Continued callous neglect | Pakistan Today

Continued callous neglect

  • Balochistan prosperity always promised, never fulfilled

Something is rotten in Balochistan province, has been for decades, and will doubtless remain so in the foreseeable future, unless by some miracle mixture of political will and sincere goodwill, the PTI government moves beyond mere honeyed words to forceful action on its uplift. It can be argued that a formidable combination, that of the interests and influence of tribal sardars and nawabs, of weak political parties, ‘mysterious’ ruling coalitions, Sardar Akbar Bugti tragedy, some disastrous choices as Baloch chief ministers, foreign dabbling, and separatist movement varying in intensity, that has dragged on since the dawn of Pakistan, has retarded the organic process or pattern of socio-economic growth. But this would be self-deception, for the vast majority of ordinary patriotic Baloch are deprived of their most basic civil rights, in employment, security, healthcare and education, with family-way women forced to travel vast distances to access a proper hospital. The overall general picture may be grim and fretful, but the perpetual culprits of stagnation and decay and the insurmountable obstacles to Baloch progress over the years are, monumental governmental sloth and indifference, corruption, lack of prioritised, fast-tracked policies for growth, paucity of resources, but above all, poverty of strong political leadership, of boldness, will and drive, of commitment and compassion…

But skirting around the Baloch people’s pressing problems and their just dissatisfaction is no more an option, as their apparently limitless patience is bound to run out. Generous but meaningless gestures, small concessions, little driblets and doles, and on the other hand, swagger and bombast, simply will not do. An urgent necessity is to remove the Baloch leadership’s perception of the province not reaping the deserved benefits from CPEC, in fact hardly a fraction in terms of projects and human resource development (Gwadar excluded), towards which end the Joint Cooperation Committee meeting scheduled in Beijing next week provides an ideal forum. The Chief Justice of Pakistan, long a supporter of Baloch people’s basic rights and administrative self-governance by local bureaucrats, on a recent Quetta visit, felt obliged to express his personal embarrassment at the deplorable condition of neglect. PM Imran Khan’s weekly sojourn should justly lead not to Lahore’s Zaman Park, but to Quetta’s Chiltan Park.