“For million of the years we were hunter-gatherers, and it was through the evolutionary pressures of that way of life that a brain so adaptable and so creative eventually emerged. Today we stand with the brains of hunter-gatherers in our heads, looking out on a modern world made comfortable for some by the fruits of human inventiveness, and made miserable for others by the scandal of deprivation in the midst of plenty.” — Richard E. Leakey
Balochistan National Party-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal has vowed to “resist every move against the interests of Baloch people”. His statements provoked me to go a bit in depth of the matter of the Baloch “deprivation” and came to know that the “true” leader was in self-exile for so many years and many other Baloch leaders are also living in that way, protecting the rights of their people by protecting themselves first and by getting funds from the foreigner ‘interest seekers’. Allah Nazar Baloch, whose militant organization the Balochistan Liberation Front is active in Gwadar, has been warning multinational companies and China to halt investment in Gwadar port.
Mengal’s statements came at the time when the government of Pakistan formally awarded a multi-billion dollar contract for the construction and operation of Gwadar port to China aiming to improve the port and open the doors of development and prosperity for Pakistan, particularly Balochistan. Oil and gas pipelines will also be part of the corridor in the long run, benefiting economic activity in Balochistan. Gwadar is one of the most generously endowed areas in the region having a 790-km coastal belt as well as a wealth of mineral reserves. Gwadar’s coastline, located on the shores of the Arabian Sea, is important to the shipping route into and out of the Persian Gulf.
This opposition is very much linked with the Indians. India has made no secret of its strong opposition to the CPEC project, and it is believed to be making covert efforts to sabotage it. Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “very strongly” raised the issue regarding China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during his visit to Beijing, and called the project “unacceptable”.
Swaraj said Modi was “concerned” about the $46 billion project, adding that the Indian government had summoned a Chinese envoy to raise the issue over the corridor that is to run through Pakistani Kashmir.
Another factor of sabotaging this project is Indian involvement in Chabahar Port in Iran. As the strategically important port, could give India a sea-land access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan. New Delhi already pledged to build a container terminal and a multi-purpose cargo terminal on two berths at the Chabahar Port in south-eastern coast of Iran. Pakistan’s decision to transfer the management of the port to the Overseas Port Holding Company of China for 40 years sent jitters to India, which responded by moving fast on the Chabahar Port Project.
Could Mr. Mengal and the other ‘leaders’ like him tell us what they did for their people except to make them deafer and dumb that they are unable to decide right and wrong by themselves? Earlier, these sardars being the part of different governments robbed funds of Balochistan, collected the gas royalty for decades, ran private jails, kept their opponents for months and made them walk on the burning charcoals to prove their innocence and did not open even a single school in their reign. This is what how they are serving their own “people”. Dr. Amarjit Singh in his article published in Indian official Journal “Defence Review” describes the past involvement in the words that, “with RAW and RAD (Russian Intelligence) help, America trained some 30 Baloch fighters in 2002 that RAW helped select. Further he says that “Freedom fight and proxy war in Baluchistan is morally justified … and is in India’s strategic interest”.
The motivation and the idea of weakening Pakistan is same among these separatist leaders and India. Former US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a speech that “India has always used Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan. India has over the years been financing problems in Pakistan”. BLA is being armed, trained and funded by India’s RAW just as Mukti Bahini was in East Pakistan.
Coming towards the prospective conclusion, Pakistan Army Chief Raheel Sharif showing a strong personal commitment said, “I reiterate our resolve that any attempt to obstruct or impede this (CPEC) project will be thwarted at all costs”. In spite of Indian RAW’s most determined effort to support the Baloch militants’ campaign of murder and terror, the Baloch insurgency has been significantly weakened by the Pakistan Army campaign in the province.
*Shahzadi Tooba Hussain Syed is a Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute Islamabad and can be reached at [email protected]