The federal government has authorised the Balochistan government to begin a dialogue with all political forces in the militancy and poverty-hit province.
At the second meeting on Balochistan held at the Presidency in one day, President Asif Ali Zardari said that the provincial government needs to engage all sections of society, including political parties, tribal elders, academics and the local population, to carve out a solution that is acceptable to all.
At the same time, the federal government has asked the provincial government to identify measures for strengthening the capacity of the police, levies and law-enforcement agencies. “The administration should also take appropriate measures to strengthen law-enforcement agencies to effectively deal with the issues of law and order,” Zardari said.
Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said that the burning issue of missing persons was also discussed in the meeting. The president was told that all but 50 missing persons had been traced while information about those remaining was being gathered.
In an earlier meeting that focused on development projects, Zardari called for expediting the completion of mega developmental projects in Balochistan in order to bring the province at par with the rest of the country. He was presiding over a meeting to review the progress made so far on development projects of the province.
Briefing the media about the meeting, presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said that four presentations were given separately by Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr Nadeemul Haq, Chief Secretary Balochistan Mir Ahmad Baksh Lehri, Chairman NHA Muhammad Ali Gardezi, and Chairman WAPDA Shakil Durani. They focused on development projects in infrastructure, transport and communication system, water sector projects, as well as other projects under the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan.
The meeting was informed that out of 1,180 ongoing projects throughout the country of the current year, 133 projects costing Rs305 billion are being solely executed in Balochistan. A total of Rs126 billion has already been spent on these projects up till June and an additional allocation of Rs28 billion has been made for federal projects in Balochistan, the meeting was told.
WAPDA Chairman, during his presentation, informed the meeting that presently 23 water sector projects are being financed with a cost of over Rs111 billion.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2011.