By: Nadil Shah
Balochistan is the largest province in terms of geography that consist of 44% of land in Pakistan and richest in respect of natural sources. It is well known in terms of underdevelopment, poverty, insurgency, terrorism and political and social instability. For eradicating these social, political and economic issues, state in collaboration with mainstream political parties of Balochistan took many initiatives. Among these initiatives the well-known one is China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
CPEC is an economic and development agreement between Pakistan and China to enhance the socio-economic and develop the infrastructure of Pakistan. It connects Kashgar (China) to Gawadar (A District of Balochistan, Pakistan) port by road. The history of making Gawader Port goes back to 1954 when United Nation Geographical Survey (UNGS) conducted a survey in coastline. In 1992, a small wharf completed and 1993 a formal proposal was given to establish deep sea port in Gawadar. The federal government gave approval for construction of deep sea port in 1995 but could not started due to deficiency of funds. In 1997, a task force was organized by government to identify the Gawadar which was the main area of development but stopped due to sanctions imposed on Pakistan in 1998 nuclear test in Balochistan. The first phase of Gawadar deep sea port started in 2002 and inaugurated by Pervez Musharraf in 2007 at the cost of $248 Million.
The second phase developed under CPEC in 2015 to connect West China and Northern Pakistan at a cost of $1.62 billion agreed by the PM Nawaz Sharif and CM of Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch. The Gawadar port is officially given to China for 43 year, till 2059. Right after agreement, the mainstream politicians of Balochistan believed that it would bring political, social and economic stability in the province. On the other hand, separatist were in the fear that CPEC was another tool for the exploitation of local resources by national and international powers. Anyhow, no one was accurate and could justify their judgment as it was the initial stage of CPEC but the mainstream political parties (parliamentarian) were optimistic and separatists were pessimistic for the future consequences of CPEC.
Mir Hasil Khan Bezanjo, the Federal Ministry of Ports and Shipping claimed in October 2016 : “All faculties are available at deep sea port Gawadar for local industrialists and businessmen” The optimistic statements and speeches of Khan about CPEC and its importance for the development of province (Balochistan) and Pakistan soon converted into pessimistic within one year. He claimed with sorrow on November 2017: “The CPEC agreement is totally in favour of China. China would get 91 percent and Pakistan gets only 9 percent of share income next 40 years.” Similarly, Senator Kalsoom Parveen said that the agreement on CPEC was not on the bases of equality. Despite being the Minister for Ports and Shipping, Khan is still varied about the future of CPEC and its impacts on local situation of Balochistan as well as Pakistan.
Sanaullah Baloch, ex-Senator and ex-MNA, claims that Balochistan will contribute in land use, sea port environmental damage, and minerals 60%, Sindh 20%, 10% KPK and 10% Punjab for CPEC. On other hand, in terms of national benefits Balochistan gets 5%, Sindh 25%, KPK 10% and 60% Punjab. It is showing a huge gap in distribution of national sources within federating units.
Abdul Hai Baloch, ex-president of National Party and ex-MNA, recently claimed that Balochistan is made colonialized by powerful and all development projects are made to exploit the resources of Balochistan. While he was talking about CPEC, he said, “CPEC is not for the interest and welfare of Baloch people, rather it is a tool for imperialist to exploitation the poor people and their (poor) resources for their (rich) interests.
The right after selection for the CM of Balochistan, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizanjo, an enthusiastic and energetic CM claimed: “China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project carries great significance for Balochistan and various projects being executed under it will change the fate of the province.” After passing some months, in previous month he issued a statement by claiming that the federal was neglecting Balochistan in CPEC projects. He further said that more than Rs5,0000 billion were being spent on the CPEC but Balochistan was not receiving even one percent of it.” Despite being CM of Balochistan, the statements depict that he is neglected and alienated and his voice is not heard by federal government.
Thus, CPEC is the project on which all provincial and national politicians have question but segregating and alienating the mainstream politicians of Balochistan may worsen the situation of province. The instability within the province may be a threat to national development of the country.
The writer is M.Phil. Scholar Department of Sociology, University of Karachi, and freelance writer and Researcher.
Published in The Balochistan Point on July 3, 2018
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the writer and The Balochistan Point not necessarily agrees with them.