S M Hali
BALOCH feudal lords have been notorious for opposing development in their province. Their mindset is fixated on the factor that denies the uplift of its people; be it socio-economic, educational, health, nutrition or other aspects. There is a method in the madness. The ordinary Baloch serve as minions and serfs on the lands and property of the Baloch Sardars, who would not like to endanger their fiefdom if their subjects get enlightened. Generally Baloch feudal lords have been serving as the Governors or Chief Ministers of Balochistan. Despite the allocation of development funds for the construction of educational institutions, communication infrastructure, water and energy projects, the province of Balochistan has remained under developed. Firstly because the allocated funds for development were siphoned off by corrupt political leaders, secondly because they wanted the ordinary Baloch to remain steeped in ignorance lest he demand freedom from bonded labour and refuse to serve as menials.
Since 2015, with the advent of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the development of the Port of Gwadar, there is hope for the social uplift of the ordinary Baloch. Besides the development of the Gwadar Deep Sea Port, the 45 billion dollar mega project entails at least sixteen projects, the maximum for any province for Balochistan. These include Khuzdar Basima Highway (N 30), D.I. Khan Quetta Highway (N 50), Hubco Coal Power Plant, Gwadar Power Plant, Gwadar Nawabshah LNG Terminal and Pipeline, Gwadar Eastbay Expressway, Gwadar New International Airport, Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan, Expansion of Multipurpose Terminal including Breakwater & Dredging Wastewater, Treatment Plants for Gwadar City, Gwadar Primary School, Gwadar Hospital Upgradation, Gwadar Technical & Vocational College, Gwadar Eastbay Expressway II, Fresh Water Supply and Gwadar Free Zone.
CPEC is expected to usher an era of development for Pakistan in general and for the Baloch in particular as it is providing the people a means of livelihood and enhancement of the quality of their lives. Unfortunately, Baloch feudal lords would like to deny their people the fruits of the CPEC bonanza because they would rather see their people live in darkness and ignorance rather than challenge their authority.
Detractors of Pakistan and China, who would like to see the CPEC fail, have employed every possible trick in the book of guile, deceit and deviousness to destabilize the project and scare the Chinese away. From sedition to sabotage, fomenting insurgency to actual acts of terrorization, Balochistan has been rocked to the hilt. It goes to the credit of the law enforcing agencies that they have managed to quell the insurgency while the resilience of the majority of the Baloch nation has held the province intact. A number of Baloch feudal lords, who were on the payroll of inimical secret services to stir up trouble in Balochistan, have proceeded on self-imposed exile to safer climes to escape the dragnet of Pakistan’s security forces. Even in exile, they continue to play in the hands of Pakistan and China’s detractors and having sought asylum in various countries, they continue to spread venom against Pakistan and CPEC.
Reportedly, exiled Baloch leaders and activists gathered in Germany’s Berlin city to voice their concern against CPEC. The event titled “China’s One Belt One Road Initiative – Its adverse impact on Balochistan & the region” was organized by the European Branch of Baloch National Movement (BNM), a Baloch nationalist political group. Dr Zaffar Baloch, the Organizer of the Baloch National Movement in North America made stringent demands that China and Pakistan should get out of Balochistan. He stressed that Balochistan is not a part of Pakistan and it has no right to sign any agreement with China that has anything to do with Balochistan.
Hammal Haider, the Foreign Secretary of the Baloch National Movement was critical of China, stating that “China is very aggressive towards its `One Belt One Road’ policy and it’s not taking care of human rights violations which Pakistan is committing in Balochistan. China is very aggressive, but the problem is the European countries are reluctant to say anything. The purpose of the conference is to raise awareness and to engage the good people of European countries and raise their voices against China’s aggressive policies.”
Seeking to place impediments in the success of CPEC, numerous foreign intelligence agencies are operating from Afghanistan to support bomb blasts, suicide attacks, abductions, target killings, ethnic and sectarian violence in Balochistan through their affiliated militant groups such as BRP, Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), Jundullah (God’s soldiers) and others to fulfil their heinous plans at the cost of Pakistan, China and Iran. The Baloch feudal lords have been active in denigrating Pakistan and CPEC. They run campaigns on the internet, blog despicably false claims of human rights transgression by Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies and seek funds from international donors to continue their machinations.
Some Baloch feudal lords see the light of reason and have returned to Pakistan to become a part of the historic resurgence of their province. Many insurgents have surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan. Regrettably, on the behest of some of Pakistan and CPEC’s opponents, leader of the BRP, Nawabzada Brahamdagh Bugti continues to shun the amnesty offered by the government of Pakistan and continues to mislead the Baloch against the Federation of Pakistan by opposing the CPEC. We need to be united in ensuring the completion of CPEC if we want to see prosperity and peace in the region.