Pakistan needs to address issues in Balochistan before its too late

What followed Balochistan's accession to Pakistan is a spiel of sorrow and dejection. The hostile attitude of the center in dealing with the deprived province only added fuel to fire.

Balochistan Pakistan

“Balochistan”, also known as a neglected province of Pakistan, is also its largest province in terms of land area. Balochistan shares its borders with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab to the Northeast, the Arabian sea to the south, Iran to the west and Afghanistan to the north and Northwest. It was annexed by Pakistan in 1948.

The very first act of belligerence was shown towards Balochistan on the day it was forcefully annexed by Pakistan. Balochistan acceded on March 27 1948 after the army moved into the coastal region. It was announced in Karachi, on the same day, that the Khan of Kalat has agreed to amalgamate his state with Pakistan.

Chequered history between the centre and province

What followed is a spiel of sorrow and dejection. The grievances of the people of Balochistan are multifarious. The hostile attitude of the center in dealing with the deprived province only added fuel to fire.

The only demand of the people was to seek provincial autonomy, which was promised in the Constitution of 1973. Provincial autonomy seeks to provide the right to self-determination and decentralization of power.

 

Furthermore, the high-handedness of the army and law enforcement agencies has increased bitterness in the ordinary inhabitant. The issue of missing persons remains a serious issue.

Read more: Did previous governments neglect Balochistan?

Enforced disappearances have long been a blemish on Pakistan’s face. People across the province are picked up with impunity. The specifically targeted people in the multi-ethnic province are Balochs, Pashtuns and human rights activists. This issue has remained unresolved for the past six decades. The only sin of these forcibly disappeared people is that they raise voice against the unrestrained insurgencies in the province.

Elected representatives have failed to develop Balochistan

The situation of development in the province is also abysmal. Concerns of the people about the lack of development are genuine. The province has been deprived of basic facilities including health, infrastructure, education and communication sources.

Illiteracy, injustice, oppression of women, ignorance of individual rights are the evils that prevail. Almost 88 percent of the population is living in a high degree of deprivation, the highest of all the provinces. In a nutshell, Balochistan is the land of oppressed and it has no heir.

Balochistan, with an abundance of natural resources, never itself enjoyed the fruits of its endowment. An example is the natural gas of Sui and Coal of Dukki. Huge remuneration is paid to the local sardars and Frontier corps (the sole protectors of these resources).

In fact, Balochistan has witnessed little progress since its inception. The largest province of Pakistan is also its poorest. Balochistan was declared the poorest region in Asia which should clearly open our eyes that nothing serious has been made towards the progress and prosperity of Balochistan.

People hailing from the rural areas are starving and have no access to clean water. Despite projects like CPEC, Balochistan has remained backward. Gwadar, where CPEC is in progress, faces a shortage of water, making it clear that prosperity from CPEC is not trickling down to the masses. Unrest will not go away until CPEC is accompanied by social sector development that can help alleviate poverty.

Another attack in Balochistan raises concerns about insurgency

Elected representatives have also failed in identifying and tackling the reservations of masses. All answers to the issue are found through a military lens; the need instead is to solve the problem politically.

Suicide bombings and attacks on sacred places has became a headache for the inhabitants. The Angel of death visits us often. Peace is a word unknown to us. We the people of Balochistan are in a state of dolor. Despite the disproportionate amount of difficulties faced by the Baloch people, they remain resolute in their pursuit of making Balochistan a safe place for them to call home.

The author works at the history department at Quaid e Azam 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.

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