Fact Files

Balochistan: Changing
Politico-Economic Paradigm

Editor
Dr  Noor ul Haq

Assistant Editor
Nuzhat Khanum

Contents

Preface   

1.     Administrative Set-up 2002-03

2.     Population Indicators 1998

3.     Area/Population 1998 Estimated Population 2004   

4.     Development Planning 2003-04 

5.     Agriculture 2002-03

6.     Minerals 2002-03

7.     Livestock 1996 & 2000 

8.     Fisheries 2003

9.     Health 2002-03

10.   Education 2002-03

11.   Wapda 2002-03

12.   Gas 2002-03

13.   Road Kilometer 2003-04

14.   Motor Vehicles 2002-03

15.   Telecommunication & Postal Service 2002-03

16.   Postal Service Operation 2002-03

17.   Ethnic Groups Division and Tribalism

18.   Major Sources of the Parties/Candidates’ Support 1988-2002

19.   Baloch & Balochistan

20.   Balochistan 

21.   Balochistan and its Strategic Importance

22.   Development: Road Projects

23.   Improving Water Efficiency

24.   Centre Allocates Rs 8bn for Solving Water Problem

25.   Coastal Highway to Bring Prosperity

26.   Balochistan Government Asked to Allot Land  for 'Economic Zone'

27.   Crucial Meeting on Balochistan

28.   Focus on Lack of Development in Balochistan

29.   Unmatched Package Ready

30.   Sanity Prevails in Balochistan

31.   Balochistan: Its Past and Present

32.   President, PM Discuss Balochistan Situation

33.   Gwadar: Landmark in History of Pakistan

34.   Govt to Grant Gwadar 7-Years Tax Holiday

35.   Breakthrough in Balochistan Talks Soon

36.   Balochistan Issue will Claim Many Lives

37.   Interview: Governor Balochistan

38.   Opposition in Pakistan for Political Solution

39.    New Projects to Create More Jobs

40.    Shujaat Hints at 'Surprise Package': Balochistan Issue, NFC Award, Concurrent List

41.    Balochistan Issue Being Mishandled: Jamali

42.    Balochistan Report to be Ready by 16th or 17th

43.    Shujaat Gets 'Free Hand' to Work Out Package: Parliamentary

         Team Goes to Dera Bugti Today

44.     Govt Ready to Implement Committees' Proposal

45.     Flashpoint Sui

46.     Balochistan Talks 'Breakthrough'

47.     Education in Balochistan

48.     New Round of Talks Held in Dera Bugti: 3-Man Body to be Set Up

49.     Musharraf Rules out Army Action

50.     Mega Projects to Benefit Provincial Economy

51.     Mineral Resource Development

52.     Rs 100 billion for Road Network

53.     Conflict in Dera Bugti

54.     Govt to Spend Rs 5 billion on Education

55.     Vast Conspiracy Behind Insurgency

56.     Gwadar: The Engine of Change

57.     Increase in Balochistan Gas Royalty Suggested

58.     New Package: Committee Approves Proposals on Gas Royalty, Development

59.     Map of Balochistan
 

Preface
 

Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan with 43.5 per cent landmass of the country but has 5.6 per cent of the population according to the latest (1998) census. It receives about four per cent rain annually and most of the land is arid. This explains the low density in population, which is 19 persons per sq. km. Most of the people lead nomadic life raising camels, sheep and goats. Fruit farming is undertaken wherever water is available. There is also considerable mineral wealth, i.e., natural gas, coal, chromite, lead, copper, sulphur and marble.

            Balochistan has always remained the poorest province of Pakistan. Lately, the Government of Pakistan has focused on its economic development. A number of mega projects worth about 130 billion rupees have been sanctioned for Gwadar Port, Coastal Highway, Mirani Dam, Kachhi Canal and Saindak Copper Project, etc. The most prestigious project is that of Gwadar Port. The development of rail, road and sea communication originating from Gwadar in all directions is expected to generate tremendous economic activity in the areas so far neglected. Besides, there are efforts for development in social sector such as the plan to introduce free education up to matriculation and promotion of higher studies.

Whenever there is a change in the status quo, there is always opposition from those who are likely to be adversely affected. Now that a silent revolution is in the offing in the politico-economic paradigm of Balochistan, there is a conflict and confrontation with the vested interests.

            A parliamentary committee under the chairmanship of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, President of Pakistan Muslim League, is dealing with the demands of the province. Hopefully they will be able to substantially satisfy the aspirations of the people of the province.

            The Factfile includes the statistical data about various aspects of the province and articles appearing in the media covering history, present political situation and current economic development. 
 

                                                                                                Noor ul Haq

03 May 2005 

Administrative Set-up

2002-03

 

Administrative Units

Numbers

District

27

Tehsils

66

Sub-Tehsils

52

Union Councils

518

Towns

73

Villages

6584

Police Stations

90

Levies Thanas

320

Area responsibility (Lavies) Sq. Km

332,929

Source:       1) Local Govt Deptt. Quetta.

                  2) Home Department.

                              

  <http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf>

 

Population Indicators

1998 Census

 

Administrative Units

Numbers

Area s.q. Km

347190

Popluation Census 1998 (in Million)

65.65

Male

35.06

Female

30.59

Density per sq. km

18.9

Sex Ratio (male per hundred female)

115

Singulate Mean Age at Marriage of Female

20.1

Person per House Hold (H.H.)

6.7

Person per Room

3.1

% of Pop. Having one Room

42.8

% of H.H. having Pipe-water

25.3

% of H.H. without Latrine

52.2

% of H.H. having Electricity

46.6

Fertility Rate

5.4

Child Women Ratio

78.2

Estimated Population in year 2004 (In Million)

7595

Source: P.C.O. Islamabad.

 

 <http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf>


Area/Population of Balochistan

1998 Census & Estimated Populaiton 2004

 

                                          Population (In 000)

 

Units

Area (sq.km)

Cencus 1998

Estimated 2004

Balochistan

347190

6566

7597

Awaran

29510

118

137

Barkhan

3514

104

120

Bolan

7499

288

333

Chagai

50545

203

234

Dera Bugti

10160

181

210

Gwadar

12637

185

215

Jaffarabad

2445

433

501

Jhalmagsi

3615

110

127

Kalat

6622

238

275

Kech

22539

413

478

Kharan

48051

207

239

Khuzdar

35380

417

483

Killa Abdullah

3293

370

428

Killa Saifullah

6831

194

224

Kohlu

7610

100

115

Lasbela

15153

313

362

Loralai

9830

298

344

Mastung

5896

165

191

Musakhail

5728

134

155

Nasirabad

3387

246

285

Panjgur

16891

234

271

Pishin

7819

367

425

Quetta

2653

760

879

Sibi

7796

180

209

Zhob

20297

275

318

Ziarat

1489

33

39

Source: PCO, Islamabad & Survey of Pak. Qta.

 

  <http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf> 

 

 

Development Planning

2003-04

                                             (Rs. In million)

 

Sectors

Sche.

Alloc.

F.P.A

Total

Agriculture

12

109.200

76.460

185.660

Livestock

9

37.754

-

37.754

Forestry

8

38.606

-

38.606

Wild Life

2

1.500

-

1.500

Fisheries

1

2.000

-

2.000

Industries

4

22.454

-

22.454

Minerals

3

10.337

-

10.337

Manpower

6

58.176

-

58.176

Spt. Tur:

20

70.440

-

70.440

P.P. & H.

37

341.980

-

341.980

Roads

291

3138.256

122.702

3260.958

Water

154

1283.884

318.000

1601.884

Education

118

832.521

321.300

1173.821

Health

60

536.140

152.043

688.183

P.H.E

66

544.701

-

544.701

Social Welfare

7

25.100

-

25.100

Rural Development

1

2.000

-

2.000

BDA

4

30.000

-

30.000

Environment

3

37.146

51.240

88.386

Power

3

22.000

-

22.000

Sp: Programme

3

130.000

-

130.000

Std: & Res:

1

40.000

-

40.000

Other Schemes

14

228.510

130.889

359.399

Public Rep. No

2

565.000

-

565.000

Total:- PSDP

829

8107.705

1192.634

9300.339

Source: P & D Deptt. Quetta.

 

  <http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf> 

 

Agriculture

2002-03

 

                                                              (Area In Hac. & Prd. In Ton.)

Land Utilization

Area

 

34719000

 

19512963

 

1989209

1167822

39476

375681

 

119615

633050

31794

10368

 

17523754

 

912098

1098945

890264

 

4826366

1262728

21838

 

11334599

Geographical area

Reported area

Cultivated area

Area irrigated by different source

Area irrigated by wells

Area irrigated by Tube Wells

Area irrigated by Karazes & Springs

Area irrigated by Canals

Number of Tube Wells

Number of Wells

Un-cultivated area

Cropped area

Current Follow

Net Sown

Culturable Waste

Forest Area

Area Sown More than Once

Area Not Available for Cultivation

Corps

Area

Prod.

Wheat

340,794

654,702

Rice

163,560

467,400

Jowar

21,333

18,835

Maize

2,932

3,082

Barley

21,068

24,761

Rapessed & Mustard

29,965

17,950

Tobacco

1,335

1,933

Cotton

40,799

66,493

Melon

10,913

122,470

Fodder

39,062

1,157,939

Onion

17,957

332,976

Potato

3,345

48,220

Vegateable

11,467

80,811

Fruits

137,353

787,454

Source: Agri. Directorate, Quetta.

 

  <http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf>


Minerals

2002-03

 

Mineral

Production (Tones)

Coal

1795029

Marble

46554

Chromite

25735

Barite

37692

Limestone

263515

Shale

563595

Granite

2005

Fluroite

1215

Serpentine

2195

Pumice

1808

Conglomerate

258

Agglomerate

386

Ordinary Stone

2100

Quartizite

352

Dolomite

377

Maganese

1491

Magnesite

850

Clay

300

Iron Ore

139

Asbestos

40

Total Minerals

2745636

Source: Mineral Directorate, Quetta.

 

 <http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf>

 

Livestock

1996(Census) & 2000(Cencus)

 

                                                                                                   (Numbers)

Animal Heads

1996 Census

2000 (Cencus)

Total

22479399

12845560

Cattle

1340970

964927

Sheep

10841019

5245663

Goat

9369450

6064526

Buffaloes

161063

96710

Camel

338502

152011

Horses

42518

23600

Mules

2988

1680

Asses/Donky

382889

296443

2002-03 (Number)

Animal Slaughtered

738010

54

657

 

4590380

4454442

54526

 

Number of Animal Hospitals

Number of Animal Dispensaries

Animal Treatment

Animal Vaccination

Animal Castration

Source: Live Stock  Directorate Quetta.

 

  <http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf>

 

 Fisheries

2003

 

Total Produciton (M. Tonnes)

123734.174

Local Consumption (M. Tonnes)

12402.130

Exportable Surplus (M. Tonnes)

111332.044

Fisherman Population (Number)

40876

Full Time Fisherman

26211

Part Time Fisherman

9893

Occasional Fisherman

4772

Total Fishing Crafts

5996

Number of Launch

49

Number of Mechanized Boats

1508

Number of Sail Boats

25

Number of Motorized Boats

4463

Source: Fisheries Deptt. Gwadar.

 

  <http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf>  

 

Health

2002-03

 

Institutions

Beds

Numbers

Hospitals

4715

92

Dispensaries

55

543

Rural Health Centres

928

68

Basic Health Units

34

498

TB Clinics

-

22

M.C.H Center

-

91

Total Doctors

Male Doctors

Female Doctors

Total Nurses

Male Nurses

Female Nurses

Dais

Lady Health Visitors

Drug Inspectors

Health Educating Officer

Pharmacist

1438

1174

264

420

90

430

1227

544

10

11

18

Source: Health Directorate, Quetta.

 

     <http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf>

 

Education

2002-03

                                                         (Numbers)

 

Institution/Sex

 

Number

Enroll:

Tech. Staff

17983

13202

 

4781

9187

6509

2678

12955

9362

3593

467

 

317

150

707

560

147

3445

Primary

 

9885

449469

Male

 

7303

282377

Female

 

2582

167092

Middle

 

769

111340

Male

 

542

72573

Female

 

227

38767

High

 

546

228978

Male

 

423

148322

Female

 

123

80656

Intermediate

 

45

17283

Male

 

26

11387

Female

 

19

5896

Degree

 

26

4815

Male

 

21

2534

Female

 

5

2281

Private Schools

 

304

81876

Result

                               Matric

                                 Arts Group                               Science Group

 

Appeared

Passed

Appeared

        Passed

Male

4796

1483

32544

8781

Female

7746

4215

14368

5626

Both

12547

5698

41325

19994

Intermediate

Male

7153

3021

8035

2642

Female

4435

2442

3527

1573

Both

11588

5463

11562

4215

Source: Education Deptt. Quetta

 

<http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf>

Wapda
2002-03

Category

Consummers  (M.Kwh.)

Consumption (Numbers)

 

Total

367958

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3305

2864.41

Domestic

279254

343.69

Commercial

69575

68.40

Industrial

2364

70.84

Agriculture

16495

2295.72

Others

270

85.76

Number of Village Electrified

 

 

Source: Director WAPDA, Qta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf>

 

Gas
2002-03

Connection

Consumer in Numbers

Constumption in MH3

 

House Hold

6110

1858591

Commercial

46

125127

Industrial

1

41046

Other (Power)

-

2221034

Total

6157

4245798

Source: Sui Southern Gas Company Ltd, Qta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf>


Road Kilometer
2003-04

                                 (Kilometer) 

Districts

NHA Black Top

Single

Balochistan

2290

6081

20166

Quetta

56

382

402

Pishin

97

253

648

Kila Abdullah

66

257

1065

Ghagai

528

278

1162

Zhob

121

142

916

Loralai

230

355

603

Kila Saifullah

339

41

947

Sibi

90

178

282

Ziarat

-

210

337

Barkhan

-

87

334

Musa Khail

-

124

306

Jhal Magsi

-

264

97

Jaffarabad

-

648

-

Kohlu

-

91

1192

Dera Bugti

-

274

602

Nasirabad

60

170

252

Bolan

116

237

280

Kalat

125

231

1286

Mastung

166

333

307

Khuzdar

291

207

1442

Kharan

-

351

1295

Awaran

-

171

1281

Lasbela

115

279

1232

Kech

-

177

1472

Gwadar

-

197

934

Panjgur

-

144

1492

Source: NHA & C&W Deptt. Qta.

 

<http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf>        

Motor Vehicles
  2002-03

                                                                             (Numbers)

Type of Vehicle

Registered

Private Vehicle

94179

Public Services Vehicle

13847

Government/Goods Vehicle

1528

Private Trucks

35328

All Other Vehicle

24775

Total Vehicles

169617

Source: Excise Directorate, Qta.

 

                   <http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf>


Telecommunication & Postal Service Operational
in Balochistan 2002-03
 

                                                                                  (Numbers)

Departmental Telegraph

10

Public Call Office (Public Sector)

493

Public Call Office (Private Sector)

4310

Auto Tel. Exchanges

155

Manual Tel. Exchanges

82

Telephone Connection

99404

Post Offices

370

Source: PTCL & Post Master General, Qta.

                    <http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf>

            Postal Service Operation in Balochistan 2002-03

                  (Numbers)

GPOs

4

Night Post Offices

13

Sub Post Offices

127

Branch Offices

2

Franchise Post Offices

8

Extra Departmental Post Offices

14

Extra Departmental Branch Offices

202

Source: Assistant Post Master General, Qta.

                      <http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/BIF/BIF2003.pdf>

                   Ethnic Groups Division and Tribalism
           Three major Ethnic groups divided into 27 major Tribes
 

Baloch

Brauhi

Pashtun

Rind

Marri

Bugti

Mengal

Mohm Hasni

Kakar

Durrani

 

 

 

         Ethnic          Status            Base                   Language

Baloch

Local

Tribal

Balochi/Sindhi/Saraiki

Brauhi

Local

Tribal

Brauhi

Pashtun

Local

Tribal

Pashto/Dari

Settlers

Settler

Non-tribal

Urdu/Punjabi/Pashto

Afghan

Mixed
refugee

Tribal/Non tribal

Pashto/Dari

 Kundi, Mansoor Akbar, “Tribalism in Balochistan: A Comparative Study”,
Tribal Areas of
Pakistan: Challenges and Responses (Islamabad: Islamabad Policy
Research Institute and Hanns Seidel Fooundation, 2005) pp. 22- 23

Major Sources of the Parties/Candidates’ Support
1988-2002
             

PML (Q)

   political, tribal/sardari  

PML-N

   political, tribal/personal

MMA/JUI

   political/ideological

NA

   tribal/sardari

JWP

   tribal/sardari/

BNM

   political/ideological, ethnic

BNDP

   political/ideological, ethnic

BNP-M

   political/ideological, tribal

PPPP

   political and personal 

PMAP

   ethnic/tribal, political

Independent

   ethnic, tribal/sardari

 

Kundi, Mansoor Akbar, “Tribalism in Balochistan: A Comparative Study”,
Tribal Areas of
Pakistan: Challenges and Responses (Islamabad: Islamabad Policy
 Research Institute and Hanns Seidel Fooundation, 2005) p. 23

 

Baloch & Balochistan

 

In spite of the intrinsic hostility of its landscape and climate, archaeological discoveries have confirmed that Balochistan was already inhabited in the Stone Age, and the important neolithic site at Mehrgarh is the earliest (7000-3000 B.C.) on the subcontinent. Until its overthrow by Alexander the Great, Balochistan was part of the Persian Empire, whose records refer to it as "Maka". In 325 B.C. Alexander led part of his army back from his Indus campaign to Babylon across the Makran Desert at the cost of terrible suffering and high casualties. Thereafter Balochistan lay for centuries on the shadowy borderlands of the Zoroastrian rulers of Iran and the local Buddhist and Hindu dynasties of northwestern subcontinent. Islam was brought to Balochistan in 711 when Muhammad bin Qasim led the army, which was to conquer Sind across the Makran route, but the area was always too remote for firm control to be exerted by any of the later local dynasties. It accordingly receives only very passing mention in the court histories of the time. The connections of the inland areas were variously with Iran, Afghanistan and India, those of coastal Makran rather across the Arabian Sea with Oman and the Gulf. The name "Balochistan" only came into existence later with the arrival from Iran of the tribes called Baloch (usually pronounced "Baloch" in Pakistan). Just how and when they arrived remains a matter of hot debate, since the traditional legends of their Middle Eastern origins, supposed to have been in the Aleppo region of Syria have been further confused by cranky theories either that like the Pathans they may descend from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, or that they originated from Babylon, since "Baloch" is phonetically similar to the names of the god Baal or the Babylonian ruler Belos.

Better evidence is suggested by the Balochi language which beIongs to the same Iranian group of Indo-European as Persian and Kurdish. This suggests that the Baloch originated from the area of the Caspian Sea, making their way gradually across Iran to reach their present homeland in around A.D. 1000, when they are mentioned with the equally warlike Kuch tribes in Firdausi's great Persian epic, the Book of Kings: Heroic Balochs and Kuches we saw, like battling rams all determined on war.

Warlike the history of the Baloch has certainly always been. As the last to arrive of the major ethnic groups of Pakistan they were faced with the need to displace the peoples already settled in Balochistan. Some they more or less successfully subjugated or assimilated, like the Meds of Makran and other now subordinate groups. From others they faced a greater challenge, notably from the Brahui tribes occupying the hills around Kalat.

The origins of the Brahuis are even more puzzling than those of the Baloch, for their language is not Indo-European at all, but belongs to the same Dravidian family as Tamil and the other languages of south India spoken over a thousand miles away. One theory has it that the Brahuis are the last northern survivors of a Dravidian-speaking population which perhaps created the Indus Valley civilisation, but it seems more likely that they too arrived as the result of a long tribal migration, at some earlier date from peninsular India.

As they moved eastwards, the Baloch were initially successful in overcoming the Brahuis. Under Mir Chakar, who established his capital at Sibi in 1487, a great Baloch kingdom briefly came into existence before being destroyed by civil war between Mir Chakar's Rind tribe and the rival Lasharis, whose battles are still celebrated in heroic ballads. Although the Baloch moved forward into Panjab and Sind, the authority of the Moghuls stopped them establishing permanent kingdoms there, although the names of Dera Ghazi Khan in Panjab and Dera Ismail Khan in NWFP are still reminders of the Baloch chiefs who conquered these lands in the 16th century. The Baloch who settled in the plains gradually became largely detribalised, forgetting their native language and increasingly assimilated to the local population, with their tribal origins remaining little more than a proud memory.

In Balochistan itself, which came only briefly under the authority of the Moghuls, the tables were turned on the Baloch by the Brahuis who succeeded in re-establishing their power in Kalat. Throughout the 18th century, the Khans of Kalat were the dominant local power, with the Baloch tribes settled to the west and to the east of them being forced to acknowledge their suzerainty.

The greatest of the Khans was Mir Nasir Khan (1749-1817), whose military success owed much to the regular organisation of his army, with its separate divisions recruited from the Sarawan and Jhalawan areas which constitute the northern and southern parts of the Brahui homeland. The Khanate of Kalat became the nearest thing there has ever been to an independent Balochistan. This extended beyond the modern boundaries, since Mir Nasir Khan's authority ran as far as the then insignificant town of Karachi. Although dominated by the Brahuis, they themselves became increasingly "Balochified". Today, for instance, the Brahui language only keeps the first three of its old Dravidian numbers. From "four" upwards Brahuis count in Balochi, in which most are anyway bilingual.

With the British expansion into northwestern subcontinent and their disastrous first Afghan war (1839-1841), internal power struggles within Kalat prompted the first British military interference, and the signing of a treaty in 1841. The British annexation of Sind in 1843 from the Talpur Mirs, themselves a dynasty of Baloch descent, and the subsequent annexation of Panjab meant that Kalat and the other regions of Baluchistan were now part of the sensitive western borderlands of British India, where the possibility of Russian interference induced a permanent state of imperial neurosis. Although the eastern Baloch tribes were partially pacified by the efforts of Sir Robert Sandeman, it was thought easiest to leave the Khan and his subordinate chiefs in control of most of the rest of Balochistan.

