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Balochistan package

After the Karachi Transformation Plan, the government has now announced a massive Rs600 billion package for South Balochistan. This raises questions once again whether the project will ever be implemented and see the light of day or is an attempt to deceive the people of the region.

The prime minister has recently visited Turbat where he said elevating Balochistan was part of his faith, vowing to educate the youth and provide them scholarships. He said the region is lagging behind due to lack of funding and the government will help in every way possible. This comes after Baloch students protested in Lahore that funds were reduced and scholarships had been stopped.

The resource-rich province is the largest in the country by area but receives the least attention as it does not have any political clout. Previous regimes paid less attention as they did not need votes from Balochistan to form the government. The region suffered and could not progress and have the same standard of living as the rest of the country.

Baloch leaders have also cared less and prefer to spend more time in other cities than their areas while corruption is rife in public institutions. People are still leading nomadic lifestyles and only 12 percent of south Balochistan have access to electricity and many areas still don’t have gas supply. The area also has a dilapidated road network and many far-flung areas are disconnected from rest of the province.

This is also not the first time that a package has announced to address the grievances of Balochistan. In 2009, the Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan was launched and received praise but years passed and there was hardly any progress. Will the package announced by the PTI be different from the rest? Planning Minister Asad Umar said they will adopt an integrated approach of allocating funds and all ministries and departments will be engaged collectively but whether this will be successful remains to be seen.

This package raises doubts whether it is a ploy ahead of the Senate elections as similar packages for other areas remain on the cards. The PTI government should consider uplifting impoverished areas as it would eventually lead to development of the nation. If the project is implemented, it would cement the PTI’s legacy. The region has been neglected for too long and requires our utmost attention.