In 1666, Ahmed Khan Ahmed laid the foundations of the state of Kalat. The nomads who accompanied him came from Syria (Aleppo). They came from the land and sea routes and stayed in Iran. The group which was travelling from sea eventually landed on Makran coast and settled in Lasbela. A war between this Syrian group and the Dravidian people emerged, and was won by this group of nomads. This group then adapted some of the local languages with their own language and hence evolved a new language named Brahui. Historical evidence can be traced back to prove that the Baloch are not the original dwellers of this region. Punjabis too lived there but were later banished.

The fact of the matter is that Balochistan is still underdeveloped, people are starving with deprivation and cannot access basic human facilities, not even in Quetta which is the capital of Balochistan. Load shedding of gas and electricity is a norm in Balochistan.

On Wednesday, a meeting of the Standing Committee on Energy was held in which Abid Sher Ali, State Minister for Energy told the parliamentary panel that farmers of Balochistan are required to pay Rs. 150 billion on account of electricity supply to their tube wells. He further alluded that 11,514 megawatts of electricity would be added to the system by June 2018. It is pertinent to mention that electricity deficiency which was 8,000MW in 2013 has been reduced to 2,880MW this year by June. This reduced load shedding to minimum hours. Owing to investment in the power generation and distribution system, line losses and other costs dropped from 18.5% to 17.9%.

In this regard, the Committee Chairman Senator Mir Israr Ahmed Khan Zehri raised question about the shortage of gas and electricity in Balochistan specifically. That question was countered by the acknowledgement of new projects including LPG and electricity plants which are in the pipeline specifically for the remote areas. The senator stated that remote areas are a problem but ironically, there is a lack of gas connections even in large parts of Balochistan too, including Khuzdar which is the second largest city of the province.

In March 2017, a 1320 MW coal-fired power project was initiated in Hub Town of Lasbela District. Officials said that the 1,320 MW coal-fired power project is the largest power project being constructed in Balochistan province under CPEC and that it will bring immense socio-economic benefits for the country, especially for Balochistan. Seven months have now passed and the situation does not look very stable.

The farmers should get a subsidy over electrical bills rather than having a Federal Minister ask for 150 billion. Underdevelopment in Balochistan must be catered by such subsidies. This will assure farmers of Balochistan that their government is doing something for them, that CPEC is not for routes and elites but for the common man. These are the ways to break the myths and truly operate the concept of WHAM (Winning Hearts and Minds) with all plausible efforts.


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