The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has announced a development plan for the restive province of Baluchistan. The estimated value of the project is 20 billion rupees, and the state will release the funds over a span of ten years. However, before anything else a few reservations and fears need a mention.

Apart from mentioning the fact that Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG plants will be opened in various locations the development plan does not specify what it will be doing. General fields are mentioned – like education and health – with no indication what the development is going to be. So far it seems like simple a simple cash grant; the staple of our politically prompted “development”. Such open ended and ill-convinced projects have rarely had any success on the ground, most end up being siphoned off in this discretionary project. Without details, this project is nothing but a headline and a pre-election gimmick.

Abbasi’s visit to Balochistan and the development package should not suffer the fate of the earlier announcement that was aimed at imposing a ban on automatic weapons, which was similarly announced with much flourish without having the requisite policy mechanisms in place to make it happen. A mere days after the initial “suspension of licences” the Interior Ministry has quietly issued a notification saying the licences aren’t actually suspended, only the exchange and reimbursement scheme are in place; making the entire exercise redundant.

It is ironic to note that banning automatic weapons was on the top of PM’s agenda to see a weapons-free society. If an issue of such importance cannot be followed up properly, how can one expect that Balochistan development plan will be followed by follow-ups to check the progress of the developments?

While it is laudatory that the province of Balochistan is on the priority list of the Prime Minister, but a cash package of this sort will not bring order in the messy situation of the region. Such packages, if not followed by checks and balances and a thoroughly explained policy of social and economic development, generate results but with almost zero impact.

Nevertheless, the region is in dire need of government’s attention. It needs far more radical and urgent steps on behalf of the state to bring normalcy to the province. Apart from injecting money to lay down an infrastructure of concrete, more essential to correct is the worsening situation of human rights in the area. The money will not make the mare go if bullet-ridden bodies are discovered on a routine basis from the different districts of the province.