I must confess that I am not an expert on the problems of Balochistan. So for the past few days I have spend time researching the Internet for a few answers.
Among the various bit of facts and information that I was able to piece together the following was particularly provocative and quite illuminating.
On a Balochi Radio Website one Nizamuddin Nizamani (who is apparently a trainer and social researcher in the field of Sustainable Development, Conflict Management, Peace and Mediation studies) asked the following two very pertinent questions:
(This excerpt has been edited for clarity’s sake - the original can be viewed at Radiobalochi.org)
If sardars and their tribal system are the fundamental reason for the underdevelopment of Balochistan, then limited as they are to only 15 to 20 percent of territory, the remaining 80 percent of the Baloch region can be detached from their ill-affects. All the coastal line, plains and mountainous areas stretching from Gawadar, Pasni, Jewani, Ormarah, Turbat right through the Mundh near Iranian border on one side, from Quetta, Chaghi, Kharan towards Iranian border and the whole of Lasbella, Hub down towards Karachi are not subject to any form of tribal system and are therefore are out of the clutches of these tribal sardars. In view of this reality, why then does this incredibly large sardar-free zone continue to be grossly underdeveloped?And now follows an assorted and lengthy - please bear with me because I believe it well worth a read, so take your time! - collection of hyperlinked facts and opinions for readers to ponder over and make their own conclusions
If sardars are indeed the major obstacles towards progress then the federal regime must hold itself responsible for this grim and bleak situation, as according to General Musharaf, 72 out of 75 sardars, are with the government. From this we can only conclude that 72 sardars, in connivance with federal government, have deliberately deprived Balochistan from any technological development. And it is also worth asking, considering Islamabad has such a large horde of Baloch sardars by its side, why the Establishment is been unable to resolve the Balochistan crisis?
This clearly reveals that the true problems of Balochistan do not lie with the tribal structure nor with the so called sardars, but somewhere else.
The Military Government says : thousands of local jobs will be provided by the planned the Gwadar Naval Base, the three proposed Military Cantonments (at Sui, Kohlu and Gwadar), the Mega-Projects and fresh recruiting within the paramilitary organizations.
Absolute nonsense say the Baloch.
This was indirectly verified by this month’s , Newsline magazine, which said:
‘The Ormara naval base is another big project which has come up on the Makran coast, but Balochi nationalists maintain that the development of the second largest naval installation has not helped improve the socio-economic conditions of the local population. According to Baloch leaders, only 40 people in a population of more than ten thousand, have been given employment - and that too as daily wage workers. No educational institution has been established in Ormara town and electricity is available for only a few hours a day.’Rashed Rehman, a well known newspaper editor from Lahore, is also on record stating that:
…projects such as the copper extraction plant in Saindak, built and currently being operated by Chinese contractors [where] no Baloch are employed.And then one of the regime's loathed Baloch opponents, Sardar Attaullah Mengal, quoting official governments figures in the Daily Times went on to state:
He further added:
That of the total 33,275 personnel of the Frontier Constabulary deployed in Balochistan, only 300 were from the province.
That only three percent of the coastguards deployed in Sindh and Balochistan were Baloch, 62 percent were from Punjab, 19 percent from Sindh and 16 percent from the NWFP.
That the government has established 584 checkpoints in Balochistan, and if this were divided with the population of the province, it came to one checkpoint for 11,000 people, he said. India and Israel had set up fewer checkpoints in Kashmir and Palestine, which showed the government’s intentions to maintain its “stranglehold” on the province.To the best of my knowledge no government spokesman has ever refuted Attaullah Mengal’s figures
And now to Akbar Bugti and Sui.
Apparently in 1952 – or whenever the Government of Pakistan signed its deal with him – the Nawab owned all the land in Sui and the surrounding area. And so the Government – then based in Karachi – agreed to pay him an annual lease rental for his land. As the leased land amounts to thousands of acres the existing lease payment now made by Pakistan Petroleum Ltd. (PPL) runs into crores – Rs, 10 crores according to The Daily Times.
This happens, I am told, to be a legally binding agreement and has no connection with royalty payments to the province of Balochistan. It makes sense as some years ago I heard Hameed Haroon (Chief Executive of Dawn newspaper) say that one of the reasons Akbar Bugti was miffed with PPL was that the company had deliberately tinkered with the measurement of his leased land and was underpaying him. On the other hand the Islamabad regime insists in calling these payment ‘extortion’. So instead of constantly yelling blue murder, why doesn’t PPL take Akbar Bugti to court to resolve their contractual disagreements? (At least then the true facts of the matter will finally emerge in the public eye).
