By Faiza Khan
Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan by land is always in the news about terrorism and killings of innocent civilians/armed personnel. There are so many speculations about the factors involved behind this massacre, which is currently experienced by innocents of Balochistan. These militants are so called freedom fighters that are working to separate Balochistan from Pakistan and don’t let the Government to focus on the problems faced by them. Similarly, involvement of foreign intelligence agencies in destabilizing Pakistan through such maneuvers cannot be ruled out. The Government has been giving the due budget to Balochistan but the corruption of some Nationalist leaders out there never spent a single rupee for the welfare of the people and through that money, they raised their own armies and kept everyone in the dark.
Balochistan was never like this, these are the militants, who have made the situation worse. Currently, there have been targeted, ethnic and sectarian killings in most of the cities but the situation is getting better because of LEAs operations and Government’s reconciliation policy. CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) as a part of Government’s reconciliation policy has added value to its transformational progress. Pakistan has started working on Gawadar Sea-Port project and anti-Pakistan forces have become active to undermine the project in order to stop the work of Sea-Port because of its utmost geographical importance. Balochistan constitutes about 43% of Pakistan’s territory but it is sparsely populated and less than 5% of Pakistan’s population live in the province. Obviously construction of roads, railways, industrial zones, oil terminals and Gwadar as a flourishing port would entail settlement of population from other provinces.
The multi-million dollar project will facilitate business, trade and transportation of various goods and materials between China, Pakistan and many other countries through Pakistan’s warm waters. These developments because of CPEC will make way for a multitude of economic opportunities, which will not only attract foreign investments but could also result in real estate of Balochistan becoming an increasingly valuable asset for Pakistan. India has been funding terrorists from BLA, BSO, BLF etc just to make sure that peace is not established in the province.
Balochistan, a region rich in gas, gold and copper as well as untapped reserves of oil and Uranium, has been rife with economic instability and political turmoil. The under developed province’s problems stem from unfair distribution of wealth by Nationalists that largely ignored the region while continuing to exploit its natural resources for their own welfare. This neglect purportedly gave birth to grievances, which are exploited by militants for waging a revolt against the Government.
Progress on CPEC initiative has so far been successful mainly because of the overall improvement in law and order situation of Pakistan due to ongoing military operation Zarb-e-Azb, carried out against militants and Islamist extremist groups. Government’s efforts of carrying out targeted operations against the militants, across Balochistan and offering general amnesty to Baloch fighters have yielded some results in form of restoring relative peace in the province.
Under the National Action Plan (NAP), the Government in consultation with military high ups of the province drew a road map for peace restoration, which has deteriorated since 2000. But now it has been decided that all those Baloch militants, who have surrendered before the state have been awarded with some incentives. As per amnesty policy, half million rupees are awarded to an ordinary fighter, one and an half million or more to commanders according to their status, besides Government job or employment.
Over two hundred fighters including local commanders have laid down their weapons before the authorities; two dozen militants from TTP are reported to have been killed in encounters. The LEA’s have also succeeded in killing high profile sectarian outfit leaders. Apart from that, forces also started information based operations, particularly in Awaran district, against Dr. Allah Nazar, the Commander of Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) and his group. Several militants, including ethnic and religious militants, have been killed while the number of arrestees is in thousands, since the implementation of NAP.
In Balochistan, despite political unrest for the very first time almost all political and religious parties have developed consensus for this project and have shown realization that the proposed CPEC has potential to be the ‘game changer’ in the region. Right from its development stages, Pakistan is set to benefit from the humungous pool of employment opportunities created by CPEC.
CPEC consists of several projects of Roads, Highways, Expressways and Motorway, Freight Train service, Energy projects, Solar systems, Windmill and Hydropower, fiber optics and infrastructure. Besides this, in this economic corridor, there are plans to establish Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in all Provinces to boost economic activities. The renewed business activity in Gwadar is making way for a multitude of economic opportunities and resulting in real estate becoming an increasingly valuable asset.
However, despite initial misgivings, the $46 billion project is off to a positive start. CPEC is China’s largest international investment venture so far and promises to bring immense benefits to the two sides, both political and economic. When completed, it will bring great promise to cement Pakistan’s position as a strategically viable country in the region. This project also holds great promises for stakeholders like Russia and Iran. The corridor would connect Gwadar with China’s autonomous region of Xinjiang through a network of railways, highways, pipelines, production units and industries running along the route.
CPEC is going to be a game changer in this situation, since there is a lot of investment in infrastructure and other development projects, which will bring Balochistan and its people into the central circle and will help to remove the misconception spread by the Nationalists and other negative elements, which are present in the society. International powers have been viewing this economic corridor and its impacts very keenly and there have been so many misguiding reports to manipulate the facts and to make it controversial.
Pakistan’s armed forces and Government have been working hard to make this project successful because this project will change the internal and external dynamics of the foreign policy. India is the only country, which has been deeply stressed with this project and trying its level best to put hurdles in it but by seeing the progress and steps by both, China and Pakistan, CPEC is going to prove a nightmare for India. So, let the chants of Pak-China friendship zindabad echo through the Himalayas all the way to the Arabian Sea.