A further treaty was signed in 1876, which forced the Khan to 'lease" the strategic Quetta region to the British but left him in control of the rest of his territories with the aid of a British minister. Granted the rank of a 19-gun salute to mark the size if not the wealth of Kalat, the Khans were for a while content to pursue the eccentric Iifestyle characteristic of so many south Asian princes of the time. One Khan became legendary as a passionate collector of shoes, and made sure no pair would ever be stolen by locking up all the left shoes in a dungeon below the Fort at Kalat.

With the last ruler of Kalat, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan (1902-79), the Khanate again briefly entered the political arena. Exploiting the opaque clauses of the 1876 treaty, which left some doubt as to just how independent Kalat was supposed to be, he hesitated to join Pakistan in 1947. The brief independence of Kalat finally ended in 1948 when the Khan signed the necessary merger documents, followed by his formal removal from power and the abolition of the state's boundaries in 1955. The present shape of Balochistan was finally rounded out in 1958 when the Sultan of Oman sold Gwadar, given to one of his ancestors by the Khan of Kalat, back to Pakistan.

 

<http://www.baloch2000.org/history/baloch.htm>

 

Balochistan
 

The province of Balochistan is unique in its geo-political significance. It forms 44% of Pakistan’s land mass and has a 770 km long coast line. It consists of arid basins and various hill ranges, sharply marked off from the Indus plain by the kirther and sulaiman ramparts. It exhibits a great variety of physical features, consisting of vast rocky desert with extremes of climate and very low rainfall. In the northeast, the Zhob –Loralai basin is surrounded by mountains on all sides. The Quetta basin is also surrounded by mountains , namely Zarghun, Takatu, Khilafat, Chiltan and Murdar Ghar. In the north and northwest, the lobe is bordered by the Toba Kakar Range.

The general terrain of north western Balochistan comprises a series of low-lying plateaus, some of which are separated by mountain ranges. The Ras Koh range in the east runs northeast- southwest. The Chagai hills form the border with Afghanistan. This region is a true desert, an area of inland drainage and playas known as Hamuns, the largest of which is Hamun-i-Mashkel. Southern Balochistan includes the Sarawan area in the north and a vast wilderness of ranges in the south.

The Balochistan plateau extends westward, average 263 m. high, with many ridges running across it from northeast to southwest. It is separated from the Indus plain by the Sulaiman and Kirther ranges. It consists of dry valleys, saline lakes and a vast area of desert with dry hills, generally running across the plateau from the northeast to southwest. The Chagai-raskoh range is a chain of relatively low hills. Hamun-i-Mashkel and Hamun-i-Lora are large playa basins, which are evaporating lakes or saline marshes most time of the year. The plateau is an extremely arid country. The Toba Kakar and Chagai ranges in the north separate this plateau from Afghanistan. The brahvi extinct volcano, koh-i-sultan is situated about 500 km. west of Quetta.

Economically, its vast rangelands, large numbers of livestock, rich mineral and gas deposits, and good quality deciduous fruits are of significant value although there is relatively little industrialization in the province. Balochistan’s arid but diverse climatic zones have contributed to a rich animal and plants biodiversity while building a definitive culture heritage that allowed survival in this rugged and harsh landscape.

 <http://www.balochistan.org.pk/aboutbalochistan.htm> 

Balochistan and its Strategic Importance


Balochistan, the largest оf the four provinces оf Pakistan, for а long time оsсillаtеd between obscurity and prominence, but its geostrategic importance never slackened. Its enduring importance, it seems lies in the fact that it is close to the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean. Lately Soviet intervention in Afghanistan has lent Balochistan added importance, even though, over the past two millennium years, it has either hindered or facilitated, passage оf large armies, Iranian, Greek, Arab, Mongol and British among them and, thereby influenced world history.

Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, in the first рlасе, and its subsequent declaration оf intention to withdraw, has far reaching imp1ication for Pakistan, other regional countries and non-regional countries. This is because оf the location оf the Balochistan in such close proximity to Afghanistan, and as most оf the vital land and air routes leading to and from Soviet Central Asia to the Arabian Sea go through it. In itself Afghanistan is а barren, inhospitable landlocked country, famous оnly for successful resistance to all intruders. Russian interest in Afghanistan could not, therefore, bе separated from the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. Will they try to соmе to the warm waters оf the Indian Осеаn bу land too, that is, via Afghanistan, Iran and Balochistan?

Balochistan is bounded оn the west bу 520 miles long border with Iran and оn the north bу 720 miles border with Afghanistan. In the east are Pakistani provinces оf Sindh, Punjab and а part оf North West Frontier Province (NWFP). In the south it has 470 miles coast 1ine аlong the warm waters оf the Arabian Sea. It’s extended sea-board running a1ong the Seistаn region оf Iran ends up at the mouth оf the Persian Gu1f. Ba1ochistan lies in а commanding position vis-a-vis the Straits оf Hormuz, onе оf the choke points оf the Indian Осеаn and the World.

Its trijunctional border in the North West links Seistan (Iran) and Helmund (Afghanistan) with Chagai (Pakistan), overlooking the Mashad-Zahedan-Chabahar-Highway. In the north east, the inland constrictions like the Khojak and Bolan Passes {opposite Kandahar) аrе some оf the important bottlenecks in the region from the geostrategic point оf view. They were important for the Czarist Russia and the Victorian England in the past. So also they will bе for any possible contentions between the Soviet Union [Russia] and the USA or indigenous powers оf the region.

Balochistan’s political boundaries do not conform to its physical frontier; they vary widely. Physically, it encompasses а large chunk оf Iran, Afghanistan and parts оf Sindh, Punjab and NWFP оf Pakistan. The Encyclopaedia оf Islam describes Balochistan: "It includes the whole country over which Baloch race is spread without regard to political boundaries. According to ethnic configuration the Baloch inhabit parts оf Helmund, Nemroz and many other parts of (Afghanistan), Balochistan under the Iranian occupation and Seistan (Iran), Sindh, Punjab, NWFP and Balochistan under Pakistan.

      In view оf its relief, or physical features, the Greek historian Herodotus had divided Balochistan into three distinct parts, which by and large, conform to the description given bу Encyclopedia оf Islam. They were:

 

1-   Aracosia comprising Kandahar and Quetta Region.

2-   Drangiana, including Helmund, Seistan and Chagai.

3-   Gedrosia comprising (currently under Pakistani and Iranian occupied) Makran Coast.

            The fact is that large chunks оf Eastern Iran, Southern Afghanistan and Pakistani Balochistan are so identica1 in geography and ecology that they form one natural region. Together they appear "more Central Asian than Indian", according to Sir Denys Bray.

The topography оf Balochistan offers itself as, а fascinating study to military thinkers in particular. It has lofty snow covered mountains, dry highlands, desiccated deserts, small alluvial plain inlets, and long arid coastal areas. It mау bе divided into four distinct parts, that is, the Upper Highland, the Lower Highland, the Plains, and the Deserts.The Upper Highland, locally known as Khorasan, occupies the north-eastern and central part оf Balochistan. It is bounded bу the Sulaiman Range оn the east, Тоbа Кakar in the north and, Chagai Hi1ls in the west.

In the Upper Highland the Suleiman Mountains (Takht-i-Sulaiman) converge near thе tоwn оf Quettа tо form а knot of high peaks, at а height оf 12000 feet from thе sea level. The valleys nestling between high mountains are generally 5000 feet аbоvе the sea level. There is also а prominent highland lobе, 150 miles long and 100 miles wide, along the Gomal River. The Lower Highland is formed bу the slope оf the Suleiman Range оf the east and the Central Brahui Range and the Kirthar Range further in the south, running in north-south direction. The mountains forming the Lower Highland extend from Makran Coast right up to the Afghan frontier in the north. Roughly, they comprise

 

(а)        Talar-e-Band or Makran Coast Range, 

(b)        Central Makran Range,

(с)        (Hе Siahan Range bonding Kharan) and,

(d)        Thе Ras Kоb (skirting Chagai) оn (the Afghan border).

 

The white clay mountains on the Makran Coast are distinguished by the absence оf "stone". They are made up of limestone or conglomerate, and look like, а wall. In theе words оf Sir Thomas Holdich these mountains appear: Gigantic cap-crowned pillars and pedestals аrе balanced in fantastic array ... successive strata so well defined that it possesses а1l the appearance оf massive masonry construction ... standing stiff, jagged, naked, and uncompromising, like the parallel walls of some gigantic system оf defenses and varying in height above the plain from 5000 feet to 50. These fantastic mountains present successive lines of defense to all invading armies, from the north tо south, and from south tо north. That is why organized armies have always sought tо avoid them and instead used alternate routes оn either side of it, which аrе from Farah (Afghanistan) tо Chabahar (Iran) and Kandahar (Afghanistan) to Las Bela, Karachi (Balochistan). These two approaches оn the flanks, unlike the central approach, head straight tо the Arabian Sea through а few natural constrictions. The lowland Kachhi  plain formed by  the Sibi re-entrant in the Suleiman Range

is а flat alluvial plain with extreme temperature variations in summers and winters. It is subject tо strong winds and blinding dust storms. The other plain areas are Las Bela and certain triangular inlets оn the Makran Coast.

One of the major problems of Balochistan is inadequacy of water resources. Water is scarce, for drinking, agriculture, industries, mining and development projects. Non-availability оf water in sufficient quantities in many parts оf Balochistan cannot but focus the attention оf military commanders. For one thing, any major deployment оf forces in positional or mobile warfаге in Balochistan would be governed by the over-riding factor оf the proximity to water sources, both from maintenance and logistics. In other words deployment оf forces would tend to be nearer the areas where water is available. Conversely, the areas devoid оf water, such as Kharan and Ghagai Deserts in the northwest, Makran Ranges in the Lower Highland and parts оf the desiccated plains оf Sibi and Dadhar and Khuzdar are not likely to attract potential invaders. In other words, the dry areas with little water would drastically reduce the courses ореn to the invaders to attack from grounds оf their оown choosing. On the other hand these obstacles would aid the defenders to hold the few available approaches leading into Balochistan in strength, without stretching defenses unnecessarily.

In order to overcome the pressing problem оf water in Balochistan, the … Governments of Pakistan and Iran have not taken аany measures to solve this pressing problem of the people anywhere even if they did some thing they did only for their own political or military purposes not for the sake of Baloch nation. Balochistan is rich in minerals and basic infrastructure for development оf mining industry does not exist because of power, and good roads, telecommunications, however, paucity of water in many parts is а major constraint оn development of mining. It discourages development оf new population centers, and inhibits agriculture, and industry. Archaeological researches lead us to believe that Balochistan was not always as dry as it is today. It would арреаr that the climate оf Balochistan at one time was milder, rainfall higher and environmental conditions mоrе favorable to human settlement.

The forebear’s оf the Baloch who settled along water courses in Makran had established an agrarian society based оn land cultivation and trade. It was а contemporary civilization оf Наrарра and Моhejodaro with which, as also with Mesopotamia, they had commercial and cultural links. Much later when Turkish and Pathan Sultans ruled in Delhi, Маrсо Polo noted that the people оf Kesmacoran, present Makran, were clever craftsmen and carried on much commercial activity. Marco Polo said: "they live by merchandise and industry, fоr they аrе professed traders and carry on much traffic by sea and land in all directions". Indeed аn orderly and prosperous life style, based оn agriculture, industry and commerce, had led to the creation оf several urban centers in Makran and also in the northeast in Turan. The Centers were Khuzdar, Turan’s capital city and Kandabil, the modern Gandava. In the southwest were Bampur, Kej (Kasarkand), Banajbur (present Panjgur). Balochistan’s prosperity and progress had attracted many merchants and noted travel1ers. Marco Polo was only one оf them. Balochistan was also visited by Ibn Haukal оf Baghdad and Istakhri of Persepolis. Among other visitors were Portuguese sailors and Chinese pilgrim Нiuen Thasang. The military leaders who traversed Balochistan were Alexander the Great, Muhammad Bin Qasim and Chagatai son оf Chengis Khan.

Throughout recorded history, Balochistan has attracted travelers, historians, politicians, and military generals. In their own heydays the Persians, Greeks, Mauriyan’s, Parthian, Scythians, Sassanid, Arabs, Ghazhnavids, Ghorids, Mongols, Mughals, Durranis and British all camе to Balochistan. They, it would seem, used Balochistan for passage and as springboard and not for permanent settlement with the exception оf the Arabs who lived here for three centuries and the British who stayed for about а century. Much оf the Arab heritage was however destroyed by the Mongols. То begin with, the British had occupied Balochistan to guard their lines of communication, between their bases in India and Afghanistan and not for the exploitation of its natural resources. Balochistan, or parts оf it, had been rich and prosperous once. The geographical location and the habits and peculiarities оf its people made it important, nevertheless. The British could not use it as military base. In its geopolitical context Sir Thomas Holdich described the ancient Balochistan in these words:

А country of great and flourishing cities, of high-roads connecting them with well-known and well-marked stages; Armies passing and re-passing and а trade which represented to those that held it the dominant commercial power in the world, flowing steadily century after century through that country which was fatal to Alexander, and which we аrе rather apt now to consider the fag-end оf the Balochistan wilderness. The army оf Alexander the Great on the way back home from India passed through Balochistan. Near Patala, about 30 miles southeast оf Hyderabad, Alexander split his army into three divisions and dispatched each one оf them through а different route ultimately to assemble at the port оf Hormuz in Persia. One division, under General Craterus, consisting оf heavy transport (elephants) and bulk оf stores and invalids passed through Bela, Mula Pass, Kalat, Quetta, Kandahar, Helmund to Kerman and Hormuz. The main body оf Alexander’s army, under his оwn command, marched along the Makran Coast it is where the Baloch army faced the Alexanders army with stiff fight Alexander himself was wounded with a poison arrow later he died of that wound. It will be noted that Alexander had followed, what seemed, new land routes between South Asia and the Middle East. These routes over the time have proved to be of great strategic importance to invaders coming from the north and going towards the Arabian Sea, or conversely moving upward from the southern shores or those traversing from east to west (and vice versa). Over the last more than two thousand years these routes have not lost their importance. They have been in constant use. Lately, these routes have assumed great importance, more so after the Soviet’s invasion оf Afghanistan.

During the Arab ascendancy in Balochistan, the Makran coast route was the most significant communication channel in the region. It was freely used for three centuries, from the 7th to 10th century’s АD. Several towns along the coastal route developed into places оf military importance, as replenishment centers. Balochistan was well placed to provide marshalling facilitiesеs to invading armies to recoup and re-equip before proceeding to India. Muhammad Bin Qasim, the young and brilliant Muslim general, first came to Makran and established а firm base there. Не re-equipped his expedition and secured lines of communication by occupying the towns of Kanazbur or Banajbur present Panjgur and Armabil (modem Las- Bela), before attacking the port town оf Debal on the mouth оf the Indus in Sindh. It will be noted that Muhammad Bin Qasim did not follow the beaten northern route to India. Не preferred the southern (Makran) route which had the advantage of running parallel to the Arabian Sea. It sounds reasonable to assume that as а military strategist he appreciated the advantages that parallel land and sea routes would provide to his army by employing land and maritime forces simultaneously.

The valleys of Kej, Gomal, Zhob, and the mountain passes like Khojak, Bolan and Mula, provide means оf comparatively easier соmmunication through high mountain ranges. The passes, successively lying from north to south, have been used for centuries by invaders and traders alike. They inter-connect the important towns’ оf Kandahar, Quetta and Kalat with the lower Indus basin. They link the Upper Highland with Lower-Highland provide vertical movement from the Arabian Sea to the landlocked Afghanistan. Likewise, the Kej and some other valleys provide horizontal movements from east tо west and vice versa.

Balochistan’s mountain ranges, less Brahui, Kirthar and Suleiman, mostly run horizontally, from East to West. They аre an obstacle for vertical movement from Makran Coast to Afghanistan border, оr соnversely, in а southern drive from the north to the Arabian Sea through Central Balochistan. The Kharan Desert is а major obstacle and аnу army moving from the West towards Balochistan would be deflected either to the north or south of it. They will be tempted to choose between two routes; one, in the north (Zahedan to Quetta) and two, in the south (Panjgur tо Bela). Incidentally, these natural approaches provide the shortest routes to the Indus basin from the West by following the

 

(а)  Zahedan Pishin-Dera Ghazi Khan route or 

(b)  Panjgur-Bela route. 

 

            But, beyond Indus River, the going to the east again becomes diffiсult. The east bаnk of the Lower Indus is flanked by the thar and Cholistan Deserts. The hills in the west and deserts in the east оf Indus channels lead invading armies from the south tо north (оr vice versa) along the course оf the river Indus and its tributaries.

            This insight is gained from the experience оf Alexander, Muhammad Bin Qasim and the British. Therefore most invaders from the west chose to enter India by way оf the northern passes particularly Khyber Pass. However, across the Goldsmith’s line in Seistan (Iran) major military maneuvers аre possible through Farah-Saharan-Chabahar-Highway running close to western border оf Balochistan. There аrе nо obstacles, such as those encountered in the Lower Highland. Instead а good metal led highway exists linking the Soviet Union and Afghanistan with the Makran Coast at the port оf Chabahar. Similarly, in the east in Balochistan а parallel route exists from Kandahar through Quetta, Bela to Karachi. It has bееn the most obvious and historical approach. It is fairly well developed in terms оf telecommunication systems, roads and railways. The credit for developing railway communication in Balochistan goes to the British. They built а railroad through а difficult mountainous terrain, at places gaining а height оf 6,000 feet above the sea level. It is one оf the highest railroads in the world.

            The laying оf the railway line in Balochistan has its own history and military background. During the First Afghan War in 1839, when the British columns оf the Indus Army advanced from Sucker (Sindh) tо Kandahar, the losses in terms оf men, animals and baggage оn the way were very high. Thousands оf men and animals perished.

            Among other lessons оf the First Afghan War that the British learnt, one was that they must have secure means оf communication from Rohri/Sukkur to Quetta and beyond. Likewise, they must achieve а logistics capability оf carrying men and materials in bulk speedily. The answer lay in constructing а railway line, which was the most modern means оf communication in those days. After the Second Afghan War (1878-80) the British finally decided to link Sindh and Balochistan through railway. In the year 1885 the existing railway line in Sindh was extended to Quetta. It entered Balochistan at Jhatpat and winding its way to Sibi reached Quetta through the Воlаn Pass. А branch line from Sibi through the Harnai Pass terminated at Khost in Harnai District. The railway line from Quetta junction was further extended to the border town оf Chaman through the Khojak pass. The Khojak railway tunnel is а masterpiece оf engineering. It was constructed at а height of 6,398 feet above sea level in Khawaja Amran Range. It was considered to be the longest tunnel in South Asia, having а length оf 12,870 feet or 2.4374 miles. The railway line enters the Khojak tunnel near Shellabagh, about 60 miles north оf Quetta. The tunnel is preceded by а single span railway bridge, which is 150 feet long and 234 feet high. The railway terminus in Chaman оn the Afghanistan border that also serves as the railhead for Kandahar.  The local traffic оn this line is very high. Over the years, this railway has served Afghanistan’s in-transit trade for transporting fruit and other goods to India and to other foreign countries through the port city оf Karachi. The railway line through Khojak Pass served as the backbone оf Afghanistan economy unti1 Soviet intervention in 1979.

            The railway bridge and the tunnel have great military value as they lay оn the main approach between Afghanistan and Balochistan Amir Abdul Raman Khan of Afghanistan had vehemently resented the construction оf this strategic tunnel by the British. Не said, “cutting” а tunnel through the Khojak hill they (British) were pushing the railway line into my country just like а knife into my vitals". His remarks highlight the importance оf this railway tunnel as it gives added strength to the Khojak Pass and facilitates quick transportation оf forces to а convenient рlасе opposite Kandahar.  Militarily, commercially and psychologically, it has threatened Afghanistan from the south, more precisely from the garrison in Quetta. The defense of Quetta will be greatly depending оn the control оf the Khojak Pass along with the bridge and the tunnel as they form the northern gate of Quetta. Their control will determine the local superiority of contending forces in the areas, and in а large measure the defense of the Balochistan.

            Another railway lineе was laid from Quetta to Zahedan. This linе, like the Quetta-Khojak railway itself, was not justified оn grounds of local traffic. Only one train а week plies on it between Quetta and Mirjawa, the Pakistan railway terminal on the Iranian border. Before 1960 Zahedan was the last stop оn this lineе. This railway line was built to provide outlet for movement of goods and peoplе to and from the north through Zahedan - Mashad route. During the World War-II Quetta Zahedan section of the North Westen Railway was intensively used to ferry war supplies to the Soviet Union via Zahedan - Mashad route.

            Road construction received special attention during the Ayub era. The Pakistani part of the RCD Highway linking Pakistan with Iran and Turkey runs through Balochistan. Starting from Karachi it winds up and down the hills through Веlа, Khuzdar, Kalаt to Mastung. From there it takes а westward swing to Nushki, Dalbandin and Zahedan in Iran and beyond to Turkey. The RCD Highway has shortened the distance between Karachi and Quetta by 140 miles. It has opened new avenues of cooperation between the neighboring countries. It has the potential to promote travel and expand trade and cultural relations.

            The construction of this highway would help in bringing about national integration, in that, people living in far flung areas of Balochistan would thus be able to play greater part in the nationa1 life оf Balochistan. The impact оf this highway would be great оn the socio-economic and political development оf Balochistan. Militarily, the RCD Highway has а special significance, since for а considerable distance it runs parallel to the west оf the river Indus and the Kirthar Range. It also provides а safer alternate route from Karachi to Mastung and by link road to Quetta and beyond to Multan, Islamabad and Peshawar. The importance оf this route would be great as it is planned to link it with the proposed Indus Highway.

