Ever since the inception of Pakistan, Baluchistan has remained a victim of uneven distribution of resources due to which it has witnessed abundant troubles and distresses in the face of ethno-nationalism, separatism, extremism and terrorism. Its role in the mainstream political landscape has always been lopsided which has created a sense of deprivation among the inhabitants of the province. Notwithstanding, the province contributes immensely to the national economy by producing natural gas, coal, minerals, fisheries, mining, manufacturing industries and other services rendered by public and private sectors. However, Baloch people benefit the least from these indicators of economy.

Due to this increasing marginalization, deprivation and disenfranchisement, the indigenous people bear the brunt of untold grievances such as chronic poverty, unemployment, poor education and health facilities, and other socioeconomic disparities. In addition to this, people of Baluchistan have been denied their rights by the powerful elite, which further hampers the progress and development in the province. Resultantly, the locals revolt against the government and pave the way towards insurgency to attain socioeconomic and political objectives.

Moreover, since the arrival of multi-billion-dollar project, CPEC, these forces of freedom have become more belligerent and involved in carrying out nefarious activities in line with external powers like India to thwart it. They are apprehensive about CPEC developments in their province as many Balochs fear the wave of investment will bring about demographic changes, turning them into a minority group in their own province.

It is not a secret that Baloch separatists are opposed to Chinese working across the province. They have reportedly killed many Chinese citizens inside Pakistan in the past. But, the recent brazen attack on Chinese consulate in Karachi has created panic among Chinese officials and has raised questions about the security situation for CPEC in Pakistan in general and in Baluchistan in particular. In short, Baluchistan’s stability will eventually stem from political negotiations and giving the Baloch people their due rights to utilize the resources. The Chinese government must approach these insurgents directly like the US approached the Taliban for political settlement and should abandon its traditional way of dealing only with the Pakistani government. They should instead get in contact with local Baloch communities to better accommodate local interests so that more Baloch people can benefit from CPEC, which could ultimately result in overcoming their grievances.

ASFAND BHUTTO,

Hyderabad, January 30.