Now as far as paying royalties for the gas at Sui to the Balochistan province the facts would seem to clearly support the Baloch.
As Dawn’s Zubeida Mustafa’s states in a recent article:
So much for Islamabad’s much proclaimed high moral ground!
The record of exploitation of the Baloch has been horrendous. Gas was first discovered at Sui in 1952 but it was only in the eighties when General Ziaul Haq decided to make Quetta a corps commander headquarters that the city was connected with the gas fields.
Even today, only six per cent of the population of Balochistan has been provided gas. As for the price paid to the province for the gas extracted from Sui, Balochistan feels severely discriminated against. Its sense of injustice is substantiated by the figures available. Punjab, Sindh and NWFP receive royalty on gas and oil at a higher rate than Balochistan - Rs 140 per million BTU for Sindh, Rs 80-190 for Punjab and Rs 36 for Balochistan. Besides the development surcharge calculated on the formula worked out by the NFC for the federal divisible pool is on the basis of population and that goes against Balochistan with only six million people.
Then there is the explosive issue of Gwadar.
Some years ago a Dawn editorial pointed out:
[The] fear of dislocation expressed by certain sections is not totally unfounded. Since the construction of the [Gwadar] port began last year, some real estate racketeers and land mafia operatives from Karachi, Lahore and other big cities have done a roaring business buying land from the local people at nominal prices and selling it off to the moneyed people and multinationals at exorbitant rates. As work progresses on the construction of the port and the infrastructure, land grabbers are making quick bucks at the expense of the local, mostly small, landowners using pressure tactics and influence with the officials forcing the owners to sell their land and relocate to the desert outside the city.And very recently Dawn’s senior journalist Zubeida Mustafa added:
The government leaders — from the president and prime minister to petty functionaries — have been promising that development of the port area will generate jobs and economic benefits for the local population. So far, this has not happened and the technical hands and workers who are being brought from other regions by the non-Baloch contractors have reinforced the beliefs of the nationalists that Gwadar will change the ethnic composition of the province by allowing the induction of a large number of people from other provinces.Apart from not getting any jobs the Baloch further allege:
That the military authorities have bought most of the prime land at throw-away prices are rife. According to local officials, over 80 per cent of the plots in the Gwadar Singhar Housing Scheme have been arbitrarily allotted to outsiders, many of them senior army and civilian officials.____________________________________________
Now getting back to Lahore’s Rashed Rehman. According to him:
The Musharraf regime's plan to build a Rs. 100 billion road network to link the province with the rest of the country and enable it to become the hub of trade with China and Central Asia through the Gwadar port is eerily reminiscent of earlier such schemes under previous regimes. For example, when General Ziaul Haq made 'peace' with the Baloch guerrillas of the BPLF, he unveiled a US$ 1.97 billion (Rs. 120 billion at current rates of exchange) Special Development Plan for Balochistan, with a US$ 765 million road construction component. Before him, Bhutto had boasted of similar plans and achievements during the years of the fourth Balochistan war.
Baloch nationalists argue that the location of many of the new roads was not determined by economic priorities, but to allow the army to penetrate the otherwise inaccessible guerrilla base areas. Even where roads were put down to open up exploration for oil, the nationalists contend the resulting profits would flow to the Central government and foreign oil companies rather than to the province. Similar reservations are expressed about Gwadar and other mega projects. The fact that in 2005, the Musharraf regime is again announcing such programmes for Balochistan is not simply because of the new opportunities of trade with China and Central Asia, but also indicates how much of these recurring plans have remained on paper only.
In final I’ll quote Senator Maheem Khan Baloch of the Balochistan National Party (Awami), who told The Daily Times:
The Baloch [ want] a fair quota in federal government jobs, gas royalties, a just solution to the National Finance Commission award controversy and bigger budgetary allocations from the centre.He said the province was rich in natural resources and contributes huge sums to the national exchequer, but local concerns about increasing poverty, unemployment and lack of civic amenities had been ignored.
He said the parliamentary committee on Balochistan should be given a “free hand” to find a solution to the concerns and grievances of the Baloch.
In your Blogger’s opinion it is a fair request, so I can’t help but agree with this Baloch senator.
On the other hand, to me, killing Baloch citizens of Pakistan for demanding their rights is not only stupid but a clear and barbaric crime not only against Pakistan but against the concept of God's law of natural justice.