I always wonder why the Baloch have to be told that they are patriots and loyal to Pakistan
A few days back, Dr. Abdul Malik, the Islamabad-installed, allegedly middle-class nationalist Chief Minister (CM) of Balochistan, in a meeting said they had decided to engage the local people in major projects, including the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), to remove their sense of deprivation. He and the Commander Southern Command, Lieutenant General Aamir Riaz, reiterated that the CPEC would boost economic activity and create a large number of jobs in the region. The General also said that the people of Balochistan were patriots and loyal to Pakistan. I always wonder why the Baloch have to be told that they are patriots and loyal to Pakistan; perhaps the establishment thinks that if this mantra is constantly repeated, eventually the Baloch will forsake their rights and accept whatever is thrown to them in charity from the tables in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
Last month, Dr. Malik asked the authorities of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to redress Balochistan’s long-standing grievances on jobs, increasing the number of flights and restoring non-functional airports. He added that the youth of Balochistan should be given their due share in jobs in other federal organisations too. However, it is not only Dr Malik who is worried about the Baloch people’s jobs as Ji Ping, the deputy director of the Chinese Peace Development Foundation (CPDF), too seems anxious. In July, he said that the multi-billion CPEC, after its completion, would ensure job opportunities for the people of Gwadar. He added that global trading activities would change the lifestyle of the people of Gwadar. B Zhong, the chairman of the CPDF, also promised that they would provide quality education and health facilities to the people of Balochistan. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
The Pakistani establishment’s goodwill becomes apparent through a recent advertisement from the office of the Chief Accounts Officer Geological Survey of Pakistan, Quetta, which shows eight vacancies for data entry operator/KPO (BPS 14), qualifications B Com or BA/BSc. These seats will be: merit: one, Punjab: three, Sindh: two, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: one and FATA: one, but there is none for Balochistan. In the same advertisement there are two vacancies for junior auditor (BPS 11) seats, one in Punjab and one in Sindh. Then there are three vacancies for lower division clerk (BPS 7) on merit: one, Punjab: one and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: one. Finally, comes the turn of the qasid (BPS 2) where there are two vacancies for locals. Last comes the naib qasid (BPS 1) and there are eight vacancies for the locals.
The only avenue open to the locals, i.e. those who live in Balochistan, is the post of qasid and naib qasid. A few words about qasid and naib qasid will help one understand the piece better; these translate in reality as peons and deputy peons, the bottom most on the basic pay scale (BPS) in Pakistani government services. They are expected to run errands for different officers they work for and, without being offensive to those who have to work to survive, perform menial services and at times do the same for their officers’ household to survive. This is the last rung of the social and economic ladder to which people cling in order to survive in this dog-eat-dog, man-eat-man, this sect-eat-sect world in Pakistan.
The term local also comes with a caveat as a local can be anyone with a fake domicile, an equally easy to get NIC, a non-Baloch with Balochistan domicile like Justice (retd) Iftikhar Chaudhry, the father of the equally famous Arsalan Chaudhry, or anyone with proper connections to have discrepancies overlooked. It was Dr Abdul Malik Baloch who last month urged the federal government to ensure scrutiny of Balochistan’s domicile certificates before giving jobs on the basis of the provincial quota. This means that even the jobs of qasids and naib qasids remain restricted for the Baloch in Balochistan, yet Dr Malik demands jobs in PIA and other federal institutions; pray, what job will they be offered there?
A government advertisement of October 1, asking for applications to the job of Deputy Director (BPS 18) at the permanent directorate of dock workers safety (regional office) Gwadar, ministry of ports and shipping, demanded the minimum qualification of Bachelor’s degree in mechanical or electrical engineering with five years’ experience and no gender bar. Good enough, but the caveat is that only persons with Punjab domicile can apply. Probably there are no Baloch qualified enough to do this work so someone from Punjab has to come to do this.
Earlier this month, the adviser to the Prime Minister (PM) on foreign affairs and national security, Sartaj Aziz, told the Senate that out of 74 ambassadors and high commissioners posted abroad, only three were from Balochistan and 39 from Punjab; I am not even sure if these three are Baloch. It will not surprise the reader that in the present pool of 40 federal secretaries Balochistan has none, Sindh has only one while Punjab has the lion’s share, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Balochistan has only one additional secretary. Seemingly, Islamabad thinks the Baloch are only good enough to be qasids and naib qasids.
My friend, Farooq Sulehra sahib, in his September 2013 piece for a private daily, ‘Education apartheid’ said: “A colony-like status assigned to Balochistan is reflected in the Higher Education Commission’s (HEC’s) allocations. This discrimination is obvious even when scholars are sent overseas on HEC scholarships. Though the PPP government introduced a quota system to tilt the balance in favour of smaller provinces, the HEC bureaucracy knows many tricks to twist the procedure in favour of Punjab. Consequently, over 60 percent of Punjabis against 50 percent quota went abroad while Baloch representation remains below its six percent quota.”
With the handpicked Dr Malik, elected with 4,000 mostly bogus votes, looking after Baloch interests, Baloch rights will continue to be trampled upon. A modern parable will explain how he and other Baloch politicians bend over backwards to ‘serve’ Pakistan: A person found a magic lamp and a genie appeared to grant him his three wishes. His first was creating a huge, magnificent palace, the second was to give it some owners and the third was to have him installed as the chowkidar (watchman) there. He might as well have asked the genie for the jobs of qasid and naib qasid for other locals.
Courtesy: Daily Times