Dr. Irfan Ashraf
Before I took decision to visit Balochistan after the new government, I was bit reluctant to be faced by the same despair that we used to witness in the old days. But there is no denying from the fact that what I came across was quite different than what we all assume about our most enriched province. On one side where Balochistan Frontier Corps(FC) has made tremendous effort to restore peace of the province, I was glad to witness the input from the present government. Yes, during my visit to different vicinities of the province, the efforts of the government to bring betterment in the region including the infrastructure were apparent. In fact, the state of the institutions within the province spoke that government is doing whatever is possible for the best interest of the people. What still lacked was the legislative framework, which resulted in the piles of corruption by the last government that stood as the biggest challenge for the new government.
As is said, ‘no news is good news’. You must be thinking what made me spare my time to write about the province that was once facing the gallows of despair and is now on the road of betterment. Three major issues that handcuffed the province included security concerns, misuse of the funds by the corrupt governments and the lack of skilled human resource. But the province that was once facing the worst issues is now on the verge of stability due to effortless input of FC. But what brought the province to the point where it gave space to the corrupt leaders to play with the stability of the province. It merely is because of weak legislative framework that gave leverage to these politicians. Each of the concerns that the province faced earlier, resolved gracefully but the monotony of infirm legislative framework is still standing at the back end, weakening all the efforts. These efforts that have freed the province from the shackles of instability have made room for CPEC interventions.
With the introduction of CPEC, the already valuable Gawadar port has now grabbed the unparalleled significance for the country. After the deadly external elements like Kulbhushan Jadhav, continuous interference of NDS, R&AW and the destructive moves of their political affiliates, the province still stood on its own. One of the instances is the recent allegation of Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party’s(PkMAP) Mahmood Khan Achakzai, who pointed out to one of the Pakistan’s serving Brigadiers of a sensitive institution as the facilitator for the recent downfall of Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri’s government. Fortunately, no one attends to such baseless allegations especially when they come from the leader who is not even aware of the shortcomings of his own locality. In fact, IG FC Balochistan General Nadeem Anjum has been found visiting Achakzai’s and other’s constituencies, listening and resolving the issues of the public.
Where the allegations of these politicians and instigations of such leaders have remained unheard, we have also seen a layer of trust that runs in every Baloch’s blood. People share a very strong bond with FC Balochistan. They consider FC as their saviour and tend to share their sentiments regarding militants and corrupt leaders with them. This bond between the Baloch community and FC is so strong that more than 370 operations against militants conducted by FC were facilitated by the information provided by local community. The efforts of FC regarding restoration of infrastructure and prevalence of peace in the region has helped them develop a kind of bond that is exemplary.
Due to external elements in the province, FC Balochistan has done more than their role and has provided for the people of the province. It was because government was too busy benefitting from the public resources due to strong accountability mechanism.
A flag-hoisting ceremony held on December 25, last year at Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Ziarat Residency in Balochistan brought forward the real face of these corrupt leaders where Zehri was heard inquiring Education Minster Rahim Zeyaratwal PkMAP about the 2 Billion rupees that Zehri had given him. As was expected Zeyaratwal was not able to respond but this little incident due to some technical glitch, unveiled the corrupt face of the leaders to the poor masses. If the province had the legislation to hold bound these people accountable, this public money of 2 billion would never have gone unaccountable like this. This gap in the legislation has made them use the public funds for their personal ends.
Baloch community, who always longed for their rightful funds seemed to be contented with what the future has to bring for them. Present government, as I witnessed during my visit and interactions with the relevant people, is utilising the funds in the best interest of the public. Unlike the previous government, who supported Achakzai for 320 dams. Such investment based on personal preferences resulted in the worst condition of education and infrastructure even in PKMAP’s vicinity due to corruption. Though PKMAP was getting abundant funds but it never utilised it for public good. In fact, the province went through the worst corruption because of no legislation on the utilisation of the funds. It provided an open field to such corrupt leaders to fill their pockets from the public’s money.
The corruption of these political leaders extended the responsibility of FC Balochistan, who tried filling the void created by the lack of legislation and consequently by the corrupt government regimes’ blessed people of Balochistan with number of educational and other such facilities. People, who once lacked the skilled human resource have also got over this lacking with better schemes of education and vocational trainings. Present government is trying hard to retain the efforts made by FC Balochistan. About 4 days before, the Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences(BUITEMS) presented degrees to almost 1000 students. With such a skilled force, present cabinet has the availability of the skilled and polished human resource who can be utilised for the best interest of the region. But here as well, what one lacks is the proper legislation for the rightful placements.
Balochistan has it all which was once considered to be an unreachable dream. It has got rid of security concerns, has seen the downfall of the corrupt government, it got rid of the illiteracy that once engulfed the region, every day it witnesses more and more Ferrari militants kneeling down with the efforts of FC Balochistan, it has more number of graduates and has a better infrastructure. What only it lacks is the proper and strong legislative framework to keep it all on track and to hold the corrupt leaders accountable when and where they try to obstruct the path of progress.