Facilitating provinces


Centre-KP example


Opposition parties, media outlets, even Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) pressure combined to barely get the ball rolling on the CCI (Council of Common Interests) and already there is a ‘landmark example’ of centre-province cooperation. The ruling party deserves appreciation for finally settling the lingering issue of net hydropower profit, gas allocation and power generation, in addition to the development of an irrigation project. Yet these smiles and on-camera handshakes would have come sooner, and the tense standoffs in between avoided altogether, if only the government had followed proper procedure regarding the CCI, and held the mandated quarterly meetings.

The centre-KP settlement is, indeed, landmark. It is not very often after all that Pervez Khattak leaves Islamabad, MoU in hand, thanking and appreciating the finance minister. It is now for the government to honour its commitments, of course. This is not the first time the net hydel profit issue has been apparently settled, after all, and there are far too many instances of initial goodwill quickly fizzling out. Therefore, there is still some ground to cover before the MoU becomes concrete reality, but a good, inspiring start has finally been made, and should be built upon.

Hopefully this will serve as a jumping board for more such exercises. It should also make the government realise how simply following procedures of democratic governance can sometimes automatically lead to resolution of outstanding issues. If the prime minister and his senior colleagues would only take institutions like CCI, and even Parliament, as seriously as a government is supposed to, they would be able to utilise the necessary platforms that enable constructive debate and dialogue. It will be instructive how the upcoming CCI meeting next week progresses on crucial issues, and how far the centre is willing to move to address long-standing issues concerning provinces.