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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Op-ed: Picturing a depressed Balochistan

Balochistan as we know it has largely untapped and unbounded natural resources, and is often cited as the most neglected province of the country.

Gross violation of human rights, dilapidated law and order, dwindled health and education sectors, growing poverty; this is a problematic reflection of a province which shares 44 per cent of Pakistan’s geography whose real picture has never been displayed on the mainstream media and politics. Seeing its untapped and unbounded natural resources, undoubtedly, one can reach a conclusion that the province has not enjoyed the fruits of these since time immemorial.

Due to its importance, the region remains, by large extent, a highly alluring point for the external forces. Its ideal geostrategic location further enhances its importance in the region and beyond. Especially the aftermath of dismantling the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—a mega project worth millions of dollars between two neighbouring countries.

Although Balochistan became a central point right after the Great Game of British in the region, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and its interests in Balochistan gave the region a different colour. From the warm-seaport of Gawadar, situated on the shores of Arabian sea in western Balochistan, to the gold mines of Reko Diq in Chagai, the province is blessed with many other potentials which no doubt has potential to transform lives of its people economically and financially.

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

It would not be incorrect to say that Balochistan is reeling under the brutal claws of extractive institutions which are in the control of corrupt feudals.

With each passing moment, the importance of the province keeps rising. It, however, held much more importance for the Soviet Union which wanted to establish its grip on the province. The validity of the claim is well enshrined by Selig. S Harrison (March 1927 to December 2016) in his masterly work ‘In Afghanistan’s Shadow: Baloch nationalism and Soviet temptation.

He elaborates that despite low communist forces in the mainstream Baloch nationalism, Balochistan remained one of the focal points for Moscow, particularly its warm-seaport and its ideal location. Yet, there never was an effective Communist forum which could mobilize pro-communism sentiments in the province. In fact, in the pre-partition era communist organizations were equal to non-existent, too.

Read more: Balochistan has lowest rate of female literacy in the world, claims lawmaker

Certainly, the intensity of efforts from the capital Islamabad increased, particularly after the great insurgency of 1971-77 and innovation of CPEC in 2013. Concerning its contemporary importance due

to CPEC, Islamabad is too much sceptical about the presence of foreign elements which are on the pace to put the tract of the project in jeopardy. The province, somehow, shades some glimmer of hope in the shape of key projects, like CPEC.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is considered a “game changing” project for the region. Yet, on practical grounds, these projects have done too little to rescue the poor people of Balochistan from poverty, destroyed law and order situation, etc. There is no denying the fact that it provides a number of opportunities to China along with access to the Middle eastern countries.

Remember that a number of experts considered China an emerging superpower which is widely increasing her trade networks in the Asian and beyond. CPEC is a clear manifestation of it. Henceforth, Balochistan becomes a possible target of foreign players who want to keep its security scenario on boil.

Read more: Did previous governments neglect Balochistan?

Still, the people of Balochistan are struggling with thousands of problems despite of so much importance of the province. Due to this, a profound sense of polarization and alienation have taken deep roots in its population, thus making the province unrest. The region barely has signs of modern progress in the face of such huge projects. Indeed, the smooth transition of progress is almost entirely impossible as long as the locals are outside of development shares.

 Balochistan has lost a number of precious things whether it is economic or physical loss, now it has nothing to tolerate. The incumbent PM of the country, Imran khan, has made many tall claims regarding the development of Pakistan in particular and Balochistan in general. It is, no doubt, a fruitful time for Mr. Khan to give his promises a practical shape in order to empower the people of Balochistan economically, socially and politically, they deserve better.

The writer is a teacher at Delta language center Quetta. He is based in Awaran, Balochistan. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.