Challenges faced by Chitral
The year 2015 brought much changes politically and traumatic situation economically for the people of Chitral. It was first time after the end of Musharraf government thta a political transition from PPP-led government to PML took place after the May 2013 general elections. The political landscape of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) also took a major shift from ANP and PPP coalition government to PTI and JI.
The coalition in KP at the time of forming government had political uncertainties in developing a level-playing field; however, the coalition agreed on a working framework. The issues some months ago aroused when PTI on his agenda of bringing change in the education – particularly changing the curriculum in the province but it was acquiesced like the political bickering in the party.
The KP government has started reforms in education, health, and police – though not visible for public, are important step which PTI chairman has reiterated many times in his address on working human resource development. It was whether or not to disparage the federal government’s infrastructural development projects in the country, and for political clout for popular support, but the efforts sincerely be pursued can have positive impact on the long term development.
After PPP’s untapped reverse from national political scene, both major political contenders-PML and PTI entered into a political competitiveness at national level. Both parties target each other’s area of influence which was witnessed during the floods and earth quake in Chitral- a politically orphan district, when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Chitral twice. PTI Chairman Imran Khan also visited Chitral along Chief Minister and ministers after the first visit of PM Nawaz Sharif. Chitral has been seen after flood devastation a ground of political competitiveness, in other words a center of politics. Much has been announced, though it got late to reach the material and financial support to the needy people in Chitral from government on time. Much has been wrested by agitation particularly the financial support announced by the government for the people whose houses fully and partially damaged in earth quake. It would be injustice to skip over the services of Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) contributed well for the rehabilitation of the affected people in Chitral during floods and earthquake.
The visit of Prime Minister and PTI Chairman brought Chitral into the focus of national and international media after the floods, flooded the area with different humanitarian and UN specialised agencies to work, and also during earth quake destructions in some specific areas of lower Chitral and upper Chitral. Many International NGOs have started working in Chitral either by themselves or by funding to the existing national NGOs already working in Chitral for the rehabilitation of roads, water and construction of shelter for the people.
It was a very critical situation for the people whose houses fully damaged in the earthquake to combat the chilling winter season in Chitral living in tents , even many people particularly children got cold and diseases erupted due to unhygienic food, water and clothing.
It was after mid of July 2015, the only hydel-power station at Reshun was providing electricity to the whole upper Chitral though not regularly, excluding some villages which have their own hydel-power stations, was demolished by the heavy flood in Reshun stream, no steps has yet been taken either to work on it or making alternative energy supply system for upper Chitral.
The main metal road from town Chitral to Mastuj and Lotkhow valley is full of ditches and boulders of earth quake and floods, and streams are precarious for heavy and loaded vehicles to move carrying goods and passengers. The link roads of the most of the areas are also in the devastating conditions.
The fuel wood in Chitral this year is immensely short. This shortage has increased the demand of the fuel wood, is in the price of gold. This year the fuel wood price has filliped into more or less 17 rupees per kilogram.
In some villages of Chitral still people don’t have their water supply systems restored, and some villagers on self-help basis have restored them temporarily. Many projects have been launched by International and National NGOs, have also developed a sense of deprivation. This sense of deprivation of people is partly because of the lack of objective survey either in prioritizing the projects or the likes of project managers to select an area for a project in different areas of Chitral. The local government structure has been provided enough budget at local, tehsil and district level but the system is still dysfunctional in Chitral. The local representatives whether union or tehsil level have economically been empowered but the representatives have not been given travelling allowance to visit their areas in meeting with people and identifying to prioritise the project to work on it.
Many post-flood and quake challenges persist in Chitral for competing political parties and leaders to gain public confidence not by sheer slogan but practical works on the ground. The immediate response to floods and earth quake affectees, the long term step for the rehabilitation of the people and development of the physical infrastructure in Chitral is the matter of the day. It is also important for the International and national NGOs to redirect their energies and resources objectively and need basis. The district government had to focus on making roads convenient for traffic, supply of edible items and fuel wood in standardized prices available in the market for the people. Since the winter is not a season to carry out developmental works but the challenges the people of Chitral facing for few months some can be redressed now ,and some after the end of winter season. One is optimistic to see new year: a year of development and change for Chitral..