The government has only been able to implement 15 of the 61 proposals contained in a much-celebrated reforms package aimed at redressing Baloch grievances regarding the affairs of their province.
A 38-page progress report on the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package, prepared by the Establishment Division, states that the government has not acted on most of the proposals, 16 months since the package was introduced.
Officials said that the provincial and federal governments were constrained by a lack of funds, but would do their best to implement the proposals by the end of 2013.
Parliament had approved the package unanimously on November 23, 2009, and the committee responsible for the package, and its implementation, was chaired by Senator Raza Rabbani. However, after little or no progress was made on the implementation, Rabbani stepped down from his committee post in frustration.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik replaced Rabbani as the head of the committee to oversee the package, but, under his four-month stewardship, only one meeting was held on the matter. It was in this meeting, held last month, that the bleak progress report was submitted.
The fruitlessness of the package and the progress on it prompted the Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to request Rabbani to take charge of the committee once again. In his speech on the floor of the National Assembly on February 28, the prime minister had lamented the lack of progress on giving the troubled province its rights as promised in the package.
The prime minister’s comments provoked Abdul Qadir Baloch, a PML-Q MNA and former governor of Balochistan, to castigate the government for completely failing to implement the package.
“I will not comment on progress of the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package until I hold the charge of this committee again,” Rabbani told The Express Tribune when approached for comments on the lack of progress on the matter. “Go to Senator Rehman Malik to know about its current status,” he added.
Among the proposals awaiting implementation are: a 500-megawatt Dera Ismail Khan-Zhob electricity transmission line; the Sabakzai, Mirani and Check dams; Quetta-Zhob-Dera Ismail Khan Road and Quetta-Zhob section of the National Highway; a 300-line telephone exchange for Musakhel district; a cancer ward at the Sandeman Hospital in Quetta; interest-free loans for the mining sector and waiving agricultural loans of up to Rs500,000.
Work on some important proposals has is still in rough drafts phase, according to the Establishment Division report. These include electricity generation projects; giving priority over natural gas to the Baloch; giving control of broadcasting and telecasting infrastructure to the provincial government; starting a political dialogue with Baloch stakeholders; facilitating the return of exiled leaders; reviewing the role of federal agencies in Balochistan and the role of the Frontier Corps in law enforcement under the chief minister’s command; withdrawing the Coast Guards’ power to exercise delimitation of borders under the Customs Acts and limiting them to performance of their primary duties only; and giving the provincial government control of check posts in non-border areas.
The meeting that the interior minister discussed some proposals including a judicial inquiry into ‘missing’ Baloch political workers and target killings; a commission to determine the circumstances leading to the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti; a judicial inquiry into the allotment of land in Gawadar; finances due to the provincial government on account of flood relief; a special quota in Higher Education Commission scholarships and rationalisation of the royalty formula.
Rubina Irfan, an MPA and former Balochistan law minister, said the report showed that the central government was not taking the province seriously. “Issues like control over natural resources should be the top priority. They are for the people of Balochistan,” Rubina said.
Balochistan Chief Secretary Ahmad Bakhsh Lehri said that a lack of funds was stopping the implementation of the proposals, but a “breakthrough” in the National Finance Commission Award would help.
Senator Lashkari Raisani of the PPP said the government realised the intense sense of deprivation in Balochistan and would address this matter. “We will correct all the historical wrongs by providing economic rights to the province,” he said.
1) A judicial commission and a fact-finding mission to investigate the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti
2) A judicial inquiry into the killing of three other Baloch nationalist leaders
3) A commission to aid the return of exiled Baloch
4) Launch of political dialogue with Baloch dissidents
5) Immediate tracing and release of political prisoners
6) Rationalisation of the natural resources royalty formula
7) Allocation of a percentage of the profits from natural resources to the development of the area that resource came from
8) Construction of small dams, particularly in Quetta, Pishin, Qila Abdullah, Qila Saifullah and Zhob
9) A judicial commission to probe the illegal allotment of land in Gwadar
10) Due Baloch representation on boards of directors in the OGDCL, PPL and SSGPL
11) End to construction of cantonments
12) Withdrawal of armed forces from Sui, Kohlu
13) Special quota of Higher Education Commission scholarships
14) Provincial consent in the launch of major projects
15) Review of the role of the FC in law enforcement under the chief minister’s command
16) Coast Guards perform their primary duties only
17) Check posts in non-border areas be controlled by the provincial government
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2011.