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> Parliamentarians unite to form multi-party Task Force on Balochistan
   
 

Febuary 20, 2007
Hotel Best Western, Islamabad

   

Islamabad February 20, 2007: Parliamentarians across party lines together with their colleagues from Sindh, Punjab and the NWFP united to form a Task Force on Balochistan to work for the Resources; Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani, MNA, MMA; Dr. Noor Jehan Panezai, MNA, PML; and Dr. Gulfaraz Ahmed, Former Secretary Petroleum and Member National Finance Commission. The Task Force to be chaired by Senator Jan Jamali resolved to lobby, coordinate, network and liaise with key stakeholders and media as well as the special Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan in order to develop a better understanding of conflicting positions and contribute to the resolution of the conflict situation in Balochistan. The members agreed to meet on a regular basis to take up the Balochistan Issue as a case study as part of the initiative to bring in a change in the political, economic and social life of Pakistan. peaceful resolution of issues facing the province. Members of the Parliamentary Consultative Group on Women’s Issues-PCGWI a multi-party Group of around 100 Parliamentarians, both women and men facilitated by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency-PILDAT to serve as a cross-party channel for lobbying on a range of national issues including inter-provincial and federation-province conflicts met for the second time in one week to hear the various points of views on the key issues facing Balochistan identified in the last meeting as well as the response of key government officials on these issues. The meeting on the topic of ‘ Dialogue on Balochistan’ chaired by Senator Mir Jan Muhammad Jamali, Deputy Chairman Senate was addressed by Senator Mir Muhammed Naseer Khan Mengal, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natura

 
 

Dr. Gulfaraz Ahmed in his presentation on Issues of Fiscal Federalism explained that Balochistan has suffered both from vertical and horizontal imbalances in distribution of resources from the federation to the province. Vertical imbalance arises from centralisation of revenue collection with the federal government and dependence of provincial governments on federal transfers while horizontal imbalance results from disparities in capacities and needs of provinces and in the relative costs of development and provision of public services. He said that share of provinces from the divisible pool of taxes should be adequate to enable the provincial governments to discharge constitutional functions autonomously and meet socio-economic targets assigned by the federal government while the provincial share of the divisible pool must be distributed among provinces on the basis of federal equalisation considering multiple socio-economic parameters and in line with the principles of equity and efficiency. Commenting on the NFC award to Balochistan he said that it has not helped to address the political and economic issues of the province. Comparing the case of Australia he said that states where the relative cost of providing service is higher like Balochistan, are given their share of resources based on equalisation of economic and social costs. He recommended that as relative costs in providing services in Balochistan are three times higher, the province should get a higher share. Royalty for gas produced from Sui field is based on the notified wellhead price which is much below the fair market value of gas produced, he said Outlining the various recommendations of the Parliamentary sub-committee on Balochistan headed by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Maulana Mohd Khan Sherani stated that the implementation of these recommendations has not taken place. He said that the provinces needed to have equal rights and get their due share of resources as the federal government spends little and keeps more than half of the resources with itself. Earlier Dr. Farooq Sattar speaking at the meeting said that only strong provinces could ensure a strong Pakistan and in order to bring Balochistan at par with other provinces we need to change the quality of rural life and provide the people with education and health services. He said that we need to make Balochistan a land of opportunities instead of a land of opportunists.

 
 

Dr. Noor Jehan Panezai said that the accumulated backwardness of Balochistan needs to be addressed by giving higher share in jobs, educational facilities in order to bring about any meaningful change.

 
 

The meeting was attended by representatives of all major political parties and prominent parliamentarians from Balochistan. The participating parliamentarians included Mir Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali, Deputy Chairman Senate; Mir Muhammed Naseer Khan Mengal Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources; Maulana Mohd. Khan Sherani, MNA, MMA; Dr. Noor Jehan Panezai, MNA, PML; Dr. Farooq Sattar, MNA, MQM; Senator Nisar Memon, PNL; Senator Israr Ullah Zehri, PML; Ms. Samina Khalid Ghurki, MNA, PPPP; Mr. Muhammaed Hussain Mehanti, MNA, MMA; Ms. Bilqis Saif, MNA, MMA; Ms. Mehnaz Raffi, MNA,PML; Ms.Belum Husnain MNA, PPPP; Ms. Shabina Talat, MNA, MQM; Mr. Muhammed Laeeque Khan, MNA, MMA; Ms. Gul-e-Farkhanda, MNA, PML; Sardar Muhammed Yakub Nasir, MNA-PML-N; Ms. Bushra Anwar Sipra, MNA, PML; Ms. Shakeela Khanum Rashid, MNA, PPPP; Dr. Attiya Inayatullah, MNA, PML; Ms. Samina Khalid Ghurki, MNA,PML; Ms. Gul-e-Farkhanda, MNA, PML; Mr. M.P. Bhandara, MNA, PML; Mr. Akhlaq Husssain Abidi, MNA, MQM; MR. Shabir Muhammed Khan, MNA, MMA; and Ms. Razia Aziz, MNA, MMA;