Quetta (By Umer Shami) – There is not an iota of doubt that foreign hands are instigating terrorist activities in Balochistan by providing cash and ammunition to miscreants with the sole objective of sabotaging the CPECC project. The fact that India has deployed its full resources in Afghanistan to destabilize Balochistan is no more a secret after Mr Modi’s own admission.

Lieutenant General Amir Riaz, Commander Southern Command expressed these views while talking to a select group of Media persons at his residence in Quetta.

The General, referred to as Commander by his troops, heads the important XII Corps responsible for looking after almost 44 percent area of Pakistan, comprising of the Province of Balochistan. He was exuding confidence when he announced that there is no more any No Go area in Balochistan. “I invite each one of you to visit the length and breadth of Balochistan. We have successfully eliminated the leadership of all the miscreants including religious extremists and separatist insurgents. They have no presence on our soil. Balochistan is alive with hope today”. He further added that the only leadership left now is sitting across the border in Afghanistan.

The Commander also pronounced that even leaders sitting outside Pakistan are welcome to come to Pakistan and participate in the political process. “Anyone who lays down his arms and vows to operate within the constitutional framework of Pakistan will be allowed to participate freely in the political process. Let people be the judge of their popularity”.

The Commander while answering a query regarding India-Afghanistan nexus replied that Pakistan has made sincere efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan by facilitating the initiation of peace dialogue between the Afghan Government and the Taliban. “I was privy to most of these efforts and I can give you my word as a soldier that Pakistan genuinely desired both parties to reach a peaceful settlement so that normal political process could take precedence over violence. However peace is not something which some powers want to see in this region”. Had war been the answer to the woes of Afghanistan, NATO would have settled it long ago when they had a huge military presence there, he added. Afghanistan need to act as a sovereign and responsible state for their own benefit as well as that of the whole region, he opined. He also confessed that Pakistan government had hoped that the government of President Ashraf Ghani will be able to bridge the trust deficit between the two States but that hope has gradually turned into dismay. “Actions speak louder than words”. He added.

The Commander also ventured into historical misconceptions prevalent regarding the annexation of the State of Kalat with Pakistan. The Independence Act of 1947 did not provide for the Princely States to declare independence rather they had to choose between either Pakistan or India, he said. “Out of 562 States 13 became part of Pakistan. In Balochistan Kharan, Lasbela, Makran and Kalat were the four States choosing to annex with Pakistan while the area of British Balochistan automatically became part of Pakistan”. So it’s a misperception that State of Kalat formed the bulk of Balochistan rather it was one of the Princely States, among others, which agreed to annex with Pakistan, he added.

In response to a query regarding the importance of CPEC for Balochistan and Pakistan, the Commander articulated his views candidly. “CPEC is a game changer for Balochistan as well as Pakistan. Gawadar Port will be one of the biggest ports in the world. It stretches for a length of 52 Kms and can have close to 160 berths of which 80 would be able to handle deep draft Master Vessels. Dubai has 67 Berths whereas Chahbahar has only 10 berths”. The opportunity for economic progress and development is huge and the Western Route of the CPEC once built will run through around 13 Districts of Balochistan bringing prosperity in its wake, he said. He also said that there is huge potential for the development of Special Economic Zones along the route by China as well as Pakistan. Our enemies are lining up to stall this project of immense national importance and sow dissent among our ranks, he added. “It is our national responsibility to understand the sensitivities of the time and work in unison as a nation to rise to our potential. Pakistan will not remain dependent on any foreign power and would be able to stand on its own legs if these projects are executed, a fact understood clearly and disliked immensely by the enemies of Pakistan”.

Answering queries regarding the pace of development of CPEC projects, the Commander said there is always room for improvement but the work on all major roads has been initiated. He also hoped that these projects will be completed without delay as each day is important. He agreed with the assertions that Special Monitoring Body comprising of all the relevant stake holders should be formed.

The Commander also said that Balochistan was blessed with vast natural resources and there was need to provide good governance and transparency alongwith efforts for capacity building to benefit from these resources.

“The People of Balochistan deserve much more from the State. They are patriotic and peace loving. Basic necessities of life like electricity, medical facilities and education should be provided to them on fast track basis. New development projects have to be initiated to create employment opportunities. The space provided by successful military operations against the miscreants has to be secured by providing viable political and developmental solutions”, he further added.

The Commander also opined that political leadership of the country should think of ways to enhance the voice of Balochistan in the political structure. Such steps are necessary to assure Baloch people that their voice carries weight and would help make them an integral part of the political decision making.

“A Strong State which can survive any threat is one which has a motivated political leadership at the top, embedded in the ideology of the State, alongwith a strong security establishment which comprises of military, bureaucracy and civil society”. Such Nations never fear any external threats and possess the ability to withstand any peril, he thoughtfully added.