All together now


In what can only be described as a welcome move, it seems the civilian government and the military/intelligence quarters are on the same page, at least on the surface of things. What better way to bring that to light than to rally together for a cause that will certainly affect the masses in a positive way? Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif has inaugurated a 404 MW Uch power project in Dera Murad Jamali, saying that his government is looking toward the complete end of the energy crisis in the country within two years. He was accompanied by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif and the Chief Minister (CM) of Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik. Relations between the Sharif government and General Raheel have been quite tense of late and to see them standing together — even if it is for a photo opportunity — relays the message PM Nawaz gave the press on Thursday: that the military and the government are on the same page. That they have chosen Balochistan as the backdrop behind this reassurance adds another dimension to the whole matter.
For far too long Balochistan has remained a contentious issue for almost any government that has stepped into power. As the most resource-rich province in the country, its people are amongst the poorest. A separatist struggle is rife and there has never been a proper mending of fences between the disenchanted Baloch and the government either at the Centre or in the province. No political solution has ever been sought to address the grievances of the Baloch except for some stopgap measures here and there. The fact that one of the bigger power projects has been inaugurated in Balochistan is a baby step towards bringing some sort of restitution to the beleaguered province. The people there have long complained that their rights and ownership of the bounty their province contains has never been available to them but now is the time to build bridges for Mr Sharif, not just with the military but with the Baloch masses as well. Gainful employment can be had with this opportunity where the people are made stakeholders in the development and running of this and other projects. The Sharif dispensation only has much to gain if efforts are made to bring the Baloch into the national discourse.
There has been too much talk of late, in the news and elsewhere, of there being cracks in the relationship between the executive, the military and the media, obliterating all focus on what really matters to the masses: the energy crisis. We are once again about to be thrust into the throes of summer and are already suffering from 12 hours of power outages in the urban areas. Not enough seems to have been done by this government so far, which came into power on the promises of alleviating the energy crisis within a matter of days, last year. That this power project has been approved is one thing but to hear the man who gave us a promise of immediately tackling the energy crisis to hoping to end it in another two plus years is less encouraging. We need more such endeavours and more promises being turned into reality. For that we need every institution in the country to work together, no matter what the circumstances. *

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