Seriousness, urgency urged to resolve Balochistan issues
25 April, 2012
ISLAMABAD: In view of the unrest in Balochistan, the Democracy Assessment Group, convened by PILDAT, conducted a fact-finding mission to Quetta on April 13-14.
Based on important points raised by various stakeholders during the extensive discussions, the following recommendations were formulated. The federal government should deal with the Balochistan situation with "seriousness and urgency" it deserves by inviting heads of all opposition parties to help formulate a reconciliation strategy strengthened by consensus.
The prime minister and heads of all opposition political parties must visit Balochistan, preferably once a month. There is need for a more explicit and candid articulation by the federal government of its approach to deal with the unrest in Balochistan. The federal government should ensure that civil and military intelligence agencies operate strictly under the discipline of law and officially declared policy and only for lawful action in support of internal and external security. Development projects being implemented by the federal government should be completed on an accelerated basis. Amongst other projects, priority be given to Gwadar-Ratodero Road and the Reko Diq project.
A code of conduct for the Frontier Constabulary (FC), police and levies to govern their dealings with the general public should be developed and its implementation should be ensured by the provincial government. The Election Commission should ensure that the next elections at the federal, provincial and local levels are held in a free, fair and transparent manner. The federal and provincial governments should take special measures to ensure that all political parties and stakeholders are facilitated for their unfettered participation in the forthcoming elections.
The elected provincial government "which has so far failed to fulfil its mandate" should acknowledge its own share of responsibility and ensure effective governance. Missing persons remain a burning issue. Controversial claims continue to be made with regards to actual numbers and elements responsible. The matter requires to be addressed by federal and provincial governments and their agencies on a high priority basis. Unless this issue is resolved, normalcy is unlikely to be restored.
The size of the provincial cabinet should be decreased from its present disproportionate scale to its constitutional limit. The excessive amount (eg Rs 250 million to each legislator) being allocated for development fund quotas to MPAs should be substantially reduced and reallocated to the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). Funds allocated to MPAs should be subject to rigorous audit. A transparent procedure should be applied for the utilisation of such funds. Parliament and provincial assemblies should consider revising anti-terrorism laws to meet the requirements of the country's specific security considerations. As no standing committee has been constituted in four years of the current term of Balochistan Assembly, the same must be constituted to provide legislative oversight over executive acts.
The Democracy Assessment Group is convened by PILDAT to periodically monitor the quality of democracy in Pakistan. Under the guidance and support from the group, PILDAT has compiled, published and disseminated two reports namely, Mid-term Assessment of the Quality of Democracy in Pakistan: September 2010, as well as Assessment of the Quality of Democracy in Pakistan: Year 2011.