27 December 2013

Dr. Abdul Malik – A failed experiment

Courtesy: The Lahore Times

General elections of 11th may were a ray of hope for millions of Pakistanis. The dark period of PPP government was finally over and a new government was about to takeover which promised to solve all the problems. Balochistan has been the most turbulent province of Pakistan since 2005, when dictator Musharraf started a military operation. People in Balochistan were also expecting an improvement in their lives after election. They thought that this dream can be achieved when Nawaz Sharif decided to Support Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch, a middle class politician, for the office of chief minister of Balochistan. What transpired after Dr. Malik’s assuming of office has badly disappointed the people of Balochistan. Dr. Malik can simply be classified as a failed experiment.

Dr. Malik’s government is a coalition of 4 different parties and none of them have absolute majority in Balochistan assembly. These parties have different ideologies but there main ambition is to get hold of their favorite ministry. This attitude created the first setback for Dr. Malik’s government when it failed to appoint a cabinet for over 100 days. During that period, government machinery was almost paralyzed and bureaucrats were running the government. After more than 100 days and a lot of bargaining and series of failed negotiations, finally a 14 men cabinet was formed. No female or minority representative was included in the said cabinet. That’s the typical power game in Balochistan where politicians are ready to set aside their ideology for a ministry. Some might argue that this is not the fault of Dr. Malik, but of entire coalition. That’s right partly but He is the Chief minister, it’s his duty to convince everyone and get things started at soon as possible, which he failed to do.

Likewise, Dr. Malik announced reforms in education sector. He announced establishing 5 new universities in the province and two medical colleges. This was a great news for the under privileged students of Balochistan. If this promise can be made good then it will prove to be extremely beneficial. However, soon after that announcement, University of Balochistan was struck by a lingering financial crisis. Salary was not paid to the staff of the university for three months. The protests of university staff association rang no bells in government quarters. As a measure of last resort, University staff started protesting outside civil secretariat with begging bowls and begging for their salaries. It’s primarily the duty of federally controlled HEC to fund the universities. However, after 18th amendment provincial government also have to fund the day to day expenses of the universities. Now, Dr. Malik announces to setup 5 new universities but can’t finance the biggest and oldest university in the province. There can’t be a bigger failure than this for any government. Now that crisis has been temporarily controlled after intervention of HEC.

On 24th September this year, a deadly earthquake struck Awaran district of Balochistan. Around 1000 people lost their lives according to modest estimates. This created a human catastrophe of gigantic magnitude as thousands of people were displaced. Due to the prevailing conflict in Awaran local Aid and relief organizations failed to cope up with the enormous crisis. This required a request for help from international community in general and UN in particular. That’s what Dr. Malik exactly did but he couldn't get his order implemented. Federal government declined to ask for foreign help and Chief Secretary of Balochistan didn't issue NOCs to foreign NGOs despite directives by Dr. Malik. This speaks volumes about Dr. Malik’s authority and powers that he commands. Not having the required powers is not an acceptable excuse, even former CM Nawab Raisani used to make this excuse all the time. If he doesn't have powers then he has no reason and the right to hold the office of CM.

Federal departments and institutions working in Balochistan don’t treat the province in the appropriate way. Balochistan produces substantial amount of Gas but still the gas pressure is extremely low in even the few districts of Balochistan that have Gas facility. The electricity transmission lines in Balochistan can’t supply electricity more than 600 Megawatts even if there is no shortage of electricity in country. The slow progress of work on transmission lines and national highways are all major problems. Again, these departments don’t fall under the ambit of Dr. Malik’s government but He is the chief executive of the province and it’s his duty to fight against the wrongdoings in the province by aforementioned institutions. At present, He is only giving statements like an opposition figure that federal government is not giving us our rights and so on. Someone should tell him the He is in government and rather than making such statements in seminars, He should fight for Balochistan’s rights in Islamabad.

Moreover, Dr. Malik couldn’t conduct a fair and free Local Bodies election free from government manipulation. In 18th amendment a blunder was committed which gave the right to provincial governments rather than ECP to conduct local body polls. Dr. Malik’s party and his allies namely PKMAP and PML-N manipulated the entire process to get their maximum number of candidates elected. The constituency delimitations in Quetta, a failed massive rigging attempt in Harnai district, the flawed laws of local bodies act are examples of abuse of power which Dr. Malik failed to prevent.

The expectations from Dr. Malik were sky high and therefore he has to face more criticism then his predecessors. If aforementioned things were about Nawab Raisani then it was not a big deal because that’s what people expected from him. However, the case of Dr. Malik is different, He has been made the CM with a lot of hope and He can’t afford to let the people down. Rather than complaining about lack of authority and making statements like opposition leader, He should take concrete steps for resolution of problems of Balochistan. If he can’t get his entitled powers then He should gracefully resign and should not be a dummy CM. However it’s easier said than done and no one ever gives up power even if He is a middle class clean character politician like Dr. Malik.


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