Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak is understood to have ordered the Rs300 million allocation for Darul Uloom Haqqania, a Nowshera seminary, in the budget of the next fiscal year.Though the funding stoked a controversy, the ruling PTI’s chief, Imran Khan, has defended the move as an effort to mainstream seminaries in the province and said the Darul Uloom Haqqania’s management was ready to carry out reforms.
Officials in the Auqaf department told Dawn that Rs300 million development funds were given to Darul Uloom Haqqania on the orders of the chief minister.
An official requesting anonymity said Chief Minister Pervez Khattak wrote a letter to the Auqaf department during the making of the 2016-17 budget to give funds to the Nowshera seminary in the Annual Development Programme (ADP).
He said a department could not approve any project involving such a huge amount on its own.
Official insists Khattak wrote to Auqaf dept for giving Nowshera seminary Rs300m
“The projects valuing more than Rs60 million have to be passed by the Provincial Working Development Party (PDWP),” he said.
The official said the Planning and Development (P&D) as well as all other departments had to discuss every development scheme included in the draft ADP with the chief minister.
“Without the chief minister’s approval, nothing can go on the ADP,” he said.
The official aid the total of ADP allocation for the next year stood at Rs366 million of which Rs115.50 million were meant for 10 ongoing projects, while the rest i.e. Rs250.85 million had been allocated for eight new projects.
The White Paper 2016-17 includes the improvement of mosques/seminaries in the province, purchase of land for Muslim graveyards, and construction and rehabilitation of Darul Uloom Haqqania as major targets to be achieved this year.
Interestingly, the Auqaf and minorities affair department was mentioned in passing reference in the budget speech and there is no breakup of its projects available.
The Darul Uloom Haqqania’s funding was mentioned in the white paper where the government declared that it woukd undertake the seminary’s rehabilitation and construction.
The budgetary allocation for the seminary makes nearly half of the total allocation for the Auqaf department. The seminary’s ADP share for year 2016-17 is around Rs150 million, while the total budget of the Auqaf department is about Rs366 billion.
An analysis of the provincial budgets presented since 2012-13 shows that private seminaries were not allocated such huge funding in the past.
Rs222 million was allocated for 18 projects of the Auqaf department during the outgoing year. Of it, Rs177.5 million has been utilised so far.
An allocation of Rs149 million was made for 17 projects in 2014-15; Rs106 million for 14 projects in 2013-14, and Rs67 million for 11 projects in 2012-13.
Officials in the Auqaf and P&D department downplayed the controversy saying such funding was ‘a routine’ as the successive governments made allocations for seminaries in budgets.
They insisted the allocation in budget did not mean that seminaries would get the same amount of money.
“Now, the department has to make the PC-I for this allocation, which will have to be approved by the PDWP,” a P&D department official said.
On the other hand, officials in the finance department are tight-lipped about the whole affair.
When approached, all relevant officials both juniors and seniors feigned ignorance and said the P&D and Auqaf departments could comment on it.
Secretary of the Auqaf department Abdullah Mehsud told Dawn that the government was funding several seminaries.
He however denied receiving a letter from the chief minister ordering allocation of funds for Darul Uloom Haqqania and insisted instructions to that effect were given by the CM’s office over the telephone.