The people of Balochistan constitute the truest example of democratic function that can be found in a fledgling democracy. As a province with a vast and valuable reserve of natural resources, yet to be utilized, perhaps its greatest resource is its population. A rugged and courageous people embodying the indomitable spirit of the region, they have stood time and time again to face the variety of challenges and obstacles in their path. Anyone fortunate enough to be entrusted with the office of Chief Minister for such a diverse body of people, must first recognize that he can no more hold one alliance dearer than another than have a favourite child. The need of the hour is a comprehensive and cohesive plan, to deliver the basic amenities of life to every citizen, in every corner of the province.
Over the past couple of months the Balochistan Government has initiated a series of seminars to involve members of the general public, in an endeavour that affects them more than any other act of government: the formulation of the budget. The evolution of these sessions resulted in this month’s budget seminar, the likes of which do not yet exist outside of Balochistan. Government leadership, high-ranking army officials, senior members of the media, and representatives of the general public came together to discuss concerns relating to the development of the province. Information and analyses were shared regarding the allocation of resources in previous years, and the public weighed in on the strengths and weaknesses of these allocations. The rationale was that a well-thought-out plan by the provincial government, which had the support of the people of Balochistan, would be the optimal way to utilize the support that the Federal Government had been scrupulous and conscientious about offering, to its largest province.
The inclusive nature of such discourse dovetailed nicely with what has long been one of the province’s most major concerns, its education system. Fine-tuning the government’s approach to both development and monitoring in this area, Balochistan hopes to further develop and strengthen institutions of higher learning in every area of the province. The aim is to not only provide the citizens of Balochistan with viable, high-quality options for educating their children in their own province, but to establish some of Pakistan’s finest institutions of higher learning, creating attractive options for students from all over the country. Achieving this is just one of the ways that Balochistan aims to provide for the province’s disenfranchised youth. These young people are a matter of great importance for the provincial government, as it attempts to cater to their unmet needs and to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in every hardship. The youth of Balochistan are not only a vital resource of the province but are also united with the government in calling this province their home. As such, the government sees this as a highly opportune time for the suffering seen by the province to come to an end, and peaceful progress to take its place.
The government’s untiring efforts to provide clean water to an immense area, speak to the province’s invincible nature. In the near future, with Gwadar port becoming operational and the advent of CPEC, Balochistan can expect to see a massive influx of economic activity. The government is now dedicating its resources to preparing both its infrastructure and its people to absorb this activity. The creation of industrial zones, the building of a network of motorways, and the training of a skilled workforce are at the forefront of the recognized needs of the people of Balochistan.
In keeping with this movement towards a higher standard of living, Balochistan is attempting to improve the quality and accessibility of its healthcare. This is vital if Pakistan’s largest province is ever to become entirely self-sufficient in a manner that would guarantee its inhabitants the same quality of life that other provinces enjoy. This vision is one that the Government of Balochistan feels it is honour-bound to attain for its people. Never before has the province been in such unique position of opportunity, in terms of attaining these goals. With the support of the army, and development partners, both local and international, Balochistan stands poised to take its most significant steps towards progress, to date.
Balochistan has yet to take full advantage of its large mines of gold reserves, a valuable safety net for any economy. With tremendous reserves of coal, gas, and minerals, and the potential to generate solar and wind energy, Balochistan’s inherent local wealth is undeniable. It is in the unique position to leverage these resources to cater to the needs of its own population and simultaneously, to be able to contribute significantly to Pakistan’s economic well being. Additionally, the extensive rangelands found in the province are capable of supporting a tremendous number of livestock, creating the potential for an international market for wool, and a thriving local market for dairy and meat.
Balochistan accounts for about 745 kilometres of Pakistan’s 1050 kilometre coastline. Its ports, too, account for a great deal of its measurable economic potential. The province is home to a booming fisheries industry as well as the trade opportunities that multiple ports imply.
The Government of Balochistan is also well aware of the inadequacies in the present transportation system and plans are underway to launch buses as well as begin work on improving the rail transit system. This will help to upgrade the system of transport within cities and also provide additional facilities for the movement of cargo.
Yet another area of major concern for the leadership in Balochistan is to work towards a strategy that would help to raise incomes by providing employment opportunities to the labour force. The success of such a strategy would be influenced to a great extent by the security situation prevailing in the region. The participation of the workforce in the development of the province will also automatically contribute towards improving the security situation. In order to do that it will be essential to mobilize the resource base of Balochistan as well as train the human resource and develop infrastructure.
In the undertaking of these endeavours, the Government of Balochistan is unified with its constituents, and is strongly of the opinion that the advancement of Pakistan’s largest province is sure to spell success for the entirety of the nation as well.