            Incidentally, Balochistan has got "nationa1 status" for its international road links, which are placed under National Highway Board. The RCD Highway, as part оf an integrated national сcommunication system would help in the economic development оf the different area оn the approaches leading into Balochistan from the north, south and the west. Ba1ochistan has а Coasta1 Ferry Service a1ong the Makran Coast. Boats regularly call оn Jiwani, Gwadar, Pasni, Ormara, Ras Malan and Sonmiani. А long felt need at these bays and ports relates to adequate docking facilities. Development оf modem seaports in these parts would cost billiоns оf dollаrs.

            Balochistan would be the major beneficiary оf the CENТO economic aid and technical assistance if Pakistan would give the fair share to Balochistan. The CENТO/RCD Microwave link from Karachi to Ankara passed through Balochistan. Its general alignment is along the RCD Highway. The telecommunication link is also connected with Quetta, the hub of rail, road and air communications in the area. Besides RCD Microwave link, the Balochistan was brought оn national and international dialing through integrated Microwave and Satellite Communication Systems. Interestingly, Balochistan had the distinction оf being the very first part оf South Asia to be linked with Europe telegraphical1y. That was in 1863, when the first telegraph line from Karachi to connect the Indo-European Telecommunication System was completed through Pasni and Gwadar. Yet another link with the Indo-European System was provided by а line which ran from Quetta to Rebat Kila оn the Iranian border.

 The aim of Pakistan and Iran to build Modern communication network in Balochistan is to build viable defense and also for exploiting its natural resources, particularly minerals. Pakistan looks for a comparison with how the Russian have lately exploited the mineral resources оf their Central Asian states might be useful for Pakistan to exploit the mineral wealth of Balochistan. А cursory glance at the current mineral map of Balochistan would show the existence of four main areas in which minerals have been discovered or worked: 

(1)    Raskoh Hills in Chagai district; 

(2)    Along the Makran coast; 

(3)    Sibi-Kalat, Khuzdar areas, and 

(4)    Marri-Bugti areas.

 

            Balochistan is rich in minerals. There are several known deposits of metallic and non-metallic minerals. The discovery of natural gas fields at Sui in 1953 and of Pirkoh in 1982 and, likewise the discovery оf а copper belt at Saindak in 1962 by satellite imageries hint at the possibility of finding even richer reserves of minerals in Balochistan. The Sui and Pirkoh natural gas fields in Marri-Bugti area alone account more than 18 Trillion Cubic Feet (ТСР) of proven reserves. Today all industriеs in Sindh, Punjab and NWFP are run оn gas from these sources. Note Balochistan is not included in this list because she does not receive its share because of … short sightness. It is also being used for power generation and as а raw material in the production of chemical fertilizer at Mu1tan, Punjab. Likewise, natural gas is used as domestic fuel in most of the major cities of Pakistan. Such heavy dependence оn natural gas makes it а vital, albeit, hazardous resource. Disruption in gas supply can cause econоmic and psycho-socio problems, and may indeed, incapacitate Pakistan during а defense related emergency.

            Thus the security оf gas supply at production wells and at main distribution headwork’s is оf great importance for survival of Pakistan as country. The case study оf Saindak copper deposits would bring home the point. These deposits extended between the Afghani and Iranian parts of Balochistan as at present Balochistan is divided and ruled by these three countries. These deposits can be a point of dispute between them. In fact, the copper belt extends to Cheshma into Iranian part of Balochistan. Saindak deposits are оnе оf the largest in the world and if utilized for the benefit of the peoples of Balochistan cou1d provide a lot of jobs and improve the life of people but unfortunately … [they] never want any relief for the local people so they have closed the Saindak plant [in the past] and threw away the labor force and made many peoples job less hence left them without any source of livelihood.

            Balochistan’s geography presents а tier оf natural barriers and topographical constrictions with temperature inversion demanding highly trained combat troops, sophisticated equipment and armaments to fight а specialized conventional war in northern mountain below freezing temperature in the winters, and then in the desert, in summers with one оf the highest temperature table in the world.

            The invasion оn Balochistan also demands а thorough military planning and а good preparation over а long period. No invader could debouch in Balochistan unless hе has established а firm base in its neighboring areas like Afghanistan, Iran and the Gulf. Second, the ejection or routing of holding forces by the invaders would be а difficult operation. That is why the invading armies оf first class European powers camе up оn the periphery оf Balochistan and stayed back in preparation to invade and advance through it, but they did not achieve any success. Third, between the two matching armies the initiative would lie with the one who is holding forces in Balochistan.
            Balochistan is large in аreа and, it has long common frontiers with neighboring countries. Consequently а large, and technically sound professional army, would be needed tо safeguard its territorial integrity in the broader framework оf Islamic Republic оf Pakistan. Balochistan defense will also require а strong navy with good docking facilities in the various bays оn the Makran Coast. In the absence оf these, Balochistan could become another Biafra.

            The adjoining gulfs, seas and, indeed, the Indian Ocean as а whole are infested with rival navies, among them American, Russian, British, French and Indian. Each one оf these navies, which have elements of nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers, could help bolster or jeopardize, as the case may be, the potential оf Pakistan’s rather small navy. Meanwhile, the Arab/Persian Gulf and the peripheral countries аrе fastly building their own navies. But will they be able tо form а formidable naval forces? Divided, as they are for lack оf effective institutional arrangements in the foreseeable future? Will they be allowed tо do it by the Western/Eastern Powers or India which is emerging as а regional power. These аrе some pertinent questions tо ponder. The answer would partly lie in the ethnic-socio-political composition of the people of Balochistan. Their will, to resist aggression and determination tо wage war for decades, love for freedom and faith in Balochistan could be formidable for аnу intervener/adventurist regional or superpower

            In sum, Balochistan’s geo-strategic significance never dwindled; instead, it continued to figure high in all eventualities. For example, recent idea of the Americans to pump out the Central Asian gas and oil through Afghanistan via Balochistan and using Balochi port to deliver it throughout the world is in fact a historical chance for Balochistan to get more development, investment, and improvement to quality of life of its citizens. …

           

<http://www.baloch2000.org/news/Archives/2003/Sept03/03a.htm> 

Development: Road Projects 

The Government of Islamic Republic of Pakistan is undertaking a nationwide Pakistan Road Network Development Programme (PRNP) with financial and technical assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The PRNP has been split into four sector projects, which are being prepared and implemented on a province-by-province basis…

The Balochistan Road Development Sector Project (BRDSP) aims at widening and improving a total of approximately 1,400 kilometers in the Balochistan Province of Pakistan. The Project will have two executing agencies (EAs), namely: (i) the National Highway Authority-Regional Office (NHA), and (ii) the Communications & Works Department of Government of Balochistan Province (CWD). The Project roads are of three types, namely: (i) National Highways, (ii) Provincial Highways, and (iii) Rural Access Roads. Table shows the 23 roads included in the Project. 

Complete List of Roads Screened by PPTA
 

No.

District/s Served

ID No.

Name of Road

Length (km)

 

 

 

 

Initial

Revised

(a) National Highways (NHA-Quetta)

1     

 

Quetta, Mastung, Kalat

N-25-A

Quetta – Mastung – Kalat Road

130

120

2

Quetta, Ziarat, Chaman

N-25-B

Quetta – Chaman Road

117

117

(b) Provincial Highways (CWD-Balochistan)

3

Ziarat, Sibi

P-01

Kach – Shahragh- Hamai Raod

83

83

4

Zhob, Loralai

P-02

Zhob- Morghakibzi – Mekhtor Road

92

92

5

Kuch, Turbat

P-03

Mand – Bilingor – Mirani Road

70

70

6

Zhob

P-04

Zhob – Mir Ali Khel – Khajuri Road

101

101

7

Kharan, Panjgur

P-05

Nag – Panjgur Road

125

86

8

Panjgur, Kech

P-06

Panjgur-Hoshab

50

100

9

Bela, Khuzdar

P-07

Dureji – Shah Noorani Road

56

56

10

Chaghai, Kharan

P-08

Kharan – Dalbadin Road

91

91

11

Ziarat, Loralai

P-09

Sinjavi – Duki Road

44

44

(c) Rural Access Roads (CWD-Balochistan)

12

Kila Abdullah

R-01

Gulistan-Sagi Bazar – Kandel Road

13

13

13

Jaffarabad

R-02

Usta Mohammad – Mirwah Road

30

30

14

Jaffarabad

R-03

Hairdin – Marguzar Road

55

55

15

Jhal Magsi

R-04

Gandawa – Kotri Pir Chhatta Road

28

28

16

Sibi

R-05

Lehri – Sangsila Road

55

55

17

Jaffarabad

R-06

Dera Allah Yar – Usta Mohammad Road

38

38

18

Kila Abdullah

R-07

Roghni – Gulistan – Kila Abdullah Road

60

60

 

 

 

19

Jaffarabad

R-08

Dera Allah Yar – Hairdin Road

40

40

20

Pishin

R-09

Killi Manzaki – Killi Sahib Khan - Surdab

20

20

21

Lasbela

R-10

Kutkhera – Kanraj Road

24

24

22

Sibi

R-11

Sibi – Harnai Road (Sultankot-Spintangi)

63

63

23

Kalat

R-12

Basima – Chad Sher Ali – Giwa Road

42

42

Total Length (km):

1,427

1,428

Communication and Works Department, Government of Balochistan Province and
National Highway Authority
June 2003
<http://www.balochistan.org.pk/pdf/pk_road.pdf>

Improving Water Efficiency in Balochistan


Balochistan is constantly losing its potential and productivity due to extreme arid climate and numerous desertification processes by human and livestock. Over-grazing and woodcutting are resulting in sheet and gully erosion in the range lands.

            Besides, the loss of topsoil and natural nutrient content of soil are reducing the watersheds, resulting in runoffs and floods. These damage life, property and fertile agricultural lands.

            Water plays an important role in the province's economy. Resources are being limited due to population growth and industrialization. Conflicts over water are quite frequent.

            In Balochistan where water has always been a scarce commodity, the constant abuse of natural resources since the last many decades is posing a challenge to environmentalists. Exploitation of limited resources are causing depletion of water table at an alarming rate in many natural aquifers.

            Disposal of raw and untreated industrial, domestic, and municipal wastes in drains has become a common practice. The indiscriminate and extensive use of insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers on agricultural lands is polluting good aquifers, which are used for drinking water.

            The irrigation practices pay little regard to actual water requirements of crops and soil conditions. The flooding of lands with water is widely practised resulting in 40 per cent losses.

            Conveyance and farm channels are mostly unlined with seepage losses amounting to over 30 per cent of the flow. From recent past there appear signs of positive change in the outlook of farmers towards water and its efficient use.

            Not only the conveyance channels are being lined to prevent seepage losses but the field layouts are also being improved on scientific lines to avoid application losses.

The Issues:

Water problems arise more from poor governance and lack of interest and commitment by the public and private sectors in solving the issue. Social problems here have mostly been traditional and persistent.
Institutional Constraints:

Different cells of the irrigation department lack of well-qualified, trained and experienced personnel. The existing staff is mostly busy in the operation and maintenance of the ongoing schemes thus finding little time to conduct technical surveys, and plan and design new projects. The department relies on out-dated equipments. Library facilities and computerized access to data are non-existent.

            The federally administered research centre is deficient in trained manpower and lack of equipment and laboratory facilities. The Hydro-geology Directorate of Wapda, an institution working in groundwater investigations and development has also been closed.

            In the absence of strong institutions for data collection, investigations, surveys, project planning and execution, project monitoring, and research and extension in water cannot be visualized.

Lack of Project Monitoring and Evaluation:

The province does not have an effective and organized mechanism or infrastructure for the monitoring and evaluation of the performance of the completed or on-going projects. Such a mechanism is of utmost importance to help identify the problems and assess the success and failure of a project.

Lack of Inter-sectoral Coordination:

Water development has followed a pattern of undertaking small isolated schemes to develop surface and/or groundwater resources.

            Efforts are not made to follow an integrated approach. Each department acts in isolation with little understanding for the other's work. This leads to inefficiency in the planning, execution, operation and maintenance of viable projects. Integration and a joint approach is required among water, forestry, livestock, public health, environment, and agriculture sectors.

Poor Cost Recovery:

Financial constraints make operation and maintenance of projects difficult, resulting in failures. The root cause is poor/low cost recoveries from the project beneficiaries.

Role of the Private Sector:

The lack of understanding among the government agencies about the importance of community participation and the role of private sector, particularly the NGOs, in developing water sector and educating and user communities is another impediment. No policies have been devised on promoting the relationships between the two.

Technical Issues:

The soil and climate of the province are ideal for achieving high yields of grain and fruit crops. Lack of safe and potable drinking water is the most serious problems in the rural areas where majority of the population lives. Groundwater is now a diminishing resource and cannot be relied upon to meet the growing demands.

            Indiscriminate development of tube wells, with no control over their operation, has resulted in a rapid decline of water table in many parts, where horticulture is practised and electricity has reached.

            Declining water table is giving rise to seriously affecting the aquifers. It is both technical and legislative to control the installation of tube wells. Political interference and lack of commitment on the part of the government departments impair enforcement of the authority.

Lack of Data:

The network of collecting data on temperature, rainfall, wind speed and stream flows etc., does not meet the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) standards.

            The data generated is scanty and has to be often guessed or extrapolated in the design of water development projects. This is one of the major constraints in estimation, scientific planning and sustainable development of water resources in the province.

Floods:
Due to topography and variety of land systems the problem of flash floods has always been a potential source of threat to land, property, lives, and ecosystem. These floods have been a cause of revenue loss, besides damaging the irrigation and drainage structures.

            The unique socio-political set-up is characterized by tribal system, low literacy rate, and extreme poverty. Generally, the powerful Maliks, Sardars or the MPAs are consulted before initiating any development activity.

            They have their own priorities and interests related to the project. Thus a development project, instead being based on technical, socio-economic, environmental, or physiographic considerations, is designed to suit only a single person's interests. Community interest is ignored which results in the failure of a project.

            Illiteracy is a big handicap in promoting the rational use of water. Farmers’ overuse and the general public is ignorant about the misuse of water. This creates problems for the planners and development agencies in convincing them of the importance of water saving. Following measures need to be adopted to increase water availability:

 

·         Metering of water supply to all domestic and industrial consumers in and around  urban areas and rationalizing water charges.

·         Running mass awareness programmes.

·         Constructing storage dams around Quetta to store flood water.

·         Improving watersheds of dam sites to reduce siltation and increase life of these    dams.

·         Installing hand pumps in rural areas where feasible and providing low cost water filtration and treatment plants (rapid and slow sand filters) with reservoir facilities for storage in areas where surface water is available.

·         Installing community owned tubewells in suitable areas with their participation and active involvement.

·         Rehabilitation and improvement of Karez system wherever possible. Limiting installation of tubewells to areas where there is potential for groundwater development still available.

 

Following Measures need to be taken to Increase Irrigation Efficiencies:

 

·         Establishing well-maintained and designed demonstration plots of appropriate size on farmers' lands with their participation to demonstrate the effectiveness of advanced and more efficient irrigation technologies and field layouts.

·         Devising policies and developing incentives to encourage farmers desiring to lay high efficiency irrigation systems on their fields.

·         Encouraging the establishment of local industries in manufacturing essential components of high efficiency irrigation systems.

 

Following Measures need to be taken to meet the Challenge of Groundwater Mining:

 

·         Constructing more recharge dams at suitable locations.

·         Complementing construction of delay action dams with watershed improvement measures including series of check structures in streambeds.

·         Legislative measures to ensure that undesired drilling of tubewells is discouraged in the stressed areas.

·         Updating technical criteria for issuing permits for tubewell drilling and the mechanism for evaluating the need and practicability of the tubewell.

·         Replacing flat rate of electricity usage for tubewell operation with metered system. Anticipated stiff opposition to the policy due to political reasons can be overcome by giving subsidies in rates. The subsidy may be withdrawn in phases.

·         Trying recharge measures not tested earlier. These include installation of injection or gravity wells at suitable locations particularly in the beds of existing dams.

 

           Improving Governance and Capacity Building:

 

·         Establishing/improving monitoring and evaluation system for ongoing and completed projects

·         Creating an effective mechanism to achieve coordination between the local government and rural development, agriculture, public health engineering, forest, and irrigation and power departments.

·         Encouraging involvement of private sector and civil society organizations in need identification, design, planning and implementation phases of projects.

·         Regular training of technical personnel of line agencies including research and extension through organizing short refresher courses.

·         Establishing a Water Quality Monitoring Directorate with three well equipped and staffed water-testing laboratories with mobile units - one each at Quetta, Khuzdar, and Loralai to facilitate the monitoring system.

·         Following a combination of top-down and bottom-top approach in project identification, formulation and execution

·         Providing regular monitoring and technical assistance to communities after their taking over projects.

·         Improving cost recovery system of completed water development projects and making water charges more rational and realistic.

 

           Improving Watersheds:

 

·         Constructing small earth dams equipped with in-stream infiltration devices or recharge basins and gabion type structures in main streams.

·         Forestation of watershed areas with suitable varieties of trees/bushes, which are shallow rooted and drought resistant.

 

          Improving Data Collection Network and Use:

 

·         Undertaking a study to delineate the deficiencies in the existing data collection system (network density, operation and maintenance, and training needs of data collection staff) and to suggest ways and means to improve the same.

·         Undertaking improvements in the network as suggested by the above study.

·         Computerizing analysis of the data and undertaking mathematical model studies for all river basins of the Province.

 

         Preventing and Reducing Pollution of Water Bodies:

 

·         Enacting and enforcing legislation to reduce the incidence of pollution of water bodies by industrial and other polluters.

·         Regular monitoring of water quality, at critical locations, of all water bodies including rivers, streams, lakes, natural springs, groundwater, and man-made reservoirs.

·         Establishing water quality standards specifically for conditions prevalent in Balochistan.

 

Abdul Majeed, Dawn, 10 May 2004
<http://www.dawn.com/2004/05/10/ebr14.htm>

<http://www.pakissan.com/english/issues/improving.water.efficiency.in.balochistan.shtml> 

Centre Allocates Rs 8bn for Solving Balochistan’s Water Problem

QUETTA: Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Muhammad Yousuf on Tuesday said the federal government had allocated Rs 8 billion under the drought programme for solving the water issue of the province.

He was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the Quetta Water Supply Project at Karkhasa valley, in the outskirts of the provincial capital. The chief minister said the people of Balochistan were thankful to President Pervez Musharraf for his keen interest in the project.

Jam said the mega projects being implemented in the province would change the lot of people of the province, as these would help do away with the backwardness of Balochistan. "It will be implemented within next three to four months," he said and added that the provincial government had stopped work on the Water Supply Project due to some technical reasons in July last. However, work was resumed after removing the shortcomings in its implementation following the directives of President Musharraf. Under the Emergency Work Plan, he said, the project would be completed by March 2005.

The chief minister said the project would be designed in a way that it benefits the population of Quetta by supplying water for next 25 years. He directed that water be supplied to the residents of the areas through pipe system and that the sanitation system worked sufficiently.

Water is a great blessing of Allah Almighty and it must be preserved, he said, adding that unnecessary use of the water should be stopped and desired steps should be taken in this regard.

Jam also stressed the need to develop mutual rapport among the government functionaries, elected representatives and the masses to create awareness about the judicious use of water and to devise a comprehensive report to overcome the water crisis.

Speaking on the occasion, Quetta City District Government Nazim Muhammad Rahim Kakar said the city government and Wasa management would extend wholehearted cooperation to implement the project. He said they had launched several projects for the uplift and beautification of the city.

Earlier, the Additional Chief Secretary Development, Maj (retd) Nadir Ali briefed the participants on the project.

Muhammad Ejaz Khan, The News, 15 December 2004
<
http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/dec2004-daily/15-12-2004/national/n1.htm> 

Coastal Highway to Bring Prosperity to Balochistan 

ISLAMABAD: The Makran Coastal Highway would bring revolutionary changes to Balochistan and help usher the province in an era of development and prosperity, Balochistan Chief Economist Planning and Development Muhiuddin Marri said on Friday.

Speaking in a TV programme, he said a few years ago, there was a sense of deprivation among the people, as there was no considerable development in the province. But after 2000, many improtant projects were initiated, which would bring visible changes to the area, he added.

Marri said attention was given to the coastal highway, as the government wanted to provide maximum accessibility to the people of Balochistan. "Pakistan has huge sea potential and if utilised properly, the country can earn billions of dollars yearly," he added.

Responding to a question, he said the 550-km long Makran Coastal Highway would link the Gwadar deep seaport with other parts of the country, serving as the vital means of transportation and opening up new economic opportunities for the local populace.

He said the coastal highway would speed up the development of Balochistan and also contribute significantly to the economic well being of the nation. The coastal  and   other   highways, leading   to   the Iranian and Afghan borders would increase Pakistan’s trade also, he added. Marri said these projects would boost agriculture, fisheries and industrialisation in the province. 

Correspondent, The News, 18 December 2004
<
http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/dec2004-daily/18-12-2004/metro/i4.htm> 

Balochistan Government Asked to Allot Land for
 'Economic Zone'
 

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has asked Balochistan authorities to allocate 10,000 acres of land for the 'Special Economic Zone' at Gwadar Port. "The government wants to provide conducive environment to the investors by providing tax relief and other incentives, therefore, Balochistan authorities have been requested to allocate 10,000 acres of land for a Special Economic Zone," well-informed officials told Business Recorder here on Thursday.

The government has completed the first phase of the Gwadar project three months ahead of schedule, with the technical and financial assistance of the Chinese government.

The formal inauguration of Gwadar Port is expected in March 2005, as President General Pervez Musharraf and Chinese Premier will grace the event.

Requesting anonymity, officials informed this correspondent that Secretary Port and Shipping, Fazlur Rehman was likely to visit Gwadar in next couple of days to finalise all the arrangements of land allocation.

The investors will be offered special incentives to set up industries at the economic zone including tax relief and reduction in tariffs.

The government has also decided to hire professional port operators to make this zone successful, officials said, adding that the European Union would also be contacted to help government in setting up technical institutions there.

Officials said that Special Economic Zone would be made a hub of trade, as import and export from Gwadar Port to other regional countries will take comparatively short time.

