June 02 - 08, 2003



GHULAM MOHAMMAD BALOCH is running his own business at a small scale in Karachi. He is struggling hard to earn bread and butter for his family at his elderly age of 65. Originally, hails from Mekran, Ghulam Mohammad Baloch served for more than 25 years for British Troops and Dubai Army. He had to leave Balochistan, due to absence of job opportunities in Balochistan. After retirement from Dubai army he returned home but after 25 year, the social, political and economic conditions were the same as he had left a quarter century age. Finding no option in Balochistan, he again left for Karachi where this elderly man is again fighting for life and honour of his family.

PAGE: For the first time in the history, the Prime Minister of Pakistan is from the province of Balochistan, while the Federal Education Minister Zubaida Jalal also hails from that province. Do you feel that people from Balochistan occupying such an important position would be helpful in raising the standard of life of the masses in Balochistan?

GHULAM MOHAMMAD BALOCH: This certainly gives elevated feelings that the so far neglected province has been given a fair chance in the socio-political and economic development of Balochistan. Generally speaking, people of Balochistan were deprived even from the basic rights obviously due to absence of economic development. Majority of the people from Balochistan has to leave their homeland in search of bread and butter mostly in the neighboring Gulf countries like Oman, Qatar, Dubai etc and to the province of Sindh in Pakistan. Although no visible change has been made so far, people now strongly feel that the fate of that neglected province is going to change in near future.



PAGE: On what basis, the people of Balochistan are attaching hopes for a change?

GHULAM MOHAMMAD BALOCH: The present government has launched various development projects in Balochistan, especially the development of Gwadar as the second port city of Pakistan, more concessions being allotted to oil exploration companies besides development of Saindak project. With the financial assistance of Islamic Development Bank, road links are being constructed with the Central Asian Republics and the major urban areas of Pakistan. The means of communication will definitely help economic activity in this neglected province especially for trade of locally produced quality dates, which have great demand in India and Central Asian States. Besides these projects the policy of the government that local population would be given priority in job placements have kindled the hopes for betterment.

However, the bitter experience of the past has shattered the hopes and confidence of the people because despite of the decisions and policies, other provinces grab most of the opportunities. Let us hope it would not re-occurred this time. Another example of deprivation, the people of Balochistan generally mention, is that Sui gas field supplies the natural gas to the entire country, but the people of the area are unable to take advantage of this natural gift. It is agreed that transmission network for distribution of gas to entire Balochistan is not possible. However, the gas marketing companies can resolve this problem through distribution of natural gas among the distant habitants by using the cylinders.

PAGE: What remedial measures you would like to suggest that the local population in Balochistan be given their due share in development projects?

GULAM MOHAMMAD BALOCH: The ground reality is that province of Balochistan lacks in education because in most of the areas like Mekran and Qalat, education at university level is not available. People have to go to other provinces for education purposes. Now the federal education minister from Balochistan would hopefully take some decisions to establish university in Mekran. Gwadar, which is now being developed as a port city, had no electricity and drinking water facility. People had to use generators for producing electricity while have to get drinking water from far-flung areas. Due to non-availability of water, people generally use saline water to take a bath or clothe washing. People of Mekran in general and Gwadar in particular are happy that probably their hardships would be addressed after development of Gwadar Port City. It is my humble suggestion that in order to accommodate local population in the development projects, skilled and education people of Mekran presently living in other parts of the country should be considered for placement. They would love to go back to their home place if they were provided the jobs.

PAGE: There is a general concept that local population in Balochistan is not friendly to the development project hence they do not cooperate the development agencies?



GULAM MOHAMMAD BALOCH: No doubt there are some hostile areas where development has become difficult, but it is mostly because of the politics of tribal Sardars. However, the entire Mekran area is free from any tribal politics and people are keen to see speedy development, which would ultimately bring about economic prosperity to their area.