Prime Minister Imran Khan’s conversation with PTI delegates from Balochistan and Karachi culminated with a reiteration of the ruling party’s commitment to work on development in both regions. But it will be completely understandable if residents of both the province and the most major commercial city in Pakistan do not hold their breath over the government’s promises. The development of Balochistan and Karachi has been a stated priority since the PTI government came into power, but little action has been taken in this regard.

In fact, these commitments to residents of areas such as Balochistan are not even strictly limited to the current government. All political parties that have come into power have more or less made the exact same promises, with little – depending on where you look – to no progress to show for it. The simplest explanation for this is that parties cater to their primary voter bases, and wealthy areas in other provinces continue to dominate their agenda as a result. Another prominent problem is a lack of knowledge of what actually needs to prioritise and when.

Focusing on development in Balochistan in particular needs more than just a well-intentioned promise. The province has been lagging behind in most development indicators compared to the rest of Pakistan, and this is something that requires a tailor-made and multi-sector programme that aims to build something substantial in the long run. Everything from improving access to education and healthcare, to establishing the rule of law are aspects that the government needs to account for. So far, nothing from this government has indicated that a well-researched Balochistan development agenda is on the cards; in fact, their treatment looks to be more or less the same as their predecessors.

With provinces currently giving funds back to the centre as a means to alleviate our national economic issues, these promises become even more impractical and inconsequential. The government is only increasing expectations for its provincial representatives, there is no point in doing so if it will not result in anything concrete. Perhaps this government would be better placed making promises to areas that lag behind in development if it first proposes concrete steps and a vision to go with it. Before that, we should collectively avoid making plans that will never realistically materialise.