CPEC: Will the Baloch be victim to the Pakistani state’s deceitful tactics again?

Published: January 24, 2016
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The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has once again brought Balochistan in the limelight amongst the media and politicians. PHOTO: AFP

When I refer to the Baloch, I do not make reference to Sardars and Nawabs, minsters or stakeholders, but the common Baloch who suffers on a daily basis as a result of Pakistan’s deplorable negligence and incapability to protect the largest and arguably, richest province of their country. 

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has once again brought Balochistan in the limelight amongst the media and politicians. There is a mayhem of disagreements on which province will benefit the most from the CPEC and many fingers pointing at Punjab for eternally overshadowing the rest in terms of benefitting from natural resources. Reservations from all provinces raised at the ‘All Parties Conference’ (APC), organised by Balochistan National Party (BNP) have signified that nationalism amongst Pakistanis is not only a domineering factor in Balochistan, but prevalent in other provinces; people are more concerned about their ethnic community than the wider implications of such a deal.

If the CPEC deal were efficacious, it would certainly be favourable for Pakistan. It would unquestionably help the country deal with some of its major developmental issues, including upgrading some of its crumbling infrastructure and modifying its significant energy shortage.

But at what cost?

The desire for this $46 billion project to continue and succeed has proliferated to such an extent that those in favour of this project have failed to comprehend how severely Pakistan will be trapped in China’s geostrategic orbit. What China will achieve from it is evident, giving her a dependable base in the Indian Ocean, nearby the Persian Gulf, commendably giving it two-ocean supremacy.

Such matters are obviously of no relevance to most Pakistanis considering what the aftermath could hold. As long as it is financially benefiting them, there will be no objections. It is ironic, how those who once mocked the Baloch for having communist ideologies are now bending to the will of socialist economies.

As for Baloch people, most if not all, are utterly unconvinced of the motive behind ‘developing’ Balochistan. The main line of reasoning for the Baloch is that after almost seven decades of authoritative reign, 347,190 kilometre square of land and development is only limited to Gwadar?

Those who claim to be the benefactors for the Baloch future need to be cognisant of the fact that there is more to Balochistan than one port. The Baloch apprehension is not linked with the location of routes, but whether the CPEC will bring a difference to the lives of the common Baloch. If the Baloch had not been victim of the Pakistani state’s deceitful tactics, then one would consider that a $46 billion project would definitely be an advent of development in Balochistan. However, history states otherwise.

On May 28, 1998, Pakistan detonated five nuclear devices in the Ras Koh Hills in Chagai, Balochistan. Undoubtedly, this granted Pakistan colossal importance on the world stage, attaining the title of the first Islamic nuclear state. However, what happened to the people of Chagai, once the tests were successful is unknown to most officials.

Radiation effects, untreated diseases and unemployment have rapidly taken over an underdeveloped Chagai. The Chagai that is proudly entrenched in Pakistan’s history, where important officials once stood before Balochistan’s mountains, is now never mentioned or visited by anyone.

SUI is another example of how the Baloch have been deprived of their basic rights. Eighty per cent of Balochistan is deprived of gas, including Gwadar. It is quite repulsive to know that the province that supplies most of the gas to the country does not have access to it. Article 158 of The Pakistan Constitution 1973 states,

“The province in which a wellhead of natural gas is situated shall have precedence over other parts of Pakistan in meeting the requirements from the wellhead.”

Since national law is not implemented, international law favours the Baloch stance, which obviously has no relevance to Pakistan amongst other matters.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966 UN December 16) Part 1 Article 2 states,

“All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.”

There are plenty of examples of how deprived Baloch people are of their rights that justifies the sense of detriment they feel. Often the Sardari system is held accountable for the underdevelopment in Balochistan. That in itself is a very controversial topic since most of the Sardars and Nawabs have been assigned with the highest positions as part of the establishment.

Unfortunately, corruption and disunity amongst most Baloch tribal leaders has deteriorated Balochistan’s plight and allowed the establishment to use this to their advantage. If we kept our tribal egoism aside and worked for the betterment of the common Baloch man, then Balochistan might have a slight chance of a prosperous future.

