Since taking power as the Chief Minister of Balochistan, Dr. Malik Baloch and his allies have made a lot of blunders. Following is an attempt to list down the top 10 bloopers of the coalition government of National Party, Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and PML-N, which is headed by Dr. Malik Baloch.
10) Internship program that never materialized
Soon after coming to power in June 2013, Dr. Malik Baloch announced a paid-internship program for all the graduates in Balochistan. As a part of this program, graduates had to be utilized in government departments and be paid a stipend. Tens of thousands of unemployed graduates submitted their applications and nothing has been heard from the government ever since.
9) Teacher recruitment tests through NTS
In order to prove its self-proclaimed commitment to merit, Balochistan government conducted teacher’s recruitment tests through National Testing Service (NTS). NTS charged Rs. 1,000 per application whereas the fee for similar tests in all other provinces was not more than Rs. 300. Over Rs. 100 million were earned by NTS from the testing process which has taken over eight months and still no sign of teachers’ recruitment. Rumors are gaining momentum with regards to nepotism dominating the recruitment process.
8) Arranging youth and sports festival
The government has been arranging youth and sports festivals in Quetta on a regular basis over the last two years. A great deal of taxpayers’ money was wasted on these futile exercises. In normal circumstances such festivals are appreciable, but given the law and order situation, prevailing unemployment and abject poverty, such festivity is akin to rubbing salt into the wounds.
7) Establishment of CMPRU
Dr. Malik established Chief Minister’s Policy Reforms Unit (CMPRU) as a policy advisory body for the government. He specially hired a renowned economist from Sindh to head this body. Almost two years in existence, CMPRU has failed to contribute anything positive other than providing hefty salary jobs to National Party office bearers, their relatives and the economist who is chairing it.
6) Conducting Balochistan Development Forum
Under the auspices of CMPRU, Balochistan government conducted Balochistan Development Forum in January this year in Islamabad. The stated objective of conducting that forum was to attract investment and facilitate the development in Balochistan. According to modest estimates over Rs. 25 million were spent on the three-day event and overwhelming majority of the participants were believed to be National Party workers. Not to mention the fact that there was no positive outcome of the forum for Balochistan in economic terms.
5) National Party delegation meeting Khan of Kalat
National Party sent a delegation of tribal chiefs to meet Khan of Kalat in London. The meeting didn’t prove to be more than a photo session where National Party members even filmed their dinner with Khan of Kalat. The visit was widely criticized by all quarters as a desperate attempt by National Party to prolong its stay in power.
4) Extravagant trip of Balochistan Assembly members to USA
As of this moment a 34-member delegation of Balochistan Assembly, including cabinet members, is on a weeklong visit of USA. This huge delegation is taking part in a freedom rally in the US. According to sources within the Assembly almost Rs. 100 million would be spent on the trip. The Assembly members, most of whom don’t celebrate freedom day in their hometowns, are enjoying in USA in the name of freedom day of Pakistan.
3) Local government elections
Under pressure from Supreme Court, Balochistan was the first province to conduct local government elections. What is a lesser known fact is that those elections lingered on for over 14 months just to ensure that Mayors and District Council Chairmen of ruling coalition parties somehow manage to get elected. Local Government Act of 2010 amended by this government has rendered the local governments absolutely powerless. Local government elections were conducted, but power was never transferred by this so-called democratic government.
2) Educational emergency
In order to improve education sector in Balochistan, the government imposed a so-called educational emergency in January 2014. 26 percent of total budget, on paper, was allocated to education. Government published full page advertisements for educational emergency in leading newspapers and conducted seminars to promote it. Educational emergency turned out to be a political gimmick because literacy rate in Balochistan decreased after imposition of the emergency as per the findings of Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey.
1) Appointment of Arsalan Iftikhar as Vice-chairman Board of Investment
In June 2014, Dr. Malik appointed Arsalan Iftikhar, son of former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, as vice-chairman of Board of Investment in Balochistan. The Chief Minister is the chairman of that board; so effectively Arsalan Iftikhar was given charge of making key investment decisions about natural resources of Balochistan. Arsalan Iftikhar had no competence in investment matters, but he was an accused fraudster and blackmailer. Initially, Dr. Malik Baloch strongly defended his decision and termed it in best interests of Balochistan. After mounting pressure from media, civil society and opposition, Dr. Malik was left with no choice but to ask for resignation of Arsalan Iftikhar.