Balochistan Context

Chapter 3: Balochistan stands out as a unique area in Pakistan as its demography, terrain and natural economic endowments contrast with the highly populated, riverine and agro-rich provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Punjab . The province has the weakest socio-economic indicators in the country and has high levels of poverty, low educational and minimal industrialization. It has also been a late entrant to political development as it was given politically representative institutions only in 1970 while other provinces had elected assemblies even before independence in 1947. The challenge to political, social and economic development (including educational reform) efforts gets more complicated by the multiethnic and multilingual populace.

Forty four percent of Pakistan consists of Balochistan while the province hosts only 5 percent of the country’s population. The latter is spread around the province in 22,000 settlements that range from the city of Quetta to a sprinkling of small hamlets having less than 500 houses. The unique demographic status means that an effective development effort will entail a higher per capita expenditure as compared to the other provinces. Historically the need has not been recognized at the national level until the 7th National Finance Commission (NFC) Award in 2009 .

The population consists of Balochs as the majority followed by Pashtuns. Linguistically Balochs are divided between Brahvi speaking and Balochi speaking. Other ethnic groups include Punjabis and Urdu speaking mainly in urban areas with the majority in Quetta, Hazara originating from the ‘Hazarajats’ of Afghanistan and small pockets of other ethnic groups. The bulk of the latter ethnic groups are in Quetta city, the capital of the province. The current geographic and ethnic composition of the province results from British rule in the area. The region’s strategic importance increased during the ‘Great Game’ between Imperial Russia and British Empire in the 19th century. Pashtun area of the province was acquired from Afghanistan as a result of a treaty with the latter in 1895 . As Balochistan was converted into a province therefore the administrative considerations of the decision divided Balochs in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. Both Sindh and Punjab still contain substantive populations of ethnically Baloch people.

The capital city Quetta was developed by the British in the 19th century as a garrison town to sustain its military stationed in Balochistan. Railways and postal services were extended to link to province to the rest of India. To run the services and also establish business Parsis, Punjabis, Urdu speakers from the Central and United Provinces of India, Anglo Indians and Bohra Memon communities from Gujarat were invited. This laid the basis for the city as an eclectic society as the Pashtuns, who originally owned the land, and Balochs mixed with these new arrivals. Hazara migrated to Balochistan in the 19th century to escape persecution in Afghanistan where they were harassed by the government because of their Shiite faith and also a general racist attitude. The Hazara are mainly settled in Quetta although some communities can be found in the Loralai district. Today the Hazara are considered to be educationally the most progressive community in the province.

A small, educated Hindu community also continues to live in Quetta while other areas of the province also have persons from the Hindu faith. Balochistan also houses one of the oldest and holiest of Hindu Temples in the subcontinent: the ‘Hinglaj’. It is located in Lasbela District, close to the Arabian Sea.

The development process in Balochistan lags the rest of the country as the province has high levels of poverty and the weakest education and health indicators (PSLM 2010-11 and Indicator Household Survey 2010-11). In 2011 the province recorded the highest incidence for polio cases in the world: a total of 62 out of a worldwide 169 (UNICEF Report).

The weak indicators fail to reflect the exceptional economic endowments of the province. Balochistan has the following main economic assets ’:

i.	Minerals
ii.	Fisheries
iii.	Livestock and agriculture
iv.	Location

Balochistan is rich in minerals with ‘50% of the national prospective geology for minerals’. Main minerals include gas, coals, chromites, marble copper, iron and gold . Despite the potential it contributes only 20% of the national GDP from minerals.

The case for fisheries is similar. Two thirds of the coastal belt of the country falls within Balochistan. Fisheries is the mainstay of the population in the area yet it contributes less than 1/6th of the national value addition in fisheries

Livestock has been a mainstay of life in Balochistan for centuries and defines many of the traditions, cultural products and even folklore. Agriculture and livestock employ 65% of the labour force. The agriculture sector is relatively smaller as only 5% of the province is covered by the Indus basin. The sector experienced a drought in 1998-2004, which continues to have some impact.

Location forms the fourth main asset of the province. It abuts all provinces of the country and shares a 900km and 1000km border with Iran and Afghanistan respectively. The province has the potential to be a conduit of trade between South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. At present though the instability in Afghanistan, general regional politics and poor infrastructure and insecurity prevent optimal use of the potential. Unfortunately the ‘advantage of geographical location’ has benefitted clandestine illicit activities more than legitimate trade. The borders with Afghanistan and Iran are porous and cannot be strictly protected from activities like smuggling which adversely affects the economy of the province.

The economic growth has also suffered due to unrest in some parts of the province which has to make big investment on restoring the law and order situation. Obviously it frustrates the efforts for boosting the economy.

The province has a very small industrial sector and only 10% of the provincial GDP is owed to the sector. Poor communications and transport infrastructure exacerbate the backwardness. While the province has the largest road network in the country of 22,000 kilometers of ‘metal and shingle’ road (40% of the total in the country) most of these are in a dilapidated condition due to poor maintenance.

Balochistan has the lowest labour productivity in the country at 1/4th of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab and 1/3rd of Sindh. Local industry, mainly in the Hub area, employs labour from Karachi while the bulk of mine workers, especially in coal, belong to the Swat and Shangla districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa .

Low economic activity, especially, in value addition sectors also lowers the domestic revenue potential and therefore the government depends heavily on financial flows from the federal government, especially, the NFC award. As mentioned earlier the 7th NFC award recognized the factor of ‘inverse population’ as one of the variables for distribution of funds in the federation. Resultantly the province has seen an almost threefold increase in its budget. Another addition to the budgetary sources has been the agreement by the Federal government to pay arrears of ‘Gas Development Surcharge’ and a third source is the transfer of the ‘General Sales Tax on services’ to the provinces. At present, the federal government is collecting the tax on behalf of the provinces and distributing and many details of the process for assessment and collection in the future are unclear.

Table 3.1 shows the increase of federal transfers, under NFC, from about 29 billion in 2009-10 to Rs. 93 billion in 2011-12. Another ten billion rupees have been paid as arrears of ‘Gas Development Surcharge’.

The net impact of NFC, which decides the sharing formula for the ‘Federal Divisible Pool ’ is also shown in figure 3.1 below:


Source: White Paper on Budget 2010-11 and Budget 2011-12

8" Under the Constitution of Pakistan the most elastic taxes of income tax, custom duties and central excise can be collected by the federal government. Revenues from these taxes plus sales tax form the federal divisible pool whose revenues are divided between the federal government and the provinces under a formula decided by the constitutionally stipulated National Finance Commission.

The impact of the increase in NFC has not yet materialized into a concomitant increase in investment in the social sector. It has been mostly absorbed in increase of development funds for legislators and payments to federal security agencies on ‘internal security’ duty in the province. The situation continues to constrain the development potential of the province despite a favorable NFC which does not bode well because, as already mentioned, it lags behind rest of the country.

A cross-cutting problem for the entire development effort, including education, is governance. A difficult security situation created by a mix of armed conflict and organized crime is exacerbated by perceptions of corruption in the government. This impacts effectiveness in implementation and also raises pessimism in the population.

Also Balochistan has experienced several emergencies during the recent past- 2007 floods in Makran region, 2008 earthquake in Quetta, Pishin and Ziarat, 2010 floods in Jafarabad, Naseerabad and at least 6 other districts that have severely affected education in general and the population already marginalized in particular. These natural disasters created a situation of disruptive chaos particularly in education and health sectors. Almost all schools in Ziarat, Jafarabad and Naseerabad districts were demolished due to earthquake and flood. However, the majority of the schools have been reconstructed and rehabilitated with the efforts of Government and donors on a war footing.

Education Sector in Balochistan

3.1.	Education Sector in Balochistan

Education, like other social sectors, is not an exception. Balochistan has the lowest literacy rate, highest gender gaps and weakest access indicators in the country as shown in Tables 3.2. The quality of education also remains poor and the exponential growth of private schools in the province indicates the low levels of confidence in public sector schooling. Balochistan has also not been the ‘most favoured’ province of the donors. This is partially due to the security situation but in case of the larger donors the provincial policy of not accepting any loans has also reduced ‘investment’ in all sectors from the donors. The policy may shrink funds for the time being but it will reduce potential expenditure burden in future.

In recent years the government has increased its interest and seriousness in development of the education sector. A reform environment has been created and important reforms have been initiated in all sectors, especially schools and higher education. Technical and vocational education has only recently begun a review and reform process while Literacy and ALP remains the most neglected portion of the sector.

The department of education has undertaken serious reform over the last two years. A Policy, Planning and Implementation Unit (PPIU) has been set up to coordinate the reforms. Over the last year the Department of Education developed a ‘Balochistan Action Plan’ that serves as the interim education policy for the province till the development of full-fledged sector plan. The decision to develop a sector plan was taken last year and an initial situation analysis was conducted with assistance of UNESCO. It generated an interest for UNICEF to help Balochistan government to develop an Education Sector Plan embracing all the sub sectors Early Childhood Education to Higher Education and Technical and Vocational Education.

A number of other initiatives have also been undertaken. Education for All (EFA) Provincial Plan and District EFA plans for all 30 districts along with Early Childhood Education (ECE) Provincial Plans for 8 districts were prepared and launched by the Government. Community schools development programme was expanded by the Balochistan Education Foundation (BEF) and private schools have been included as partners.

Community Support Process (CSP) was successfully used in the opening of new girls’ schools on the demand of communities. Under this process the community was strongly involved in the management of the schools. This success has encouraged the government to adopt this process in all its future interventions. The Parent Teacher School Management Committees, established through a democratic process efficiently managed their schools and now the government has decided to revive these organizations to improve the management of schools.

The school education is already free and the Government provides textbooks to all the students free of cost. The government is introducing ECE in the schools with financial assistance of UNICEF and EKN. The government has successfully approached the sister provinces to accommodate students from Balochistan in their institutions of Higher Education and professional collages.

While gaps remain the province has made some strides in education also. Over the last twenty years enrolments have continued to increase, especially, for girls. Balochistan also has five public universities out of which one serves exclusively the females, one informational technology and management sciences, one engineering university and one university at Uthal caters to marine and live stock requirements.

The province continues to face challenges in the sector despite the progress. Access to all children and improved quality both remain elusive at this point. Both these objectives will need to be pursued simultaneously though the emphasis would vary across the province depending on the current level of facilities available. In places with no schools the access will be the main target but for others quality has to be more seriously pursued than in the past.



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