Nonetheless, what needs to be addressed now is what is being done for the common Baloch man. What is the future of the Baloch man, who works rigorously as a fisherman in Gwadar, after the CPEC is established? There needs to be a sense of assurance that the people living in Gwadar will not become a minority on their own land.

Job opportunities should be equally available to the people of Gwadar, making their lives a priority. It is perplexing to know how countless amounts can be spent to protect the Chinese from ‘militant’ threats, but not much can be done to provide the citizens of Gwadar with a decent supply of water.

Considering literacy rates in Gwadar are very low, how will the government assure that the locals are educated enough in schools and universities are easily accessible? Bearing in mind that vast majorities of local Baloch in Gwadar work in the fishery industry. There should be maritime training to boost their skills, in a way that they can benefit.

We have a clash of priorities with the establishment where they aim to boost Pakistan financially, whereas the Baloch want their lives to flourish and more importantly to matter.

As a Baloch, I will always feel like an outcast in a land that is supposedly mine. They come, they exploit and they leave. We do not want to be like extra-terrestrials on our own land. There are plenty of assurances but no sense of guarantee that things will ever change for the better. History is our teacher.

Banari Mengal

Banari Mengal

Daughter of president of the Balochistan National Party, Akhtar Mengal and a student of law.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • FT

    I do support the bloggers but not 100%. Things are not as simple as stated. There are many shades of grey.Recommend

  • saeed

    While I agree to an extent what you said but you can not brush under the carpet the role of Baloch politicians and sardar’s who are as equal to blame for Baluchistan’s lack of progress as the federation of Pakistan..since 2008 in Baluchistan the government is in hand of one or another baloch sardar who them self enjoy lavish lives in Karachi and Islamabad and not doing any thing for the people, name me a single project or a work done by these politicians, you do not need money for every thing, there should be some will and interest in fixing the common issues of people which always lacked in Baloch leadership who are rivals among themselves and this sardari system has destroyed Baluchistan for decades.Recommend

  • saint

    All we need is a revolution against these thug generals who are looting us time to time. Any Chinese company in Pakistan accommodates the merit less sons and daughters of them retired army officers. And these generals get all the kick backs from such deals. The only thing common between China and Pakistan is the dictatorial approach towards controlling majority. But then again, what goes around comes around. We have a dummy civil government with a boot on its head. If the USA and UNO did not intervene soon enough, we might end up having a civil war in Pakistan, with common men attacking all these lavish houses in DHA’s and cantonments.Recommend

  • ChangingPak

    Firstly i my self from baluchistan and i can assure being a normal person from khuzdar balochistan that this CPEC is a game changer for the peoples of baluchistan specially as compare to the rest of Pakistan as a whole, one thing is clear that the write is totally biased and Raw funded .CPEC is for all Pakistanis 11b is for baluchistan only 9 b for Sindh and only 6.7 b for the project in Punjab if the Baluchistan is poor its only coz of our Sardars and Nawabs(about whom the writer dont want to talk as he mention in the first line ) and just putting the blames on some else is totally wrong. china is making “one belt one road ” project and CPEC is the only one leg of this gigantic project they are making same kind of roads and infrastructures in Kazakhstan (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezQO5DOiho4) going all the way to Germany hamburg ,write wants to sell his self on the bases of so called rights .Recommend

  • ZAK

    You are not a common baloch I m a common pashtun from quetta my relatives were killed in the bus shooting by the so called freedom fighter allah nazar where was your concern then?Recommend

  • Rohan

    Obviously.Punjabi establishment looted east Pakistan (now Bangladesh) of its jute earnings which were in dollars and when Bengalis revolted they were massacred.Same thing is happening in balochistan with respect to oil and goldRecommend

