Dr Muhammad Khan
THE province of Balochistan, constituting 43% of total Pakistani landmass has been bestowed with tremendous potential of natural resources with high mountain barriers and long coastal areas. The people of the province are hard worker, tough, intelligent and loyal to their motherland. Unfortunately, owing to governance issues, exploitative sardari system, regional and international conspiracies, there remained phases of instability in the province for quite some time. Through hectic efforts of the defence forces of Pakistan, especially Pak Army the province has been brought back to normalcy in the last few years. Almost all those who opted to take up arms have surrendered their weapons and joined the mainstream.
Away from common misperceptions, there is nothing wrong with the people of the province, they are brave, loyal to Pakistan but less aware of exploiters. The exploiters on the other hand were mostly foreign sponsored and acted as a tool and make use of the poor masses to further the agenda of their sponsors. This misleading campaign continued for years and years until there came a realization among the people about the conspiracies, they were plunged into in the name of sub-nationalism.
In last few years, there has been visible positive change in the outlook of the province, which can be attributed to the awareness among the people of Balochistan. The masses have started rejecting those elements and their anti-state narratives, which mislead them and kept them backward for decades. The people of the province have now started realizing that their youth bulge was wrongly diverted towards those activities, which run counter to their interests and future development of their province. The people of the province are now more vigilant and futuristic about their youth and development of their respective areas. Now they support development of their area, education for their children and civic facilities for the masses. The betrayed masses seriously regret their past practices at the hands of the foreign agents.
Today, Balochistan is a changed province. There has returned the normalcy; a wind of peace, stability, awareness and economic prosperity. The farsighted people of the province get the credit of this change; after all, nothing could have been possible without their willingness to reject the militancy and centrifugal forces. Convincing the people for mainstreaming has been through hectic convincing and motivation of Pak Army. The senior army officers, the local military commanders and men of the Pak Army reached over to every nook and corner of the province to get the first-hand knowledge of the local problems and their on spot remedies. This process of direct military engagement with local masses restored the confidence of the local Baloch populace, who were tinted with a different picture of the military by the separatists and militants.
Indeed, over the years, the locals of the province, particularly the Baloch populace was misled through various misperceptions, created against the state and military through vested interests. It is to be mentioned that the province has been host of foreign conspiracies for years and years, beginning with the pre-partition phase. In the post partition phase, these so-called separatists have acted as tools in the hands of foreign spying networks, which had their own agendas for this geographical pivot of Pakistan and a regional crossroad. In order to do-away with these misperceptions, the military created a campaign of awareness among the local masses. The awareness campaign was followed by motivation for the mainstreaming of the masses and particularly of those elements, who were betrayed and adopted militancy as a profession. Pak Army changed the strategy and now rather combating the militants, adopted the motivational approach, which changed whole scenario.
As a result of this campaign, the people who were involved in militancy somehow, decided to lay-down their arms and started re-joining the main stream to spend a normal life. This strategy of Pak Army has indeed proved effective, motivational and futuristic for the misled class of the province. The Frontier Corps Balochistan has also played incredible role to restore the confidence among the masses. In order to make the environment conducive, Pak Army and FC made sure that law and order situation is brought under control. To achieve this, border control along Afghanistan and Iran was enhanced and men of the Pak Army and FC dedicated themselves for the service of the people, particularly in the far-flung areas of the province. The most significant and the needed aspect was the promotion of basic education among the masses of rural Baloch population. It was lack of education, which kept the people, in fact generations under the hostage of the miscreants. Local educational institutions were revitalized and new institutions were established for promotion of education in various far-flung areas of the province.
The youth, which was used as explosive by the miscreants, started going to schools and colleges. Defence forces of Pakistan, established a number of educational institutions and in many cases, the willing youth were taken to various cantonments by Army, Navy and PAF for better education, with bordering and lodging afforded by the military. Besides, Pak Army, FC, Navy and PAF are providing medical facilities to the local masses. With the development of Gwadar Port and construction of CPEC, the people of Balochistan Province are going to be benefitted more and more. There would be more economic opportunities for the masses, therefore, the local youth need to learn the skills and get acquainted with technological know-how. Involvement of the local educated and skilled manpower would further address the local grievances of the province. The province of Balochistan has returned to normalcy and there is stability in the province. Let’s work together to develop the under-developed regions of Pakistan for enabling masses to earn their livelihood ultimately bringing them at par with developed regions of country.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.