When asked   whether the   government   has made any plan to shift people residing near the port, the officials said that the government is taking stock of the situation. 

Muhammad Bilal, Business Recorder, 31 December 2004
<
http://www.brecorder.com/index.php?id=93788&currPageNo=1&query=
&search=&term=&supDate=#Scene_1spacer> 

Crucial Meeting on Balochistan Today

ISLAMABAD\KARACHI - President Gen Pervez Musharraf has called a high-level meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday (today) to discuss the prevailing situation in Balochistan with a particular reference to the law and order problem and the mega development projects initiated by the government in the province.

Intelligence and other agencies will brief the President on the law and order situation and the on-going development projects in Balochistan.
Musharraf will issue directives regarding the development strategy and accelerating the pace of work on the mega projects.

Meanwhile, PML President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has expressed the hope that his talks with Sardar Ataullah Mengal would yield positive results and prove helpful in resolving the Balochistan issue.

Chaudhry Shujaat described the talks as very fruitful.
After about ninety-minute meeting with the Baloch leader, the PML chief claimed that the current military hierarchy was the first since the creation of Pakistan, which has avowed to improve the lot of deprived smaller provinces by resolving their genuine problems and alleviating the sense of deprivation among them.

Chaudhry Shujaat, who is the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan, was talking to the newsmen at the residence of PML leader Maqbool Ahmed Shaikh in Karachi on Tuesday after meeting veteran Baloch leader Sardar Ataullah Mengal.

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Mohammad Yousuf joined Chaudhry Shujaat after the meeting and was present during the Press briefing.
Shujaat said that his talks with Sardar Ataullah Mengal were fruitful and positive in which the Baloch leader identified the problems confronting the people of his province.

“Sardar Mengal asked me to hold talks with Nawab Mohammad Akbar Khan Bugti and take him into confidence as the present matter is pertaining to Dera Bugti and Sui,” said the PML Chief.

Shujaat who was flanked by PML Secretary General and head of the Parliamentary Sub-Committee Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed remained with Sardar Ataullah Mengal for one and half hour at his residence and discussed the prevailing situation in Balochistan.

Responding a question, Shujaat said that he will hold talks with Nawab Akbar Bugti soon. However, in the same breath, he said that talks would be held after the return of Mushahid Hussain Syed, who he said was proceeding to Malaysia.

Replying to another query, he said that no army operation was being carried out in Balochistan. But an “army operation was carried out in Balochistan in 1974”, which alienated the people of that province,” Shujaat added.

He said that people of Balochistan still carry the memories of that operation and tyranny that was let loose against them in 1974.
He said talks would continue under guidance of the Balochistan Chief Minister.

Sardar Ataullah Mengal said he had asked Chaudhry Shujaat to hold talks with Sardar Akbar Bugti as soon as possible to have first-hand knowledge of the situation in Balochistan.

To a query, he remarked, “I am not ready to give any guarantees.”
Jam Mohammad Yousuf also responded to the queries of the newsmen.
Responding to a question, he emphatically denied rumours about a military operation in any part of Balochistan and very categorically stated no army operation was on. He, however, added law enforcement personnel were present in certain areas for protection of national installations.

He also ruled out possibility of imposition of Governor’s rule in the province. …

He said that foreign agencies were behind the law and order situation in Balochistan. Anti-Pakistan elements were serving the foreign agenda, he alleged.

About the efforts of Shujaat Hussain, he said that he was his leader and was using his positive rules for seeking a political solution to the problem.
The Chief Minister said the Federal Government wanted to resolve the Balochistan issue through political dialogue.

He remarked some elements did not want peace and prosperity in the province. The Federal Government had launched a lot of development projects in the province for the betterment of Baloch people, he added.

He said that problems like employment of Baloch people in Federal Government, royalty on gas, etc., that Sardar Ataullah Mengal had identified during meeting with Chaudhry Shujaat would be placed on the floor of the House.

Before meeting, Sardar Ataullah Mengal and Chaudhry Shujaat also met veteran politician Sardar Sherbaz Khan Mazari, who assured the PML Chief of his full cooperation and help in resolving the Balochistan issue. 
He said that this issue would only be resolved through dialogue and not through threats hurled by the Generals and others.

Sardar Sherbaz, who showed readiness to extend every sort of help to Shujaat in the resolution of Balochistan issue, said that it is the outcome of deep-rooted sense of deprivation in the province. He hoped that the effort of Chaudhry Shujaat would definitely yield positive results…

Correspondents, The Nation, 26 January 2005
<http://nation.com.pk/daily/jan-2005/26/index1.php>
 

PAKISTAN: Focus on Lack of Development in Balochistan

 

QUETTA, 27 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - A recent attack on a key natural gas installation in the impoverished southern province of Balochistan, home to Pakistan's main oil and gas resources, left much of the country without natural gas for days. The attack, carried out by local tribesman in mid-January, has thrown the spotlight on an undeveloped corner of Pakistan that activists say has been largely neglected by Islamabad.

"The delivery system of basic social services like health, education, water and sanitation needs to be strengthened and easily accessible to common people," Abd-ur-Razzaq Kemal, head of the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), told IRIN from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.
High Profile Attack

Bugti tribesmen, encouraged by their chief Sardar Akbar Bugti and the nationalist Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), attacked Pakistan's largest gas producing plant at Sui. …

At the end of a five-day battle, in which the tribesmen stormed the gas company compound, eight people, including three soldiers, were killed and 35 people wounded. The army rushed thousands of troops and paramilitary forces to Sui. The rebels were heavily armed, well-trained and organised and used sophisticated satellite telephones. They fired 430 rockets and 60 mortar rounds at the Sui plant, Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Sherpao said.

Balochistan is the largest but least developed of Pakistan's four provinces, covering about 44 percent of the country's total land area. Over 75 percent of the population is rural, with agriculture the mainstay of the region's economy. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has recently approved a total of some US $27 million in loans to help boost job prospects in Balochistan and the neighbouring North West Frontier Province (NWFP) through improving technical education and vocational training (TEVT) systems.

Balochi nationalists demanding greater political rights, autonomy and control over their natural resources have led four insurgencies - in 1948, 1958-59, 1962-63 and 1973-77 - that was brutally suppressed by the army.
Underdevelopment
"Balochistan and the NWFP face dual problems of high illiteracy and high poverty incidences. With low participation in general education, the average literacy rate of the population aged 10 years and above is only 36 percent in Balochistan and 38 percent for the NWFP," said an ADB press statement in December 2004.

The TEVT system in the two provinces, however, suffers from many structural and operational problems, leading to poor education quality, unequal access, limited resources, low efficiency and weak links to the labour market, the ADB statement said.

The economic and social backwardness of the society, political observers maintain, in conjunction with a deeply entrenched sense of tribalism, has led to an escalation of tensions in the province.

Although tribal groups have been protesting against the government for some time, it is only recently that the situation has deteriorated, with an increase in attacks on government installations and functionaries across the province in an attempt to have their demands for greater economic and political rights heard.

Expoitation on Natural Resources

Some development experts maintain that the policies of successive governments have increased the grievances of Balochis. "Over the years, the income from natural resources in the province has not been properly distributed and the common Balochi people have not benefited from it," Ghulam Mustafa Talpur, a developmental economist at the international developmental NGO, Actionaid Pakistan, told IRIN.

"Balochistan is a mineral-rich province, however, the Baloch people are not benefitting from this partly due to neglect of the government and partly due to their own chiefs," the head of PIDE, Kemal, said.

Prestigious Projects

In recent years, the government has started a number of large-scale development projects in Balochistan, which were partly designed to generate local employment. The most prestigious of these is the Gawadar deep-sea port, some 470 km west of the country's main port city of Karachi. The $248 million Chinese-built dock is expected to be opened in February.

Other projects include the 675 km coastal highway linking Gawadar with Karachi, and the construction of Mirani dam and Kacchi canal to develop water resources in drought-hit areas of the province. But some Balochis maintain that skilled people from other provinces are in line for the jobs in these projects and ultimately foreign influence would be threatening the indigenous culture of the region.

Economists like Kemal accept there are real issues to be addressed in the province. "Technical institutes should be opened there and Balochis should be trained for future needs. It requires more attention on the part of the government at the moment," he added.

The government has recently set up a parliamentary committee to look into the problems of Balochistan. The committee has submitted its recommendations after consulting all stakeholders. "Some of the grievances are genuine, such as the gas royalties for example, which should be increased as the tarrifs are decades old, so it needs comprehensive revision," Syed Dilawar Abbass, a parliamentarian and committee member, told IRIN from Islamabad.

But there is also a growing body of opinion that suggests the province needs to move with the times and shake off the dominance of unelected traditional leaders. "The government should make efforts to break the social and tribal set up through laws and encourage the growth of civil society. The power of the civil community is so weak in Pakistan, it  has never  been allowed to operate openly particularly in such areas, ultimately such negligence promotes tribalism and feudalism," Talpur added. 

27 January 2005
<http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=45254&SelectRegion=
Asia&SelectCountry=PAKISTAN>
 

Unmatched Package Ready for Balochistan

 

KARACHI: Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain said on Monday that President Musharraf had in principle approved the package for Balochistan recommended by the parliamentary committee, but the package would be made public after Baloch leaders accepted it.

“This is an unmatched package but the announcement is delayed because the government wants the Baloch leaders to express confidence in it,” he said at a press conference here.

He said the proposed package would overcome the backwardness of Balochistan and also benefit other provinces. He said Sardar Attaullah Mengal, Nawab Akbar Bugti and other Baloch leaders should back the package, but he would continue trying for a solution to the Balochistan issue by negotiation. He said the government was ready to give constitutional guarantees to the people of Balochistan and amendments to the Constitution might be made for this purpose.

He said the government would announce 10,000 jobs in federal departments for young people from Sindh and Balochistan.

Former speaker of the National Assembly Elahi Bux Soomro was present when Shujaat said he had had asked Mr Soomro to use his influence with Bugti to resolve the Balochistan issue.

Asked if the Cantonment in Sui would give rise to tension, Ch Shujaat said the Army would not spread into the entire area, but would be restricted to the security of gas installations only.

 

Staff Report, Daily Times, 1 February 2005

<http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_1-2-2005_pg1_4> 

Sanity Prevails in Balochistan 

After all sound and fury, threats, ups and downs, trials and tribulations, the Government has rightly decided to pursue negotiations as the best course to defuse tension in Balochistan. Two meetings same day, under the chairmanship of President Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, decided that dialogue between the Government and Baloch nationalists must be carried out to solve the crisis in Balochistan.

It must be noted that 956 rocket attacks, 70 bomb blasts, 89 dead, 276 injured, four kidnappings, having foreign hands, have serious law and order repercussions. It was a challenge to the writ of the federation. Actually, no State can afford to allow armed militants to run riots in any part of the country. The Pakistan Army has done a splendid job in Waziristan in controlling the militancy. The US invasion of Afghanistan forced the Taliban and the remnants of Al-Qaeda, almost all Arabs, Saudis, Yemenis, Chechens, Tajiks and Uzbeks to come flooding the porous borders into the Tribal Areas of FATA.

They took a cudgel with Pakistan Government for siding with USA in war against terrorism. They not only tried to destabilise the Government by unleashing bomb blasts in Quetta, Karachi and other places and killing innocent men, women and children, but also attempting on life of President Musharraf in Rawalpindi. This was the height of their insurgency that needed to be curbed to protect the lives and property of its citizens. It was also motivated to disrupt the law and order situation for blocking foreign investment and developments in the country. Pakistan Muslim League President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain along with Secretary General Senator Mushahid Hussain has embarked on the reconciliation process. They have discussed the Balochistan situation with Attaullah Mengal and Sher Baz Khan Mazari in Karachi. It is pertinent to remember that such insurgency has to be dealt with because if it is allowed to go on, it will be dangerous for the solidarity of the country. The Pakistan Army has the means calibre and power to quell revolt. Balochistan is a contiguous area; it is not far away from Capital Islamabad and GHQ in Rawalpindi. In times of emergency, quick and swift movement of Armed Forces is possible. Our Armed Forces are valiant soldiers of Islam, ready to die for the safety of motherland.

The small group of misled and misinformed miscreants cannot harm the integrity and solidarity of the country. Force can be met with force. If these miscreants persist with their nefarious designs at the behest of disgruntled politician, they need to be taken to task, because the country and nation come first. In spite of the fact, that the Musharraf Government has allocated the highest ever Rs 130 billion for development projects in Balochistan, which will, no doubt, make a significant impact on socio-economic situation, enhance the quality of life of its people, and take Balochistan over and above the rest of Pakistan in terms of international importance. Mega projects launched in Balochistan include Gwadar Port, Mirani Dam, Mekran Coastal Highway, Katchi Canal, etc. Those who oppose developments, they do so because they do not want to emancipate people, caught in poverty and illiteracy and because they failed to provide such development to the masses when they were in power. Chaudhry Shujaat has proposed a raise of Rs 1.5 billion in gas royalty to Balochistan and Balochis have been given 10,000 additional jobs by the Prime Minister. Natural resources are not anyone person or group’s personal right. They belong to the State. The total royalty paid from 2001 to 2004 was Rs 3 billion. PPL provides Bugti family rent charges of vehicles, air tickets, personal transportation and medical facilities, and allowances of Bugti staff of Rs 122 million per year. Balochistan does not provide gas supply to entire Pakistan. It only caters to 24 per cent need of Pakistan. Irrespective of the positions of the Government and nationalists, political environment has more importance. Certain political elements are rallying behind the Baloch to gain political mileage for their own separatist movements or their own struggle against the federation. The NFC dispute, the provincial autonomy issue, the concurrent list are all issues that demand bold and urgent solutions for the betterment of the people of Pakistan, but not at the coat of the federation’s unity and integrity.

The leadership must grab this opportunity to sort out these issues in the national interests to make Pakistan a truly enlightened moderate and progressive country.

The writer is former Editor Incharge of the Pakistan Times, Islamabad.

 

Syed Hasan Askari, Pakistan Observer, 2 February 2005

<http://pakobserver.net/200502/02/Articles02.asp> 

                              Balochistan: Its Past and Present

Whenever there is a change in the status quo, there is always an opposition from those who are likely to be adversely affected. It looks that Balochistan is now poised for a change and economic transformation and hence consequent conflict and confrontation with vested interests.

So far, governments in Pakistan have been following the colonial policies and attitudes of the days of British rule, which need a change. In early 19th century, when the British had established their supremacy in the subcontinent Russia was advancing southward in Central Asia.

The British government at London was perturbed and considered it an imminent threat to the security and tranquillity of the British Indian empire and asked their government in India to checkmate the Russians.

Thus began the British involvement in this region. Till then the area now forming Pakistan, i.e., Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province and the tribal belt were practically independent.

Accordingly, in 1838, Auckland, the British Governor General of India, decided to dispatch his forces to Afghanistan through Sindh and Balochistan but was defeated in Afghanistan.

To rehabilitate British prestige and control the region, the English occupied Sindh in 1843 and Punjab in 1849 and established their hold in Balochistan in 1854-76. The British were able to consolidate themselves in Balochistan with a comparative ease as compared to the tribal belt in the NWFP.

The reason was that Balochs would normally follow their chiefs or 'maliks' known as tumandars. They had a common overall head, the Khan of Kalat. In 1854 an agreement was concluded between the British and the Khan who promised not to have relations with any foreign power without the approval of the English; to receive British troops when necessary; to protect merchants passing through his territory; and to prevent his followers from raiding British territory.

In return for all this he was to receive an annual subsidy of Rs 150,000. Thus a system of subsidy was introduced to purchase the loyalty of the Khan. As the control of the Khan was not very strict, arrangements did not suit the British.

With a view to further consolidate their hold, negotiations were conducted with the Khan of Kalat and a fresh treaty was signed at Jacobabad in 1876. The British succeeded in getting Quetta and surrounding area together with Bolan Pass on lease.

The agreement required the area to remain under nominal sovereignty of Kalat but to be administered by the British. A British Indian force was stationed at Quetta and Sir Robert Sandamen was appointed the first Agent to the Governor General in Balochistan.

He tactfully established contacts with the tribal chiefs and succeeded in maintaining peace in the area. The arrangement made by Sandamen is known as Sandamen System and also as Khasadar system.

It rested on the occupation of central points in Kalat and the tribal territory in considerable force, linking them together by fair-weather roads, and leaving the tribes to manage their own affairs according to their own customs and working through their chiefs and maliks.

The maliks were required to enlist levies paid by the government but regarded as tribal servants. The British achieved the objective of their own protection, keeping roads open and in case of trouble, finding out the troublemakers.

They would give monetary benefits to the tribesmen under the supervision of the maliks, in return for maintaining order in the tribe. For this cooperation, the maliks received large subsidies.

After independence, the princely states of Lasbela, Mekran and Kharan as well as Kalat acceded to Pakistan. Pakistan continued to follow the British policy of administering Balochistan through their maliks/sardars.

The government under Iskander Mirza purchased Gwadar from the Emirate of Oman and made it a part of Balochistan, which was made a full-fledged province under President Yahya Khan in 1970.

The current situation has many dimensions - political, economic and social. There is also the problem of security of national and public assets. Politically Balochistan remained at a disadvantage for a long time. It did not enjoy the status of a province for a quarter of a century after independence.

Its first provincial assembly was elected as a consequence of 1970 elections conducted under Yahya's government. During the government of Pakistan People's Party under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto it was alleged that some of Baloch sardars were activated by foreign powers mainly Soviet Russia and arms coming for them from Iraq were captured at Islamabad airport.

Soon, a situation of confrontation between the provincial government of Balochistan and the federal government of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was created as a result of latter's plans for social and political reforms in the province.

The government of Balochistan was sacked and military action was initiated in 1973. This was a setback to democratic political process. During the government of Ziaul Haq there was return to the old policy of reconciliation with sardars and peace was restored in the province.

Under Ziaul Haq, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, Balochistan experienced more or less the same political evolution as the rest of the country except that under Benazir, the Balochistan assembly was dissolved in 1988 but was revived under orders of the High Court. The dissolution of provincial assembly created a lot of resentment against the centre.

Now the federal government seems determined to develop Balochistan and about 130 billion rupees worth of projects have been sanctioned. The most prestigious project is that of Gwadar Port.

The development of rail, road and sea communication originating from Gwadar in all directions is expected to generate tremendous economic activities in the areas so far neglected.

For instance, the Makran coastal highway (653 km long) along the Makran coast starting form Sheikh Raj, approximately 105 km north of Karachi on RCD highway is ending at Gabd near Pak-Iran border.

This highway links the ports at Ormara, Pasni, Gwadar and Jiwani with Karachi. It will facilitate trade between Pakistan and Iran. The fishermen along the coast will benefit because fish is sent to Karachi by road for marketing.

So far about 30 per cent of fish is spoiled, at a loss of Rs.300 million per year as the journey by road takes two to three days from Jiwani and Gwadar. The new highway reduces the time considerably from the coastal towns to the bigger markets, hence better return to fishermen and a saving of millions of rupees every year.

The highway will also usher in new avenues of livelihood for the people of the coastal areas in the form of jobs, communication, transportation market access, etc. Another regional linkage is the Gwadar-Ratto Dero motorway (M-8) joining it with Indus highway through Turbat, Awaran and Khuzdar.

A rail link is planned to connect Gwadar to Quetta and Zahidan. The existing length of runway at Gwadar airport is being upgraded from 5,000 to 15,000 feet for operation of wide-bodied jet aircraft.

Gwadar Port located at the entrance of the Persian Gulf, some 460 km from Karachi, has immense geo-strategic significance on many counts. It provides the shortest and cost-effective access to the landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics and the country in turn would immensely gain from the project.

Besides, with a number of other development projects such as Saindak project, Mirani and a number of other small dams, extension of Kirthar and Kachchi canal, etc. enormous economic benefits will accrue to Pakistan in general and the people of Balochistan in particular.

Socially, the tumandari system and the hold of tumandars entrenched since centuries could not be terminated overnight, but it could not be allowed to perpetuate indefinitely.

Pakistan has to survive in twenty-first century and follow the internationally accepted norms. The masses are to be given basic necessities of life, i.e. education, health care, jobs, etc. Hopefully the economic development in the province will give birth to a middle class and feudalism will fade away gradually.

As for the grievances of Balochistan, these must be addressed politically and economically. There is a persistent security problem in Balochistan. Recently about 450 rockets were fired on national and public assets in Sui gas plant and pipelines, besides numerous bomb blasts elsewhere in the province.

The recent rockets are reported to have been fired from a distance of about 20/30 miles from the direction of Dera Bugti. A considerable time and effort was required to repair the damage caused to the plant.

It affected the production and cost of production in industries. This is a security problem though it may have political and economic undertones. It raises several questions. From where these bombs and rockets are acquired and who are keeping these illegal weapons.

What should be done to ensure peace and security, which is vital for Balochistan's development and welfare of its people? It requires a two-pronged strategy. First, as an immediate measure, the writ of the civil government should be established. The criminals, who are guilty of rape, murder, attacking public property and damaging government installations must be dealt with. Second, as a permanent measure, the genuine political, economic or social grievances must be seriously addressed.

Local issues cannot be seen in isolation from larger issues of centre-province relations and the system of government and institutions in the country. Similarly, the economic, social and political issues are inter linked and should not be looked at in isolation from each other.

It seems the government is following both strategies. What is required and should be ensured is that actions taken to meet the situation are well considered and within the parameters of the law of the land.

 

Noor ul Haq, Dawn, 5 February 2005

<http://dawn.com/2005/02/05/op.htm>
 

President, PM Discuss Balochistan Situation

 

Review arrangements for protection of installations

Jam says no more troops to be deployed

Senators unanimous in resolving issues through dialogue

Islamabad—President Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz have decided to continue with taking political and reconciliation path for the resolution of Balochistan crisis. They however expressed deep concern over growing acts of sabotage against national assets. They directed the law enforcement agencies as well as the intelligence forces to track down the culprits. Both also decided to give no concessions to those found involved in acts of sabotage. They agreed to bring to book those involved in the rape of lady doctor. The President and Prime Minister met for well over one hour to discuss the law and order situation in Balochistan. Both advised the PML Chief to resume political dialogue from Monday next and also directed the constitutional body to speed up work on amendments required to be made relating to provincial autonomy.

