The poverty in the region in 1947-48 was between 35-38%, which became 62% in 2008 and now, according to UNDP (June/2016 report) 71% population lives in multidimensional poverty includes 55% population living below the poverty line.
Before tailoring the future scenario of Balochistan towards warfare or welfare, let’s view some snapshots of Balochistan history showing deprivations, conflicts, and periodic insurgencies since 1948. If we analyze the causes of the inconsistencies and riots, it would be reflected that the people are struggling and demanding for fair and equal socio-economic development and their sense of indigence led towards turmoil. In the past, their reservations were not addressed seriously, therefore, the episodes of unrest remain continue.
Some alarming figures out crying that Balochistan may lead towards a new episode of disorder in the future. The poverty in the region in 1947-48 was between 35-38%, which became 62% in 2008 and now, according to UNDP (June/2016 report) 71% population lives in multidimensional poverty includes 55% population living below the poverty line. Another rotten figure showing the worst situation of unemployment in the province reaching to the 66%, in addition,the scarcity of industries and other economic activities further boggy the situation. History shows that the youth factor ordained with poverty and unemployment were easily deluded by the anti-state factors within and outside the country for their own nefarious objectives and these two factors remained the basis of riot and feud around the globe.
The curse of extremism deeply afflicted Balochistan, being a threatening tool for peace and development. Premier has been made a fertile place for extremism, which results in the death of hundreds of civilians and thousands were injured. Beside this, more than 300,000 Shias, Zikris and Hindus have migrated to other areas of the country (HRCP Report, 2014). The recent attacks demonstrate that terrorists and Extremists are still able to execute high- impact attacks anywhere in the province.
The saga of Insurgency has reverberated unabated since 1948, insurgencies by Baloch nationalists have been fought in 1948, 1958-59, 1962-63 and 1973-77, with a reportedly stronger and broader insurgency beginning in 2003. These periodic uprisings caused the death of hundreds of civilians and security personnel. The Baloch argues that they are economically marginalized and poor compared to the rest of Pakistan, demanding for the equal socioeconomic development and greater provincial autonomy. Despite off, the past insurrections, the genuine grievances were not cordially entertained and this bleakness has twilighted the hopes of the people.
The cycles of previous enfranchisements have stung their hopes from CPEC because a meager share of 600 million dollars compared to other provinces once again catalyze their sense of impoverishment. They have genuine solicitudes over CPEC, they think if the billion dollars Saindak,Sui,Kachhi canal and Mirani dams could not bring change, prosperity in their respective towns and districts then how CPEC will be an emblem of development for the whole province?
In addition, the unequal distribution of socio-economic resources among the provinces, bad governance, huge embezzles,porous border,the activities of banned organizations, ingression of foreign hands can provoke the penury of the province and can mould it to any shape, it could also threaten China’s massive US$56 billion investment in the multi-faceted infrastructure venture known as the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Although, there is pleasing melody of development echoing in the region, but, once again, a new chapter of unfair allocation of resources has been launched. The above indicators were the factors of turbulence, mutiny and other fallacies in the past, and the same grumbles in the future could once again erupt another volcano of unrest.
The conflict of Balochistan needs a diplomatic based conflict resolution approach, viewing all the aspects including economical, social and political issues. Despite off, the above-cited threats it has a great Aptitude to be a prosperous and a welfare province, but, for this, following measures should be considered.
First, the gravity of the situation is demanding to rescue the suffocated hopes and trust of the people of Balochistan and for this, prompt trust building measures should be portrayed. Politically, the political parties should be free in their respective political activities, their mandate should be respected. Socially, their social needs and values should be gratified and economically, their economic rights, shares and economic opportunities should be provided.
Second, their true apprehensions on equal socio-economic justice, demand for the ownership of the resources and provincial autonomy should be addressed seriously. It’s the high time for tuning of new mind set by the federal and to take immediate steps for entertaining their real demands. The Mega project CPEC could be a golden opportunity to combat the reservations and has great potential to reshape it as a bond of love among the provinces.
Third, Youth being the bigger share of society and factor of peace and development should be taken into the mainstream as soon as possible. External and internal scholarships, Technical Institutes for the capacity building, normative educational institutes and means of livelihood and employment should be define and manage. Beside this, institutions should be empowered, The presence and rehabilitation of basic infrastructures with basic life amenities and Good governance should be ensured. With the efforts of security forces, violence has dropped and the peace has been revived. Security forces have the competence to maintain peace in the province, if such steps were taken, then surely, Balochistan will lead towards great welfare.
Published in The Balochistan Point on October 5, 2017
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and The Balochistan Point does not necessarily agree with them.