By Asad Ali
Baluchistan is 44 percent of Pakistan in terms of its geography and is also the most resource-rich province of the country. It offers some of the best assets for development. It is generously bestowed with natural and locational resources. It possesses the largest land area of any province of Pakistan, proving vast rangeland for goats, sheep, buffaloes, cattle, camels, and other livestock. Its southern border makes up about two-thirds of the national coastline, giving access to a large pool of fishery resources. As a frontier province, it is ideally situated for trade with Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf countries. Over the last four decades, it supplied cheap natural gas to Pakistan’s economic centers, supporting the country’s industrialization.
This province has always remained in the headlines of both international media and political fraternities for different reasons. They are actively involved in the political, economic and security situation of the mineral-rich province. Apart from this, there are some hostile elements as well, who are working proactively in order to derail the economic progress of the province, lure the sympathies of anti-Pakistan elements and massively provide financial support to the successionist elements. These hostile elements are also involved and spreading radicalization, extremism, terrorism, panic and a chaotic environment in the province.
Pakistan is well aware of the ground situation in the province and has been extending massive political and economic support to the provincial leaders in order to uplift the economic situation of the province. Additionally, the government of Pakistan has started various social programs as well to improve the educational condition of the province. Baluchistan’s students are being offered admissions in various leading universities of Pakistan to peruse their higher education. They are getting maximum incentives as well in this regard.
Likewise, Pakistan’s government and armed forces are determined to boost the overall situation of the province. Our forces are working tirelessly to eradicate the menace of terrorism from the province while the civilian government is engaging political actors of the province in order to bring them in mainstream politics. The general masses of the province have also been taking part in the political process, which is a good omen for democracy. The active participation of the people in the political process has negated all the propaganda, undertaken by hostile agencies, to derail the political and economic progress of the province. This political rapprochement in the province is result of our government and armed forces’ tireless efforts for peace in the province due to which insurgents are giving up arms and joining mainstream political process.
Similarly, the locals have participated in Local Government Elections in Baluchistan. The massive turnout was recorded and the overall elections process was completed peacefully. The participation of people in local elections expressed confidence in democracy by rejecting the resistive / armed narrative of Baloch insurgents.The successionist elements are also joining the mainstream political process by leaving separatist groups in the process, which are being funded by hostile intelligence agencies. This is indeed a great victory for our political process and the credit for this goes to our brave armed forces, who sacrificed their lives to bring peace and development to the province.
Not only politically, the government of Pakistan is also working to bring massive economic opportunities in the province, which aims at uplifting infrastructure and other important core areas. To accomplish this objective, the government of Pakistan along with the Chinese government has started marathon economic projects to build poor infrastructure of the province. A practical example of this progress in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The CPEC is covers various projects and its major chunk is also related to the development of Baluchistan in general and port of Gawadar in particular. The Chinse and Pakistan engineers are working tirelessly to utilize the untapped resources of the province for economic uplift.
The provincial government’s policy of development is based on all packages of programmes being implemented by the government through Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), federal PSDP and other Federal government programmes. Within the framework of above development programs, road and irrigation infrastructure, education and health facilities, agriculture and industrial development get the highest priority so that the socio-economic condition of the masses improves, and employment opportunities are created.
Likewise, Balochistan offers an excellent experiment in inclusive development, attacking poverty and regional income disparities by exploiting its comparative advantage, investing and developing its human resources and connecting it with the national market of goods and services. The structural impediments that have kept the province at a disadvantage can be offset by proactive, strategic interventions. This would require an all-hands-on-deck approach in which the federal, provincial and local governments, the private sector, NGOs, academics and professionals and the security agencies all work together for a common agenda. Despite efforts of hostile elements, the province is now on the right track with increasing political activities in entire province. For the further enhancement of the economic situation of the province, there needs to be a comprehensive provincial development strategy for Balochistan which outlines the key areas of investment for inclusive growth and provides the roadmap for integrated development in the province. In addition, Both Pakistani government and armed forces have defeated terrorism, extremism and cyber war of hostile agencies successfully. The province is flourishing democratically as they say, “Democracy is the Best Revenge”.
The writer is Islamabad-based regular contributor.