During the meeting the two leaders discussed the overall political environment and law and order situation in the country with particular reference to the situation in Balochistan, said the official press release. They exchanged views on the security situation and arrangements being made to protect the important national installations in Balochistan as well as political process to ensure peace and harmony there…

The Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Muhammad Yousuf says army was called in only to safeguard natural gas installations in Sui after terrorists targeted them and there will be no more deployment of troops in the province.

            Talking to BBC Radio, the chief minister said Sui gas installations were Balochistan’s as well as entire nation’s assets and said the government will ensure their protection by all means.

He denied the Baloch were being subjected to violence or intimidation and said the government was not pressuring anyone in the province either.

Jam Yousaf said some miscreants had been arrested for their alleged involvement in the bomb blasted under a bridge.

He said government wants to resolve the Balochistan problems through political means and negotiations with Baloch leaders were underway to address their grievances and problems.

Railway police will deploy 650 highly trained commandos including 50 women commandos at trains running in Balochistan to protect lives and belongings of passengers, Ahmad Naseem, the Inspector-General of Railway Police, Pakistan told a press conference.

Excellent arrangements have been made to well protect the railway installations and tracks in the country especially in Balochistan and employees of the Pakistan Railways along with Railway Police have been equipped with sophisticated weapons to meet any challenge, he said.

Ahmad Naseem said railway commandos underwent a four-month long rigorous training by the Pakistan Army’s Special Services Group, adding 1600 wireless sets, 86 VHF based sets and 30 high frequency sets had been given to commandos and Pakistan Railways personnel for better communication.

This, he said, would not only help improve efficiency of the Railway Security Force but they would also get timely information to thwart any possible sabotage.

He said the Force had been equipped with 40 G-3 rifles and 650 machine guns.

He further said a large railway trolley had been bought for patrolling by armed railway police and personnel on Quetta-Sibi section.

Also, he said a joint checking team had been formed to ensure presence of railway patrollers and other concerning staff on duty.

Ahmad Naseem said each year, over eight million people travel in the country by train.

He said police personnel equipped with metal detectors had been positioned at the entry points of railway stations.

Muhammad Naeem Kakar, the senior superintendent of Railway Police Balochistan, was also present on the occasion.

Later, they visited Quetta Railway Station and railway tracks in the city and adjoining areas and reviewed security arrangements made for their protection.

Meanwhile, the Senate on Friday resumed debate on Balochistan situation with members from across the divide, expressing their views on the situation in the province.

Initiating the debate, Asfand Yar Wali said Balochistan always played an important role in the political and democratic process.

“I believe in taking along all the parties to find out political and agreeable solution to Balochistan situation.

“There is need to focus on Balochistan issue in a constructive manner so as to find its amicable and perfect solution according to the constitution.

He asked the government to find a permanent and compatible solution to Balochistan situation and said “we should emerge as one nation and work only for the betterment of the country and welfare of the people.”

Senator SM Zafar taking part in the debate on Balochistan said the lady doctor incident should not be politicized, as a judicial inquiry as well as the police investigations is in progress to ascertain the facts.

He admitted that there was a sense of deprivation in Balochistan, adding, but the problem of poverty was not only in Balochistan as 30 per cent people are living below poverty line in the country, with 4 per cent share of Balochistan if the province’s whole population is included.

He said Gwadar Port project was a fantastic vision for the country’s development and progress and can help the country to take a quantum leap in terms of economic progress.

He said, the anti-Pakistan elements at home and abroad do not consider this project good for them.

S M Zafar was of the view that the country’s constitution made in 1973 needs a review according to the current day requirements.

Ishaq Dar speaking on the occasion said there was a need to address the genuine grievances of the people of Balochistan on priority basis.

Nisar Memon said, the share of Balochistan in Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) has gone up to 12.7pc presently from the mere 2.7pc in 1999-2000, with the federal government making sincere efforts for the development of the province.

During the last five years, he said, the government initiated a number of mega development projects in Balochistan including Gwadar Port, Coastal Highway, Mirani Dam, Kachhi Canal and Sandak Copper Gold project.

He did not agree with the view of Z M Zafar on the review of constitution and said “it was not appropriate to rewrite the constitution.”

Taking part in the debate, Prof Khurshid said the people of Balochistan are not against the development work in the province but it is done keeping in view the interests and viewpoints of the local population.

Taking part in the debate, Tahira Latif said the dialogue among the political leaders was the best way to resolve issues like the Balochistan.

Senator Dr. Nighat Agha said problems of Balochistan are political and administrative in nature, needing resolution politically.

Syed Hidayatullah Shah said the incidents of violence in Balochistan as well as the dishonouring of a lady doctor should be condemned.

Senator Pari Gul Agha said problems of Balochistan can be resolved through united efforts.

Meanwhile, Senate was informed on Friday by the Interior Ministry that Rs 10.44 billion was spent on deployment of FC in Balochistan during five years.

Similarly, Rs 872.80 million were incurred as expenditure of deployment of Makran Scouts during this period, official statement said. The ministry further said that number of FC‘s troops deployed in the province is 30533. Out of them 2725 were deployed in Makran.

 

Pakistan Observer, 5 February 2005
<http://pakobserver.net/200502/05/news/topstories01.asp>
 

Gwadar: Landmark in History of Pakistan 

Gwadar town is as ancient as the Islamic history. The known history of Makran goes back to the time of Prophet Dawood (RA) when the people reach there to avoid starvation. In 325 BC Alexander the Great incidentally found the sea in this area on his way from India to Macedonia.

Gwadar with its 700 kms more long coastline has always been an important chapter of Makran’s history. Gwadar Port Development project will prove a landmark in the history of Balochistan, which will be developed according to the needs of local people.

The previous governments of Benazir and Nawaz Sharif tried to introduce such mega projects in this province but failed owing to political uncertainty. President General Pervez Musharaf finally took a very bold initiative and in 2002, he had performed the groundbreaking ceremony of the first commercial port on the Makran coast. The construction of Gwadar port has been under consideration for many years for various reasons but could not start.

This tremendous project has started too late, the government should follow the Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong model which earned billion of dollar in transit and trans charges from the Asian, European and other countries. Following the completion of Gwadar project, Pakistan will be the major beneficiary. Even Gwadar is very important with its characteristics and potential for development of trade links with Central Asian countries, Persian Gulf, East Africa, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India. Gwadar is poised to turn into a city that will be comparable with Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong. It will be a free port on the lines of Jabal-e-Ali in Dubai. It was declared a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the federal budget for the year 2003-04 and was exempted from all taxes and duties for seven years. Both the federal and Balochistan governments will facilitate the investors who come to investment in Gwadar port and give maximum protection to the working companies.

Its tactical location as the southern extension of Pakistan into the Arabian Sea makes it a gateway for transit traffic into the interior Central Asian countries, Afghanistan and Iran. This geographic advantage gives Gwadar with the potential of becoming a commercial and economic hub of the Sub-Continent.

Situated on the mouth of the Gulf, the Gwadar port will wait for transit of huge discovered and undiscovered estimated 2500 billion barrels of oil in Central Asian region to different destinations.

According to an estimate, nearly 20 countries of the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia will benefit from the Gwadar port. The port complex will provide facilities of warehousing, trans-shipment, transit and coastal trade, commercial and industrial openings for international export-import trade. For Afghanistan, a landlocked country and desperately needing export outlet, the construction of Gwadar port complex will help in boosting economic rehabilitation and activity.

Apparently, the completion of port of Gwadar is not possible without financial and technical assistance of China. However, China’s picture is also interesting in this project for its own interest because China’s eastern coastline ports are 3,500 kms away from Kashgar, China’s main city, whereas the distance from Kashgar to the Gwadar is only 1,500 kms. Given this fact, there is an obvious huge cost advantage for China to use Gwadar as the gateway port for its western region. This explains China’s newfound interest in helping Pakistan develop Gwadar into a full-fledged commercial port, capable of handling cargo vessels of up to 50,000 tons or more.

China had granted $200 million for construction of Phase-I of Gwadar port and $500 billion as bank loans to industry and commercial enterprises to boost economic growth in the region and bring it at par with other parts of the country. It has also agreed to consider providing $500 million in aid for building Phase-II. Phase-I is due to be completed by March 2005 and work on Phase-II is expected to begin immediately thereafter. The total cost of the project (Phase-I and Phase II) is estimated to be $1.1 billion.

The work is proceeding apace on the 650-kilometre-long coastal highway from Karachi to Gwadar, which is expected to be ready by the end of this year.

Beijing has also offered to help widen the Karakoram Highway on the Pakistani side to make it an all-weather highway capable of handling heavy truck traffic with ease.

Gwadar port will help introduce feeder cargo services to these countries by providing dedicated, efficient and cost-effective port facilities. The infrastructure facilities consisting of road-link, connecting Gwadar to the national highway, will serve as a gateway for trade from landlocked countries of Central Asia. It will serve as the mother-port at the junction of traditional trade routes opposite Strait of Hormuz which lies so close to this base and at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. It will provide an alternative access to the sea for export and import of cargo from and to the northern areas of Pakistan. The Gwadar port shall provide modern up-to-date facilities for cargo vessels in line with modern ports. The coastal highway, which is also being constructed simultaneously with the port, will provide a very healthy linkage between Karachi and Gwadar ports.

Pakistan’s road transport industry would earn millions of dollars a year in freight charges for carrying import cargoes from Gwadar to the Central Asian Republics and western China and export goods from there to Gwadar for shipment to international markets.

Around 2.5 million people of this area will get jobs with the start of work on this port. The local people of Gwadar, Turbat, Panjgur, Pasni and Ormara will be given priority in jobs on this project as government promised. The government is going to set up technical training centers in the area to provide training to the people in various categories so that they can get jobs after getting trained.

These training centers will provide training to middle pass, matriculate, intermediate, graduate and post-graduate degree holders in various categories of skills and the jobs likely to be created in the town.

The Federal Government will allocate Rs 3 billion and the Balochistan government will give land free of cost to establish a labour city in Gwadar, where 2,000 houses, a hospital and a school will be constructed for workers and fishermen “Sand turns into gold,” reads a signboard of a real estate agency dealing in the property business at Gwadar. This city, of 1.20 lakh people, has become the focus of attraction for real estate dealers and developers following the launch of the Gwadar Port project. It is currently hosting over 100 estate agents from around the country and the number is rising with each passing day.

Gwadar is now the most travelled destination of the country’s property business players, who foresee that the town, which is currently surrounded by hills and sea, will soon be dotted with high-rise buildings and become a centre for foreign travellers and investors.

A plot of 500 square yards in the city, which was available at Rs 100,000 to Rs 200,000 about two years ago, is now offered at Rs 1.2 million to Rs 1.5 million and the plot of 1,000 square yards would now cost Rs 1.8 million to Rs 2.5 million. Apart from real estate and open plot deals, dozens of builders across the country have announced housing and commercial projects in the city. Trade Net Plus, a four-network system consisting of 18 modules, covers all aspects of international trading cycle from trade documentation, transportation, finance, insurance and cargo movements, to billing and payments. Gwadar also needs this system as it would increase its efficiency in trade transactions and would generate annual savings of billions of rupees.

Gwadar town to be relocated is like a hammer, and the port is being developed around the Koh-e-Batil which may be taken as hammerhead. The huge and extended Sangar Housing Scheme is situated around this Koh-e-Batil. Before the announcement of this mega project the large tracts of land in Sangar were barren, but once the port was approved walls started growing out of the sand. From Singhar area or Koh-e-Batil, the ware water of Arabian ocean may be seen in to colours, blue and green. Especially viewing the sunset Sangar is spectacular, presenting a scenic view for every one who love nature and its bounties. The scheme has four phases. Phase-1, phase-2 and phase-3 are residential while phase-4 is completely commercial. The foundation stone of Pearl Continental Hotel is laid in phase 4. The basic infrastructure of sewage, road and water has good traces in Sangar area.

In Gwadar, three Chinese engineers were killed and 11 people, including two Pakistanis, were injured in the under-construction deep-sea port city of Gwadar. …

It is heartening to note that the Chinese engineers have vowed that they will complete the project. It is therefore imperative for the government to step up security measures for foreigners and locals working on the project. But the important thing is that the federal government should take the people and the leaders of Balochistan into confidence to remove their doubts with regards to the port project and other steps that it contemplates for Balochistan.

The recent event of the Sui gas pipeline blast is causing firms and the government losses of million of rupees daily. After the day and night efforts of the Sui gas company workers, they restored the gas to the other provinces.The Government of Balochistan should be vigilant on the national interest and trace the elements that sabotage the peace of the country with iron hands.

The government and the elders of the Balochistan should put together and find out the solution amicably.

We should unite in one platform on national interest and way out to attract foreign direct investment in the country. It is need of the hour.

Azhar Javed, The Nation, 7 February 2005
<http://www.balochistan.org.pk/a_Detail.cfm?ID=755>
 

Govt to Grant Gwadar 7-Years Tax Holiday

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to grant seven years’ tax exemption to industrial and business establishments in Gwadar Special Economic Zone (GSEZ) despite opposition from the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) and the Ministry of Labour and Manpower, Daily Times learned on Wednesday. … 

Zulfiqar Ghuman, Daily Times, 10 February 2005
<
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_10-2-2005_pg1_2> 

Breakthrough in Balochistan Talks Soon, Says Shujaat 

TAXILA, Feb 15: Pakistan Muslim League (PML) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has said the government will make all out efforts to resolve Balochistan crisis through political means, and a breakthrough in this context was expected very soon.

He was talking to newsmen at Taxila Museum rest house on Tuesday. He said a PML parliamentary sub-committee, headed by party secretary-general Mushahid Hussain, held consultations with all stakeholders and tribal leaders concerned, including Sardar Akbar Bugti, to resolve the status quo on the issue through peaceful and political means.

He said in light of the sub-committee report, the PML parliamentary committee would finalize its recommendations in the current week. These recommendations will ultimately bring about certain constitutional amendments with the consensus of Baloch leaders.

The process of settlement of the issue would be completed before the next session of the National Assembly, he said. Mr Hussain said the government would avoid resolving the Balochistan issue through military action, and was ready to make constitutional amendments in this regard. …

 

Correspondent, Dawn, 16 February 2005
<
http://www.dawn.com/2005/02/16/nat2.htm>
 

Balochistan Issue will Claim Many Lives 

LAHORE: Balochistan cannot separate from Pakistan but the current situation, if not managed properly, could claim the lives of many people and damage the country’s integrity, said Dr Anwar Syed, a renowned Pakistani professor, intellectual and writer, on Thursday.

Dr Syed was delivering a lecture on ‘Issue of nation building and national integration’ arranged by the Quaid-e-Azam Political Science Society of the Government College University (GCU) Lahore in collaboration with the US Consulate and American Centre.

Replying to a student’s query about the Balochistan issue in light of East Bengal’s separation in 1971 and its impact on national integration, he said, “Balochistan is not as far from Islamabad or other provinces as East Bengal was” adding, “That is why it cannot be separated from Pakistan, however many people can be killed if the current situation prevailed.”

Dr Syed said, “During my recent visit to America, my host said that Baloch Sardars (feudal lords) were the enemy of their own people. They exploited the people of Balochistan and wanted them to remain uneducated.” He added that he had disagreed with his host since the Nawabs of Kala Bagh and other Chaudhries also extended the same treatment to their people.

Dr Syed said that the solution to the issue was to give the people of Balochistan benefits from the Gawadar land and Coastal Highway, which was mostly owned by Punjabis. “The government should take care of the Balochi peoples’ interests and promote them in such developmental projects.”…

Waqar Gillani
<http://www.balochistan.org/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=40>
 

Interview: Governor Balochistan by
Mahmood Hussain/Ghulam Tahir

 

Quetta—The Balochistan Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani has ruled out the existence of neither any sort of insurgency or uprising in Balochistan nor any military action was going on in the province. “Nor there shall be Governor’s rule in the province”, he declared. He has also given the assurance that President General Pervez Musharraf is keen to extend maximum facilities from the federal government for the development of Balochistan.

In an exclusive interview with the Pakistan Observer panel here Monday the governor however accepted that there had been subversive activities here and there. But some of the culprits have been apprehended. The arrested persons have conceded their involvement in the anti-state activities including bomb blasts and rocket fire. The Governor regretted that the law and order situation in Balochistan is being projected in a way, which is not in harmony with the on ground reality. We have to face up problems and find their solutions, he stressed.

Owais Ahmed Ghani requested not to view in isolation the much-publicized sad Sui incident of molesting a lady doctor named Shazia and subsequent attacks on the gas installations at Sui. Infact he said these are string of incidents intensified with the passage of time.

The Governor said we have discovered weapons, arms and ammunition trickled through Afghanistan. For reaching the destination, the routes of Wana, Zhobe, Musa Khel and Barkhan have been adopted up to Kohlu and Dera Bugti.

He said the arms confiscated include heavy weapons including the 107 MM Russian made rockets, rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) having ranges upto 25 kms and anti-personal and anti-tank mines and high explosion plastic explosives. He questioned as to why these arms are being brought and what is the ultimate motive?. He said Balochistan has borders spread over one thousand two hundred kilometres and the area is either mountainous or desert with sparse population. He said there had been regular incidents of attacks on different strategic positions including at Quetta, the provincial headquarters. So far, he said, eighteen hundred rockets have been fired. These were however controlled by resorting to counter measures. Out of the rockets fired, fifteen hundred or so have been fired on Sui gas plant alone. The subversive elements have also been targeting important places in Kohlu, Noshki, Kalat, Gawadar, Turbat and even Quetta. He said several incidents of blowing up of railway tracks and power installations, high power transmission lines of electricity were also blown up by the miscreants on several occasions which were the cause of trouble for the common man. The Governor said that the elements involved in most of these incidents have been arrested and as such there had been a lesser number of incidents in the recent days. The more clue and identification of the persons involved in such incidents come up after interrogating the responsible persons, it is hoped that the number of cases will come down.

The Governor said that arms and ammunition worth half a billion rupees have been smuggled into the province mainly from Afghanistan. One of the gangs arrested was led by the notorious criminal Jalil Jaffar who was involved in weapons smuggling and kidnapping of a bus.

To a question the Governor agreed that there had been some genuine grievances in Balochistan. In this connection he referred to the visit of the President to Quetta and his meetings with a cross-section of people representing different schools of thought. He said that Gen. Pervez Musharraf had agreed that the people of Balochistan were not given their due share in the past. However he had given the assurance to compensate as far as possible the lapses of the past. In this connection, Ghani said, we have received three guidelines from the President. They are:

1.          The political process should be encouraged and must get necessary inputs and support and in this connection the Governor was asked to play his constitutional role.

2.          The development programme in the province should be taken up with full force.

3.          The process of national reconciliation should be adopted and encouraged. The President also favoured maximum provincial autonomy and workout a mechanism for its implementation. The Governor said that as follow up for the implementation of the guidelines received from the President, he had started meeting leaders of different political parties. These include Dr Abdul Hayee Baloch and Mahmood Khan Achakzai. The leadership of Jamhoori Watan Party; the National Party and Balochistan National Party were also taken into confidence to initiate the dialogue process.

            The Governor said that as proposed by Rauf Mengal of the BNP a process of dialogue at federal level had been initiated. Nawab Akbar Bugti and the senior leadership have also been consulted as proposed by him. In this connection the Chief Minister Jam Mohammad Yusuf extended full cooperation in carrying forward the dialogue process.

            The Governor regretted that although the peace process was going on and negotiations were being held, there had been a number of subversive activities including the killing of Chinese engineers in Gawadar.

            The Governor said on the one hand the government had been keen promoting reconciliation and peace but side by side it is determined to enforce the writ of the government and maintain law and order in the province at any cost. It will never allow the anti-state elements to damage national installations. He said that the government is well aware of the existence of private jails maintained in the Marri and Bugti areas. As part of restoring the writ of the government he said that these jails would be eliminated in a phased programme.

            Referring to the massive development undertaken by the government in the province, Owais Ghani said that the people should fully utilize the window of opportunity provided by the government. He said Islamabad wants to develop Balochistan and for the last five years lots of developmental activities have been undertaken. The process has to continue so that the fruits of development are fully enjoyed by the masses. He said that the first phase of the Gwadar deep-sea port is almost complete along with the coastal highway. As far as the employment in these projects is concerned he said that most of the staff has been taken from the area or the province at large. He said that we are not going to stop anyone from carrying forward politics but what he requested was to not waste this window of opportunity.

            With regard to the construction of the new cantonments in the province and objections raised by certain elements the Governor failed to understand as to why it was being opposed. He said that cantonments bring with them tremendous employment and business opportunities for the local people .He questioned how cantonments would harm Balochistan. In this connection he cited the example of a large number of cantonments in Punjab, NWFP and Sindh. He wanted to know whether any person felt any inconvenience in those provinces because of cantonments.

            Referring to the working of the parliamentary committee on Balochistan led by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, he said it is heading towards recommendations for the solution of problems faced by Balochistan but the subversive activities and unfortunate cases like that of Dr Shazia are being exploited to damage the reconciliation process. He said to foil the success of the Parliamentary Committee more and more subversive activities had been planned and executed. After these activities some elements who claimed the leadership of Balochistan disassociated with the committee. He said that the committee has been trying to ensure a modicum of provincial autonomy.

He said we are fully committed for political dialogue and consensus has been evolved on many issues. He hoped that soon positive results will be coming up. The Governor pledged to secure power and gas installations no matter the army is called for. He suggested three directions in this regard namely:

 

i.       Safety of the installations

ii.      Safety of the adjoining areas

iii.     Taking into confidence the provincial government.

 

That is why, he said, two battalions of troops have been invited. One of them has been posted at Sui and the other at Kashmore. He however categorically denied the existence of any military operation in the area.

The Governor said that as a matter of fact the government is the victim of violence and proper measures will be taken to maintain the writ of the government.

