What do you want to become in the future? I asked a college student in Gwadar. “I want to study in King Edward Medical University and become a competent doctor.” A short, bony boy with his one eye narrowed to a slit, arms crossed in a defiant and confident way; answered me. His short-cropped, sunlit hairs were uncombed. His facial skin was terribly dry and craggy, it seemed he hadn’t had any proper diet nor clean water for a long time. He, phenotypically, appeared not to be remarkable but there was a stark glare of determination in his eyes. This was the moment when I realized the awakening of a new and well directed generation in Baluchistan. The economists assert CPEC the game changer for Baluchistan: I call this determination of college boy, the foundation of a better and stronger Baluchistan.

Landed at Gwadar airport, a complete desolated land in the outskirts of Gwadar city, with barely a hanging shadow of a tree, I was enticed by the serene silence of this land. To get to the PC Hotel Gwadar, we (a delegate of students from LUMS, Punjab University and University of Lahore, sent to Gwadar by Government of Punjab in collaboration with Government of Baluchistan) took a rutted, uphill dirt track road that branched off the main road between the sea and the city. The emptiness in the city of Gwadar was slinky to it’s under development. Unlike the orchards pregnant with plump grapes in Swat; the crowded city of Karachi; and vaulted bazaars of Lahore, this city of Gwadar silently sleeps in the lap of the Arabian Sea. Gwadar is, indeed, a living history of Baluchistan; a lasting future.

The port of Gwadar obtains the status of a monument because this is the gateway to development thrived with prosperity and progress. The port is situated on a rocky outcropping in the Arabian Sea that forms part of a natural hammerhead-shaped peninsula protruding out from the Pakistani coastline. I, along with students of LUMS and Punjab University visited Gwadar port and were briefed about the construction and working of the port. From receiving a warm welcome on the land of warm water, to understanding the deep meaning of a deep water port, Gwadar shall always remain a spectacular trip of our lives.

The music that touches the soul is the music that comes from instruments only: with no acoustics and electronics. This stands valid for Baloch native music. The Balochi music has its own distinctive beats and flare which add pleasing vibes to one’s mood. It is a preservation and promotion of indigenous culture and heritage. The music appetite of students from Lahore was adequately furnished by native Balochi music. The dinner at sea side; the waves splashing; the perfect decibel of Balochi music in the air; the genial hospitality of Balochs; and the full moon night: could it be more than an awe-inspiring place and time in Gwadar than this?

The mighty mountains of Gwadar are the untold tales of its people’s resilience and endurance. These mountains validate that how tough the people of Gwadar are, despite living in agonizing circumstances. These mountains also narrate the patriotism and staunchness of Armed Forces of Pakistan. Midst the external assaults from rival countries more often, Pakistan Army not only safeguarded the land with professionalism but aided in improving the lives of the people of Gwadar. Pakistan Army, particularly, is working parallel to government in building new colleges and universities in Gwadar. This joint venture gives a vivid message to everyone that military and government are on the same page.  The significance of Gwadar Port has escalated many folds after the inception of Chabahar Port and Pakistan Army shall not let any stone unturned in protecting this fate-changing project for Pakistan. There is a saying, “The army is always the same. The sun and the moon change. The army knows no seasons”.

The education standards are deteriorating in Gwadar but the ambitions of students are robust like the giant mountains. The students of LUMS, Punjab University and University of Lahore met with teachers and students of Gwadar and paid heed to their grievances and challenges towards life. Life is not so compassionate to them. The fundamental issue is of drinking water which is salinated. De-salination plants are being built in Gwadar by the Central Government of Pakistan to cater the deserved demands of its people. Deprived of the road networks and infra-structure, Gwadar is in need of our attention and care. Health, education and basic necessities are their right and Pakistan government and Army has a ferocious approach towards this grave matter. Civil society must also contribute collectively to meet the needs of Gwadar people in education and health facilities. Gwadar, certainly, is a future destination of world’s biggest economics and trade.

Be it social media, electronic media or print media, we have been bombarded with the importance of Gwadar in CPEC. I witnessed it by myself. China Pakistan Economic Corridor has the tendency of making Pakistan one of the most politico-strategic important countries in the region in near future. The mammoth investment of $54 billion will cater job opportunities for locals, develop infrastructure, and provide power and energy to energy-starved Pakistan. The economic development of Pakistan will also be entailed by CPEC and it stands as the only genuine answer Pakistan can give to any of its perilous challenges. There are anticipations to bridge the power crisis for us, create jobs, revive exports, create demand and infrastructure, serve as the motor force for the growth rate of the economy, and address urban congestion through mass transit schemes. So, with great power comes great responsibility.

The passage of Gwadar’s economic up-thrust passes through its educational institutes. On our visit to the colleges and to the only university of Gwadar, I was grieved by the very low quantification of education institutions. Exponentially long distances, deficient road networks, and slender transport facility are few of the major factors which discourage students to go to colleges and university. Alongside, 80% of the entire population is comprised of fishermen. Despite the restrained opportunities and facilities, the students were realistically motivated. I met many students and talked to them in person. They were positive and hopeful. They shared with me their noble aspirations for the future. It inclined me to think what is the driving force behind their optimism? I asked them. I got an answer. Progress is knocking at their doors and they have realized that the people of Gwadar can only welcome this multi-faceted progress if they will be well educated to contribute and serve in this project. The Punjab government has opened the doors of education for Baloch students in colleges and universities of Punjab. This sincere attempt of Punjab government and Punjab Higher Education Commission is to be commended.

The winter capital of Gwadar district, located at the apex of Arabian Sea and at the mouth of gulf of Oman, Gwadar is the future home of prosperity and integrity. Sunk in the exquisite beauty of land and surrounded by astounding sea, Gwadar will glitter on the map of world trade and economics. Concurrently, the people of Gwadar now have a real awakening of their potentials and intrinsic and extrinsic challenges. The spate of optimism that I saw in their tone and character compelled me to jot down the facts about them, which are, by large, invisible to many Pakistanis. They talk about education. They talk about ideas. More importantly, they talk about Pakistan. During my entire flight, from Gwadar to Lahore, I was allured by the positive words of the Gwadar students which they shared with me, “Abhi bhot parhna hai hum ne aur Pakistan ko dunya may aage le k jana hai.”


About Author

He is currently an M.Phil researcher in University of Lahore in the field of Pharmacology. He has been national English declaimer and a member of Standing Committee on National Security and Foreign Affairs in Youth Parliament Pakistan. He is the former president of Young Development Corps (a policy making project of Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms). He is currently writing articles for The Nation. He can be reached at sohaib.uol@gmail.com.

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