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Deprived Balochistan, who to blame?

Daily Times , Pakistan

Balochistan is the poorest province of Pakistan in all categories, except mineral resources. Its incompetent administration, bad governance, unaware masses, and dynastic and lord-type political culture are to be blamed for its backwardness. But the provincial leaders and their followers have been criticising the federal as well as Punjab governments for exploiting the province for their interests. As a matter of fact, hatred against the federal and Punjab is being inserted into the minds of the masses by their ethnic and tribal leaders. No doubt, the federal and Punjab had been exploiting the province, but the question is: What has the provincial government and provincial representatives in the parliament done for Balochistan? Let’s look at some of the most important grievances of Balochistan and analyze the role of provincial leadership in resolving them.

Firstly, the people of Balochistan, comprising both ethnic communities, Baloch and Pashtun, think they are under-represented while discussing the major issues of national interest. Moreover, they are of the view that nobody raises voice for their rights, so they are deprived, or in other words, they are treated like orphans. However, this concern seems incorrect.

From Balochistan, there are 16 members on the general seats while four members on reserved seats of women in the National Assembly. In the Senate, there are 23 senators from Balochistan. To sum up, there is a total of 43 parliamentarians from Balochistan. Also, in the current parliament, National Assembly Deputy Speaker, Qasim Suri, and Senate Chairman, Sadiq Sanjrani, are from Balochistan. Keeping in view these figures, how can one claim that Balochistan does not have any representation at the national level? The province does have constitutional representation in the supreme institution of the country. The issue lies somewhere else.

Most politicians of Balochistan are tribal leaders who would never want to educate their followers

Most of these parliamentarians remain quiet in the sessions. Upon asking, some of them replied, “We are not given the chance to speak up.” However, there are parliamentarians (from Balochistan) like Usman Kakar, Akhtar Mengal and Mehmood Achakzai, who have been frequently speaking in the sessions. So, this excuse does not seem correct. In short, how can the issues of the people of Balochistan be resolved when their representatives do not represent them.

Secondly, Balochistan has a very low literacy rate and people blame the federal government for not constructing educational institutes in the province. No doubt, the federal governments should have built more educational institutions in the province. However, the education department is under the complete authority of the province. It has been the job of the provincial government to build more schools, colleges, and universities for its people. But it did not.

Unfortunately, the condition of educational institutes is below the standards, even after imposing a so-called education emergency in the province. Interestingly, Punjab cannot be blamed for keeping Balochistan illiterate because almost all universities and certain colleges have reserved seats for the students of Balochistan. Many students from Balochistan are now enrolled in different educational institutes of Punjab. So, the provincial government has itself failed to promote quality education. It may be mentioned here that most of the politicians of Balochistan are tribal leaders who would never want to educate their followers. Educating your followers means losing your authority and command over them. As long as your followers are blind, you can rule them for centuries. And, it is going on there.

Thirdly, the people of Balochistan have concerns that they do not get enough budget to resolve their issues in the letter and spirit. The provincial budget is often very low to meet all the requirements. The budget is distributed according to the population of the provinces. Since it has the lowest population, it might get less as compared to other provinces. But it is enough for people if spent rightly. Keeping in view the statistics and performance of the province, it can be claimed that the extreme incompetence and rampant corruption in the provincial government is the biggest problem of all.

In 2016, the then Chief Minister, Dr Malik Baloch, failed to use Rs 40bn development funds for the province. A sum of Rs 24.50 billion was earmarked in the annual budget for the year 2014 for completion of schemes under different departments, but these departments failed to identify the schemes and use these funds. Various officials have deposited these funds in their accounts instead of returning these to the federal or the provincial finance ministry. Similarly, in the same year, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) recovered more than Rs 730 million from the residence of the then Finance Secretary of Balochistan, Mushtaq Ahmed Raisani. Moreover, there is a provincial assembly with 65 members, representing different constituencies of the province. Among these, 30 to 40 per cent members are ministers or advisors in the provincial cabinet. Having said that, each minister and advisor gets a specific number of funds every year. Despite all these funds, no improvements have been seen in the last decades.

Conclusively, it is a fact that Balochistan is deprived of most of the necessities of life. It has a poor education system, worse healthcare system and much more. However, the reason behind all these is the incompetent and corrupt provincial administration and local leadership who have kept the province backwards. It is the need of time that the people of Balochistan must understand that their betterment lies in the fall of this dynastic and lord-type leadership. Educated people must come forward to lead the masses and spread the light of education throughout the province.

The writer is a journalist

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