In a rather positive development on this Wednesday the majority party at Centre Pakistan Tehriek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and Balochistan National Party Mengal (BNP-M) reached an agreement on some genuine issues of Balochistan. Although Sardar Akhter Mengal’s party doesn’t enjoy majority in the province and is less likely to form government, yet its National Assembly seats are of much importance for PTI to establish its numerical strength for forming government given the strong resistance and alliance of the opposition parties at centre.
Therefore, PTI had to listen to what were the long-standing demands of BNP-M. In return for support at National Assembly, the six points of BNP-M were accepted by PTI whose leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that his party would deliver upon the promises made with Sardar Akhter Mengal.
The six points of Akhter Mengal include resolution of issue of all missing persons and avoidance of any such occurrence in the offing along with implementation of National Action Plan in letter and spirit. The foregoing point would definitely resolve the simmering emotions in Balochistan as hundreds of people, if not thousands, have gone missing since the low scale insurgency that erupted in the province following assassination of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti.
Either the missing persons are in some extra-judicial custody or have left country for good, it is foremost duty of the state to establish the fact of their missing so as to absolve itself of suspicion and build confidence of their families in state institutions. Moreover, clauses relating to Balochistan in NAP were empowerment of the provincial government to take up negotiations with estranged stakeholders, put end to the sectarian violence that has done much damage, choke terror financing to decapitate groups like Jamal ul Ahrar, IS and Taliban to carry out 8 August and 13 July incident.
Finally, the repatriation of Aghan refugees to their homeland as long hospitality has done much damage to this society, including introduction of drugs, damaging social fabric of the society, over-burdening the scarce resources, increasing environmental issues and terrorism. The Second point includes preservation of democratic identity of the province and legislation in this regard. It goes without saying that the province shares 43 per cent of the geography but only 6 per cent of the population in the country.
Hence, development projects like China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would invite teeming number of people from other parts of the country whose culture, language and identity would dominate the local cultures. It may be mentioned here that owing to lack of patronage by the government, Bravhi—the second language of the Baloch—is at the verge of extinction. The third points calls for due share of the province in the mineral resources extracted from it.
Balochistan is a province that has abundance of mineral resources and much of the political issues relate to this very problem of unjust treatment of Balochistan in terms of mineral resources. State has been in an habit of only rewarding few favourit Sardars and leaving rest at the mercy of these Sardars. Chaghai has large resources of copper and gold but has the highest number of children out of school, Dera Bugti has gas that fuels entire country’s factories but it has largest number of children suffering caloric poverty.
If this problem is addressed, the change Imran is talking about, will definitely be seen and felt in Balochistan. Fourth point talks about the construction of dams in the province to address the water scarcity issues and to make the province sufficient in agriculture. Climate change has affected the entire country and if dams are built, there is no wonder why many worries of the poor growers are resolved. Fifth is ensuring 6% quota in Federal jobs for Balochistan.
This is definitely an immediate issue that must be addressed as this issue was voiced by certain other political parties also hundreds of jobs in Balochistan’s quota were either lying vacant or were occupied by people from other provinces with forged documents. This would lower the tide of unemployment and hence frustration. Finally, it called for all refugees to be repatriated to their country honourably.
Many parties whose politics revolves around ethnic power-play would definitely oppose this move to enhance their vote bank, but the problem of Afghan refugees has really multiplied problems for this province. Majority of the refugees it seem have now acquired forged document in connivance these parties and NADRA has blocked a number of their CNICs serves as evidence to corroborate this statement.
If PTI is able to take bold steps to address all these grievance, it would really see a positive change in this province. Betrayal of these promises would further lead Balochistan to a black-hole that consume all the light of hope.