Dr Muhammad Khan
ON the eve of inauguration of Sorab-Hoshab highway, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reiterated his stance that development in Balochistan province is indeed development of Pakistan. He particularly emphasized that, “A new Pakistan is in the making. A developed Balochistan means a new Pakistan.’’ In order to connect entire Balochistan with Gwadar, this network of roads, motorways and highways will bring tremendous opportunities for the local populace to be part of the economic uplift of entire Pakistan. This road network is part of Gwadar port development and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The 3000 Kms long CPEC will connect Gwadar deep sea Port with Kasgar, a city of Xinjiang autonomous region of China. Apart from this 3000 kms route, there would be a number of lateral routes throughout Pakistan, connecting with the main routes of CPEC. Then there will economic opportunities available all along the CPEC for the local populace of Pakistan. Through these trade and commercial opportunities, there will be betterment in the living standard of the people, particularly rural areas, currently lacking communication infrastructure.
Chinese Government and its companies and banks, making investment in the CPEC have no doubt about the completion of project in the stipulated timeframe with bright prospects of its becoming centre of economic activities. The Government of Pakistan is committed for the early completion of the project and securing the economic opportunities. Nevertheless, there are some groups, actively involved in creating misunderstandings and misperceptions about the CPEC. Some are trying to mislead the people that bulk of the benefits of the CPEC is for the province of Punjab and there is massive corruption in the project. In fact, this a betrayed group and misleading the masses of the other provinces.
The fact of the matter is that, the bulk of the economic and strategic advantages of CPEC are for the Province of Balochistan, followed by Sind. In the order of beneficiary, Punjab is at third priority. Since the maximum benefit goes to Balochistan, should it be called as China Balochistan Economic Corridor, as the mislead group call it China Punjab Economic Corridor. These groups indeed have vested interests and may have their linkages with those forces who are trying sabotaging this economic opportunity.
Already, the Government has announced that, each province will get its share of major and minor projects, which will be as per the overall CPEC plan and there will be no discrimination with any province. Therefore, the misperceptions being created by some elements should be brushed aside by masses, rather paying attention by anyone. Rejecting these conspiracies, the Prime Minister said, “While our enemies are trying to sabotage our projects, people can now decide for themselves as to who is serving the country and who is just inciting hate and playing with emotions. Pakistanis are a cultured nation and have great moral values. Those who ruin norms are responsible for spoiling generations and history calls them a disgrace to their ancestors.”
Let the country progress economically and come in line with the developed world, rather Pakistanis having the begging bowl, asking for grants and loans from Middle East and EU. This is only possible that, masses are aware and awareness comes with education and literacy. Coming over to Balochistan, rightly said by PM, the “Development of Balochistan is not a favour; it is the right of the Baloch people.” Over the years, the province remained under developed and backward, since no worthwhile attention could be paid towards its uplift.
In the last few years, a particular attention was paid towards development of communication infrastructure and economic progress of the province. Pakistan Army, Pak Navy and PAF have recruited a huge number of the Baloch youth in all three services. Then armed forces of Pakistan have opened schools and technical educations in various parts of Balochistan. A huge number of Baloch youth have been brought to the main stream through job opportunities. Bringing peace and stability in the province was really a gigantic and uphill task.
There were international networks involved in the destabilization of the Province. Pak Army, Frontier Corps and Police lost many precious lives during combating the terrorists. According to Commander Southern Command Lieutenant General Amir Riaz, “700 personnel of the security forces have been killed while fighting for the stability of the country in Balochistan.” Apart from these deaths, 2000 personnel of the security forces were seriously wounded in Balochistan during the process of restoration of peace in the disturbed areas. In fact, personnel of security forces restored peace in province at the cost of their lives.
Development of Gwadar, completion of CPEC and economic opportunities there are linked with the peace and stability in the province. Government of Pakistan has provided ample opportunities for economic development in the province and Pak Army along with other security forces have done a lot for the peace in the province. Now, it is responsibility of the masses of Balochistan to brush aside those elements, conspiring and misleading them and desire to keep the province in darkness.
— The writer is International Relations analyst based in Islamabad.