Baloch culture day and CPEC
By Sultan M Hali
The erstwhile strife torn province of Balochistan is limping back to normalcy despite the heinous plots hatched by Pakistan’s detractors to stoke the fires of insurgency and insurrection. When Pakistan gained its independence in August 1947, the Chief Commissioner’s Province of Balochistan became a part of Pakistan. The princely states of Makran, Kharan, Las Bela, and the Khanate of Kalat decided to accede to Pakistan in March 1948. The Khan of Kalat agreed to join Pakistan under the condition that defence, currency, foreign relations, and finance would be controlled by the federal government, but that the province would remain otherwise autonomous.
The four princely states together formed the Balochistan States Union in October 1952. In October 1955, formation of one unit resulted in the Balochistan States Union and the Chief Commissioner’s Province of Balochistan being merged with all the remaining provinces and princely states in other parts of Pakistan to form the province of West Pakistan. The enclave of Gawadar was purchased from Oman in October 1958 and was later merged with Balochistan.
The province was officially dissolved in 1970 and the former Balochistan States Union, former Chief Commissioner’s Province of Balochistan were combined to form the new province of Balochistan. At various stages, insurgencies by Baloch nationalists plagued the province in 1948, 1958–59, 1962–63 and 1973–77 and 2003 by autonomy-seeking Baloch groups because the federal government has been callous to the development of Balochistan. Unfortunately, different provincial governments, headed by Baloch feudal lords have been equally oblivious to the welfare of the Baloch.
Since March 2, 2011 has been declared as the Baloch Culture Day when the entire province of Balochistan and the Baloch community all over the world join hands to celebrate the day to highlight the rich and cultural traditions of this proud race. Various events are organized to showcase the colorful dresses of the Baloch women and depict the martial customs of the men. Baloch students from different universities organize cultural walks, seminars and moots to highlight and promote the diversified and rich Baloch culture. Pakistan Army’s Baloch Regiment takes the lead in participating in the Baloch Culture Day celebrations signifying the meritorious and valiant deeds of its men in the defence of the motherland.
The general elections in 2008 and again in 2013 have helped restore civilian rule in Balochistan and provided opportunities to the political dispensation to take charge of the development of the once backward province. Since the advent of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which originates from the strategic deep sea port of Gawadar, built by Chinese efforts, and meandering through the provinces of Balochistan, Sind, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan, terminates at the Chinese historical city of Kashgar. At Kashgar CPEC joins the mega project of One Belt One Road (OBOR) which joins China with Central Asia and Europe. Seaward, the port of Gawadar forms an essential part of the Maritime Silk Route, which is a major integral of OBOR.
CPEC benefits the entire region, including Central Asia, China and the whole of Pakistan. Russia and Iran have also expressed interest in joining the mega project. The Pakistani province that will derive maximum benefit from CPEC is Balochistan. Although India has been invited to join CPEC and reap from its advantages yet it has chosen to oppose the project, which can be a boon for the impoverished people of India as well. Unfortunately, this opposition is limited to diplomatic statements but ranges from providing asylum to selected misled Baloch leaders like Brahamdagh Bugti who has also been offered Indian nationality to training misled Baloch in terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.
The misled Baloch youth are armed and launched into Balochistan to wreak havoc on the CPEC project and deter the Chinese from participating and investing in the mega project. The ill informed Baloch miscreants are duped into becoming the tools of the heinous Indian stratagem, failing to realize that they are sabotaging their own home province and depriving its people of a golden opportunity to enhance their quality of life and lead a happy and prosperous life.
At a press conference on June 8, 2015 in Quetta, Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti accused India’s prime minister of openly supporting terrorism. Bugti implicated India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of being responsible for recent attacks at military bases in Samungli and Khalid, and for subverting the CPEC. Senior RAW operative Commander Kulbhoshan Yadav, arrested red handed from Baloch border town of Chaman spilled the beans on RAW’s odious plans of inflicting serious damage to CPEC and destabilize Balochistan and Pakistan. Events like Baloch Culture Day tend to restore the confidence of the people of Balochistan that there is peace and harmony and the revolting conspiracies of the enemy will not disrupt the CPEC or the long awaited peace, prosperity and tranquillity of the Baloch.
The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.