Balochistan protesters give govt 24 hours for acceptance of demands

Published April 4, 2021
QUETTA: Members of the Balochistan Employees and Workers Grand Alliance hold a sit-in at Edhi Chowk on Saturday.—INP
QUETTA: Members of the Balochistan Employees and Workers Grand Alliance hold a sit-in at Edhi Chowk on Saturday.—INP

QUETTA: No headway was achieved on Saturday in negotiations between the government representatives and leaders of the government employees who have been holding a sit-in for the last six days for the acceptance of their demands.

Eight rounds of talks have remained fruitless because the employees have refused to call off their protest until the official notification about 25 per cent increase in their salaries is issued.

On the other hand, Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan said that Balochistan would face an additional burden of Rs10-15 billion if demands of the protesting employees were met.

The leaders of the employees’ grand alliance on Saturday gave the government 24 hours for acceptance of their demands and threatened to block all highways in Balochistan if the demands remain unmet.

CM links pay raise to discharge of official duties in a ‘proper’ way

“We will block all national highways linking Balochistan with the rest of the country, if the provincial government fails to issue a notification about 25 per cent increase in our salaries and meet our other demands,” said Abdul Salam, secretary general of the Government Employees and Workers Alliance.

Meanwhile, in a policy statement, Jam Kamal said Balochistan would face an additional burden of Rs10-15bn if demands of the protesting employees were fulfilled.

The chief minister said he was not in favour of taking decisions that the government could not implement.

He expressed concern that government employees “do not perform their official duties properly”. He said if government employees “do their job properly, we are ready to increase their salaries not only once but twice”. “We all know that a large number of employees do not do their job properly. If I make decisions for political scoring, I can get praise by giving 50pc allowance instead of 25pc. But is this a permanent solution of the problem,” he asked.

The CM urged the protesters to seriously consider the matter and take things in the right direction keeping in view the situation facing the province.

He said that so far 20,000 government jobs had been offered to people and more were in the pipeline, adding that allowances and salaries had been increased.

The CM said: “During the last two years, the pension bill has increased from Rs30bn to Rs50bn and in the next two years it will exceed Rs60bn to Rs120bn. Will there be a time when the government will do nothing for education, health, roads, dams, social welfare, agriculture [since] we will only pay salaries, pensions and allowances?” he asked. He said government employees were getting better salaries than private sector employees.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2021

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