Nationalism in Balochistan
-Col Muhammad Hanif (R)
Since long, the majority of Baloch Sardars has not taken any interest in the economic development of their area, such as infrastructure, agriculture and industrial development, education and healthcare of their people and their social development. In fact Sardars did so to keep the people illiterate, economically dependent and loyal to the old traditions of Sardari system. This was done by Sardars to keep a hold over their people, to preserve their vote bank and perpetuate their local rule through a vote, thus also making part of the democratic setup of Pakistan, where Sardars and their young children could be elected as the people’s representatives. To keep the people loyal to them Sardars also inculcated the spirit of sub-nationalism based on exclusive loyalty to their tribes.
During the last many years ample development funds that were given to Sardars as elected representatives, were not used for development, but spent to fulfill their personal needs and for maintaining their influence over the people. The Sardars even discouraged and opposed some Central Government’s initiatives for infrastructure development of their areas for obvious reasons that their people will get a chance to travel to other areas to get jobs and hence they will get out of their control. Therefore, due to Sardars vested interests the masses have suffered from lack of education and employment opportunities to lead a very poor life as compared with other areas of Pakistan.
Now, with ongoing development of the CPEC with a huge investment by China, opportunities and prospects for the socio-economic development of Pakistan and Balochistan have increased manifold. This is not being digested by Pakistan’s enemies. Hence, to mislead the common people the evil nexus of hostile forces around Pakistan are active to run a malicious propaganda campaign against Pakistan-China strategic and economic partnership. They are also bribing and inciting some of the merciless Sardars and their activists to play to their tune to oppose the CPEC to harm Pakistan and Baloch interests just for the sake of money and lust for power. But, it is expected that the ordinary Baloch who is brave and patriotic, always ready to die for his beloved country, will not be misled.
Hence, it is important for the Baloch people to understand that the CPEC will bring huge economic advantages to Balochistan. Since all three routes of the CPEC would be passing through Balochistan, it will connect various parts of the province to each other with the development of roads network and setting up of industrial manufacturing units. With the improved infrastructure, construction and manufacturing activities, chances of employment, better education and increased health facilities will multiply. Above all, with the development and operation of Gwadar port, airport and infrastructure, agricultural and industrial development, opportunities for technical education and related employment will increase manifold thus enhancing income of the Baloch people and their welfare. Apart from CPE- related development in Balochistan, interaction of Baloch people, with the people of other provinces will also increase and this would further add to their employment opportunities in other provinces. And, the above mentioned economic opportunities will make the common people independent of their Sardars for earning their livelihood.
In view of the above discussed advantages of the CPEC, it would be easier for the Baloch people to understand that it would be more beneficial for them to support the development of the CPEC, than opposing the project by indulging in the disruptive activities. In fact the hostile forces and some Sardars who are busy in inciting the Baloch people to oppose the construction of the CPEC do not want that Pakistan should develop its economy to become economically strong to improve the welfare of its people. Pakistan’s CPEC-related economic development is also detested by India, who is spearheading the forces opposing the CPEC, because it wants to keep Pakistan and its people economically backward so that it can establish its hegemony in the South Asian region.
Moreover, India thinks that based on CPEC-related economic advantages, Pakistan will develop at a faster pace than India. India also perceives that if Pakistan gets economically strong, its defence capability will enhance to question India’s suppressive policies in South Asia, and the prosperity coming to Pakistani people due to CPEC will frustrate India’s poor population to create difficulties for the Indian governments.
In view of the above discussion, it appears that CPEC-related economic advantages will act as an incentive for the Baloch people to shun sub-nationalism and they would think as Pakistanis first and cooperate in the construction of the CPEC to get economically well off rather than preferring to remain backward and poor, as wanted by Pakistan’s enemies.