Speakers call for change in Islamabad’s mindset towards province.ISLAMABAD:
Vague implementation mechanism and lack of true representation in the provincial assembly is rendering Aghaz-i-Huqooq-i-Balochistan package slow and ineffective in delivering on Baloch people’s longstanding demand for rights. This was observed by a majority of speakers, particularly those belonging to nationalist parties of the restive province, at a seminar on ‘Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan Package: Status and way forward’ held here on Thursday.
“The Balochis have been given constitutional guarantee to their rights under the 18th Amendment but the laws still remain unimplemented,” said Central Vice-President National Party, Dr Ishaq Baloch.
He added that the Balochistan problem could not be resolved until the federal government accepts and respects ethnic diversity in the country and gives them a right on their resources. Blaming successive governments for continuously treating Balochistan with discrimination for decades, Baloch said ‘Federation could only be saved if the federating units were truly recognised.’
Former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Wazir Ahmed Jogazai supported him, saying the Balochistan Assembly lacks true representation due to political polarisation in the province.
He stressed the need for establishment of an independent election commission, which could hold free and fair elections to ‘replace the current provincial government which lacks integrity and legitimacy.’
Pointing to the lack of implementation mechanism of Balochistan rights package, Raza Narejo, an expert on Balochistan affairs, said the mechanism for all political, administrative and constitutional matters must be in place, and tracking implementation should also be easily accessible.
Aziz Jamali, a government official working on the package’s implementation admitted that though the pace was slow, the government had managed to provide more than 5,000 jobs to the unemployed Baloch. An increased flow of financial resources to the provincial government was also made possible.
Former federal minister from Balochistan, Ayatullah Durrani of Pakistan Peoples Party agreed with Senator Haji Adeel of Awami National Party that the implementation of the 39-point package was slow at present.
However, both the leaders urged upon the critics to look at the ‘half full glass’ than ‘half being empty’. They pointed out that the tripling of federal financial resources for Balochistan for the fiscal 2011-2012 beginning on July 1 this year, would not have been possible without the package.
Holding the Balochi sardars and tribal chieftains responsible for the injustices to the Balochi people, Ayatullah Durrani questioned as to ‘why not a single educational institution has been constructed by Jogezai, Jamalis, Achakzais, Bugtis and Raisanis’. Some of the speakers also demanded a change in Islamabad’s ‘mindset towards Balochistan’.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2011.