  • Imran

    Ruthless, baseless & un-realistic article. Just mention one side of a picture, want to prove you are deprived due to Pakistan’s state. yes you are but it’s not the whole story. Your feudal system, illiteracy and in-competency are major issues. Instead of fighting with military forces and attacking workers in Balochistan, step ahead and put pressure on your elected leaders to focus on peace and stability. If you manage to do so, then investors will come in agriculture, irrigation, fisheries, mining, forestry and livestock sectors. Remember 7th NFC award, where does hundreds of billion goes? Almost 50% baloch population is under poverty line, its not only central government responsible, Baloch leaders and your government are equally too. Come on! be a part of effective democracy, raise your voice in parliament for royalty of gas and others issues. The underline baloch people mentioned in your article are not a matter of concern for you because they are at this position due to your own forefathers. Now, repeating the same story, if central government somehow manage to take some investors in Gawadar, you started shouting again. Manage jobs for locals and so on….. Be realistic, if I invest in somewhere in the world, I will not hire illiterate workers in my company. How would they do so? Yeah, in long run you will benefit more but first start from 1 don’t think to become boss overnight. How many schools, colleges and universities your tribal leaders gave you?? 1st focus on education, educated youth will find their way.Recommend

  • Sami

    Balochi speaking ethnic group constitute only 3 percent of Pakistan. So the reality is that any development will bring in bigger ethnic groups mainly Pushtoons and Punjabis to settle in the developing zones of Balochistan. You cannot stop this migration. But yes there is threat that with development Balochs might become a minority in their own land.
    But take the example of Canada. Welcome new migrants and at the same time empower yourself that you will remain in the loop.
    Migration is a constant phenomenon and it will not stop.
    Learn from Karachi. It is almost cut from the rest of Sindh, and the reason is that Sindhi speakers never accepted Karachites as true Sindhis and neither did they.
    So in the future Gwadar will see the Huge migration from Punjab and KP and that is obvious. But develop the model of Integration to welcome the new arrivals.

    Baloch should welcome the new migrants as they will bring new economic opportunities. They cannot stop migration by force. Otherwise it could happen that new migrants will overpower locals and will not even pay heed to the locals.Recommend

  • Cosmo

    Wow what a candid article. Stay sfae from the establishment of the Pakistan. As prt fo thise CPEC corridor Pakistan govmnt is going to allow 10000 Chinese troops on its soil, what kind of dumb deal is that. No independednt country would sign such a deal. Pakistan may be a free land but Pakistani mnds arr for sure occupied!
    I see Baluchistan being a free country over next one decade! Recommend

  • genesys

    Iran, China agree $600-billion trade deal after sanctions and what is Balochistan getting..not even a apart of the 46 Billion deal.china wants to make the port a captive point for its active trade with ME and Iran as well.Recommend

  • ChangingPak

    Firstly i my self from baluchistan and i can assure being a normal person from khuzdar balochistan that this CPEC is a game changer for the peoples of baluchistan specially as compare to the rest of Pakistan as a whole, one thing is clear that the write is totally biased .CPEC is for all Pakistanis 11b is for baluchistan only 9 b for Sindh and only 6.7 b for the project in Punjab if the Baluchistan is poor its only coz of our Sardars and Nawabs(about whom the writer dont want to talk as he mention in the first line ) and just putting the blames on some else is totally wrong. china is making “one belt one road ” project and CPEC is the only one leg of this gigantic project they are making same kind of roads and infrastructures in Kazakhstan going all the way to Germany hamburg ,write wants to sell his self on the bases of so called rights .Recommend

  • ChangingPak

    Firstly i my self from baluchistan and i can assure being a normal person from khuzdar balochistan that this CPEC is a game changer for the peoples of baluchistan specially as compare to the rest of Pakistan as a whole, one thing is clear that the write is totally biased and Raw funded .CPEC is for all Pakistanis 11b is for baluchistan only 9 b for Sindh and only 6.7 b for the project in Punjab if the Baluchistan is poor its only coz of our Sardars and Nawabs(about whom the writer dont want to talk as he mention in the first line ) and just putting the blames on some one else is totally wrong. china is making “one belt one road ” project and CPEC is the only one leg of this gigantic project they are making same kind of roads and infrastructures in Kazakhstanhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezQO5DOiho4)( going all the way to Germany hamburg ,write wants to sell his self on the bases of so called rights .Recommend

