Whenever discussions on Balochistan and its many troubles come up, focus shifts quickly to the central government and its role in failing to offer development and growth to the most backward of our provinces.
But what of the provincial government itself and the crucial role it should be playing in the area — all the more so in a time of devolution? After all, persons elected from within Balochistan would be expected to be most concerned about the plight of their own people.
Sadly, however, this does not appear to be the case. Indeed, the opposite may be true as far as the affairs of the province go.
At a recent meeting, a number of senators from the province and Planning Commission officials noted that provincial government mismanagement — backed by what can only be described as negligence or indifference — may be the key to the lack of progress in Balochistan. At the meeting of a subcommittee of the Senate on Finance, Planning and Economic Affairs, the Planning Commission’s infrastructure member stated that of the 32 federally-funded development projects worth Rs60 billion initiated in Balochistan over the past 10 years, none could be completed despite the fact that over 80 per cent of the funds had been given out. Of course, we can only wonder where the money went. Following this, the three-member subcommittee of senators from Balochistan stated that the provincial bureaucracy and leadership played a key role in creating militancy in the province. More and more words of tough criticism poured in from senators, some describing unfinished projects in their areas. The top provincial bureaucracy came in for an especially tough rebuke.
The findings are important. They throw new light on the issues of Balochistan. At the same time, they raise questions of callousness, of greed and of how helpless people are wronged by the powerful everywhere in the country. The Baloch bureaucratic and political set-up needs to answer many questions. These questions should be asked now and the facts should be laid out before the wronged people of the province, who deserve much better treatment.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2012.