Despite the abundance of natural resources that Balochistan hides in its belly, it is still crying for development. Do the constant protests of the province of being ignored by the federation in the developmental projects hold any merit? They do. Balochistan and its people are yet to enjoy the benefits of the natural resources that the other provinces are reaping and gaining from.

The sense of being exploited by the state runs deep in the people and lawmakers of the province. The recently formed eleven-member committee on the issue of Saindak copper-gold project to Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) is a testimony to the feelings of the Baloch people.

What is worth noting in the present case is that mining is a provincial subject. But the previous government of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) cared little for violations of the constitution. The nationalist leaders of the province maintain that the terms and conditions were made without taking the previous provincial assembly into confidence. Their reservations cannot be dismissed quickly as the federal government has always kept the terms of the contract confidential.

This editorial does not intend to create any controversy. However, the reservations regarding exploitation in the hands of the federation that Balochistan now and then raise if not objectively analysed will sow the seeds of further alienation and marginalisation among the Baloch people.

Furthermore, the government in the province is also keen on giving tough time to the federation as the federal government is intending to reduce the shares of the provincial units in the upcoming 8th National Finance Commission (NFC) award. The cuts in the provincial dividends will be used for development of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) that witnessed a merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) some time ago.

It seems both opposition and treasury benches of the provincial assembly are on board as far as the grievances of Balochistan are concerned. The federation needs to give a thought to the preferential treatment of the provinces. It is high time to make a shift from symmetric federalism towards asymmetric one. It is a national shame that many towns of the region lack basic facilities even in the twenty-first century.

Despite tall claims of the ruling parties in the centre regarding uplifting the living standard of people of Balochistan, the ground situation has not improved so far. It is high time that the federation takes the protests of the province seriously. Otherwise, the dissenting voices – who have no faith in the state of Pakistan – will find it easy to recruit the youth in their rank and file.