|CPEC and Balochistan | Opinion from LUMS|
Saleem Abbas Shigri
CPEC will help the country to develop the under-developed province, i.e. Balochistan and reduce the development gap between Balochistan and other provinces. Having connected Kasghar with deep sea Gawadar Port, CPEC will open new avenues of opportunities to the unprivileged province of Pakistan, i.e. Balochistan, and upgrade its profile on the national and international level. Though the province has geo-strategic importance and unlimited natural resources, but, decades of administrative and serious political neglect has plagued the province with disturbances and unrest. “The issue of Balochistan started emerging when the future of Kalat State was decided by referendum in Shahi Jirga in June 1947, in favor of Pakistan” (Balochistan Past). After independence, Government failed to comprehend the complex dynamics of Balochistan and tried to resolve issues through reactive measures which lacked a long-term vision. Resultantly, the disturbances expanded in quantum and space and engulfed entire Balochistan. Due to these factors, political dynamics of the province has remained uncertain, and it revolves around pro and anti-federation. Furthermore, poverty, illiteracy, and remoteness exacerbated the complexity of problems. An enormous amount of natural resources, strategic location, and current political dynamics of Balochistan provide an ideal opportunity for exploitation by inimical forces. Hence, Pakistan’s leap forward towards prosperity is connected with Balochistan, and CPEC would be vital for addressing the concerns of Balochistan.
The mega projects of CPEC will contribute to the development of Balochistan, and standard of living will be improved by discouraging people from an insurgency. In the developmental sector, up-gradation of Gawadar Port, construction of the international airport, and the establishment of hospitals are the hallmarks of progress in Balochistan. “With estimated 7.1 billion initial investments through CPEC, Balochistan ranks second in its share from $ 46 billion” (CPEC and Balochistan). Such initiatives will improve the territorial infrastructure of Balochistan and living standards of its people. As CPEC has added much value to the profile of Balochistan, the federal government would work to remove the strong political deprivation of the province. The federal government would consider the interest of Balochistan while formulating any decision on the national and international level. Subsequently, CPEC will add much-needed value to the profile of the Balochistan.