The severe destruction caused in Balochistan by monsoon rains brutally exposed corruption
It is, indeed, a calamity. The province of Balochistan has been severely hit by the recent monsoon rains, leaving as many as 70 people dead, 152 injured and hundreds of houses destroyed besides killing more than 550 goats and sheep and washing away bridges, roads and small dams.
Of course, the government and its departments were clearly unprepared to counter the magnitude of disaster that fell on the province and had no choice but to declare emergency in Quetta. The government was found woefully short of the resources required to carry out rescue and relief efforts across the province where as many as 24 out of the 34 districts, including the provincial capital of Quetta, were badly affected by the rains.
The most affected districts include Chaman, Kachi, Barkhan, Dera Bugti, Zhob, Ziarat, Duki, Pishin, Nushki, Kohlu, Sohbatpur, Punjgur, Harnai, Sheerani, Soorab, Killah Saifullah, Khuzdar, Kechh, Mastung, Killa Abdullah, Sibi, Lasbela and Loralai. In Harnai and Barkhan, the crops have been severely damaged while over 800 solar plates – which are used for extracting underground water for agriculture purposes – were damaged beyond repair.
The monsoon rains soon turned into flash floods and destroyed a number of roads, dented the bridges and uprooted dozens of electric polls, causing suspension of vehicular traffic for days and hours.
The torrential rains, which continued for several days, also caused suspension/interruption in flow of vehicular traffic on main Quetta-Karachi, Quetta-Jacobabad, Quetta-Dera Ghazi and Quetta-Dera Ismail Khan routes.
The rains also caused a tragic road accident that took place in Danisar, about seven kilometer south of Balochistan’s Sheerani district, that claimed 20 lives. The ill-fated coach that was carrying all those passengers who were coming from Punjab and Islamabad to spend Eid holidays with their families were killed or left severely injured.
The district administration at Sheerani cancelled the route permit of Supper Sada Bahar Coach Company for reckless driving during rains in the mountainous area.
The civil administration and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) who are under capacity in term of logistics and expertise tried their best to reach the rain affectees for their rescue and dewatering the respective areas besides shifting the affectees to safer areas.
Corps Headquarter Quetta also extended cooperation to the provincial government in rescue and relief efforts in all the rain affected areas. Corps Commander Lt. Gen Sarfaraz Ali personally visited the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and directed the army brigades and Frontier Corps Balochistan, both North and South wings, to coordinate and extend all out efforts for the rescue and relief of the affected people.
In the provincial capital most damages were caused due to encroached houses built on the bank of the nullahs in the city. The houses illegally built on the outskirts of the city with the connivance of the civil administration, police and under the patronage of political parties were also severely affected.
The spokesperson of Balochistan government Farah Azeem Shah also confirmed that there is encroachment on large scale on the nullahs and at the banks within the city and in the surrounding areas of the provincial capital and with flash water, the houses were either washed away or badly damaged, caused causalities.
Later, under the direction of the provincial government, the civil administration and the Quetta Metropolitan Cooperation launched an anti-encroachment drive in the surrounding areas of city where dozens of houses were demolished.
It must be mentioned here that the damage caused to the roads, bridges and dams due to rain have brutally exposed the development agencies, elected representatives and the construction companies. Most of the damaged infrastructure was constructed under the infamous PSDP (Public Social Development Program) which the government put at the disposal of the member of provincial assemblies. It is an open secret that an MPA of Balochistan is given 600 to 700 million during each fiscal year for development schemes and these members receive 10 to 15% as kick back and the rest goes to engineers of executing departments and contractors.
This time the members of the opposition parties including those from the Jamiat Ulema Islam (Fazal), Balochistan National Party (Mengal) and Pashtoonkhawa Milli Awami Party also received their maximum share in return to their cooperation in foiling the no-confidence motion against Qudoos Bezenjo-led ruling coalition.
Although corruption prevails in entire Pakistan, the ratio of corruption is the highest in Balochistan.
PKMAP, a champion of the Pashtoon cause which has been opposing the distribution of PSDP funds among the assembly members by terming the practice means of corruption and wastage of public fund, also became party in Balochistan law and order case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2010. However later, the Party never spoke against this practice after joining Dr. Malik Baloch-led ruling coalition after 2013 general elections. During these past five years, the PKMAP members had been enjoying PSDP funds with full powers and never shared this fund with the then opposition pary, the Jamiat Ulema Islam (Fazal).
The members of electable lot who off and on change their political loyalties with the direction of the wind are the most beneficiary of this fund and this waste of public fund is one of the biggest factors of the prevailing law and order/insurgency situation in Balochistan.