Role of Army in the Development of Balochistan
As a geographical pivot of history, Pakistani geopolitical location has always been significant for the global players. Within Pakistan, the Province of Balochistan, has immense geo–strategic significance in the emerging international political and economic order. This God gifted province, has immense natural resources with traditionally proud and strapping manpower. However, its people mostly remained deprived of basic amenities of life. The current crises in Balochistan are centred on two things: first; continuous deprivation and extensive poverty of the Baloch masses compounded by the lack of economic and social development and second; lack of national unity and inter-provincial harmony, further fuelled by external powers through sub-nationalist elements.
On its part, Pak Army has made gigantic contributions in the development of the Province, which include development in all sectors viz; education, health, mining, provision of jobs in Army, infrastructural development and other socio-economic development. In the field of education, over 17000 Baloch students have been selected for education in various schools and colleges, run by Pak Army and Frontier Corps. Besides, Pak Army is also imparting education to over 6500 Baloch students in the schools and colleges of Federal Government administered by Pak Army.
In 2006, Pak Army took initiative to revive Chamalang Coal Mines project, which was disputed ever since 1980s. After its resolution under Pak Army, 73500 individuals of Luni and Marri tribes were provided job opportunities and 2000 individuals were employed as guards. The process was followed by excavation of over 2 million tons of coal. Following the consensus resolution of the Chamalang Coal Mines dispute under Pak Army, an education programme namely, the Chamalang Beneficiaries Education Programme (CBEP) was organized by the Southern Command of Pak Army. Under this educational project, 4183 x Balochi students are being sponsored for free education. The hotel facility through this programme has been established in Quetta Cantonment has housed over 100 students of Marri and Luni tribes of the Loralai and Kohlu Districts. The students are provided with free boarding, lodging and medical facilities along with monthly stipends.
The Gawadar Institute of Technology (GIT) is yet another project, indeed, a joint venture between Balochistan Government and Pak Army for imparting technical education to Balochi youth. Army Chief, General Kayani inaugurated the Project in April 2011. The major areas of the expertise under this project are; food preservation and processing and industrial electronics. Through yet another joint venture with the Balochistan Government, Pak Army has established Army Institute of Mineralogy in May 2011. The project aims at imparting basic knowledge and mining skills among the Baloch youth for exploiting the local resources and providing job opportunities too. Gradually, the level of education is being enhanced to graduation in the mining.
In August 2011, General Kayani inaugurated, Quetta Institute of Medical Sciences (QIMS). This non-profitable institute aims at imparting quality medical education facilities to the youth of Baluchistan. For the promotion of vocational training in Fishery and Nautical Sciences, Headquarters Southern Command of Pak Army established Balochistan Institute of Marine Sciences (BIMS). This project of technical education aims at opening the avenues for job opportunities for the youth of the Province. Since 2007, over 1000 youth of the province have been given technical training through Baluchistan Institute of Technical Education (BITE) by Pak Army. Free boarding, lodging and messing are being provided beside scholarship. Students are being provided free of cost tool kits / sewing machines, on completion of the course.
In connection with the induction in Pak Army, over 12000 Baloch recruits have been enrolled and trained as combat soldiers in various branches of Army in last 3-5 years. A sizeable number of educated Baloch youth are being inducted in Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) to become officer in Pak Army. In Dera Bugti area, Pak Army and FC have launched many Developmental Projects. These includes: provision of job opportunities to over 1500 individuals, financial assistance to over 1500 families, renovation and establishment of 31 health centres. Besides, 458 animal units were provided to needy families and free of cost education of over 150 local students in Baluchistan Public School Sui (BPSS), established on the lines of MCJ. The Sui Town has been provided with the free natural gas. In the health Sector, free medical camps for 2-3 days are being established in remote areas where free medical examination and medicines are distributed on regular basis. Free medical treatment is also provided to approximately 500 to 1000 patients of Mekhter and Chamalang per month. Pak Army is also monitoring many developmental projects for their smooth and free functioning.
General Kayani has already proposed a political solution of the Balochistan unrest. He does not believe in the use of military for resolving the Baloch problems. In May 2012, General Ashfaq Kayani assured the participants of the meeting on Balochistan, held under Prime Minister that, “no army personnel or official of Frontier Constabulary would be involved in any kind of operation in Balochistan.” Indeed, a cautious approach deems essential to handle the ongoing provincial situation. For a comprehensive and long lasting solution of the Baloch crisis, Federal Government and all main stream political parties must undertake political dialogue with all stake holders to dispel the impression that the Federal Government has adopted the policy of oppression and denial to the rights to the people of Balochistan. There is a need for continuity and speedy completion of mega development projects on the lines of Pak Army.
History reveals that, the people of Balochistan have a splendid history of self-respect and maintaining their veracity. They have the honour to fight with the “Alexander the Great” without accepting a defeat. Today they have the will to trounce the conspiracies being hatched from across the borders to disintegrate them. The socio-economic developmental model adopted by Pak Army for improving the living standards of Baloch people is worth appreciating. If Provincial Government and ministries of Federal Government follow the model, Balochistan can be brought at par with rest of the provinces of Pakistan in just 3-4 years.
By Dr Raja Muhammad Khan