The Governor said his vision for the province is an educated and developed area. From one university in the province; he said that there are four universities in the province. Two more are in the process of establishment. These include

 

1.          University of Balochistan, which is working since 1974.

2.          Balochistan University of information technology and management sciences working for the last two years.

3.          Khuzdar Engineering College being upgraded as University.

4.          University of Agriculture at Upthal is in the pipeline.

5.          Virtual University at Pisheen is to come up by October next.

 

In reply to a question he said the provincial assembly session convened on the 15th of February was postponed at the request of the members due to the harsh weather conditions mainly heavy snowfall. However the session will be convened soon.

 

Pakistan Observer, 22 February 2005

<http://pakobserver.net/200502/22/news/topstories03.asp>

 

Opposition in Pakistan for Political Solution to
Balochistan Issue [Extract]

 

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Thursday opened debate on Balochistan issue with Opposition backed by MQM called for a political solution instead of military operations as they held bureaucracy and Sardars responsible for current situation in that province.

The PPP indicated to support the constitutional package to be brought before the National Assembly on inter-provincial harmony and give provincial autonomy to the federating units with abolishment of concurrent list.

The opposition parties asked the government to accept their demand of ensuring due rights to the Balochistan people from the Gwadar Port instead of the exploitation on part of the centre and bureaucracy as well as the Sardars from that province.

The MMA President, Qazi Hussain Ahmed and PPP MNA Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan spoke in detail over the Balochistan province’s current situation.
Qazi Hussain Ahmed

'Such kind of incidents will continue to take place if the rulers continued to protect such elements,' Qazi Hussain Ahmed said, adding,”All existing problems are due to continuation of the martial law and one-man decision.”

Qazi questioned as to why Akbar Bugti is being given Rs 120 million per annum. “The royalty should be given to the province not to Sardars.”…

 

Atta ul Mohsin Syed, Pakistan Times, 25 February 2005
<http://www.pakistantimes.net/2005/02/25/top3.htm>

 

New Projects to Create More Jobs in Balochistan 

ISLAMABAD: The approval of nine new development projects worth Rs 33.42 billion for Balochistan by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) would usher in a new era of economic progress and prosperity in the province. In addition, these projects would help create several hundred jobs for people of the area. Chief Economist, Planning Commission of Pakistan, Dr Pervez Tahir said this while speaking in a PTV programme on Monday.

Elaborating the projects, the Chief Economist said five new research centres, to impart training in agriculture sector, would be set up while the capacity of four already working institutes would be enhanced at a cost of Rs 598 million, creating 360 new jobs in the province, he added.

He said that one project worth Rs 715 million was approved by the Ecnec for girls' primary schools in various parts of the province to encourage female education in the area.

The other approved project was related to raising of Balochistan constabulary in the province, recruiting 6,000 new personnel in the force.

Under a project, out of 25 districts 'D' areas will be converted into 'A' areas in Balochistan, which will cost Rs 5.5 billion and produce 15,000 jobs.

The Ecnec also approved reconstruction of Bolan dam at a cost of Rs 436 million, which was washed away in 1976.

Re-alignment of N-65 highway was approved, which is passing through Jacobabad and Dera Allah Yar, with the allocation of Rs 478 million. While a project of National Highway Authority to improve 305-km highway would be completed at a cost of Rs 3.5 billion, which connects three provinces.

Business Recorder, 1 March 2005
<
http://www.brecorder.com/index.php?id=202357&currPageNo=1&query
=&search=&term=&supDate=#Scene_1> 

Shujaat Hints at 'Surprise Package': Balochistan
Issue, NFC Award, Concurrent List
 

ISLAMABAD, March 3: The Wasim Sajjad Committee on Balochistan has recommended a complete revision of the concurrent list, announcement of the NFC award before budget, biannual meetings of the Council of Common Interests and distribution of federal resources on the basis of poverty, backwardness, unemployment and development level of provinces instead of the existing criterion of population.

This was stated by the president and parliamentary leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, while participating in a debate on Balochistan in the National Assembly on Thursday.

He rejected suggestions that a military operation was under way in Balochistan. He said the parliamentary committee would recommend reduction in the number of FC checkpoints in the province.

Chaudhry Shujaat said the parliamentary sub-committee headed by Senator Wasim Sajjad would present its final report at a meeting on March 12. The report of the Mushahid Hussain sub-committee would also come up for discussion at the meeting, he said and added that after deliberations consensus recommendations would be submitted to parliament by the Shujaat parliamentary committee on Balochistan.

He asked those members of the parliamentary committee who had distanced themselves from its proceedings to attend its meeting in order to work out consensus recommendations.

Chaudhry Shujaat pointed out that when he held the prime ministerial portfolio he had proposed the setting up of a 38-member parliamentary committee with 22 members from parties other than the ruling PML to resolve the issues relating to Balochistan and other provinces.

He said that 27 recommendations out of 31 submitted by the Mushahid sub-committee had been approved by President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

The recommendations, he said, included utilizing a major part of the income form oil and gas in areas where it had been found. He said the 'real' amount to be provided to Balochistan, particularly Gwadar, through a development package would surprise everyone. He said the development activity in Gwadar would bring prosperity and employment to the area.

Referring to the assault on a lady doctor in Sui, the PML president said the case had been "mishandled by the PPL management by unnecessary cover-up which was politically exploited and blown out of proportion".

He recalled the banishment of his late father Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi to Kohlu during the Bhutto rule under the Federal Crimes Rules (FCR) and his (Bhutto's) advice to the then governor Balochistan to kill him in a false encounter on his way to Quetta.

Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the then governor of Balochistan, refused to accept the advice brought to him by the then president Fazl-i-Elahi Chaudhry, saying he would not become a mercenary, the PML chief said.

That was the time, he said, when the Supreme Court made a historic decision declaring that no one could be taken for punishment to an area where FCRs applied. By then, he added, thousands had been hanged under the infamous law. …

 

Ahmed Hassan, Dawn, 4 March 2005
<http://www.dawn.com/2005/03/04/top1.htm>

 

Balochistan Issue Being Mishandled: Jamali

 

ISLAMABAD: Former Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali said on Monday that the Balochistan issue was being mishandled and warned that the consequences could be very serious.

Resuming debate on the Balochistan issue in the National Assembly, the former Prime Minister said, “It as been made an ego issue and I fear this ego may cause lots of damage.” He said the demand of the people of Balochistan for their rights was just and not a crime. He said those who demanded their rights were being called traitors.

He said the government or opposition, parliamentarians and non-parliamentarians were making statements, but nobody bothered to visit the province and see the ground realities.

He was aggrieved that during Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s term as Prime Minister a committee consisting of 38 members was formed to resolve the Balochistan issue, which included 16 treasury members and 22 opposition members, but he was not on the committee. He said seven months had gone by, but the committee was still in the formation stage. He also said the recommendations of the Balochistan committee should be discussed in the House.

He said some senior officials had made statements that the committees were not being allowed to work properly. He said the House should be informed about the people hindering the committee’s work.

He also criticised the opposition, saying their claims and statements had no base and that during the governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif only one state minister was included in the cabinet.

He said Balochistan had been ignored since independence and nobody had ever thought of seriously redressing the grievances of the people of the province. He said that according to his acumen there would be no military action in the province and that the safety of the Sui instalments was important. He said that an analysis should be made on factors that led to the present situation in the province.

He also vowed continuing voicing the rights of the province without taking into consideration personal interests or ministries. Hafiz Hussain Ahmed of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) said the MMA would support Baloch nationalists on the Balochistan issue. He said the provincial government had not asked for troops to be sent to Sui.

He said President Pervez Musharraf had no right to accept the 27 recommendations of the parliamentary committee on Balochistan and reject three. He said it was the parliament’s right to discuss these recommendations and give its approval or disapproval. 

 

Staff Report, Daily Times, 8 March 2005
<
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_8-3-2005_pg7_32> 

Balochistan Report to be Ready by 16th or 17th,
NA Told
 

ISLAMABAD, March 7: The government told the National Assembly on Monday that the parliamentary committee seeking a political solution of problems of Balochistan would finalize its report by March 16 or 17.

Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said that while a sub-committee headed by leader of the house in Senate Wasim Sajjad would present its report on long-term problems such as provincial autonomy by March 12, the main committee headed by Pakistan Muslim League president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain would take some more days for more deliberations on the issue.

"The (main) committee's report will be finalized by March 16 or 17," he said while winding up five days of debate on the unrest in Balochistan. He did not specify the date on which the report could be presented to any house of parliament, but said at another point during his 50-minute speech that it would "become public by March 16 or 17".

The sub-committee headed by PML secretary-general Mushahid Hussain has already finalized its report about the province's problems of immediate nature and Mr Sherpao said 27 of its 31 recommendations had won approval of President Pervez Musharraf.

The last segment of the debate, at the end of a stormy session that saw an opposition walkout against the alleged discriminatory attitude of Speaker Chaudhry Air Hussain, was marked by some swipes from former Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali at his own ruling party for keeping him out of the Balochistan committee.

Mr Sherpao renewed repeated government appeals to some nationalist parties from Balochistan, who had boycotted the parliamentary committee, to come back and join the finalization of the report. …

“There is no military operation (in progress) nor any military operation is being anticipated," he said. However, he said protection of 'vital installations' in the province would be ensured 'at all costs'.

He said security forces, including troops, deployed at Sui after rocket and bomb attacks would remain there to protect the gas purification plant, and work on Rs130 billion mega projects 'will be continued unhindered'.

Mr Sherpao said the government would pursue a policy of dialogue in Balochistan, but feared a solution might not be liked by elements that would lose their 'stranglehold' over the people of the province. …

Jamali's Ire: Former Prime Minister Jamali caused a stir in the house when he voiced surprise at his exclusion from the 38-member parliamentary committee on Balochistan.

He said that despite being the first Prime Minister from Balochistan, he was kept out of the committee. He urged the speaker to allow him to speak again after the parliamentary committee had presented its report to the house.

Mr Jamali seemed contradicting a remark by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain in a speech before the house on Friday when the PML chief blamed unspecified quarters for obstructing the work of the parliamentary committee.

He said that while the charge had been at such a high level, "we should be told who is preventing the committee's work", and then added: "Nobody is preventing  the committee." The  former Prime  Minister seemed to  be warning

 

the government and its opponents in Balochistan when he said the issue should not be made a matter of ego.

 

Raja Asghar, Dawn, 8 March 2005

<http://www.dawn.com/2005/03/08/top5.htm> 

                       Shujaat Gets 'Free Hand' to Work Out Package:
                       Parliamentary Team Goes to Dera Bugti Today


ISLAMABAD, March 21: Chairman of the parliamentary committee on Balochistan Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has said that President Pervez Musharraf has given him a free hand to resolve Balochistan's crisis through political means.

Talking to newsmen after presiding over a meeting of the parliamentary committee on Monday, Chaudhry Shujaat said he had held a meeting with President Musharraf earlier in the day during which the president offered him maximum concessions and in fact went beyond the proposals submitted by the parliamentary committee for the resolution of the issue.

The parliamentary committee, he said, would send a fact-finding team to Sui and Dera Bugti on Tuesday. The team would submit its findings to the committee, which would discuss them on March 24.

"If I reveal the concessions which the president has offered for resolving the Balochistan imbroglio there is a fear that the press will give it a wrong twist and it will be taken as a sign of government weakness," Chaudhry Shujaat said.

"The president asked me to take whatever steps that were needed to resolve the Balochistan issue," Chaudhry Shujaat added. He termed it a historic day in view of the breakthrough that he had achieved in his meeting with President Musharraf as well as in the meeting of the parliamentary committee which was also attended by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to provide necessary assurances and address reservations of committee members.

He said the committee had wanted to call the interior minister to provide guarantees on behalf of the government and when the matter was discussed with the Prime Minister, he volunteered himself to come and give assurances.

The committee members wanted assurance from the government that their recommendations would be implemented in letter and spirit which the Prime Minister accepted.

Chaudhry Shujaat said the committee was given assurance that no military operation was under way in any area of Balochistan nor was there any plan in this regard as the government wanted to resolve the matter politically through the parliamentary committee.

The PML chief said the government was well aware of the fate of such operations undertaken in the past as the gunfire and bombings of 1977 were still fresh in peoples' memory.

He said the parliamentary committee meeting was deferred to March 24 on the request of members, as some of them would be visiting Balochistan. Chaudhry Shujaat said reservations of some of the committee members about the army movement were also removed and they were assured that security forces would only guard the Sui installations and there would no more force movement.

Former Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who also attended the committee meeting on special invitation, said the fact-finding team would submit its report to the parliamentary committee when it resumed proceedings on Thursday.

Chaudhry Shujaat said that as many as 50 people had died in the shrine blast in Jhal Magsi and the government would arrange compensation for those killed in the incident.

Earlier, a parliamentary delegation was scheduled to visit Dera Bugti on Saturday but the visit was cancelled at the last moment after security clearance was not given for the visit. Sources said Tuesday's visit also depended on weather conditions and security clearance from Sui.

The delegation has been expanded by including four more members from the treasury side, Senators Nisar Memon, Mohammad Ali Barohi, Mohammad Ali Durrani and Saeed Hashmi.

The MMA, PML-N and BNP have given the names of Liaquat Baloch, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, Asadullah Bhutto, Dr Farid Paracha, Dr Ataur Rahman, Khwaja Saad Rafiq, Sardar Yaqub Nasir and Abdur Rauf Mengal, while the  PPP  has  nominated Sherry  Rehman, Qamaruz Zaman Kaira  and

Syed Naveed Qamar. PML secretary-general Mushahid Hussain was present on the occasion.

Ahmed Hassan, Dawn, 22 March 2005
<http://www.dawn.com/2005/03/22/top1.htm>
 

Govt Ready to Implement Committees' Proposals:
 Balochistan Issue
 

ISLAMABAD, March 21: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Monday advised Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti to help create conditions conducive for a dialogue, and said that the government was ready to implement some of the recommendations on which the Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan had reached a consensus.

He said a negotiated settlement of any political issue could not be achieved in the presence of blocked roads and trenches. Addressing a crowded Press conference in his parliament house chamber, after holding a meeting with the Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan, the Prime Minister said the government was fully committed to implementing the parliamentary committee's recommendations on Balochistan as it was comprised members of all political parties represented in parliament.

He rejected speculations about powers of the committee and said the committee had the mandate to study the situation of Balochistan and prepare recommendations for the government to implement.

In reply to a question about the possibility of his meeting with Nawab Bugti to help restore law and order situation in Balochistan, the Prime Minister said that Parliamentary Committee chairman Chaudhry Shujaat had already had a detailed telephonic conversation with him (Nawab) and if need rose he (the Prime Minister) would also be available to meet Nawab Bugti.

He said he had given assurance to the committee that the government had no intention of carrying out any military operation and that the army deployment would remain confined to protecting Sui installations which had been done on the request of the provincial government.

Responding to committee's reservations on the Frontier Corps deployment in Sui and Dera Bugti areas, he said the paramilitary troops had been sent there to protect national assets and they were only defending themselves against fire coming from other side.

The FC members would remain there and their patrolling would also be continued till normalcy returned to the area. He said he had given a go-ahead to the parliamentary committee to send a parliamentary delegation to Dera Bugti and Sui areas to investigate the situation itself and came back with a report for the government.

In reply to a question about MQM leader Altaf Hussain's contacts with Nawab Bugti, he said every party had the right to contact anyone as it provided channels for good atmosphere. He said whoever tried to help defuse the situation was welcome under the present circumstances. When asked to dilate upon the crux of the Balochistan problem, the Prime Minister admitted that the issues between the province and Centre were quite old.

He said the present government had made deliberate attempts to resolve problems of poverty and backwardness by launching mega projects under a comprehensive development strategy.

He attributed bad law and order situation in Balochistan to bad relations between a few Baloch Sardars and the government. He dismissed as completely baseless an allegation that Iran could be behind instigating the Baloch Sardars since its interests had been hit by the Gwadar seaport. …

Staff Reporter, Dawn, 22 March 2005
<http://www.dawn.com/2005/03/22/top2.htm>
 

Flashpoint Sui 

The situation in the Sui area has assumed dangerous proportions. Who is exercising restraint and who is not is a matter of opinion. Those government officials and their families have left the area points to the gravity of the situation.

            Mr Akbar Bugti denies that he gave an ultimatum to the government workers to leave the area. If so, then why did they depart? The obvious answer is that they did so because they felt that fighting could erupt any moment and that they could get caught in it.

            This also implies that the government is unable to provide security to its workers. All along we have heard that it is the government that has been causing provocations to the Bugtis to find a pretext to crack down on them. However, two points baffle us: one is the explosion at Gandava, killing 40 people. Who planted the bomb and with what motive is not clear. Killing pilgrims at an urs does not advance any political cause.

            This is terrorism pure and simple, designed to convey one message to the world - that the administration is unable to protect its citizens. But then bomb blasts have been continuing in Pakistan for years, and it would only be a sick mind that would kill innocent people only to prove a point.

            The second point is the report that tribesmen have surrounded 300 men of the Frontier Constabulary. Tables, it seems, have been turned. If the FC is so powerless as to be surrounded by tribesmen, it has no business to be there.

            What chance does it have then of protecting vital gas installations - which is supposed to be the aim of the FC's deployment there? The tribesmen are reportedly digging trenches, erecting barricades and taking up positions on the hills around.

            On whose prompting are they doing this? One obvious answer is that they expect armed action by the FC and are taking defensive measures. Mr Bugti's version is that it is the government, which is moving in more troops and arms in the area, that it is the FC which has blockaded Dera Bugti and that this has led to food shortages.

            There is obviously a big gap in the two versions. The only good news is Shujaat Hussain's statement that the JWP chief is willing to talk. Mr Bugti confirmed this but said he wanted to know the talks' agenda. Evidently, the situation demands a more focussed dialogue.

            Balochistan has, no doubt, a long list of grievances that need to be addressed. But at the moment it is the situation in the Bugti area that needs to be defused. With the area having turned into an armed camp where even a minor incident can lead to a bloodbath, it is vital that both sides exercise restraint.

            A wider discussion to include the entire gamut of Balochistan's grievances cannot take place while the Bugtis and the security forces are locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation.

            Let the talks begin with a modest one-point agenda - avoiding a clash and gradually defusing the situation. Once this has been done, the scope of the talks can be widened and the number of negotiators expanded. Mr Bugti alone does not represent Balochistan.

            The Baloch side, therefore, must include Mr Ataullah Mengal, Mr Mahmud Achakzai, Mr Abdul Hye Baloch and others. At the same time, the MMA and the ARD must be there in the negotiations, because both have representation in parliament from Balochistan.

 

Editorial, Dawn, 22 March 2005

<http://www.dawn.com/2005/03/22/ed.htm> 

Balochistan Talks 'Breakthrough' 

A delegation sent by the Pakistani government to reduce tension in the southern province of Balochistan says that a "breakthrough" has been reached.

But it is not clear whether the talks will bring an end to the encirclement of 300 paramilitary troops by hundreds of tribals in the town of Dera Bugti.

Tribal chief Akbar Bugti said that the two member delegation only presented proposals to resolve the crisis.

Mr Bugti leads a tribal campaign to win autonomy and more gas revenues.

Eventual Solution

Former Prime Minister and chief of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, Chaudhry Shujaat met Mr Bugti in Balochistan on Thursday.

Mr Shujaat was sent with Muslim League Secretary General Mushahid Hussain to ease tension in the Dera Bugti and Sui areas of the province.

There have been regular clashes between Bugti tribesman and security forces over the last three months, which has resulted in heavy casualties on both sides.

Mr Hussain told the BBC that the meeting has "broken the deadlock" on the Balochistan crisis.

He said that talks had continued for more than four hours and would eventually lead to a solution.

But Mr Bugti said after the meeting that all the government did was present proposals for the resolution of the crisis, which would be made public in a few days time.

The latest visit follows on from a similar trip to the area made by a 15 member parliamentary party made up of government and opposition members.

They are reported to be presenting their report to parliament shortly. Mr Bugti said after meeting them that he had "no compromises" to offer. … 

BBC News, 24 March 2005
<http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4378701.stm>
 

                                  Education in Balochistan

One can be forgiven for taking with a pinch of salt Balochistan Education Minister Maulana Abdul Wahid Siddique's pledge to introduce free education up to matriculation in the province from 2006.

            While the nation wide statistics for education continue to be abysmal, figures for Balochistan are even lower than the national average. Consider the statistics turned up by one study in which the overall literacy rate in the country is cited at 43 per cent, while for Balochistan it is only 32 per cent.

            The same study shows that females in rural Balochistan have the worst literacy rate - a mere seven per cent - of all urban/rural and male/female groups in Pakistan. What is also noteworthy is that although figures for primary school enrolment have inched upwards over the years, these have been offset by the high dropout rate.

            In the face of the deteriorating state of schools and the poor law and order situation acting as a deterrent, more so now in troubled Balochistan, how can the minister be sure that his words will be translated into reality by as early as next year?

            Drastic reforms are needed in the education sector if we are to keep pace with other countries and make adequate progress towards achieving the millennium development goal of ensuring that all children complete primary schooling.

            This means that the problem of poor education has to be tackled at a nation wide level with special focus on the uplift of backward and woefully neglected provinces like Balochistan.

            The latter would do well to follow Punjab's example in instituting a wide-ranging enrolment drive that goes beyond merely the financial aspect of the situation, and takes into consideration other areas of key concern, such as the problem of   poor access   to   schools. This is  necessary if  the Balochistan government wishes to make a success of its proposal for free education up to matriculation.

 

Editorial, Dawn, 28 March 2005

<http://www.dawn.com/2005/03/28/ed.htm> 

New Round of Talks Held in Dera Bugti: 3-Man Body to
 be Set Up
 

DERA BUGTI/ ISLAMABAD, March 27: Pakistan Muslim League president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Jamhoori Watan Party leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti agreed on Sunday to constitute a three-member committee to oversee implementation of decisions concerning Balochistan.

