While the army chief gave a ‘gift to Balochistan’ in his second visit to the province within two weeks, the military cantonment in Quetta was attacked, leaving one person dead on Friday night.
Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, while inaugurating Musakhail Mineral Development Project on Friday, said the Pakistan Army has no interest in developing such projects except that natural resources are utilised for the benefit of the local population.
Musakhail, one of the most backward districts on the Balochistan-Punjab border, has an estimated two to five million tons of coal deposits that could last 15 years. The amount of marble deposits is yet to be determined.
Besides government royalty, the military will be given Rs400 per ton for providing security to the field. Some 20 trucks (each carrying 30 to 35 tons of coal) will be transported to Punjab.
“The project is a gift for the people of Balochistan on the eve of Independence Day,” said General Kayani. “The army has no vested interest in developing and managing natural resource projects in Balochistan, but
wants to exploit the reserves for the benefit of residents and to provide them education, health and employment.”
He said the army was called to work on the mineral field as tribal feuds were making it difficult for the locals to start the project.
The army chief said that law and order and development are deeply interlinked. “Balochistan is a province rich in minerals and its people should cooperate with the government and army, which have clear intentions to bringing socio-economic prosperity,” he said. General Kayani added that 6,000 people from Balochistan have been inducted in the army.
Later in the day, the military cantonment in Quetta, a high security zone in the provincial capital was hit by five rockets. A security guard was killed and three others were injured in the attack.
The rockets were fired from an unspecified location. Two rockets were exploded in deserted areas causing no loss of life or property, people close to the site said.
The explosions occurred within seconds and spread panic among residents. The extent of damage and casualties could not be independently verified because the area is barred for civilians. “We heard three explosions, but do not know where they took place,” a police officer said.
The outlawed Balochistan Liberation Army claimed the attack. However, such incidents occur routinely in the province close to Independence Day.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2011.