LAHORE – Although the security and law and order situation in country’s largest province, Balochistan, is far from satisfactory yet economic and defence experts say that the mineral-rich part of Pakistan is fast treading on path of development.

A couple of weeks ago, militants opened indiscriminate firing on FC detachment while it was establishing a check-post in Behlol Area near Chamalang Coalfield in Balochistan. FC troops returned the fire and as a result 10 militants allegedly belonging to the Marri tribes were killed.  It wasn’t the first encounter of its kind in the area.

On November 16th, troops belonging to the paramilitary outfit were killed and another 10 injured, shortly after a three vehicle convoy on its way to Dukhi was attacked by the miscreants. The recent incident resulted into the closure of the coalfield.

FC spokesperson, last week, said that the security forces have cleared the Behlol area and the Chamalang Coalmine project will resume its operations very soon.  Chamalang has 60-km long and 20-km wide coal fields, which had been discovered way back in 1885.

The work started on the mine in 1980s but resulted into a bloody war between Luni and Marri tribes over its ownership, which left no less than 53 people dead.  It was through the intervention of the Army that the bloody feud was settled on monetary compensations and the peace agreement was signed in December 2006. Mining started in March 2007, which led to the creation of 53,000 direct employments while another 30,000 individuals found indirect jobs.

Moreover, 2,000 Marri tribesmen were employed as guards. Average earning of a labourer brackets between Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per month.

Frowning by the rouge elements and foreign funded miscreants is absolutely understandable.

They certainly are averse to development because well educated and well settled individuals won’t subscribe to their ill-founded notions.

The impact of this developmental project is so pronounced that in a short span of about four years Chamalang has emerged as a modern town having electricity, water supply schemes, hospitals, schools and other amenities.

Four labour colonies have been constructed to accommodate the work force. Moreover, a landing strip has also been constructed. These initial developments have laid down the foundations of a major town in the area.  The success at Chamalang was emulated at other locations also.

At Kassa Hill Army intervened and resolved an intra-tribal conflict paving the way for Kassa Hill Marble Agreement, which was signed in July 2010. The project was inaugurated by the Chief of Army Staff on February 21st, 2011.

The issue of Duki Coal Mines was hostage to the ownership dispute between Tareen and Nasir tribes. It has been resolved through the efforts of the Army and the parties have agreed to work under security of FC for which an agreement was signed on May 26th, 2011.

Similarly, Musakhel mineral project has been made operational through the efforts of the Army. The project has reserves of 2 to 5 million tonnes of coal and will provide employment to the locals for 12 to 15 years.

With the onset of these projects a stream of developmental activities will start in these areas. Construction of the road infrastructure, provision of electricity and telecommunication facilities would be on priority projects. Airports and landing strips will also be constructed at central locations, which will help create jobs for locals and bring prosperity to the area.

Economic experts say that the deprivations of the people of Balochistan can only be addressed if the area is developed at a faster pace.

Though the government has taken a lot of steps to address their grievance by initiating Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan, agreeing to pay royalty for gas and by enacting 7th NFC Award but the paradigm shift in the thinking of the people of Balochistan will only usher when physical benefits will reach the common man.

Life of a commoner is directly affected by the availability of jobs, justice and civic amenities.

Balochistan is endowed with a huge amount of natural resources, which can be exploited for the speedy development of the province. Generation of economic activities will absorb the people in productive pursuits and will shrink the clientage of rough and foreign funded outfits.

Leadership of the country must take advantage of the resources at their disposal for the betterment of the lives of the common people. It will also work as a most effective strategy to quell anti-State elements and to restore peace and harmony in the province.