There should be no doubt that Beijing will back Pakistan to ensure the security of the economic corridor.
Balochistan, the most resource-rich province of Pakistan, appears to have been attracting the attention of foreign predators, usurpers and imperialistic powers that intend to expand their influence in the region to gain control of its minerals and other economic resources. Unfortunately, Balochistan lacks technological prowess and economic resources to exploit its minerals, untapped resources and development of Gwadar port. It was in this context that Pakistan sought China’s help in developing Gwadar into an international port with the future plan to link it with Kashgar (China). Elements are now trying to sabotage the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Some local commentariat and politicians wittingly or unwittingly are opposing it though Balochistan — rather the entire Pakistan — stands to gain from it. The economic corridor will provide Pakistan with much-needed economic infrastructure, especially power generation plants.
It is unfortunate that learned writer Mohammad Ali Talpur, in a recent column, ‘Dompas’ (Daily Times, November 15, 2015) reproduced the history of repression by the apartheid regime in South Africa, and went so far as to compare the colonists’ policy in South Africa with Pakistan. Pakistan is a sovereign country and the entire world recognises Balochistan as a part of Pakistan. He wrote: “Pakistan has come up with its own version of dompas for the Baloch people to ensure they have a free hand in plundering Balochistan’s resources… The intention is to provide grounds for the dompas system for the Baloch people. Initially, it will be a security measure but later will eventually create racist apartheid in Balochistan.” The learned writer has had an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s and, therefore, his sympathies with his comrades in arms are natural.
Indeed, there was justification for the struggle against a unitary form of government and strong centre syndrome during the One Unit because not only Balochistan but also other smaller provinces had shown an aversion to it. But after One Unit was done away with, Baloch leaders had the opportunities to develop Balochistan. Whenever efforts were made by any government in the past to provide infrastructure and to develop Balochistan, thee nationalists resisted it. Some intellectuals and writers have the penchant for self-flagellation and are critical of Pakistan on every count. They do not understand the value of freedom, as they have never fought for their country or undergone the experience of being a prisoner of war like Jean-Paul Sartre.
While criticising Pakistan, they try to imitate the towering personality of Sartre and criticise their own country, forgetting that France was a colonial power that wished to keep the people of Algeria under occupation through brutal force and repression. Jean-Paul Sartre was a French philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer and literary critic. He took an uncompromising stand at the attempt of France to keep its hold on the colonies. In the case of Vietnam also he did not hesitate to stand up and be counted. He refused to accept the Nobel Prize for Literature in October 1964. Coming back to the CPEC, it has to be mentioned that the CPEC counterbalances Indian plans for exploiting Chinese weakness in the Indian Ocean by blocking the Malacca Strait in times of conflict.
There should be no doubt that Beijing will back Pakistan to ensure the security of the economic corridor providing access to the port of Gwadar, which aims to create direct links between China and the Arabian Sea. The CPEC is an ambitious $ 46 billion project giving Beijing greater access to the Middle East, Africa and Europe through Pakistan, via a new highway to Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea. Of course, Balochistan in particular and Pakistan in general will benefit from the project. Therefore, Baloch leaders should not miss this opportunity.
The CPEC, linking Gwadar port to the Chinese province of Xinjiang, will be a potential game changer for Balochistan where development activity has picked up after years of insurgency and violence. The Baloch youth, bubbling with enormous talent, vitality and energy, need special attention. Various governments in the past, whether military or elected, appeased and mollycoddled some sardars, chieftains and local wielders of power and influence. Billions of rupees were poured into the provincial treasury from the Centre in the name of packages and development plans but one could not see any worthwhile project with first-class educational facilities in diverse fields and disciplines for the common Baloch youth. Those funds landed into the pockets of some tribal sardars.
It should be kept in mind that Balochistan is not just the Baloch. It is very much the Pakhtuns as well. They indeed make up half of the province’s populace. They have been as much the sufferers of the Centre’s injustices as have been the Baloch, and the public discontent in their areas runs as high as it does in the Baloch belt. Yet none over there has taken to insurgency nor harboured any separatist sentiment. Balochistan is also very much Hazara too. Their ancestors may have migrated from Afghanistan as had the Baloch from Syria. However, in every way, they are sons of the soil as are the Baloch. They have lived there for ages, generation after generation. Lately, they have been particular targets of grisly sectarian bloodshed and have a legitimate grouse that the state has absolutely failed to protect them. Yet they have not given in to separatist tendency.