Balochistan in need of Immediate attention | By Dr Muhammad Khan


Balochistan in need of Immediate attention

BALOCHISTAN, being the beautiful and resource rich province of Pakistan, needs a special attention with respect to restoration of law and order, provision of basic civic facilities, educational and medical facilities, communication and infrastructural networking and provision of jobs to jobless youth.

Indeed, Allah Almighty has bestowed the province with enormous natural resources and a very robustand resilient human resource, therefore very little is needed by the government to manage the obtainable resources for their best and optimum utilization for local populace.

A little but dedicated effort of the government would in fact bring a change for the prosperity of the people of the province and prosperity of the province would pave way for the prosperity of Pakistan, since Balochistan constitute 43% of the geography of the state.

In the absence of dedicated efforts by the provincial bureaucracy, the huge club of provincial ministers and civil society of the province, the people remained neglected, resultantly they were compounded by the poverty, socio-economic deprivation and a consequent pessimistic mind-set.

The socio-economic deprivations and political exploitations created a sense of haves and have not among the wider society of the Balochistan province. This was a situation needed by foreign spying network of the hostile international forces, which always looked for an opportunity to get ingress to the local populace for exploitation for their own vested strategic interests.

Despite efforts of the Federal Government for bringing economic prosperity of the province, there have been no tangible developmental indicators in the province. The major hurdles were the indifferent attitude of provincial government, the provincial bureaucracy and weak monitoring of the Federal Government officials and executives.

Another significant aspect is that, the decision makers in Pakistan have been viewing the Balochistan province from the perspective of its geo-economic considerations; the vast fields of valued natural resources and mineral reserves. There have been wider ignorance of the strategic significance of the province; the pivotal geopolitical location, strategically attractive for major powers for playing their politics directly or indirectly. Indeed, the province is extremely significant for the strategic stability of Pakistan.

This can be gauged from the interests of three contemporary powers vying for their global ascendency in one way or the others?
First; from the Tsarist Russia through Communist Soviet Union and todays Putin’s Russian Federation, Moscow has always eyed at strategically located province of Balochistan as the central part of its strategic expansionist theory. Second; United States maintained its key interests over the region, the strategically positioned province of Balochistan as a strategic legacy of British India.

This was more pronounced during cold war once US engaged Pakistan in strategic treaties. US war against USSR in the decade of 1980s and the global war on terror from 2001 to 2021 provides sufficient evidences for the Washington’s interests in Pakistan and its key province Balochistan. The current militancy in the province has its direct and indirect connection with the interests of US and India for their strategic ingress in the region.

Three; after years of geopolitical survey and analysis, China has chosen Balochistan as key area for the implementation of its international dominance through a mix of geo-economics and geopolitics. Indeed, as a smart power, China found Gwadar and CPEC as the most crucial part for the success of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); the soft power tool, China is using to achieve the international supremacy. As during the cold war, the ultimate target of this major power competition is Pakistan and the current phase of militancy in the province of Balochistan is manifest of Pakistani sufferance.

In a way the clashing interests of major powers and regional states has created a strategic dilemma for Pakistan which Islamabad needs to tackle with lot of wisdom and farsightedness. The threats posed to the province of Balochistan are indeed serious in nature with a direct impact the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan.

Though there is no direct threat from the conventional and traditional perspective of warfare, yet the transformed nature of these threats are seriously undermining the provincial security, the safety of masses and its economic prosperity and stability. Over the years, the militancy and terrorism has made the province and its masses as the hostage. Indeed, the direct victims of non-traditional security (NTS) are the people of province, aspects of human security.

Resources of the province belong to its people, thus must be utilized for the socio-eco uplift of the locals. The Reko-Diq project and other similar projects should play a significant role towards economic development including job creation for the local masses of the province irrespective of their political or ethnic affiliation.

Marine resources should be utilized for the people of the coastal belt and State should ensure that the rights of local fishermen are fully protected. Indeed, there is a need that, there should develop a feeling and sense of belonging, sense of pride and ownership among the people especially the youth of the province over their resources and provincial government in a tangible form.

These CBMs would boost their sense of belonging at national level; the most needed aspect. Indeed, owing to its strategic positioning, the major powers and regional states are directly and indirectly playing their active roles to keep the state of Pakistan in turmoil by waging war in the province. Apart from terrorism the distinctive feature of these challenges is a war of narratives, perceptions and opinion making against the state and its institutions implemented through hybrid warfare.

As a way forward the Government must devise strategies for the direct social engagement with the masses of the province while addressing their socio-economic concerns and restoration of their trust over state. Through a visionary strategy and sincere determination, this has to be ensured sooner than later. — The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.