Balochistan is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, forming the southwestern region of the country. The current Government of the province is having handsome amount for planning and execution. After a higher allocation in the NFC Award in 2009-2010, there were expectations that things would change in the province, but the response was patchy. Balochistan’s economy is very different from that of the national economy, largely the traditional economy depends upon unskilled labor and agriculture only.
Apart from that the budgetary outlay in 2009-2010 was Rs. 71 billion. After eight years it was increased to Rs. 86 billion. When the current Government came to power total budgetary outlay was less than Rs. 200 billion, but now it reached to double figures, highlighting the caricatures. The increase in resource availability did not bring any change to the socio-economic condition of the people, even not in infrastructure development. But the picture is not painted full yet, the cynic thoughts did not entertain the vulnerable threats to Balochistan such as insurgency, local militancy and the support from adversary countries like India and Afghanistan.
Balochistan is the most under-developed province while bring the richest in natural resources, it has given natural gas to the industries of Pakistan, helped saving billions in the import bills. Moreover, the thing to think is the gas produced by the province itself does not reach too many parts within the province.
The State Bank of Pakistan and the Economic Survey of Pakistan used to list the most and least developed districts in the country, but now they have ended this practice because there is development everywhere in the province. Balochistan always ranked well below the rest of the country, this is because, in the mainstream narrative, the Sardars of the province stepped back by not allowing development to work. The lack of economic development in Balochistan is rooted in the politics. But in 2017 the tables have been turned, deadlock has been broken by the current Provincial Government. Yet a lot required to balance the share of Balochistan
Discussing the budget of Balochistan, in the past seven years the figures of budget have gone up from Rs. 26 billion to Rs. 86 billion, the problem is without completing ongoing programs, every year new programs are added. Moreover, Statistics can be seen as last year 1,035 new projects were added, although there were already 1,258 unfinished projects. Recently new projects have been added under CPEC, and the approach from partner countries is positive.
Balochistan spends more on developing communication infrastructure rather than on education and health which are the basic needs. The educational budget was on a 40 percent decline that is it went to 6 billion in 2016 from 10 billion in 2015; it proves that the province spent less than 10 percent on education. In the outgoing fiscal year Rs. 542 million was allocated for primary education, Rs. 231 million was allocated for 36 projects in middle education, while secondary education got Rs. 795 million, Rs. 2.2 billion was allocated for 95 college education projects, including a Rs. 300 million grants from the Oman Government to establish a Sultan Qaboos Residential Model school in Gwadar.
The Federal Government could have established a number of schools. A fact of the matter is, Southern Command of Pakistan and this Provincial Government has now started to focus on the education which is a bit astonishing for the people living in tribes. Even COAS reiterated last week in a seminar that Balochistan needs to focus on education.
Balochistan needs Rs. 19.6 billion to complete the ongoing new projects, which can be done in 1 year. Balochistan needs to prioritize on primary education and in particular mainly the girl’s education. There are only 28 percent literate children who are under the age of 10, the ratio of girls is worse that is only 16 percent. In rural areas, only 10 percent girls are educated, the dropout rate is 70 percent. Baluchistan cannot fight poverty and backwardness without an educated population. The rural economy won’t generate enough surpluses as to afford education; it should be managed in a way that education should become affordable for them.