mohsin Leghari also said that “Rs167.4 billion belong to Punjab which the federal government is not releasing”.
“Announcements were made but not a single rupee was given to Punjab for flood relief,” he continued.
“Imran Khan gave Rs14 billion after raising funds through a telethon,” he said as he decried discriminatory policies of the Centre.
“Our brothers in Sindh and Balochistan suffered from the floods,” he said, “but the floods also spread devastation across K-P and G-B”.
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The minister regretted that there was “very little cooperation” between the provinces and the federal government, especially on the financial front.
AJP Finance Minister Abdul Majid Khan informed the media that “as soon as they [the incumbent government] came to power, they targeted Kashmir”.
“They had said that they will improve the economy when they take office,” he said as he expressed disappointment and said, “they will have to give us our share at all costs”.
“Imran Khan was the first one to start the health card project for the people living by the Line of Control,” the CM said, “they [the present federal government] finished it the minute they got in power”.
“They can give Rs70 billion to Nullah Lai but don’t have Rs26 billion for Kashmir,” he regretted.
The CM also credited the PTI government for ensuring peaceful local body elections in AJK as he told reporters that “we had only asked for police from the Centre for the elections and even that was not granted”.