QUETTA: The government is making desperate efforts to win over the people of Balochistan – a cauldron of ethnic and sectarian tensions – and remove their deep scars of alienation.
Though, for the better part, the alienation is rooted in decades of ‘deprivation’ among the local Baloch populace, the authorities believe some ‘world powers’ are also exploiting the situation to weaken the country.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who is currently touring the province, said that some ‘external forces’ have their eyes set on the precious natural resources of Balochistan.
The statement came a day after the head of the paramilitary Frontier Corps claimed that ‘foreign powers’ were stoking and fuelling the Baloch insurgency in the province.
The premier said the people of Balochistan are patriotic citizens of Pakistan. “Balochistan is close to my heart. [The government will work] for the welfare of its people,” he told a delegation of the Pakistan Peoples Party lawmakers at the Governor House in Quetta.
In order to address the sense of deprivation among the local people, the premier said that he has directed the provincial chief secretary to identify 35,000 Baloch graduates who will be hired in government departments.
“Fifteen hundred jobs in the Levies Forces have already been provided to the people of Balochistan,” he added.
Gilani said that the federal government would also recruit another 10,000 youth in different departments and out of them 5,000 would be sent on foreign trainings after acquisition of required skills in their respective fields.
Premier Gilani said that under the 7th National Finance Commission Award, Balochistan’s share has gone up to Rs120 billion as compared to Rs40 billion in the past. He said the federal government has set aside Rs6 billion for providing scholarships to the students of Balochistan.
He added that Rs5 billion would be provided to the poor families of the province in a bid to assist them financially.
Pledging to expedite the development of the biggest province of the country, the premier stated that Rs3.2 billion has been allocated this year for the completion of the road between Rato-Dero and Gwadar.
“This road would help make the Gwadar port operational and it will improve connectivity between the three provinces.”
Separately, in a meeting with representatives of the Hazara community, the prime minister said that peace and tranquillity would be ensured in the province at all costs.
He voiced sympathy with them over their killing of their five community members in a targeted attack on Sunday. “We are equally grieved about the sad incident and our heartfelt sympathies are with the bereaved families,” he added.
Premier Gilani directed the chief and home secretaries to improve law and order in the province. Concerted strategy must be evolved to ensure peace and tranquillity, he said, adding that leniency on the part of law-enforcers would not be tolerated.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2012.