Balochistan needs attention
WE will fall short of adjectives if we try to put into words the intensity of Balochistan’s misery. Here often bolts shower from the blue to add further tumult into the province’s plight.
People continually found themselves into the vortex of de novo insurmountable tribulations and afflictions; the hoi polloi is pathetically left in the dire traits.
It is a tale of deprivation, suppression, subjugation and exploitation. Woefully, climate catastrophe has compounded province’s predicament.
Heavy monsoon rains and flash-flood continued to wreak havoc on the province. It took a great toll of lives; a plethora of human settlement and houses were knocked down; livestock and agriculture were swept away; communications were disrupted and roads and infrastructures were ripped asunder.
Put it simply, climate calamity proved to be the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
Given the deplorable condition of the province, the provincial government has neither the capacity nor resources to rebuild complete infrastructures of the province, compensate people for their losses, undertake rehabilitation work and provide human basic needs such as shelter, food, healthcare facilities, potable water, and emergency relief funds in an equitable manner.
Moreover, there are two main variables that have obstructed the province’s progress thus far. First, the geography of the province is a great impediment.
The mountainous terrain and scarcity of water have made it difficult for the government to build communication infrastructures because it needs a plenty of resources to develop roads and other infrastructure.
And Balochistan constitutes approximately 44 per cent of the country’s landmass, so it needs tremendous funds and resources for the infrastructural development.
Second, demography is another stumbling block in the path of Balochistan’s development. According to 2017 census, the population density of the province is 36 persons per square kilometre, which is due to mountainous terrains and dearth of water.
A sparse population has made it cumbersome to provide basic needs to people who are dwelling in far-flung mountainous regions.
Development cost is huge to connect the dispersed population with urban centres and provide basic necessities such as education, healthcare facilities, roads, electricity and water.
For developing Balochistan, it is sin qua non to chalk out pragmatic measures and implement them with letter and spirit bereft of any discrimination.
Any failure to pay attention to Balochistan conundrum will exacerbate the living condition of the people which will augment their resentment and sense of deprivation.
As a result, there will be deterioration of law and order in the province, increment in ethno-nationalist and regional sentiments, degradation of state-society relations, growth of sympathy for the nationalist elements and aggravation of geopolitical complexities.
Therefore, it is imperative to carry through some convenient blueprints for the development of the province.
Political consensus: It is high time to turn the crisis into opportunity. The federal government, politicians, military and all other stakeholders need to start a national dialogue and political consensus to resolve the Balochistan issue.
There is indeed no military solution to the Balochistan problem. It is purely political and economic issue, so it must be dealt accordingly.
Power devolution: Empowerment of local government is critical for trickle-down effects. Administrative and fiscal devolution is mandatory to achieve desired result.
Since Balochistan is a large geographical landmass, devolution of power is perhaps one of chief prerequisites for efficient and effective developmental program.
Institutional capacity building: institutional capacity building is necessary for carrying out development works, preparing to meet disasters, mitigating risk and providing timely emergency relief.
We often found defence forces in the forefront during any cataclysm, while the relevant institutions are unable to undertake effective rescue operations owing to their lack of capacity and resources.
Allocation of funds: Allocation of funds is also imperative to take development forward. Unless sufficient funds are divvied out to different sectors to provide services, institutions will remain toothless bodies and continue to be only spectator in the hour of need.
Institutional coordination: Institutional coordination is another important area that must not be shrugged off.
As long as each institution tends to function its own capacity without proper web of coordination, it will be preposterous to provide efficient and timely response.
Creation of administrative units: It is also required to create small administrative units because it becomes difficult for the provincial government and other governance machineries to carry out their administrative functions from Quetta given the geographical constraint, lack of proper roads and other communication channels.
Incentivization of the local economy: It is mandatory to incentivize the local economy. Balochistan has tremendous natural mineral wealth, agriculture and livestock potentials, and marine resources.
These sectors are grossly neglected; therefore, people are obliged to make the ends meet either through smuggling goods from Iran and Afghanistan or to go to gulf countries for trying their fortune to get employment.
For stimulating the local economy, there is need of rural-urban communication infrastructures, storage facilities for agriculture, livestock and marine products.
Besides this, government should allocate more funds for these sectors, create employment opportunities and strengthen minerals and mines, agriculture and livestock productions and marine sciences faculties in different universities and colleges so that these faculties help uplift the local economic development.
CPEC and socioeconomic development: Last but certainly not the least, the CPEC will greatly facilitate in the socio-economic development of the province.
It is incumbent on the federal government to accelerate development projects under the CPEC.
Roads and railway tracks should be constructed across the province in order to bridge the communication gap.
Under the CPEC, educational institutes, hospitals, industries and developmental projects to be created in different parts of the province in to order to allay deprivation.
—The writer is a strategic affairs and foreign policy analyst.