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The Young Balochistan

A Guarantee Seal for Peace, Progress and Emergence of Genuine future Leadership.

During last few months, my conversations with two young professionals from Balochistan Erfan Khan, graduated in Business studies from BUITEMS and now working with Quetta based Youth Organization and Abdul Qadir having a degree of MS in Management and is working in Public Sector organization in Islamabad. Having two different ethnic backgrounds, but with thoughtful minds, brightened eyes and hopeful hearts, these young chaps are not ignorant of the socio-political realities of their surroundings and share common understanding on the issues of governance and development of Balochistan i.e. critical of corruption, denial of merit in government affairs, lack of investment in education, health, livelihoods & youth development. When there is almost total blackout in our national electronic and print media on the social, cultural and economic aspects of Balochistan except the news of violence, killing, bombing & stories of the corruption, these interactions were great opportunities of learning about the everyday realities in Balochistan.

Living under constant fear and violence has not undermined the resilience and positivity of these guys. They are intelligent, enterprising & creative like youth in Karachi, Lahore or Islamabad rather with a great taste of literature and readings on politics, economy & society. In a discussion, I found them questioning and challenging the governance issues of both provincial and federal levels.  On one hand they are struggling for their personal professional careers and on the other hand they are associated with local organization to contribute in the progress and social uplift of their respective communities. Both help their communities with small actions especially in the field of education & health. Their actions might be small in terms of magnitude and scope but are very powerful in their mission and objectives.

Imagine a province full of natural mines and minerals, sharing biggest land mass & small manageable population of 8.0 million is human development index shamelessly poor? the least developed among the four federating units of Pakistan. Overall, 56 percent of Baluchistan’s population falls in the category of multi-dimensionally poor. With no or very limited entrepreneurial, economic and industrial opportunities for educated youth who is left with no option but move to other cities to explore work opportunities away from their families. Their struggles are twice as compared to their competitors in job market.

Islamabad always followed “micro management” approach to govern Balochistan. This might offer win -win situation for people sitting in the corridors of power in Islamabad and Quetta but has badly damaged the perception of the general public of Balochistan with feelings of alienation, deprivation and dispossession.  “Manufactured” representations can a silence call to these so called leaders against the People in Power in Islamabad because they remain busy in champing powerful political positions in the province. This might be a sigh of relief for the time being but make things worse & hateful at grassroots levels. So-called ruling elite which is elected or selected based on the colonial approach of governance adopted by both civil and military regimes in Islamabad always fail to touch the heart of general public & respond their sentiments results in deepening their trust in federation.  Approach of keeping someone weak, marginalized and ignorant and ruling over them is no more workable. Participation & Empowerment are instrument in modern politics that can glue the society.

Bad governance is feature of our political governments at all levels. Balochistan has no exceptions. Corruption and incompetence of the manufactured political leadership and incompetent bureaucracy in Balochistan have reign supreme in the province for last many years. Even the present government of so called middle class Dr. Malik is not free of allegations. People consider him polite in his working but at the same time complains that he has closed his eyes from the corrupt person in the cabinet and government. Politics of nepotism & denial of merit was exposed badly when son of a former CJ was appointed vice chairman of the investment board. Things are not limited to one event; there is denial of merits in the whole government machinery, one can find stories in every corner of Balochistan. That makes people very critical of Malik Government. Money, Opportunism and vested interests  are typical features of governments established on political alliances in South Asian politics. Allegations of corruption in mega investment projects in Balochistan are also echoing in media for last few months. Provincial autonomy is a dream. The development thinking of Malik Government is largely characterized by dependency syndrome on federal government. There is no self initiative and self action aiming at bringing the revolutionary changes in governance and socio- economic progress.

A pathetic and unconcerned attitude of rulers & policy makers in Islamabad are equally responsible. Islamabad cannot be indifferent.  Experienced and seasoned civil servants from Islamabad tried their best to escape from postings in Balochistan. Mostly such postings are given to those civil servants from whom the political bosses in Islamabad are offended and posting in Baluchistan is taken as a Punishment. The officers of the Provincial Civil Service neither possess the capacity nor have the drive to ensure good governance.

Political pundits analyzing the situations ignore the new & emerging socio political realities at grassroots levels. Like other parts of Pakistan, Balochi society especially youth has also passed through a process of invisible demographic and social transformations which can be termed as Silent Revolution in Pakistani society. The symptoms of this transformation can be seen in the form of virtual audit of government policies by Pakistani youth on social and alternate media.  They do not excuse anyone. It has been observed that the young population of Balochistan shares the same modern, urbane, socio-cultural values and consumption patterns like the youth of other major urban centers of Pakistan. They have access to communication tools & enormously use virtual space for interaction; wear branded cloths and using fashionable & trendy products, they are well aware of all the trends in the market.  They are as argumentative and annoyed by politics & governance, like the youth of other parts. They are also critical of corruption, nepotism and socio-economic imbalances in their surroundings with an urge to change it.  Ignoring this powerful demography of youth in Balochistan or leaving them alone at the mercy of the adversaries of conditions and corrupt leaders will be dangerous. Making them vulnerable to the extremists and militants in Balochistan, we will be dangerously playing with our security. Looking to receive benefits from the natural resources and deep sea port of Gwadar, it is the responsibility of the Pakistani society to partner with the people of Balochistan to fight against the under development, poverty & militancy. Unprecedented natural disasters, economic, social, political, and cultural unrest in Pakistan during last few years have made the situations worse and critical in Balochistan and has badly affected the youth. Quality education & learning, capacity building, jobs, work opportunities and economic placement for decent and dignified life are their right and of which state has promised to them.

There is no objection on taking flights to china for seeking investment in Balochistan but this will work only if Balochi youth is at the center of the political, investment and development agenda with a strong well crafted political, social and economic engagement plan. Serious attention on the young activism is the only way to connect them with the mainstream socio-economic fabric and political arena of Pakistan. The powerful circles in Islamabad should stop their colonial mindset towards neglected areas. Their policies gave them nothing but poverty, oppression, socio-political & economic exclusion, anarchy & violence.

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