Speakers caution against rising sense of deprivation in Balochistan

ISLAMABAD Senator Raza Rabbani, Friday, warned the federation and its dominant civil-military policymakers of serious consequences in case they created hurdles in the true implementation of the Balochistan package, National Finance Commission (NFC), and 18th Amendment Bill. Senator Rabbani was addressing the inaugural session of two-day conference on Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package and 18th Amendment: Implications implementation and way forward organised by Sungi Development Foundation and Strengthening Participatory Organisations at the National Library of Islamabad. Senator Rabbani said that the country was facing critical situation, as there existed a huge trust deficit between the federation and the province (Balochistan) due to long history of injustices and exploitation and policy of high-handedness. He lamented that though the county was created as a welfare state but its dominant civil-military ruling elite turned it into a national security or garrison state while hampering the political process and democracy. He said that absence of political process in the country worsened the conflict and recent confidence building policy measures were meant to correct the deep-rooted political and economic imbalance and to empower the province by giving them their political, economic and administrative rights through political consensus and process. Governor Balochistan, Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi highlighted the development, political and law and order related situation of the province. He deplored that though NFC, Balochistan package and 18th constitutional amendment had been announced by the federal government yet the province continued to face same challenges as no real change in the situation on ground had taken place. He urged the need for such dialogue forums in the county to mobilise civil society and the common people against those who had worsened the conflict in Balochistan. Participants and students from Balochistan shared an alarming account of exploitative and inhuman attitude of federation towards the province and unanimously condemned the ongoing military operation in the province. They said that if the federation was genuinely interested in resolving the conflict it had to negotiate with the real representative of people who were in the mountains and as they had lodged a violent movement for the resolution of the conflict after losing hope from political process and history of broken promises. Tahir Bazinjo underscored that only strong provinces could ensure a strong federation adding that forced merger of Balochistan with Pakistan and subsequent persistence of over-centralised federation with the colonial attitude towards the province involving countless accounts of political and economic exploitation, injustices, and denial of rights had alienated the people of the province from federation and political process which had led to ongoing violent reaction in the province. He underlined the need for resolving the conflict by addressing root causes which were related to true federalism and worsening question of nationalism in multi-nation Pakistan comprising different nationalities with different histories, languages, geography, literature, and identity. Ghulam Mohiyudin Marri regretted that no implementation on Balochistan package had taken place so far and gave a detailed presentation on historical exploitation of natural resources of the province by the federation. He said the province had been and was facing challenges of low human development indicators, financial deficit, high poverty prevalence, droughts, underground water depilation, low public service delivery, low electric coverage, poor communication network, lack of accessibility, lack of representation in federal government agencies, autonomous bodies and corporations despite being rich with immense natural and mineral resources. Senator Mir Mohammad Khan Marri was of the view that both internal and external players contributed to destabilise Balochistan while highlighting the need for education in the province. He was of the view that the fate of Balochistan was linked with the fate of Pakistan. The conference will continue today (Saturday) and many renowned experts and politicians including Deputy Speaker Senate Jan Mohammad Jamali and Advocate Habib Jalib of BNP will address the conference.

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