Governance and Militancy in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province

The traditional weaknesses in service delivery within Pakistan’s provincial and district governments have arisen from the complex interplay of several factors. Resource mobilization for essential services has always been a challenge for provincial governments, which typically have been dependent on federal handouts. International development partners and donor agencies have regularly supported the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), supplementing the limited own-source revenues of the provincial government. The introduction of LGO 2001 provided a window of opportunity to address local needs, but these organizations and others did not capitalize appropriately on this opportunity. Moreover, a series of crises and destabilizing factors in recent decades appears to have further deepened the actual and perceived failures of governance in KPK. For example, the influx of Afghan refugees during the 1980s and 1990s placed stress on systems and structures in many areas of KPK. Similarly, the fallout in Afghanistan from the post-2001 terrorist events in the United States, the growing militancy, the violence in Swat and the tribal areas, the earthquake of 2005, and the floods of 2010 further pressured an already overstressed system.

This report offers recommendations for reform that will not be easy, the author acknowledges, but it is worth making the effort to build on those reforms that have succeeded and the “bright spots” that, despite KPK’s reputation to the contrary, do exist in the province. Pervasive inefficiency and outright corruption within political institutions have stalled progress, and the inherent weaknesses of systems and institutions within KPK have diluted some of the positive outcomes. But mainstream political activism and local governance reforms have created a sense of inclusion among the citizens and have offered some visible improvements in service delivery over time. All this suggests that progress is possible.

S.R. Mehboob