Nawaz Sharif’s promise to make gas available for all cities in Balochistan is yet another example of the misguided perspective of successive governments with respect to Balochistan’s development. Even if we assume that the words of the Prime Minister will be made true in the next three years, the fact is that Balochistan’s population is concentrated in rural areas, with only five major cities in the entire province. Nawaz Sharif’s lofty promise of solving all the problems of Balochistan through gas is hence not really achievable.

With tribal systems that act as substitutes for the writ of the state, the average individual in the province, belonging to one of the tribes does not see the government as the caretaker of the people. For many, the government is the real enemy, alongside the armed forces that have arbitrarily decided who lives and who doesn’t. Raising the standard of living of the Baloch people is a secondary concern, considering that the unalienable right to life is undermined on a daily basis. No amount of electricity available is going to change that. Development is also problematic, considering that the tribal system is part of the problem, but at the same time is the only way certain sections of the populace remain protected. Separatists, tribal leaders, the government and the armed forces all exploit the people in one way or another, and the uneducated and repressed masses have nowhere to turn to, except to one of the above for protection, in exchange for fighting the others. As it turns out, the province with the most natural resources is also the least developed.

Balochistan might as well be in a black hole considering how little the rest of the country knows about what is actually going on. As to the solution for this conundrum, there is no single ‘fix-it’ plan that can work. If the government starts pumping money and resources into the province starting today, the chances are that the tribal leaders, corrupt government officials and separatist leaders will ensure that none of that actually trickles down to the masses. Initiatives for education and better healthcare systems are a necessity but no real work is being done on that front. However, the first step for anybody looking to make things better in Balochistan is to ensure that enforced disappearances and murders are stopped. But how that will be achieved considering that our armed forces are a major part of this is another question that seems to have no answer. While the rest of the country looks the other way, Balochistan is still left to fend for itself.