By: Mir Balach Baloch
In modern times, no government, and particularly an economically shattered country like Pakistan, could control a massive land and its people through outdated colonial policies and an oppressive regime
Pakistan’s strategic heartland and resource-rich province Balochistan is deprived and suffering from all types of social, political and economic crises. Unbearably mismanaged and misgoverned by Islamabad’s puppet leaders, Balochistan is only thriving in the field of institutional corruption, appalling human rights violations, mutilated corpses and endless political violence.
The major concerns of Balochistan are rarely mentioned and highlighted in the Pakistani media. Centuries-old perceptions and rhetoric coined by the colonial rulers and followed by the current establishment is widely repeated by the less-informed and mostly controlled media persons, journalists and TV anchors.
Along with other appalling issues, education in Balochistan has always been intentionally neglected by the federal and provincial puppet regimes. The recent spate of violence, started in 2001 and escalated into a full-fledged civil war during 2005, has unimaginably resulted in worsening meagrely available education resources and institutions.
Indiscriminate military operations, condemnable killings and intimidation of teachers by armed groups, a corrupt regime, daily protests, strikes and growing insecurity among the Baloch youth has resulted in a sharp decline in the quality of education.
Over the last six decades, the federal government very successfully and uninterruptedly established a security network consisting of naval bases, cantonments, airfields and strategic developments but when it comes to education, Islamabad’s colonial mindset always blames the Baloch people and so-called Sardars for the poor and outdated education network and facilities.
In the words of former Senator and Baloch leader, Sana Baloch: “How can a region progress when it has more soldiers than teachers, more garrisons than universities, more naval bases than science and research centres and more funds for extermination rather than training? In Balochistan today, the Frontier Corps (FC) cantonments outnumber colleges, there are more police stations than vocational training centres and more checkposts than government high schools.”
This is the exact cause of frustration among the Baloch youth that in this modern age Balochistan has all modern security arrangements but when it comes to its demand for just rights, education and graceful employment the same security institutions are being used to intimidate and torture them.
The poorly designed education system in the province is further destroying the life of thousands of students. At an early age, in the public schools they are compelled to read and write in Urdu, which is not even recognised at the provincial and federal public service structure. With 43 percent of the total national territory and vast natural resources, Balochistan happens to be the largest province of Pakistan. But the province has the lowest literacy rate.
The province also has the smallest number of educational institutions, according to the NES: “Out of the total number of institutions, 48 percent are to be found in the Punjab, 22 percent in Sindh, 17 percent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 5 percent in Balochistan.”
No doubt, students in Balochistan have eagerness and talent but lack of proper institutions, modern teaching techniques and guidance are stumbling blocks in their career. If the government of Pakistan is truly sincere and wants to win the hearts and minds of the Baloch people and particularly enraged youth, they have to focus and modernise Balochistan’s education system rather than the FC and police. They have to ensure slow but steady social change through education, not by force. They have to focus on recruiting more qualified teachers than soldiers, building modern schools and institutions rather than expending security networks.
In modern times, no government, and particularly an economically shattered country like Pakistan, could control a massive land and its people through outdated colonial policies and an oppressive regime.
The only way out of Balochistan’s appalling crisis is to develop a social and economic bond between the Baloch and the state by increasing the Baloch people and Baloch youth’s stake in the system. If the FC, Coast Guard, Navy, police and all government security consists of non-locals, what option and trust will the Baloch youth have in the state system?
Trust and respect must be mutual and investment in the social sector, particularly in modern education, and the security sector must be just and fair.