The Balochistan province of Pakistan, even though the richest in terms of mineral resources and territory constituting 44% of Pakistan’s territory, has been suffering from several issues and received no permanent solutions for the growing problems. Identifying the core issues of Balochistan and resolving them have always been challenging for each ruling government.
Despite several initiatives taken by central and provincial governments for resolution of Balochistan’s issues, the situations have become worse day-by-day and they remained inefficient in solving them democratically. Violent conflict continues in Balochistan, killing the innocent people ‘illegally and forcibly’ and disappearing them with no justice. “We want Justice” has become the slogan of every Baloch and their voices are being unheard. Justice seems to be a far cry for them. The situation has become more problematic than before due to some major problems like woeful state of education, missing persons, improper implementation of laws, violation of fundamental rights, increasing poverty and etcetera.
Initially, Prime Minister has addressed and announced numerous policies and measures to stay committed in developing all provinces and peace-building would be the first and foremost priority for each province, but practically, the government remained failed in multiple ways. Balochistan’s government must have comprehensive, political and democratic, strategic plans in reaching out its entire objectives for development of the province. Balochistan still suffers from great many problems, yet it is greatly neglected.
Politically, the people of Balochistan have never secured their right representatives in the political set-up and conducting elections, whether local or general, has never been held peacefully, justly and democratically.
To get an education is a far cry for several children due to rapid growth of poverty. According to Pakistan’s first ever official report on multidimensional poverty, 71 percent people live below poverty line in Balochistan. Though Article-25A (Right to education) provides free and compulsory education to the children aged 5 to 16 years, its proper implementation is yet an unfulfilled wish. According to estimations, Balochistan has been considered the home of out-of-school children where 70 percent of primary and middle-section-aged groups are out of schools and reportedly more than 23.5 million children (determined aged 5-16) are out of schools in entire Pakistan.
What more can we expect when such deplorable conditions have snitched our opportunity to get an education? The report of National Education Management System states that 66% of girls of primary-school age are out-of school and a grim factor appears about low literacy ratio in the province either.
On the other hand, Baloch missing persons’ issue is not new, but has been a major setback for decades. According to a report issued by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan entitled “Balochistan: Neglected still,” Mama Qadeer Baloch (A Baloch Rights activist and Vice Chairman of Voice for Baloch Missing Persons) claimed that “more than 52,000 Baloch and around 35,000 Pashtuns are missing.”
Mama Baloch has been protesting for 4,670 plus days on roads for safe release of the Baloch missing persons and claiming that they should be brought before the court if they are guilty of any crime. The families of missing persons have been protesting in entire Pakistan, asking where their beloveds are even though they received threats and pressures from unidentified people to end up their camps. The recent camp that has reached to more than one and a half month outside Governor’s house against the Ziarat incident and fake encounters is the other face of Baloch resistance.
The control over Balochistan’s mineral and coastal resources with their unjust distribution is yet another concern. However, the proper implementation of Article 172(3) and Article 158 must be done with providing the province its due share in each sector including management, ownership of Saindak copper-gold project, revenues, natural resources like gas, oil and so forth.
The ongoing projects have never benefitted the local community at all rather they are being neglected and deprived from their resources. In fact, the people’s livelihood across the province would get changed once they are provided with all their fundamental rights and equal shares from the current national and international projects – especially the share in revenues from China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through Gwadar port, natural resources and making the Reko-Diq agreement public in order to uplift socioeconomic conditions of the local community.
Chief Minister of Balochistan, Mir Abdul Quddos Bizenjo addressed that the only solution to Balochistan’s problems was negotiations, not force that successive governments had used to deal with insurgencies in Balochistan. But it should be known that the regime of the ruling government has also become more conflicting and destructive. The government has failed to have peaceful settlement of conflicts and negotiation rather several major attacks have occurred – killing of Chinese and Pakistani military personnels in previous months. A peaceful Balochistan has become only a dream by each ruling party in power.
So, the key gateway for a peaceful Balochistan is to maintain peace, grant fundamental rights, justice, equal opportunity in share, bringing the missing persons before courts and resolving all its other issues. Baloch lives matter too. Balochistan paints a gloomy picture and unsolved problems may be barriers against its progression in future. It is high time the federal government along with provincial government mainly understood the main issue and eradicated its deep-rooted problems peacefully.