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CPEC: An Advancement or A Setback For Balochistan?

Early Image of Gwadar Port in construction phases

Grannaz Baloch

Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan, but undoubtedly is the most neglected area of this country. One of the significant issues is unemployment, and the main reason for unemployment is lack of proper education system, awareness and over-rise of poverty. More than 70% people of Balochistan live below poverty line and the literate masses of the province are jobless.

Balochistan has 33.16 million of population and according to a report, each year nearly 25,000 people graduate from Balochistan. Unfortunately, hardly around 2,000 of them can secure jobs.

Yet with all the talk of CPEC, being a game changer, but some may ask for whom? How will the various sub-routes could lift under-developed cities and towns. Let’s not talk about China, which is already called Economic-power and questioning about benefits to China will be much silly thing to ask.

Now the question arises whether these routes or projects will benefit poor Balochistan or this project will be the game-changer only for bureaucracy? Does it really leave a positive effect on People of Balochistan?

I have been searching for the answers of these questions and all I found was No!

These projects will only benefit those cities which are developed already, i.e eastern route (Punjab, Sindh) and now has the larger share in the CPEC investment.

Those cities, i.e western routes( Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa, FATA) where they are having 80% of poverty rate. They don’t have any basic development and are in a state of deprivation as they have been neglected TOTALLY.

Although, there are 16 projects in Balochistan and the government has proposed Rs115 billion for CPEC projects, out of which allocations for the western route are only Rs28.8 billion. The remaining abundance is allocated to construct the eastern route. Gwadar city is the center for this CPEC, but its residents don’t have water to drink and they don’t have the very basic health facilities.

Energy is the Master ingredient in CPEC projects. That includes coal, wind, thermal and hydel power projects including transmission lines, which are expected to generate and transmit over 10,000 MW of electricity to Punjab and Sindh. And the energy related infrastructure such as transmission and distribution networks in KPK, Balochistan and FATA are already antiquated. Even if it excess electricity from CPEC energy projects, they do not have enough capacity or system to absorb energy beyond 500MW, and which causes large amount of Electricity shortage.  Therefore, these neglected areas are facing massive power shortage.

Hence, this Infrastructure Schemes will benefit Punjab and Sindh areas, but not Balochistan.

For example, when you raise a power plant, you not only effectuate employment directly through construction and operation at the power plant, but also create an industrial base around the plant which would want to tap the power. These industries would get more entrepreneurs and employ more labourers.

“Infrastructure is the key to wiping poverty”

In Pakistan, Punjab and Sindh are more developed with a higher rate of literacy and quality education as 95% of Pakistan’s industrial bases are in these two provinces Whereas Balochistan, KPK, and FATA has 80% of poverty, retrograde infrastructure, breakdown of education and health systems.

CPEC is a game-changer and will only benefit economic growth, employment and social development in the targeted regions. Therefore, Pakistan Govt must guarantee that CPEC doesn’t iterate the earlier injustice meted out to the native Baloch.

Government should substantiate people of Balochistan, KPK and FATA that they are NOT interested in their natural wealth or resources but its people.

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” Frederick Douglass.


Twitter: @balochgranaz

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