Army role in Balochistan development

Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan

As a geographical pivot of history, Pakistani geopolitical location has always been significant for the global players. Within Pakistan, the Province of Balochistan, has immense geo–strategic significance in the emerging international political and economic order. This God gifted province, has immense natural resources with traditionally proud and strapping manpower. However, its people mostly remained deprived of basic amenities of life. The current crises in Balochistan are centred on two things: first; continuous deprivation and extensive poverty of the Baloch masses compounded by the lack of economic and social development and second; lack of national unity and inter-provincial harmony, further fuelled by external powers through sub-nationalist elements. On its part, Pak Army has made gigantic contributions in the development of the Province, which include development in all sectors viz; education, health, mining, provision of jobs in Army, infrastructural development and other socio-economic development. In the field of education, over 17000 Baloch students have been selected for education in various schools and colleges, run by Pak Army and Frontier Corps. Besides, Pak Army is also imparting education to over 6500 Baloch students in the schools and colleges of Federal Government administered by Pak Army.

In 2006, Pak Army took initiative to revive Chamalang Coal Mines project, which was disputed ever since 1980s. After its resolution under Pak Army, 73500 individuals of Luni and Marri tribes were provided job opportunities and 2000 individuals were employed as guards. The process was followed by excavation of over 2 million tons of coal. Following the consensus resolution of the Chamalang Coal Mines dispute under Pak Army, an education programme namely, the Chamalang Beneficiaries Education Programme (CBEP) was organized by the Southern Command of Pak Army. Under this educational project, 4183 x Balochi students are being sponsored for free education. The hotel facility through this programme has been established in Quetta Cantonment has housed over 100 students of Marri and Luni tribes of the Loralai and Kohlu Districts. The students are provided with free boarding, lodging and medical facilities along with monthly stipends.

In connection with the induction in Pak Army, over 12000 Baloch recruits have been enrolled and trained as combat soldiers in various branches of Army in last 3-5 years. A sizeable number of educated Baloch youth are being inducted in Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) to become officer in Pak Army. In Dera Bugti area, Pak Army and FC have launched many Developmental Projects. These includes: provision of job opportunities to over 1500 individuals, financial assistance to over 1500 families, renovation and establishment of 31 health centres. Besides, 458 animal units were provided to needy families and free of cost education of over 150 local students in Baluchistan Public School Sui (BPSS), established on the lines of MCJ. The Sui Town has been provided with the free natural gas. In the health Sector, free medical camps for 2-3 days are being established in remote areas where free medical examination and medicines are distributed on regular basis. Free medical treatment is also provided to approximately 500 to 1000 patients of Mekhter and Chamalang per month. Pak Army is also monitoring many developmental projects for their smooth and free functioning. The socio-economic developmental model adopted by Pak Army for improving the living standards of Baloch people is worth appreciating. If Provincial Govt and ministries of Federal Govt follow the model, Balochistan can be brought at par with rest of the provinces of Pakistan in just 3-4 years.

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