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CPEC: Urgent Need for Human Resource Development in Balochistan

Maryam Zia

Whenever Balochistan government goes to Donor Community meetings and brief them about their new projects and developments, the first question comes back is How will Balochistan be able to achieve its development goals without high powered human resource?

Recently, in a meeting with World Bank, Health department presented its road map for restructuring health and mentioned their projects of three new tertiary-care hospitals along with medical colleges in the districts of Kech, Loralai and Khuzdar. The immediate question by one of the delegation’s member was that Balochistan already lacks skilled professionals and doctors how will it be able to run three new facilities in such a situation?

In fact it is not a wrong question to be asked again and again as without human resource development, neither social indicators of a society can improve nor economic progress is possible.

Now the important question arises of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), it is a project most vaunted about not only in Pakistan’s Parliament or media but also on international platforms like United Nations or in development conferences. Though, it is seen as Aladdin’s lamp for the revival of Pakistan’s slow economy at one hand and bolstering of strategic position of the country in the region on the other. Fortunately or unfortunately, it originates from the port city of Gwadar in Balochistan, where last month Federal government allotted 9,300 hectors of tax-exempt land to China for an industrial zone. It is obvious when the Physical infrastructure of CPEC will be completed then the Gwadar Port will be fully functional and investors will setup their businesses in Gwadar Industrial Zone. Although, the Gwadar Port will be run by a Chinese company, either all of the manpower at port will be from China or will there be any place for locals to work? If locals will be given an opportunity to work, then all of sudden from where local Baloch will learn the technical skills required for getting an employment there?

Obviously, the Chinese company will not wait for them to get trained. Neither the Chief Executives of businesses in Industrial Zones will delay their business operations until local inhabitants don’t get enrolled in top programs of Business, Engineering and Economics in country’s top schools or abroad and graduate to work with them. Clearly, they will draw human resource and skilled laborers from other parts of Pakistan. As a result, it will add into the agony of Baloch and they will consider it as another step to marginalize them in their own locality.

However, the first thing which comes to mind is that why Federal or Provincial government didn’t think of this while planning for such a huge project. Even-though, they somehow forgot or couldn’t think of it earlier. Then it is the time to initiate programs to build the human resource capacity in the province for CPEC. Nonetheless, it is not the sole responsibility of Balochistan government alone to take-up to this task because the project is believed to spur economic activities in all parts of Pakistan and China equally. So automatically it comes to Federal government to design scholarship programs in partnership with China to develop high-powered technical personnel for Balochistan.

Another equally important need for the success of CPEC is to train around 1,000 people in Balochistan in Chinese Language. So that they become able to undertake effective communication with Chinese people as they don’t speak English.

Author is a young economist based in Quetta.

Published in The Balochistan Point on January 9, 2016

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and The Balochistan Point not necessarily agrees with them.

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