  • Ryzvonusef

    > the province that supplies most of the gas to the country

    That’s Sindh by a WIDE marginRecommend

  • Chaudhry

    As far as spending on education and skills for the baloch, I agree that it must be a priority (which is the responsibility of the provincial government). But stating that this economic corridor might exploit you is just a case of victim mentality. This is an opportunity for the common baloch to get into the mainstream, get out of the sardari nizam which is keeping you back. It offers you a city of your own with opportunities for the Baloch to uplift their economic and social status. Nobody can spoon feed you to come out of your condition, but you have to make sure that you exploit opportunities that come your way, and it will never happen if you continue with this same victim mentality not trying to integrate into the system. This is your opportunity, grab it !Recommend

  • AMI

    Inshah Allah Mr.Akhter Mangal and Imran Khan are our hope who are not only free of any prejudice or unconcern but want to develop Balochistan s people through education,health,jobs and security and its infrastructure.Recommend

  • Shah Muhammad

    very well said Benari. Though be careful of gender inclusion in sentences such as ‘Nonetheless, what needs to be addressed now is what is being done for the common Baloch man.’Recommend

  • Rd px

    As an aristocrat, u r partially responsible. Although a victim of neglect, Baluchistan has much more corruption then other provinces.Recommend

  • SAIF

    what a filth and shame to address baloch as different from pakistanis. Its high time express news gets its ‘directions’ the correct way, else it will face the same fate as of geo/jang by the hands of pemra.Recommend

  • ar

    Government must establish technical and vocational institutes in Balochistan so that maximum of local people are employed. At the same time it should be clear that mega cities like Karachi, Dubai, Lahore are always multi ethnic and multi religious.Recommend

  • Brahui Pride

    Ironic coming from the daughter of Sardar Akhtar Mengal, patron of the BNP and owns large tracts of land in Balochistan that in fact belongs to the Baloch.Recommend

  • Anti Hypocrisy

    Why do Baloch Nawabs, journalists and so called “rights” activists have bungalows in Karachi and Islamabad when they don’t consider it their land? Food for thought.Recommend

  • mua

    good article and I sincerely do hope that going in the future we are able to alleviate the problems that all of pakistanis face. However to lay the blame only on the state is also wrong.
    In the past the state has given billions in royalty to the sardars, the kids of these sardars live in london and benefit from the state paid money, however these very sardars dont invest in anything for their people. How can a state go and make anything in the province when everyone lays claim to the area.

    Also in the past the Balochistan Assembly members were paid in millions as development fund. Has anyone asked these baloch leaders as to what happened to the money and how are they able to afford such palaces in dubai and elsewhere.

    What we need is the true leadership of baloch people to forego the sardari system, as is needed in Sindh as well.. otherwise a few “noble” men will continue to pit us against each other while reaping the benefits for themselves.

    Also Sind provides more gas than Balochistan. Just FYI.Recommend

  • Noor Ilahi

    You are very right the federal Gov is hood winking Baluchistan in particular and KP and Sind also. They are not putting the real and correct CPEC plan on the table. The federal Gov reason that agreement between the countries cannot be disclosed, it is completely wrong the people of Pakistan in general and people of all the effected provinces must know what is going to happen and how they are going to benefit or pay back for others corruption.Recommend

  • Aqeel khan

    I agree with most of the things written by the author but being the daughter of a another baloch sardar, i would like to tell you that you guys are responsible as much as centre and punjab is, for under development of our jewel province i.e. Balochistan. The things you write and speak are quite true but your (mostly if not all) actions on ground aren’t aligned to it for example centre say we give a lot of importance to Blaochistan blah blah but they dont give it practically and same for you guys why dont Sardar’s implement an education emergency to educate people and bring a revolution i would like to mention Bugtis who are getting gas loyaly since 6 decades but their people are so poor and Bugti family is having luxurious life here and Overseas – so i think both sides need to change their actions to make Balochistan a real progressiveRecommend

  • Subhan Ahmad

    You gave the impression with your writing that Pakistan and Balochistan are some seperate entities. The first problem lies here. It would have been more appropriate if you wrote that whether Balochistan would again become the victim of our leader’s lack of vision or deciet full tactics. These include the leaders of your province too. Recommend

  • siliconhippy

    feudal leader problem you say you don’t want to talk about?Recommend

  • Milind A

    Baluchistan was never part of Pakistan. It was illegally annexed by Pakistan against the wishes of the locals… Its time Baluchistan is given freedom from the yoke of Pakistan’s illegal occupation.Recommend

