November 02, 2011

Balochistan package – promises not fulfilled yet

A thorough analysis of the Aghaz-e-Huqooq Balochistan (AHB) Package reflects that the federal government has failed in its bid to attract rebel Baloch tribal chiefs, insurgents and estranged youth for dialogue. The faulty strategy which not only failed to bring the desired results also made the government realise that it lacked the required financial resources, institutional support and infrastructure to fully implement the promises it made in the package. The AHB package was launched by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led government two years ago with an aim to reduce the sense of alienation and deprivation, and confer political, cultural and economic rights for the people of Balochistan.

However, PPP Senator Lashkari Raisani thinks that the federal government’s non-serious approach towards the package, coupled with the mismanagement and bad governance of the Balochistan government were the main reasons for the project’s failure in making a positive impact on the masses. “The package is a healing touch and it should be taken as a constant process and psychotherapy of the people of Balochistan with an objective to let the masses realise that the people at the helm do take care about their aspirations and sufferings. But the weak provincial administration and non-serious approach by the federal government resulted into destroying the good job done. Due to the poor performance by provincial Home and Information ministers, the common man in Balochistan has neither security nor he is informed of the good work in the shape of the package. Today, the common citizen of Balochistan feels insecure and rather hostage to the insurgents,” Raisani told Pakistan Today.

However, Jamhoori Watan Party chief Talal Bugti said that Baloch nationalist forces had rejected the AHB package right when it was announced.

“We had rejected it forthwith when it was announced. How such packages can bear fruits when the killing of Baloch youth is continuing and our sons’ dead bodies are found on a daily basis. I don’t see any good from the rulers, rather I see the country’s boundaries fading away,” he said.

The parliament approved the package unanimously on November 23, 2009, and the committee responsible for the package, has so far held 15 meetings. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is supervising the package’s implementation, with Establishment Division Secretary Khushnood Akhtar Lashari monitoring the progress and reporting directly to the prime minister.

Irrespective of the fact that the government has implemented 34 policy actions out of total 61 commitments it made in the package, it failed to convince a single rebel group or tribal chief to announce a ceasefire and join peace talks.

“It’s a fact that nothing in the country’s history is comparable to this package’s implementation. Only within two years of its announcement, about 65 percent commitments made in the package have been implemented while the rest are either in advanced stage or other stages,” said a source in the Establishment Division.

Following are the details on proposals in advanced stage:
1. Employment Opportunities — Generation of 5,000 jobs for graduated students of Balochistan and ensuring a provincial quota in the existing posts. Teachers (BPS 14 and 16) have been appointed on 5,000 new posts funded by the federal government for four years. Some 6,381 vacancies (BPS 1-20) have been created under quota for Balochistan in the ministries and divisions of the federal government. Appointments on 1,934 posts have been made and the remaining ones are under process.
2. Locals will be given jobs in Pakistan Coast Guards (PCG). Recruitment criteria (Age, Education and Physique) have been relaxed for Balochistan. Recruitment teams were sent to various parts of the province and 100 GD Sepoys (BPS-5) have been enrolled against 118 vacant posts.
3. Articles 154 to 159 of the Constitution will be implemented in the province.
4. The Federal government may reconsider the agreements concerning sharing of income, profits or royalty with the provincial government on projects such as Saindak and Rekodik. Rekodik is in the provincial domain (minerals being a provincial asset) and the federal government has no equity or share in the royalty and profits. The Balochistan government can settle related issues at its level. Saindak will come into the provincial domain in October 2012, when the lease agreement expires.
5. PCG check posts beyond their territorial limits will be dismantled and 10 check posts in Balochistan have been deactivated.

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