QUETTA: Disaffected Baloch leaders living abroad have been urged to return to Pakistan and play their role in the development of the province. In an exclusive interview, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, chief minister of Balochistan province, told Arab News that he will make a “well-planned call to the disgruntled leaders” seeking their return.
Balochistan, in southwestern Pakistan, has faced a wave of violence from armed Baloch separatist groups in the past decade. The province is growing in strategic importance because of the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. With Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleman Dawood Jan, as a central figure, Balochistan’s self-exiled leaders include Brahamdagh Bugti, son of late Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and head of the Balochistan Republican Party (BRP); Javed Mengal, son of Sardar Attaullah Mengal and head of Lashkar-e-Balochistan; and Mehran Marri, son of Khair Bux Marri and leader of the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA). Dr. Allah Nazr, the most active of the separatists and head of Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), operates from a hidden location in the province.
Saeed Sarbazi, a host at the Baloch VSH News channel, said the province’s natural resources of gold, copper, oil, coal, natural gas were worth billions. “The disgruntled leaders believe that these resources have been usurped by the center and hardly anything is given to the province that produces them,” he said. The grievances are not confined to resources.
“Balochistan has been deprived of basic infrastructure, gas, electricity, health and education. The people of Balochistan have to go to Karachi for treatment,” Sarbazi said.
Bizenjo’s predecessors made similar offers of talks, but the incumbent chief minister said his were “well-planned” and offered after proper homework.
“All of them (former chief ministers of Balochistan) had met the separatist leaders in their personal capacity and no one from the government had approached them with proper planning,” he said. “In fight (by separatists), many young Baloch men have been lost, our economy has been shattered, our education destroyed. Balochistan cannot bear terrorism anymore,” Bizenjo said.
Bizenjo revealed that he had already met with the self-exiled Baloch leader, the Khan of Kalat Mir Suleman Dawood Jan, who will have central role in any initiative. “I have met him. He is our elder. We talked on these issues. We now want him to come home and we are striving for it”.