ANY way you look at it, Balochistan is in dire straits. On the political front, the air is murky especially following a Supreme Court interim order last month which led to the current predicament of Chief Minister Aslam Raisani and the crisis over the convening of the Balochistan provincial assembly. (An assembly session has now been called for Nov 13.) On the law and order front, matters are even worse. Many commitments and expressions of good intent later, there has been no improvement in the security situation. The missing have yet to be traced; minorities continue to be targeted; and the average citizen remains under threat from several quarters. It could have been hoped that matters were better where development is concerned — this would have gone a long way towards putting balm on old wounds. But that, it seems, is far from being the case. The blame for this rests squarely on the shoulders of the provincial administration.
On Monday, several Balochistan senators and Planning Commission officials told a sub-committee of the Senate that none of the 32 federally funded development projects initiated in Balochistan over the past decade have been completed. All these projects had been handed over to the provincial administration for completion. Together, they are worth some Rs60bn. The list reads like a roll of shame: a technical college in Gwadar completed some years ago by the federal government but now derelict because access roads and facilities were not built, and teachers never appointed; the Pat Feeder Water Sector Project launched 15 years ago by Wapda and then taken over by the provincial government, but completion remains around 10 years away — these are just two examples of numerous others. To be fair, some Baloch senators have accepted the onus of responsibility; however, that is hardly enough. If the crisis in Balochistan is to be turned around, here is the simpler part of the solution: develop the province, raising education and employment rates and thus pierce the environment of resentment. If the provincial administration cannot do that, it would be dangerously undermining its own position as the people’s representative.