  • asad

    Few disagreements with the writer… Underground nuclear detonation does not result in radiation as argued by writer. Chaghi is supposed to be abandoned because nuclear tests take place where no human lives… ,I agree that universities and schools are needed in Balochistan but it was BLA that started killing spree of so called Punjabi teachers and provincial police failed to protect them and hence the education was destroyed by the common who never raised a voice against it. Secondly democracy has given u a chance to choose your own fate but u have failed to change your fate. And tour fear of becoming a minority in your own land is very primitive as 80% of Dubai population is expat and locals are still ruling… Stop complaining and start participating in good Recommend

  • jigsaww

    He writes as if other provinces are some model of first world.
    It’s a whole country that is affected equally and it is the whole country that will benefit from these projects, only if we stop speaking the language of our enemies to hinder development. For last 70 years, whenever a project starts, people start popping up to hinder the advance thru these kind of articles.

    It’s time we shun our small mentality and move on.Recommend

  • Palaupakistani

    Baluchistan is a legal part of pakistan, kashmir on the other end in not. Baluch sardar signed the agreement wilingly not tht of kashmirRecommend

  • Palaupakistani

    The real question is what these sardars wud do differently if they were to have all the power… They treat ordnary baloch as their slavesRecommend

  • Palaupakistani

    Alao these sardars call themselves ‘sardars’ as if they r sme sort of monarchsRecommend

  • Maverick_NZ

    The tribal lords and sardars, now with their kids now educated from geneva and oxford are back again to demand royalties while the poor Baloch suffer.Recommend

  • Umer Mukhtar Essazai

    Balochistan has two types of Sardars; those faithful to Govt and second those who are representatives of Local people and Islamababd has grievances to them for advocating Baloch rights. Akhter Mengal and his father are in second category. They has consistent opinion and struggle for Balochistan rights. They believe in Pakistan and democratic system. Those who advise Baloch to struggle by democratic system for their rights have no idea how Balochistan is administered by establishment. They should read history other than censored “Pakistan Studies” that how an elected Chief Minister was dismissed in 1973 and then again in 1998. They visit Jalawan or atleast search Google, youtube and facebook about Shafiq Mengal, Muslah Defah, Haq Na Tawar to know how those who believe in democratic system are brutally treated by Center.
    CPEC is actually China Punjab Economic Corridor. Balochistan has nothing in it. Pakistan give Gwadar to China for strengthening its presence in Indian Ocean and in return gets investment in Punjab and Sindh.
    Central Govt has no plan to educate Local people of Gwadar and protect their identity. Only Plan it has about Gwadar is to give it a special status like FATA or Gilgit Baltistan or Kashmir which are directly administered from Islamabad.Recommend

  • vinod chauhan

    Yes you are right sir/madam. Raw are useless they can not even get Dawwod.Recommend

  • Sami

    Gwadar was never a part of Balochistan. It was taken by the federal government from the Arab state.Recommend

  • Sami

    Gwadar is in Punjab or in Balochistan. I feel pity for the people like you who misguide the people like that. Also Essazai’s do not exist in Pakistan. Why Afghans are commenting on this issue?.Recommend

  • Sami

    Hey no Punjabi was in command in 1971. It was a Niazi general and a Bhutto. Stop using these forum to settle your scores with Punjabis. They are easy scape goats. Punjabis were in command in 1965 and they won wars for you. in 1971 Pukhtoons and Sindhis ruined everything for us.Recommend

  • Sindhi

    Additionally Sindh provides more Gs and Oil into the system than Baluchistan. The writer should get his facts right.Recommend

  • Rohan

    If gilgit chaps are proud then why don’t you give them citizenship and make it your 5th province.
    Pakistan lost more armoury and men in 65 so I don’t know how that’s a stalemate, plus in 1947 Pakistan failed to grab the Kashmir valley.
    Plus in kargil 99 Musharraf knew he’d lose the battle so he sent northern light infantry consisting of gilgit soldiers as Canon fodder.India after killing these soldiers offered to return the bodies but Pakistan refused and India gave those soldiers a proper Islamic burialRecommend