It was reported on Wednesday that Balochistan’s planning minister has been relieved of his duties while the chief secretary was expected to suffer the same fate as a consequence of attending the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting on Tuesday. Balochistan CM Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo had made it clear earlier this week that he would not be attending the NEC meeting and that no representative of the province would partake in it because of the centre’s “ignorance and discriminative” attitude towards the province’s financial woes. This is an unfortunate situation given the prevailing circumstances in the country, and Balochistan does have legit grievances towards which the government should be more attentive. At the same time, CM Bizenjo should also refrain from playing politics over important development questions.
Despite CM Bizenjo’s proclamation, Planning Minister Noor Muhammad Dummar attended the meeting while the chief secretary participated via video link. Despite the disagreements within the provincial government, it is still the right of the minister and chief secretary to take part in the NEC meeting. There can be differences over strategy and approach, and perhaps a boycott may appear like the best option to many.
However, this is not to say that there has not been serious neglect of Balochistan and its development needs. There have been several instances in the recent past of the federal government’s failure to follow through on its promises. For instance, Rs 10 billion announced for the rehabilitation of flood victims has still not been provided. In fact, the provincial government has repeatedly reminded the federal government and even sent a letter to the prime minister, highlighting the need for the promised funds.
In addition to this, there is also the issue of including the projects proposed by Balochistan’s members of the Senate and the National Assembly (NA) in the federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). But of course, given our economic crisis and the lingering negotiations with the IMF, there have been significant adjustments to the PSDP. These are exceptional circumstances, and while there are legit concerns and grievances, the focus should be on constructive dialogue instead of politics and theatrics.