Instability In Balochistan: A Challenge For CPEC? – OpEd

Balochistan, which is Pakistan’s most populous province, has a long history of civil strife and violent conflict. A number of factors, including the province’s extensive natural resources, fortunate location, and complex ethnic and political milieu, are often identified as contributing factors to the province’s instability. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a cornerstone programme of China’s Belt and Road programme (BRI), has the goal of connecting the port of Gwadar in Balochistan, which is located in Pakistan, with western China. However, the instability that has developed in Balochistan has become a significant barrier to the successful completion of CPEC.

One of the key factors contributing to the instability in Balochistan is the historical pattern of neglect and marginalisation of the Baloch people on the part of the Pakistani state. The majority of people living in the province, who identify as Baloch, have long complained about the federal government’s history of discrimination and exploitation of their people. Since the 1970s, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and other separatist groups have been fighting Pakistan for a greater degree of autonomy or independence. As they see CPEC as a continuation of Pakistan’s control over the natural resources of the region, these organisations have taken aim at Chinese contractors and projects in Balochistan.

The precarious state of security in Balochistan has become a substantial roadblock in the way of the complete completion of CPEC. Recent months have seen an increase in attacks against Chinese persons as well as projects, which has led to rising concerns over the safety of the Chinese labour force as well as the profitability of the project. In November 2018, a suicide attack in Balochistan claimed the lives of three Chinese engineers, highlighting the dangers that are posed by the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Implementation of CPEC has been hampered, in addition to concerns over safety, by the particular ethnic and political landscape of Balochistan. There are a number of different ethnic groups that make the province their home, including Baloch, Pashtun, Brahui, and Hazaras; each of these communities has its own set of challenges and requirements. Due to the lack of political agreement and representation for the people living in Balochistan, it has been impossible to effectively handle the difficulties and anxieties that have been plaguing the province, particularly those that are related to the CPEC.

Concerns have also been made over the potential consequences that the expansion of CPEC may have on the ecosystem of Balochistan as well as the uprooting of the indigenous population. The construction of roads, trains, and other infrastructure projects has resulted in the loss of forests and other natural ecosystems in addition to requiring local inhabitants to find new homes. This has resulted in the displacement of local residents. Activists and environmentalists from the surrounding area have voiced their opposition to this and expressed their disapproval of it.

The Chinese and Pakistani governments have worked together to find solutions to some of the challenges that CPEC is encountering in Balochistan. For the purpose of ensuring the safety of Chinese workers and projects across the region, some countries, such as Pakistan, have established specialised security sections. In addition, China has made investments in the expansion of communities in the surrounding area and has provided the people of Balochistan with chances for employment and professional development.

However, it’s possible that these steps won’t be enough to solve the fundamental issues and concerns that have been plaguing Balochistan. Security measures on their own are not enough to solve the decades-old difficulties faced by the Baloch people or the complex ethnic and political landscape of the province. The people of Balochistan want a strategy that is more comprehensive and all-encompassing, one that takes into consideration the issues that they face on the political, economic, and social fronts.

In conclusion, the instability that exists in Balochistan is a significant barrier to the successful completion of CPEC. There are a number of major issues that need to be resolved, including concerns about the consequences on local residents and the environment, the difficult ethnic and political background, and the security situation. It is necessary to develop a plan that is both more comprehensive and inclusive in order to address the underlying issues and concerns of the Baloch people and to assure the successful execution of CPEC.