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Balochistan needs better life

April 08, 2013

THE PPP has completed the first democratic tenure in the history of Pakistan. All stakeholders must be applauded in this regard.

The former government, however, has not done much in addressing major problems of the common man, in particular, and the country, in general.

Inflation skyrocketed, power failure became nightmare, law and order worsened with the help of hilarious media statements by the former interior minister. The whole infrastructure of institutions was on the verge of collapse due to unbridled exploitation by the PPP-led government.

However, among these entire issues one must appreciate efforts that may have appeased and contributed to improved social life of the common man.

I would like to highlight probably the last decision of the federal finance minister about amnesty scheme. Under the scheme, the smuggled and non-custom-paid vehicles were allowed to pay tax and redemption charges to legalise.

Balochistan mostly depended on agriculture that was destroyed by recent droughts compounded by constant power failures. You can count industries on fingers, excluding the Hub Chowki Industrial Area.

To the dismay of the people of Balochistan, Hub, being a neighbouring city of Karachi, led all socioeconomic advantage to Sindh.

So under such circumstances the people of the province had to resort to more conventional ways of earning. It included business of non-custom-paid vehicles and smuggled electronic and diesel/petrol.

The majority of the people earned living through non-custom-paid vehicles. Electricians, car wash workers, motor oil changers, people at automobile art shops, mechanics and showroom commission agents were involved one way or the other with smuggled cars.

Everyone was able to feed family. Agreed that these vehicles are illegal but then without it thousands of people would have been jobless and who knows many of them would have joined ranks of the Balochistan liberation army and the Taliban. If discouraging smuggling is every government’s responsibility, then isn’t it also one of the core responsibilities of the governments to provide jobs and food security?Now let’s glance at the scenario when the FBR allowed taxation of such cars. An official of National Bank at Chaman station gave a rough estimate of about one billion rupees added to public exchequer by taxing these vehicles in only 12 days. The city is an Afghan-bordering area with no agriculture and certainly no industries. We are not talking about Quetta, the hub of all major economic activities of the province where the amount will be triple.

The crime rate dropped to an amazing rate. Snatching of about a dozen cars was a routine in Quetta which was not observed during the taxation process. Not a single sectarian targeted killing has been observed. Hotels were booked. Every second person was involved in the taxation process and cities were crowded, which was a very positive change in violence-riddled province.

I met a person who was a typical rural illiterate without any clue of the PPP government and what the caretaker government meant. The man prayed for happy and prosperous life of ‘Mandviwalla’ because of whom he believed he was able to earn a handful of money for his poor family.

Such economic activities are keys to social progress. The people of Balochistan, with typical tribal mindset of traditionalism, will never resort to violence if given an opportunity for a better life.

I strongly recommend that the scheme should be allowed on a permanent basis in order to uplift lives of people of the province as a quick-fix solution. If the people of Karachi enjoy benefits of importing cars, then why not Balochistan that equals in population with this single city.