According to Stephen Cohen, there are armies that defend their country’s territory, armies that are concerned about defending their own position in society and armies that defend a cause or ideology, and “the Pakistan Army does all three”. The major role of the army is to protect from all the internal as well as external threats however, it also shares the country’s economic burden in executing nation-building initiatives as observed in Balochistan. Located at a strategically important position, Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan, with an abundance of natural resources at its disposal.
Its proximity to the oil-producing Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz has contributed immensely to the strategic position of the region. Moreover, it lies at the cultural and geographical crossroads of South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Unfortunately, the resource-rich province of Baluchistan has remained in a state of turmoil and turbulence for over decades now. Insurgent movements, ethnonational conflicts, target killings, terrorism, and extremism have contributed to Baluchistan’s destabilization. Moreover, foreign involvement has also aggravated the security situation in Baluchistan. The threat and use of violence against law enforcement agencies have drastically amplified in the proximal past.
Balochistan is no longer the same province
Both the federal and provincial administrations have contributed to the province’s peace and stability. To say the least, it would not have been feasible without the military’s determined and tireless efforts, the Pakistan Army and the Frontier Corps Balochistan. To move away from all the confusion related to the security of Baluchistan the military created a campaign of awareness among the local masses. The awareness campaign was followed by the motivation for the mainstreaming of the masses and as well as for those elements who were betrayed and adopted militancy as a profession.
As a result of this campaign, the people who were involved in militancy laid down their arms and started re-joining the mainstream to spend a normal life. This strategy of the Pak Army has indeed proved an effective, motivational, and futuristic approach for the misled class of the province.
The Armed Forces of Pakistan have launched numerous projects for the development of Balochistan and developed the capacity of Balochis to lead prosperous and meaningful lives. These projects include the establishment of desalination plants, cadet colleges, hospitals, and educational institutions. Pakistan Navy has set up a full-fledged hospital at Ormara, while the Army has made its cantonments’ medical centers available to the locals.
The advent of Gwadar Port and the CPEC has brought a new era of development, but it also brought several international players. The Chinese were interested in security for the massive project and the thousands of Chinese engineers and workers stationed around the country therefore, under the leadership of COAS Gen Bajwa security was provided to CPEC and Chinese officials. The army foiled all the nefarious designs of the HIAs and enemies to sabotage the CPEC project. In that regard, the Chinese Minister for National Defense General Wei Fenghe acknowledged and appreciated the Pakistan Army’s sincere efforts for regional peace and the provision of a secure environment for CPEC projects.
Another important and needed aspect was the promotion of basic education among the people of the rural Baloch population. In Balochistan, there was a lack of education, which kept the people, in fact, generations under the hostage of miscreants. Local educational institutions were energized, and new institutions were established for the promotion of education in various far-flung areas of the province. The youth who was used as an explosive by the miscreants started going to schools and colleges. Armed Forces of Pakistan established several educational institutions and, in many cases, the willing youth were taken to various cantonments by Army, Navy and PAF for better education with bordering and lodging afforded by the military.
Pak Army, FC, Navy and PAF are also providing medical facilities to the local masses
Nearly, 113 schools are supervised by Pakistan Army and approximately 40,000 students across Balochistan are being educated in these schools. Pakistan Army Established 12 Army Schools and Colleges, 32 FC Schools and Colleges, and 9 cadet colleges in Sui, Pishin, Mastung, Panjgur, Jaffarabad, Kohlu, Turbat, Noshki and Awaran. Seven latest Educational Projects include NUST at Quetta, Quetta Institute of Medical Sciences, Military College Sui, Sui Education City, Balochistan Public School Sui, Balochistan Institute of Technical Education, and Gwadar Institute of Technology, and Army Institute of Mineralogy.
Through the development of roads, educational facilities, water supply systems and medical facilities, the Pakistan army has made a positive contribution and influence in distant parts of the country such as Gilgit-Baltistan, former FATA, Chitral, and Balochistan. It is due to tremendous efforts and sacrifices laid by the Pakistan Army that we have been able to restore peace in Balochistan and foreign investors are interested in investing in Pakistan more than ever.
The author has completed her degree in Strategic Studies from National Defense University, Islamabad. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.