THE common man in Balochistan is as deprived as his counterparts anywhere else in Pakistan; only worse. The wait for the trickledown is apparently endless.

Independent economist Professor Muhammad Siddiq believes that the privileged class had monopolised the benefits in its own interests, and the state machinery had shown no interest in transferring these benefits to the common man.

The provincial government, he says, has not approached the transport mafia to reduce the inter-city bus fares, what to talk of something more.

Another economist, Mahfooz Ali Khan Yousufzai, shares the view. “People feel comfortable when they are the net beneficiary of any economic boom. The private sector and agriculture have been badly hit by power outages. In major cities, law and order has played havoc and the burden on the masses is ever increasing.”

One of the reasons cited by Mahfooz, who served as the provincial finance secretary for over five years, is that the government initiatives are in sectors where the trickledown effect takes time to be meaningful. “Besides, foreign loans have multiplied and the biggest charge on budget is that of debt retirement which will go up further the next year,” he says.

Former senior vice-president of FPCCI Sardar Raza Muhammad Breach is of the view that without restoring complete peace and order, the government or anyone else should not expect much.

In the absence of a favourable atmosphere, investments will continue to shy away, he says. Corporate monopolies and growing population are two more issues cited by the Sardar, who is currently working as Adviser to the Chief Minister on Education.

Nadeem Khan of the Balochistan Small Business Chamber of Commerce finds the government itself as a “big hurdle” in the way of the conman man. The national airline had reduced its airfare to compete with private airlines, but the government imposed Rs2,500 as additional tax on PIA tickets. “Just goes to show how concerned the government is about the common man,” he says.

Published in Dawn March 22nd , 2015


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