Editorial Written by me for Daily Balochistan Express on 20th August, 2018
Among many other entrenched social, political and economic issues, governance is really a daunting challenge that Balochistan faces for the past many decades.
Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader Jam Kamal Sunday took oath as the 16th chief minister of the province.
For a democratic system to flourish and succeed in attaining its ideals, it is sine qua non for the governments to bring ease in the lives of the people through providing efficient, responsive and speedy system of governance for its people.
In this context, good governance is linked with all three branches of government i.e. executive, legislature and judiciary. It requires of a government to establish rule of law, ensure transparency, be responsive, be inclusive and not exclusive in any way, and provide a strong system of accountability and chances of participation to the masses in decision making process.
As far as, the executive in Balochistan is concerned, it is run through the machinery of public administration. Unfortunately, the public administration apparatus in Balochistan has some serious issues that, if left unaddressed, would result in nothing but failure of the current government to ensure a semblance of even good governance.
Provincial bureaucracy is notorious for its inefficiency, damning slow procedures of work, rad-tapism and corruption. One of the reasons for this dilemma is lack of will for a transition to e-administration and digital service delivery.
Moreover, the mafias which exist within the public sector have established their hegemony over the government employments, perks and privileges through unfair promotions based on annually confidential reports, whereas the world has moved to a more efficient digital system of correspondent and promotions to the employees on annual performance report. Majority of the top-slot officers who occupy offices through promotion are ineligible for the very positions they occupy.
In addition, the administrative set-up is also infested with a systematic and vicious type of corruption known colloquially in local context as ‘percent or percentage’ system by various office bearers, be them in field or in the heart of provincial capital on different financial bills and projects. Everyone is aware of this ugly trend but none can speak against it owing to lack of documentary proofs, strong system of accountability and transparency.
The second part of the good governance is effective legislation and implementation by the policy makers in the house elected by the masses. However, Balochistan Assembly has been regarded as a ‘rubber stamp’ assembly by its critics for reasons that are many and intricate.
For example, the bigger issues of Balochistan such as the Saindak Project, Dera Bugti gas fields, the Coastal belt of Balochistan, Reko diq, Gwadar Deep Sea Port, mines and minerals and their ownership seem not to be domain of this House. It passes laws on petty issues that bring no effective change in the society and the policy makers seem to be using powers and doing things that are necessarily the work of local government such as sewerage, gate and street light schemes.
Hence, self-local government—the third tier of government that is essential for success of any democratic set up is rendered without any power to make a difference at grass root level. Ensuring good governance would require of the government in power to leave effective policy imprints in all areas that previous governments have shied away from doing so for one reason or the other.
In addition, governance structure can really be meaningful if any country has an effective judicial system that is efficient, accessible, less expensive and speedy. Although the judicial system in Balochistan is attached to a single country-wide hierarchy yet many things can be brought at provincial level to build the confidence of people in its system of justice.
Balochistan has a tribal set-up and many people seek to solve their dispute through means of alternate dispute resolutions that exist traditionally in the society. Their confidence in the judicial system can be built only if the courts perform quicker and better.
The community policing system introduced by Robert Sandeman in 1876 still exists in ‘B’ areas of Balochistan. It can be transformed into a modern policing system with its essential original characteristics intact. The police force, wherever operational in ‘A’ areas can be revamped, improved and modernized in more ways than one.
If Jam Kamal, after having occupied CM slot, chooses the old faces in his cabinet who are relics of status quo, meaningful change in the areas mentioned would remain a far cry and the ministers would only be good for transfer-postings in bureaucratic system and nothing practical.