With the worst sort of economic management under the governance of Asif Ali Zardari in the entire history of Pakistan, accumulating a staggering amount of Rs. 8000 Billion debt in five years against Rs. 6000 Billion accumulated in the sixty years prior to that, one thing that does go in his credit is the autonomy of provinces. It has allowed provinces to have more control on provincial usage leading to competition in provincial performances. Here I will draw a comparison, between the two of the provinces of Pakistan; Punjab & KP. My reasoning for not including the other provinces is simple and backed by findings of the Pildat survey. In this research, one of the multiple findings on the performance of Sindh & Balochistan, is that both provinces do not even fulfill the criteria to be even put on the scales of measure of performance.
Punjab, the largest province of Pakistan, has always been the blue eyed child for rulers for the past seventy years. Whether it be the era of Nawaz Shareef (1985 to 1999 & 2008 to now) or the era of Retired General Musharaf, every party’s focus is always on Punjab for winning seats as winning a majority here guarantees the strongest position in the Pakistan parliament.
KP, earlier known as NWFP or Sarhad, has always been a severely neglected province. Go back and recall how KP was earlier, even up til 2013; plunged in corruption, illiteracy, smuggling and terrorism are the first images to come to mind. As per World Bank statistics in 2012, KP was the worst managed province of Pakistan. Surprisingly even worse then Balochistan.
Here is the comparison of the current performance of both Punjab & KP, referenced as per Pildat and provincial statistics
Management of the health sector is an area where Punjab struggles. It becomes quite evident as per the complaints of the the Young Doctors who are forced to protest all across Punjab. The hospitals running are highly inefficient and do not cover the basic mechanical equipment requirements needed for functional medical care centers. Added to this is the doctors’ dissatisfaction with the existing structure which takes the situation to the worst level for patients. CM Punjab eventually asked a Turkish firm to help in reforming health sector using the excuse of hospital staffs being inefficient in order to divert attention from the real problem here.
KP health department on the other hand shows a different picture where there has been no noticeable protest by any doctors or nurses as medical staff is paid twice as much as in the rest of Pakistan. KP Government, though struggling in to bring about reforms in the health sector, eventually passed a new health bill in which the health commission (which is an independent unit), will be solely responsible for the performance of hospitals. It will also have the rights of hiring & firing. So far, health commission model is implemented to more than 10 hospitals of KP, resulting in upside change of efficiencies of hospitals as they now operate like a corporate entity. Another very unique initiative of KP is to launch KP ‘Sehat ka Insaf’ Card with the collaboration of insurance companies which will facilitate 51% population of KP.
Education came under focus in Punjab especially in the era of Ch Pervaiz Illahi; where he worked on campaigns like Pardha Likha Punjab etc. However, the Nawaz Government despite their initially tall claims started cutting education budget. They have cut yet another 5% this very year, down to 18% of provincial budget. Along side, CM Punjab initiated a program of privatization of the government schools. This is one of the appealing initiatives of Punjab Chief Minister and speaks volumes about the government’s management of schools. On the other hand, KP’s prime focus from day one was education and of the total budget as of today, educational budget stands at 28% of provincial budget.
Punjab’s education sector reforms still struggle to reform the syllabus & medium of instructions. KP initiated application of the same high quality and medium of instruction (english to be the language of instruction) in all schools; either private or public.
Global warming is a key aspect for any community. However neither federal nor provincial government has ever focused on this subject. As per statistics, Pakistan is going to be the worst hit country by 2030 because of melting glaciers. KP, realizing the value of this aspect, initiated Billion Trees Tsunami Campaign and became part of the Bonn Challange. For three years now, the government has put a ban on timber mafia and to date, has recovered timber worth USD 10 Billion. It is estimated that more than a dozen forests equal to or exceeding the size of Changha Mangha forest will grow in KP because of this huge initiative.
Local Body Administration
Democratic governance is considered half or incomplete without a vibrant local body structure. Local Body administrations allow solutions for peoples’ daily life problems at their door step. Punjab, always reluctant to hold local body elections, finally decided to hold elections last year under the pressure of the Government & it took Punjab Government one year to hold elections of district administration; post Local Body elections. KP Government on the other hand was the first to hold Local Body elections along with which they diverted their entire development funds to the local bodies formed. Today, elected representatives of union councils are the point of contact for people to get sorted out, any issue of public importance. One of the recent surveys in Peshawar explains that UC Chairman, Vice Chairman, Councillors, rather every appropriate post-holder is distributed a share of management of locality. KP Government is vibrant to ensure that every district administration manages its own budget & allocation.
Law & Order
Since forever, we study and observe the role of Army, Rangers & Police. Pakistan is perhaps the only country where Army & Rangers is used to curb street crime, while Police is used for VIP protocol. As per Pildat survey, Punjab is one of the worst managed province in terms of managing police for effective control on law & order. According to Ministry of Interior’s data, in the last five years 374,000 cases of robbery have been reported in Pakistan, out of which 310,000 cases are from Punjab only. 8000 of these cases were reported in KP. The staggering difference speaks for itself. KP is the only province where police is operating independently and is making the people of Pakistan proud and safe. Even the Pakistan Army appreciated the role of KP Police in conducting joint operations and on being the only province which has invested in police as per the directives of the much talked about National Action Plan.
Infrastructural Development Projects
As far as infrastructural developments are concerned, the general perception is that Punjab is leading in projects. However, this perception is entirely wrong. Strong local body administrative structure of KP led to development all across KP. As of Punjab, infrastructural development is limited to Lahore only. Also, not to forget that Punjab’s infrastructural work starts and stops only on road & underpasses whilst ignoring the rusty sewerage lines & sewerage system overall. While in KP, the local body structure allowed more diverse development focusing on issues of each area.
Now let us compare the two flagship projects of Punjab & KP. Punjab launched Orange Train project, which, once again, is limited to Lahore. Interestingly, the project is not financed, rather, is being built from a loan of 170 Billion. More interestingly, once implemented, provincial Government can not run the train operation without subsidy, which will cost additional 17 Billion per year. What kind of governance is this where a country, already in debt, is investing in a lost project, while the pressure of repayment of this project will again be put on shoulders of the public. Looking towards KP, their provincial existing flagship project of Swat Motorway is self financed & promises huge returns. As per the estimate, in 5 to 10 years, Swat motorway will not only increase tourist activity manifold, but its healthy returns will help KP in constructing similar motorways in the entire province.
This analysis leads us to see that the governance of the two provinces is as contrasting as their terrains; plains of Punjab and mounts of KP. Punjab’s government base their policies on a ‘vote approach’ by focusing on a few but mega projects. This approach lacks the long term construction of a healthy, educated country and keeps the vote bank of the ruling elite safe, leaving them free to rule any way they like. KP’s new government has introduced a whole new set up where all their work is free of institutional dependence on the government. This minimizes any chances and possibilities of institutional corruption. With health and education sectors strengthened, an educated and healthy nation is being given birth to; shifting power from hands of the government to the people, just the way a democracy is supposed to be.