“Coming events cast their shadows before”, said Campbell.

FOR the last few months the Balochistan conflict has been in the limelight because of the threats of growing insurgency in the region. The Baloch form about 50 per cent of the total population of the province and the situation remains volatile primarily in the Baloch areas.

The root causes of the Balochistan conflict are very complex and pre-date the present government. On having mature reflection, the factors which have interplayed to make the province reach its present situation can be classified primarily into two types political factors and economical factors.

Politically, the Baloch people have never got their required representation in the political setup. Most of the time the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan has remained unable to complete its tenure. Balochistan province has also remained backward economically over the last 60 years.

Economically, there is more concentration on the improper allocation of resources under the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award. Throughout the whole world the revenue is divided on the basis of three criteria population, size of territory and socio-economic backwardness.

But in Pakistan the revenue is distributed among the federating units predominantly on the basis of population. This has remained one of the major grievances of Baloch people. Moreover, the local sardari system has also remained an obstacle in the way of development of the province. The Baloch usually follow their local sardars known as 'tumandars'. Those sardars have established their own fiefdoms with their own system of justice.

The sardari system was formarlly abolished by the System of Sardari (Abolition Act of 1976), which prescribed three years' punishment to anyone exercising sardari. The Act was not enforced in in letter and in spirit after its approval by the National Assembly during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's reign.

The grant of provincial autonomy remains central to the question of addressing the issues of federalism. In the Constitution of 1973 the autonomy promised to provinces has never been ensured to the provinces. Besides this, it was decided that the concurrent list of powers will be abolished after 10 years. But this decision has not seen the light of day so far.

During implementation of development projects for the Balochistan province the government must ensure that maximum benefit accrues to the local people of Balochistan and not to those people who have settled there from some other places.

The central government has often remained quite inefficient in solving the problems of Balochistan . As time is running out fast and the situation has the potential to spin out of control, it is, therefore, absolutely necessary to take immediate initiative. The present democratic government can play a significant role in this regard.

The government should start a process of reconciliation with local chieftains while at the same time giving first priority to the economic development of Baloch people. Efforts should be made to make to integrate the alienated Baloch people into the mainstream political process.

RIZWAN ASGHAR
Government College University
Lahore

Opinion

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