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> PILDAT Analyzes the Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan Package
PILDAT Analysis
December 10, 2009

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Islamabad, December 10: The PILDAT has issued an analysis of the Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan package in the shape of a background paper here today.


The paper highlights the need for the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms, which has been considering constitutional amendments since June 2009, to accelerate its work and present an appropriate constitutional amendment bill without which a substantial part of the package will remain only a set of proposals.


The package remains vague on whether the deletion of the entire Concurrent List is envisaged or only some parts of it. In March 2007, the Wasim Sajjad Committee on Provincial Autonomy had recommended deletion of only 14 of the 47 items in the list. There may not be unanimity or even consensus on this matter some parties may have reservations about deletion of some of the subjects in this List on the ground that this would lead to an undesirable weakening of the Federal structure.


The framers of the Balochistan package may have done much better by following the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Provincial Autonomy which proposed that the CCI and the NEC should meet at least twice in each year and that Articles 153 and 156 of the Constitution should be amended accordingly.


The paper analyses that references to the deletion of the Police Order 2002 and the Balochistan Local Government Ordinance 2001 from the Sixth Schedule as being under consideration of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms go indirectly to the core of the real problem in Federal-Provincial relations. Law and order and local government are both provincial subjects. Why therefore should the Federation impose its views in these matters on the Provinces and then prevent them from making any changes in these laws? It shows, rather proves, that the Federation does not respect provincial autonomy even in matters that squarely fall within the powers of the Provinces. It is the mind-set of the high political and bureaucratic levels of the Federation that requires a fundamental change.


There is another, and more important, aspect to the issue of provincial autonomy. Real and meaningful autonomy will not come to Balochistan, or even the other Provinces, till the Provinces have direct control of substantially more sources of revenue. A World Bank funded study, as also studies made for the 6th National Finance Commission, show that 93% of the combined revenues of the Federal, Provincial and District Governments are collected by the Federal Government whose own expenditure accounts for 72% of the whole. The Provincial and District Governments spend 28% of the combined expenditures but raise only 7% of the combined revenues. Three-fourths of all Provincial and District Governments expenditures are met through resource transfers from the Federal Government as per the NFC awards. In next-door India the States finance more than 60% of their expenditures from their own revenue collections. At present, even after being given its share from the divisible pool of taxes Balochistan has to be given outright grants to meet its deficit. Is it any wonder then that the Baloch people are resentful of being treated as a deficit Province dependant on the ‘charity’ of the Federation, when they have resources like gas and minerals for which, in their view at least, they are not being paid the proper price and/or being given their due share of revenues.


The paper notes that one proposal that needs emphasis and implementation above all is the call for initiation of a political dialogue with all major stakeholders to bring them into mainstream politics.


The analysis stresses the need for implementation arguing that most of the proposals in the package are echoes of the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan in November 2005. Baloch leaders and the Baloch people have heard all this before and they cannot be faulted for their scepticism whether the proposals, otherwise good and sound, will ever be implemented.


The paper criticises the policy with respect to the construction of new cantonments in Balochistan and recommends a careful consideration and review of this by the Government. No promise or commitment should be held out that new cantonments will not be built in Balochistan. There are any number of cantonments in Punjab, Sindh and NWFP and more are being built on as-needed basis. The security requirements of Pakistan must not be subordinated to any consideration of ‘winning’ the temporary good-will of some political forces in Balochistan, the paper argues.

The analysis, carried out by Mr. Shahid Hamid, Senior Advocate Supreme Court and former Governor Punjab, has been essentially prepared for a Special Sitting of the Dialogue Group on Civil-Military Relations on the Balochistan Issue that was held on December 08, 2009.