The Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package was announced by the federal government to alleviate the sense of deprivation and alienation among the Balochistan people. Did it achieve its objective? No, say leaders of nationalist and mainstream political parties and former top bureaucrats.
“The package did not have a healing touch for Balochistan,” said Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, a key ally of the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government.
Jan Jamali, the former deputy chairman of the Senate, warned that ultranationalist Baloch youth were becoming more violent because the money provided for them has been “stolen” by the government.
Nationalist leaders blame “incompetence and unprecedented financial corruption” by then chief minister Nawab Aslam Raisani and his cabinet and a lack of oversight by the federal government for the failure of the much-trumpeted package.
“The funds provided for development schemes, such as roads, hospitals and schools were not used for them,” said the vice-president of the Balochistan National Party, Sajid Tareen.
“It is high time the provincial government pacified the Baloch people, particularly the educated youth who have been denied jobs for so many years,” Tareen told The Express Tribune.
Aurangzeb Kasi, the president of the Balochistan chapter of the Awami National Party, believes the situation in Balochistan would have been different, had the package been used to create jobs in the province.
“I think the Balochistan government has squandered a golden opportunity through sheer selfishness,” he said. “Raisani would have been considered a successful chief minister, had he implemented the package with care.”
Balochistan Chief Secretary Abdul Hakeem Baloch also blames the Raisani administration for ignoring merit while offering jobs under the Aghaz-e-Haqooq Package. Criticising the shady appointment of 5,000 teachers, he said much more qualified and deserving candidates were ignored.
Former provincial education minister Fazila Aaliyani questioned the very rationale for the appointment of 5,000 teachers. It is surprising that the federal and provincial governments made the appointments knowing that educational institutions in Baloch-dominated areas have not been working for a long time. “It was a total fraud,” she added. Abdul Rahim Zafar, an elder political ideologue from Gwadar who had served as a special consultant to the late prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, said an “excellent package” has been spoiled due to the sheer negligence of the provincial and federal governments.
“I am still hopeful that the federal government will take appropriate steps to address the problems being faced by the poor of this province,” he told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2013.