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
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.
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
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
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.