Policy to regulate foreigners’ visits to KP has negative effects
PESHAWAR, June 29: The official policy to regulate foreigners’ visits to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been counterproductive for the foreign funded development projects as it has caused increase in administrative costs and made decision making cumbersome.
Foreign donor agencies have increasingly been relying on geographic information system to monitor the pace of the work on their projects, particularly in the northern and southern districts of the province, officials told Dawn.
“At times, they (foreigners) feel quite frustrated,” said an official development planner.
The provincial government on Sunday last in a reminder to the staff of foreign missions, embassies, international and local non-governmental organisations reissued its standing operating procedure, regulating their visits to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
They were advised to fulfil the SOPs before embarking upon a visit to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa without which their visit would not be facilitated.
The province has recently undergone scenes of police intercepting staff of the US Embassy, Islamabad, at Peshawar’s entry points. They were sent back after they could not produce the official permission letter duly issued by the federal ministry of foreign affairs.
An official of the provincial planning department told Dawn that the condition of seeking permission from the foreign affairs ministry was introduced some time back for all foreign and Pakistani staff of foreign missions, international aid agencies and
non-governmental organisations for visiting any part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“We have no trouble in fulfilling the government’s conditions because we have to work by remaining within their framework,” an Islamabad based security in-charge of a European development agency told Dawn over phone.
The provincial government’s move to reissue its SOP again on June 24, 2012, caused unrest among the staff of the international aid agencies.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s development agencies dealing with foreign funded projects received telephone calls and email requests from the Islamabad-based staff of their international donors, inquiring about the fresh SOP.
“Though we told them that there is nothing new in it as it is the same old thing, the donors appear to have been scared of unnecessarily,” said a well place official dealing with the staff of the foreign aid agencies.
The SOP, said the planning and development department official, was meant to ensure foreigners’ security during their visits to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, particularly, its southern and northern districts where a large number of foreign funded projects were
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government will receive over Rs23 billion from international development agencies and lenders for carrying out reconstruction, rehabilitation, and social sector development projects under the provincial annual development
programme for the financial year 2012-13.
In some instances, recently, the visits of the donor agencies’ representatives to their projects in Chitral and southern districts of the province were cancelled at the eleventh hour even though the home and tribal affairs department had earlier given them the
security clearance. “When that happens, it causes a lot of frustration and anxiety,” said the official.
In other instances when senior executives or top bosses of the foreign donor agencies were not given security clearance to visit their project sites in Malakand, they were given comprehensive briefings at Peshawar by the top management staff of their
It all adds to the projects’ costs and makes decision making difficult, according to officials. The lack of easy access to their projects undermines their ability to closely monitor the quality and pace of work, which all add up to the projects’ completion costs.
Officials said that the planning and development department closely coordinates with the foreign donor and aid agencies for their representatives’ visits to Peshawar or other places in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“Peshawar is not an issue, but when it comes to their visits to the southern and northern districts of the province or Peshawar’s suburbs, it becomes a little problematic,” said a concerned official.
The planning department, added the official, coordinated the foreigners’ meetings with the functionaries of the provincial government’s other line departments, including health, education, etc.
“Without P&D department’s involvement the donor agencies’ representatives cannot meet other departments’ officials,” said another official, adding that in such situations if the donor agencies’ visiting representatives lack the officially issued
permission, the P&D department’s officials too could not meet them.
“They (donor agencies’ staff members from abroad) are sent back to Islamabad if they fail to produce the official permission letter to the police posted at the exit point of Motorway in Peshawar,” said a development planner.