Whenever a Baloch demands the separation of Balochistan from Pakistan, Pakistanis instantly accuse other countries of persuading him/her. Recently, I read a report accusing our neighbouring country, India, of persuading the Baloch to fight for the independence of Balochistan. However, what I want to declare is that the Baloch are not being being persuaded to fight. Instead, they are compelled to fight against a government that is reluctant to treat all citizens equally, especially the Baloch.
On June 15, 2014 the Pakistan army launched an operation against foreign and local terrorists in North Waziristan called Operation Zarb-e-Azb after armed militants attacked Karachi airport. As a result of this operation in North Waziristan, more than 75,240 families in North Waziristan had to leave their homes to allow the operation to succeed. There is no denying the fact that the government has worked day and night to fulfil the basic needs of the internally displaced persons (IDPs); the IDPs have been provided much relief and assistance. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif visited the IDP camps in Bannu, Imran Khan celebrated the Islamic festival with the IDPs and Zardari urged the nation and the workers of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to help the IDPs of North Waziristan at all cost. Furthermore, being a social worker, I appreciate all efforts made for these people.
However, residents in the eastern part of Turbat, Balochistan left their homes at the behest of the Pakistan army in late August after clashes between the security forces and Baloch insurgents in the eastern part of Turbat. According to reports, more than 50 families left their homes and, sadly, none of them were provided with even a little relief and assistance. According to local reporters, during Eid-ul-Azha some IDPs from Balochistan were found running pillar to post in search of low-rent houses in Turbat instead of celebrating Eid. According to social workers, a number of IDPs from Balochistan are poor, incapable of providing two meals a day to their children in a new location but also unable to rent unaffordable houses. It is a matter of common sense to understand that if the Baloch are being neglected in this abysmal situation, then surely they will never talk in favour of Pakistan. “We have been neglected at the hands of the state since 1948 but when we raise our voices for our rights or for the independence of Balochistan, we are called traitors,” an IDP from Balochistan recently said to media.
Historically, the Baloch have been demanding and fighting for the freedom of Balochistan since Pakistan annexed Balochistan. Therefore, from the very beginning, the government should have helped and served the Baloch to such an extent that the Baloch would have been made proud to abide in Pakistan. Balochistan is a resource-rich province, whereas the Baloch are not only deprived of their resources but are also deprived of the benefits of their resources. For example, Balochistan produces more than 20 percent of natural gas, but 97 percent of the population still has no access to gas, burning wood for cooking and other fire-related activities instead of using gas. This is because much of the gas produced in Balochistan is consumed in Punjab without its consent. However, Punjab produces less than five percent of the natural gas in use but it consumes more than 60 percent of gas, which comes from other provinces.
As far as the employees of Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) are concerned, out of 11,613 employees in SSGC and SNGPL, Sindh’s share is 3,613, Punjab’s share is 5,454 and Balochistan’s share is 353 despite the fact that unemployment is the biggest hurdle in Balochistan. Similarly, a glance at the Saindak copper gold project, located in the Chagai district of Balochistan, also points out that the Baloch are considered to be non-Pakistanis. For example, the Saindak copper gold project, which is being operated by Metallurgical Construction Company of China (MCC), is capable of producing 15,810 tonnes of copper annually, 146 tonnes of gold and 2.76 tonnes of silver. However, the Chinese company takes 75 percent of the share from this project and the federal government takes 24 percent, leaving a measly one percent for Balochistan from the project.
To cut this long story short, the Baloch are striving hard for the independence of Balochistan not because they are persuaded but because they dream of not suffering from injustice, unequal treatment and neglect in a free and fair Balochistan.
Courtesy: Daily Times
Republished in The Balochistan Point on November 2, 2014
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and The Balochistan Point not necessarily agrees with them.