Will Rs 600 billion development package solve Baloch problems?

Balochistan is being measured as a blessed province for Pakistan with the availability of plenty of natural resources in the shape of natural gas, coal, etc. It is the place where copious businesses are going to get to a great vision; we have the best example of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through Gwadar port.

Regrettably, everyone is always deeply astonished when they hear of Balochistan as a backward province of the country. The province is not getting good attention from federal and provincial governments to be developed due to which people are facing several major issues, including health, education and transportation.

Major issues in Balochistan

Poverty: Balochistan inhabits 45% of Pakistan geographically and more or less equals to France with a population of 12,344,408.

According to a report by the UN, the people in the province are on a downward spiral since 2006 with the lowest literacy rate. Because of being neglected by the authorities, more and more people in the area are being included in the list of below-poverty-line population.

Mostly, rural areas are in the worst condition possible, since their only source of income is agriculture and due to weather conditions, droughts and locust crises in the province, their only means of livelihood destroyed every year.

According to scrutiny organize and carry out by the government of Balochistan which shows that half of the province is facing poverty and it is increasing day by day and the residents are earning their life under the poverty-line in which the citizens are deprived of basic necessities.

Terrorism

Terrorism is an act of terrorism that is creating violence among the common people of the province by neighboring countries, which can’t let anyone live a peaceful life in the area. It is the biggest issue which is going on for many decades.

Illiteracy, unemployment

The illiteracy rate of the area is also high. Several schools are reported to be shelterless, some are being run by a single teacher while many more are said to be out of function. Education should always be the first precedence for any nation to development but this is not the case in Baloch people.

The province’s unemployment ratio is touching the sky with most of the graduates unemployed. As a result, domestic crimes like kidnapping, killing, child abduction and robberies are born.

Overpopulation

According to accurate figures by the government, the province has an estimated two percent growth rate which for a province with an official population of 160 Million turns out to be about 3.2 Million every year.

About 40 percent of the population is already living under the poverty line and 5.6 percent of official facts and figures of the population are without a job, the ever growing population of Balochistan is just adding to the problems of the previously under pressure state.

Flawed political and economic development policies

What is wrong in the province and what can be prepared to undo the misery? This is not rocket science; the problem lies in flawed political and economic development policies and strategies. The flawed and barren political engineering of the past several decades has elevated a special class of the political elite in the province.

With modest vision, they care little about innovative strategies. They are not bothered about strategies for socio-economic challenges that are exacerbated by an outdated governance, management and development model, functioning in the province.

Govt to spend Rs 600 billion on Balochistan uplift

Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has announced a package for development projects in southern Balochistan. The federal minister said the government would spend Rs 600 billion in nine districts of southern Balochistan during the next three years to improve the living standard of local people.

The federal government would provide Rs 540 billion, while the rest would be spent by the Balochistan government and also engage the private sector. He said the package was prepared under the special direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan who had a firm belief in the development of weak segments of the society.

Asad Umar said at present only 12 percent of people of South Balochistan were receiving electricity. Under this package, electricity will be provided to over 57 percent of the scattered population of the area. He said the government would build 16 new dams that would irrigate about 150,000 acres of land.

He said around 640,000 children would be given distance education and they would be connected to the teachers in big cities. Similarly, 35,000 youth of the area would be given the training to earn as freelancers.

Under the Waseela Taleem Programme, as many as 83,000 children would be given free education and the government would also pay a monthly stipend of Rs 1,500 each to the parents of boys and Rs 2,000 each to those of girl students. Asad Umar maintained that in the health sector, 200 health centers would be up-graded.

The problem of Baloch cannot be solved with a simple step

Clearly, the province issues cannot be resolved with such a simple step even if it is the first of many more interventions by the state to bring the disgruntled natives back into the national ambit.

However, to spend Rs 600 billion on Balochistan is a meaningful step for the socio-economic uplift of the province, where a significant chunk of the population lives in multidimensional poverty.

The people of the province deserve various people-oriented welfare schemes and social safety nets to improve public life in many aspects, such as healthcare, education, potable water, electricity, safe housing conditions, and sanitation facilities.

Lastly, the authorities in federal and provincial governments should take care of the blessed province which is being shorn of its basic right and try to come up with strong institutional transformations to resolve the recurring issues faced by the people of the province.