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Call to convene Committee of Whole on Balochistan issue


ISLAMABAD: Saying that Balochistan was crying out for a political solution, PPP stalwart Mian Raza Rabbani on Tuesday urged Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to convene a meeting of Committee of the Whole to address the longstanding issue.

Pumping money into Balochistan is not the solution,” he said while speaking in the House on a point of order and stressed that the State needed to realise what mistakes it “has continuously been repeating”.

He said the stakeholders should be invited at the Committee of the Whole and given a patient hearing to find a way forward to redress their grievances.

The remarks came days after Prime Minister Imran Khan recently announced that his government would hold talks with the estranged Baloch tribesmen.

Senator Rabbani said there had to be a realisation that Baloch and Pakhtuns could not be subjugated with the force of the barrel of gun. He said there was a need to “decolonise” Balochistan.

Pumping money into province is no solution, says Rabbani

He linked the Balochistan issue with the situation evolving in the region and said: “The Afghan situation has a fallout on Pakistan and its internal politics and we need to identify our fault lines. These fault lines include religious extremism, sectarianism and the situation in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially in the merged districts of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).”

He said that economic packages were given to Balochistan in the past but these were not a solution to the problem. “Even my party announced Aghaz Haqooq-i-Balochistan Package that had both political and economic sides but it also failed to deliver,” the PPP leader said.

Controlled election and the policy of kill and dump are not the solution to the problems,” he emphasised.

However, he also said that the anti-state elements, those speaking against the country’s integrity and picking up arms against the State, should be tried and punished. “We will stand by you”, he assured.

Mr Rababni stressed that there was need to give provincial autonomy to the federating units and making Article 172 (3) of the Constitution operational by giving 50 per cent share in natural resources to the provinces, and regretted that a formula to this effect was yet to be worked out.

Referring to a public statement by Chief Minister of Balochsitan Jam Kamal that they themselves came to know about the provincial budget in the cabinet meeting, the PPP stalwart said Islamabad had no right to make budget of the province.

In his response, Leader of the House Dr Shahzad Waseem said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government was the first one that had made decision for economic development of Balochistan as funds allocated for the province had been misappropriated in the previous governments. “No one can take decision about Balochsitan without its elected government and its people,” he said.

He said the federal government was going to initiate development projects worth Rs731 billion in the province. “The government is determined to end deprivations of the province and give political empowerment to its people,” he said.

Earlier, Minister for Railways Azam Swati, winding up the debate on a call attention notice about a train accident in Ghotki area of Sindh in June, held the previous governments responsible for the present dismal state of the railways. He said the PTI government would make it a profitable organisation.

He said an inquiry was being conducted by four experts to find out cause of the tragedy that claimed 66 lives and left dozens other injured.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved Rs23 billion to upgrade and rehabilitate the old track besides negotiations with China were under way to launch ML-1 Project at the earliest. “ML-1 Project is lifeline for our economy and for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” he said adding that that it was hoped that Beijing would soon agree on the terms and condition to start the project. He said that the number of the employees of the Pakistan Railways was being “rationalized” to make it a profitable organisation.

During the question hour session, the opposition staged a protest walkout from the house twice: first due to absence of federal ministers from the House and second over an inappropriate response of Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari to a question.

After the first walkout, the chair had to suspend the session for 10 minutes to ensure presence of the ministers.

Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2021


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