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Balochistan at Davos



This year's meeting in Davos has been overshadowed by a not so bright situation worldwide. The growth forecast of the IMF has just been diminished and Chancellor Merkel has just warned that the global financial system is damaged significantly. Climate change and trade wars are other dangerous developments that threaten our global economy. Other than this larger picture, the annual presentation of Pakistan in Davos has this year opened a vista new chapter. In previous years either the Pakistani President or the PM would apprise the assembled Davoselite to what was going on in our country. Sponsored and organised by Pathfinder Group, the PAKISTAN BREAKFAST and other events like the PAKISTAN DINNERS and LUNCHES and the PAKISTAN PAVILION have been joined for the last four of years by the Martin Dow Group because of the vision of their late founding Chairman M. Jawed Akhai.

During the Davos week Tuesdays PAKISTAN DINNER traditionally takes place in the famous restaurant Schatzalp that is located high above Davos near the former "Magic Mountain". The Guest of Honour this year was the Chief Minister (CM) of Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan. A pleasant surprise for many of the people present, just a short time ago it would have been unimaginable that the CM of Balochistan would represent Pakistan in an international forum! Giving an introduction to Pakistan's largest province by territory, The CM first explained the many opportunities that the abundance of natural resources of the Province. He explained what CPEC and other projects of the government offers to potential investors. That he was very eloquent and credible was a real surprise for the assembled who generally tend to treat Balochistan as a backward Province teeming with militant leaders who are not so literate and/or capable. In fact most of the Baloch Sardars leading the almost defunct secessionist movement live in potential luxury abroad duly financed by India's RAW. 

Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa, the General Commanding Southern Command of the Pakistan Army, who was also present at the dinner, supported the remarks of the CM. He gave the diners a short but effective briefing about the improved security situation in the province including the progress that the fencing of the Afghan border is making and the projects that the Pakistan Army is supporting, particularly in education and roads. Senator Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar accompanying the CM gave a brilliant exposition about the current situation and future programs supporting the CM's and adding his views about the optimistic future of this largest but least developed province of Pakistan. During a lively Q & A Session that followed, a lot of negative perceptions about Balochistan were dispelled.

On Wednesday in another highpoint for the country, the Pakistan Pavilion in the Hotel Panorama was inaugurated by the CM Balochistan. An idea of Pathfinder and Martin Dow Groups the Pakistan Pavilion (now its second year) aims to reach out to potential investors in Davos attending the WEF Annual Summit. Situated in the ground floor of Panorama Hotel, it is easily reachable from the main street of Davos. This Pakistan-specific program is available to visitors who can drop in freely with informality. Jam Kamal Khan, Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa and Senator Kakar very successfully answered questions that followed. 

The fact of an elected CM of Balochistan representing Pakistan and that too in a very eloquent and knowledgeable way has gone a long way to changing perceptions about Balochistan not being really part of the Pakistan mainstream. The media in Davos are a very hard hitting lot not prone to give any quarter to anyone. At least two well-known media persons gave very favourable immediate comments. This was a good moment for Pakistan, a defining moment for the positive at the world's most famous Annual Meeting of the rich and powerful from both the public and private sectors of the world.

The Pakistan Ambassador to Switzerland in Berne did come, and again not to extend protocol. He did so out of personal conviction.To me what mattered above all was the simplicity of the Balochistan entourage. It consisted of the CM, his spouse and Senator Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar. There were no aides, no security and above all no protocol. This was both practical and effective following the Davos pattern where accompanying aides are minimised. To put it bluntly "Nihari" made by cooks specially flown was in not being eaten at public expense and the Pakistan Embassy was non-existent except briefly at the Zurich Airport on arrival. Balochistan, you have set a tremendous example for Pakistan. In future Pakistani leaders who come to Davos will not "waste public money" in pursuing what is their primary task, the good of Pakistan. 

(The writer is a defence and security analyst)


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