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‘PTI govt in K-P is a complete failure’

Samar Haroon Bilour during an interview with Arab News at the Bilour family house in Peshawar. Photo Courtesy: Arab News

Samar Haroon Bilour is the first woman in the last 18 years to get elected as a member provincial assembly (MPA) from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly’s PK-78 constituency on a general seat and is presently serving as the ANP’s provincial secretary information and spokesperson. She is also the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Information and Public Relations (PR).

She is the widow of Haroon Bilour, who was killed in a terrorist attack in 2018 and the daughter-in-law of veteran politician Bashir Bilour. She is not just a progressive and honest politician but also an epitome of courage, women empowerment and beacon of hope for downtrodden people of Pakistan.

Read more: Ababeel Squad to counter street crimes in Peshawar

This week Bol News talked exclusively to her about the performance of the PTI government in the centre and K-P, future alliances, the ANP’s future strategy and other political developments.

Bol: Has the PTI government in K-P managed to address the civic issues?

I think the PTI’s government in K-P has proved itself a complete failure. They have been ruling the province from the past 8 years, but apart from the massively flawed BRT project there’s nothing significant to show their performance. If you see the condition of sanitation, water or vaccination and major hospitals — everything is in ruin. No one including doctors, bureaucrats and teachers supports the government. The NTI system has totally failed. So all in all it’s a big disaster.

Can the ANP rejoin the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in the coming days?

The ANP has decided in principle to do politics on its own terms after a not-so-pleasant experience with the PDM. We have neither thought about rejoining it nor has anyone approached us. I think we’ll consider that when the right time arises, but for now, we are actively and comfortably carrying out our own political journey.

Is the opposition in the K-P Assembly planning to bring any no-confidence motion?

We aren’t planning to bring a no-confidence motion because the government has a two-third majority in the K-P Assembly. There isn’t a chance of a no-confidence motion to be passed in K-P without horse-trading, which we are completely against. In fact, the PTI government’s majority is the reason for its extreme lack of interest in the assembly proceedings. It doesn’t show any semblance of democracy or political niceties.

Is the ANP in touch with any other political party for future alliance in the centre or K-P?

We aren’t in touch with any political party. We are in contact with the joint opposition on major issues in the parliament, but our election strategy for now is to go solo. We have activated our workers on the ground.

In your opinion, who will form the next government in K-P and the Centre?

One cannot predict who will form a government. This depends on what kind of field is provided to the political parties; how fair the electoral process is and how much the electoral process is interfered with. We’re hopeful of the ANP coming into power and showing a good performance in K-P.

If the ANP comes into power in 2023 who will be the candidate for the CM slot?

It is too early to say who’ll be K-P’s CM. We’re not a power hungry party. That’s not why we do politics. Our aim and motto is to serve the masses and develop an enlightened, moderate society in which all kinds of people have equal opportunities and rights.

Are you also eyeing a ministry for yourself if the ANP comes to power?

As I said earlier, things like CM-ship and allocation of ministries isn’t discussed in our party meetings. Neither are these issues our primary concern.

What will be the salient features of the ANP’s manifesto for the 2023 elections?

In 2008, the ANP made a government with its manifesto of bringing in provincial autonomy, eliminating Kala Bagh Dam, renaming the province and bringing education. We fulfilled all those promises. Our manifesto is now focused on provincial autonomy. The ANP played a major role in the 18th Amendment that has secured many rights for the province. There’s still a long way to go.

As a province we do not get our own net hydel power. Our biggest demand is that our electricity hydel profit be handed over to us. We produce 6,100 megawatts of electricity while 300 megawatts is our need. We produce 3,000 megawatts in surplus. We can establish many economic zones, and we can produce our own uninterrupted supply of electricity. This will encourage economic growth in the country. We mean it and it is not just a slogan. We plan to develop universities in districts where we previously could not. We also want to reach consensus on an educational syllabus which is more inclusive, truthful and includes local heroes who have been ignored so far. Our biggest concern is peace. We want a peaceful relationship with our neighbors. We want to open trade routes with Afghanistan because that will create a lot of business opportunities for people on both sides of the border. This would be a great help to the province that has suffered a lot in the past few years.

In what ways do you think the ANP’s government was better than the current K-P government?

The ANP government played a crucial role in introducing the 18th amendment which is a fantastic piece of legislation. The PTI government is reaping benefits of it, but other than the BRT, what do they have to show their performance in any sector, be it education, health or police. Come and see for yourself. Public offices and hospitals have been ruined.

Read more: KP health dept launches massive anti-measles, rubella drive

We introduced the Rescue 1122 system, and we reconstructed the infrastructure of police stations. Despite the fact that we were facing massive terrorist attacks and our movements were highly restricted, we developed about 13 universities and many colleges and schools.

The ANP’s strategy for development of the education sector is ‘one district, one university’ so that students don’t have to move out of their home district. This would prevent the huge population shift towards the larger cities, which is a reason behind overpopulated cities like Peshawar and Mardan.

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