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PHC stays release of funds to less-developed districts

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday stopped the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government from releasing developmental funds to several less developed districts, including Chitral.

The ruling came over a writ petition filed by an MPA, seeking the same status for Torghar district, which he claimed was not included in the programme.

The bench of Justice Mussarat Hilali and Justice Mohammad Naeem Anwar sought replies from the respondents in the petition including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary and secretary planning and development.

The bench directed that till next order, development funds should not be released to other less developed districts as mentioned by the government in the annual budget 2019-20.

The petition is filed by MPA Laiq Mohammad Khan of Awami National Party. He said that as he represented PK-35 Torghar in the provincial assembly, therefore, the present government had not included the district in the programme.

Advocate Babar Khan Yousafzai appeared for the petitioner and contended that Torghar was a small district and it was officially separated from Mansehra in 2011 under Article 246 of the Constitution and since then very few developmental schemes were carried out there.

He stated that Torghar was one of the smallest districts in the province and it was also badly hit by the 2005 devastating earthquake.

He said that his client was a law abiding citizen and an elected member of the provincial assembly from Torghar, which was most deprived district in the province needing urgent development.

The counsel said that in the annual budget 2019-20, the provincial government allocated special funds for less developed districts uplift programme. He added that the petitioner and residents of Torghar

were surprised to note that their district was not included in the programme whereas other districts were included in it namely Battgram, Tank, Kohistan Upper, Shangla, Buner, Chitral Upper, Chitral Lower, Hangu and Kolai Palas Kohistan.

He contended that funds were not allocated for Torghar in the said programme because of ulterior motive and for the simple reason that the petitioner belonged to an opposition party.

Babar Khan explained the historical evolution of Torghar, from a colonial period till its creation as a district, and contended that the district had remained under the influence of different tribes for centuries and bringing it under the domain of a settled district had enchanted the local population. He added that such an act of discrimination would discourage the people from the new system there.

He contended that the act of the respondents by not allocating funds for Torghar without any specific reason amounted to depriving the people of the area of their due rights.

He requested the court to issue directives to the respondents to include Torghar in the list of less developed districts uplift programme and provide developmental funds to it like other less developed districts.

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