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ISLAMABAD: Lt Gen Nasser Khan Janjua (retd), former National Security Advisor (NSA), on Wednesday, highlighted the geographical location of Balochistan for connectivity with Afghanistan, Central Asia, Russia, and beyond through the “Belt and Road Initiative”.

Speaking at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI) as a guest speaker, the former NSA pointed out that Pakistan seeks connectivity with Afghanistan, Central Asia and ultimately to Russia, and in this, Balochistan plays a pivotal role through its geographical location and abundance of natural resources.

He was of the view that even Pakistan’s strategic significance lies in Balochistan, and only through peace and development in Balochistan it can be achieved.

“Future of world lies in the Afro-Eurasian region that begins from Balochistan and its significance has grown manifold with Belt and Road Initiative,” he said.

Lt Gen Janjua (retd) gave an overview of emerging international geo-strategic environment and relevance of Pakistan.

He stated that Balochistan is gifted in terms of its geostrategic location as well as being a hub of natural resources which if fully utilised could be a catalyst for the entire region.

He lamented that since the inception of the state of Pakistan, these unique attributes have made Balochistan a target for Pakistan’s adversaries, and consequently has been destabilised by internal and external elements.

“Yet, concerns of people are genuine and they need to be addressed,” he asserted.

Drawing on his experience as Commander Southern Command, he shared views on hard-earned peace and said that in a State, it is all about people.

“If people are with you then you are victorious. Similarly, focus should be on national integration as visible and real improvement in the Balochistan situation can only come about not by imposing force, but by ruling the hearts and minds of the people,” he added. He stated that the negative “sub-nationalism” is the root cause of insurgency in the province.

He added that an integrated and people-centric civil-military strategy was formulated, which helped Balochistan transition from “flag burning to flag raising.”

About the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said that the ongoing conflict in Balochistan requires political closure, which will open up new opportunities for people of the province.

“Federation and other provinces need to address apprehensions of people of Balochistan about their access to natural resources and land for the success of the CPEC in Balochistan,” he said, adding that in Gwadar, focus should be on job creation and providing economic opportunity to every citizen.

To a question on fighting insurgency in Balochistan through force, he said “it is never enough to hate your enemy; you have to do much more.”

Responding to another query, about Gwadar port, he stated that Gwadar port is an ideal port for whole of Asia, and Pakistan through this port can contribute to the world.

Dr Talat Shabbir, Director China-Pakistan Study Centre, ISSI, said that Balochistan is the pivot of CPEC as Gwadar is vital to the multi-billion-dollar project. He said that development of Balochistan is crucial for success of the CPEC and it has a promise to address issues of socio-economic development, communication infrastructure, and unemployment.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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