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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Awaran and the Fate of Internees

The author discusses how a single internship program brought hope to the youth of Awaran in Balochistan. Awaran is an example of the wonders people can do when they are genuinely facilitated by the government.

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Attaining the status of a district in 1992, Awaran, which is in the South of the province of Balochistan, emerged slowly and gradually as the most backward district of the province.

The district, however, remained at the brutal grip of backwardness since its 1992 inception. Then the horrendous earthquake of 2013 further added salt to the wounds of people. As a result, approximately 900 people died and many got severe injuries. Moreover, almost all houses fell down and made people homeless.

As a result of being without shelter, a large chunk of the population turned their faces either to Lasbela- a neighboring district of Awaran- or to other adjacent cities, such as Khuzdar, and the provisional capital Quetta.

Read more: Op-ed: Picturing a depressed Balochistan

Mia Shahbaz Sharif’s generosity

A number of politicians, media personals, human rights activists, and high brass military men visited the district at that time. Among the contemporary politicians, Mia Shahbaz Sharif, the then Chief Minister of the Punjab province, too visited the headquarter s of Awaran.

Seeing the pathetic and depressing condition of education, the generous Sharif announced an internship for the unemployed graduates of the district. Amidst the chaos in the district’s education sector, the decision of Shareef was quite appreciated.

Following the announcement of Mr. Shareef, the then Deputy Commissioner and District Education Officer (DEO) brought the matter forward by getting these graduates their orders. Initially, there were nearly 499 in number, but later the numbers grew.

When it was approved by the Secretary of Education of Balochistan, a horizon of hope appeared for the unemployed graduates of the district. Hence, the DEO placed these internees in various schools across the district.

The success of the internship

A handsome number of candidates were selected for the opportunity. Even though some were appointed on the basis of political favoritism, but, overall it proved to be an encouraging step. They started rendering their utmost skills and knowledge to various schools in different corners of the district.

The internship program proved to be wonderful in terms of spreading education in the district. Given their three years tenure, they have brought forward a wave of a substantial change in the district’s education because it was these internees who rehabilitated the desolated schools and made the environment conducive for children in far-flung areas of the district.

Read more: Why is the female literacy rate in Balochistan the lowest in the world?

Within this short period of three years, their performance remained highly commendable and praiseworthy. In fact, they were the reason many children were prevented from leaving school.

After the completion of three years, which were financed by the Punjab government, the Balochistan government later took over the matter by financing them for a further two years. Now five years are about to end and only four months are remaining.

What will the future hold?

Given their rich-service during these past five years, the Balochistan government must realize their importance of work and performance by granting them permanent status in the already vacant position of the district.

Granting them permanent status would obviously bring new hope for these internees as well as for the hapless residents of the district. “What will happen after four months?” asked Mansoor, one of my acquaintances. He says his entire family is being fed from his salary; if the flow of salary stops, he believes his family along with many others would suffer as a result.

Awaran is already ravaged by educational backwardness and a dilapidated security landscape. Making these internees jobless would bring forth deleterious impacts among the society. Last but not least, the Balochistan government must shed its concerns regarding the necessity of the matter.

The writer is based in Awaran, Balochistan. He teaches at Delta Language Center Quetta. He can be reached at nizambaloch149@gmail.com