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'Balochistan needs more attention'

January 08, 2004


ISLAMABAD, Jan 7: The mega projects in Balochistan will guarantee the bright future of Pakistan, but the voice of the province needs further enunciation in the corridors of power so that the task of poverty alleviation could be speeded up , said federal minister for food and agriculture Sardar Yar Mohammad Rind.

He was presiding over the launching ceremony of a book - A Critical Comment on Political Economy of Balochistan - written by journalist Siddiq Baluch here on Wednesday. The ceremony was organized by a literary organization, Daira.

Mr Rind said unlike other provinces Balochistan was not under the British rule when it opted for Pakistan of its own free will. Balochistan's future, he added, was liked with the federation of Pakistan.

He said the fact was that until now his province had been wilfully left out of development process. He said his own area lacked drinking water and nearly half of his people were suffering from Hepatitis-B.

The minister said he expected elected representatives belonging to Balochistan should have been speaking for the rights of the province and influencing governments to initiate welfare projects. But, he said, these representatives squandered away their time in slogans and non-productive activities.

Col Ghulam Sarwar (retired) read out a paper on Balochistan's strategic and geo-political importance. He said in spite of its dominating position, the province was denied basic infrastructure while colonial masters choked the voice of the province for over a century.

Senator Sanaullah Baloch indicated that since 1849, the British government had a forward policy and developed railways and exploited mineral resources of Balochistan. He regretted that our own successive governments had adopted a policy of forced penetration, revealing a marked distrust for the local people.

The people demand participatory government. He regretted that instead of appointing the local, a governor had to be sent from Islamabad to the province. MNA Rauf Mengal said journalists in Balochistan could not function effectively. He welcomed Mr Baluch's new book which, he added, would help the people of Pakistan learn more about the problems of this rich province.

Mahmood Hashmi said that Balochistan had been wilfully neglected in the past. He hoped that with the induction of Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali as prime minister, past mistakes would be mitigated.

He said the president and prime minister had envisioned a great future for Pakistan and with the completion of the mega projects, Balochistan would become the most prosperous province of the country.

Dr Ghazanfar Mehdi spoke of the limitless opportunities in the province, narrating a story about his visit to Gwadar in connection with building of roads. He was informed that about 4,000 tons of apple and dates were being wasted in the province annually. Sadly, he said, there was no one to husband these resources.

Mr Baluch advanced the reason for writing on the economy. He said he could have easily written on politics, but Balochistan was contemplating huge mega projects as Mirani Dam, the Gwadar Port (which he called the mother of all ports) ad Kacchi Canal of the magnitude of Rs120 billion.

Referring to some of the speeches on the occasion, he said Balochistan had happily chosen Pakistan because of the autonomy clause enshrined in the 1940 Resolution, a great promise and attraction for the Balochs whose future was bound together with Pakistan.

About the Gwadar Port, Mr Baluch said it provided a central lane to East, West and South Asia. The Chinese were interested in the port because it provided the shortest distance to Xingiang, he added.