06 February 2012

Gwadar – the unwanted Winter Capital

This year Balochistan government officially declared Gwadar as the winter capital of Balochistan. A civil secretariat was built in Gwadar. Chief Secretary and Chief Minister both spent some days in the secretariat. The official reason for this move is to promote Gwadar port internationally by making it provincial capital. Actually it’s just a new way of wasting money of taxpayers of Balochistan. Apart from that high ranking bureaucrats and officials can escape the cold weather of Quetta in winter and can enjoy warmth of Gwadar. For a poor and backward province such as Balochistan, Gwadar is an unwanted winter capital.

Gwadar is a coastal city of Balochistan near the border of Iran. Musharraf government built a deep sea port in Gwadar which was made operational in 2007. If successful this Port can change the fate of People of Pakistan and can be a substitute of Dubai port. For some international and internal reasons the project has not kicked off so far. Many brother gulf countries can’t allow this port to be successful as their own ports will be at loss. Internally people of Gwadar have completely been ignored. Their lands were bought from them very cheaply and despite high level of unemployment in Gwadar labour was brought in from other parts of country. This resulted in reaction of local people which did not allow the smooth operation of port. Moreover, there is also dispute on a part of Gwadar port land which is claimed by provincial government but it’s occupied by Pak Navy.

Gwadar port can be a success by solving the above mentioned problems not by making it a winter capital. As a winter capital it might get some international attention which can result in foreign investment. But that investment will be useless as long as the resentment of local people for this port does not end. So rather than solving the basic issues, government of Balochistan made the most unwise decision, of making Gwadar winter capital. Apart from that this move will hamper the functioning of provincial government as entire civil secretariat can never be shifted there. So the offices and officials will be scattered in Gwadar and Quetta, it will result in high costs and more bureautic delays, all at the detriment of people of Balochistan.

Today there is virtually no opposition in Balochistan assembly. Out of 65 around 60 members are either ministers, Advisors or parliamentary secretaries. This means that government is unchecked and whatever decisions it takes no one can question its judgment. That’s why this winter capital decision was implemented without any opposition whatsoever. Balochistan government is the most corrupt government in entire Pakistan. Balochistan has been receiving billions of rupees for development after NFC award but it can not be seen anywhere on ground. All of that money goes in the pockets of Ministers, Legislators and government servants and there is no one to stop them. Similarly this decision of winter capital will also be used to generate economic benefits by the people in power.

Electronic and social media of Pakistan often discovers Mega corruption scandals of federal government but is completely silent on the corruption industry running smoothly in Balochistan. Balochistan is backward and provincial government receives funds on the name of backwardness and later start some phoney projects and put the major part of those funds in their pockets. Some people argue that this decision will benefit the people of Makran division as they don’t have to travel 800 Kilometres to Quetta for their official works. This argument is baseless as practically civil secretariat can’t be shifted to Gwadar. Official work will still take place in Quetta and Chief Secretary sitting in Gwadar secretariat is a just a show off.

People of Balochistan can’t allow the much needed money to be wasted in projects like this. They can’t allow the officials to turn their eyes from problems of people and enjoy the warmth of Gwadar when there is devastatingly cold winter in Quetta. They don’t want Gwadar as the winter capital and want government to end corruption and correct worsening law and order situation. Balochistan has become a heaven for criminals and rather than doing anything to control the situation government is changing capitals in winter which is unacceptable. Since no opposition in assembly people can only protest against this decision. Media can help them significantly in raising this issue and letting people in rest of Pakistan about the wrong things taking place in Balochistan.

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