Balochistan is the province with vast roads and infrastructure indicating higher connectivity. The province with a population of 12,344,408 is rich in resources and has connectivity not only through roads but also has a port in the form of Gwadar, a key pillar of China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Economy of the province or any state cannot be only sustained by the availability of infrastructure and investment focusing on it. For any sustained development focus needs to be shifted towards inclusive economic growth, social justice, and protection of environment and natural resources.
To achieve these objectives both programmes and projects with sustained efforts by the Federal and provincial government of Balochistan need to focus on development of sustained educational policy followed by political stability and sustainability and focus on human development. For this purpose, only, dialogue between citizens and public officials will enable both to fulfil their responsibilities towards sustainable development and ensure accountability and trust focused on the social contract and state-citizen relationship.
After announcing implementation of agenda 2030 at global level by United Nations with signatures by countries including Pakistan, provinces are trying to come up with their own implementation framework. Keeping this process intact, the province of Balochistan is also working on its own implementation framework.
In a recently concluded survey by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) with the core objectives of seeking answers to the question i.e. how Balochistan can develop sustainably? it somehow identified the core challenges.
Firstly, to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and implement policies according to it, there is a dire need for identification of all the failures through which the country in general and the province in particular will achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Those identifications should be the starting point in formulating any policy working on sustainable development of the policy.
Secondly, within the initial framework and with more autonomy to the province there was no strong concept of localization i.e. policy framework till district level there is need to assess each division separately as per the needs while keeping into the account cultural ingredients into the context along with the local needs.
After these identifications priorities need to be set starting from the educational policy revolving around the quality services. Sustainability in the educational policy is one the keys to develop human capital which itself will help in ending unemployment leading to ending poverty, hunger and quality service provision. Therefore, from here it can also be identified and judged that framework for Sustainable Development Goals is interlinked and each goal is connected to others either directly or through targets. This thus also brings in the concept of inclusivity in economic growth.
Further digging deep into poverty and hunger, they are connected to each other via the concept of monetary terms. i.e. if there is no poverty, there will be zero hunger; which further has connections to environment and water related goals. Within this whole framework the alarming situation province of Balochistan is facing is in case of water as one of the Additional Commissioner also said in conversation “Sorry Sir, we don’t have water, so on water related goals cannot comment or say anything”.
Thus, to simplify the sustainable development strategy for Balochistan province, there is need for more softer skills and sustained policy framework. The province being rich with infrastructure needs to focus on softer skills with the local involvement in meeting the needs
This water related goals thus have impact on the economy as it is more dependent on the farming, growing fruits and livestock hit by drought. This therefore reduced the earning capacity of the family thus resulting in failure to achieve goals linked to hunger and poverty.
Third, when one talks about the economy and its related goals there is concept of productivity in terms of labor which can only be achieved through provision of quality health services. For example, in district Nushki major surgeries and other major health problems are difficult to tackle and being one of the closest districts to Quetta, cases are referred to Quetta.
Similarly, within the Rakhshan division, one of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) routes of 300 KM is passing with only facility and economic activity present is in the form of Basic Health Units (BHUs) with low quality and service provision.
Fourth, governance is another major challenge within the province leading to a crisis type of situation within the division.
Fifth, knowing the boundaries, culture and other constraints to work directly on development of soft skills another approach which is missing in this case is development of aesthetic sense. This development of aesthetic sense was the case best developed by Turbat district. Within Turbat district example can be observed in the form of one road corner named Taleemi Chowk with some concrete present depicting education, hospital has same some concrete construction outside depicting health services and indicating hospitals. These types of approaches are also missing in many parts of the province which itself can enable people to focus on more softer skills.
Sixth, to address the above-mentioned challenges capacity of Bureau of Statistics at provincial level needs to be dealt with followed by Bureau of Statistics at national level in order to deal with data against all targets and all goals because without data and strengthened institute making policies and targets backed by data will be difficult task to approach.
So, to address the above challenges how things should work in order to achieve sustainable development, there is need to look from bottom to up approach with more say and support at local level. This objective can be achieved while capacitating the stakeholders as per requirements while keeping local contents into the consideration. The policies in this regard by the province and for the province should have integration within and should stress upon inclusion of SDGs. This itself will also allow to map and formulate local policy framework. But this can be achieved only if backed by numbers for which progress of Bureau of Statistics at provincial and national level need to be monitored. There is also need to come up with plans which can translate into monetary and financial terms in the long run with the involvement of local and district level administration.
Further, looking into the province with harder structure present, there is need for more trained and capacitated human resources which itself will strengthen the local institutions.
Thus, to simplify the sustainable development strategy for Balochistan province, there is need for more softer skills and sustained policy framework. The province being rich with infrastructure needs to focus on softer skills with the local involvement in meeting the needs.
The writer is associated with Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Islamabad
Published in Daily Times, January 27th 2019.