Baluchistan on the Rise
September 09, 2011
Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan, had remained neglected and underdeveloped due to a host of factors. Central governments’ apathy and lack of vision, provincial government’s incompetence and resistance by tribal chieftains all contributed towards this end. There are powers which are averse to development in the province as half starved and illiterate people are easy to be control.
The present civil and military leadership is fully cognizant of these realities and alive to the feeling of deprivation prevalent in Baloch masses. Display of anger by Baloch youth is natural and understandable. The positive side of the whole scenario is that the government is fully aware and is taking steps to arrest the situation. The government initiated Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan package, recognizing that justice had not been done with the province in the past. The package addresses long standing demands of the people of Baluchistan. Similarly, financial layout for the province was increased through National Finance Commission Award. That will provide additional funds to the provincial government for developmental works in the province.
There is always time lag between decision and its implementation. What one needs to see is that the decisions are translating into reality and with what speed. In case of Balochistan, decisions are being implemented, though at a far slower pace than expected. Mirani and Sabakzai Dams located in Districts Kech and Zhob respectively have been completed. Mirani Dam has a storage capacity of 305000 Acre feet and a command area of 33,000 Acres. The dam was constructed by WAPDA at a cost of Rs.5861.00 million. Sabakzai Dam, costing Rs.1960.82 million, has a storage capacity of 32,000 Acre feet and command area of 8000 Acre. In addition to these two dams, work is underway on Shadi Kaur Dam District Kech, Garuk Dam District Kharan and Pelar Dam District Awaran. Delay Action Dams for ground water recharge of Quetta, Pishin, Mastung and Mangocher valleys and flood dispersal structures along with the conveyance system on Nari River are being constructed. These developments will bring an additional 65,000 Acres of land under cultivation, providing direct and indirect employment to thousands of people, adding to long-term prosperity of the province.
Army is also supplementing governmental efforts. Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani recently inaugurated Musakhel Mineral Development project in District Zhob. He proclaimed the project as a gift for the people of Balochistan on Independence Day. It is estimated that the site has two to five million tons of coal deposits. It will be able to create employment opportunity for next 12 to 15 years. The income generated from the project will be spent on the welfare of the people of the area. Foundation stone for Musakhel High School was also laid by the Army Chief. Army is consistently working to provide better education to Baloch youth. In this connection, Sui garrison was converted into Sui Education City where Sui Military Collage is already functioning. As many as 4,480 students have already graduated from Balochistan Institute of Technical Education. Army has also initiated Chamalong Education Program and has set up Gwadar Institute of Technical Education and a Medical Collage at Quetta. These undertakings will accrue into long-term benefit for the people of Balochistan. For their immediate relief, Pakistan Army has already inducted 6,000 men in service. This number will reach 12,000 in two years time.
Process of material developments and that of provision of jobs will directly benefit the masses. In addition, the government is working to address political grievances of the people and that of their political leaders. Recently, federal government has authorized the Balochistan government to begin a dialogue with all political forces in the province. In this connection, President Asif Ali Zardari has emphasized that provincial government should engage all segments of society, including political parties, tribal elders, academics and the local population to carve out an acceptable solution to their problems. Such an approach will induce sense of participation among Baloch notables’ and masses. It will also help in checking incidents like killing of three employees working on Gwadar-Turbat-Hoshab Motorway, which resulted into suspension of work on the project. Uncalled for loss of life and delays in implementation of projects can be avoided if local political elite and people of the area are taken on board. Adoption of such an approach will persuade locals to own and contribute towards developmental efforts of the government bringing about a sustainable change.