Published in Pakistan Observer on 6 Feb 2022
THE insurgency in Balochistan is on the rise.No words can assuage the loss of lives of valiant sons of the soil who are offering blood, as well as of misguided insurgents.
I had the opportunity to serve Balochistan from 2012 to 14.My exposure to disturbed seventeen southern districts of the province was rewarding on one extreme but appalling, painful, and worrisome on the other.
After service to Balochistan, I also got the opportunity to do my PhD in Strategic Security Management of CPEC.
My offerings in subsequent paras are based on these two experiences.Right at the outset, I shall like to say that, such threats had been foreseen and the state will prevail In Sha Allah upon elements who are trying to serve the interests of enemies of Pakistan.
In the 20th century geopolitics of the region, two provinces of Pakistan adjoining Afghanistan ie Balochistan and the KP suffered the most.
Balochistan remained more unfortunate for multiple reasons viz poor management, poor governance, and two front situation ie unstable Afghanistan on one border and estranged Iran on the other.
Perennial neglect, injustices at the state level and the vested-interest-serving elite has created feelings of alienation and deprivation.
Interestingly, the British ruled Balochistan through two cardinal principles; appeasement of Sardars and keeping the masses alienated.
Unfortunately, with the lack of ingenuity, even Pakistan continued to follow the same principles.
I would like to substantiate my assertions with examples.1986 was my first visit to Quetta, I was then surprised to notice that despite being a provincial capital, English newspapers reached Quetta by 4 pm and the day there was no flight there was no newspaper.
As late as 2014, I didn’t find any improvement in this domain in spite of the era of the internet.
There is no improvement in the connectivity of Balochistan with the rest of the country for a long.
In the early 2010s, coastal highways and the start of night flights in Quetta may be seen as small pinpricks.
Dera Bugti and Kohlu are the most disturbed districts of Balochistan, no effort has been made to offset the British approach of a single entry and exit to these districts.
In the 80s PTV Station of Quetta was the most vibrant station, which launched new actors and popular TV dramas, now it’s non-existent.
General Musharraf paid extra attention to the neglected province.From 1947 to 2002, Rs 200 B were allocated to Balochistan for development, whereas from 2002 to 2008, Rs 400 B were allocated.
However, this money reached deep pockets and failed to improve the lot of the masses.
General Musharraf for the sake of better governance converted the Category B* area of Balochistan (which is 95% of the total area of Balochistan) to Category A but the very next government reversed this decision to serve the interests of Sardars.
There was not a single cardiac centre in entire Balochistan as late as 2014.Quetta as provincial capital lacked behind the rest by 30-40 years.
In the discharge of my duties, I extensively travelled through seventeen critical districts of Balochistan.
Abject poverty, social inadequacies, state of management, lack of connectivity was mind-boggling, to say the least.
On a governance template, one can still find as low as 2-5% governance in parts of Balochistan.
With a view to addressing the root causes of the insurgency, firstly, the State of Pakistan has to realise that, the province of Balochistan has transited from a ‘backyard and wasteland’ to a ‘region of immense strategic importance’.
Balochistan is critical for not only the prosperity of Pakistan but also for the future ambitions of China.
Secondly, the forces which are against the growth of Pakistan and the rise of China are anticipated to resort to such acts of terrorism.
We should be prepared to face such challenges.
Thirdly, in the media-savvy environment, feelings of alienation, deprivation and injustices get more pronounced.
Thus, it’s important to address the root causes of insurgency.The connectivity of Balochistan with the rest of the country should be improved.
Feelings of injustices, deprivation, alienation and social inadequacies should be mitigated and eradicated at a fast track.
Numerous projects are already being executed but the scale, speed and expanse need to be increased manifold.
The participation of the people of Balochistan in future plans and projects is a MUST.70 years of inadequacies can only be addressed through crash action and sincerity of purpose.
—The writer is a former DG ISSRA, National Defence University, Islamabad.