During their three-hour long meeting at Nawab Bugti's residence, the two leaders discussed various suggestions to improve the situation in Sui and Dera Bugti. PML secretary-general Senator Mushahid Hussain assisted Chaudhry Shujaat, whereas Sardar Sher Ali Mazari, Mir Bramdagh Bugti and Tabash Bugti attended the meeting from Nawab Bugti's side.

The committee will also suggest measures for restoration of law and order in Sui and Dera Bugti and to solve the issue of deployment of forces. It will have one representative each of Nawab Akbar Bugti and the government while Mushahid Hussain will monitor the committee's work.

Talking to newsmen after the meeting, Chaudhry Shujaat said the talks were held in the context of previous dialogues that were confined to the Sui and Dera Bugti situation.

He said other issues of Balochistan would also be resolved but the present talks were mainly related to the Sui and Dera Bugti situation. The PML chief asserted that when the government team visited Dera Bugti a few days back the situation was tense, markets were deserted and there was a sense of insecurity among the local people.

But on Sunday, he added, bazaars in Dera Bugti bazaar were open and "with the grace of Allah things will improve further". Chaudhry Shujaat said the meeting discussed the law and order situation and other issues, including deployment of Frontier Corps. He said both sides exchanged views on various suggestions.

When asked about the next meeting, the PML leader said it was more important to implement what had been decided. He said the important thing in the meeting was the confidence Nawab Bugti reposed in Senator Mushahid Hussain who would represent both sides in the committee.

Nawab Bugti said that talks with Chaudhry Shujaat and Mushahid Hussain were positive in which recent incidents came under discussion. He said it was a good beginning, although several things were still to be settled.

 

He said Chaudhry Shujaat had requested that details of the meeting might not be made public till a final settlement of the problem. Nawab Bugti said that the meeting discussed the recent incident of violence in Dera Bugti and Sui in which local people were killed and houses were damaged, adding that all those killed in the clashes belonged to the Bugti tribe.

He claimed that most of the people killed were Hindus and, according to latest information, 33 members of the Hindu community were killed and 25 injured. Besides, their houses and a temple were destroyed.

The JWP leader said that as far as Balochistan issues were concerned, the parliamentary committee was reviewing them, adding that he was unaware about its progress as in the meeting the discussion was confined to Dera Bugti and the damage it suffered.

Shaukat Aziz: Speaking to reporters after holding talks with Chaudhry Shujaat and Mushahid Hussain after their return from Dera Bugti, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said that Chaudhry Shujaat's meeting with Nawab Akbar Bugti was a positive step which would help restore peace in Sui and Dera Bugti.

Mr Aziz expressed the hope that the parliamentary committee would soon come up with proposals for resolving the Balochistan issue. Chaudhry Shujaat and Mushahid Hussain had driven straight to the Prime Minister's House from Islamabad airport and briefed the Prime Minister for on their talks with the Baloch leader.

The Prime Minister said he was informed by the two PML leaders that normality was fast returning to Sui and Dera Bugti areas, which was a welcome change. He appreciated the efforts being made by the PML leadership to solve the crisis through political dialogue.

Mr Aziz called for early finalization of the parliamentary committee's report and reiterated the government's determination to implement it in letter and spirit. He said he was also ready to implement recommendations in parts.

Meanwhile, sources said that during the Shujaat-Bugti meeting, both sides agreed that security forces deployed around the Dera Bugti town would be withdrawn and the Bugti tribe in turn would ensure protection of vital installations in Sui and other places.

Nawab Bugti expressed resentment over recent statements of President Pervez Musharraf in which he had described him as a warlord, the sources said. Under the deal, the government would pay compensation to families, including those from the minority community, who suffered casualties in the firing on March 17. … 

Saleem Shahid and Ahmed Hassan, Dawn, 28 March 2005                <http://www.dawn.com/2005/03/28/top1.htm> 

Musharraf Rules Out Army Action: Dialogue to
Resolve Balochistan Issue
 

KALAT, April 1: President General Pervez Musharraf on Friday said that the government wanted to resolve all problems of Balochistan peacefully through political dialogue as military operation was not a solution to the issue.

Speaking at a public meeting here after inaugurating the natural gas supply to Kalat, the president said: "We are ready for negotiations because military operation is not a solution to Balochistan problems."

He, however, made it clear that the government would not tolerate any hurdle in the way of development process. "We will not allow anybody to destroy national installations and will protect them at all costs."

The president said he was in the favour of maximum provincial autonomy and added that he had asked the federal government to decide the issue in parliament. He agreed to the demand made by the people and political parties of Balochistan that provinces should get more in the National Finance Commission award.

"We are ready to accept the demands for enhancement in gas royalty, surcharge and shares of provinces in the NFC," he said. The president said he had discussed the issue with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and asked him to evolve a consensus formula under which provinces would get maximum share from the next NFC award. Under that formula, he pointed out, Balochistan should be given a major share on account of gas development surcharge and royalty.

He told the gathering that the centre had provided over Rs13 billion to Balochistan during the last financial year on account of gas development surcharge and royalty. He said the provincial government had been asked to spend maximum amount of gas royalty on those districts where gas and other minerals had been explored.

He said the government would continue to take steps for speedy development of Balochistan despite opposition from some elements. "Government has resources and wants to utilize them for the welfare of people and development of the country," he said and held out the assurance that nobody would be allowed to misappropriate the state money.

Balochistan, he said, had been ignored in the past which created a sense of deprivation among people and recalled that he had already offered apology for the mistakes committed by successive governments.

"First of all we are Pakistanis as the world recognizes us with the reference of this soil," he said, adding "Pakistan without Balochistan and Balochistan without Pakistan is nothing. Pakistan's honour is Balochistan's honour."

Gen Musharraf said the government wanted to pay full attention to the development of Balochistan to bring it on a par with developed areas of the country but some elements were creating hurdles in the development process through shutter-down and wheel-jam strikes. He regretted that people were suffering losses due to these strikes.

He asked the people not to heed the propaganda being spread by those opposing the development process. He sought people's cooperation and support for executing development projects.

He said all steps would be taken to end unemployment and added that local people were being inducted into army. He said 12 more wings of the Frontier Corps were being set up in Balochistan and next year about 5,000 locals would be recruited in the corps.

He said local youths would get jobs in all mega-projects and added that technical training centres and educational institutions would be set up in the province for the purpose.

He pointed out that property worth Rs6 billion owned by the centre had been handed over to the province for establishing educational institutions and said that Rs15 billion would be provided to the province to improve the education sector.

He regretted that in reaction to a 'small' incident rockets and missiles were fired on the Sui gas plant and the FC personnel and added that the FC had returned fire in defence.

He said that no sardar had the right to speak on behalf of the whole Balochistan as people had not elected him their representative through ballot. He announced that 1,000 free gas connections would be provided in Kalat and said the township would get a Rs50 million grant for its development.
APP Adds: He also announced the establishment of a technical training institute for men, a vocational training centre for women, a model village in Killi Shahbaz and improvement of schools in Kalat.

 

Saleem Shahid, Dawn, 2 April 2005

<http://www.dawn.com/2005/04/02/top1.htm>

 

Mega Projects to Benefit Provincial Economy

 

QUETTA: Balochistan is fast marching towards increased economic activity with the completion of some mega projects - the Gwadar Port and the Coastal Highway. Its people are already reaping the benefit of the Coastal Highway, although a small portion of it was destroyed in the recent flash floods and torrential rains.

Balochistan will soon have its own seaport to handle cargo for the whole region. Both the President and the Prime Minister have taken a great deal of interest in Gwadar Port project in which land-locked countries of Central Asian Republics and some of the Gulf States are also showing interest. They are reportedly investing in the project, which will give a fillip to trade and commerce in the whole region.

Saudi Arabia is interested in linking the Gwadar Port with the Saudi port to cater to the needs of travellers using sea routes to perform Umra. There were reports that the Saudis are interested in starting ferry service between Gwadar and the southern seaport of Saudi Arabia for Hujaj. Besides, they are also interested in livestock development and transporting the bulk cargo using the Gwadar Port.

The Coastal Highway is complete and has given a much-needed boost to local economy of Mekaran and Lasbela. The Mirani Dam is half complete and it will be a big source of fresh water for the port city of Gwadar. It will irrigate 32,000 acres in the Dasht Plains and recharge thousands of dead wells, karez and kans, bringing hundreds of thousands of acres under cultivation.

The Kachhi Canal is another important project that will ensure that Balochistan gets its share of water from the Indus. The canal, when completed, will bring more than 800,000 acres under cultivation in the Kachhi and Nasirabad region. This mega project would cost around Rs54 billion.

Undeterred by the tragic incident of May 2004 in Gwadar, the Chinese engineers and workers worked round-the-clock on the first phase of the Gwadar Port and completed it six months ahead of schedule. They did the same at Saindak and completed the project six months ahead of schedule. After completing the first phase of this key project they have offered bids for the construction to be carried out in the second phase.

At first, the locals, mostly fishermen, thought that the Coastal Highway would not be built beyond Ormara. They thought that the road was being built for strategic purposes only.

However, the President dispelled their misgivings and asked the ministry of communications to extend the Coastal Highway to Gwadar. Some feared that the government would not be able to release funds for the project on time, but their apprehensions turned out to be wrong. …

Some time back the government selected around 600 youths of the coastal areas of Balochistan and sent them to Islamabad and Karachi for necessary training. Another group of Baloch youths was also sent for specialized training. The government has also promised that technical training institutes would be set up in Gwadar.

The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and its subsidiary in Balochistan, Quetta Electric Supply Corporation (Qesco), also did an excellent job. Wapda laid a high-tension power transmission line linking the Pasni Power House with the port city of Gwadar. The second power transmission line is taken from Jiki Gwar in Iran to Gwadar via Mand, ensuring a double supply of power to Gwadar. For this, the government concluded an accord with Iran to buy electricity for Mekran.

The Qesco is also ready to provide 40-mw of electricity to Gwadar. It also built high-tension power lines between Pasni Power Plant and Gwadar. It is a double-circuit line, ensuring a round-the-clock electricity supply.

Another important project is the construction of a new airport at Gwadar, which has been planned in view of the future needs of the new port city. However, the Civil Aviation Authority is yet to build the new airport or widen or strengthen the runway for large aircraft. It is a pity that the CAA is not keeping pace with other development agencies. How much time the CAA needs, is anybody's guess.

Town planning and housing is another important factor of the new port city. The provincial government has constituted the Gwadar Development Authority and appointed Mir Ahmed Bakhsh Lehri as its director general. Many housing and commercial schemes were approved. Documents of applicants are being processed. Most of the housing schemes will have their own desalination plant it is hoped that Gwadar will not face a shortage of water.

The government has launched a slew of uplift projects in Balochistan. They will benefit different sectors of the provincial economy. They will boost production and generate enough employment for the people of the province. The projects are aimed at ending the sense of deprivation among the people of Balochistan. It is hoped that these mega projects will usher in an era of economic prosperity in the region.

 

Saleem Shahid, Dawn, 3 April 2005

<http://www.dawn.com/2005/04/03/ebr11.htm>

 

Mineral Resource Development in Balochistan

 

The Pakistan-China agreement on the development of lead and zinc in Balochistan has opened avenues for economic exploitation and utilization of abundant mineral resources on modern lines.

More than 50 metallic and non-metallic minerals have been discovered in the province. Metallic ores are chromite, copper, iron ore, lead and zinc, while the non-metallic include baryte, marble, gypsum, limestone, coal, dolomite, calcite, silica sand, building and engineering stones. Out of these only few are exported to any domestic and foreign markets.

Mining in the private sector is frequently carried out on a sporadic basis to supply small tonnages only, as and when the opportunity arises. Royalties are payable on any mineral that is mined and hence the lessees of the mines declare only a part of the production to avoid payment.

This leads to discrepancies in statistics. During the recent years, the mineral sector has gone through substantial transformation and efforts made have started producing results.

One of the main attractions of the province is its unexplored geological potential and its geological belt with known world-class mineral deposits. For example, Sarchashmah in neighbouring Iran has reserves of 1.2 billion tons of copper and other mineral ores.

The Chagai metallogenic belt, 480 km long and 50 km wide, offers the prospect of similar potential in Balochistan. A wide variety of non-metallic minerals and rocks occur all over Balochistan. Although these are being used in local industries and for other domestic purposes, the consumption is not commensurate with the available resources.

Potential exists for large-scale export of certain mineral commodities like marble, magnesite and dimension/building stones (granite, agglomerate etc.) provided export markets could be developed. Enormous resources exist for local consumption in the form of cement raw material and aggregates for use in construction industry.

Minerals deposits usually occur within minerogenic zones (of non-metallic minerals) and metallogenic zones (of metallic minerals). Of nine such zones in Pakistan, five are located in Balochistan.

Base metal deposits, such as copper, lead and zinc, are found in Chagai, Khuzdar and Lasbela Districts. Silver and gold in association with Saindak copper ore has recently been re-assessed. Balochistan also hosts several sizeable sub-bituminous coal fields in the Quetta-Harnai-Duki region.

The industrial minerals, such as sulphur, silica sand and magnesite, construction materials, such as limestone, dolomite, sand and gravel deposit are also found in this province.

Granite and other metamorphic rocks are abundant in Chagai District. Lead-zinc veins have been reported at several localities, including Ziarat Balanosh. Vermiculite exits in significant quantities about 15 km south of Dalbandin in the Ras Koh Hills.

A number of metallic and non-metallic minerals are being mined on a small scale. The only major mine is at Saindak. Mines are generally not mechanized, and manual labour is used for trenching, open-pit mining and quarrying until these operations become too dangerous for further excavation.

Coal and chromite mining requires digging and inclines. This method of mining is labour-intensive and comparatively inexpensive for small mines, allowing it to stay in production.

            It is estimated that the mining industry currently employs 40,000 people and could generate an additional 30,000 jobs. Majority of labour forces engaged in coal mining comprises of people from outside the province.

            Little has changed in the mining sector since the preparation of the Environmental Profile in 1992. At that time, concern was expressed about water and air pollution form coal mining and from Saindak mine.

Remedies were proposed including the treatment and management of the coal waste and sulphur dioxide emission, as well as the preparation of EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) of the Saindak mine and other potential mining developments.

The need for a reliable supply of water is a major issue for the Saindak mine, and other ventures in Balochistan. Mines in Chagai, for example, will have to depend on a limited and finite supply of ground water. The Saindak mine draw on water resources forms the Taftan-Tahlab basin.

These resources have not been evaluated and are shared with Iran. The production of copper blister requires twice the volume of water for each ton of ore processed. A sustainable supply of water is not assured, and the effects on other users (communities, agriculture and wildlife) are not cleared.

The development of major mine and the lack of attention to water management may preclude other mining operations in the basin both in terms of water availability and economics.

It is imperative to adopt a modern mining strategy. Steps should be taken to promote public and private sectors cooperation with teamwork spirit, resolving obstacles faced by the mining sector. Sustainable mining strategy should be focused on modernizing the provincial mineral directorate with update data on each and every mineral with maps for entrepreneurs.

 

Faisal Mushtaq, Dawn, 4 April 2005

<http://www.dawn.com/2005/04/04/ebr12.htm>

 

Rs 100 Billion for Balochistan Road Network, Says
Musharraf

 

ZHOB: President Pervez Musharraf said on Sunday that the government would spend Rs 100 billion over the next three years to link Balochistan to all parts of the country.

Inaugurating the 305-kilometre-long Kuchlak-Zhob-Dera Ismail Khan Road costing around Rs 8 billion, President Musharraf said a country’s geography was always considered to be an element of national power and Pakistan, fortunately placed at a geo-strategic point, would become a trade hub for China, Central Asian Republics and Afghanistan.

Increasing trade opportunities would require Pakistan to be prepared for catering to the needs of Central Asian Republics and Afghanistan, he said, adding that there had been a lot of economic activity in China, particularly Sinkiang, which would soon emerge as a major trade area.

Pakistan would also benefit from the trade activity and economic gains would trickle down to the people of the NWFP and Balochistan, he said, adding that the trade route to Europe via Iran and Turkey could be exploited if Pakistan developed its highway network. Similarly, Gwadar Port was gaining geo-strategic importance everyday and the government would make it the most modern port of the region, President Musharraf added.

Pakistan already has trade links with Iran and China through the Motorway, Indus Highway, and RCD Highway and with Afghanistan through the Quetta-Chaman and Peshawar-Jalalabad Roads. China wanted to expand the Karakoram Highway and Pakistan had offered to cooperate with the Chinese, the President said. APP

 

Daily Times, 4 April 2005

<http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_4-4-2005_pg7_6> 

Conflict in Dera Bugti 

Conflict between tribal chiefs in Balochistan and the government has erupted periodically in the past. Of late armed men under the control of Sardar Akbar Bugti have been attacking federal agencies and infrastructure in the province. One cannot be sure that their operation is now over and durable peace assured.

The "sardari" regime in Balochistan is a system of indirect rule in which the central authority chooses to leave certain areas of the country to be controlled by local chieftains, who profess allegiance to the state and acknowledge its "suzerainty." They raise revenues, apply local custom to settle disputes and dispense "justice," and maintain order to the extent they can or deem expedient. They live well and, as one might expect, they have developed a strong vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

Many observers are inclined to attribute Balochistan's relative underdevelopment to the tribal chiefs' determination not to let forces of modernization, such as education and economic diversification, enter their areas. They fear that the resulting enlightenment will arouse their hitherto oppressed tribesmen to self-assertion. Tyranny of the feudal lords in Sindh and southern Punjab has likewise been blamed for the stark poverty and backwardness of the peasantry in these regions.

Twice during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's rule, newspaper headlines declared that the "sardari system" had been abolished. Actually, no such thing had been done. Similar claims were made concerning feudalism. Announcing his land reforms on March 1, 1972, Mr Bhutto claimed that the measure would eradicate "the curse of feudalism and man's unjust overlordship of the good earth." It would enable landless peasants to "lift their heads from the dust and regain their pride and manhood."

Great words these, as the words in his orations often were. The Sindhi hari's head remained in dust; manhood and honour continued to elude him. But these words were spoken more than 33 years ago. It is depressing as it is surprising that his successors have done nothing to abolish feudalism in Sindh or the sardari system in Balochistan.

We will have to contend with some fundamental issues, which our governments have been evading, if we are to remove the sources of the current turbulence in Balochistan. Some of them, such as that of provincial autonomy, agitate most politicians regardless of their tribal or ethnic affiliations. Then there are issues and problems that are specific to a certain tribe or region within the province. The present conflict in Dera Bugti would appear to belong to this second category.

The fields where natural gas is extracted, treated, and pumped out to much of the country are located in Bugti territory. A report in a recent issue of a Karachi newsmagazine has it that Sardar Akbar Bugti receives about 120 million rupees a year from Pakistan Petroleum, Limited (PPL) as "rent" for the land it occupies. In addition he gets two million rupees per month for providing security for the PPL pipelines and operations, and another one million rupees per month for contracting vehicles out to the company. Apparently, he thinks that all of this is not enough. According to some commentators, this is the basic issue in his confrontation with the government.

In a recent interview with newsmen at his home he is reported to have claimed that the land where the gas fields are situated is "his" land. This claim is open to question. A reference to the Constitution may be useful in this regard. Article 172 provides that "any property which has no rightful owner shall, if located in a province, vest in the government of that province."

Article 24 allows the state to take possession of private property for public purposes under law that provides for compensation. It allows the state also to take over any property which has come into the possession of any person by "unfair means, or in any manner contrary to law." Part II of the federal legislative list (fourth schedule) authorizes the federal government to make laws with regard to mineral oil and natural gas, and the development of industries where the law declares federal control to be expedient in the public interest (items 2 and 3).

Any settlement with Akbar Bugti must be one that the law permits. The same must also apply to similar situations elsewhere in the country. Let us suppose that one morning the owner of a tract of land in Lahore sees oil seeping out of a hole in his vegetable garden. Excavation reveals an oil well down below. In my understanding of the law, this oil well and the land containing it become the property of the state and the original owner ceases to have any right thereto except compensation for the acreage at the going rate. If that is what the law requires in Lahore, how can the gas fields in the Bugti area be regarded as belonging either to Akbar Bugti personally or to his tribe as a collectivity?

The tussle between Akbar Bugti and the government have gone on for quite some time during which he has been hiking his price for letting the PPL work the gas fields unmolested. His bargaining ability does not consist of rights under the law; nor does it consist of mere sticks and stones. It is made of modern weapons with which he has equipped some of his tribesmen, and got them trained in their use.

Most of us can only speculate as to the source of these weapons. But one can be sure that they have not all come in one sweep; they have been coming in over a period of several years. It is then most unlikely that our numerous intelligence agencies have been unaware of this infiltration. Unless we assume utter incompetence, or a most reprehensible kind of self-indulgence, on their part, it is difficult to understand how they could have allowed this operation to proceed to a point where the Bugti tribesmen can frustrate the Pakistan army or the paramilitary forces.

Some observers suggest that the "crisis" in Dera Bugti arose from the government's virtual indifference to the rape of a woman physician in a local hospital, and then from an attack on Bugti tribesmen on March 17. These incidents may have fanned the fire that was already simmering, but if it is true that the fire had originated in Akbar Bugti's covetousness, one may wonder why other Baloch organizations and spokesmen, even unrelated opposition politicians in the National Assembly and elsewhere, are supporting him.

They are speaking and acting as if the government had been the aggressor, and he the innocent victim. They allege, notwithstanding the government's repeated denials, that it has launched a military operation in Balochistan. They commend "dialogue" as the appropriate way of resolving the "crisis," without spelling out its nature or the terms for settling it. This mode of speech is of a piece with their broader posture as opponents of the present regime. Mr Bugti, having emerged as a forceful "enemy of their enemy," is to be befriended. The merits of either side's case are irrelevant to the opposition's overall strategy.

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and other government representatives have had several negotiating sessions with Akbar Bugti, but they have told the nation nothing as to what exactly he wants and what they have been offering him.

