SELANGOR, MALAYSIA: The Baloch are known for their bravery and kindness, and they are also well known for their history as well. Recent disturbances in Balochistan have halt the daily routine activities of most Baloch people, and this includes things like their unique cultural dance chaap and so on.
The Baloch are well aware that if the deep sea port at Gwadar is developed and the revenue is spent on local people, unemployment will decline and the standard of living will rise. So, many of them wonder why this isn’t being done by the centre?
The history of development in Balochistan, in fact, shows that those who are involved in its development seem to have a different view of the definition of ‘development’. For instance, take the case of the Sui gas field, which is the biggest such facility in Pakistan. It was discovered in 1952 and after more than five decades, the people in Dera Bugti, where it is situated, remain deprived of the basics of a normal daily existence. The same goes for the Saindak Copper Gold project in the province’s Chaghi district. It was decided between the Metallurgical Corporation of China and the Government of Pakistan that 50 per cent of the revenue would go to the Chinese firm, 48 per cent to the Government of Pakistan and the remaining two per cent to the provincial government. My question is who decided this grossly unfair distribution formula? To add insult to injury, the federal government brings workers from other provinces to work at Saindak instead of trying to hire from among the local population.
The government says in its defence that the local workers are not skilled enough to extract copper. However, it ignores the fact that while it is willing to spend billions in extracting the resource, it can’t spend a few thousands in providing training to the locals. Of course, the fear also is that the same thing will happen when a serious effort is made by the federal government to develop and expand Gwadar.
No wonder then, that the people of Balochistan feel so alienated and frustrated by what they see happening to their province.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2012.
More in LettersIslamabad’s dangerous roads