The coalition government of Balochistan, led by Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch, has presented Rs 215.713 billion deficit budget for financial year 2014-2015. They (the legislators) have termed this financial year’s budget ‘friendly’ during a session of the Provincial Assembly. Unlike past governments, the present provincial government has increased the budget to a greater extent. But, on the other hand, the independent economists say that this year’s budget, like that of the previous year’s, will be lapsed. Reason: the security situation in Balochistan has not been improved; rather, it is going from bad to worse. That is why it is seemingly impossible for the provincial government to revamp the provincial economy, which has been crumbling for decades.
The provincial government has allocated Rs 1.725 billion for the maintenance of law and order, but despite it, the situation seems to be out of control in Balochistan. And in an insurgency-hit province, allocating a huge sum of the budget for the maintenance of law and order explicitly denotes that Balochistan may again be deprived of development and investments this year. Also, it is not new that Balochistan presently lacks development; it has been kept undeveloped since the British rule. Unlike Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were developed and brought about investments before and after partition. Similarly, independent analysts say that the recent budget will have no upshot for the downtrodden people of Balochistan.
In the education and health sectors, the government has allocated 23 per cent and 8.6 per cent in the budget, respectively. But, pragmatically, the funds on ground are nowhere to be seen. As usual, a chunk of the funds will be pocketed by the corrupt leaders while a diminutive part of it will be used in unimportant and unwanted schemes. This is the reason why these two sectors are not flourishing, and have always been in a sorry state. Unfortunately, a great number of schools and hospitals in Dera Bugti, Kohlu, Awaran and Chagai districts are turned into ghost schools and hospitals.
Anwar Sajjidi, who is Editor-in-Chief of a daily Urdu in Quetta, told this writer, “The financial year’s budget will be utilized in Balochistan’s Pashtun belt with ease, which is tranquil unlike Balochistan’s Baloch belt. As far the Baloch populated places, the budget may not be properly employed due to law and order situation.” Moreover the minsters from Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazal-ur-Rehman’s faction (JUI-F) in Balochistan are sitting on opposition benches. Indeed, most of its ministers’ constituencies are in Balochistan’s Pashtun belt, and they have been lamenting that their constituencies in Balochistan’s Pashtun belt have also been neglected in the budget.
In recent years, the devastating floods wreaked havoc in Balochistan’s Jhal Magsi, Jafferabad and Nasirabad districts, where dozens of villages were inundated and hundreds of the people remained homeless. Whereas the provincial government has not allocated funds for them in the budget, so their agonies are going to be compounded. Besides it, the recent year’s 7.7 magnitude of the earthquake in Awaran, which took the lives of 825 residents, have also been neglected in the budget. All of them are left in the lurch, and they are living a pitiful life in their areas.
The hapless people of the aforementioned districts are dwelling in their thatched huts. Their homes and villages have either been inundated due to floods or razed to the rubble due to earthquake in their areas. Even the international donors were intercepted from going to these areas to help the residents out. It is unfortunate that the provincial government, too, has ignored them in the budget. On the other hand, they are unnecessarily digging out the roads to make drainage system in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, which have been creating problems unnecessarily for the citizens and causing traffic jams.
Strangely, the documents of the budget were also not revealed to the media, which denotes lack of commitment and transparency from the government for not letting the public know about the budgetary decisions. It is one of the reasons the government has received harsh criticism at the hands of the opposition and media persons.
The people of Balochistan anxiously awaited the budget, but they are seemingly disappointed having not seen the development projects on ground. Besides, the provincial government has also failed to fulfill its promises after coming to power, which has added to their miseries and disappointment. For example, Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch who, after being elected as Balochistan’s Chief Minister, vowed that he would resolve the myriad issues of the province, particularly the issue of Balochistan’s missing persons. But after a few months, he himself acknowledged at the Karachi Press Club that he was unable to resolve Balochistan’s missing persons’ issue, as it is beyond his authority.
In this way, the province that is dealing with numerous issues has created ‘an insecure environment’. So, in an insecure environment, how can the provincial government come up to people’s expectations and bring about development in Balochistan?