Governance Crisis in Balochistan

(Fazal Tanha, )

Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan in terms of land (43%) and the smallest in terms of population (6%). Balochistan has been the most backward province of the country due to many reasons and governance crisis is one of them. Governance, generally, refers to the conducting of public affairs and management of public resources. Governance is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented. Governance crisis is the name of ineffective leadership and the lack of sincerity in rulers. Governance crisis takes root when personal interests are preferred to common interests. Ethnic strife, exclusive hereditary politics and language-based divisions have paved the way for governance crisis in Balochistan. Political immaturity and the militarization of provincial political issues not only brought the province to the brink of total collapse, but also made the country a laughing stock of the world.

In Balochistan, there have been ethno-political differences between the two major ethnicities: Pashtun and Baloch. Thus, Since the day first, Baloch and Pashtun politicians have been at cross purposes politically. Like other provinces, Balochistan has no Balochistan-led and Balochistan-owned inclusive political party. For Political dispensation, Balochistani politics depends on PMLN, PPP and PTI; and sometimes, un-natural political parties or alliances are also formed in the province to run the province anyhow. The formation of such artificial political parties has plunged the province into the vortex of governance crisis as well.

Balochistan is a mineral-rich province. It gives ways to Iran, Afghanistan, China and Central Asian countries. C-PEC, Saindak and Reko Diq are considered game-changers for the province. However, a handful of Baloch and Pashtun hardcore nationalists are not agree to the decisions and agreements made by Islamabad regarding Balochistan’s natural resources. Such elements create continuous chaos and become hurdle in maintaining good governance in the province. The destructive and subversive activities of such disgruntled elements pave the way for military interventions; which not only damage good governance but affect budget of the province also.

Naturally, Balochistan is a mountainous, water-stressed, terrorism-torn and the most illiterate province. The province spends much more revenue than that it generates. Due to the fall of agriculture, livestock and business activities, it becomes difficult to run the province smoothly. The lack of financial resources makes it also impossible to gasify and electrify the sparsely-populated areas of the province. There is no denying the fact that corruption and nepotism are found under the sun, and Balochistan is also second to none in this respect. The lack of media, weak justice system and education poverty have paved the way for cruelty to women, child labor, overpopulation and abject poverty in the province. Feudalism, theocracy, hereditary politics, and tribalism have stopped women from becoming the instrumental part of good governance in the province. Educated and skilled youth cannot become decision-makers and legislators in such a dynastic political environment. Landlords and feudal lords are not aware of the real issues of the province. With the exception of Balochistan Public Service Commission, merit and transparency have no existence in the province at all. Provincial investigative bodies have become toothless due to politicians-bureaucrats nexus. Corruption is growing up by leaps and bounds in the province. Public administration and civil servants in Balochistan have no work ethics. Politicians submit fake degrees to contest elections, law enforcing agencies kill innocent individuals in fake encounters, businessmen evade taxes, builders use outdated materials, teachers skimp on class work, and doctors recommend substandard drugs to gain more and more personal benefits by violating the rule of law in the province. Levies personnel, clerks, teachers and other appointments in the province are made on political basis. Thana culture, Sefarish (bribery) culture, red-tapism and corruption are the results of such political appointments. Politicization of the provincial institutions has worsened the soft image of the province. 18th amendment has become boon for rich provinces and bane for Balochistan. NFC award also treats the province like a step mother. Every year, the sorry saga of lapsing budget shows the ineffectiveness of leadership and governance crisis in Balochistan.

The irreparable damage caused to Balochistan by the recent rains and floods is a prime example of bad governance. Only twenty-four hours long rains inundated the entire province. Innumerable houses, a number of bridges, several kilometers of roads, acres of croplands and countless livestock were washed away in the floods. Schools, colleges, universities and businesses remained closed for two weeks. The province fell prey to infectious diseases and skyrocketing inflation. The breaking down of dams exposed the reality of bad governance in the province. Building code, carpeted roads, modern drainage system, heavy water passable bridges, prefab homes and mobile hospitals have no existence in the province. The continuous protests of teachers, doctors, business community, civil society and the families of enforced abductees show that governance crisis is at its peak in the province. Bad governance is the root cause of all calamities in Balochistan.

Governance crisis has put not only the province at stake but it has also put the safe future of the country in danger. Unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, extremism and terrorism are the results of bad governance in Balochistan. Governance crisis in the province may harm Pak-China, Pak-Iran and Pak-Afghan relations to a large extent. Governance crisis in Balochistan may increase foreign interference and economic instability in the whole country. Governance crisis has tarnished unity of the province and vilified soft image of the country. The curse of enforced disappearances has compelled even the educated Balochistani male and female youth to adopt destructive activities at the cost of exploding themselves. The case of Shari Baloch is enough to comprehend the gravity of bad governance in Balochistan. Islam Abad High Court (IHC) has declared “enforced disappearances” a crime. Militarization is not solution to political issues. It is hoped that new Reko Diq deal may heal the deep wounds of the province.

In a nutshell, Balochistan has been in the grip of governance crisis since day one. Balochistan needs Balochistan-led and Balochistan-owned political set up. Balochistan-center relations need to be reviewed. Balochistan needs to be made the place able to live in. Prosperous Balochistan can make Pakistan prosper. Baloch-Pashtun unity is the need of the hour to put an end to governance crisis in the province. Balochistan government should listen to separatists and solve their demands by adopting appeasement policy. Political reconciliation, transparency, accountability and peace-building measures should be the first priority. Local Government elections be made affective. Merit should be followed in making decisions and recruiting employees. Agriculture be reviewed. Proper urban planning be introduced. Pakistan’s development depends on good governance in Balochistan. Ignoring Balochistan may become the last straw on the back of already destabilized Pakistan. It is right time to address gruesome governance issues of the province, otherwise the province would prove Achilles heel of Pakistan.
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Prof. Fazal Tanha Gharshin
About the Author: Prof. Fazal Tanha Gharshin Read More Articles by Prof. Fazal Tanha Gharshin: 5 Articles with 3363 views Lecturer in Urdu at govt degree college Pishin.. View More