If the Balochistan "problem" is to be met, its nature should first be understood and its ingredients identified. Three sets of issues are involved and, even if they are related, each of them may have to be handled separately. In the short run, a deal may have to be made with Akbar Bugti that will increase his allowances so as to make him peaceable. But in the longer term perspective, a larger issue has to be settled.

Balochistan is said to be well endowed with mineral resources. Who will direct and manage the extraction, processing, and disposal of the various deposits when they have been located? The federation, the province, or the tribes and sardars under whose ground the deposits lie? All sides agree that Balochistan has been neglected in the past and the way must be opened for its socio-economic development and modernization. But who is to be the agent for initiating and carrying forward this process? There is much opposition to this role being assumed by the central government. It would then be both more sensible and expedient to entrust it to the provincial government, except in relation to projects that are located on federal land. But even here it may be advisable to provide for the provincial government's participation in their planning and execution, especially to dispel suspicion or fear that the resulting advantages will go to outsiders at the cost of the local people.

This matter of initiative and responsibility for development and modernization is a part of the broader issue of provincial autonomy. There is agreement at all hands that the provinces should be allowed a larger scope for their powers and functions than they have now. There are different prescriptions relating to the needed measure of autonomy, ranging from a stricter implementation of the provisions in this regard in the Constitution of 1973 to schemes that will convert Pakistan into a confederation.

We will leave the quantum of provincial autonomy for discussion at a later date. But it should be emphasized here and now that in this respect the other three provinces of Pakistan must be treated the same way as Balochistan is.

Balochistan has been treated as a special case long enough both before and after independence. Talk of constitutional amendments to address Baloch grievances is subversive of our national solidarity and integrity and it should cease. Similar grievances exist elsewhere in the country, even if their scale and intensity are not the same. Any amendments that are made must apply equally and uniformly to all four provinces.

The writer is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA.

Anwar Syed, Dawn, 10 April 2005
<http://www.dawn.com/2005/04/10/op.htm>
 

Govt to Spend Rs 5bn on Education in Balochistan 

HUB, April 10: The federal government will provide Rs5 billion to the Balochistan government for its campaign to raise literacy and upgrade education.

This was stated by Chief Minister Jam Yousuf while presiding over a cabinet meeting here on Sunday.

Mr Yousuf said the federal government and foreign donors, including the World Bank and the IMF, were ready to give funds to strengthen industrial, livestock and health sectors.

The cabinet decided to ensure maximum access to people to official documents, which would help check corruption in the public sector. Soon a draft bill would be presented in the provincial assembly to give the decision a concrete shape.

It was decided to computerize the revenue department's Patwar Khana and Mehfooz Khana to check corruption and tempering the record. The meeting decided to deploy police and levies to stop land grabbers.

It expressed satisfaction over harmony among coalition partners of the provincial government. The cabinet was told that the process of auction of unserviceable vehicles had been initiated. It directed all the departments to furnish details of vehicles under their use.

It ordered imposition of a ban on transfer of liquor licenses from one district to another and cancellation of such licenses immediately. It approved an amendment to the Pakistan Family Courts Act, 1964, to empower the high court and subordinate courts to transfer cases from a family court in one district to another.

It ordered acceleration of work on the Quetta water supply project and directed the Quetta Electricity Supply Company to disconnect connections to unauthorized tube-wells around the provincial capital. It approved release of Rs20 million for the Water and Sewerage Authority.

It directed the cabinet sub-committees to submit their reports at the earliest. Senior Minister Maulana Abdul Wasih, Finance Minister Syed Ehsan Shah, Excise and Taxation Minister Amanullah Nautazai, Coastal Development Minister Sher Jan Baloch and Fisheries Minister Asghar Rind were among the 24 ministers who attended the meeting. -APP/PPI

Dawn, 11 April 2005
<
http://www.dawn.com/2005/04/11/nat14.htm> 

Vast Conspiracy Behind Balochistan Insurgency

 

WASHINGON: The conflict in Balochistan, according to a report circulated this week by Central Asia News, is a conspiracy by a number of actors, some acting on behalf of governments, others for reasons not known.

The report which claims to be based on extensive interviews with two former Russian officers who fought in Afghanistan and other sources elsewhere argues that the best way for the Pakistani government to deal with the insurgency is to immediately abolish the Sardari system and crack down powerfully on the private armies. The government should also involve the broadest possible range of ordinary Balochis in the dialogue, there being enough educated youth in Marri and Mengal tribes to match the influence of tribal leaders. They should also allow the fragments of the Bugti tribe to return to their ancestral lands which would be enough to calm down the “ageing and eccentric” Akbar Bugti who pretends to be the leader of that tribe. The development process in the province should be hastened because it would open job opportunities and that would allow the escape hatch to ordinary Balochis to distance themselves from their leaders. Also to be cut down are the sources and channels of supply of arms and cash to insurgents.

 

Khalid Hasan, Daily Times, 13 April 2005

<http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_13-4-2005_pg7_44> 

 

Gwadar: The Engine of Change in Balochistan

 

GWADAR: The deep water port is ready and open for business. As it prepares to receive ships and cargo, it is already starting to have a major impact on the city and region even as some local people step up their efforts to air their grievances.

                For hundreds of years, Gwadar has been a sleepy fishing village. Alexander the Great is said to have passed through here on his way back to Macedonia. Over the centuries, Gwadar saw many rulers come and go, and finally the ruler of Muscat annexed it in 1797. In 1958, Pakistan bought Gwadar from Muscat for Rs90 million and made it a part of the province of Balochistan. Gwadar is situated at the mouth of the strategic Straits of Hormuz and is 72 km west from the Iranian border. The town is flooded with Iranian goods, ranging from motorcycles to petrol to all types of food and clothing items - all at incredibly cheap prices. After all, they are smuggled. But smuggling will cease to be the mainstay of Gwadar's economy once the port becomes functional.

The Journey

A journey begins with a single step and our 700 km journey to Gwadar started at the outskirts of Karachi. A simple and freshly minted sign showed us the way.

            The road to Gwadar is known as the Makran Coastal Highway and it is only four months old. For us, this road and route to Gwadar was uncharted territory. The map helped us get a basic idea about the famed town we were headed to, but the long trip ahead remained unknown. The Frontier Works Organisation, also known as FWO, built this impressive highway in four years. Before the highway opened for traffic, this region in the southern tip of Pakistan remained cut off from the rest of the country except through air. The land journey took many days. In this sense, the new Coastal Highway has penetrated undiscovered terrain. And the terrain is stunning. Vast flat lands flank the highway for miles and miles with not a soul - or a vehicle - in sight. The harshness of this terrain is matched by its desolation and rugged beauty. As we drove on, the flat lands gave way to rocky hills. At first sight, it appeared as if giant carvings had been made on the side of these hills-symmetrical and aesthetic designs etched on rock. But soon one realizes these are nature's work. No one knows the origin of these designs. Was it water at some period in time that drew these carvings, or was it the effect of air and wind over thousands of years? Maybe, one day a geologist will find the answer. The road snaked up the mountain and as it turned a corner, we got our first glimpse of the Arabian Sea. The water is clear and the waves gentle, as they brush the isolated shores. From this point onwards, the highway travels near the sea, at times skirting around the hills and then winding its way back near the coast. At a point, the hills merged into a desert, which rolled onto the beach. A few local people moved about and an occasional bus passed by. Other than that, there was silence.

            A few miles ahead, the highway hit a T junction. This is where the official Makran Coastal Highway starts. A monument and a plaque denote the official opening of the highway. But it was only a few months after this opening that this highway suffered serious damage. The torrential rains and flooding, which wreaked havoc across the country, washed away some chunks of the highway. Some call it the work of nature, others blame faulty engineering. We hit the damaged portion an hour or so later. A bridge there is still standing, but a chunk of the road has been washed away. Trucks have made their own detour, grinding through the dusty path and clambering back on the metalled portion for their onward journey to Gwadar. Repair work is underway but I couldn't see any as I headed back to our bus. The heat was catching up.

            As dusk approached we made a stopover for tea at a roadside café. The owner of this place is going to be a rich man one day. And if he has good aesthetic sense, he will retain the look of his stall. The thatched roof and the matted seating blended in perfectly with the natural surroundings, as in fact did the strong cup of tea. The stall is right beside the highway and the only one of its kind for miles and miles. It won't be surprising if a few months and years down the road, this stall can transform into a proper café, a perfect place for hungry and thirsty travelers. It was tempting to sit there longer and soak in the ambience, but daylight was fading and we still had some way to go. It had been a long day and it was unlikely that we would reach Gwadar before nightfall, which was our original plan. But the road was clear and the signs pointing to the right direction. There was of course, no street lighting...

The Port

The town of Gwadar is not impressive by any standards. The new port is a different story altogether. The Director General of the Gwadar Port Authority is an affable gentleman by the name of Abdul Razziq Durrani, and he offered to show us the brand new Gwadar port. Phase 1 of the port is ready. According to press reports, it was supposed to be inaugurated by the Chinese Prime Minister during his recent visit to Pakistan, but senior government officials say that was not the case. A top source told me in Islamabad that the official opening of the port is still a few months away. The port has been constructed at a cost of $248 million. China has paid $198 million while Pakistan has contributed $50 million. China also offered expertise in the form of technical staff. Plus they have given the bulk of the equipment. Their work done, most of the 450 Chinese personnel have left for home. Director-General Durrani told me that phase 2 of the port would be constructed adjacent to Phase 1. It will be bigger. But for now, some ships have already started berthing at this port. Pakistan Petroleum, which is exploring off shore gas, is using the port loading and off-loading equipment fairly regularly. Director General Durrani said the Gwadar port had the potential to be a major port for the region. Dredging is already underway to make it a truly deep-water port. Durrani said a network of roads linking the port to Afghanistan and Central Asia was being constructed, although they were lagging somewhat. Durrani also spoke at length about how the port would generate employment for the town and the region as well as help transform the city into a vibrant metropolis. "Can you imagine a small town like Gwadar is already experiencing traffic jams," he said. Gwadar's port holds great promise. It can earn millions of dollars for the country every year and transform this sleepy village into a vibrant international harbor. This is the stuff dreams are made of. A stream of ships and tankers berthing here, unloading their bulk cargo through these giant cranes, from where they will be trucked to distant lands. Thousands of people disembarking from these ships and spending days and weeks in this town, spending money, shopping, hotelling and transforming this town into a truly international city.

The City

An international city needs international infrastructure. Gwadar, as it is today, does not exactly fulfill these requirements. It is like any other small town in Pakistan. Narrow streets and alleys dotted with cramped shops, mud-walled houses and heaps of trash. Bare foot children play outside, unaware that their environment is about to change drastically. And the man who is planning and mapping the change is Ahmad Bukhsh Lehri, the Director-General of the Gwadar Development Authority. I met him in his office, which is usually crowded with people wanting to buy and sell land and develop properties and housing schemes. Nature has made Lehri's work easier. Gwadar has two coasts, the East Bay and West Bay. They form neat semi circles and are divided by a strip of land where the present town of Gwadar is located. East Bay is where the new port has been built. The area behind the bay will be used for all port-related activities and structures like warehouses and offices. West Bay is where all the development is in its very early stages. Today, the bay is just an isolated beach with a dilapidated road ringing part of it. But in a short period of time, this bay will be filled with hotels, restaurants, and other recreation facilities. The land behind this bay is being developed into posh housing schemes, commercial areas, broad highways and a web of flyovers. Director-General Lehri took us on a tour of the city, to show us the works already underway. The main artery, called Jinnah Avenue, is being leveled. Lehri said this avenue would be something like Islamabad's Blue Area or Karachi I.I Chindrigar Road. It will be lined with commercial plazas, office buildings and shopping centres. As a result of this rapid development, land prices in Gwadar have skyrocketed. A horde of developers and property agents have descended on the town, and a lot of manipulation and bungling has also been reported. Officials here admit that land scams are a big concern, and they are trying their best to improve their systems of checks and balances to protect the interests of the investors.

Politics
There are some other people here who feel their interests are not being looked after. I went to meet one such person. Ghafoor Hote is the District President of the Balochistan National Party, Mengal group. And he represents a body of opinion, which says the local people of Gwadar are being neglected as this massive development takes place in their hometown.

            Hote says he and his party are not opposed to the port per se because they realise the benefits that will accrue to them. They just feel that the local people of Gwadar have been neglected and sidelined. Hote also fears the locals of Gwadar, and of Balochistan, will become a minority in their own province if people from all over the country are allowed to come here to work on the port and then given voting rights. He says this is how the demographics changed in Quetta when the Afghan refugees flooded in, got Pakistani ID cards, and now can vote and enjoy all the rights of the citizens.

            I asked him what he proposed should be done, and he said people should come to work here but they should not get voting rights. He drew a parallel with Dubai where workers from outside cannot have all the rights that locals have howsoever long they stay here. But Hote then checked himself to say that Dubai was different in the sense that it was hosting workers from abroad. But his argument was that locals should be given preferential treatment, which at present they were not.

            From his office I headed off to meet another nationalist who wields a lot of influence in the town. Mir Hussain Ashraf is the Provincial Vice President of Nawab Akbar Bugti's Jamhoori Watan Party and a former federal minister. He also has some reservations about what is happening in Gwadar.

            "How can a young man from Gwadar compete with someone from Islamabad," he asks. The point being, he says, locals should not be expected to get jobs on sheer merit. They should instead be given preferential treatment for jobs at the port. Ashraf says they will continue to protest till they are given their due rights. Some protests turned ugly earlier this month. The Coast Guards raided a warehouse to confiscate what they said were smuggled goods.

            In reaction, local traders turned violent, burnt and ransacked a few shops belonging to non-locals and held a tense standoff with security agencies. Only deft handling by the local authorities defused the situation.

            How genuine are these grievances of the nationalists? And how are they being addressed. To find out, I went to see the District Nazim of Gwadar Babu Gulab Baloch at his house overlooking the sea. The Nazim had been in a spot of trouble himself the day before. A group of men angry at some property dispute had roughed up his staff and damaged his office premises. But the Nazim appeared unruffled when I met him. He said it was unreasonable for the nationalists to oppose the port, but admitted that some of their grievances were genuine. But in the same breath the Nazim said President General Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz were making sure that everything was worked out to the satisfaction of all. He said he had met with the parliamentary committee on Balochistan headed by Senator Mushahid Hussain, and the committee was also aware of the grievances.

            Officials in Gwadar however, say the few law and order problems that have occurred in city do not have much to do with the opposition to the port. As such, they say, these problems are rooted in day-to-day issues and are tackled on the same basis. Brig Farooq Ahmad Mir is the Chief Security Officer and he oversees and coordinates all law enforcement agencies in the area. He was all praise for the people of Gwadar and Balochistan and said he and his staff were able to keep peace in the area with the cooperation of the local people.

            As we wrapped up our exhaustive visit, some things had become clear to me. Gwadar and its people are going through a historic moment. If the plans materialise, this small town at the edge of Pakistan - a town which has not experienced even the basics of modernisation, could transform into a truly international and cosmopolitan city. This dramatic transformation will have far-reaching repercussions for the town, province and country as a whole. Gwadar could become the engine of change for Balochistan, and it could also prove that economic and social development can end up solving even the most hardened political problems. What can be more exciting than to see an underdeveloped, undereducated and backward tribal society standing on the edge of international success? This is the story of this sleepy fishing village called Gwadar.

 

Fahd Husain, The News, 13 April 2005

<http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/apr2005-daily/13-04-2005/main/main12.htm> 

Increase in Balochistan Gas Royalty Suggested 

ISLAMABAD, April 14: The Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan has recommended an increase of around Rs1.48 billion in the gas royalty being paid to the province by the centre, a source told Dawn here on Thursday.

            The source said the committee, which met here on Thursday with the president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML), Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, in chair, discussed the formula of increase in gas royalty presented by Senator Syed Dilawar Abbas.

            The source said Senator Abbas had suggested that the federal government should increase the well-head price of the gas from the existing Rs26 per unit to Rs70 per unit. After this increase, the gas royalty of Balochistan would be increased from Rs6.32 billion to Rs7.80 billion, he said.

            The source said the opposition members had boycotted the parliamentary committee meeting owing to various reasons. Some of the opposition members complained that they had not been informed about the time of the meeting while the People's Party Parliamentarians (PPP) members Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Raza Rabbani informed the committee chairman that they were boycotting the meeting to protest the arrest of a large number of party activists by the government to stop them from receiving Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday.

            Later, briefing reporters, PML chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain said as a result of his "successful meetings" with Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) chief Nawab Akbar Bugti, roads and markets in Dera Bugti and Sui had been opened and people were busy in normal activities in the areas.

            He said it had been decided that all unnecessary checkpoints would be removed from Dera Bugti. Chaudhry Shujaat praised President Gen Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Nawab Akbar Bugti and FC men for extending cooperation to him during his visits to Balochistan, and said all of them gave importance to the national cause.

            The PML chief said the committee had been successful in resolving the issues of Sui and Dera Bugti and the issue of gas royalty would also be resolved soon. He said Senator Dilawar Abbas had presented a formula on gas royalty which would be taken to parliament.

            About the opposition's boycott, the PML chief said some of the members had objections over the committee's composition. As far as the PPP was concerned, he said, they were busy in preparations of a "Dhamal" (dance) in Lahore.

            Mr Hussain said the arrival of Asif Zardari had no link with the ongoing reconciliation process in the country. He said the PPP wanted to give an impression that Mr Zardari was arriving in the country as a result of any understanding with the government, which was wrong. He said the government would not allow Mr Zardari to use the shoulders of others to fulfil his dreams of becoming a leader.

            The PML chief, however, said that he did not have any hard feelings for the PPP. He said it was because of his soft corner for the PPP that he had offered Makhdoom Amin Fahim a share in the Sindh government.

            He again invited all the opposition parties to hold negotiations on different issues with the government. He said that he had recently contacted opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rahman and asked him to attend the National Security Council meeting.

            Replying to a question, the PML president said that according to initial report of the inquiry commission, corruption charges had not been proved against former Sindh revenue minister Imtiaz Sheikh. He said the ongoing political crisis in Sindh would be resolved once Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim returned from the UK.

 

Amir Wasim, Dawn, 15 April 2005

<http://www.dawn.com/2005/04/15/top6.htm>

                   New Package for Balochistan: Committee Approves
                   Proposals on Gas Royalty, Development


ISLAMABAD, May 2: The parliamentary committee on Balochistan met here on Monday and adopted with certain amendments the Mushahid Hussain sub-committee report comprising eight recommendations, including payment of gas royalty within a fixed period and a financial package for the development of Sui, Gwadar and Quetta. The meeting, presided over by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, recommended Rs3 billion for the development of social service structure of Gwadar, Rs2 billion for Sui and Rs4 billion for the uplift of Quetta.

Later, speaking in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain announced that the parliamentary committee had taken the first historic step and would complete its final report in due course of time to be tabled in the house. He termed it a historic day saying the parliamentary committee had done its job to the satisfaction of the people of Balochistan. It would provide a constitutional package in its next meetings, he added.

The ruling PML chief said an important aspect of the meeting was that Murree, Bugti, Mengal, JUI and MMA members of the committee had also attended it, besides the parliamentarians from the treasury. He told reporters that the committee had adopted the eight-point report of the Mushahid sub-committee and would soon reach consensus on constitutional steps to be recommended by the Wasim Sajjad sub-committee.

The committee, however, remained divided on the question of provincial autonomy and left the question of abolishing the entire or part of the concurrent list to the Wasim Sajjad committee. Recommending that the NFC award would be announced before the budget by accommodating the reservations and viewpoints of Balochistan, the committee stressed the need for immediately setting up the Council of Common Interests (CCI), which must meet twice a year.

It adopted a formula for royalty and gas development surcharge as framed by Senator Dilawar, a member of the committee, and recommended it for implementation. In matters of employment at Gwadar port, it suggested that the people of the town should be given preference and the second preference, as far as possible, should be given to the people of Makran and those of Balochistan. The committee discussed grievances of various tribes and asked the government to instruct the FC and Coast Guards to perform only the duties assigned to them - controlling drugs and arms. It also recommended the strengthening of levies and supply of Rs1 billion life-saving drugs to Balochistan hospitals.

The committee recommended that the final payment of gas royalty arrears from year 2000 to date be paid, latest by Dec 31. The payment should be made on the basis of reconciliation between the government of Balochistan and the federal ministry of petroleum. The Balochistan chief minister roughly estimated the outstanding amount at around Rs5 billion.

Four members of the committee belonging to the nationalist parties of Balochistan continued their boycott, while those belonging to the PPP Parliamentarians did not attend the meeting in protest against arrests and persecution of their workers in Punjab. After the first session of the committee, Senator Mushahid Hussain told reporters that it had been decided that a committee would be formed in tomorrow’s meeting to draft the final report of the Wasim Sajjad sub-committee on constitutional issues of Balochistan.

The committee, after a heated debate on the contentious issue of the Gwadar land scam, decided to recommend formation of a high-powered commission headed by a Supreme Court judge, with two judges taken from provinces, to probe, evaluate and submit its recommendations on ways of tackling the issue. PML (Nawaz) Senator Ishaq Dar proposed that all private housing schemes in Gwadar be disbanded and allotments of land in Gwadar be annulled by handing over the project to the Balochistan Development Authority with the powers to acquire the entire land on coastal highway and then allot it to people under certain rules.

The committee recommended setting aside 7 per cent of the total revenue of the Gwadar port for the development and welfare of Balochistan. Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Muhammad Yousuf, who attended the meeting on special invitation, opposed the proposal. He termed it impractical and the committee left the issue for the high-powered commission to decide.

The committee recommended that all federal vacant posts be filled by advertising and appointment of candidates from Balochistan on 5.7 per cent quota on the demand of the provincial chief minister.

The committee recommended immediate shifting of the headquarters of Gwadar Port Authority to Gwadar town, appointment of its chairman and majority of directors from Balochistan.

It recommended that 15 per cent of income from the OGDC and other exploration companies must be spent on local development and representation be given to the MPs from the province in boards of governors of the PPL, OGDC, etc.

Ahmed Hassan, Dawn, 3 May 2005
<
http://www.dawn.com/2005/05/03/top1.htm>
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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