Charter Of Balochistan – OpEd


This buzzword was in news last week when former chief minister Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch called upon all stakeholders for a charter of Balochistan. A sensible voice, which should be paid heed as soon as possible when it is too late. 

Balochistan is in the clinches of insecurity and the present insurgency is fifth in its nature. Lo and behold. The situation has further deteriorated owing to the presence and attacks of the banned TTP, which has also cementing its feet. 

What has brought the situation to the end? Who should be blamed and responsible for this deterioration? Though, these questions need introspection but at the same time, merely blaming and shaming will not work. A stratagem should be formulated to meet the challanges and to create a suitable environment for bringing peace in the province. 

In this situation, the demand of charter of Balochistan looks sane. Will the authorities, the policy makers, the politicians, and the separatist groups give ear to it?  Why a charter of Balochistan and what should it focus? Let us introspect it. 

There have been different resentments of the provincial governments and the insurgent groups. They have been echoing their voices for being alienated in decision making with special reference to the share of the mega projects such as in Saidaq and Rekodiq Copper and Gold mines as well as in the CPEC. They have also grievances over the provincial quota in the Oil and Gas sectors which are being extracted from the province. At the same time, the province has been demanding abiding by the articles 158 and 172(2), whereas it says that the provincial share in these resources is 50 percent which is not being provided to the province. 

Meanwhile, the reservations over the distribution of resources through the NFC has also been an apple of discord between the province and the cener. Like Sindh and the KPK, Balochistan has been also demanding alteration in the NFC award and has been proposing to reduce population criterian in the award from 82 to 50 percent and that the award should enhance the quota of the provinces for which poverty, area, and tax generation should be considered at the top priority. 

Notwithstanding, the dearth of provincial representatives in the federal enterprises such as in the OGDCL, the PPL, in the Sui Northern and Sui Southern, etc. has been a huge point of concern of the province. This lack of representation has led to the alienation and no say in the distribution of resources, in providing lease to investment companies, and decision making affairs. In addition, in Benazir income support program, the provincial quota is neither based on population nor poverty ratio. Currently, the quota of the province is around 4 percent while the province accounts for more than 10 percent of poor population of the country. 

Political participation of the province on the federal level is equal to none. At present, there are 19 seats of the province in the national assembly. The election commission of Pakistan has divided this on the basis of population by ignoring the area where one constituency of Balochistan is comprised of 2 to 3 districts scattered to thousands of KM of area. This unjust and unfair division has been a point of anger for the province which has consequently resulted in the deprivation of the province from policy formulation on the central level. 

The proposal of Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch of formulating the charter of Balochistan is plausible. The above mentioned points need serious consideration along with the recommendations of the parliamentary committee on Balochistan which were proposed in 2004 that suggested to end checkposts, pause construction of cantonment areas in the province, increase provincial share in the revenue generation of natural resources, starting a huge network of socioeconomic development, etc. Moreover, there is a dire need of providing a constitutional guarantee to the charter provided that it is signed. 

Balochistan matters. Feeling the sensitivity of the situation by the authorities, hugging the dissenters, and healing their wounds need special attaontion. The charter of Balochistan in this regard would be an admirable step and a win_win situation for all. Will it be paid heed? The answer is uncertain.

Naseeb Ullah Achakzai

Naseeb Ullah Achakzai is a M.Phil scholar and writes as a freelance columnist.

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