Balochistan – past, present & future

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Javed Jabbar sheds light on prevailing situation in Pakistan’s southern province at WCOP symposium. Says province had become a proxy war battleground among many intelligence agencies of the world

LONDON: Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest southern province is in limelight nowadays and information of different nature are coming from this part of world. Former Minister for Information and globally acknowledged intellectual and author Senator ® Javed Jabbar highlighted the prevailing situation with reference of its past and possible future at a symposium organised by World Congress of Overseas Pakistanis (WCOP) here at the University College on Friday.
He said that Balochistan has a glorious history, an enriching present and a bright future. The keynote speaker shared about the past that Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan, is rich in terms of ancient history and culture. ‘This history garners a very special importance in relation to the development of Indus Civilization. The earliest settled villages in Balochistan date back to the ceramic Neolithic including the site of Mehrgarh. The earliest built tomb on the Pakistani soil is located in Bela town and belongs to Muhammad bin Harun who was an Arab governor of Makran besides the historical tombs of the Jams of Lasbela.

LODNON: Pakistan’s former federal information minister Javed Jabbar addresses WCOP symposium about Balochistan’s situation at a symposium organised by the World Congress of Overseas Pakistanis (WCOP) at the University College on Friday. Seated with him are Syed Qamar Raza, Momin Saqib,Arif Malik, Mushtaq Lashari, Barrister Gul Nawaz and other participants. (Nation pictures Mushtaq Sandhu)

In 1520, under the leadership of Mir Chakkar Khan Rind, Balochs were ruling over Balochistan. Baloch political leaders Sardar Ataullah Mengal, Khair Buksh Marri and Akbar Bugti were the ones who played a prominent role in Baloch politics. The British Balochistan was predominantly a Pashtun province which voted for affiliation to Pakistan. Being a Governor-General’s province, running the affairs in Balochistan, after the independence of Pakistan in 1947, was the “special responsibility” of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.’
He shared. Speaking about the present, Javed Jabbar hailed the positive developments of the last 10 years. He termed the rise of Dr Abdul Malik as a non-sardar to the corridors of power and Senator Sanjrani’s selection as Chairman Senate as a heartening and encouraging sign. “Today, we can claim with satisfaction that we have restored order in Balochistan and the terrorism related incidents have reduced considerably” he asserted. He called upon Pakistani diaspora in the UK to carry forward this message, as the people living in UK and Europe can influence the public opinion and policy makers. Javed Jabbar said that education and economic development were pivotal for meeting up challenges faced by Balochistan and in the recent years the government of Balochistan has given attention to health and education sectors.
“Only in Quetta 42,000 people are now engaged in graduate and post-graduate studies and seven universities are functioning now in Balochistan as compared to only one college in the decade of 60s. Thousands of Balochis are joining Pakistan Army in throngs and that is a welcoming sign for the federation.” Senator ® Javed Jabbar added. Highlighting the significance of Balochistan as the hub of connectivity Javed Jabbar said that the province happens to be located at the confluence of many regions. The combination of its geography, population and natural wealth puts Balochistan in an ideal situation for growth and development. However, this has also attracted He said to explore and integrate Baluchistan’s potential, Gwadar Port project was initiated. Located at the mouth of Strait of Hormuz, Gwadar can become a key transit and trans-shipment hub in the entire region. It is expected that once fully operationalized, Gwadar port will create more than 40,000 jobs, he added. “Today’s Balochistan isstronger, integrated and on its way to recovery. Development of Gwadar port, construction of 870 km of road infrastructure and realization of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is testimony of our national resolve,” Javed Jabbar said.
He said that Federal and Provincial Governments as well as Army are trying their best to ensure peace and stability in the province, but the job is half done. At this point the audience paid tribute to the Col. Sohail Abid who recently got martyred in an operation in Balochistan. “What we need to do is to remain focused on our vision of connecting the whole region and even beyond, for economic growth and prosperity. For this, the prerequisite is to optimize Balochistan’s geo-strategic location and galvanize enormous human and natural resource potential,” he said.
Replying to a question about Hazara Community, he said that Hazara community had been living in Balochistan for centuries without any conflict and problem. Now their security was being ensured by providing protection and more diligence needed to be done. Replying to a question on the ‘missing person’ scenario, Javed Jabbar said that the hype and rumours have been mainly overshadowing this serious concern. However, the situation was not really that bad on the ground.
He insisted that the province had become a proxy war battleground among many intelligence agencies of the world and it also contributed to this hype. He said there were certain missing persons who joined the TTP and other extremist groups and their whereabouts were unknown. Few died during the insurgency and now the number was reduced to couple of hundreds from the so-called thousands of the claimed missing persons.
Replying to another question he said that people of Balochistan are very tolerant by nature and they live peacefully with the followers of other faith and sects. Speaking at the occasion, Syed Qamar Raza, Chairman of WCOP, Mushtaq Lasharie CBE, and Momin Saqib, President of King’s College Student Union along with Arif Malik, Executive Director of WCOP welcomed the keynote speaker and said that his presence will help dispel many myths on Balochistan and answer many questions and queries which were indicative of Diaspora’s growing significance of Balochistan.
They said that Balochistan with largest proportion of land and thin population is in the limelight in the contemporary affairs due to the launch of Gawadar Port and the advent of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the symposium would answer many concerns regarding the present state of Balochistan. The symposium was attended by a representative group of students, community activists, entrepreneurs and academics. The keynote speaker Javed Jabbar is an acclaimed author, respected public intellectual, a revered politician, former information minister and a senator. Javed Jabbar is a film-maker and writer.
He was an elected member of the senate of Pakistan (1985-91) and has served in three federal cabinets (1988-90, 99- 2000). He has also been advisor on National Affairs to the Chief Executive of Pakistan (1999-2000).