Despite the allocation of billions of rupees to Balochistan under the NFC Award and quite hefty grants made to the elected representatives of the province to undertake development works there is pretty little that can be claimed to have been done to justify the funds’ appropriate utilisation. That leaves little doubt that the money has been misappropriated in which both the politicians and the bureaucracy would have shared the booty. It was this painful reality that prompted Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to call for an end to that grant as well as ask for the submission of a full report about how all those funds were utilised. He was hearing, along with two other judges, Justice Gulzar Ahmad and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, a petition filed by Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party leader Abdul Qahar Khan Waddan, at Islamabad on Wednesday. The petitioner had alleged that massive corruption and misappropriation of funds had taken place.

When the victims of this studied deprivation caused by their leaders belong to the most backward of Pakistan’s provinces and which has been neglected for decades, the tragedy becomes doubly tragic and callous. To bring this point home to the provincial government, Justice Chaudhry lamented that while the people in Balochistan did not have drinking water or even medicines to treat patients suffering from simple fever, the money set aside for their well-being was being siphoned away by the corrupt custodians of the funds. He was not wrong when he questioned under what law of the land the assembly members were being given the huge grants that the Additional Secretary present on the occasion said amounted to Rs 250 million to each member (that means the 60 elected members received a total of Rs 15 billion). Indeed, the combined amount of the NFC Award, assembly members’ grant and provincial budget’s allocation for development purposes, if properly put to use, would have made a visible difference in the state of affairs. As it is, the projects initiated during the Junejo government, which had started the practice of giving development funds to elected representatives, are still incomplete.

The authorities’ non-challance to the improper utilisation of development funds and the consequent suffering of the people can be gauged from the fact that the government representative had nothing to say when the court wanted to know whether any cases of corruption had been forwarded to the Nab, police or anti-corruption department for investigation. Hopefully, the government coming into power after the general elections would discontinue the practice of making grants to the elected representatives who would, on their part, realise, as the apex court has said, that their job is to make legislation to improve the people’s lot. There must also be due monitoring of the development funds irrespective of their source. The focus must be the welfare of the general public.